The Fangirl Crash

November 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

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Amy writes,

After a fandom related event happens, I crash. Like a concert where I’ll be in the same room as my faves, or a convention where I’ll be seeing the people of my dreams “in the flesh.” The days leading up to the event are often very exciting, but on the day I can make myself ill. I’ve had situations where I literally feel like I’m going to be sick. When the thing actually happens I’m shaking and I feel like I’ve left my own body. And then when it’s over, it’s like all my emotion has bubbled over and I’m left crying in the car on the way home. Sometimes I’m upset for days, when nothing actually bad has happened. In fact something amazing has happened! I’ve seen a fave!

I have a big fandom-y thing coming up and I’d love my memories of it not to be tarnished by the weird depressed feeling I get for days after. If you have any idea what the hell is going on or any tips on how to cope with being me, that you be wonderful.

Amy! This is a great question, and the science of the feels roller coaster is something I describe in great detail in my book. But let me briefly summarize what I think is happening to you.

There’s a chemical in your brain called dopamine, which gives you that unicorn feeling when something great is about to happen. Your OTP is about to kiss, you’re about to pose for a photo with your fave at a convention, or maybe your favorite band is about to take the stage.

Usually the brain knows to reconfettilease just the right amount of unicorn feels that make us happy, with a little bit stored in reserve. But sometimes, we bring out the big guns. Your brain rolls out dopamine cannons and starts firing like it’s the finale to the 1812 Overture.

IT FEELS AMAZING.

The problem is that when the curtain falls, or when you climb back into the car to go home, there’s no unicorn vibe left. You are running on empty, and you’re going to feel ragey or grumpy or just plain sad for a while. Your brain suddenly need more of your fave to achieve the same effect, and you’re caught in a loop to keep you from constantly feeling crappy.

If a person were an alcoholic, or a gambler, we’d just tell them to stop drinking or to stop playing online poker, right? But being a fangirl is different. You don’t want to hang up you feelings for your favorite actor or series because they do a lot of good for you as well.

So Amy, here’s what I suggest you do:

  • readyTiny head pats. Make a plan to be kind to yourself the evening or the day after a big fangirl event. Drink lots of water and exercise a little. Make a plan to hang out with friends who make you laugh. Save a great book you know you’ll enjoy. Being kind to yourself with tiny head pats will give your brain the time to recover.
  • Be aware. Much of the jolt of your crash can be eased if you can observe it happening. It’s kind of like knowing when your Rage Day is in your menstrual cycle so you can keep yourself from murdering someone. Being able to say, “Oh hey my brain’s low on dopamine so I’m probably going to be grumpy for a little bit.” Simply acknowledging the process rather than seeing it as a personal failure will help you recover faster.
  • See people “in the flesh.” A lot of the feeling of losing control when you go to an event can be curbed by thinking of your faves as real people. They are humans with hopes, dreams, bad habits, worries and doubts. They have an army of people helping them look and act like they are immortal. Don’t forget that their humanity can be just as inspiring as their fiction.

Hope that helps! Be kind and be BAMFy, and let me know how it goes.

Kathleen

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