These last couple years, I've put a lot of attention and time into fandom. These last couple years have been among the worst of my life. The relationship between those two statements is neither causal nor coincidental.
When I first watched BtVS and AtS, I was emotionally in a bad place. I'm not going into any details because it's not an interesting story even by Lifetime standards, but the heart of it is that I had resigned myself to a pointless and loveless future and didn't have any plans to aim for something better.
I'm not going to credit Joss Whedon with snapping me out of it, but I don't really know what did. All I can say is that my moment of crisis (you can look up the Greek word kairos for more on this) is embedded in a pile of memories of curling up on the loveseat, typing away at my first fanfic. I had never expected this. My creative output had been null and void for what seemed like ages, not to mention that I had always looked down my pompous nose at both BtVS and fanfiction.
So I assumed I was going through one of my wacky shiny-new-obsession phases, but the longer the phase lasted, the more I realized that this is exactly who I am. All my life I've cared about stories in a way that goes far beyond entertainment. I have personal relationships with fictional characters. I shrug off important issues but get fired up over the ones that are too microscopic to be visible to any normal person. I keep aspects of myself hidden from everyone I know.
I had forgotten all of that. When I found something new to feel passionate about, it all came roaring back. The specifics of what I was watching or reading or writing didn't matter a whit. The crucial thing was that I had proven to myself that I could still get excited. There was a lot left in the world that I hadn't yet discovered, and the pointless loveless future didn't have to come to pass.
This isn't any kind of commentary on fandom in general; everyone has a different story. What I need to say is thank you. It turns out that the moment of crisis was just the preface to the hard times, and having this community to keep me distracted and interested has been invaluable. I'm not locking this entry because I'm not just talking to my friends list (although, props there, I love you more every day). Even if we've never talked and I only know you from a couple posts you've made in public forums, you've helped me and I thank you. Even if you don't like me and you're only here to see how I'm going to offend you next, you've helped me and I thank you.
Using one's online friends as a support system is an unhealthy habit of its own and I've fallen in there before, but fandom doesn't seem to work that way. It's nice to have a place to whine where people will pat you on the back because they want to help, but it's something else entirely to have people who want to talk to you because they want to talk to you. The greatest boost I've gotten out of hanging around these sites came from readers commenting on my stories telling me that they were excited that I had updated, or that they hoped I would write more, or that they were inspired to write something of their own. Try as I might, I can't see that as unhealthy.
I haven't gone through any kind of magical butterfly transformation and I think it will be a while yet before I'm 'better', but I'm at peace with the fandom part of my life and I'm grateful to be here. To me you're not a bunch of fanatical fangirls. You're a group of bright, creative, unique, sensitive, and fascinating women, and I'm very lucky to have met you.