What’s Eating the Workforce: Unemployment and the Depressive Cycle

Written by M.

General mental health discourse has popularized the term depression to the point where it has become synonymous with general unrest.

For your edification I would like to pull out the DM-V and list for you every emotional quirk and tick that defines the parameters of this illness. What I can not do is make you feel the loneliness, the deep kinetic sadness, the static confusion that accompanies it. If I could give a tour of depression it would be this: A young woman lying in her own filth, oblivious to the sights and sounds of her passion for life decaying.

Like many recent (fairly recent?) college graduates, I am still on the hunt for gainful employment.

Also like many others this competitive cycle has left me drained and in doubt of myself. When you are depressed a simple emotion like doubt can plague you with a number of leading questions about identity and belonging. Depression strips you of situation and circumstance and leaves you only with raw emotion. Depression breaks through carefully crafted walls of positive affirmations and spiritual good vibes to carve away at your appetite for life.

In this economy of fast paced competition, self-marketing skills, rather than actual job applicability, run the career matching game. Of course you have to meet basic job requirements to get your foot in the door, but overall the ability to self promote is what lands you that coveted position.

What happens though when your ability to promote the self is blighted by a lack of self-like, let alone self-love?

What happens when the questions and the doubts come creeping in, suffocating your wit, diminishing your charm, and limiting your ability to uphold the professional mask that is often necessary to obtain a job? Your mind, weighed down and diluted by a dank sinking consciousness, prevents you from putting in the time and effort required to kick start your financial independence and professional success.

I credit my generation for depression’s commonality and relatability. Having peaked around at the state of our present, we are discouraged by the prospects of our future. Situation and circumstance, while relevant, become obscured and we are instead forced to reflect upon our perceived shortcomings. We often feel that what is to us a monumental effort is seen by employers as the bare minimum. Symptoms of mental unwellness then become markers of laziness and general incompatibility.

The job hunt for most is strenuous.

The tumultuous nature of mental illness makes it even more difficult.

We begin to personalize every computer generated rejection letter, every automated question about our strengths and weaknesses, every iteration of “We have other candidates to interview but we’ll get back to you”. What is a normalized procedure for employment becomes personalized, an epithet of our internal struggles.

For many, including sufferers, these thoughts are a sign of our own weakness.

We must remind ourselves that this is not the case, that we can not control the job market and we can not control our illness.

Our only option is to attempt to manage, to try to function in a world that is overly harsh to our senses.