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I am a student panicking about my future. I am not untypical. However, living with a disease that robs me of my energy and motivation makes it incredibly difficult to picture my future. I know I do not want a job I am not passionate about. I am a creative person. I care about issues to do with mental health and feminism. But in looking at my options on the many, many career websites pushed forward by my university I can’t help but feel confused and isolated. Many of the options open to me (as someone who is undertaking a degree which does not lead to a steady job) seem difficult and in most cases impossible when I take on board my depression. The whole ‘Kick Start Your Future’ campaigns and adverts featured on these websites (magazines, leaflets etc), usually accompanied by pictures of smiling, bright-eyed young people, only serve to make me feel nervous. When considering my options, I seem to only meet a series of dead-ends. Should I go postgraduate? Bang! It’s too expensive, I’m not sure which subject, should I do creative writing again? But then will I end up with a career after that etc etc. Should I try and get a job? Bang! No idea what job that would be, where would I go, how much would I earn, would I need to take time off for my illness etc etc.

I am a little clueless about what kind of careers there are available to people who want to work in fields of mental health/feminism. Feminism, especially. With the current culture of girls wanting to grow up to be glamour models, where is there information available for those who want to work to make things better for women? I have always been interested in mental health, but then is it a good idea to pursue a career in this field while I am still in therapy myself?

My university has a welfare office and a careers office but they run completely separate from each other. If I mention my career at the welfare office or vice versa, they simply refer me to the other office. As if the two things are not interlinked…

I have had discussions about this with a friend who is in a similar position to me. We are both young (early twenties), both in full time degrees and both only with vague ideas what we would like to do afterwards. We both suffer with clinical depression which limits our work options, and neither of us can rely on family members or partners for support. I feel like maybe there are more people out there who are suffering in silence under the same conditions, unable to come forward and admit it because of the current extremely helpful (note the sarcasm) governmental incentives to get everyone into work immediately, regardless of circumstance. If you don’t know what you want to do, or if you’re not currently in the position to find out, then God help you…

I’d like to throw open the discussion for anyone else who feels the same way, or anyone who has experienced similar feelings in the past. Anyone stuck? Anyone finally found their dream job? What kind of things do you all do and how does it affect your mental health/feminist principles?

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