Dear Annie: I had a fabulous time in college. I was president of my sorority, a peer mentor at our advising center and active in many organizations. I also was granted many awards and honors. I loved rushing around with little sleep and juggling many things on my plate. Now my life is a different story.
I struggle with severe clinical depression and debilitating anxiety. After graduating, I took a job that pays well and I met a great guy. On paper, my life sounds pretty good. But my job makes me miserable, and I dread going into work. There are few compliments and a ton of complaints. We work six days a week, which leaves little time to maintain friendships. When I get home at the end of the day, I feel like a failure, and all I want to do is curl up in bed. Downtime creates anxiety, which triggers my depression and leaves me crying all day.
I realize I cannot go back to the halcyon days of college and that it is unhealthy to keep looking backward. But I feel as if I am grieving for the life I used to have. How do I move on? I am on antidepressants and am seeing a counselor, so I am working on treating my depression and anxiety, but I still feel hopeless. – Wish There Was a Time Machine
Dear Wish: The problem with having an idyllic life through college is that at some point you have to enter the real world, which isn’t nearly as supportive and affirming, and expectations are often unrealistic. If you have never faced true adversity and developed coping skills, it can be overwhelming.
You are on the right track. You know you can’t live in the past, and you are seeking help for your depression and anxiety. While you search for a more fulfilling job, please realize that overcoming a challenging situation can be tremendously rewarding, and each time you succeed, it will become easier and more satisfying. Hang in there.