An Extended Hiatus – The Good Bits

I promised I’d follow up the last blog entry with some positive notes. Not that it lessens the unfortunate negative impact 2016 has had on my life, but it is good to note things weren’t all bad. So here we go.

January: I attended PAX South in San Antonio for the first time, thanks to my friend Jay. We were vending in the Diversity Lounge, which was also my first time selling my own wares at a table. I learned a lot about what I could improve on for the next time, and really appreciated the experience it gave. I met some other awesome ladies (Chiara and Allegriana), and also got to see Texas.

February: We planned and executed a weekend winter photoshoot adventure. We had a campfire, freezing butts, lots of chocolate, and pizza. I had the best companions for the drive there and back in Amanda and Toast, and every time I listen to Hamilton I still think of our additional commentary. (“I have THREE FRIENDS!”)

March: Through my friends at Skyleaf Creations, I was able to attend the March Toronto Comic Con and see some people I hadn’t seen in a long time. The con itself was meh, but hang outs were always appreciated and excellent, and I also got to wear Imai Cosplay‘s Hawke costume, which is remarkable.

April: Undoubtedly the best month for me. I attended both Emerald City in Seattle for the first time, and returned to PAX East since I’d missed it last year. Emerald City was quite possibly the best convention I’d ever been to, both in terms of the actual con, and in my own personal experience. It was my first time travelling alone and leaving most of my plan to the wind, which was an exhilarating experience. Special thanks to Cara and Emma for putting up with me during the weekend. PAX East was super different in which it felt like I had too much to do because EVERYONE was there. I was once again selling things in the Diversity Lounge (though it was a little last minute), and I actually attended some panels this year. PAX is always something of a a whirlwind, and I am super looking forward to some of the games we have coming out soon.

May: Anime North happened. My sister bought me a pass so I could actually go in, and it was nice to spend so much time with her at a convention.

June: YetiCon! We hiked in the Blue Mountains and that was super rad.

July: Sailor Moon Celebration happened! I equipped the Cosplay for a Cure group with costumes and we looked rad and it was super good. I also finally moved out of my shitty apartment, even if it meant putting my stuff in storage and couch surfing until I found my new forever home. A huge shoutout to Chris and Sarah for hosting me for two months, and for my brother for the month and a half after that while I finished my placement.

September: I attended Tony and Zeena’s wedding, which was beautiful and magical and one of the best weekends I had this entire year. I felt so blessed and things were so good.

October: I finally started my Paralegal placement, which was the last time I needed to complete my diploma. I made my plans to move, and attended the Silver Snail Halloween Party as my sorta last Toronto hurrah before leaving the city.

Novemeber: I finished my placement, and I moved! I live in a house! In a new city! It’s pretty great.

December: I received my diploma, and I graduated with Honours.

And I’m still here.

An Extended Hiatus – What’s Going On?

TW: Suicide, depression, rape, long post

2016 has been a whirlwind of emotions. The first half of the year, while still containing the same undertone that infected this whole mess, feels like a whole other lifetime ago. I travelled. I saw friends. It was great.

But, as anyone who follows me on any other form of social media knows, those were some of the only good things to come out of this year for me. 2016 literally started with my mother calling me to tell me about the divorce. January 1st, about 6pm, “Did you see your father’s post on Facebook?” I hadn’t. I’d been sleeping all day. “We didn’t want it to come to light like this but…” The following day brought a phone call from my father. He was devastated. It was a shitty start to what was ultimately the worst year of my life.

I entered my last semester of my program, still keeping cosplay on the backburner, but taking on commissions for some income. I attended PAX South at the end of January…and then pretty much stopped attending classes.

While I make no attempt to hide the status of my mental health, under the belief that talking about it helps to end the stigma toward it (after all, no one has a problem talking about getting a cold), how bad things were apparently still went unnoticed by many people. Since October 2015, I can think of at least 5 separate occasions where I had been seriously contemplating suicide. I was diagnosed with depression when I was 16, and while I had moments of “I wish I didn’t exist,” this was the first time the frightening reality that I wanted to be dead was a problem.

I was in counselling. I had been since February last year, after what I refer to as “my very bad summer” (wherein I had been seeing someone who did not understand “no”, which was right before I started college again in 2014). I was back on anti-depressants for the first time in 10 years. (Fortunately with a doctor who was willing to find the right one for me, as well as offer additional counselling and insight.)

But that was it. My two mental health professionals were essentially all I had as far as “support system” went. My family was in turmoil; my sister and I were also dealing with my father’s mental health issues, as he struggled with depression and suicide. I had been growing more and more distant from my main friend group since “the bad summer,” due to all sorts of reasons both related to my mental health and friend politics that still confuse me to this day. Things were not good. I dropped all but two of my courses, and I barely survived the semester.

I enrolled in summer classes, desperate to get my schooling done since it was the last semester and it was so close. I closed commissions. I tried to focus on schooling. But then…my apartment issue. Between abusive roommates and my manipulative landlord, the mold, the fire hazard, the lack of windows or fresh air, the water damage from the washer overflowing from bad repairs…I needed out. Unfortunately, the freelance work I do on the side had dried up, with promises of contracts being pushed off indefinitely. Making for another stressful semester.

My parents moved out of the province, with one going to each side of the country. I was unable to find a new apartment, and at the end of July, I moved my things into a storage unit and was very fortunate to be able to stay with a couple of friends. I finished the semester, while still struggling to secure my placement to finish my program proper. My mental health continued to decline. My birthday was spent alone and crying. I had to cancel PAX West, despite having my flight and tickets. Things did not improve.

With a mess of email/phone tag, I did finally secure my placement, but not until the end of September, and not starting until mid-October. By this point I had to move to stay with my brother, having overstayed my welcome with the other friends and having no other options. My commute to my unpaid job was an hour-and-a-half to two hours each way from my brother’s apartment, which was taxing. I did finish the 133 hours required for my placement, however, and in mid-November I finally moved into a new home.

Unfortunately things did not get better with the “main friend group” over time. I largely feel lost and alone when I think about my social situation, and the local cosplay community. It’s an odd feeling.

Commissions: While I am mostly settled, I am still unsure of when/if I will be opening commissions back up. In the event that they do open again, the prices will be raised. While I do enjoy seeing how happy and how good everyone looks in their fukus, I unfortunately can no longer afford to undersell myself and my work, and would like to even remotely break even when taking my time into account.

TL;DR: My mental health has been shit. For the first time in my life I no longer have a family home which is super uncomfortable. Depression is no joke. I probably won’t be at any GTA cons next year. Commissions may never open, or prices are gonna go up. I am going to write a happier post later, since there have been some good things, and I want to shed some light on what got me through this extremely trying year.