CAPE TOWN, July 13 – Irritable? Sad? Feeling empty? It could be post-World Cup withdrawal.The post-mortem on South Africa’s World Cup drew a near perfect score but locals are now grappling with a once far-off question after a month of celebration and rare unity: How are you going to get your life back?
With a touch of the blues, say experts.
"This World Cup has provided us with a fantastic natural high," said Cape Town psychologist Helgo Schomer.
"Now we have to replace it because within 31 days and a few games you get hooked."
South Africans lapped up the chance to welcome the world and celebrate without the constant shadow of apartheid’s ills, in a outpouring of national pride and unity little seen since multi-race democracy in 1994.
All the country’s social barriers had come down during the month-long tournament which is not often seen, Schomer told AFP.
"We are a social animal. We need to admit that something like this in a group in a stadium with 60,000 plus people cannot be replaced by anything else," he said.
"Humans among humans are the most happy people around. We forget about our worries. Nothing like a World Cup event alleviates worry about the mundane."
The championship created a vacuum of euphoria with a bump to be expected, said Charl Davids of the psychology department at the University of the Western Cape.
"It’s the sudden set-in of okay, now things are back to normal, and I think that is the kind of blues and almost depressed feeling that a lot of people have."
As reality crept in, the hype of the mega-event was suddenly gone, once the 64 matches had finished after years of build-up.
The freedom of opining on the game’s minutiae — which dominated conversations for four weeks — by instant football experts who perhaps lacked through knowledge might also have evaporated.
"It’s quite normal after a big event," said Davids.
"Suddenly today that is gone because now if you talk about something you need to know what you’re talking about," he added.
South Africans have been urged to harness the current spirit, amid hopes that the benchmark set by staging the world’s most-watched sporting event will turn to huge challenges of poverty, crime and divisions.
For those itching for a vuvuzela or remote control, Schomer said some could face withdrawal symptoms of irritability, frustration and even more swearing.
"There’s a touch of melancholy about it’s over, it’s done," he said.
But the blues will pass, he said, calling on people to replace the natural high.
"We level out. It takes a bit of time. Normally it takes about a seven day period on average but that varies from person to person."
Some fans were already feeling the blues before the last whistle on Sunday.
"I’ve already started suffering from post-World Cup depression," said Melanie George queuing for the Cape Town fan park eight hours ahead the final on Sunday.
"It’s like amazing, all the people that are here and everyone said South Africa couldn’t do it and we really showed them."
And next? "Sulk. Save for 2014."