How To Deal With The Post Con Blues

I was scanning the Zuckerberg Experiment and saw a not which made me a little sad. It seemed that the wonderful staff at the Marriott Auburn Hills were having a hard time dealing with the vacuum left by the departure of all of the Penguicon people.

Is it post con depression (or what I like to call PCB for Post Con Blues)? It certainly sounds like it, considering the description I read. Here’s my recipe for avoiding this particular affliction.

Granted, it is hard to be mired down by post con depression when there is another con right around the corner. I mean right around the corner. I've gotten very good at avoiding the problem of post con depression by making sure that I am occupied with something in the days and weeks after a big convention weekend.

This year I've discovered that one thing that I will have to schedule is more time for sleep recovery. The sad fact of the matter is that as I approach the half century mark,
1 I can no longer bounce back from the effects of sleep deprivation and alcohol consumption the way I used to. There was a time when as long I was fully caffeinated I would be able to function properly after a weekend of fun. In fact, I would rarely feel the effects of the weekend during the weekend itself.2

Fortunately I have not reached the age where I am totally wiped out by Sunday, but it has definitely taken me a few days to recover the use of all of my faculties. My legs were especially bad all day Monday. This was probably from being tired as well as my attempt at fitness (avoiding the elevators whenever possible). There was a lot of stair climbing this weekend. Some of it involved jogging up nine flights to reach the food floor.

I suppose I should have done something along the lines of defining post Con depression earlier in this little rant. However, I really don't think it requires an explanation. It is simply the feelings of melancholy and general malaise felt after one has spent a weekend (or more) of fun at a convention. Part of the adjustment may actually be physical. While congoers are cautioned to make sure that they get appropriate amounts of sleep and real food during the weekend, sometimes people are just too busy to follow these steps.

I know personally my last three days have been an effort to increase my water intake back up to my usual level. When my legs and feet started cramping on Saturday night, I knew that I wasn't getting enough water. Coffee will keep you awake, but it does little to fight dehydration.

Another part of the post con blues comes from having to leave a whole bunch of friends behind. There are groups of people who only see each other in the meat world at conventions. After reconnecting for 72 hours, to have to leave these friends behind can be a wrenching experience.

I find that the easiest way to combat this is to remember what you will be returning home to, at least the positive parts. Sure, you have spent a three days hanging out with friends both new and old. However, what about your family and all of those friends that you had to leave behind in order to attend the con? Plan lunches with your non-con friends so you don't feel completely cut off and alone. They are probably dying to hear about all of the crazy stuff you did over the weekend.
4 Plan a day with your family. They missed you as much (or more since you were out having a blast) than they missed you.

Yes, I count the four legged members of the family in this category. I can't believe you would even ask that.

Another thing that you will end up missing is what I have been discussing in most of these Con related posts. There is a sense of companionship, of belonging that one gets when one is surrounded by thousands of like minded people. Even if the people on either side of you are a different brand of geek than your own personal one, you are not going to find anyone putting anyone else down. Instead, you are going to find someone in a classic Starfleet uniform and someone dressed as Princess Leia standing on either side of a Dalek to have their picture taken (by a guy in drag). It can be whiplash inducing to leave this sense of community behind and re-enter the real world where if you are lucky your own brand of geek will be met with cold indifference.

My solution to this is twofold. Maintain contact with the people you met at the convention. Odds are it will take you two days just to upload all of your pictures to Facebook and then comment on those that you are tagged in. Use the digital world to keep in touch and plan your next time together.

Meanwhile, do the exact opposite. Unplug. Spend some quality time by yourself. Take time to remember the fun that you had. Read a book, play a video game, watch a favorite movie or TV show (you've probably got some stuff on your TiVo waiting for you). If you are like a lot of us, there is a certain level of anti-social in your mix. Take the time to decompress before you have to start dealing with strangers again.

Never, ever, jump right back into your day job if at all possible.

As for myself, my schedule is still too busy to contemplate the PCBs. This weekend I am going on a tour of Haunted Fort Wayne which will go until the wee hours of Sunday morning. Sunday evening I have volunteered as a zombie to chase people in a zombie survival run. The following weekend I have relatives coming into town. The weekend after that will be Motor City Comic Con so some time between now and then I will have to finish my prep work for that con.

This is on top of all of my usual stuff like my daily writing goals, house work, and the job hunt.

Like I said. Keep busy.

1 It's still more than half a decade away, but it is definitely coming on fast.

2 Thanks in no small part to a concoction know as Con Juice. It was something I invented one year that Penguicon fell on the weekend before a large term paper was due. I found that by mixing equal parts Red Bull and Gatorade one can remain awake indefinitely.

3 This year I did not have any Con Juice, but I did have two Monter-ritas -- margaritas made with Monster energy drink. I was surprised by how yummy they were considering I usually find Monster Energy Drink pretty vile.

4 Even if they are not dying to hear it, you are going to tell them anyway, right? Of course you are.