Back to reality can be a shock after the Feast. We are still shielded by the protective millennial spirit with fresh memories of laughter and conversation, music, adventures, wonderful messages and new friends. Some people seem to resume their normal lifestyle, and memories naturally fade. But for others, post-Feast depression can (PFD) can set in, to the point of impairment.
Symptoms are similar to a mild episode of grief or depression, feeling blue or let down. Some Feast experiences may include illness, a tragic event, even being lonely in a crowd or unfulfilled expectations. “Why did God allow this to happen to me?” With unfulfilled expectations, we might return home with disappointment that this wasn’t the best Feast ever.
What type of PFD are you suffering from, and how can you combat PFD?
Let’s take a closer look at four different types of PFD.
First we have Frank, who suffers from symptoms of “Fear of Missing Out” (aka FoMO). He experienced missed opportunities during the Feast, especially with socializing. He is triggered by the seemingly perfect pictures of brethren shared on social media, heroic stories about great adventures abroad, people meeting the love of their life at the Feast, feeling left out at social activities and not having made any new acquaintances. Frank feels frustrated and regretful, and his PFD symptoms, along with FoMO, increase.
Second, we have Lucy, who suffers from “Long-Time Attendee” condition (aka LTA). Lucy feels that going to the Feast is more of a tradition, and the Feast doesn’t feel spiritually challenging to her anymore. People who suffer from this form of PFD usually attended the Feast for numerous years and compare their current Feast experience with seemingly “much better Feasts in the past.” Somehow they lost their focus on finding deeper meanings to known topics, and the current experience is downgraded. Depression symptoms are developed.
Third, we have Ingrid, who suffers from symptoms related to being an “Isolated Believer” (aka IB). She comes from a smaller church area and soaks up any opportunity to socialize during the Feast, and she doesn’t want this time to end. Ingrid struggles to maintain the same level of socializing after the Feast, but due to geographical distances between brethren, irregularly scheduled church services in the area or lack of peers, she becomes lonely.
Otto experiences the fourth type of depression: “Enthusiastic Optimist” syndrome. Otto makes the Feast the highlight of his year, reconnecting with physical and spiritual family, feeling fully charged and energized by his Feast experience. But, sadly, he falls into a kind of slump after the Feast.
Which one is yours? Take a look at the following remedies that are listed below for each type of post-Feast depression.
Type 1: Fear of Missing Out Frank
“I left the Feast, and I feel I missed out on all the socializing.”
- Avoid dwelling on your sadness; accentuate the benefits gained from the overall Feast experience: fun times, learning about new cultures, the new resolve you took from the experience.
- Think of others and pray for brethren returning to challenging circumstances, such as unemployment or loss of a loved one.
- Be grateful for what you have, as gratitude is a great antidote for depression often prescribed by therapists. List the things with which God has blessed you during this Feast.
- Increase your personal relationship with God. Keep the inertia of the Feast going with more frequent prayer, focusing on gaining His wisdom and joy to cope with sadness.
Type 2: Long-Time Attender Lucy
“I am bored during church services.”
- Reviewing the booster shot of valuable messages can sustain the spiritual energy of the Holy Spirit. Summarize the main concept of each message in one sentence, and write them down. Use these statements as affirmations to repeat each morning.
- Maintain regular habits of prayer and Bible study with the mindset to actually improve by trying new study ways. Write out prayers, and review each message by going deeper into a word search or a concept. Always pray that God guides you in any quest for a deeper biblical understanding.
- Think of the Feast as a launchpad for a new-and-improved year of life. Set new goals. The Feast can be a new beginning.
Type 3: Isolated Believer Ingrid
“I don’t want to go home because then I am all alone again.”
- Sharing photos with brethren during a church-organized Feast celebration potluck can renew excitement and give brethren ideas for their future plans.
- Stay in contact with new friends made during the Feast. Add them as Facebook friends, give them a call, enjoy their pictures and special events, and use social media in a balanced way to keep in touch.
- Make and accomplish goals to increase church service and hospitality. Get into some volunteer work or community service, or simply serve your family more fully.
- Avoid getting back into the rut. Add something new to your life, such as a pet or hobby or even a gym membership.
Type 4: Enthusiastic Optimist Otto
“This Feast was the best Feast ever.”
- Distract yourself by staying busy, and when or if you return to work, bring your renewed attitudes. Coworkers might actually notice.
- Start planning for next year’s Feast: Don’t let any moss grow under your feet.
- Institute “natural” discussions with your children at the dinner table about their Feast experiences—what they liked or learned. Enable them to stay in touch with new friends also.
- Let that spiritual vision enliven you through the transition back to normal life, knowing the hurdles you encounter are nothing compared to the vision of our eternal destiny.
*Many of the actions recommended have been confirmed to successfully increase overall wellbeing by past PFD patients. Post-Feast Depression Typology According to Markley and Meier (2017)*
And finally, don’t be too hard on yourself if you do get blue or sad. Know that it happens normally to anyone who experiences a highlight event. Time can ease your discomfort. The key is keeping the Feast spirit alive as long as possible, as well as making improved decisions and choices during the ensuing year. God creates spiritual learning opportunities for us anytime, anywhere, and the best Feast ever can come in a very unexpected way. As long as we make God our priority, He can use a seemingly “missed” opportunity to shape a right heart. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 Isaiah 55:8-9 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
American King James Version×).
We hope you all had a meaningful Feast and are able to live a better version of yourself!
About the Authors: Judy Markley & Ester Meier
Judy Markley (mental health counselor and marriage and family therapist from Washington) and Ester Meier ( a psychologist from Germany) met at the Feast in France. Both enjoy late-night talks and fellowship across all ages! They both are convinced that PFD is treatable and can be overcome—especially if you smile.