Post trail depression is really, really common for people who do things like the PCT and AT. I've heard of it happening to people who do other similar lengthy treks (like biking). His attitude is exceptionally common, thru hikers tend to evaluate and analyze just how meaningless and bullshit a lot of every day rituals are that we participate in without second thought.
I hike the trail for several months this year, totaling around 800 miles before injury forced me off trail. I went though these exact emotions coming off trail. It took me a solid 3 or 4 months to just feel normal again.I remember going to a small community concert and just the 200 people being around me was so much it drove me to have a anxiety attack and i had to leave. Work was probably the worse thing, going from being my own boss, where the its the trail that determines your life TODAY, it was why you woke up early to beat the heat, it was why you needed to get moving to the next water or town or hell even the next small piece of shade to protect you from the sun. Being off trail there were millions of little things that just add up to being over bearing. The depression got worse when I seen all my friends and trail family finishing the trail, and knowing that I should be there right with them and Im not. Im working a 60 hour week instead.
That said, it was the most wonderful time of my life. Everyday was an adventure and I have a story from it. Walking naked with a group of people under the full moon because fuck it why not, the random trail angels that give you that little bit of hope and encouragement to go just that much further or showing up on mothers day with a giant thing of chicken,salad and brownies at a random campsite along a river. Those are the memories ill treasure and cherish the rest of my life. And even though it hurt to get off trail, I'm going back to finish it next year. Now I know what to expect when I get off and Ill be better prepared for it.
I like his followup post about life on the trail and normal life. Very similar to thoughts I've had after long challenging experiences. However, you shouldn't let it get *you* down. *You* shouldn't feel the need to *be* that which you recognize characterized normal life (stressing about things like certain social perceptions, etc) before doing the thing that brings about that revelation. Just apply some of those new realizations to how you live your life, and if you can, share it with others.
I see posts like this, posts where people have gone off and done these amazing things, so far from 'normal' life, and it's something I would love to do, but it just seems like it's an impossibility from where I'm at right now. I don't know how they do it.
I feel like that most of the time and I've never hiked anywhere in my life.
I had that friend. Came back 100 lbs lighter and never spoke the same again.
As someone who has hiked the AT what happens when you get off the trail is somewhat a personal journey. Some people will have long periods of depression. Some won't.
In my case it was a deep realization that something that was deeply personal to me didn't really matter to others. They just couldn't relate.
You get used to it and you move on.