Lauren’s Story

The place: Westin Hotel, Chicago, Illinois. Salute to Supernatural

The year: 2010.

Subject: Me.

I’m crouched in front of my black duffel bag, bag of miscellaneous toiletries and hair ties open. In my palm is a small packet containing a quick-dissolve Clonazepan tablet. At 22 years old, I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, severe anxiety, depression, and pages of other ‘ailments’ just over a decade ago.

I’m in a room full of people who, by any other term, are complete strangers. In all the terms that matter to me, they aren’t.

There’s laughter, and joking, and they’re filing out of the room.

I look at the little anti-anxiety tablet, and tuck it in my pocket.

It never gets unwrapped.

This little excerpt, though seemingly abstract and story-like, is incredibly telling for me, personally. So Maybe this post is for me. Maybe it’s for others.

But it’s been in my mind for months.

It’s the psychology of Supernatural fandom.

Alot of people say about programs, “This show saved my life.” Maybe it didn’t save my life, but the Supernatural fandom has, without a doubt, helped me to grow as an individual, emotionally and otherwise.

As stated earlier, I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar for just over a decade, and been on a cocktail of medications for the same amount of time. While blessed with a miracle worker of a psychiatrist, I’ve been balanced and stable on said cocktail, which includes mood stabilizers.

Trouble is, the mood stabilizers did their job a little too well. Sometimes I feel like I can’t express my emotions, or feel as much as I should. Like the emotions are muted.

Many months ago, I stumbled on my first Supernatural party post. It was silly, outrageous, and over the top.

And I started to laugh.

I have this ‘thing’ about laughing. I love to laugh, but in public, it makes me uncomfortable. Before I was diagnosed, I was so comfortable with feeling unhappy that genuine laughter, or feeling happy, didn’t feel right to me.

I had a few occasions where I’d be in a public situation, and I’d laugh – and the concept of laughing in such a manner was something I was so unaccustomed to that I wouldn’t really know how/when to stop. Or I’d laugh and the laughter would become tears. And not tears of laughter.

So I’d immediately feel self-conscious about it.

Anyway. Back to the muted emotions thing. Through Supernatural I discovered gifs, and suddenly I was able to express everything that was bottled up inside through them.

I never liked caps. I never saw the point. Never saw them as yelling…just…slightly irritating.

Suddenly, caps were associated with happiness. excitement. emotion. I’d actually feel better after using them, like I’d shouted how I was feeling in a verbal sense. Hell, I started writing again.

Then there were…the people involved. The people that made up the fandom. The glue.

I struggled in social situations. When we had to move, I left what few close friends I had in NY to Arizona. I found a Meetup group that I went to a couple times a week, but no ‘friends’ to speak of.

I went to NJCon on a whim for a day with someone I considered a friend. Meeting someone from online that I’d never expect to become even closer to. At the time, I had no clue how many people I was surrounded by that I would soon form such close bonds with in the upcoming days and months.

People within the fandom who shared my musical interests, other television shows.

People who felt like my best friends that were there for me, genuine, day in and day out.

People who contributed to brief bouts of depression only when I realized these were not people who lived driving distance, despite feeling like i knew them that well.

But these people…these people stuck by me. Words on a screen were enough to bolster me through rough times.

The past year has been absolute hell for me, but I wasn’t alone.

I was given the chance to go to Chicago out of the goodness of someone’s heart, that someone thought of me when everything else was crashing down around me.

The part I never mentioned? Due to the circumstances, and the struggling I was going through, Mom didn’t think it was a good idea for me to go. She didn’t think I was in a good place, emotionally, to travel to Chicago to meet “total strangers.”

There was a good chance I wasn’t going to be able to go, even less than a week before the convention.

Mom was only going to let me go with the ‘blessing’ of my psychiatrist of 10 years. Someone who knew me better than I knew myself.

I thought I was sunk.

Sitting with mom and my psychiatrist felt like judgment day, until the doc looked me over, calm, looked at my mom and said, “I think its a wonderful idea. She should go.”

It never got unwrapped.

A few weeks later, when I reported by to my psychiatrist, she said she never had any doubts about me going. And that she knew it was just what I needed.

That I looked great.

This post has completely derailed from my Psychology of SPN Fandom thought process.

So if it doesn’t seem like a big deal, just know that to me, it’s life changing.

Here’s to the future.