Job search and mental health

Trigger warning: potentially distressing description of my struggle with mental illness. 

The job search hasn’t been easy for most of us. This is especially true for recent graduates who have had little experience in the new field. And the opportunities are even more limited for international students like me because of restrictions imposed by certain employers. But all this has its impact on the overall wellbeing of the individual. 

Now, this is not me cribbing about how unfair the world is; it is about my experience with anxiety and depression in the last couple of weeks.

I suffer from clinical depression and anxiety. I take medications that have maybe helped me so far (my medications aren’t like pain killers so only my regular psychiatrist would be able to tell if they have been effective so far). But the last couple of weeks have been quite stressful in terms of job applications, which has led to a sort of “flare-up” of anxiety and depression. I generally pride myself on being resilient and patient. But mental illness can turn you into a cripple. It is probably the worst thing you would wish on your enemies. 

Many may struggle to tell the difference between anxiety and depression because they often go hand-in-hand. I say I have anxiety when I feel restless, my heart rate is up, and I keep thinking and over-thinking about insignificant things- “What if the girl I’m chatting with on the dating app turns me down? Where shall I look for accommodation now that my flatmate needs to move? Is it ok to wear shorts in this weather or will I be left shivering?”. My anxiety has, however, latched on to this one big issue- job applications and rejections from employers. The other “insignificant things” play a crucial role in exacerbating the anxiety. The last couple of days have been the epitome of my illness as I felt dysfunctional, nauseous and on the verge of a breakdown. And of course, sleeplessness- I haven’t felt the need to consume coffee because it has kept me from feeling drowsy or getting proper sleep. It feels as though my life is falling apart and bits of me are chipping away. The way I try to cope up with this is by texting people. Though their lack of immediate reply adds to the list of “insignificant things”.

How do I tell then if I am suffering from depression? Dementors. Those who have watched or read Harry Potter know about these creatures called ‘Dementors’ which suck the happiness out of you. I like to visualise my depression by imagining a Dementor sucking my happiness and all the life through me. The result is the inability to enjoy the time being spent doing things that I generally like. For example, I was out on a food walk with my friend and we had stuffed ourselves with delicious food. Then we walked around the harbour to digest it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy a single moment of it. Obviously, my friend couldn’t tell because I am generally good at hiding the illness in public places. It is tiring and I feel like running into my bed when my mind is in a state of depression. There is general hopelessness, the world is bleak, and life has no meaning or purpose. 

To put simply, anxiety is the coffee and depression is the sleeping pill. The combination of these illnesses is horrific. I may have felt like the happiest person on the planet at some point, but these illnesses take all that ability to feel joy and hope away from me. They deny me the opportunity to live in the moment. It is then that I know that I really need a hand, someone to talk to, and someone who would help me look at things from a different perspective. The worst thing I could do is to run away and deny the existence of my illness. But I know that it won’t help because they always catch up. 

Hope y’all had a bright and joyful World Mental Health Day.

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