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Unread 04-24-2007, 01:09 PM   #1
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Default depression after success?

Hi, just wanted to get some insight into this. I have been working at a high-stress project for a few months. The project ended well, everyone was happy, it was a tremendous success with kudos going to me for doing such a good job. Here's the thing: right after I fell into a week-long depression. I couldn't function, I couldn't leave the apartment, I couldn't shop for food, bathe. Just kept watching tons of TV. It was only after missing a friend's social function that I finally snapped out of it. I felt terrible about letting my friend down. I didn't have the energy to look in my agenda to find the day and time. The stupid thing was that I would have loved to have been around people.

Has anyone else experienced this? I got from being in a work environment that has tons of people and is extremely stimulating to time off when I am totally alone. It's a bit hard to take. Even after successful contracts, I fall into this no matter how well prepared I am. I am also taking Chlonozepam PMS for my PMS and anxiety -- anyone know anything about this drug? I only take it when I need it and have been halving and quartering pills and once I started taking it again in the middle of this weeklong hell it did seem to relieve my mood.

Am I weird? Why am I depressed when I should be happy? Why is it that when I meet people outside of my intense work environment I have a hard time relating to them? I get instantly shy because we are not involved in work anymore and don't know what to say?

Any insight into this would be appreciated.
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Unread 04-24-2007, 01:28 PM   #2
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Default Re: depression after success?

I think depression after working hard on something is common. I know authors finishing a book often feel that way. It's a loss of a sort; there's nothing happening again yet that takes the place of all the time, effort, concentration, etc. you were putting forth.

Were I you I'd do some light reading or studying of something else; re-connect with people outside your work (so you'll have a topic to talk about with those you use to be intensely connected with). Do something good or simple for yourself; join a gym or take a cooking class, etc. and then, if nothing else, you can say "I just joined a gym; remember all those late-night pizzas we had to eat while we were working? I gained 10 pounds on them!" or something similar to get conversation going on a slightly easier/different level.

Speaking of which; as soon as I'm finished my "project" (final exam 8 May :-) I'm joining a gym :-)
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Unread 04-24-2007, 01:32 PM   #3
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Default Re: depression after success?

First, let me say congratulations on the successful project that you completed. After that, I don't know what to say about why you got so depressed after that, or the rest of your post, except, my husband and I both suffer from social anxiety. We are a pair. I've had depression, long term, and anxiety that is not as bad. I'm sure others in PC will be able to shed some light on your questions. Welcome to the forum.
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Unread 04-24-2007, 05:14 PM   #4
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Default Re: depression after success?

It sounds very similar to post-partum depression, doesn't it? Completing a creative project can feel like giving birth to the ideas.
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Unread 04-25-2007, 01:40 PM   #5
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Default Re: depression after success?

Transitions generally trigger bouts of depression for me. I think it's hard to say why it is happening in any one case.

I just joined a new company - more money, less work, less stress, nicer people.

Now depression hit me hard and heavy.

Possible factors(?):

1. Will I live up to what I said I could?

2. My job has always been the basis of who I am - I need to have an identity that is not defined by my career or position.

3. I still cannot feel accomplished - self-worth issues.

I am sure there are more, but I have to go now. Hope this offers insight from similar experiences.
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Unread 04-25-2007, 02:31 PM   #6
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Default Re: depression after success?

As has been mentioned, you could possibly be feeling that depression because of the loss of this project--yes, you completed it well and it went over wonderfully, but it's still OVER. It's still a loss, and part of you is feeling that.

Let me put it this way: whenever my boyfriend finishes a show (he's an actor), he always goes into "withdrawal", so to speak, and is often a bit depressed. It's worse if the show and the experiences he had leading up to it (rehearsals, cast dinners, etc.) were really great. Keep in mind that he's 100% normal psychologically, so perhaps you're experiencing something similar, but your prior depression is making it worse?

Also, as to having trouble relating to other people outside of work--perhaps by becoming very comfortable and familiar with the people you work with and the social structure of that environment, you find it hard to relate to others becuase they're not a part of this intense project you've poured so much of yourself in.

Hope this helps,
luck&love,
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Unread 04-25-2007, 03:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: depression after success?

Thanks for all the responses. It does make sense that once the project is over there would be a feeling of loss. It's tough, however. Knowing this intellectually is something but it's hard to get an emotional grip on it. But I even get shy with people that I've been working with on this project once it's over. It's like everyone's been involved in a mountain climbing expedition and now that it's over we're other people. From competent super-woman I turn into total dork. Does that make sense? It's painful, however.
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Unread 04-25-2007, 04:49 PM   #8
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Default Re: depression after success?

Makes total sense. While you were all united in one project you each had common ground to talk about and something that related all of you. Your mountain-climbing expedition is a perfect metaphor, and I totally understand why you find it tough to relate to them now they've moved on to other work.

There is a HUGE difference between knowing something and all of you understanding it. My advice? Give it time, and be nice to yourself for the duration.
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Unread 04-25-2007, 10:02 PM   #9
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Default Re: depression after success?

I have experienced depression after success Spal. I think it's quite common. We work really hard on something, strive for success, put all of our energy into it and expect to feel wonderful when it's done. When we don't feel wonderful, it feels like something is terribly wrong. There's the momentary feeling of YAY! I DID IT! and then there's the SO WHAT??? We are no longer fully focused... and fully DISTRACTED... by the task we have been working on. What we're left with is ourselves, and sometimes that's really tough to deal with. My depression tends to sneak up on me when I'm left to face myself alone. I'm fine when I'm fully focused and engaged in a busy project. The end of a big project is often followed by a plummet in my mood.

Depression is so insidious. It often isn't situational, so I think it is exacerbated sometimes when we have a success. We wonder why we don't feel happy... because we think we SHOULD we happy... and that's depressing.

I started a new job 2 months ago. I was extremely happy when I got the job... because I had wanted it so badly, worked so hard on getting the job, spent time preparing for the multiple interviews, my portfolio, writing assignments, etc. ... but once I actually got the job offer I felt euphoric for about 2 hours (had lots of fun writing my resignation letter ) and then I slammed back down to earth with the thought... "hmmmm... all that will change is my job. Everything else still sucks." So, the good news I had worked so hard to receive only snapped me out of my depression temporarily. Since then, I have climbed out of the black hole slowly with the help of medication... and it turns out I do love the new job.

Sometimes we tend to put so much emphasis and energy into big projects that we end up wearing ourselves out. We run on adrenaline and fumes to get everything done and we have a singular focus -- tunnel vision -- while we're doing it. Then we're just exhausted... physically and mentally when it's finished... and we crash.

I hope you start to feel better soon. I know what it's like to have that downward spiral when you THINK you should be happy instead.

You mentioned that you have trouble relating to people outside your intense work environment. It makes sense that you would relate best to people who share your interests. It sounds like your job is very important to you and you feel successful and competent when you're doing your job. You might find that you can relate to other people if you find other things that make you feel as competent and engaged as your career obviously does.

When I worked in advertising, my career was pretty much my whole life. I loved it. I was at the office 65+ hours a week and when I wasn't working, I was thinking about the next campaign. Then I got sick and couldn't work anymore. I felt useless and I no longer felt that I knew who I was. I realized that I had been defining myself and my worth as an individual based almost entirely on my profession. I had to learn how to reconnect with who I am apart from my career. Now that I'm quite healthy again and back in a busy career, I work at maintaining some balance between personal and professional. Do you have any hobbies outside your job? Finding things that make you happy and light some passion in you -- outside of your job -- would probably be very healthy for you... and it might help you relate to people outside of work.

P.S. I'm quite a chatty, outgoing person, but sometimes I'm not in the mood to make conversation with other people. I can find myself feeling uncomfortable, shy and withdrawn once in a while. When that happens and I'm in a situation where I HAVE to be social, I find comfort in the knowledge that people really appreciate a good listener. Focusing on what another person has to say and really listening can help me feel calmer. Most people love talking about themselves and almost everyone loves a good listener. Just give yourself a mental list of key questions to ask... ones that are likely to elicit long answers and do lots of smiling and nodding. That's how I get through social obligations, like work-related cocktail parties, when I'm really not in the mood to be social. Focusing on what the other person is saying can distract us from our own uneasiness.
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Unread 04-25-2007, 11:19 PM   #10
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Default Re: depression after success?

Wow! You guys hit it right on the head ... You're right. I need time to get some perspective. My career is my whole life and I am trying to get some balance but it's hard. At least I'm not so anxious about it anymore. Thank you drugs! And I have to keep involving myself in other things. It's hard because I love my work and it is totally engaging. It does take me away from the real world which I find really hard to deal with. At least when I am working, I get some validation.
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