Post Performance Depression: An Experience

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So recently I did a performance in a related creative field. It went waaayy better than expected. But after, I had an incredible down.

I noticed my mood dipped dramatically before the performance. Because in a way, I was performing already. While I was one of the last performers, I was performing before I even got on stage. But as a crowd member! I've realized I had a need to impress the performers while they perform. Like I'm supposed to appreciate them, so I ham up my responses.

So after all this, I did my performance piece, and I stumbled and struggled. People told me it went well, but I had to isolate myself in the toilet and I burst out crying. A LOT of emotion came pouring out. I was blubbering away, anything positive anyone said, even people simply talking to me seeing that I'm okay, I wouldn't be able to talk. It was too much. People were being nice about my performance !

So I had a research online and I've found that this could be a mix of Post Performance Depression, while also some other baggage on top.

Has anyone experience PPD, and is willing to share any tips or advice, or even support ? I know I can work on some of my MH issues now thanks to this event. Though I wanna see if anyone knows what I mean ?

Cheers

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@miga

So I had a similar experience in 2009...I was the last performer at a wedding (of all things) following a decent band of several people. And then it was me and my keyboard. Ugh. In my case, I didn't do that well. But I didn't totally break down until after my fiancee left my apt hours later.
And that's when I threw the baby out with the bathwater and decided I was done with writing songs and performing. I never wanted to do it again. I didn't write another song until 2020.
All that to say, you're not alone in PPD (never heard it called that, but it sounds like what I experienced). I hope you don't make any big decisions after a rough night. I could have at least kept writing, even if I didn't perform.
Your case sounds like some emotional exhaustion on top of everything else. I know what it is to 'ham up' responses! And it's exhausting. You had a long, difficult evening. I think it takes a certain level of emotion to even perform, and then to try to be supportive of everyone else before you even did your thing...!
I once had a job that often felt like performing...I went home with migraines frequently. Eventually I learned to keep my emotional engagement with others on the down low, just to preserve my emotional health. I had to be ok with being quiet sometimes instead of always being the 'hostess with the mostest' every time I was on the job. It kinda depends on your personality I think, but I was definitely bringing too much 'hype' for my own good. Hope that's helpful in some way. Thanks for sharing.

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Yes interesting you picked up on the exhaustion thing - as an addition to this performing, I didn't have much time to rehearse, that really is a good point and one ive just realised now looking back. accumulative stress and exhertion!

interestingly i also find it hard to switch off when i do something completely new, such as this course. its like i have to make it a regular thing so i stop thinking about it in bed.. interestingly i can think of a time when i learned about mental reviews of my day that i took very seriously. both a blessing and a curse.

yes your reply is helpful, im thinking of more ways i can improve my responses and reactions to the social pressures. id love to work on this soon, ill set some goals.

thanks for sharing your experiences. i relate to the breaking down once alone, and come to think of it i used to get a lot more migraines than i do now. likely because ive been working on my MH like i say

if you dont mind sharing, what did you do during the time you gave up music ? did you move onto another interest ?

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Back in my earliest acting days I experienced this a lot. You seem to literally become someone else on stage and when you come off after the curtain call you just dive into your shoes as that confident performer gives way to a nervous jittery you. However, if my experience is anything to go by, it gets better. Though I still found I would usually have to empty my bowels several times before a performance, even after years of performing. But then other actors told me that "if you aren't nervous before and after going on stage, you're in the wrong profession".

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@miga

@berni1954 It's interesting that feeling nervous after the performance is a thing too. I've heard that nerves are a good thing, generally.
Glad to hear it gets better with time.

@chldomn5 Thanks for asking. I didn't really have another interest when I gave up music. I was about to get married (so maybe a husband counts as another interest? lol) I had a job. I tried to forget about it since there were plenty of other things to keep me busy. I exercised more back then, which was a 'win' for a while.
It wasn't enough for the long haul, though, and eventually the lack of joy was one of many contributing factors that led to a serious spiritual crisis in the last few years.
At least I started writing again. I'm glad for that!

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I can tell you that I get down on myself any time I do any big public speaking thing so yeah, feeling nervous after a performance is a thing. I haven't been paid to do music since... 2000 or so? So I don't remember if I felt that way after a paid music gig.

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How about "Post Composition Depression"? When I write something new that I like, I often feel thrilled and confident and skip through the rest of the day light-hearted and joking. Then, the day after, soberness kicks in, I realize all the defects, and generally don't see why someone would like it, or why it made me feel so good the day before. It seems to be a cycle of getting high and coming down again.

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@florianhoffmann yep ive had this especially as a teenager. when i realised how far i had to go to get better at it. these days the pressure is lifted from thinkin i have to be creating all the time. us hobbyists are lucky we can drop it whenever we like to rest and do something else. when its your job, it seems your self worth and emotional investment elevates this feeling from what ive gathered from videos online

@berni1954 ive had this on a smaller level, once when i was unwell generally and having a bad time in life. and the other was when i noticed it for the first time as a big deal. it was too much like mental health struggles so it scared me. this has gladly, yes, diminished in a music setting. i generally feel like, ive dumped a massive amount of adrenaline out of my system and i come down and its super relaxing. it helps to be able to see it as not a threat or a danger in this feeling. but for other settings this is pretty much a thing still for me !

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two really bad experiences. first, in 1978, when the firemen came storming into the Byrd after my bands opening set, I was so scared I jumped out the window and hurried home, lay down in my bed with a super migraine and suffered all night. the next day i heard that after the fire chief closed the place down, everybody snuck back in and the mentors and the dils played their sets , followed by a jam with members of several seattle punk bands and they partied all night while i missed it all, suffering from post performance depression. the second was after a performance of of mice and men which i adapted, directed and played george. after the first night, i realized there was not enough text between george and lenny before george shot him, so i added a speech from grapes of wrath that had always moved me. when i performed it that first night, i lost control and was shaking as i held back the tears. that night, i had intense fever and vomitting.

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@miga

@billwhite51 Those are intense stories! I can relate to bad performances of pieces that move me. I once performed a song (not my own) that has always moved me. Unfortunately I can't sing and cry at the same time and the song dissolved into tears. Sigh.

@florianhoffmann I have a rollercoaster reaction to composition. First I feel good for having written something, then I'll hate the song and maybe feel like a loser. Then two weeks later I'll listen again - sometimes I like it and feel great. lol.

@metalfoot I don't usually feel nervous after performance but my mood might crash and I'll do a vigorous mental critique of it, which means it will appear to have been a complete failure. I'm almost recovered from this tendency, now that I'm *ahem* more mature.
I also don't remember how I feel after musical gigs because it has been too long. I don't even remember if any of my gigs were paid! =D

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@miga this wasnt a bad performance. in fact, just the opposite, but in a way that i am aesthetically opposed to. i believe the emotion belongs int he audience members, not in the performer. in this case, my performance was so intense that my acting partner fet it and was almost overwhelmed. in this case, i was acting in the play in order to regulate the performance of my acting partner, wh o was relatively inecperienced. alone on the stage, he would have wavered. while my presence (as most of his scenes were with me) kept him steady on the rails. through the general run of the play, my performance was reviewed as flat, which is how i wanted it. on this one noght though, the audience was electrified...and they should not have been. their empathy should have been with lenny, not with his murderer. and for this mistake i allowed to happen, i was rewarded with a night of fever, chills, and tears.

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thanks for sharing your experiences everyone. makes this less a worry for me, i can be safe in the knowledge weve all had some kind of this

i like what you say about the emotion belonging to the audience in this case you brought up @billwhite51 , ive always sided with the performer for emotions. likely because ive not usually been into gigs or musical performances in the past. i can see the emotion on a performer, but its likely my focus has been on that more than the crowd/audience ( in my case for music gigs anyway )

@florianhoffmann ive had this a few times yes, the come down after a high from creating something i like. i am less emotionally invested in music right now so im able to chill out on my creations. but i hope to reduce this high i feel and simply take my time. like i did in fawm this year, it helped a tonne with my emotions and health. perhaps by getting so charged up we have the comedown that is exaggerated by the lack of dopamine ? and also, ive noticed when ive had this high and come down again, it takes me a few months before i get to hear it objectively and not highlight the flaws. it becomes more like a listener experience rather than the creation side of it

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@chldomn5 here is another example of performer vs audience emotion. when directing wuthering heights, there was a day during which the noyfriend of the woman playing catherine broke up with her. that night, the emotionally distraught actress chanelled all her pain into the performance. it was terrible. we were not seeing catherine's pain, but the pain of the actress portrying her. the entire play collapsed on account of the emotional self-indulgence of the actrss, who believed herself as having given a spectacular performance. when you write about responding to the emotions of the performer, i believe it is the emotions that performance is stirring in yourself that you are actually responding to. because the performers emotions are fake, while yours are real. when i am writing my song, i am putting true emotion into it, an emotion that cannot be honestly recreated in performance. but by hitting all the notes correctly with the proper totality and dynamics, the emotion i put into the writing of that song will be reborn in the nervous system of the sensitive audience member. in my hamlet project of this years 50 90. i received many comments on how emotional my performances were. but i felt no emotions in givng those readings. i was simply following the cadences of the poetry, my concentration on the proper pronunciations and tones. this work left no room for my own emotions, and had i projected my own emotions into hamlets monologues, they would not longer be hamlets words, but my own. and such a performance would be a desecration of shakespeare.

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@billwhite51 thanks for sharing your experiences, its teaching me ways about the world you might not be realising at the moment. its sinking in, i just need time to formulate it in my head.

its also interesting you say about the self indulgence. i do wonder what the line is between this and say a more suitable performance within the role ?not just in acting but in music too

EDIT: especially because of mental health and how there is an effect on us like in Post Performance Depression or what have you. channeling those emotions is draining and ive had a lil taste of it myself recently

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@fuzzy

I like to take a Buddhist approach.
Let those emotions and feelings flow through you with no friction. Do not hang on to them, dwell on them, or allow them to define your identity. Merely acknowledge them and note them as they pass through you and out of your mind, leaving only calmness in their wake. Be grateful and thank them once they've gone for the lesson they have taught you about the human condition.

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@fuzzy I like that, thanks for sharing

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@chldomn5 imagine yourself in the audience for beethovens ninth symphony, and every musician and singer on stage took this as as opportunity for self expression. the result would be chaos. the ballet is an idealization of the way humanity could move. to realize this, each dancer must control precisely every muscle intheir body. moden dance, on the other end of the ssprctrum, is a chaotic, self indulgent expression of the dancer's emotional state. it neither elevates the potential for beauty in the movements of the human body nor does it edify the audience member who may aspire to a more dignified way of carrying oneself. tha actor is not paid to simulate self catharsis for the entertainment of an audience, but to stimulate a catharsis in the audience member. these are but a few examples of the job of the performer ....they perform the ritual that uplifts the congregation.