Melancholy for no good reason
March 29, 2011 11:24 AM   Subscribe

How do you power through post-excitement depression?

I hope this isn't chat-filter, but more "I'm looking for suggestions for a quick fix." Last week was my birthday, a visit with my little sister, who lives in Maryland, and then a long-anticipated half marathon trip with my DH to Washington D.C. (which ended in a personal record by more than 4 minutes!). My husband has been waiting to hear about a promotion at his job for more than two months, and just heard yesterday that it's still going to be a long wait before they make a decision.

Today and the near future: crickets. I find myself in a bit of, if not depression, general malaise that's been bothering me. Combined with DH's job stress and the lack of a goal race for another 8 weeks, how do I find some inspiration/motivation to knock me out of the day to day drone of waiting/training?
posted by roomthreeseventeen to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I used to be in the theater, and I felt something similar to this every time our run of performances was over. It was REHEARSE REHEARSE REHEARSE PERFORM AWESOME PERFORM AWESOME—then nothing. For weeks or even months, nothing, until it was time to rehearse again.

I would say, plan short term rewards and "things to look forward to." But they really have to be things you're excited about—a weekend of camping, a new pair of shoes, dancing on a Friday night, your favorite meal. They cannot be things you're ambivalent about. Whatever floats your boat, as long as it really floats your boat.

But I'd space the rewards about a week out.


Helps me, anyway.
posted by functionequalsform at 11:34 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sounds like you need a rest. I recommend cultivating the fine art of "fuck it" nap-taking.
posted by hermitosis at 11:47 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Congrats on the PR! I agree with functionequalsform - that kind of thing helps me with when I have malaise induced by just about anything. What about getting a pedicure? I'm sure your feet would love you for it. Do you have friends you run with that you could set up a day to go on an easy run? My rewards for myself are pretty lame but I routinely feel over-scheduled so most of the time, just wandering around a store or sitting in a cafe makes me happy.

Maybe you could start by focusing on the week ahead. I'd say something like, pedicure one day, treat yourself to a new magazine or book or a trip to the library another day, check out a new restaurant or try out a new recipe, watch a movie and eat pizza, catch up with a friend, call a relative, etc. These kinds of things easily build on themselves too - reading one book makes you want another, catching up with one friend makes you think of someone else you haven't seen in a while - so just get the ball rolling and you'll have things to look forward to in no time.
posted by kat518 at 11:52 AM on March 29, 2011

Learn to appreciate the crickets. Just crickets, nothing but crickets . . . can't be beat.
posted by Corvid at 12:10 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I find baking/cooking to be pretty therapeutic for those kinds of lulls in activity. It takes up time (choose a more finicky recipe for bonus time) and gives a sense of accomplishment once you're done. Plus, yummy food to eat or share with others.

Slightly more work-intensive cookies fulfill this for me, like snickerdoodles or layered bar cookies. I don't know, something about working with my hands feels like I'm doing something productive and calming, even if it only results in a platter of goodies.
posted by rachaelfaith at 12:11 PM on March 29, 2011

One thing a week. Extravagant recipe, long hike with a friend, planting the garden (you might break that into three weeks -seed buying, tilling, planting), visiting a local botanic garden, trip to the beach/lake/natural feature of your preference, upcoming movie you can't wait to see, friend visiting from out of town, choose a charity 1/2 marathon to run for (and begin collecting donations, let me know, I'll throw in a few bucks), big house cleaning project (just one room a week though), buy new sheets for the bedroom, check your facebook for upcoming birthdays and make plans to celebrate the nearest one, volunteer somewhere specific. sort and toss take out menus, go yard sale-ing with a purpose - new mixer? wanting a perfect set of mixing bowls? need a dresser for the spare bedroom? Only buy the thing(s) that is(are) your goal(s).
posted by bilabial at 12:26 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think it takes about 15 minutes after something colossal and positive in my life has completed, where I get bummed and forget about what exactly was so amazing. Probably to a fault. I think the point is to be in the moment - the finishing something isn't altogether the point to life, that things go in cycles and one of the parts of the cycle is resting and planning. Another part is completion. Sometimes things are fun, sometimes things are fun *after* the fact. The latter is usually what's more lasting.

It's a very good thing to get out of the thought that, "If only I do/acquire/buy/experience X I'll be happy for a long time". Because you won't. You'll be happy to for a little while and then, you won't. The point of life isn't to be happy - if there is a point, it's probably just to BE. It's a very big empty box (this, BE thing) and you're allowed to try (which is a key word) to fill it with whatever you want. I would suggest to actually keep it pretty empty and give much of what's left in there, away. Figuratively speaking, of course.

I think I just re-explained Buddhism to an extent, but there you go. It's an obvious route, but it's not very appealing to really travel much on it and there's nothing really anyone can tell you that will make you want to go try it. It's sort of up to you.

So, I'm stoked about all the positive things that have happened in your life, but I'm not going to feel much sympathy towards you that it doesn't just keep coming. I mean, why would I? What's Next?

I mean, isn't it exciting just to think about what tomorrow may bring? I get goose bumps just thinking about all our tomorrows.
posted by alex_skazat at 9:58 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I go through this after finishing big exciting times, too. I always fall back on my friend's list of "ways to prevent post-trip depression," expounded to me one night across a campfire on a backpacking trip. They were originally just about backpacking, but I use these ideas now any time I'm coming down off the excitement of a big project, vacation, visit, or whatever else.

1. Process -- Think about what was fun and went well. Consider whether there's anything you'd do differently next time.
2. Reminisce -- Talk to the people who shared in your fun. Organize your photos, whether that means simply moving them onto your computer, posting to facebook, printing out selected snapshots, or even scrapbooking. Write a journal about the fun you had.
3. Relax -- Luxuriate in getting back to normal, in whatever way works best for you. Hot bath, mani/pedi, trashy book, delicious food, etc.
4. Plan -- The most important step! When you've recovered from all the excitement, start planning the next exciting thing you're going to do.
posted by vytae at 10:35 PM on March 29, 2011

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