Anna Spargo-Ryan

A little Probloggery

Sometimes my mental illness offends people.

Like if I we’re having a conversation and I suddenly find it hard to make eye contact with you because on the other side of my eyeballs is my brain going, “Oh Jesus it’s hot in here! Is anyone else hot? I think I should lie down. Are we going to pass out? PROBABLY. LET’S GET OUT OF HERE. OH WE’RE HAVING A CONVERSATION WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS?” It’s not because I’m not interested in what you’re saying. I am.

Like if we’re eating lunch together and I can’t find any of the words I need because my brain has chosen to think about how we probably won’t be able to find the car afterward because I was too busy thinking about being nervous on my way from the car and who knows which aisle it was in? J? Eleven? Pink? Did we even drive here today? It’s not because I don’t want to say useful and insightful things to you. I do.

Like if I choose to leave part way through your panel because the walls are closing in and WOW THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE HERE and I’m feeling a little wonky and has it always been this lopsided in this room? It’s not because I hate you and think that your panel is rubbish. It’s a good panel.

Like if I look like I’m leaving abruptly without saying goodbye because I’ve just remembered that outside is terrifying and I don’t want to be there and I just want to be in my own bed and I have to leave now right now not in ten minutes no I’ll be fine I just want to leave right now please. It’s not because I’m having a bad time in your company. I like you a lot.

This weekend I went to a blogging conference. Well, sort of. I went to part of a blogging conference.

I learned things about ebooks and parking at Docklands and gluten free bread. I had two dinners with truly excellent people.

But mostly I met people who were more than just not offended by these little displays of totally whacked out behaviour. I met people who were comrades in depression and anxiety and who had their own moments of crazy that only they could see.

Eden said it best as we tried to escape the closing walls of the underground carpark: “The physical world is bullshit!” And we had a few laughs because for some of us, the physical world is bullshit. But in those minutes we were in it and it was okay.

So it was a pretty good conference, really.

Photo by + some of my favourite people from the computers


I’m Anna, a digital strategist and writer who likes to drink 'Ice Tea' but doesn't understand why it's not called 'Iced Tea'. By night and occasionally morning, I eat things, write things, berate my children, walk my dogs and hug my chocolate.


  • October 14, 2012 8:41 pm

    love you honey xx

  • October 14, 2012 8:43 pm

    It was terrifying for a newbie unknown like me, let alone for someone who everyone knows, like you. I made several faux pas (including trying to pash Kerry sackville) if it makes you feel any better. Anxiety about attending nearly made me rip up my ticket in the week before. The fact that either of us even got there is a two fingered salute to depression x

  • October 14, 2012 8:45 pm

    I was working there doing the twitterness and that was the only way I was really able to get through it. I was at the back of the room so didn´t get overwhelmed. People said hey but I was able to cut convos short because I was busy.

    It was awesome though to find so many people being open about mental illness. It´s like ´my gosh. You can have anxiety and still be a success. Who would have thought?´

  • October 14, 2012 8:55 pm

    its a full on world A. Getting there, learning a handful of things, eating and then getting home is big. Thats enough probloggery for anyone.

  • October 14, 2012 8:59 pm

    i wanted to say “hi” but didn’t
    you were on my list
    but i guess there is only so much of “it” that we all can manage…

  • October 14, 2012 9:01 pm

    Well done you. I want to go next year. Would be a huge thing for me.

  • October 14, 2012 9:37 pm

    I am upset I missed you Anna but completely get where you’re coming from. I might’ve escaped at lunch the second day just to scoff two cheeseburgers in the car by myself x

  • Tam

    October 14, 2012 9:42 pm

    Honestly, I would have loved to have said hi. Except I couldn’t work out which lovely brunette you were. Oh, and I was also bat-shit scared of saying hi to *anyone*. Oh wells.

  • October 14, 2012 9:50 pm

    I looked for my car today at the airport and COMPLETELY forgot what letter it was in. L? J? K? I eventually found it, but it took a while. Berated myself for not being more organised and together.

    Physical world, man. It eats us up.

    Meeting you was a complete joy …. something about being cut from the same cloth. You make me exhale. Thanks heaps. xx

  • October 14, 2012 10:01 pm

    Quantum physicists think the physical world is bullshit too – you guys are in good company.
    Even the most laid back, chilled out dude or dudette in the world would find Pro Blogger just a little bit nerve wracking. Having your nerves wracked (in moderation) can be a good thing.

  • October 14, 2012 10:23 pm

    Brave girl Anna, you did good x

  • October 15, 2012 1:20 am

    Thank you Anna for your honesty. It makes me feel like I’m not the only one who feels anxious attending these type of events, let alone knowing what to say.

    You are so brave to have overcome your fear. Well done!

  • October 15, 2012 7:50 am

    Found you via Edenland – love your writing style and your honesty. I look at these conferences and imagine all the things that would be wrong, (think the cool crowd from school, and me on the outside) so I don’t go. You were brave and despite concerns went any way – good for you.

  • October 15, 2012 8:06 am

    Hi Anna,

    Unfortunately, I am one of those that managed to corner you for 5 seconds at the cocktail party (ahem, sorry about that!) and you ran off and I thought “Oh Shit, what did I SAY?” Half a bottle of wine didn’t help me either.

    Yes, the physical world can suck, but for super-shy people/bloggers who put themselves in the public domain, take a deep breath and go “OK, I’m here – how do I manage all this” it does actually hurt when we THINK someone doesn’t like us, quite irrespective of whether that person is freaking out themselves or having a hard time, as humans can mask all that so very well.

    I reckon there was a SHITLOAD of anxiety in those rooms – you could smell it (and I did bring deodorant so the smell wasn’t me). I really hope we get to chat some more at the next event – I find your writing so wonderful and honest.


  • Vicky

    October 15, 2012 12:33 pm

    When anxiety has her gnarled claw around my throat (like it has for the last couple of months!) I don’t do too well in closed in crowded spaces either, I have to sit close to the exit, be able to go outside where there is fresh air and space, know where the toilet is, so if I have to, I can go and sit in there, behind the closed door of the cubicle and tap like crazy (EFT) til I can get in under control, or assess whether I just need to leave.

    When it’s bad, like it has been, and all else fails, Valium is my best friend. I can measure how my anxiety is subsiding by the number of times I have to have half a tablet during the day. Today’s a good day. I’ve only had one.

    I am always blown away when I discover people who I “thought” had it all together, have anxiety problems/disorder. That old saying don’t judge a book by its cover isn’t for nothing.

    Bravo you for going, and bravo you for taking care of yourself as well. X

      • Vicky

        October 15, 2012 5:22 pm

        We can start a group for the unhinged and broken. :)

        And, you know, for someone who put together the BEST magazine I’ve read in a long time, you do a pretty damn good job, while being unhinged and broken. Just saying :) x

  • October 15, 2012 2:50 pm

    Huh! I didn’t notice anything odd about you at all – I was probably too busy trying to deal with my own personal angst, hoping I wouldn’t faint and wondering if anyone would notice if I ran back to my hotel room for a lie down. I did and it was a life saver:)

  • October 15, 2012 3:16 pm

    You Rock that is all x

  • Mrs Woog

    October 15, 2012 4:07 pm

    Completely OVERWHELMING! My deep breath mantra got quite the workout in the disabled toilets. Never apologise. Love your guts xx

  • October 15, 2012 4:11 pm

    At least you went! That’s a pretty big thing to me.

    I had to sell my tickets to DPCON because the idea of getting on a plane with all those people looking at me and then having to catch, what? A taxi, bus, train to the venue by myself to meet all those people I didn’t know in a city I’d never been to before freaked me out too much.

  • October 15, 2012 4:17 pm

    Um YES… yes & YES! My brain does this too. #loveyourwordsmitherybtw

  • October 15, 2012 4:56 pm

    Anxiety. What a crippling little fucker it can be. Glad at least you could attend some of the conference.

  • October 15, 2012 6:47 pm

    There are too many of us Depression/Anxiety sufferers out there who understand this only too well. Well done for going. Well done for trying. You should be impressed with yourself!

  • October 15, 2012 10:25 pm

    So glad you wrote this post Anna. Totally get what you are saying. As you know I was there too and felt awkward and unfabulous 100% of the time. I had no idea others felt the same.

      • October 16, 2012 4:26 pm

        Ha, ha to be honest I did think that you didn’t want to chat but I didn’t think it was you, I thought it was me! I am so happy that it wasn’t the case. xox

  • October 15, 2012 10:44 pm

    I think we must all have done a great job of fooling each other with our confidence. Was anyone there ACTUALLY calm in the face of meeting people IRL who we’ve shared our lives, warts and all, with online? Was lovely to have had the privilege of spending one of those meals with you ;-) Take care xx

  • October 17, 2012 9:14 am

    I just adore that photo!

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