Post-semester depression: a real phenomenon occurring among college students who finish a semester and return home to only be left with a feeling of emptiness and phantom-anxiety. It sounds crazy, right? Naturally, people would understand the kind of depression that occurs while students are still attending classes. This kind of depression is often found in people who work from home; the line between home and work is blurred and they struggle to feel an escape.

However, the observation here suggests that college leaves students extremely anxious and lacking sleep so that when we actually get a break from school, whether it be summer or winter, we struggle greatly to feel a sense of purpose. All of our papers are turned in, we have no glaring deadlines to meet, nor do we have a structured routine to abide by. We are simply left to motivate ourselves to get out of bed, when reality we lost the drive we once had. We do not have to appease professors, our part-time jobs can manage still without us, and to be honest, we are burnt out. Oftentimes I hear adults talk about their undergrad days and how they still have nightmares about missing a deadline for a paper or showing up late to a final exam. These are things students are struggling with right now as they sink into their post-semester depressive states and get comfy.

Students have to leave a setting where they have called home for the past four months; the friends they have met, the clubs and organizations they’ve helped foster, the mindset of learning and self-determination. When we are at school we are told that we must be independent, strive for excellence, and that grades are the most important thing. So, when the final grades are posted, what are we left with? College leaves students feeling a void in their lives. We constantly give to others and at the end of the day we have nothing left for ourselves. Without our rigid schedules where our days are planned down to the minute we begin to feel like we don’t know who we are anymore.

After my freshman year I became very aware of this phenomenon during summer vacation. I realized I needed to lean on my family and remember that there was life outside the four walls of my dorm room. Take the time this summer break to fill your bucket.

Ways to fill your bucket:

  • Sleep. Sleep is the first thing we sacrifice in college.
  • Be social and spend time with those you haven’t seen in months: parents, siblings, grandparents, old friends, significant others, etc.
  • Do what you love, or used to love: watch Netflix, binge Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, play with your dog, etc.
  • Don’t forget to tell yourself that you did your best throughout the semester and that you are good enough.