Changing the World: One Panic Attack at a Time

You can usually tell what kind of day I'm having by the messages I write to myself on my arm. \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
You can usually tell what kind of day I’m having by the messages I write to myself on my arm. \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

It hasn’t always been easy to be open with my struggles. I would hide my pain and suffer in silence. One day, I realized that I was tired of being quiet. I realized that I have nothing to be ashamed of and it’s not something I do for attention. It’s a real struggle and I wasn’t going to be silent anymore. In fact, I would find a platform and scream about it at the top of my fingers. In comes GeekMom.

I started slowly by talking about my struggles on Facebook with “friends only posts.” This was an eye-opening experience, because as I shared, other people came out of the woodwork by commenting or sending me private messages. And just like that, I wasn’t alone anymore.

This small step turned into my next big step. Writing about it on GeekMom.

My first post about anxiety and depression went live when we were on You’d think that on a platform as big as Wired, I would have had at least one troll.

In truth, I didn’t receive one single negative comment. Instead, messages of support and understanding came pouring in.

It may seem like it’s easy for me to write-up about my struggles, but in truth, it can be rather difficult. Not the writing part, but putting the post in for editing and scheduling. Reading it on the site and promoting it. Those are the hard parts.

My post about my experience with Ashley Eckstein was one of the harder ones I’ve done and, in truth, I’ve nearly cried several times reading it after it went live. Reliving the painful experiences and panic attacks through writing can be hard. But reading them live on a website can be downright draining.

Despite the emotions that writing about my struggles causes me, I’m glad I do it.

I’m lucky enough to have a support system that surrounds me with love and understanding every time I have a panic attack or I’m having a bad day. Not everyone is that fortunate.

While I’m going through an episode, I’m certainly not happy with my situation. I’ve screamed “WHY??” and waited for an answer. I’ve wished it would all end quickly and let the pain be over with permanently.

When it’s all over, though, and my son is there to give me hugs and my husband to get me a cold cloth to wipe my face, I realize how strong I really am. The panic attacks and anxiety do not define me. The strength I show by getting up after they are over with and going on with my life, do.

I show my struggles on Facebook, Twitter, and here on GeekMom because I know not everyone has the support system I do and I want others to know that I’m here. I understand.

For those who don’t have anxiety and depression, I show my struggles to teach them that it’s not all in our heads. It’s real. It hurts. And just like anyone else with an illness, we should be treated with kindness and respect.

Recently I took my mission to be open to the next level and shared a video on Facebook of me having a panic attack.

In the video, I talk to myself and say out loud what is going on in my head. I made sure to emphasize to my friends and anyone who saw the video that I was not in any danger and had no thoughts of hurting myself or others. To put it simply, I was scared. Terrified actually.

When I felt I had shown and talked enough, I turned off my phone, sat up, and realized I felt a ton better. My therapist said it’s because I acknowledged the feelings and by hearing myself talk, I realized how illogical my fears really were. My brain was once again playing tricks on me.

Unless you know someone with anxiety and are privileged to be close enough to them for them to let you in when the really bad times hit, you’ve probably never seen a panic attack or recognized what it was when you saw someone else having one.

By having my sharing start out small and by forcing myself to have the courage to take bigger steps each time, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the people around me.

All of this sharing hasn’t been easy, but the rewards of support and seeing others who have suffered in darkness coming into the light have made it worth it. When having a panic attack or going through a depressing day, it can make us feel like we are totally alone. By being open with my struggles, I’ve shown others they are not alone and, in turn, I’ve ended up with a support system stronger than anything I could have begged for in my darkest hour.

To see more posts that I’ve written about anxiety and depression, click in the search box at the top of this page and do a search for “anxiety.”

Dear Ashley Eckstein, Thank you. Again.

Her Universe Response \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
Her Universe Response \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

This week, I had one of those moments that as a writer I cherish. I sat down, started writing from the heart and didn’t stop until my heart said it was time. The end result was a letter to Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars Rebels, thanking her for her help in making me realize that things are not always as bad as anxiety makes it out to seem.

I shared the post on Twitter and Facebook hoping someone would see it and it help them learn the same lesson that I was fortunate to learn.

The day after the post went live, I was sitting at my desk at work and my phone dinged. “Her Universe favorited your tweet.” My heart skipped a beat. She had seen it.


“Her Universe retweeted your tweet.”

Heart started beating a little faster. Continue reading Dear Ashley Eckstein, Thank you. Again.

Dear Ashley Eckstein, You Saved Me

Star Wars Celebration VI \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
Star Wars Celebration VI before I “embarrassed” myself. \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Dear Ashley:

I’m not sure if you remember me; because of my anxiety, I don’t always feel like someone worth remembering. We’ve met a few times. The first time was when I embarrassed myself in front of you at Star Wars Celebration VI and a year or so later when you saved me.

A few years ago at Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando, I had the privilege of having a few minutes of your time at the cupcake party you hosted with Food Network.

During those short minutes talking with you, I felt I had embarrassed myself beyond forgiveness. After I left the party that day, my mind obsessed over those two minutes and that pain continued for months afterward.

You see, I have anxiety and depression and that’s how my brain works. I perceive myself as screwing up even slightly and my mind makes my feel like a complete waste of space and time until the next screw up I make.

A year or so went by and we met again. This time at the Orlando Science Center while you were helping to promote the “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” exhibit.

Ashley Eckstein on stage at the Star Wars Exhibit \ Image courtesy of Orlando Science Center
Ashley Eckstein on stage at the Star Wars Exhibit \ Image courtesy of Orlando Science Center, used with permission

I almost didn’t go up to you that day because of what happened at Celebration VI, but my friend Fletch helped me brave the stage and I took the opportunity to apologize to you for my embarrassing moment at Celebration VI.

You were a little surprised and waved it off like it was nothing, assuring me that I had nothing to be embarrassed about and you had forgotten all about it. From your side of the table, I’m sure it was just another fan interaction. For me, it was much more.

That moment that saved me.

It had never occurred to me that the interaction with you that I had been obsessing over for months and even so embarrassed about that I avoided you at Star Wars Weekends would be something that you thought nothing of. On top of that, I never imagined that you would forget all about it.

The other night while meditating, this moment came back to me and how you had made me feel so much better about what my mind perceived as a horrific moment. Then I started to remember when I met James Arnold Taylor at SWW in 2013 and an interaction with Michael Rooker at MegaCon this year. Could it be that those scenarios were the same and my mind was playing tricks on me to make me feel something that wasn’t real?

My guess is yes.

As I’m writing this post, I have tears starting to form because I finally feel free of the pain my mind has been inflicting on me over these brief interactions with people I’ve only met a few times. I credit this new found freedom to you and your kindness that day at the science center.

I have a lot of embarrassing moments to re-think about now and how those brief interactions may have either been forgotten or never seen as embarrassing to begin with. It won’t be easy to go through this exercise, but it’s necessary if I want to be free of the lies the anxiety has been telling me and preventing me from enjoying what should be happy memories.

I feel stupid for it taking this long for the light bulb to come on, but now that it has, I plan in making sure it doesn’t dim out again. The next time I have an embarrassing moment, I’ll think back to the science center that day and remind myself that my mind is a trickster and it’s more than likely not really as bad as my mind is making it out to be.


A grateful fan.

Her Universe—These Are the Clothes You’re Looking For

Her Universe Star Wars \ Images: Her Universe
Her Universe Star Wars \ Images: Her Universe

With clothing themes encompassing everything from Battlestar Galactica to Doctor Who, Her Universe is one of my all-time favorite geeky clothing lines! This year at Star Wars Weekends, Ashley Eckstein—the Her Universe founder, as well as the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars The Clone Wars—debuted some new products that I fell in love with: the X-Wing dress, the Rogue Squadron tank, and an R2-D2 tunic.

One thing to be careful of with this line is the sizing. My dress size is usually a small but because of  the waist line on the X-Wing dress, a medium was actually a little hard to slip over my chest. The rest of the dress is designed with a relaxed fit in mind, so if you prefer a more fitted look, feel free to accessorize with an inch-wide belt!

The Rogue Squadron tank top, on the other hand, is 95% cotton and 5% spandex—so the fit is slimming enough for me to wear my normal size.

The R2 tunic, on the other hand, is 100% cotton—so I chose to go one size up for a more comfortable fit.

Each of the items held up well in wash and none of them shrank much, if at all. To keep your other clothes from dripping in Rebel orange, I highly recommend that you use a color-catcher sheet the first few times you wash them. When compared to lines like and TeeFury, I found these clothes equally comfy, and also thought that they retained both shape and softness even after a few spins in the washer and dryer.

The prices may seem a bit high ($45.00 for the dress, $40 for the tunic, and $30 for the tank top), but I can assure you that the quality of the clothing line makes this expense worthwhile. I bought one of Her Universe’s shirts at Star Wars Weekends three years ago and it still looks just as good now as it did the day I brought it home!

Now that you know what size to get, how about some ideas on where to don your new attire?

Aayla Her Universe Dress Sharon B
This is the dress I’m looking for. \ Image: Sharon B.

Here are the top 10 places I like to support my favorite rebel flyers (and the spunkiest droid in the galaxy):

1.) Star Wars Weekends: Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida is one of the best times to wear your favorite Star Wars attire. Just watch out for the Jawas. They’ll try to trade you for anything…even the clothes off your back.

2.) Rebel Legion Events: I’m a member of both the 501st Legion and the Rebel Legion and it’s nice to have a comfy tank to wear after getting out of my armor. The soft cotton material feels great on my skin and the hoodie covers up any messy helmet hair.

3.) Star Wars Celebration VII in Anaheim: Star Wars is taking California by storm when Star Wars Celebration VII heads to Anaheim, California! Show your support for the Rebel Alliance when you strut your stuff in the sunny state of California, home of LucasFilm and Disneyland.

4.) The opening of the new Star Wars movie! Okay, so this isn’t going to happen until 2015, but who cares? Consider yourself prepared for the first Star Wars film to hit theaters since Episode III in 2005.

5.) The Original Tatooine in Tunisia: It gets hot at the original set location for Episode IV: A New Hope but these clothes will keep you cool. You might not be Hoth cool, but you won’t be fried like Aunt Beru and Uncle Own (too soon?).

6.) Airport: Show the TSA that you support Wookiee rights and proudly display the Rebel Legion moniker. Just be careful about carrying your light saber with you or it might not make it back home.

7.) Backstage at Hollywood Studios: Wait! You’re not a member of the 501st or Rebel Legion? What are you waiting for? You could sport these rebellion-inspiring clothes backstage while prepping to march in the motorcade during Star Wars Weekends. It’s more fun than pod racing (and safer too). On top of that, you get bragging rights for marching in costume down Hollywood Boulevard to the sound of a thousand fans cheering you on. How cool is that?

8.) Star Wars Identities: The Exhibit at the Canadian Air and Space Museum: I don’t live in Canada, but if I did, I’d be heading to this exhibit faster than Jar Jar Binks can get into trouble. I love that they have over 200 costumes, props, models, and other memorabilia on display for fans to drool over (good thing it’s all encased in glass). If you’re able to stop by, check to see if Han is lurking around, and ask him who shot first. He loves that…

9.) Rancho Obi-Wan: Visit the world’s largest privately owned collection of Star Wars memorabilia in style. Formerly the home of 20,000 chickens, this 9,000-square-foot space now houses over 37 years of Star Wars memorabilia. While you’re there, see Steve Sansweet’s home and say, “Hi!” for me!

10.) Star Wars Reads Day: Show everyone you’re a rebel at heart by sporting your favorite Star Wars rebel attire on Star Wars Reads Day. I’ve heard through secure channels that the Rebel Alliance will be making appearances throughout the galaxy, so hit up your local base to see where you can support them.

Of course, there are more than ten places where you can sport Her Universe clothes—come to think of it…I can’t think of anywhere you can’t!

Disclaimer: GeekMom received a sample for review purposes.