Attending a convention with social anxiety

Attending a convention with social anxiety

The very first convention I attended was back in 2003 at Collectormania. Matt and I went, he met Kristanna Loken and David Naughton and I met Corey Feldman. It was a tiny little convention then, and held at the shopping centre, not in the football ground.

Autographed picture of Corey Feldman at collectormamia convention 2003

Fast forward 10 years, we had been to a lot of Milton Keynes Collectormanias or London Film and Comic Cons. We’d attend one, if not both, each year. We also got another friend hooked on convention attending so we all went together.

Autographed picture of David Naughton at collectormamia convention 2003

The attendance of London Film and Comic Con (LFCC) in 2013 is a memorable one. It came a week or so after I had a proper mental health break down.

I had zero idea what was I was feeling, I had never felt this way before. After going to the Doctor’s for the first time, I was told I had social anxiety and depression.

This is the story all about how..

This was one of the stories I knew I wanted to tell when I started this blog. This is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down.. Okay, I wrote that in jest because I can’t write ‘this is the story‘ without continuing the Fresh Prince route, it actually is somewhat true.

To try to sum up why I was feeling what I was in 2013 is quite tricky. There are details I don’t want to get in to on here. However, I will try my best to describe what I was feeling, because this is after all the start of my mental illness journey and culminates in where I am today, 7 years later.

After a ‘friendship’ broke down I was left with horrible social anxiety and depression and an extreme amount of 20/20 hindsight. Now this friendship breakdown wasn’t the sole purpose of my mental instability. It is something that had been chipped away at for years through being naturally introverted, and having a large amount of unemployment and unsatisfactory jobs.

This situation played on my vulnerabilities and I was a victim of ‘friendship’ manipulation.

Before this ‘friendship’ broke down, I remember having a deep discussion with my mum about how I felt about myself. It was the most self analysing I’ve ever done. I questioned my personality and beliefs and individuality to. the. core.

I questioned why I was ‘wrong’ for being introverted, why I couldn’t progress and be successful like others, didn’t think I was good enough or worthy enough for anything.

All apologies…

I had apologised for going to previous conventions “because I’m sad”, I questioned my background, my life, myself to depths I didn’t even know I could.

In a nutshell I thought I was ‘wrong’ in everything I did and said, and I needed to be fixed. I had to be an outgoing extrovert and successful (whatever that means), and I had to wear this or that.

All the while, I was telling this to one of the people who brought me up perfectly. I had the best childhood and a loving family. I was (and am) close to my parents and wanted for nothing growing up (well, I’m sure I wanted lots that I didn’t get, but I had everything I needed and then some!).

It breaks my heart, to this day to think of a) how I felt then and b) how my mum must have felt hearing me tell her this.

At the time I had absolutely no idea I had been mentally manipulated, and that I was not in fact ‘wrong’ to be who I was.

After the ‘friendship’ broke down I was left a wreck. Not really from the actual break up itself, but more from the aftermath of my new found feelings.

I remember being scared and nervous to go out and was in tears daily. I remember feeling a heightened sense of being alert and not resting, yet at the same time just wanting to go to bed and hide away and never leave my room.

As mentioned before though, I went to the doctors and this was the start of many appointments and phone calls about therapy, medication and my wellbeing.

A lot of the specific feelings from this time I have blocked out, and thinking back to this time now still hurts me to revisit.

It is a pivotal moment in my life as I have been working on my mental health every single day since then.

We accept you, one of us..

Before I continue on to the next step about the going to LFCC the week after my diagnosis with social anxiety, I want to make a point known. I want to say to every single one of my actual, true friends and family (especially Matt!) who knew me at this time, the biggest, most genuine THANK YOU for supporting me and standing by me and helping me. You all know this anyway, but good grief I have the best support network I could ever ask for.

Side note: To everyone, I cannot underestimate how important it is to have a support network, whether it’s one person or a handful. If you are in someone else’s support network and you feel helpless, please don’t. You’re doing all you can and just being there, not judging and taking each step with them really does help.

One week after this all fell apart Myself, Matt and our great pal and convention buddy, Scott went to London Film and Comic Con. I was nervous beyond belief.

There would be lots of people. Lots of people in close proximity. Lots of noise, lots of things going on. Just all round a lot of a lot! And I hadn’t even told Scott what had happened yet. So much going round my head, but gosh darn it I had Norman Reedus to meet. Anxiety, depression or not. I was not going to miss out on meeting Norman Reedus.

Photo of me and Norman Reedus at LFCC Convention 2013

One of our convention traditions is getting a McDonalds brekkie when we’re near Milton Keynes as we will have the early bird tickets so would leave ours about 4.30/5am.

This was the place I told Scott all about what had happened. I expected nothing less than comfort, support and understanding from him and that is what I received. That was one weight off my shoulder. The next was getting through the day with sensory overload.

Win, Win Win, everybody for the win..

A strange thing happened. We got there and despite the hoards of people and things to look at and go and see. I felt okay. No, I felt good. I felt at home.

Cosplayers at LFCC Convention 2013

Even though I knew not one other person there apart from Matt and Scott, I felt comfortable and accepted. I didn’t feel judged and I didn’t feel I had to apologise for being there.

I really enjoyed my day and for a few hours I forgot all my worries and stresses and anxieties.

Going to a convention really helped me in one of the worst times of my life.

This is where I want to say thank you to the geek world and conventions attendees. Thank you for being an accepting and welcoming bunch of people and environment to be in.

Cosplayers at LFCC Convention 2013

Since then I have learned to not apologise for my interests and hobbies, I am proud of them.

As accepting as the world seems to be, I believe there is still a stigma attached to being a geek. People still snort or scoff when you say you’re going to a convention, buying merchandise, posters, statues or movies.

Cosplayers at LFCC Convention 2013

This is the story so far…

I’ve said plenty of times before how Pokemon Go helped my social anxiety. People take comfort in all kinds of geeky activities which still get looked down on, such as playing DND, MTG, cosplaying or LARPing.

Matt and I collect statues and merchandise – especially horror related items. He is a big blu-ray/4k collector and AV nut too.

I’ll do many other blogs on our collections in the future, but if you want a glimpse in to our movie life, check out his instagram – us_outpost_31. Here he posts all the movies he watches, along with any cheeky deliveries. Although be prepare for it to be mostly horror related too!

I want to celebrate doing all the geeky things we do and have taken comfort in. All the geeky things that has helped us with our mental health and happiness.

For everyone who has been sneared at, mocked or bullied for enjoying your hobby, know you are not alone. You shouldn’t be ashamed of it and you should embrace your passions proudly.

Can’t wait for the next chapter …

I have been to a few conventions since 2013, but not many recently, although this year that is changing. Matt and I are going to For The Love of Horror convention in October for the first time. There are some AMAZING guests already lined up there, so we’re super excited about this.

Also, this year Scott is introducing us to FrightFest convention in August. He has been before, but we are FrightFest virgins, so really looking forward to a week of horror movies with special guests too.

Before all of this though, Matt, Kayne and I are going to Liverpool in April for the Pokemon city event. We are going for the full weekend, although our event tickets are for the Saturday only.

When I say ‘our’ event tickets, I mean mine and Kayne’s. Matt doesn’t play Pokemon Go. He is coming to visit Forbidden Planet and HMV and for the merry little jaunt of Liverpool drinkies when we meet up afterwards.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Prime 1 Ash Williams statue we’ve got pre-ordered due at the end of the year too!

So, we won’t be able to go on holiday this year or doing anything too extravagant but I won’t be apologising for the reason why.

We are so happy and excited for the geeky plans we have got lined up. I also look forward to sharing these experiences with you all and continuing to celebrate the geek world and all the wonderful things that it does to help us with our happiness and mental health.

Stay strong everyone, stay safe and be kind

Love, Ray X

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If you recognise yourself in any of the pictures, please do let me know and I’ll be happy to credit each of you

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4 COMMENTS

comments user
B

I love this post beyond words! I’m glad you have such a strong support system and friends that you can truly count on. It’s important!

    comments user
    Ray

    Thank you, that’s really kind of you to say. Yes, I am truly grateful for my support network.
    x

comments user
Lucie

As someone who knows very little about this world, this was a very enlightening read! I absolutely agree that there is an unfair stigma attached to being a geek, and I truly can’t understand it.
PS so jealous that you got to meet Norman Reedus!!

    comments user
    Ray

    Thank you Lucie, the world has changed alot in the past 10-15 years but as with mental health, I think there is still big stigma out there and a lot that can be understood about it.

    If you ever get the chance to meet him, do it! He was amazing and really nice x

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