Two years ago today we put out our first episode. It was a giggly affair, and frankly, I had no idea what I was doing. I know what I wanted to do, but it was just a dream that it’d ever amount to something. It has, and I am forever thankful. I’m most thankful to the Sherlock fandom actually. It gave me not only the idea for the podcast, but it gave me friends. It gave me my passion. It saved my life.
This isn’t something easy to write about, but it’s something important. A large amount of people see fandom and internet groups as being silly and frivolous, full of nerdy teenagers and introverted adults who hide away from the real world. They see fandom as a bizarre and ridiculous culture full of obsessive girls, fawning over some random celebrity or writing homosexual fan fiction about characters from the show they watch on repeat. Do these parts exist? Yes. Is that what fandom is? No.
Fandom is family. It’s a community. It’s where fans of media congregate and talk about what they love. It’s where they create in honour of the things they love, and it’s where friendships are born… many which last a lifetime. Many which do more than I will be able to describe. I’m going to try though, because today is the second anniversary of the podcast I created, and in these past two years fandom has brought me so much that I owe more than just dozen friends to it. I owe it my life.
I’ve never really written about my depression before in such a public space, and I don’t think it’s brave what I’m doing. I’m going to share my story because it’ll explain the importance of fandom culture to those of you who do not understand it and it’ll reiterate it to those in fandom just how beautiful it is. It’ll also, I hope, explain why I’m so passionate about what I do here at The Baker Street Babes. Some days it’s all I’ve got.
In February of 2011 I had just finished the first series of Sherlock, and like any internet raised person, I Googled the actors to see what else they were in. It so happened that Benedict Cumberbatch was doing a play in London, where I was living at the time, and so I decided to go and see it. While waiting in line for tickets I met a girl who would change my life forever. She found out I was a Sherlock fan and introduced me to a forum for fans of the series and then introduced me to her friends from that forum who lived in the London area. At this time I had been doing my masters degree for a few months and really only had one friend in the dorms. While she was lovely, I was incredibly lonely and was very depressed. I had struggled with depression probably since high school, but I didn’t understand it then, and to make a long story short, while I was living in Japan the year previous, I was diagnosed with panic disorder with depression and insomnia. I was a right mess leaving Japan and dove straight into London without a break. It wasn’t the best decision for my mental health, but there you go. To get back on topic, I was miserable.
It’s hard to describe being that miserable. How do you reason with yourself when you cannot fathom getting out of bed in the morning? Or the afternoon, as was more the case. I stopped going to class. I didn’t do anything. I just sat in a flat that was too cold wondering when it had all gone wrong, wondering why I couldn’t see a point in anything. I chickened out on going out with the Sherlockians a lot. I made excuses. I panicked. Eventually I just forced myself out and suddenly I had all these friends who liked the same thing I did, who were enthusiastic about teaching me more about the stories and London theater and so many other things. I had a social life. This girl, who brought me into all of this, she was always there when I needed her. She was there when I didn’t know I needed her. When my flat was broken into, despite only knowing her for two months, I called her and she paid for my cab to go to her place so I could just feel safe. She rescued me in every way possible. I will forever be grateful to her for that.
The podcast was started a month later. It definitely didn’t go off without a hitch, and I know many were dubious it’d go anywhere. Lord knows the first few episodes are a bit less than professional, but they are full of enthusiasm if nothing else. Over the months we found a rhythm and a voice… and then it just… exploded. Nothing can prepare you for that and had I not had the amazing girls that I had befriended and convinced to go on this journey with me around, I don’t think I could have handled it. My fellow BSBs are some of the most beautiful and supportive people in the world. They are friends I hope dearly to have for a lifetime. I met them all through fandom. They were the bloggers and artists, the writer who encouraged us on twitter, the friends of friends, and those I had clutched onto in London. They are my girls and my partners-in-crime. They are the perfect example of the amazing friends one can make in fandom. Without them The Baker Street Babes would not exist. None of this would have ever happened had fandom not introduced me to them. I can’t imagine my life without those girls and so I won’t. They keep me strong and motivated, they inspire me and they make me laugh, and most importantly, they give me such a strong purpose.
My love for them is but one story in thousands on tumblr, twitter, and livejournal. Fandom creates bonds unlike any other. I can’t even begin to explain it because I don’t have the words to do it justice, but let it be known that if you create content in any form, what you do is important. To someone. Even if it’s just one person, you’ve made their life better, and that’s something really fantastic. Fandom is inclusive in the best possible way. It’s a safe place to explore your feelings, your thoughts, and yourself. It’s a place where you can not only meet new people who may be just as shy and awkward as you, but also become friends with them. It’s a place that’ll help you come out of your shell a little and explore yourself more. It’s more than just a group of fans, it’s a group of friends. It’s a family. It’s a beautiful, giant, mad family. Sure, all families fight, and fandom has its fair share of wank, but when it comes down to it, fandom is about love. I know I’m about a sentence away from a Disney song, but I believe what I’ve written to be completely true and I’ll fight to the bitter end to defend fandom culture and the people I’ve met there.
The girl who brought me into all of this… we fell out around a year after the break-in. Despite that and the fact we don’t talk anymore nor are we like to, I want to thank her, because she really did save my life. Suicide is never something to be spoken of, or written of in this case, lightly, but it would be dishonest of me to say I never had those thoughts. Had I not seen Sherlock and gone to wait in line for that show, I genuinely don’t know if I would be here. So thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you for taking me out of one of my darkest times and forcing me into fandom. Thank you for encouraging me and believing in me. Thank you for taking care of me and thank you for letting me go. I wish you nothing but the best.
Thank you fandom for letting me be who I was always suppose to be. Thank you for helping me realize my passion. Thank you for bringing me joy and for making me think. Thank you for the opportunities you’ve given me and for letting me give opportunities for others. Thank you for being ridiculous. Thank you for being deep and passionate. Thank you for going strong all these years.
Thank you to my fellow Baker Street Babes who started and joined the journey. Thank you for putting up with me and letting me boss you around. Thank you for being there when I need you. Thank you for your enthusiasm and your dedication. Thank you for being excited with me and being terrified with me. Thank you so much.
This past year we’ve done everything from be on The Today Show to being in the New York Times. We hosted a charity ball during BSI Weekend that raised $3,000 for Wounded Warrior Project and I was invited to the BSI Dinner. We’ve had Shrefflergate and fandom politics. It’s all been crazy. It’s all been amazing.
It’s been just over two years since I joined the Sherlock fandom, and I could not be happier.