Saturday, 13 January 2018

Conventions: A Message for First-Timers

CDR Erika Stroem

I don't know how many of you know my background but I was a hermit for eighteen years, scared to go anywhere in case I bumped into anyone who was part of why I was like it in the first place. There then began a time when I realised how much of my life I was wasting and had to try to figure how I could get myself out and about again.

My first thought was, what do I love? Easy—the answer was sci-fi and science fact, so the next stage was wondering where I could go for this.
I tried to go to the space centre in Leicester several times and failed terribly because it was Leicester where all the bad things that had happened to me in the past, had taken place there. So silly to try really!
Going to a convention had always been on my bucket list and I discussed this with my family. The following year they put me right in at the deep end and bought me a ticket for my birthday to a fantastic convention. Where? Only flipping Germany! What the hell were they thinking? How the hell was I going to get there? But they had also arranged for my sister to go with me.
I won't go into all the details of the journey as it would take too long, but believe me, it was epic and cost me twenty-three of my supply of diazepam (and that was just to get there), but I did it and I loved it!
It gave me the want and need to go to more conventions. I found a convention the following year in the UK—not too big and it concentrated on sci-fi rather than the Comic-Cons which deal in everything. It was First Contact Day by FCD Events. Big problem, though. It was in Leicester. Could I do it?
Yes, I did! And it was the best thing I ever did! I made loads of fantastic new friends with the same interest as I have, but the best thing was, so many had similar problems or other problems which gave them empathy to mine. And even though I was in Leicester, I felt safe and among people who understood.
I know I am not alone in having problems going places and that others suffer the same for probably different reasons. They also finish up not going mainly because of the unknown, but I would assure everyone who has problems with stress/anxiety/panic attacks etc or, in fact, any disability you have, these people do not judge. These people understand. These people care.
I cannot say enough good about them—it would take me too long, but if I had not gone to this event, I would not have had a go at their raffle and then I would not have won a prize of a year's subscriptions to Starfleet. I would not have been the Counsellor of this station telling you all about my story. So if you too have any similar reasons that prevent you from going to conventions or any other event, come and talk to me.

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