Welcome to Dakster's World

A long time ago…and it still hurts

A long time ago, when I was about 8 or 9, I showed some dance steps to a relative. That relative looked at me with a “you can’t dance” look in their eyes. They didn’t have to say anything for me to know from their eyes what they meant. This one experience has stayed with me since. Some might call that silly, others unforgiving but I say it was a lesson learned in rejection.

The relative who looked at me this way hurt my feelings in such a way, I have not danced in public since (with the exception of being in my clone trooper). Why is that? Why is it that I gave up doing something I love in public simply because of one person? I don’t understand it, but I guess it was my first taste of rejection. My first taste of doing something I loved and someone I care about looking at me as if I just wasn’t good enough in their eyes.

I know its been almost 20 years, but it still hurts when I think about that day. I don’t let it get me down anymore, but the memory of that instance hurts and the one who is behind it, will never know and even if they do find out (this is a public blog after all), I don’t think they will ever admit to it.

Ohh well. I might not dance in public anymore, but I have moved on to putting myself out there in other areas. Besides, when I have danced in my clone trooper, I will say that I’ve been given high scores on my dancing. 🙂

Why am I bring this up? I was given a writing exercise and this is what I came up with for it. I think it hits on the high points without dragging you into a long and sad story about my childhood. I could do that with ease, but its wouldn’t be fun to write.

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Anxiety and the Geek

Since I was a child, I have suffered from high anxiety. When I was growing up, it was just referred to as being shy. As an adult, I learned that what I have is not something you always grow out of. In fact, as an adult, it can get worse if you don’t learn how to deal with it as a child.

Over the years, I have figured out what my triggers are, and I have found ways to avoid them. Unfortunately, some of my triggers are things that I can’t avoid, such as social interaction and big crowds. TV and movies can be especially rough for me. This became a serious problem when my husband would want to watch his favorite show, Smallville. I would get caught up in the story to the point that I would have racing thoughts and panic attacks if it ended on a cliff hanger. Eventually, I started having “me time” where I would lock myself in the bedroom for an hour so that he could watch his show, and I could keep my sanity.

Over the past three years, I have dived deep into my geeky roots as a way to get some reprieve. In 2010, I joined up with the 501st legion. In 2011, I was welcomed by GeekMom as a writer. This year, I have found a new love in comic books. All of those things as well as learning how to meditate and surrounding myself with the love and support of all those I call family, have helped me achieve things I never thought possible.

The 501st legion has taught me patience and has given me a chance to make awesome friends. The children I have met will never know that with every smile, they gave me, my heart jumped. Trooping with the 501st has made me realize that even though I am just one person, I can still make a difference in someone’s life. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to ask yourself “What would MacGyver do?” and use some imagination to solve the problem at hand (anyone who’s had a costume piece break off just before a march knows what I am talking about).

GeekMom has given me a nice break from my regular job and allows me to write about what I love. I gain a little more confidence in myself with each article I submit (and with each comment, it doubles). Writing helps me focus my mind on something other than the stress around me. I’ve also met some amazing ladies here, and I am proud to be on the team.

The comic book world, starting with DC and moving into Marvel, has given me back my love of reading that I lost a long time ago. I currently visit the library every week looking for new titles to devour on my lunch. I’ve also learned how to handle cliff hangers a little better so that I don’t get overly anxious about them. When my anxiety is really high, I turn to my comic books for fast relief. It gives me another world to escape to and a story to get caught up in.

Learning to meditate has helped me when I feel a panic attack coming on or when I know I might run into one of my triggers during the day. At the start of each day, I take 30 minutes with my iPod and listen to some music. During that time, I meditate by focusing on the words in the song and letting any other thoughts that enter my mind just float on by. It’s probably not a method any Buddhist monks will teach you, but it works for me. After I leave the house, I continue to meditate on and off throughout the day by focusing on my breathing.

During a panic attack, I’ve learned to find somewhere I can be alone and I do my multiplication tables in my head. This helps bring me back into a logical state of mind and forces me to see what’s really going on around me vs. what the anxiety is trying to make me believe.

In the past few months, my husband has expressed his feelings, of how much I have changed in the last year. With over $1,000 spent on my costume and comics (99.9% of that was the costume), it has been a far cheaper and better therapy than me sitting on a therapist’s couch and taking medication. In addition, I use my iPad and iPod touch regularly to ease my thoughts with apps designed to help calm the mind.

Since 2011, my anxiety levels have dropped tremendously. I have gained friends and hobbies that when I feel overly anxious, I can run to. I wish I could say that I am anxiety and panic attack free, but I’m not. I still suffer occasionally at troops and at work. My mind continues to have days were my thoughts just don’t want to settle down and focus. What I have achieved are ways that I help me cope and a group of friends that understands and are there to help me.


A trooper’s poem

Wake up early
Pack my gear
Drive 2 hours
Get to site
Put on 20 lbs. of plastic armor
Walk out
Put a smile on a child’s face
Make a parents day
Mission Accomplished!

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