“Post-Show Depression”

I’ve been really unmotivated lately. Not just as a blogger, but as a gamer and a little bit as a person too. It’d be tough for me to narrow down a specific reason why that is. I just come home in the afternoons and I look at the games I’m working to finish and I think “nah, I don’t want to mess with that right now.” I look at all the books I could read and shrug my shoulders. My blog comes to mind, I realize I need to write a post, but no words come to mind and when they do I feel like they aren’t good enough to post.

It’s been a busy time. Most of you know that I got a new job a couple of months ago and that this job means increased responsibilities and more travel. The travel part would be lessened somewhat if we could find a place to live in the new city, but so far the places we’ve been really interested in haven’t panned out for one reason or other. This has involved rushing home after work, making the hour drive out of town to check out a place, only to get there by the skin of our teeth for the showing and find out that the place isn’t gonna work for us. It’s frustrating, it’s draining, and combined with the workplace stress I have felt weirdly unmotivated at home lately.

Mega Drain
I am this Linoone.

But here’s a weird thing about all that. Recently there was this article in Polygon about “worshipping crunch,” and there was an understandably strong reaction to the article in the game journalism community. Particularly in the WordPress blogging community. There was this really strong objection to the idea of forcing people to experience the crunch, of asking them to undergo all this extra work and stress and to totally ignore everything else in their life as a result. Living in a constant state of stress and endlessly pushing yourself to push out your product sounds exhausting and torturous, even meaningless. That lifestyle sounds AWFUL, right?

I love it.

I fought that admission when I first read the article, particularly when I read the amazing responses from bloggers like The Well-Red Mage. But I cannot deny that for me specifically, there is a weird sort of masochistic appeal to the crunch. I WANT to live in that state of busyness and stress. I WANT to push myself to complete an impossible task within a brief period of time. It doesn’t matter if the product of that push doesn’t even last as long as the crunch required to produce it. Because it is, in my mind, a form of art to invest yourself so deeply into something that is fleeting by nature.

Breath of the Wild Cover
Some less fleeting than others…

In an attempt to see where the heck this comes from, what kind of circumstances could have taught me to be this way, I had to look back at my experiences in the theater. I studied theater initially as a minor but ended up majoring in the subject. Every semester of college my life was singularly devoted to a production. I spent all day talking about the theory of my craft in class, and all evening putting the theories to work in order to perfect my performance. In my free time I memorized lines or read more about my character or watched television shows that helped me to master the accent I needed for the play. I ate, slept, and breathed nothing but the production. So when the production was over, when my life was suddenly free to live how I pleased again, I often didn’t know what to do with myself. I jokingly referred to this phenomenon as “post-show depression,” the period of time after a production when I felt directionless. But there was always another production, a new thing for me to crunch.

If right about now you’re saying “that’s unhealthy, you can’t live your whole life that way,” you’re totally right. The effects of that lifestyle became crystal clear when I got engaged to the woman who is now my wife. We had this relationship to focus on and my schedule wasn’t allowing us to be together in the way we wanted to. Both of our days were consumed with school, but my evenings were gone too. Even weekends didn’t give us great opportunities to spend time together. I realized that for me to be the kind of husband that I want to be, to be there for my wife when she needed me and for us to have time to be together and be in love, that I needed to get out of the theater world.

The thing is, just because I left the crunch doesn’t mean the crunch left me. There still is and maybe will always be a part of me that was conditioned by my environment to be satisfied when I am in a state of stressfully overworking myself. That piece of me came alive during a period of time where I experienced a perfect storm of crunch – a crunch at work during my new job, a gaming crunch as I pushed myself to finish and create guides for Mario + Rabbids, and a blogging crunch as I finished out the Blogger Blitz. When all of those things wrapped up all roughly around the same time, the “post-show depression” set in and now I feel a little unmotivated because I don’t know what’s next.

Final Fantasy VIII Cover
It’s like I’m a Square Enix protagonist!

“There’s always another production,” I find myself saying. After all, Mario Odyssey comes out soon. I can play that really fast to try and get some reviews and guides out. And I do want to do Charming and Open again before the end of the year. Work is about to pick up again as I have many end-of-the-year trainings and projects I am going to be extensively involved in. Yeah, the crunch is coming again before I know it, and I can embrace it and go back into that place where I am pushing myself too hard and yet weirdly satisfied with it all at once.

Am I a mess? I kind of feel like a mess.

“Ian, you’re kind of bringing us to an uncomfortable place here.” I do apologize, adventurers, if this post is a bit unlike what you normally come and visit Adventure Rules for. I haven’t been posting with consistency lately and I’m torn about it. I need to rest but I need to keep my promises on the blog but I don’t owe these people anything but consistency is for ME and so on and so on. These are the thoughts that kick around in my head. And now that I’m in this place on the blog where I don’t have a specific purpose driving me forward and keeping me busy, so I don’t know what to create.

Peach Crying
The feelz!

These emotions are something that I think I will simply need to sort through for myself. Typing them out for you has at least been cathartic for me in a way. Recognizing that these feelings have a place that they come from, understanding that this mindset is a place that I have been to before and that I always come out okay on the other side…that helps me. Self-understanding cannot be underestimated, because that is the beginning of self-improvement. I know that there’s a person inside of me that hungers for the self-destructive crunch – in the future I need to be more careful not to let that tendency rise up and take over. Next time I run a blogging event or the next time I feel driven to finish a game just so I can review it or whatever, I need to take a step back and examine that those feelings aren’t coming from a good place. Next time work is putting me in a position of stress (probably multiple times in the next two-and-a-half months), I need to remember that it is okay to take a break from blogging or gaming or whatever I need to in order to experience time that is genuinely relaxing.

So now I turn the conversation to you, adventurers. Do you find yourself enjoying periods of heavy work and stress in your life? How do you balance that with living a healthy lifestyle? Do your hobbies ever become work to you? What allows you to relax and leave those feelings behind? Let me know in the comments and I hope that, in some weird way, reading this is helpful for you in the same way that writing it has been cathartic for me.

21 thoughts on ““Post-Show Depression”

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  1. I hope things work out for you, it is a lot to deal with and I hope that you can find a new place as that is horrible seeing these things fall through or not be right for whatever reason. Emotions are a tricky one to get through, but realising what you are thinking and feeling is a good start. I am terrible with too much stress/”the crunch” (sadly that is my life right now…) and if I feel that way I then stress even more so I can’t enjoy those times. My hobbies haven’t become work for me generally, unless I am so focused on finishing something that I feel I have to even if I don’t want to at that time if its the only way I feel I’m achieving it can turn to “work”. The relaxing depends on what is happening and how overwhelming the stress/crunch is at the time, as right now for instance there is nothing that is really relaxing me properly that I have found so far but sometimes taking a step back is all I need to do or play a game/read a book/draw etc. Your post just seemed to let me think of my situation at exactly the right time, despite being completely different, and I’m glad writing it out helped you, and reading it has helped me think.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m glad that it was helpful for you! I’m sorry to hear that you too are stressed, but I hope all that work will pay off for you soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing what you’re going through. I certainly relate to the allure of “crunching” – there’s a weird nostalgia when I think of stressful times, like revising for a big exam. I hope the stress doesn’t become too much to deal with.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Nostalgia is a great word for it. It’s like “man, remember when we were working ourselves to the bone for so-and-so?” Especially if the payoff ended up being good, the whole process actually feels worth it even though in a practical sense it probably wasn’t.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. A close friend once told me that I have a habit of throwing myself into the planning of something; and once the project is about to come into fruition, I immediately move onto the next thing because I ‘enjoy the stress of it all’. The only problem is that sometimes I forget my limits and push myself too far, and I then become demotivated when I realise I can’t achieve everything to the standard I’d like to.

    I recently wrote something more personal than I usually would and I get what you mean about it being cathartic. There’s something about getting all your thoughts down into words in front of you that makes them easier to sort through.

    Thanks for sharing this post with us. It’s important we have these kinds of conversations and are there to support each other. We’re all right behind you, and brighter days are on their way. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I often find myself writing something like this when I need to sort through things, and it certainly helps. It’s helpful knowing that other bloggers experience similar feelings and to hear their thoughts on the situation. One thing I love about the WordPress community is that I feel really supported here. Like, my gut instinct is to feel guilty when I need a break, but everyone here is very understanding and it’s an awesome atmosphere to write in.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kim!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for reading!
      Writer’s block is rough, for sure. Typically I can get through by forcing myself to write anyway – that’s kind of what this was, writing out the words that came smoothly to me rather than writing an article that was a bit more “on topic,” so to speak.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can only send as many good vibes to you mate, really hope that things will work out for you but as a friend once told me: “No matter how hard the obstacle, we always come through in the end”.

    I honestly have a tendency regarding “the crutch” as you put it, to be a person who becomes immersed in what ever project is interesting to me…just to be moving on towards the next thing before I even have finished the first.
    Although I get the occasional burnout for gaming, it’s still possible for me to continue because I love the media industry. There’s a sort of escapism with this that can become a safehaven, where no evil will reach me and real life problems can be put on hold for a moment. It helps a lot when the stress level becomes too much for the glass to withhold it.

    Thank you for sharing this with us all mate. It’s something worth noting for the rest of us, that we need to be there supporting for each other, in this community when things are going sour. Keep up the chin and always move forward, never back. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for reading! I definitely get that way about some projects myself; really hyped with the concept at the beginning, and then it just tapers off and I never get done. I had that problem a lot more often when I was trying to write novels. With the blog it’s a bit easier to manage!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I hear the demotivation part, but at the same time, I am not about the crunch. At all. I am very much a downtime kind of guy, and when I get home from work (which involves a lot of writing), sometimes the last thing I want to do is something creative that involves a lot of thought. Every once in a while though I get the itch, and now here I am!

    It’s normal to lose direction for a while and feel unattached to things you enjoy. Sometimes you just need to step away for a bit, get out of your comfort zone, do something fun, and then come back renewed. These slumps never last forever! Just make sure you are not hard on yourself and take good care of yourself – that’s the most important thing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For sure! I’ve been trying to find the thing that will help me to get out of that zone but I haven’t managed to find it yet. It’ll just take time, I think. In the next few weeks I’m gonna be having quite a few get togethers with friends and I think that will help me a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. First off, good luck with everything! I can definitely relate to feeling like a Square Enix protagonist, haha

    I’ve had a few blogger meltdowns and my real life job has been pretty crazy lately (just came off a badly need week off though). I learned my blog is just a place for me to dispense my babbling thoughts. I love it when people come along for the ride, but you really do have to blog for YOU, I think. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For sure, that is definitely something I’ve learned from the blogging experience. The moment when I stopped caring about metrics really helped me come into my own as a blogger. Because often when you just put yourself out there, there are folks who feel the way you do and eat up your words as a result!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I can relate to the lack of motivation – in my case, it’s because I lost track of my routine (exercise, healthy eating, sleep etc). Crunching on my blog kinda led to that…but, as I realised, you have to pace yourself. As long as you are making the best use of your time, then it’s ok to juggle priorities.

    Good luck with the house hunting – a nightmare, but one of the most important things you’ll ever do. It’s worth the wait for the perfect place and you’ll know once you find it. Never settle for less!


  8. Good luck with house hunting! I’ve found moving to be one of the most stressful undertakings…..

    That’s interesting what you said about being a theater major. I was a music major, and there was always a recital to prepare for, a concert coming up, or some gig that was being dropped on you at the last minute, on top of class obligations and any part time job things one might have. As the saying goes, if you need something done, ask a busy person. It was nice always feeling like I was “going,” because everything seemed *vitally important* and getting everything done in a day was such a great feeling. Some people call it stressful, but I tended to call it “structure.”

    I wonder sometimes if there’s a difference between the “being busy” sort of stressed and the “being emotionally drained” kind of stressed. The former is something that people tend to be able to push through… at least until it becomes the latter. I’ve also found myself edging into the second category recently, so keeping busy is a double-edged sword – it might drain me more, but it reminds me of the “being busy” times that were stressful but in a good way. You’re right; it’s not particularly healthy, but I guess it gets the job done?? Amazing how the arts condition you to exist in a certain state, isn’t it??

    Anyway,all this to say that you know you better than anyone, so be sure to take care of yourself in any way that makes sense and will be meaningful to you! We’ll all be here when you get back if you take a break!


  9. Crunch time can both be good and bad. Some people thrive under it, as is evident mostly in my work place, and what I’ve experienced here myself. However, I’m at the point of my job where the rewards aren’t there and I can’t always be crunching because I just wear myself out and become very negative about my workplace.

    As for personal life crunch, that’s a different story, and I could throw a job I enjoy in here as well. For things I genuinely enjoy, crunch is not as bad. It can still be tiring, but it ends up making me feel very rewarded by the end of it all.

    But in the end, there’s still that feeling where you do get burned out and just need to step back again. Only thing I could say, and I kind of learned this through playing Stardew Valley recently is that you don’t always need to do everything right now and as quickly as possible. I relate to wanting to play games quickly so I can write about them, but then that’s at the expense of my enjoyment, and sometimes my sanity. In Stardew Valley, I started out the first month trying to maximize everything and freaking out about mistakes. But then I realized, even if I do all these tasks, there’s still so much more after that to do that I’ll never stop the grind. So I just took a step back if I missed something, no big deal, I could do it the next day or next month, but the thing that matters is it’ll get done soon enough.

    Hope that makes sense and good luck with the house hunting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I definitely get that – there’s certainly a danger in trying to “maximize” an experience and forgetting to have fun with it. That’s a perspective I have to reinforce for myself with blogging a lot. Anytime I get in a mindset where I’m thinking metrics before meaningful interaction, I know I need to take a step back and re-evaluate why I’m doing this. Which generally leads me to chill out and just have fun doing it!

      Liked by 1 person

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