Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Post Traumatic Conference Disorder (PTCD)

What is Post Traumatic Conference Disorder (PTCD)? It is a new name for the emotional withdrawals and attachment experienced after planning an event that took many long months to coordinate. In this case, I’m offering a light approach to my last experience planning a conference, with hopes others will relate.

As a meeting and conference planner I coordinate many diverse events. Some take a few weeks to coordinate, some a few months, no big deal. It’s the conferences that take almost a year to plan that give me PTCD. Wikipedia describes PTSD nicely, “symptoms that last more than one month and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.” For PTCD, I would add to this definition: exhaustion, over stimulation, and increased levels of carbohydrate, caffeine, and alcohol consumption. Such events often include and were experienced or witnessed onsite during the four-day manifesto.

When all is said and done, the attachment disorder comes from all of the wonderful people I worked with. The attendees I finally met face to face. The travel and amenities, and feeling taken care of by the hotel staff and vendors. It was great to be the omniscient conference director. This reminds me of other events I have coordinated. On some level, there is always something I would have done differently. In this case, it would have been the self-preparation beforehand.

How PTCD is treated? Post treatments usually include rest, recuperation, and relaxation! Next time I will better prepare myself for such an event. Prevention of PTCD will include yoga, meditation, increased quite time, and relying on support from family and friends. In the end, we have to remember we can’t do it alone, nor would we want to – good grief!

~ Tess Conrad • Meeting and Conference Planner, RDL enterprises