I know it’s been a very long time since I’ve posted here, and I apologize. I’ve been struggling with my mental health more than usual lately (more posts forthcoming) and have been nearly completely unable to write. Eventually I will be able to post regularly again, but in the meantime, I absolutely had to write about my experience at Can-Con this weekend, while I’m still riding the energy wave I got from it.
This post is going to be very personal; not so much as in the depth of opening up about private things, but because it relates to my personal experiences on this weekend rather than an account of the writing-related content (though posts about this will eventually follow, so many exciting discussions happened).
I had been a bit anxious at the idea of going, especially since I had been slated to be on a couple of panels, because I had a drastic mental health relapse two weeks ago and have been very shaky with my anxiety. I decided to give it a try, making room for a way out at every time, so that if something triggering happened, or when I had a panic attack (which seemed inevitable as they have been nearly daily for the past two weeks), I could just leave and go home.
Well, that didn’t happen. Instead, I spent some of the happiest moments I have had in months over the past few days. I didn’t have a single panic attack. Even though my body gave up on me on Friday before I ever even got to the con, I barely noticed the pain because I was so happy, much happier than I’ve been for a long time, for so many reasons:
- For a “general audience” science-fiction and fantasy convention (Can-Con stands for The Conference for Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature), Can-Con had a staggering amount of own-voices panels, especially queer-oriented panels. Some of the ones I attended and/or spoke on included: Trapped in the wrong Trope (representing transgender lives in fiction), Spooning with Spoonies (disabled people are sexy too), Asexual Identities, Queer comics, Benefits and Challenges to #ownvoices writing (which was so excellently populated), Mental Health, Neurodiversity and Creativity, (and others I couldn’t attend, like Homophobia and Monster stories);
- The inclusion of a space to write pronouns right on the attendee badge;
- Spending time with truly amazing people: hanging out with members of my family of choice, making new friends, meeting online friends in the flesh for the first time, having heart-to-hearts with loved ones I see too little of;
- How amazingly supportive everyone was, of so many things. So many people took the time to check in on me at various moments to see how I was doing, in discreet and non-invasive ways, because they knew I’d been struggling. Everyone was not only respectful of my brand new pronouns, but they went out of their way to find new and interesting means of validating my gender (I got my very first “hello there sailor” and I cannot describe how happy that made me), and a precious friend who made sure I ate my meals (as I’ve developped a tendency to not do that), and another friend who let me rest in their hotel room for a few minutes when I really needed to lie down;
- New books!! I got some amazing own-voices novels and anthologies, and I’m really looking forward to reading them!
I know that this isn’t very eloquent, and it doesn’t begin to describe the depth of my feelings, but I wanted to put out a thank you to the organizers, and to all the people I got to see, even if our time together was brief. I feel like this weekend was a balm on my anxious mind which allowed me to return to myself for a little while. There’s nothing like it for giving you a boost to climb out of a depressive spell. I am so deeply thankful for this weekend and for everyone involved.