Okay, I’m going to get this out there because I feel that it’s important for people to hear this. It’s not for my benefit, it’s because for years I’ve lived with things that I didn’t have to, because I didn’t know that those issues were things that weren’t normal. I don’t want anyone else to sit around with the kind of pain and exhaustion that I experience, and not know that other people out there understand it.
Hi, my name is Calamity and I have significant health issues. We don’t know what they are caused by, but we know what they are and how they affect my day-to-day life. I have clinical depression, I have constant physical pain and aches, and constant tired-ness. We don’t know if the pain is related to fibromyalgia, but chances are 50/50 that it is. What’s that mean? Mitigation is possible, but no cure.
I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m looking for empathy and understanding. See, this past weekend, I was struggling to deal with a difficult situation and I realised as I sat back and waited for the World Cosplay Summit Canadian Qualifier to begin that I could not and should not win. Why? Because aside from the unfinished cosplay and skit related issues, I would not be able to manage the demanding schedule of being a WCS competitor.
I need more sleep than most people, and if I don’t get it, I hurt. It hurts to sit, it hurts to stand, and it hurts to walk. Costumes hurt to wear, shoes causing pain in my joints and feet, weight of skirts pulling and pinching nerves in my back and hips… but I still love cosplay.
I want to tell the people out there that are suffering through issues like this that it’s okay to cosplay, and it’s more than okay to change into normal clothes once you have run out of Spoons. (if you haven’t read about the Spoon Theory, please do.)
Most days I’m dealing with some ache or other. Whether it’s in my joints, muscles, or skin, I hurt. It’s manageable though, when you live with this every day, you get used to dealing with it. But then there’s the Bad Days, and those are awful. I’m lucky in that I don’t get very many of them, but when I do, almost anything other than sleeping is a huge obstacle. Walking, bending, typing, everything… thinking even.
Unfortunately, this means that because I’m struggling to be functional, my temper is ridiculously shortened. Usually I can shrug off little things, or wait to discuss a problem with the person involved when I’m calm and sure I won’t say something hurtful, but on the bad days… the best option for me is space. If I’ve ever left a room abruptly, or said ‘I need to go now’, chances are that I just don’t have the emotional strength left to deal with a situation that’s bothering me. Later, when I’ve rested and am able to talk without devolving into being a bitch, I’ll sort the issue out.
I’m not proud that I can’t manage the situation while it’s happening, but sometimes it’s the best I can do. I care about the friends I’ve made in cosplay, and they’ve grown into some of the closest friends I’ve had. I don’t want to lose that, or risk it because I woke up and have to go be social when all I want to do is go back to sleep.
Sometimes it’s okay to ruffle feathers by leaving rather than saying something hurtful that I’d regret forever.
The reason I keep cosplaying despite all the issues I just mentioned, is that cosplay gives me a sense of control and accomplishment that I don’t have elsewhere in my life. I can’t control my health, my weight or my pain levels right now. I can only ‘manage and mitigate’ them. I can’t control my work environment, or the fact that I work in a cube-farm at a position that I used to promise myself I never would work in… but I can control the seams of a jacket, or step back from a prop that I just made from scratch, and feel good about it.
I can talk to friends about something other than how my back keeps twinging so sharply that I can’t breathe when I bend over, and I can lay on the hotel floor eating take out with friends and not worry about whether or not tomorrow will be a worse day or a better one.
Life’s a mixed blessing, while I have these issues I struggle with, I also have a support network that is so strong and caring that it takes my breath away (in a good way) when I stop to think about it. I have friends that are willing to drop off food if they know that it’s hard to walk, or friends that listen when I say that I’m sorry for not being able to be more patient. I have a family that supports and cares about me, even the silly hobby that lets me dress up and make jokes about cats on stage.
I didn’t start cosplay because of the support and camaraderie that it’s given me, but that’s why I’ve continued. When I started out, I never expected to find such a welcoming and supportive community. And no matter how many bad days I get, no matter how many naps I need while at a con, that’s why I will continue to cosplay and costume.
So, to all my friends and all those that are suffering with hidden health issues in the community, thank you.
Thank you for being understanding when I can’t stay in costume as long as most people.
Thank you for being so accommodating with my shitty dietary restrictions.
Thank you for not treating me like an invalid, even if some days I feel like I am one.
Thank you for laughing at the jokes I make when I’m having a rough day, because hearing your laughter makes me feel a little less useless.