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How podcasts helped cure my post-grad depression

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Welcome to No Shame November! This week we’re diving into the pop culture we love that society tells us we shouldn’t.


Alone in my apartment, chewing on cheap takeout lo mein, rocking the same sweatpants for a fifth day in a row—again. Six months after finishing my bachelor’s degree, this was how I found myself: a post-grad poltergeist haunting my New York City abode like a metropolitan Boo Radley. Isolated. Lonely. Things had gotten bad.

My life hadn’t always been this bleak. As a senior in college, I had lived with my two best friends, Sarah and Ellie, a pair of girls more akin to criminal accomplices than sorority sisters. For ten glorious months, we inhabited Apartment 1012 with reckless abandon, setting off smoke detectors, rescuing stray cats, and pissing off just the right number of resident advisors.

At the end of the year, when the tassels were turned, our diplomas handed out, and that hole in the wall spackled, the three of us had a long ugly cry as we prepared to go our separate ways. Sarah was staying in Atlanta, Ellie was going back to England, and my move to New York would be underway in minutes. It was the end of an era with no clear reunion in sight and the pain that came with that realization was excruciating.

But, as my parents loaded the last of my belongings into our Nissan Altima and we began the long trek north, I became hopeful. Bright lights, big city! New York was the home of the Sex and the City gals, Entourage’s insufferable douche squad, and the now-imprisoned Seinfeld gang. If TV had taught me anything, it was that Manhattan was filled with hip young adults practically begging to banter with you at the local coffee shop.

Even in the world’s ninth largest city, making friends as an adult really, really sucks.

Turns out: nope. Not at all. Even in the world’s ninth largest city, making friends as an adult really, really sucks. (Like House of Cards Season 6 meets Parks and Rec Season 1 level sucks.) In the “real” world, you can’t just share a map at orientation, tag along to a last-minute party, or sign-up for a free club to make friends. You actually have to work at meeting anyone.

The crippling isolation that hits some after-college transplants like me is one symptom of a larger phenomenon; you probably know it as “.” Exactly what it sounds like, post-graduation depression is the rise of mental health issues some face after leaving college. One day, you’re bee-boppin’ along with your steadfast friends. The next, you’re sobbing while knocking out that ninth viewing of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7, really taking care to savor the credits this time around. (May I say, once again, well done Production Assistant #4. You mastered the craft.)

Identifying the cause of this loneliness wasn’t particularly difficult for me. Many of my friends were coping with the same troubles in different cities and a number of solid helped me sort out where my despair was coming from.

Solving it, however, was a bit trickier. At first, I attended every happy hour, acquaintance-hosted housewarming, and workplace meet and greet I could find. I was perky, persistent, and, above all else, present. But slowly, as the months passed and “my people” remained absent, I gave up. 

Well, that is, until I met Karen and Georgia. 

“Stay sexy and don’t get murdered!” I shouted those words at the top of my lungs, in unison with my newfound best friends, every Monday and Thursday with ritualistic fervor for weeks. No, the three of us weren’t crowding around my kitchen table drinking wine, practicing some bizarre self-affirmation/devil worship. I was usually cooking or tidying up while Karen and Georgia, thousands of miles away, remained unaware that their pre-recorded words were slowly mending my wounded soul.

My Favorite Murder, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark’s bi-weekly true crime/comedy show, was the gateway that launched my podcast obsession. As I explored the depths of Spotify, seeking more voices to fill the quiet moments of my day, Karen and Georgia were joined by Chuck and Josh of Stuff You Should Know. Soon after, I met Paul, June, and Jason of How Did This Get Made? 

Then came Aaron Meinke of Lore, Michael Barbaro of The Daily, Sarah Koenig of Serial, Phoebe Robinson of Sooo Many White Guys, and, perhaps most fittingly, John Moe of The Hilarious World of Depression.

All of these people were folks who I could get to know fairly intimately, depending on the podcast, who showed up reliably and had real interest in whether I was joining them—if only to sell me another shipment of HelloFresh. 

At the end of the day, it’s okay to be alone, but you don’t have to be lonely.

Somehow, I had found my way out of the terrifying darkness that greeted me upon first arriving at adulthood and was back to my life in Apartment 1012. Sure, Ellie and Sarah still weren’t there to teach me to not microwave plastic or hug me after a long day. But, I was once again filling the solitary corners of my life with the words, ideas, and compassion of interesting people who cared if I was listening.

At the end of the day, it’s okay to be alone, but you don’t have to be lonely. While TV characters, film heroes, and even my beloved podcasters can never serve as substitutes for complete friends, the worlds they open up can remind you of all that is still out there to explore, making what seems like a small life, so much bigger than you could ever imagine. 

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