Writing Therapy: Post-Vacation Slump


I’ve always considered myself lucky to have never been diagnosed with depression. Although I’m speculating, it seems like people without it seem to be in the minority nowadays. It’s a rare occasion when I get sad. Because of that, I find myself cherishing the times I am. That’s not to make light of those with depression or envy them. I couldn’t imagine dealing with my mind and body battling it out on a daily basis so vigorously that simply getting out of bed and performing ordinary tasks prove challenging. I have never experienced it, and am thankful for it. With that out of the way, consider the rest of the text trivial in my sporadic sorrow.

I recently returned from a trip to Seattle. It was only my second time in the city, and I hail from the Midwest – halfway across the country. The first time I visited Seattle, sightseeing and hitting tourist spots was the main faire. This time around, the trip was almost entirely about seeing people and rarely about doing things. I was more than happy to simply be along for the ride and in the presence of far-off friends than participating in tourist stunts.

That explains why the trip’s most satisfying night involved lying on a friend’s living room floor until 3am and talking about who we were 10 years ago versus who we are now. I’ll add that no alcohol was involved. Just sitting and deep diving on the past. I was ecstatic to pass up an elevator ride in the Space Needle or an underground tour for a night such as that.

Out of the generous handful of people I spent time with in Seattle, all but one were friends I formed over Twitter. To be honest, I can’t even remember what sparked a single friendship with any of them individually – except video games. That’s the one thing we all have in common. These people welcomed me into their lives, even sharing space in their apartments to let me sleep. Toward the end of the trip I kept telling people it was everything I could’ve asked for and more. Like I said, the trip was about seeing people. And see them, I did.

I knew when I left Seattle, occasional waves of sadness would sweep over me. The first one hit as I waited in the security line at the Seattle airport. A friendly TSA agent complimented my shoes, and I thanked him as tears welled up in my eyes. I couldn’t look him in the face.

After I passed security and sat at my gate, the waterworks really started. I removed my glasses and thrust my head into my hands. I cried and wiped my bloodshot eyes and nose continually. After a while, I calmed down and walked the busy terminal to clear my thoughts. My stomach ached, but I didn’t feel like eating.

As I’ve been back in the Midwest for a few days now, I’ve been wondering about my answer to the question people asked about how the trip was going. Suddenly it didn’t seem like the trip was so great after all. I slowly realized how much I wanted to spend time having more meaningful conversations with those I met with in Seattle. Maybe just being along for the ride wasn’t enough, after all. Maybe the problem is my previous 3am living room story happened on my final night. Perhaps if that’d happened on night one, I would’ve been more susceptible to those conversations. More eager to start them. There’s something to be said for being able to fall right back into place and shoot the shit with someone you haven’t seen in two years, but it’s another to take advantage of the situation and use that time for more important discussion. I stumbled on the latter.

At the time I thought everything was lovely, but now I can think of 50 more questions I want to ask people I hung out with. And they’re not the kinds of questions I can just text message to someone. They’re the kinds of questions I want to sit down and ask face-to-face. Who knows when that’ll happen. In two years? Five years?

I shouldn’t beat myself up over this stuff, but here we are. The grass is always greener, eh?

Thoughts such as those have been contributing to my recent bout of sadness. A post-vacation slump, if you will. I hate to be the person who complains after going on vacation, because I count my lucky stars I was able to go in the first place, but here I am.

Because I don’t experience sadness often, I tend to revel in it. Where some people might watch happy movies or spend time with close friends to pull them out of the sadness well — I dive in.

I started a new game in Silent Hill 2 the other night – my favorite game and also the most depressing game I’ve ever played.

If I drive anywhere, I tend to take the long way home and crank up emo music I listened to 10 years ago. Of course, I sing at the top of my lungs until my throat feels like a fireball. Just like high school all over again.

It’s not all bad, though. Usually when I return from a trip, I channel the busy energy of seeing people and try to do something to better myself instead of sit on the couch all day in sadness. I haven’t had alcohol in days, and I’m gonna try my best only to drink on special occasions. We’ll see how long I stick to that. (I’m guessing about a week).

I’m also renewing my commitment to working out. Although I was going to the gym for cardio about every other day before my trip, I’ve now been every single day since returning, and I even went twice today. Unheard of. And I’m only drinking water and tea at the moment. Good for me, I guess. Maybe I can finally lose these extra pounds that have been sticking around for the past year?

I’m not sure for whom I’m doing all this, though. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m eating better and working out for my own benefit. I feel like I’m doing it to impress people 1,600 miles away who have no idea I’m doing it. Maybe I’m honoring their presence and acceptance of me in their lives and trying to do right by them for it. I don’t know.

Consider this a writing therapy session to gather my thoughts about how I feel after a trip across the country. Now I’m off to go watch Closer – one of my favorite (sad) movies and probably cry during it. I’m not sad often, so I have to make the most of it, remember?


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