Two Years: How The Sherlock Fandom Saved My Life

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.

 

Thank You,

Kristina

15 Responses to “Two Years: How The Sherlock Fandom Saved My Life”

  1. Samantha says:

    To some extent I was in the same boat and fandom got me through some really dark times. So I just want to say thank you and you are not alone. But that’s the great thing about fandom – you aren’t alone.

  2. Sandra says:

    Thank you for your honesty! I believe we all join fandoms not only because of a TV show or an actor or something like that, but because our life maybe is lacking something..and here is where we find it :)

  3. Sofia says:

    It’s crazy how I see such a happy beautfil and smart girl and there’s all this behind it I’d never considered. Thank you for your honesty, as Sandra said. This made me tear up but I’m not actually sad, it’s just the overwhelming feeling of reading something you identify yourself so much with. And also seeing that you can actually get out of it and eventually be happy despite having hit the bottom. This year I learned that friends do actually come and go, even the ones you thought would be with you forever. It’s up to yourself to keep going on and find happiness in the most little things. Fandoms are truly one of the best ways to come out, you feel enthusiastic and even meet new people everyday! You read and laugh and investigate and get distracted by it. That’s a key thing, distracting yourself. If you have time to think it can get pretty dangerous, right?
    Anyways, don’t want to bore you! Just thanks for this and with all my heart I hope you continue being this happy and can look back with a smile on your face! Because you’re out and, well, still here <3
    Love from Argentina.

  4. ellie says:

    Hi thank you for writing this, it really hit home, to be honest although I’ve followed fandoms for years and they’ve gotten me through some pretty dark and lonely times i’ve not been very active within them. I wish I had been more involved while at uni, I think my social life would have been far better.

    The thing I have always loved about fandom though, since I read my first Harry Potter fanfic as a lonely 11 year old, is the community. It makes you feel welcome whoever you are and lets you know that you are not alone. People like you, the Baker Street Babes and the Sherlock fans have inspired me to be more involved and I’m starting to feel like i’ve found somewhere to belong. Anyone who underestimates or dismisses the power of fandom does not understand what it can do.

  5. Jess says:

    This is a really lovely post! Thank you for writing it! It seems it has certainly hit him for others, myself included! With disorder/agoraphobia, i hardly go anywhere and when it do it’s often only because it’s necessary. My friends are supportive and i love them for it, but being in fandom has kept me sane, i know people think i’m just stuck to my laptop or phone all day, but i can interact with wonderful, lovely, intelligent people, with the same interests as me, every day and i can really feel part of something. It’s probably one of the only things that’s stopped me spending my life crying in a corner somewhere from loneliness.

    Sorry to waffle on about my life i’ll shut up now xD but basically, what you said is 100% true and many people don’t understand that! Thank you again for writing it! xxx

  6. Liz says:

    Thank YOU for being brave. For being welcoming. For being one happy tweet away. You are a special person, my friend.

  7. Laura says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful journey with all of us. You are a lovely and wonderful person, and everyone in the fandom thinks you are spectacular! Not just for the work you do for the BSB but as a person too. My friend and I only got to meet you briefly at 221b con, but we hope to see you at future events. As a long time fandom lurker, it is lovely to see these wonderful stories of community and friendship! Take care and be well :-D

  8. Brad says:

    You’ve given so much to Sherlock Holmes fandom in such a short time, it’s hard to imagine you came to it from such a low point. Thanks for telling the tale, and continuing to be one of the most inspiring people in the hobby. Hope the future holds nothing but goodness for you!

  9. Renata says:

    Beautiul! I started Sherlock Brasil at the same date, one year ago, for the same reasons. I was really alone at that time, with a lot of problems and having a hard time, and I wanted to die too. All I did was sitting and watch shows and listen to Fiona Apple. Doing Sherlock Brasil bring me joyness andsome lovely friends and I knew some amazing work like yours and Sherlockology’s and Sherlock_De’s ans Le Cercle Holmesien’s. Sorry about my bad English and thank you very much for sharing and dor doing this amazing work!

  10. Patricia says:

    I keep seeing lovely stories like this no matter which fandom I go through, and it just proves what I believe in, that fandoms are beautiful. So yes, thank you for writing this.

    I live in the Philippines, where almost everyone loves the mainstream, and everything that isn’t mainstream is an outlier. I’ve been used to being the only person liking the things I do within a ten-mile radius, and while I’d say I’ve grown used to the attention this brings, it doesn’t make said attention easier to grasp. Almost every day I have to hear people chastise me for being different, saying it’s my fault that I don’t have friends, because I won’t fit in with anyone.

    And ever since I was a fourth-grader stuck in deep depression over the entire class loathing my existence, fandom was what saved me. I have never been a BNF, but fandom made me feel like I was part of something bigger than myself, which was something I never knew I needed until then. It’s not perfect, and now that I’m in college catching up on stuff sounds like bigger trouble than what it’s worth, but sometimes it’s this knowledge that there are like-minded individuals somewhere across the world and they exist that keeps me above water, so to speak. I have a handful of friends that fandom bequeathed to me, and they’re without a doubt the most wonderful examples of friends I ever have the honor of knowing.

    I’m new to the Sherlock fandom, and what drove me to begin to write for it was the fact that I am very much like the protagonist in real life, which is to say – relentlessly cold, tactless, condescending and aloof? Yes, I am all of those things, but also, I am the kind of person who will retreat further into herself when confronted with the fact that everybody hated me. And as I watched, became enraptured, I considered him, and I considered Watson.

    It’s a silly little wish, I know, and I know lots of people have wished for it before. But if Sherlock Holmes could find himself a friend who – while not perfect – likes him enough to stay by his side without forcing him to become something other than himself, someone more fit for the general human populace, then someday, somehow, so can I. And as fandom gives me this hope, fandom keeps me going on, because everything will get better someday, somehow, and I am glad that I am part of something like this.

    (Sorry for the loquaciousness. It’s just that I have so many feelings about this subject.)

  11. Carrie says:

    I don’t know you but we are linked through a mutual friend on twitter I think and I randomly clicked on your post and it touched me. I too have made many friends through fandom and can honestly say that like you, fandom saved my life many times over and still does. Like you the person who helped bring me into this fandom encouraged me to be who I could be and now we are I feel parting ways. It’s hard and I’ve fought it for many years but reading your post made me realise that we can let go and still have our fandom our family and wish them every happiness. So I

    • Carrie says:

      Wanted to thank you for sharing this very personal experience of yours. You brought a lump to my throat and made me smile. I hope that fandom continues to be a source of strength and happiness for you as it has been and I hope will be again for me :)

  12. Brina says:

    I wanted to thank you for sharing your personal experiences here. It’s not an easy thing to do, believe me! I agree on what you say about fandoms. They are a great way to become more sociable in the things you love and share a common interest with others. They also help to pull you out of a very dark place!

  13. Guest says:

    Hi! I’m new to this fandom. I just wanted to say that Kristina, we both have so much in common; however, the difference is that you actually have the courage to admit this.

    Long story short, I’ve been feeling rather numb these years… like this switch in my head was off. No matter how desperately I wanted to get out of this state of mind and live each moment to its fullest, I couldn’t. I felt hopelessly trapped in this psychological imprisonment. I also loathed myself for it.

    However, I found Sherlock. It was refreshing and eventually I was able to escape that dark place I had to dwindle in. Now I’m surrounded by people who love me. My life isn’t perfect (well nothing is perfect; if it were, it wouldn’t be worth living, right?), but I’m finally able to feel again and not mindlessly drift through each day. I’m living for me now; I’m very happy and I learned to love myself more.

    Thank you.

  14. Jessica says:

    Thank you for sharing Kristina. Mental Health issues are so easily swept under the rug. I struggle with a few different mental health issues and I can honestly say that the fandom world been an amazing force in my life. It got me writing again, which I honestly believe saved my life. You are very kind to be so open and supportive. Thank you!

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