Hi, I’m Emily and I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
It’s not really a secret or something I’m embarrassed about, it’s a part of who I am. My GAD has been mostly manageable, but there have been times that it’s been nearly crippling. I’ve done a lot of things to treat my anxiety and related issues over the years — from therapy to meditation to medication — and, believe it or not, beginning to cosplay has actually been extremely beneficial.I wrote about how creating and donning my Red Sonja cosplay has helped me on my other blog, you can read a little of it here:
Growing up, I was always “too something” or “not something enough.” I heard it all the time, that I was “too skinny,” “too tall,” “too smart,” “too quiet,” “too weird” or “not pretty enough,” “not cool enough,” “not fun enough.” And after a while, not matter how you ever felt about yourself or your level of self-confidence, you start to believe some of those things. From the time I was a young teenager, I’ve felt like I really was all of those things, and never felt like I was “enough.” How could I be if there were apparently all of these things “wrong” with me? Of course, being a teenager is a tough time for most people, our bodies are changing, our minds and styles are developing and sometimes we’re able to grow out of these insecurities.
I know now that my anxiety disorder, coupled with years of taunting and bullying, had led me to develop body dysmorphic disorder. I was obsessed with my perceived or even imagined physical flaws—acne and acne scars continue to be a constant battle—and wanted desperately to change them. High school was particularly difficult for me. I went through a year of severe depression and sunk deeper into my dysmporhia. I became more and more withdrawn, for fear of being made fun of or being embarrassed, and spent more and more time on my computer and playing video games. Having friends through RPGs and games allowed me to just be myself, without the fear of exposing any physical flaws. In fact, I can confidently say that being accepted by the geek community saved my life, because behind a computer screen, I could be the smart, funny, talented person I really was without having to worry about what I looked like. Things eventually got manageable, but even into adulthood, I always felt like I wasn’t enough, not matter how hard I tried, I would never measure up.
Now, at 24 years old, I’m finally at a place in my life where I can look in the mirror and like what I see. I still have nitpicky things I don’t like—I’ve always felt like my chin and jawline aren’t defined enough, for instance—but for the most part, I feel good about myself. I attribute a lot of this to my personal and professional successes, but also to the man who tells me how beautiful I am every day. But still, I retain a large amount of fear when it comes to being judged on how I look and have had to learn to face my fear head on. One way I do this is through cosplay.
You can read the full essay on Wrong Button Blog.