I am 28, jobless, living at home. I have severe depression and don’t know what career path to take. I have a BA degree and I am afraid to apply for jobs. I feel useless. Am I too late? What can I do?

  • There’s a lot to unpack here.
  1. No, it’s never too late to start something new, whether it’s a career or a hobby, or whatever. There are plenty of examples of people who found their calling later in life – and much older than 28, by the way.
  2. I don’t know you, obviously, but I think the likelihood of you actually being useless are close to zero. All it might mean is that you’ve not found your sweet spot yet. (I was in my 35s before I started to work out what mattered and what I wanted to do.)
  3. Applying for jobs can be scary and anxiety-inducing, but the sad fact of life is that rejection comes with the territory, both in terms of job applications and relationships. All I can say is that you may be afraid of something that may never happen, or, at least, may not be as bad as you imagine, and that each time you apply for a job, you will get better. You could also look at rejection as a sign that maybe the job wasn’t really the right one for you.

What I would suggest you do is:

*. Try to spend time working out who you really are, and by this, I mean what is it that truly matters to you, what principles do you wish to live your life by, what values are important? This article might help you in this process. Once you have established this, and it may take a while, you’ll be better placed to focus your attention on jobs that fit the real you. Also, bear in mind that you may well decide you should look for a job that has nothing to do with your BA degree.

*. You also need to tackle your depression. It’s possible the lack of a job and living at home have triggered your depression, or maybe your depression is what’s causing you problems getting a job. Either way, if it’s a vicious cycle, you need to break it somehow. All I can do is list some of the things that worked for me when I was severely depressed, which includes: getting more sleep and taking napes; eating more healthily (e.g. no fried foods, no alcohol); listening to relaxing music; talking to a few close, trustworthy friends; exercise – well, a 25-minute walk each morning.

  • You are not too late for anything.

Develop some thought processes that will convince yourself you are going to be incredible. While I am not sure what brought your severe depression on, realize this, prior to the depression you had anxiety. That anxiety was real and later became part of your mind traffic. Your mind traffic (contemplating thoughts) repeated over and over again that something was wrong in your life.

Use some simple reframing techniques. go from, “I cannot afford this” to “how can I afford this?” Keep at this, “My parents are bringing me down” to “how do I convince my parents their influence is meaningful and need to be encouraging?” another, “I cannot get a job.” to “How do I move forward with an occupation?”

If you are having fears of rejection, or fear of stumbling on an interview, cover this with your counselor., What do you deserve? Do you deserve a healthy interview and a good process? How do you get there?

You didn’t say what your degree is in. If you are an actor you know getting hired will be tough. If you want to drive truck and your driving record is clean, you will probably be hired quickly.

You have a degree something most people never achieve. It was tough work and you did a great job. Your depression may simply be the reality that the degree isnt as valueable in the marketplace as you had hoped. I certainly believed my degree was worth more when I got it. I think most new graduated do feel this way. Truth is you are a bit of a liablity to new employer. So they may hesisitate.

Not that it was perfect or the easiest decision ever, but when I got severe depresssion I started driving transit bus part time. For me it was wonderful I always met new people, I am a safe and courteous driver so my employer never had issues with my performance and it forced me to manage my time. I stayed in counseling and odd things did happen.

For instance I had a panic attack. I did not know what it was and when calling the doctor, they thought it could be a heart attack. I had to go to the clinic and missed my driving shift. The panic attack was all the found.

Another time I had to switch medicines. the first medicine they tried was a mental disaster and I was in no condition to drive passengers. The doctor called my employer and everything went OK. they kept me driving.

I drove bus for five years.

My suggestion is you get a job. Take something part time that you will do Okay with and will succeed at. Make sure it is a job that when you leave, you go home and the job stays at the place of business. When you get home start working on yourself and your career.

You will not be the first person to show up a family Christmas Party with a 4 year degree working part time and buring shoe leather to get a new job. In fact, it is quite normal.

There are some real advantages to this. First and foremost you will be able to restore your mental health. Later in life you will have habits you formed now that most likely will outperform others. Oh, when you go through Severe Depression, when you are healthy you actually have become much smarter! You will understand emotional health as few other do and you will use this to your advantage.

While you may plunge into a strong era of working your ass off.. don’t forget to take care of your mental self and to relax a bit.

  • Depression is a black cloak

First of all, are you getting help for your mental health? This has to be your starting point. Depression is a black cloak, like a weighted blanket, and will hold you down until you find the thing that helps you. I speak from experience here! Once you have found the path to take control back you can move forward with career plans. But bear in mind, a massive part of improving your mental health will be finding work. It is well documented that work benefits mental health significantly!

For now I would highly recommend volunteer roles. This gives you purpose, a reason to get out of bed, get washed and dressed, and leave the house. You’ll be helping others and this is also a huge salve for depression, it is impossible to feel as weighed down when you’re doing good for others.

Once you have made some good progress with your mental health you can think about careers. I’m not familiar enough with art degrees as to what you could do with one but if you’re thinking of a career change then this is your chance! You are still so young, the world is your oyster. There’s no reason why you couldn’t pursue another degree! If there’s any arena you’re interested in, go for it! If there’s an area related to your degree then go for that! Contact people who already do the job you want and ask them what you need to do to get there. Advice, support and making contacts will help. All of this is easy to type though, I get that.

Right now your depression is in charge. It is making you feel hopeless and probably worthless as well. Reclaim the control in your life. You are capable. You are worth it. You deserve it.

  • Depression at 28

Don’t try to swallow the elephant whole. Take small steps. Apply for a job, any job. Stock boy, burger flipper, anything to get you out of the house and doing something constructive that pays. This stops you from digging any deeper into a financial hole.

Sit down, and write out a list of things you enjoy doing. Now start doing some research. Are there any jobs where you can do what you enjoy? What are the qualifications for those jobs? What qualifications are you lacking to get that job?

Make a plan to get those qualifications. Does the local community college offer night classes, or distance learning? Are there any local interest groups, or communities of practice that have public meetups where you can get to know local people that work in the field you’re interested in? Public meetups often have presentations by practicing professionals that can help newcomers learn the skills they need to enter the industry. Plus the participants can often help you more accurately assess where your gaps are. Once you know what you don’t know, you can enroll in classes, or maybe apply for an internship (maybe with someone you met at a meetup) to fill those gaps.

Attending meetups has another advantage: networking. Meeting people who are already in the field can be a great way to get on the radar at companies looking to hire. A prospective employee that the interviewer knows because they both attend meetups a couple times a month has a much better chance of getting hired than a total stranger.

To summarize:

Get busy. Improve your skills. Meet new people doing things that interest you.

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