jmtorres: (hide)
jmtorres ([personal profile] jmtorres) wrote2016-08-18 09:29 pm

so I went to vividcon

so, vividcon. this post is entirely subjective and all about my complicated mental health feelings, not so much about any fannish experience of the con. Will be posting the vids I took to vividcon after I write this, and that will probably be the extent of posting on fannish matters.

About a year ago, [personal profile] niqaeli and I took my brother out to the movies and pitched Vividcon to him. Every time I'm in town we take my brother out to do something even if it's as silly as wander around IKEA for two hours, because he has, since his first attempt to go away to college at 18, been living at home with fairly debilitating OCD. He is now 25. He's lost touch with all but one of his friends, he relies on my parents for a host of super basic things like turning off the water after washing his hands, he has IBS which only makes his unclean feelings worse, and I really feel like getting him out of my parents' house is a service to everyone involved.

Anyway, my pitch about Vividcon was, it's a trip halfway across the country that he'd take with me and not our parents, to do a fun fannish thing I hoped he'd appreciate, and did he think he could work on his OCD crap enough in a year to be able to go and take care of himself in the ways our parents usually take care of him at home. He does this thing, part of his OCD, where he has to come up with the exact right words to articulate himself for fear of misleading you if he gets it wrong. It can take him days to answer a question. I tend to treat this the way I would querying a computer--I try to ask an exact, specific question to elicit a succinct answer. So I asked him, first, did he want to to, and second, did he think he'd be able to. The answers were yes, and since it was a year away, he thought so.

I made various deals with him over the course of the last year--that I was going to work on making a vid, which was going to be my hurdle parallel to his OCD behavioral therapy work. (I made one! Two actually! Proving once again that the only thing that makes me complete vids is deadlines.) That I would FaceTime with him at least once a week to check in. (Sometimes I had a hard time with this, because when I was behind on my goals or having a bad brain day, I didn't want to have to admit that.) I gave him advice from my own experience getting treated for depression--that it's okay to have bad days, but you don't let a bad day become an endless string of bad days, you pick yourself up and start over the next day.

So last week, or, Saturday nearly two weeks ago, I FaceTimed him after having not for about three days. I was in the process of bleaching my hair and dyeing it pink, and I was afraid my mom would give me crap about being interview-ready on the job search, so I wanted to have the whole thing done and a fait accompli. I have the stupidest reasons for failing to call my brother as regularly as I promise. It turned out that basically the entire three days he'd spent ruminating on how he didn't think he was going to be able to go, and Mom told him he should talk to me about it but he didn't call me. Because well. He was even more internally flaily about that than I was about the dye job.

Our travel plans included me driving to Phoenix, where my family lives, the night before we flew to Chicago for Vividcon. I ended up driving out three days early to spend more time with my brother and try to convince him it was TOTALLY POSSIBLE. And meet his therapist in passing. On Tuesday, he decided that he would go ahead and contact that one high school friend he still talks to every few months, who happens to live in Chicago now. I cheered. The next day we went clothes shopping, because Mom wanted him to have new slacks and shorts for the trip. He was incredibly patient about trying on everything she found for him. There are so so many parts of why this was amazing.

So anyway: we did it. We totally got on the plane and flew to Chicago and went to Vividcon.

And I think my brother enjoyed it more than I did.

At one point around April or so I wrote him a long long description of what Vividcon was like, to my recollection. Club Vivid and the Joxer Dance and the anticipation of Premieres and stuff. One of the things I wrote to him was we'd probably go to 2-3 shows/panels per day, no one went to everything (read: I never went to everything). It's funny to me that I remembered that, but not why.

The why is, I find cons exhausting. I took like three naps a day the entire trip and I felt just beat after watching a vid show (of course, stupid, engaging the extreme focus to watch vids for an hour takes a lot more mental energy than watching an episode of a TV show for an hour). Let alone talking to people. Once we were in the consuite for like ten minutes and when [personal profile] niqaeli decided to go do something else I was like TAKE ME WITH YOU EVERYTHING IS TOO LOUD. There were a ton of people that I marginally recognized as "person I have seen at VVC the last time I was here 5 years ago" but my mental connections between faces and usernames are crap and I was never good at talking to people at cons.

PS If you talked to me about my vid and I made weird faces or said something dumb, it's because my brain was going AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH HOW TO FAKE BEING A HUMAN?????? I mean, I also do not know what to say to compliments so assume what I MEANT to say was "Thank you" but oh my god, SO much alien cyborg input error brain.

I ended up hiding in [personal profile] echan's room watching Olympics during Club Vivid to distract myself from feeling that there were too many people, and too much noise, and I stressed myself out about plane tickets, and also everyone else was enjoying booze while I was not because meds and it's not that I don't want anyone to be drunk around me? It's more, I don't know, I felt like I'd left myself out of everything on that score. Or something.

It was so frustrating, that like. By almost any metric I would have thought of beforehand, this was a very successful Vividcon for me. I made vids, and people liked them. I saw other people's vids, and they were awesome. I did my hair and made a costume for Club Vivid and it was adorable and lit up. I got my brother to go on a four-day trip without my parents and his OCD did not prevent him from participating in the con or meeting up with his friend or even getting out of the hotel room by checkout time. There was no wankfest that blew up in anyone's face.

But my stress-activated GERD had me burping all through Vid Review and during the back half of Club Vivid I was watching Michael Phelps get a medal and having a bit of a cry.

This was the first time I've been to a con since getting medicated for the depression, so probably five years ago I put all the same kinds of reactions down to my brain is borked. But now a year and change into pharmaceutical unborking, I am still having these fundamental problems. The introvert problems. The, too loud, too many people, being around this many people exhausts me and maybe even frightens me, at least in the social awkwardness sense. The, everyone is having fun except me.

So I think I probably won't be going to Vividcon again. Or any con.

Which really sucks because where will I get deadlines to goad me into finishing vids now.
lilysea: Serious (Default)

[personal profile] lilysea 2016-08-19 05:33 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you for sharing. ^_^ <3

And, wow, what an amazing thing you did for your brother. \o/

I struggle with cons too - between

a) my chronic fatigue (including brain fog and sometimes aphasia) and

b) my PTSD/hypervigilance (which does not like loud noise, sudden movement, or people getting into my personal space bubble or touching me without asking)

c) and my Anxiety (which can manifest as selective mutism eg people say hello and I literally cannot speak back to them) and

d) people being Weird at me about my being a wheelchair user,

cons have not been a good time for me since I got sick.

So, solidarity.

And I hope that cons get easier for you if you want them too, or that you find other ways of socialising and goading you into finishing vids.

Is it allowed to submit vids to Vividcon if you can't physically attend?
lilysea: Mischievous (Mischievous)

[personal profile] lilysea 2016-08-19 05:34 am (UTC)(link)
Also: as a fellow introvert I love this comic:
lilysea: Tree hugger (Tree hugger)

[personal profile] lilysea 2016-08-19 06:08 am (UTC)(link)
I'm sorry you have selective mutism, but thanks for sharing, it makes me feel less alone. ^_^

Do you have any tricks or hacks for working around it, other than the notepad?


My fight/flight reaction to unwanted/stressful interaction is frequently FREEZE (be unable to move/talk), which is inconvenient.
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)

[personal profile] niqaeli 2016-08-19 05:40 am (UTC)(link)
You can submit vids, but they won't be in Premieres proper unless you have an attending membership. Which is a smidge expensive to buy solely as a way to get your vid an audience and not as a membership to a con that you also plan to attend.

The non-attending premieres get some attention, but Premieres is the big thing everyone really focuses on. So yeah.
kass: Clara hugs Twelve. (doctor-hug)

[personal profile] kass 2016-08-19 11:03 am (UTC)(link)
I'm sorry this is all so hard. It sounds like you gave your brother (and probably also your parents) an enormous gift in getting him out of the house for a few days. And people did love your vids -- I adored your Fringe vid! And... cons are hard for introverts, and it sounds like that's a substantive struggle for you. I don't have wisdom to offer, except to say that there is no right way to do a con, and if hanging out quietly with one or two friends in your hotel room works better for you than being surrounded by 100 energetic vid fans, that is a completely reasonable way to attend Vividcon. Over the years I've learned that I do best if I make lunch plans every day, just me and one other person -- that way I get some quiet / one-on-one time to balance the extroversion of being with the bigger group. But mileage varies, and you should take care of you, whatever that means.
grammarwoman: (Default)

[personal profile] grammarwoman 2016-08-19 01:38 pm (UTC)(link)
It was lovely meeting you in passing, and I definitely appreciated the books, and :D for the Fringe vid.

I know exactly what you mean about deadlines; I participate in Festivids every year because it pushes me to make at least one or two vids a year. I believe there are also other cons that accept vids that you don't have to attend to have them shown.
franzeska: (Default)

[personal profile] franzeska 2016-08-19 09:46 pm (UTC)(link)
Basically every other con that has a vidshow like VVC's is in no position to turn down premieres. Con*Strict is a teensy 30-50 person one in Las Vegas; a couple of us who attend make something. Con.txt is way bigger, but still only gets a couple of premieres. Escapade has way more attending vidders, so it sometimes only shows one vid if somebody submitted a whole bunch, but it will almost always show at least one vid by anyone who submits, attending or not. (Which sometimes means some bizarre vids make it into the show, but I'd rather reward people for caring enough to submit something than worry about the tender sensibilities of viewers forced to sit through a couple of vids they don't love...) VVC is totally the worst of the lot for getting people to pay attention to your vid if you aren't actually at the con and/or friends with people who go. (I have no complaints about that, but I think it's clearly the case.) Media West isn't that satisfying because nobody posts con reports online, but they now accept dvd submissions from non-attending vidders, so I sent them an hour of my work.

Con show deadlines help me too. There are definitely some other options at various times of year.