We’ve all been there – the excitement building, the preparation and packing taking over everything, the loss of all available space in the living room being taken up with tents and gear, playing car tetris, the long car trip (or what feels like a long trip) in the car, erecting tents and putting up props, then slipping into the skin of your character and getting out there. Out there – where battling evil beings or solving puzzles or standing in the shield wall shoulder to shoulder with your brothers and sisters in battle becomes the every day; where the office job, home worries or daily routine has become the dream.
And then reality comes crashing back – you’ve packed up the tent, the site has emptied and the skip has filled with black bin bags and wrecked tents. The car journey home feels to take so much longer than it did a mere three days earlier. You return to a home that seems too small and the realisation that the weekend is over and you have work / school the next morning … And then the low hits and you feel wrecked.
Post LARP Blues doesn’t just affect those who have gone to the weekend-long events, but also affects those who’ve been on long intense missions or been through some pretty rough emotional stuff. I write this post to offer help on easing this painful experience, from my own experiences and from reading stuff from various blogs online.
I also include links to previous summer fest preparation blog entries to help with gearing up for your big gatherings.
I wish I could say that Post LARP Blues are some minor annoyance and something that passes easily. It’s not just exhaustion, it’s burnout. It’s not just boredom, it’s emotional fatigue. Think about it – for several days you have been the hero of your grand epic story, battling evil and living life on the edge of victory and defeat – but now you’re back to being “normal” and it’s a shock to the system. It feels like the world has ended; like you’ve reached the end of the road and nothing will make you smile again; that you’ve got nothing left to give. And if things didn’t quite go according to plan you might feel like your worth is in question and being “sad” is too small a word to describe how you feel.
You might feel like quitting your game – be it rage quitting or just feeling like your contribution is now no longer enough. You might struggle to find joy in the things you used to love in game / real life and you might find yourself snapping at your loved ones or burning a short fuse for a few days afterwards. This is normal – not great but normal – as you take time to process your in-game reactions alongside your day-to-day stuff.
The truth is that you will come out of this fighting. You’ve actually burned yourself into the ground through activity at the event and during the days / weeks running up to it (remember those nights staying up late to make kit or just prepare?) and are coming down of an emotional and adrenaline fuelled high. You’ve been burning the candle at both ends. You have been on a wonderful emotional rollercoaster, which I find fuels my love of my game when I’m riding the upswell of emotion, and coming down from that high can be tough.
Here are a few things that I try to do after an event to ease the passing of my Post LARP Blues.
1 ~ Leave the house tidy
It might seem silly in the mad rush of packing to consider tidying up – but little things like doing some of the dishes or making the bed can add a sense of welcome and normality to the homecoming. Leave the rest of the place looking like a whirlwind has ripped through it, you’ll probably not even notice the mess until after you’ve packed up your gear later on, but I find having a clean kitchen and fresh sheets on a made bed helps.
2 ~ Plan easy food and have your favourite drink in the fridge
You’ve probably not thought about food all weekend and you probably don’t want to come home to find a bare cupboard. We often avoid cooking entirely the first evening back after a long event, or plan a meal that is easy to put together upon our return. Having a favourite drink (be it tasty beverage or soft drink) can help ease your way into a detox and round off your holiday. You can start eating heathily and avoiding the drink tomorrow, but tonight you can still feast within moderation!
When you do get round to eating, try to give your body a break from the alcohol and avoid too much caffiene or overally fatty food. Good carbohydrates, protein and plenty of water will get you back onto the path of healthy eating and gives you an excuse to be all saintly and virtuous to your colleagues.
3 ~ Shower and sleep
You can’t be expected to think properly with a head full of fluff and a nose full of sweaty body. Sluicing off the dirt and grime and sweat of a day / several days and just getting properly clean can be a soothing experience. Think about those Herbal Essences adverts!
Getting a good night’s sleep can help restart your brain. Sleeping in a soft bed can also be surprisingly soothing on a bruised body, particularly after spending a few days sleeping on a camp bed or air mattress. Getting to bed at a reasonable time and beginning to reset your sleep pattern helps ease back into a normal routine; and often a way out off Post LARP Blues is to try to get back to normality.
4 ~ Take the day off (if possible)
This isn’t always possible I know, but I like to take a day off from the real world when I’m not at an event. It gives me space to get my head out of my character’s head and back into a normal way of thinking. It also gives me time to sort through the bags and get a head start on laundry / packing up / airing the tent, which begins to cross things off my to-do list.
5 ~ Unpack the gear / do laundry
Nothing reminds you that you’ve been away being epic than finding huge piles of kit in your house. Reclaiming your home helps reclaim your normality I find, particularly if your gear lives in a special box / cupboard / room. By physically boxing up your character you can mentally box them up to until you next need them, which I find helps to minimise the “bleed” of in-character emotions into your everyday life. That’s not to say that things won’t bleed through when you’ve been through an emotional experience, but it can make it more manageable.
6 ~ Engage with other fellow LARPers
There will be people in your friendship circle who’ve probably gone to the same event or who are willing to listen to your stories. Tell your tales, swap your stories and delight your listeners with your exploits. Just remember that a good storyteller listens to other people and you may learn about things you didn’t know where happening at the time, which puts some of your top moments into context. Share your photos! Look for yourself in photos and go “hey, my kit looks epic!”
7 ~ Write up the epic event
Writing this website really helps me when I’m struggling with a low moment. Sure, sometimes it hurts to write about the really personal stuff, or to share the things that have really messed with my character. But I know there are people who are looking forward to reading the write up, and the fact I give myself a two week max buffer between the event and the write up gives me a chance to process the really emotional stuff and tell the actual story. Some of you might not like writing a blog, but might like to make notes on your event for your character’s story, or write a log or just write a report to your guild boss going “hey, guess when we found” etc. Take the time to process your story!
8 ~ be kind to yourself!
You’re bruised, battered and exhausted. You’ve risen to great highs and plumbed great depths in your emotions, run around for hours on end and slept very little before doing it all again. Allow yourself to feel tierd and crappy and do little things that you enjoy – read a book, indulge in a movie marathon, go buy ice cream. You have a right to it, so just do it!
Here are a few links to blog posts on Post LARP Blues.
And to help you prepare for your summer event, please follow the links below to other blog entries for hints and tips. Happy LARPing!