What a long, weird trip it’s been…
This entire year has been different, tough, stressful and filled with anxiety while at the same time had some of the best moments. It’s been weird in general, and quite the roller coaster.
Last August/September I started feeling completely drained and more sick than usual. The months rolled on with me more or less on sick leave (I tried going back to work several times but kept falling sick again as soon as I tried). I was hell bent on that I was going to go back to work for December though as I know how much work there is during the Christmas rush. I started easing back into work during the last week of November and then complications struck. So 2015 started out with me still on sick leave, feeling worse than ever, my anxiety peaking heavily as well as falling back into the depression pit that I had only in recent years started to slowly crawl out from. Come summer I managed to find a two month summer job back in Sweden and decided to quit my old job as I saw no way that I could return to it. All with the hopes of being able to find a new job when I got back home.
Those two summer months were pretty awesome as I proved to myself that yes, under the right circumstances I can work full time without being a total wreck. The last month ended up being terribly stressful as I took on an art project in addition to my, what I thought, easy cosplay project. I still don’t quite know how I managed it, but thanks to the help and understanding of everyone around me, I finished my Peggy Carter costume just the day before Torucon. A very special thank you goes out to David who put up with me messing up more than half of his apartment with fabrics, needles, scissors etc, Ewa for letting me borrow her sewing machine and my mom for helping me find the last bits of fabric as well as letting me take over her sewing machine (and sending me extra parts for my own sewing machine afterwards <3 ).
While I was dead tired after so much stressing and travelling, Torucon was absolutely amazing. For the first time I was asked for “proper” pictures when I was in my Peggy costume, so thanks to the wonderful Torygan Photography and Katrix Media Site I have some fantastic pictures of my costume whereas I usually never get any pictures of my own costumes as I’m usually behind the camera. I also realized just how much fun it is for me to take photos of other cosplayers and I had a blast working with some really lovely people, and I got to attend a really nice panel on cosplay photography by the awesome Ookami. <3
The two weeks that followed Torucon ended up being really work intense, in a way that made me almost glad that I didn’t have a “real” job. There was a lot of extra sketching, cutting and re-cutting the trailer storyboards to make it flow the way we wanted to during that first week and the second week I spent nearly all my time actually painting the 38 frames needed. I was nearly crawling on the walls by the end of it, and while there are a LOT of frames I wish I had done a better job with, the overall thing was worth it. And I again proved to myself that I can actually get things done.
After all this (and one week of sleep after finishing the trailer), I slowly started to send out applications for jobs. It was rather distressing to see how few warehouse type jobs were out there at this point so I started stressing out a bit. I mean, I have an apartment to pay off, travelling to do, costumes to make, games to buy… I couldn’t stay on unemployment funds for too long!
I was simultaneously working on my Scout Harding costume, and that damned thing gave me so much grief when it came to the sewing (mostly because I was sooo stressed). I loved making the armour bits, but holy shit it was stressful with the trip to London and the deadline was looming ever closer. So, October rolls around and my planned two week trip to London comes around. I spend a lovely first week with my friend and co-roleplayer from the Mass Effect RPG Matt (who was also the one who pitched the idea for and wrote the trailer). I was still feeling the anxiety and depression that was creeping back in my life, but it wasn’t as bad as I had feared when I left home. Until that second week. Matt had left and I was left to my own devices and trying to fix the last bits of my costume (which had already brought me to tears of frustration at several occasions the weeks before), and my anxiety hit hard. I managed to get out of the room I was renting only when I really, really had to and I didn’t eat proper dinner most of the days because I couldn’t get myself to leave the room and go to the kitchen in case I’d run into any of the other people renting rooms in the apartment. And going out to buy something was just impossible. The first day this happened I realized that ok, this is getting worse and worse, I need help, and booked an appointment with my doctor a couple of weeks after I got home.
Then I broke down completely that Thursday. I was supposed to join a few of my fellow cosplayers in our Dragon Age group (#InquisitionSquad!) for a photoshoot and I was so excited because for once I would be allowed a proper photoshoot with one of my costumes, yes! And then I couldn’t for the life of me get my wig in place. I struggled for over an hour, hour and a half, trying to get my wig to sit and get my makeup in place. In the end, I gave up and curled up in bed, crying for the rest of the day. Again, unable to go to the kitchen so all I was able to eat that day were some cookies that I had stocked up on earlier in the week, washed down with water from a bottle I had kept in the room. It never occurred to me that I could’ve just gone to the location, brought the wig and gotten help from my friends, or just gone there to hang out with them and maybe taken some photos of my own. My mind was just so filled with anxiety and depression that the only possibility I saw at the time was utter defeat and trying to disappear from the world underneath a blanket. I was a complete failure, after all. Or at least that’s what my head and body told me.
I was still feeling a lot of the same during the Saturday of MCM when I was wearing the costume that had caused me all that stress and anxiety (that gods damned wig still wouldn’t sit properly, but at least it didn’t completely fall off). So I didn’t really get any of the photos I would’ve liked of it, but at least I did get a few thanks to SynbiosTael on twitter who took some photos of most of us Dragon Age cosplayers.
Thankfully, Sunday at MCM turned out absolutely fantastic. I went there with no pressure about my costume, with the full intention of just being Kuroko no Basket trash together with my friends. We ended up having an awesome little photoshoot of our own and I again realized just how much I love taking photos of all these beautiful people that I’m so privileged to call my friends. The day ended fantastically as well as we sort of just got dragged into a restaurant for some good food by a few other cosplayers and we all just sat and talked and had fun for a while. I don’t think I’ve ever really felt that much part of anything before, which was just so very exciting. So, I got a good end to a horrible week at least.
Once I got back home I still had a lot of things to catch up on and I again felt the pressure crushing me. So I ended up with a period of a little over a month where I never really went outside the apartment. I couldn’t even get myself to go out the door to go down into the basement to do some laundry. I slept, sat in front of the computer either staring blankly at articles that I wanted to read but couldn’t focus on or played World of Warcraft (or even solitaire) because it gave my hands something to do but allowed my head to just be vacant (or more likely chew over everything in a vicious circle). All the while despairing over more and more things that didn’t get done, all the jobs I put in applications for but never heard back from, the lack of jobs to actually apply for, the state of the apartment, the state of myself…
I’m so thankful to a few certain friends who has stuck by me through this and helped me by getting me to go outside, talked with me and in general just haven’t given up on me while I kind of disappeared. I love you guys sooo much and I really hope you know that! <3
I did go to my doctor and asked for help, had him conclude that yes, I was severely depressed again and he promised me that he’d see what he could do about getting me to a psychologist and set up another appointment to talk about medication.
So, about two weeks ago I went back to my doctor and got to know I have a scheduled appointment with a psychologist coming up really soon and I got prescribed medication to help take the edge of both my anxiety and my depression. And while it may be a bit too early to say, the medication does seem to be working. I’m not freaking out over every little thing, I don’t feel like the world is going to crush me anymore (well, not as much at least) and I’ve started to come to terms with the fact that I am actually sick, and I have to acknowledge that and give myself time to get properly better.
So, in a first attempt at letting myself heal but still get things done, I’ve written a fairly large List of Things That Need to be Done™. I’m very slowly going through it and doing things and trying my hardest to allow things to take time. Every little thing in my life has stressed me out for so long that it’s really, really hard to allow things to take time without feeling frustrated and behind. Especially for me as I’m an incurable jack of all trades, everything takes time to start with and I do a LOT of things.
So, I’ve finally gotten started on cleaning the apartment, taking a little bit at a time and working on maintaining things like washing dishes and clothes. I’ve also actually finished up a commission for a friend, fiddled a little bit with trying to set up stuff so I can stream things on Twitch (which, like my website, seem to end up being a forever ongoing process)… All small things, in small doses, but slowly getting there. The only thing that’s making me a bit sad is that my poor youtube channel has been very neglected. I did play about an hour and a half in the days after I got home from London, but it took me about a month to be able to push myself to finish editing it, and I haven’t touched any of my Let’s Play games since then… I haven’t even played all that much of Battlefront, Heroes of the Storm or even the Overwatch beta. Gaming turned into a stress factor for me and I wasn’t able to even enjoy that anymore, so I’m taking things slow and trying not to berate myself for that.
Overall, I’m just trying to slow everything down, and allow things to take time. I’ve tried for so long to be that super productive person that society seem to expect of us that my body just gave out.
I’m the type of person that if I’m tasked with something, like a job or an important project, I always want to give it my all. I’ve come to realize that I can’t do that in a job situation where everyone continually pushes for improvement. I do my best from day one, and while I can adapt to new routines, I can’t push more and do better because there are just not enough resources for that. I have no idea how people manage to be as productive as they are, or even edit their lives to look that productive. All I know is that I cannot do that. I have limited resources to start with due to how bloody sensitive I am to my surroundings. Nearly all my energy goes towards sorting through feelings, sensory feedback and trying to keep myself together at any given day.
So, I’m sorry for not living up to the standards society sets for productivity. I’m going to keep trying to find a job where I won’t feel like I’m dying every day and where I may have enough energy to actually do something fun when I get off for the day.
My main focus going forward will be working my way through my List of Things™ and starting to work my way through the heap of online courses that I’ve bought but never had the energy to go through.
So, going on towards 2016 and hopefully a better year, allons-y!