A Balancing Act II – Mental Health

Sad Sunday Rains

Sorry-not-sorry for all the heavy posts lately. But I’m in a state of reflection because this weekend I was at a party celebrating a long-term friend who’s getting married soon.

I sat for most of the party surrounded by women who eagerly talked about the children they’ve had or will have, the marriages they’re in or about to embark on, and … and I have neither of those things.

Due to the health issues I’ve lived my adult (and now, almost half my actual) life with, having biological children isn’t a) a good idea, b) physically possible without sizable risks. I’ve mostly come to terms with that for the most part, cried when people weren’t around and told those I’m closest to that the ‘deadline’ for when I could possibly have my own children has gone by.

I’m not about to pretend that it’s not hard, unlike some friends I’ve always liked and wanted kids, but its just not in the cards this time around.

I wrote a post that became incredibly popular (somehow?) about taking time for the big events in life, but this is more of a companion piece. Its about taking the time, and doing things for yourself, and it’s why I cosplay despite the doubts and feeling that I should ‘grow out of it’ or that I’m already too old, or whatever reason my brain is telling me that day.

Depression lies, but the strongest lies are the ones we’ve heard get credibility from outside. Hands up if you’ve heard about getting too old/fat/whatever to cosplay. We talk about how we shouldn’t believe it, but it’s hard to enforce the positive mindset some days.

It’s similar sitting at a table full of women who are talking about their Life Plan and knowing that it’s something that you can’t relate to, because your own life has taught you plans don’t hold up to a gentle breeze. It’s life, and life is chaotic and hard and wonderful and breathtakingly full of emotional whiplash.

I joke a lot about responding to baby talk with “I have a cat”. But maybe I should be saying “I have hobbies” or “I have mental health mitigating techniques that involve playing dress up”… because that’s what cosplay is for me. It’s a way to siphon stress and hurt off and spin it into something beautiful and tangible and positive.

I cosplay because I need a creative outlet in my life.

I cosplay because I love making things.

I cosplay because it gives me a sense of control over a small part of my life that I can’t have elsewhere.

I cosplay because the only time I feel really good in clothing is when I’ve made it and it fits me.

I cosplay because it gives me a much needed mental break from what life throws at me and my family and friends.

I cosplay because it makes me feel good when I step back and look at the visible, tangible, progress that I make on a project.

I cosplay because I have found the most wonderful and supportive friends through this hobby.

I cosplay because I have found a community that for all its warts and issues, is of people who are struggling to find their own way to survive life, and relish the idea of making beautiful things and sharing their love of crafts, pop culture or fandom with each other.

I can honestly say that I would not have survived the last three years in the shape I have without cosplay or the people I’ve found through it.

We can plan our lives but I’ve found that it’s more like a garden. Sometimes we plant seeds that never grow, and weeds arrive that need to be pulled, but also sometimes a sunflower grows from nowhere.

It’s about cultivating what we want from life,  and it’s not perfect but it’s a damn sight better than sitting in a patch of Stinging Nettle and staring at our hands.

And yes, some days are shit, and there’ll always be some days that are shit, but hey, Fertilizer starts out as shit, and it helps flowers grow.

That garden metaphor went a lot further than I’d first planned but it works, I guess.

Thanks for letting me share some of my thoughts, disjointed as they are. I hope that we can keep cultivating this community and grow the positive potential that there is here, because I’m sure somewhere in the world there’s other people like me who are struggling to find a way to cope with life.

Maybe they’ll find it in cosplay too.