A note from the editor: Knudeblues is a term used to describe the post-con blues after the Knudepunkt conference. The 2015 edition just finished, which prompted the publication of this article on handling the Knudeblues.
First I need to state that this text compiles my very personal opinions, I do not claim to own any truths, and I have no scientific background for any of my claims. But I do have a lot of experience with the post con/post larp blues. If you don’t, that’s normal too.
You are on your way home, or you’ve already gotten home and thrown your exhausted self on the sofa. Maybe you’ve even stretched the bubble, feeling happy and inspired for a day or two, now certain it won’t hit you. But it does. Suddenly you realize that it’s over. It may hit you in different ways. Maybe you feel a mild, but persistent melancholia. Perhaps you still feel euphoric, but with an increasing discomfort of your emotions being stripped naked, of being too vulnerable. Maybe you feel a strong longing for all the people you met, your KP-crush, the magic circle filled with creativity, love and the best kind of madness. The bubble. And a sadness it is gone. If you are an organizer you may feel heartbroken that all the work you put in for this single, important event now only lives on in pictures, memories and memorabilia (and perhaps an impending accounting task). Or maybe you don’t know what you feel – I believe those are often the hardest cases. When your body is filled with overwhelmingly strong, entangled emotions that are manifesting in very real physical pain in your whole upper body, and physical discomfort that can’t be vented, and you feel an urge to use words like “soul” and “heart” in very embarrassing ways. And since you can’t make them out or define them or even keep them apart, though most of them are in fact very positive, it’s a full on acute depression.
Congratulations, you’ve got the Knudeblues.
Being a super emotional person (with – a fortunately very mild case of – bipolar disorder) with a 17 year long larp career and 9 KP/SKs behind me I have over the years developed a collection of strategies to handle this phenomenon, which of course isn’t associated with Knudepunkt/Knutepunkt/Knutpunkt/Solmukohta alone, but can occur after any intense, emotionally and physically exhausting, several days long event with bubble qualities, like a strong larp or another really good con. Maybe your own wedding? (I wouldn’t know.) Since we are all different people, I can’t know what will work for you, but I’m sure some of these tips will help. There are two slightly overlapping categories with things you can do to handle your blues – helping your body back to normal, and processing all the impressions.
Make sure to get enough sleep. And then some more. Re-hydrate and keep hydrated. Eat healthy food. I’m not a nutrition expert, and I have no idea if food can heal you over a short time span, but I always feel better when I eat salmon, because my mother said it’s good for me. Eat comfort food/junk food. If the food can heal both body and soul, it’s even better. And don’t be ashamed, it’s medicine! Pamper yourself. Relax a lot. Have a shower or a bath in the way you like it the most, buy your favorite chocolate. If you have a partner, ask for a back rub or a foot massage. Exercise. Or go for a long walk. I know it works, I just can’t be bothered.
The emotions inside you need to find their places. To process all the impressions is important, and it can be done in an infinite number of ways. Don’t worry, you don’t have to make lists or do mental exercises, your brain will fix it all if you just give it the chance and time it needs. But there are some things you can do to help it along. The most important tip I’ll give you here, though, is process, but don’t dwell too long in you Knudeblues on purpose. It’s tempting to not let go of the euphoria that often accompanies the blues, to try to relive those special moments, to stay in the bubble as long as possible. And a pinch of that may be good for processing, but I don’t recommend trying to hold on actively. I think the KP euphoria is a hypo-manic state in many ways (as can being drunk or being in love be), and the longer you hold on, the more you risk a harder (and prolonged) fall.
Your active brain and your subconscious will work on it no matter what, so sometimes it’s good to give yourself a break. Use distractions, but avoid important have-to-appointments the first day or two if possible. Your mind will be somewhere else anyways.
Isolate yourself with some kind of entertainment. Watch movies, play computer games, read a novel. Depending on your blues and your ways, shielding yourself from strong impressions for a short while can give your mind space to process. (I recommend deep sea documentaries. With jellyfish.) Others may want to seek catharsis through an emotional movie or a song that they know will make them cry. Crying is good if you feel like it, but for some it can feed the depression. You know yourself best.
Write something. For yourself or others – a diary, a report, a letter, a Facebook post, anything. I think expressing yourself in writing helps sorting your thoughts and feelings even better than talking, as you use slightly more time in deciding on the words and your brain gets to dwell on the content. (How do you think the words you’re reading right now came about?)
Processing with friends
The socially driven processing is also important. First: Add all your new, wonderful friends on Facebook! Then you read all the posts and comments people have made about the experience, and partake in the discussions if you want to. It’s not dwelling, it is hoard processing. Part of processing is forming the final narrative about the experience, the one you will keep with you, and connecting and exchanging opinions is part of that.
Meet people from inside the bubble. Hang out with others who shared the experience. Talk about the event, what was good, what was bad, what was fun, but not only about that. Being around tribes-people talking about other things is also good, they are in the same state as you, they get you, and together you take a step towards normalizing the world. Feel free to get drunk with them if you are so inclined, but remember that might prolong your blues. In my case it’s sometimes worth it.
Talk about the Knudeblues with others who share it. It helps. But try not to exhaust your friends. After all, you are just a little bit crazy right now. It will pass. I promise.
Dare to Face the Mundies
It can be a good idea to plan for a day off from work after Knudepunkt or another event that may throw you into the state of the blues. But don’t shun the mundies. You feel that people who weren’t present, even other larpers, can never understand, but it’s ok to tell your partner if you have one, your friends, your family and colleagues that you are in a state of emotional overdrive right now because of a very intense experience you had. They may understand more than you think. But don’t pepper them with all your stories and anecdotes, it doesn’t mean the same to them as it does to you. Not even if they larp themselves.
And then – when you are back to your old self – start to utilize all that wonderful inspiration you got at the event and make some kick-ass larps and projects!
Cover photo: The author after Knutepunkt 2013, photo by Johannes Axner.