I’ve been attending various comic con events throughout the UK (and one in Germany) for the past 11 years now. It’s the perfect way for me to spend time with like minded people, meet up with friends I don’t see very often, and meet some of the actors and actresses I admire.
But as the years have gone by and comic con has become more “mainstream”, the crowds have certainly gotten bigger! Which isn’t ideal for someone who suffers with anxiety. So with MCM Birmingham, Wales Comic Con, and other comic con events coming up over the next few weeks, I thought I’d put together a little anxiety guide to comic con to help anyone thinking of going to one.
Anxiety Guide to Comic Con
Do your research
Whether that’s finding out where the venue is, and how you’ll get to it, or what the floor plan is like. Planning ahead is a great way to prepare yourself for the event. I usually have a floor plan printed out, a list of who I’m meeting, panels I want to listen to etc, and rough budget.
Get there early
This can vary, but comic con attendees can start queuing hours before the doors open. Especially if there’s a guest rare to the convention scene that they don’t want to miss out on. So get there early to give yourself time to prepare and lessen stress trying to accomplish everything you want to when the doors open.
Of course the earlier you arrive the longer you’ll need to queue and often hours at a time. The queues are usually inside but you may also be queuing outside in the rain too. Which has happened to me on more than one occasion! To be honest, I prefer queuing outside as I feel less ‘trapped’. If this is you, try to focus on something else, I find a fidget cube is a great distraction.
Take a friend
One of my triggers is feeling overwhelmed by myself and experiencing sensory overload. So having someone to talk to and take my mind off things is a great way to block out my surroundings, if I need to. Especially if I’m stuck in a queue for hours at a time!
Try getting an accessibility pass
Some but not all convention organisers offer an accessibility pass meaning that your time spent queuing is reduced. Which can be great if large crowds are one of you triggers! Often all you need is a note from your doctor or therapist to apply for one, I never have though (even though I probably should!), as I don’t want to be seen as that person that “shouldn’t be” in that queue. 😨
Use grounding techniques
There are many grounding techniques out there, so I’d recommend trying a few until you find one that works for you. For example, breathing techniques, ‘5,4,3,2,1’, or spotting colours, which is what I often use myself.
Know when to leave
I know you’ll want to have as much fun as possible but you also need to know when the right time to leave is. No fandom is worth triggering your anxiety for.
How do you cope with comic con (or similar events) with anxiety? Let me know in the comments.