PLD is short (because time is short, too – even for awesome larp advice) for post larp depression, a term common in a larper’s everyday experience. It’s by no means exclusive to larping – it happens to regular geeks after a convention, too, and, allegedly, to anyone who’s just finished a mission or project which really got them involved. (I could even dig out a quote or two from the Vorkosigan saga about it – but I’ll spare you. The co-alpha might not get as lucky.)
PLD is the absolute down on the emotional rollercoaster of a larp experience, after the big adrenaline rushes, after the tipping point of a game, after you’ve already exhausted yourself with your character’s inner drama, after the battles end, after the larp itself ends, when you can’t do much but go home. When it hits, it hits hard – even harder for larpers than regular folk, because, you know – emotion.
PLD is what happens when you return home after a weekend larp, when you have to deal with regular people once more, when you have to realize and accept the fact that you’re not that imaginary person you played for the better part of the last few days. It’s the process of accepting yourself – and the world around you – the way it really is Facing reality – where problems cannot be solved with swords, diplomacy and good character design – is a hell of a task. Facing yourself is even harder.
I didn’t find it necessary to break this post into bullets because what I have to say about it is really simple. And yes, this is just the tip of the iceberg – a few random thoughts I hope might help in the first stages of PLD.
Don’t link negative emotion surfacing in a larp to your life. Things that happen in a game should stay in the game. No larp can be nearly as important as your everyday life. Always stand back and try to talk the hell out of a problem (if you have someone to talk to – if you don’t, find them soon). See what’s really at its core, and solve that thing.
Don’t link negative emotion surfacing in the PLD period to larping. Especially don’t view larping in general through the very subjective lens of PLD. If you feel like shit after a larp – and if it was a great larp – maybe it’s just PLD! By all means, if you realize that it’s larping which you really don’t like, you owe it to yourself to quit and no one should even hint at stopping you. But if there’s any possiblity it’s just the post-larp down… just find a way to deal with it which works for you.
Above all, acknowledge what’s happening, recognize if it’s PLD, and find a way to deal with it which works for you. I’ve said it already, didn’t I? The period immediately after a larp ends is when you might be more vulnerable than usual – and whatever you do, don’t take it out on your partner, pack or your friends – or yourself. In the end, one of the things that worked best for the co-alpha and I was when we realized we only needed to schedule activities in advance – any activities, even tv-show marathons – for the afternoon or evening after the larp ended. It sure ain’t enough for larps lasting longer than three days – but patience and some inter-relationship sensibility works wonders, too.
Find like-minded people to talk to. After last weekend’s TESC larp, there was a boom of random comments and conversations in the larp’s numerous FB groups, and every co-player I met in person after the game had tons and tons to talk about regarding their experience in the larp – myself included. It takes time to process it all. A couple of heavy, real-life things happened during this week to people dear to me – because larping does, after all, force you to face your real-life problems too, not just game related feelings. Deep games can do that to you.
Be kind to yourself and those around you. Because no one is as isolated as we feel. I might mistake a person holding his hood over his head for an offgame player in the street (strange ways of the mind), but there are 53 more people all over Croatia who at the moment feel as confused as I am. It takes time to adjust – and to come down from the hyper adrenalin phase. Think first, act later. Real life works a bit differently from ingame. But it’s still fine. Love before hate.