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Attending cons with phobias

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Ever since I was little, I've been afraid of bees/wasps/hornets/the likes. More recently (within the past few years), it's developed into an actual phobia. I'm not talking about just disliking them or being afraid of them, I actually have a problem and it's terrible. I don't go out in the summer and I'm constantly afraid of going out during warmer weather because of my phobia. I've actually had issues where I wouldn't go in my own bedroom because I had 2-3 different bees/wasps in there (in the basement. Who knows how.), and since then I tend to hear a faint buzzing in my ear, which is probably psychological from that traumatic experience.

 

Luckily, ACen has helped by providing me with a positive experience during the warmer seasons that help me continue to be able to enjoy cons (even though they're mostly indoors, I feel a little stronger when I'm able to go out to a photoshoot without feeling afraid. If I ever do have issues, I usually seize up or scream and run, but it helps if a friend or two is there to physically reassure me that I'll be okay.)

 

How about anyone else? If you're comfortable with sharing, do you struggle with a phobia or anxiety that makes it hard to be at ACen (or another convention)? I'm not talking about "feeling claustrophobic" (Some people do seriously struggle with claustrophobia, I'd love it if people stopped using that term when they don't have an actual phobia of things like that) I'm talking about actual issues that maybe hinder your experience or maybe even make you afraid to even attend.

 

 

I'd also like to mention that phobias are a very serious issue for most people and it would be EXTREMELY rude to poke fun at or tease someone for it, so please keep this topic safe and be nice. I've found it hard to trust telling people about my phobia because of some troublemakers, but I hope that wouldn't be the case here.

Edited by ShingekiNoFandoms

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Fantasia   

It's not a phobia, per say, but I am afraid of people harassing me and touching me without my permission. I would probably destroy them on the spot if they did, and that can cause some trouble. But I always have this nagging feeling that someone is gonna do it. I am especially nervous since this year I am trying out a cosplay that reveals skin in the torso area.

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Tokoz   

I can get panicky if I'm in areas with loud noises, like Dealer's Halls and even bars & cafeterias. It wasn't bad a t first, but it's gotten worse over time. Since it started to be a real problem, I've started carrying "high fidelity" earplugs in my pocket at all times. They take the background noise down without interfering with my ability to hear conversations (too much). They're expensive ($25 per pair and up), but they've helped so much. I also make sure to tell anyone who's with me that I have the earplugs, and they might need to tell me to put them in, because I can get so disoriented by the noise that I can't make the decision for myself.

 

Heavy bass will straight up give me an asthma attack, so I just completely avoid it. :/

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C2Queen   

Personally, I have bad anxiety and I'm claustrophobic. It's definitely not a joke. I hate when people act as if I'm over-reacting when it comes to anxiety or think it's easy to calm down and is something I can just change by thinking differently. It's physical so I can't just think differently and be fine. Thinking differently helps calm me down but I still have to overcome it physically too. For claustrophobia the only way to calm down about it is to get to a secluded place as soon as possible, preferably a bigger area so I don't feel closed in.

 

The claustrophobia bothers me when I'm walking beside lots of people or if I'm stuck in a big crowd and in turn it tends to raise my anxiety tenfold. I panic and start breathing hard and get really frustrated and try to get through the crowd as quick as possible and move away from it wherever I can. It's even worse when people bump into me. If I'm standing in line for an event and the line is organized it's still nerve-wracking but not nearly as bad. But I've been close to having anxiety attacks when I get surrounded and stuck around too many people. When I go to events like the Soap Bubble I just stay in the back and don't stay long. Even then I feel closed in with so many people in the room and have to try not to panic because I want to enjoy the dance. I'd probably have an anxiety attack if I was forced into the giant mob of people who clutter together during it. I've actually had 2 pretty bad anxiety attacks at Anime Central before and it took a long time to settle down. Since then I've tried to do whatever I can to prevent them even if it means taking my time more/losing time away from the con to calm down in my hotel room or somewhere else.

 

I'm usually okay if my spouse (forum member Teebs) is with me for part of the convention because he can turn my attention away from crowds so I don't focus as much on them and panic. Whenever I start to panic he does everything he can to calm me down. But since he works as I.R.T. every year he can't spare a lot of time to spend with me. Also having friends around tends to turn my attention away from it a little more. But usually I walk short distances around the con, stop, take a breath in a more secluded spot, then continue on my way. The dealers room can be really bothersome to tread through though. I really want to look at merchandise but standing near so many people, getting bumped into, etc makes me panic. I tend to just look at stuff briefly, try and find a spot that isn't crowded, take a breather than repeat. I have this problem in general even outside of cons like at restaurants, crowded events, and especially if I'm visiting the city. I think it's the worst in the city. I actually made us leave Christmas shopping early one year just when we started shopping in Chicago because I couldn't stand even 10 minutes surrounded by so many people that I panicked and started running to somewhere less secluded.

 

It's pretty embarrassing when people give you a hard time about it and act like it's easy to deal with. But I'm happy you started this thread to raise that awareness and so other people could see they aren't alone when it comes to serious phobia's and anxieties.

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Personally, I have bad anxiety and I'm claustrophobic. It's definitely not a joke. I hate when people act as if I'm over-reacting when it comes to anxiety or think it's easy to calm down and is something I can just change by thinking differently. It's physical so I can't just think differently and be fine. Thinking differently helps calm me down but I still have to overcome it physically too. For claustrophobia the only way to calm down about it is to get to a secluded place as soon as possible, preferably a bigger area so I don't feel closed in.

 

The claustrophobia bothers me when I'm walking beside lots of people or if I'm stuck in a big crowd and in turn it tends to raise my anxiety tenfold. I panic and start breathing hard and get really frustrated and try to get through the crowd as quick as possible and move away from it wherever I can. It's even worse when people bump into me. If I'm standing in line for an event and the line is organized it's still nerve-wracking but not nearly as bad. But I've been close to having anxiety attacks when I get surrounded and stuck around too many people. When I go to events like the Soap Bubble I just stay in the back and don't stay long. Even then I feel closed in with so many people in the room and have to try not to panic because I want to enjoy the dance. I'd probably have an anxiety attack if I was forced into the giant mob of people who clutter together during it. I've actually had 2 pretty bad anxiety attacks at Anime Central before and it took a long time to settle down. Since then I've tried to do whatever I can to prevent them even if it means taking my time more/losing time away from the con to calm down in my hotel room or somewhere else.

 

I'm usually okay if my spouse (forum member Teebs) is with me for part of the convention because he can turn my attention away from crowds so I don't focus as much on them and panic. Whenever I start to panic he does everything he can to calm me down. But since he works as I.R.T. every year he can't spare a lot of time to spend with me. Also having friends around tends to turn my attention away from it a little more. But usually I walk short distances around the con, stop, take a breath in a more secluded spot, then continue on my way. The dealers room can be really bothersome to tread through though. I really want to look at merchandise but standing near so many people, getting bumped into, etc makes me panic. I tend to just look at stuff briefly, try and find a spot that isn't crowded, take a breather than repeat. I have this problem in general even outside of cons like at restaurants, crowded events, and especially if I'm visiting the city. I think it's the worst in the city. I actually made us leave Christmas shopping early one year just when we started shopping in Chicago because I couldn't stand even 10 minutes surrounded by so many people that I panicked and started running to somewhere less secluded.

 

It's pretty embarrassing when people give you a hard time about it and act like it's easy to deal with. But I'm happy you started this thread to raise that awareness and so other people could see they aren't alone when it comes to serious phobia's and anxieties.

 

 

Major props to you for sharing all that!

 

I personally don't know how that feels, but it must suck. I think just the fact that you still participate at the con says a lot though.

 

One thing I can agree with though is physical reassurance. That's probably the best way I know of to calm down for me. I'm lucky I have quite a few friends who go to ACen every year.

 

And @Tokoz I can't imagine how hard that must be either, especially with how big ACen is :/

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Some of the advantages of smaller fan conventions: less crowds, noise, and a calmer atmosphere. If going to ACen is not enjoyable, then consider saving your money and instead attending events which will be more comfortable.

 

I went to PAX Prime once, but did not enjoy it. I've had few positive things to say about video games since the 1990s, and attending a convention full of fellow video game fans brought out my negative side. Since then, I have not attended any similar cons.

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I'm lucky enough that my only phobia is arachnophobia, and that doesn't stop me from going to cons. (Though I've been known to scream at the sight of a spider and start crying for someone to kill it =P)

 

I think it's so so important though to be aware there are people with real phobias like the ones you guys have described. It's the very reason why you should NEVER touch/glomp someone or anything of that nature without their permission. I'm sure a glomp could send people like C2Queen into a full-on panic attack and literally destroy the rest of their weekend, or maybe even cons forever. And I know I've gotten annoyed when people run past and bump into me on the way, but taking a step back to think maybe they were running to get out of the crowd puts an entirely different perspective on things.

 

I hope you all can find ways to cope with your phobias so cons can become more enjoyable! Maybe looking at a cell phone/3DS screen could help give the feeling of being alone when you're not? Or earplugs like Tokoz said? I don't have any experience with phobias of that nature, so just wish I could come up with better suggestions ><

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If it counts, I have social anxiety disorder. Some days are better than others, but things are generally pretty good. Last year I ended up getting stuck in a mass of people in the Dealer's Hall and had an anxiety attack that sent me to my hotel for a couple of hours, but otherwise it was all as wonderful as the year(s) prior.

 

Washu was right about utilizing a phone screen to minimize the realization of just how many people are near. I have a much easier time moving around the con with a friend, so that's never a bad option. It's all a matter of utilizing whatever you can to make yourself as comfortable as possible.

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C2Queen   

Thanks ShingekinoFandoms. It's tough to admit but at the same time you can't always tell what people might be dealing with if they don't tell anyone.

 

Washu, I used to be really bad when people touched or hugged me, even my own family members. Like it would make me panic, uncomfortable and feel like my personal bubble was violated. But that was several years ago. I kind of broke out of that a bit after I got with forum member Teebs. I think it had more to do with my state of mind at the time and being bitter about my broken family. I'm a whole lot better about that now as long as people don't hug or touch me without me giving them the okay to.

 

If someone did glomp me out of the blue it would definitely raise my anxiety. I've actually had it happen once or twice, it's pretty nerve-wracking when you aren't expecting it. I'm more used to hugs and stuff now and actually will sometimes ask people if it's okay for me to give one. If people ask for permission now I'm usually cool with it. Though since I have a disability with nerve damage and tender points though as well, people have to be really careful. Especially if their hand is near my spine, people wouldn't know by looking at me but a lot of people have spiked my nerves and hurt me giving me hugs and what not. I usually don't say anything but if people touch them too long it really starts to hurt bad. Even Teebs still accidentally touches my tender points and hurts me. I have between 10-15 points on my body that send me a shock-wave of pain if you touch them. It's almost inevitable that someone will touch one of them.

 

I actually had one cosplayer who had a crush on me at the time hug onto me for like 2-3 minutes while touching my spine. I told him he was hurting me physically causing me shockwaves and to please let go several times and he wasn't stopping so I actually had to shove him away really hard. Not only did it raise my anxiety tenfold but it also physically hurt. I still get shivers when I think about it.

 

When it comes to ACen though thankfully because I'm staff I can avoid the long registration line and have some more secluded areas I can go to that make me feel more comfortable. Also with my disability, I usually always have someone around me giving me a hand or watching out for me. It helps for getting around physically and keeping my anxiety down. Plus I know a good share of staffers, I.R.T members especially as well as EMRT so seeing them around also helps and sometimes they will give me a hand if they see me in need. Listening to music does help me forget about the crowd around me too, it is a great idea. It's a struggle every year to deal with all of the people but it's worth it because I always have a great time thanks to my friends, fellow staffers, nice con-goers, etc. And I like being surrounded by a lot of people with the same interests as me as long as they aren't physically crowding me.

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