Here’s a pretty cool scientific article I found on how PTSD can alter the physical structure of the brain, and how that might translate into many of the symptoms including memory.
There’s a few mentions of traumas, both sexual and otherwise, but the article doesn’t describe any in much depth, and they’re only really mentioned in the frame of statistics or to give an example.
It’s a scientific article in that it has legit sources and is written by a doctor, but it’s an easy read, and it’s not too long. It’s really interesting, and it might help some people to better explain to others what PTSD is and how it works.
I think it would be a lot easier to explain fandom for me if it wasn’t as important to me as it is.
If it was just an idle distraction, or this weird thing I did when I was bored, it would be so easy to wave away— “yeah, there’s this silly thing, whatever”.
But it’s not. I read fanfiction when I should be sleeping, I go under in it and don’t surface until it’s early in the morning or I’ve missed my stop on the subway or put off something I should have otherwise been doing. I draw fanart and it takes hours, days, when I could be drawing something I could use professionally. I cry over objectively terrible television shows because I care intensely about these characters which don’t even really exist in the show— characters I’ve built up with the help of hundreds of other people into figures who I relate to, whose lives matter to me.
And I… have never really been able to put a finger on why.
There are plenty of reasons people give for why fandom is a compelling community, and they’re all true. But none of them explain the kind of bone-deep grasp it has on me, the way that it is so embedded into the way I think and read and feel things, how I’m drawn to it and comforted by it.
For all that I believe, viciously and whole-heartedly, that “good media” is a myth— that the worth media has is in what it gives to you, and happiness is just as worthwhile a thing to receive as knowledge or pretension— the myth has been peddled by everyone for long enough that I can’t help but find it in myself, too. Part of me always needs to justify the heaps of fanfiction to myself: it’s too easy, it makes me feel too much, I’m over-emotional and not strong enough to read something more challenging.
That is the part of me that pops up whenever I try to talk about it— if it were inconsequential, it would be fine that fanfiction is easy. It would be a side-note. But instead, it fills up my heart where I think other things should be: harder things, more complicated things. And I want to share it, because it makes me lighter, makes me happy, because it takes up so much of my thoughts: not just fandom as a whole but the shows and books and characters who keep me there. I care about them a lot, I let them become a part of me, live in my heart just like my friends and family and apartment and childhood house and dog.
And to explain why something so small takes up so much room in me is hard, because I feel like— I should be more substantial. Like I should hollow out years of stories and the emotions connected to them and fill those spaces with— I’m not sure what. What do most people fill their hearts with?
I can never tell whether or not I give too much of my feelings to fiction, or whether the people who drink fiction up like I do simply have more space for it, are more inclined towards emotion and have more of it to give.
These days I catch myself trying to explain fandom more— to my friends, to my parents, to myself. It’s become too big a part of me to just gloss over, or it always has been and I only just noticed. I’m never really quite sure what to do about that, torn between letting myself be made happy by the things that make me happy and worrying that I’m not being made happy by the right things.
I usually try and be super positive about fandom all the time, because I honestly think that it is an extremely positive thing— but sometimes, I can’t help but worry, because I’m human and that’s what humans do, as far as I can tell. I wish I had some sort of way of ascertaining that caring like this is healthy, is okay, but— there’s no barometer for that, no real answer. But shame isn’t, in my experience, a useful emotion, and worrying about who you are and what you like is a waste of time.
Time I could otherwise spend sleeping, or drinking, or working. Or reading fanfiction.