Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Postpartum depression (PPD), also called postnatal depression, is a type of clinical depression which can affect both sexes after childbirth. Symptoms may include sadness, low energy, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, reduced desire for sex, crying episodes, anxiety, and irritability.

OK, I checked the symptoms. I got it. Now what do I do?

All creators understand the phenomenon. Your field of artistic endeavor doesn’t really matter. As actors we may suffer from this malady in direct proportion to the degree of engagement we have for the characters we portray. When the final curtain is run down and we retire to the wings, not only have we given birth, but we have also witnessed the passing of the unique characters we have become. And then, the depression sets in.

When you have collaborators, the passing away of the play is smoothed by joyful reminiscing of your fellows, the toasting to a job well done. When you are a voice actor reading long-form in your closet-studio; the boards are empty. Not so much as a janitor or stage manager with whom to share your sorrow.

For us ACX’rs we know the moment. That big button in the upper right hand corner with the ominous words: “I’m done”. We have let our mouse glide over the button a few times, refusing to click in the secret hope that somehow we are not really done. But eventually we square our shoulders to the task, we press the button which knells the ending of the mini-life we have been living. We step away from our browser and busy ourselves with the ton of housework we have been avoiding in the hopes that it will prove a balm to our sorrow. Now matter how clean you get the bathroom sink, it doesn’t help.

So, what’s an actor to do? Here are some hints:

  1. See it coming. Know it’s coming. Be OK with feeling like moldy bread for a day or two. (I know this isn’t good news, but we’ve all tried denial and know how well that works)
  2. Reward yourself. You have just accomplished a feat that few have dared to undertake.  Go to the store. Buy new underwear. Or better yet, go somewhere where there are tons of strangers (an airport works great) and watch the people. For everyone that passes by, say to yourself “I just did what few can do” – and if you’re feeling particularly adventuresome, hand out a few cards with links to your work.
  3. Hydrate. Yea, I know it sounds silly but if you are obsessive-compulsive like me, you have forgotten to take care of your instrument, especially in the final sprint to completion. Take time now.
  4. Finally, know deep down, that for we who sit in studio for insanely long hours, the cycle of birth-life-death is only briefly interrupted. There is always another book. Another family of characters to become. Another story to tell.