this is why i’m weird about comic-con

I’m packing for Comic-Con, finalizing my set for w00tstock, getting all kinds of excited for Syfy’s Sharknado 2 party on Friday night, and locking down my character choices for the Welcome to Night Vale / Thrilling Adventure Hour crossover show on Saturday night.

I fold some jeans and put them into my suitcase and think to myself, “this is weird. I don’t feel panicky about Comic-Con at all.”

So, of course, my brain goes, “well, let me fix that for you” and I feel the nauseating well of panic swell up in my chest. My arms feel fifty feet long, my hands get cold and numb, and I realize that I’ve been clenching my jaw for several minutes. My ears actually pop when I release it.

Depression and anxiety are awesome*.

So I’m genuinely excited for all the cool things I will get to do this year, and I’m genuinely excited to be, at least in some fashion, a representative for Syfy, Geek & Sundry, and myself. I’m excited to see neat cosplay, visit with friends who I don’t get to see as often as I’d like, and for some things to happen that I can’t talk about in public at the moment.

… but occasionally things like this happen at Comic-Con, and then I get scared and overwhelmed, and don’t want to go outside.

I’ll do my best to be awesome, but if you see me at Comic-con, and I seem a little weird or off to you, this is probably why.

*not actually awesome

87 thoughts on “this is why i’m weird about comic-con”

  1. You’re going to have a fantastic convention, Wil. I’m so happy for you and everything you’re accomplishing right now! I’m really glad to know you’ll have Anne and plenty of friends in tow to balance out any crazies in the distance. Keep your chin up, a smile on, and remember:

    “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

    This blog is evidence of how strong you are and that your week will be fucking awesome. :)

  2. It doesnt matter what people say about your behaviours. You are you, and you cant help it. Millions of people struggle with anxiety or depression or both, that doesnt make them alien, and it certainly gives them the right to distance themselves if they need to. Just keep being you, and youll get through it :)

  3. I suffer from both and know first hand how debilitating it is. Meds are my only option unfortunatly. But they work, so yay (well mostly)! Good luck at Con, and I wish I could come!!!

  4. I’d just like to say that I think you’re an incredible role model and I truly appreciate your openness about depression and anxiety. Please know that you are making a difference and it’s truly appreciated.

  5. As an introvert, I cannot fathom what it must be like for you to be “on” all day long at a convention…not to mention probably being followed whenever you’re just out during a normal day. I don’t run into a ton of celebrities here in Michigan, but if I did, I’d like to think I would let them go about their business (but I would really have to work on not staring like a freak). Good luck!

  6. Not a lurker, and can’t fathom it. Up in LAX pretty often, and seen fair number of people in the business, but most I would do, even if sitting across from them in the plane, is a brief “Like your work by the way”, then let them be.

  7. As a 14 year old girl I was probably one of those crazy kids hanging in the lobby of your hotel. But I was 14! Creepy is the grown adults that still do it. Your a cup of awesome covered in awesome sauce. Have fun this weekend and watch out for John Barrowman…I heard he’s grabby with the hands.

  8. I have anxiety and depression as well…I’ve been to ComicCon 3 times, each for just one day. It SUPER stressed me out and I am just a civilian! I can’t even imagine what you go through…I think I’d have a stroke. Anyway, I hope the fans are gracious and that you have a great time!

  9. Your previous post – especially about people who feel they are owed something from you – really made me think of the #YesAllWomen conversation. What people in that situation were doing to you is wrong and it feels an awful lot like the things a crazy dude said before he went on a shooting spree. Just as women understand that not all dudes are batshit crazy, you understand that not all fans are – but that is why those batshit crazy people are so scary. Good luck, stay strong.

  10. The fact that you suffer from depression and anxiety, and still do these sorts of events has always been impressive to me. When I met you two years ago at Calgary Expo, you surpassed every expectation I had. Big smile, an interest what I had brought for you to sign, genuine and honest from beginning to end. You earned major points with me that day (even though you had a bucketful to begin with), and I couldn’t have been more of geeky happy fan boy as I walked away. You really took charge at the TNG 25th Anniversary panel, and told stories, answered questions, and made it so entertaining like it was just a walk on the beach for you. Just remember next time things are closing in on you, that you put smiles on people faces just by doing the very simplest of things, being yourself.

  11. I wish more people realized that actors & actresses are people first and should be given that respect.

    As someone who deals with Depression & Anxiety on a daily basis, I hope ComiCon is Awesome for you and that there are no horrible blips.

  12. Because my mind works in mysterious, and sometimes quite frightful ways, it just had to drug up the thought that if I would happen to meet you I’d ask if you’d want my autograph…… Because, well, I’m the the Greatest American Unpublished Writer.

    All kidding aside, I hope you have a great time at Comic-Con.

  13. As an extrovert with anxiety and depression, I totally get it. I want to go to cons and see all my cool fellow geeks and meet actors and artists and writers I admire and hang out with friends, but I’m also overwhelmed by all of the people there (especially the strangers) and terrified of meeting people I admire and being too goofy to them. I first met you at Planet Comicon in Kansas City in 2013 and one of the first things I did was apologize to you because I was out of Xanax and half freaking out over EVERYTHING. And you were really nice about it and very kind and generous and friendly, but I don’t know what was going on in your head–because I’m often really good at covering my anxiety and depression when I’m interacting with people. It’s only afterward that my body goes, “WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK WAS ALL THAT?” and starts shaking or shutting down.

    I hope you have an amazing, astonishing, uncanny time at Comicon and I hope nothing bad or triggering happens.

  14. I met you and Felicia briefly at PAX Prime back in 2011. I was absolutely terrified. Then again, I was absolutely terrified of just about everything at that PAX: I’d been going since 2009 and it had grown so much that I was no longer able to enjoy it. It has grown too large – and as an introvert with severe anxiety and personal space issues (hold your hands directly out from your sides and that is my “Me Zone”). I spent more time hyperventilating and trying to avoid a public panic attack than I did enjoying myself.

    Thankfully the JoCo/P&S concert was far less crowded – that was really the only genuine enjoyment I got out of my experience that year because I actually had breathing room.

    For all my fear, I was thrilled to meet you both. I am thrilled that you two (and a few others like Seth Green and Nathan Filion) have helped usher in an era of “Nerd Chic” for the rest of us – and even more thankful to you for continually getting “out there” about your anxiety issues and spreading knowledge and reminding me that maybe I’m not such a freak after all.

    You are awesome.

  15. You are very open about yourself, and that is insanely brave. As someone with PTSD, I understand some of what you’re going through. I can’t wait to hear how you completely kill it at the con. You’ve got this!

  16. Wow! I can not believe people can be that Crazy. All those people were selfish and apparently had no sense of empathy. I hope you have a great time at Comic Con. One of these days i hope to actually go to one and if i see you there ill make sure and line up in an orderly fashion and not run up bombard you like a crazy person.

  17. Just a reminder of the many many more that have no need to take up your time or get your signature. We are just as grateful but content to respect you and, if given the opportunity, just to say “Thanks”.

  18. Having volunteered at the Paley Center’s Paley Festival events for over a decade, and also done some stuff for AFI (before I moved to entertainment I was an event planner, so I still would help friends out with these events) I’ve seen those crazy people you speak of. In fact, I can identify about a dozen of them easily. And I hate them too.

    I hate them because they behave like this, making talent like yourself understandably less willing to sign for folks. I hate them because at the end of events they rush the stage (Paley is or at least was, known for talent sticking around after panels to sign from the stage) and do exactly what you said, shove stacks of things at the actors. The actors are usually too busy trying to sign as much as they possibly can in the least amount of time, so they don’t realize they are signing for the same people over and over. In fact, back when the staff/volunteers for Paley used to staff the talent on stage, I only ever had one actor, Adam Brody from “The O.C.” specifically ask me to keep an eye out for the autograph hounds and try and keep them away. It’s something I already did. And as one of the security guys at the DGA once said to me “You’re short, but you’re scary.”

    But mostly I hate them because they take away opportunities for genuine fans to have that few moments of interacting with the talent behind the shows that mean so much to them. They take away that small opportunity that somebody might have to tell you they went into science because of watching Next Gen, or they were a smart kid who identified with Wesley. They rob the fans for whom this moment and that autograph actually mean something to from ever getting the chance to have that moment in the first place. And they rob the folks who make these shows of getting to hear just how much their work has meant to folks. I’ve been extremely fortunate in my life between friends who have given me great opportunities to see or meet talent that I admire and access via my jobs in entertainment. But most fans don’t get a chance to talk to the folks they like beyond an event like Comic Con.

    It sucks that they freak you out. And that there’s probably nothing you can do about it because they probably adhere to the letter of the law (like not trespassing) so that you don’t have any recourse against them short of hiring your own security. And given that I’ve had to yell at these folks to stop reaching over people in wheelchairs and seen them try and follow an actress in her car when leaving an event, there’s really nothing you can do that would shame them into stopping.

    Do the Klingon fans have an equivalent of the 501st Legion? Maybe you should get those guys to escort you around Comic Con. :)

  19. Wil, you truly are an inspiration. Posts like these, and your auto biography brings me to tears, knowing that we all struggle in our own ways. Anxiety and depression can straight out cripple, even when things are “looking up.”

    Have a great con, dude.

  20. Hey Wil,
    I’m flying out from Minnesota for HopCon and W00tstock, and to visit the San Diego Zoo. On the HopCon website under the description of the event, it says something to the effect of, this an event to hang out, relax and have fun, not for selfies or autographs. Is it ok to ask you or Drew or Aisha to take a picture with me? While i am quite excited to try the beer(s), I was hoping to have the opportunity to say hi. I feel you on the depression and anxiety. I suffer from both as well, especially social anxieties, and flying by myself to go to a couple of events where I am surrounded by no one i know is putting me waaaay outside my comfort zone. I have decided that it is well worth the discomfort though to have the experience of the next 3 days. In other words, the juice is worth the squeeze.

    1. Oh, and if this isn’t the type of event for pictures, thats ok too. Just being at HopCon and W00tStock (and the Zoo) will be enough to keep me happy for awhile. :)

  21. The fact you share your time and talents with us even though you have anxiety and depression is wonderful. Whether or not you intend to be, you are an amazing example for those of us struggling. I’ve had the wonderful chance to see you at both KC and Chicago cons and just have to say THANK YOU!

  22. If it’s any help at all, as much as my husband and I would like to see you, my son would be totally over the moon if he got to tell you how much he loves Tabletop and, well, you. He’s already been told and completely understands that if he’s lucky enough to meet you, he is NOT to try to touch you, shake hands with you, or crowd you in any way unless you offer. He just really wants to tell you how awesome you are and thank you for Tabletop.

  23. Indeed I do use autograph/photo shoot tickets to buy a few seconds of face time with a celebrity. I loathe people who can’t get it into their heads that all said and done, celebrities are people too with their own places to be and people to meet.

  24. Hey Will,

    I met you at a Star Trek Convention many years ago when we were both quite a bit younger. :)
    You were so nice and cool. A really good person who took the time to talk. We really appreciated it. You were cool then and are even better now. Love your new show. I hope you have A BLAST at Comic-con! I know I will.

  25. I hope that Comicon is awesome for you this year and that /that/ situation doesn’t happen again. That sort of behavior creeps me out to even witness, the idea of being the center of it… yeesh, you sir are a braver person than I. Have an amazing time though and may the awesome outweigh the douchiness.

  26. Since I don’t know whether I’ll ever get the chance to meet you in person (especially after Salt Lake Comic Con’s ill-conceived way of trying to encourage you to come out here), allow me take this moment to approach you in a non-stalker-y way and say thanks. I’ve enjoyed the work you’ve done on Star Trek and The Big Bang Theory, and I’ve seen a couple episodes of Tabletop as well and am looking forward to watching more. I hope you have a good time at Comic Con and can avoid the stalkers and haters. (virtual fist bump, high five, or whatever you prefer)

  27. Amazed at the courage that I see with all those posted comments from your fans. Thank you for the kindness you show by sharing your struggle with all of us. I also have “issues”. Daily, I try to stay off that hamster wheel of anxiety and mania and not fall into depression, all without a safety net (no prescriptions as too many side effects). Glad that you are getting out into the world, Surround yourself with friends. Smile at the fans. I have always enjoyed your seeing you whether as an actor, a host or a tabletop gamer. Now I respect you for your courage and envy you for your control.

  28. Unfortunately I’m not going to SDCC, cause if I were, I’d be happy to volunteer to be part of your security detail. :) I’ve actually seriously considered the idea of organizing something of a volunteer Geek Army (think more Dumbledore’s Army, not like, the real one)…almost like a more general Enforcers (Penny Arcade) group. Not trying to start fights or anything. Just about creating a barrier and taking hits. Let them call you names when a cadre of 6-foot-plus guys block them as you wander off into the night to enjoy your ComicCon…given the crap women have to deal with there and in the game industry, I think we’ll have a lot of work to do!

  29. Hey Wil, I obviously don’t know you but from what I can tell from table top, the interview you did on Aisha Tyler’s Girl on Guy podcast recently, and your book Just A Geek (which I’m currently reading) I can only imagine that you would just be a total chill and nice guy. I really hope that people don’t act weird/stalkery (as in the If “You Cut Me, I Will Bleed” post you linked to) and they don’t mess up your time/experience at Comic Con. Your “I Will Bleed” post reminded me of a time when I ran into a couple of members of one of my favorite bands (it happens every once in a while since I live in NYC) and a friend of mine kept pushing me to talk to them. I was told them I wouldn’t because obviously they are out to dinner with their wives, trying to live normal lives. My friend got upset but it’s like despite their celebrity status, they are regular people who just want to be able to have as much of a normal life; just let them be since they don’t get that often being in the spotlight. Anyways, went too long with this but I hope you have a great time no matter what and no one is a dick there. -A

  30. Just a different perspective, I am not a star trek fan and don’t remember you from movies, however I do really enjoy your posts over on google plus on how you deal with anxiety and depression. So I guess I am a whole new class of wheaton fan!

  31. Wil, many people develop PTSD due to experiencing or just witnessing the kind of traumatic event that you experienced at Comic-Con. Celebrities in particular are exposed to extreme levels of emotional stress, so it is unsurprising that there are so many celebrities who develop various addictions since all types of addiction are anxiety-driven. Traditional psychotherapy is not very effective in treating such issues and while psychotropic medications can provide some relief, they only suppress the physical symptoms instead of clearing the causes of anxiety and other issues.

    So is there anything that is effective in treating such issues? Yes, there is! Remember plexing – the relaxation technique that Troi taught to Reg in “Realm of fear” (S06, E02)? Well, a similar technique that is even better than plexing actually exists – it’s called Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and it actually removes the causes of anxiety, depression and many other issues.

    Many war veterans with severe PTSD who had been in therapy for 20+ years used EFT to completely free themselves of PTSD in a matter of hours. Actors such as Whoopi Goldberg and many professional athletes use EFT to remove emotional and other blocks, as well as to improve their performance, health and so much more. EFT is also endorsed by Dr. Mercola, Dr. Oz and many other reputable medical doctors, but don’t take their word for it – give EFT a try and you’ll feel the difference for yourself. EFT is very simple and can be learned within minutes for free (free as in free beer), so go ahead and check it out:

    EFT — Your Best Defense Against Anxiety and Stress

    Free EFT tutorial

    Dr. Mercola’s EFT page

    Last, but not least, you should know that EFT was developed by Gary Craig, who is a Stanford electrical engineer & fellow geek.

  32. You’ll do fine, Wil.

    I must admit, though, that there is a part of me that would love nothing more than to put those creeps in their places. Of course, that part also wishes it could shoot Force lightning from its finger tips. But then I would probably just fry those people and that would upset the part of me that likes being a civil and reasonable person. I wonder if that part of me would be okay with us burning effigies? Hmm…

    Anyway, while I go on to have a long debate with myself about burning paper cut-outs, you have a blast at Comic Con and don’t let the leaches get you down.

  33. It’s wonderful that you still get yourself out there so much with fans in spite of the anxiety/depression. That being said, the links in that blog post made it the laziest Choose-Your-Own-Adventure ever.

  34. Is it wrong that when I read that my first thought was “why didn’t they want Felicia Day’s autograph?”… you need to keep Felicia with you att all times for any re-occurrences :)

    (I wonder if I can hire Felicia Day as a personal bodyguard? Now that would be cool!)

  35. thanks for using words like depression and anxiety. to me it underscores the fact that people are asking something from you that perhaps the human brain wasnt meant to handle, while at the same time de-stigmatizes the concept of it having those conditions. my social anxiety has gotten so bad i physically cannot enter an arena. ive had to cancel, even doped up on xanax, a cruise, a cavaliers game, and two big venue music concerts when i actually got ther eand realized i was about to lose my bananas. its taken me a long time to admit they arent flukes or if i just have the right “attitude” and a little medication ill be fine. DragonCon was/is my Mecca, i went 9 years in a row, but i am not sure i will ever be able to go again =/

    Be safe but drink heavily.

  36. that sucks to hear that shit happens, i’ve seen it but never partook. Sometimes it’s hard to see people we admire as human beings and not gods, and being a little celeb crazy if fine. But I agree these assholes need to stop, there are LITERALLY millions of opportunities one has to meet a celebrity, and none of them require stalking. I once waited in line to see you, despite not knowing who you were, just so my friend who couldn’t make it to pax ’11 with me, despite her already having bought a 3 day pass, could get an autograph from you. It wasn’t ’till i pulled up to the 3rd or fourth place that i recognized you from the guild (never watched the trek.) All I had known is that my friend wanted your autograph, and that i was to give you a D20 because you made some bet on twitter about not being able to have too many dice ( she told me to offer up one that meant alot, so i had given you the first d20 I ever owned), and you gave me 5 minutes of time, and talked to me like you knew me. it means alot to me and my friend, thank you. Also thank you for convincing Felecia to show up i was afraid i’d never be able to meet her as well since she normally attends dragon con.

  37. If it makes you feel any better, Wil, I don’t give a fuck about celebrities. I watch the show because it’s amusing. And you’re probably the kinda guy I could drink a few beers with, being a geek and all. But the fact you’re famous doesn’t mean shit. Of course, my wife would slobber all over you like a happy puppy. But that’s a different story.

    So if you’re ever in the Dallas area and need an intimidating Sasquatch to keep the stalkers at bay, feel free to shout. That way they can talk about what a dick your bodyguard is.

  38. You don’t have to be on your constant A-game, Wil. We all experience off-days. Just take a “zen” moment when you feel an attack coming on. The people that matter will understand that you have to step out from the crowd for a few minuted to clear your head and catch your breath. Just remember not to force yourself.

    Being awesome isn’t being without flaws. Being awesome is not letting your flaws holding you back. And dude, you do that every time you pick yourself back up after a panic attack. And THAT is what makes you awesome, Wil.

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