The Morning After – Post-Comp Blues (Write31Days Day 16)

Imagine you dance at a competition and you do great!  Imagine whatever “great” means to you – top placements, pure enjoyment, or successfully executing something you had been struggling with.  Now imagine you wake up a couple of days after the competition and you feel like crap.  I call this “post-comp blues.”

Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I have experienced and written about this depressed feeling that comes after an event that gave me great joy or feeling of triumph.  I thought I would explore it a little more at a time when I’m not actually going through the emotions (my last post-comp blues post was written while I was dealing with them after my success at Emerald Ball).

Whenever I try to describe the mood changes I sometimes experience, I always use the image of a rollercoaster.  I ride an emotional rollercoaster.  And what happens after a rollercoaster goes up a hill?  It has to go down the other side.  An example of that would be feelings of great joy and success at competition followed by feelings of depression and listlessness after it’s over.

It’s not hard to see how you might end up riding the rollercoaster to begin with.  At a competition, you are in a fantasy world, surrounded by bright colors, lights and sounds, and when you’re dancing, you’re at the center of it.  And then suddenly, at the end of the day, it’s all shut down and you have to return to dreary reality.  It’s like Dorothy returning to Kansas after being in Oz.  Your senses are so stimulated in the fantasy world, so they wake up to take more in.  But then the stimulation is taken away, and you’re left wide-eyed, taking in extra black and white Kansas where there used to be the glowing Emerald City.

So how do you cope?  There are a few options that I’ve tried and found to be helpful.

1) Distraction.  When I was in Las Vegas for the Holiday Dance Classic last year, I had made plans with a friend for the couple of days after I competed.  Staying busy helped distract me from the descent from the competition high.

2) Awareness.  By the time I competed at Emerald Ball, I had ridden this rollercoaster several times so I knew what to expect.  Just knowing made it easier because there wasn’t surprise or confusion along with the depressed feelings.

3) Self-Medicate with Recorded Memories.  The other thing that helped me recuperate after Emerald Ball was watching videos of me dancing.  As I wrote in my first post-comp blues article, my demons came out to play and started discounting and dismissing my successes.  Watching videos and reminding myself that I really did do that, it wasn’t all a dream, helped calm the descent of the rollercoaster.

4) Answer the question “now what?”. One challenge after a big competition is knowing what to do next.  For however long you prepared for that comp, all of your time and energy went toward that one event. And now it’s over. I always try to have the next goal in mind, so when I feel that emptiness, I know what will fill me back up.

If you’re thinking of trying competition, I hope you don’t have to deal with this rollercoaster. But if you do, option 5 is to come back here, because you’re not alone! You can sit next to me, and we’ll ride this rollercoaster together!

Don’t forget to check out other posts from the 31 Day Writing Challenge!


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