Battling anxiety and depression since middle school, my life has always been a constant battle. Pop culture has given me the passion and the determination to conquer my fears and find a way to control my darkest demons. I have launched this website as a community to support youth and young adults in the fight against anxiety and depression using pop and nerd culture. If there is one thing I have learned its that nerds are the most amazing humans in the world. That being said, I have started this journey to share with you all but in order to start it, I have to tell you how I got here.
I’m from a small town in Northern California. I grew up very sporty, being the tomboy that I was I followed in my mother’s and father’s athletic footsteps and became an athlete. Softball, soccer, basketball, track and field were my weapons of choice. But sports weren’t the only thing I grew up with. I have five uncles who lived off of comic books and video games. Because of them, gaming was also a big part of my life. Besides video games, my mother was the one to get me involved in television programs. Before it was a thing we “binged” many shows that included, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed and Lost. I grew up amazed by the wonders of video games and the worlds of television shows. Needless to say, my childhood was pretty awesome. It was like I was Supergirl, athlete by day and nerd by night.
When 2006 hit, it felt like someone had brought kryptonite to end this superhero party. My father had a heart attack, my grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, my father and mother divorced, and my grandmother had passed soon after. I was ten. I internalize everything. So, for me, I internalized the grief and heartbreak without realizing my greatest enemy had awoken deep inside. I tried to recover and find a way to be normal again but, normal was way far away.
By the time I hit 8th grade I started to get physically ill with an excruciating pain in my abdomen. It would have me doubled over unable to move. They came in random untraceable waves. Each one more intensified. Sometimes it would happen before a crucial soccer game or when I was sitting at my desk in school. I avoided many sleepovers and parties in fear because I didn’t want to be in pain in front of friends or be criticised for pain only I understood. Eventually, I was forced to withdraw from every sport I played because the pain would hit me before every game, rendering me unable to play. By high school, I was spending more time in hospital beds than classroom desks. I was poked and prodded for answers. (I can’t tell you how many times I had my blood drawn.) My doctor could not find out what was wrong with me…and then it hit him. I remember clearly about the tenth visit to him, he took his index finger and put it right in the middle of my forehead. He said, “its in here kiddo.” I looked at him with question. He continued, “you’ve got stuff in there that’s making you sick. My suggestion is that you figure it out and find some help.” He went on to explain anxiety. What is was and what were some common symptoms. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Mental illness? I wasn’t crazy! Appalled and angry I rejected anything he offered and ignored the pleas from my mom to at least check it out. I was still convinced it was something physical and some doctor would find a miracle medicine and I would be all better. Wrong.
In college, I hit rock bottom. A massive anxiety attack sent me over the edge. I found myself in one of the darkest places of my life. I was starting to realize my doctor was right. It was mental and not physical. My hope for a magical diagnosis with a medicine to cure it all was not going to work. Unable to mentally take college anymore, I dropped out and moved home. On the way home I remember just staring out the window and thinking to myself, “I’ve ruined my life.”
The moment I got home my mom came out of her room and went into my room where she hugged me and I sobbed until I went to sleep. I retreated into my room never leaving it for 4 months. The cliché after high school is that you GO TO COLLEGE. Anyone who didn’t had this stereotype put on them that they were a “loser” and was going to end up nowhere. I was terrified to face anyone I knew. I live in a small town where everyone knows everyone. Stepping outside surely, someone would know I was home and tell someone who knew me and I would get stereotyped and then laughed at. I was determined not to be labelled. Therefore, the safest place was my bedroom, where no one would find me. The only thing that kept me going was the TV in my room. I woke up everyday to watch the new episode of The Walking Dead, to play the new Assassin’s Creed , awaited the new big summer box office movies. I never moved. My collection of series, Blu Ray’s, and XBOX games grew. I even signed up for Netflix and Hulu.
After realizing the path I was heading down, staying in bed all day, avoiding friends and family, I decided to make a change. The HARDEST thing I have ever done in my life is admitting I need help. My anxiety was starting to affect my everyday life. When I had landed a job, I could not go to work without having an anxiety attack. I turned down hanging out with new friends all the time because I couldn’t take the anxious feeling I would get when it was time to go. The only thoughts I had were negative and all about what could go wrong. Like the machine in Person of Interest, the only thing my brain did was calculate all the failed possibilities.
One day, tears in my eyes, I walked down the hall into my mom’s bedroom. I told her how this was starting to affect my everyday life and I need help. I didn’t want to live like this anymore. She put down everything she was doing and helped me. I sought out help and went through some amazing therapy. With that help, I re-focused on all the things I was passionate about. I have always wanted to write for Film and Television. I am also a HUGE nerd and super proud of it. Video Games, TV shows, movies…these were the things that were there for me when no one else was. These were the worlds and stories that distracted me from my own. The way to get away from my own personal hell for a short period of time.
For the first time things are looking up. Now, I am branching out into fandoms of the shows and games I love. Discovering just how beautiful and POWERFUL they are. I have met and discovered some pretty incredible people who have inspired a whole new passion in me. Tony Kim and his Crazy for Comic Con site helps others make the most out of their Comic Con experience. Recently, he has just launched his own mens clothing line, with an official DC Comics license, Hero Within. The amazing, inspirational, wise and lovely Jo Garfein has her charity Cancer Gets LOST. She channels fandoms toward the greater good raising money through auctions to help fight cancer. I have watched these two launch amazing projects and just been in awe. They have renewed my spirit and have taught me to just do what you LOVE. Follow your dreams no matter what obstacles are in your way. Pop culture is the serenity that has saved me and now I am hoping to save others.