(Fun fact: I wrote a whole draft of this post and then had a good but busy weekend that forced me to reexamine YALC planning. Ah, chronic illness. Never subtle.)
It’s YALC this weekend \o/! I went to YALC for the first time last year and had such a great time. You’re surrounded by rad books and rad people who love books for like three solid days! It was wonderful and I’m going back this year, and I’ve been looking forward to it for mooooonths <3___<3
This year, though, I am having a large M.E. flare-up. Am I still going to YALC? HELL YES. Am I going to have to put some adaptations in place for myself? Definitely yes. And I figured — hey, if I have been thinking about how to make this weekend happen for myself despite being chronically ill, maybe other people have too! And maybe we would all like some tips/would like to chat about that! I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED BY A BAD MAN AND AN AMERICAN STICK INSECT CHRONIC ILLNESS! I WILL GO TO THE BOOK BALL AND SO SHALL YOU!
Caveat: I am in no way a medical professional and these are entirely based on things that I need or have found useful myself for my experience with chronic illness. Your mileage may vary! Everyone’s illness presents differently and everyone knows themselves and their needs better than an outside source does. That said, here are the points I have been thinking about for YALC:
Rest up first! Personally, I know I need to have some energy stores in reserve if I want to do something out of the usual e.g. walking further distances/extra brain power required/carrying heavier things, and YALC involves all of those. Getting to the venue! Walking around the venue! Concentrating despite the noise and crowds! Carrying books you inevitably buy! I know I wouldn’t be able to do this ordinarily, so I’m planning on resting up as much as I can for the few days beforehand, so I’m going into the weekend with some energy built up. Will this plan work? Who knows! But it definitely gives me my best shot.
Know your limits. Am I truly appalling at this? YES. Is it still hella important? ALSO YES. I am pretty good at knowing my limits and genuinely awful at barrelling past them at high speed like I’M A GENERAL, WHEEEEEE. This has obviously never led to any problems and is always a brilliant plan brb I’m being crushed by a sarcasm mallet. Anyway. Go into YALC knowing what you can and can’t do and actually plan around that rather than listening to the part of your brain that’s like “pssssst probably you DON’T need to sit down for half an hour” or “psssst probably you CAN carry ten more books.” You can’t. You know you can’t. It sucks (IT REALLY SUCKS), but actually listening to your body rather than your self-destruct button is going to mean you can do more of the things you want to do. I am going to work super hard at taking my own advice on this one. I CAN DO IT AND YOU CAN DO IT TOO! *flexed bicep emoji to the max*
(Future Moog addendum to the above: guess who has had to make some choices about which panels to miss and how long she can stay? THIS GAL. But I have made the choices and intend to stick to them like a goddamn winner.)
Bring food and water. There are places to get food — one on the YALC floor and I’m assuming more on the Comic Con floors — but they are busy, and also expensive. You can always leave the venue to go get food, but I always find that a hassle, and it would take energy I’d rather use on other things. Bring lunch and a snack at least, and a lot of water. ❤
It is WARM in YALC. The floor is large, which is nice, but there are going to be lots of people around and it’s boiling in London at the moment with no signs of this letting up any time soon, rip me. Wear clothes that are comfortable and will keep you cool. I wore shorts and a t-shirt one day last year, and a very tiny dress the other.
Wear comfortable shoes! You’re going to be on your feet a bunch, and your feet are going to hurt. Break out your favourite Vans or whatever and be like YES MY FEET ARE ENSCONCED IN COMFORT, THIS MEANS I CAN MAKE ANOTHER LAP OF THE BOOK STALLS TO OGLE THE PRETTY COVERS AGAIN.
Plan in toilet breaks. This may seem obvious, but leave more time for nipping to the loo than you think you’re going to need, because the queues are long, although they do move quite quickly. I heard that last year there was no access to any disabled toilets on the YALC floor, so people that needed them had to take the lift down to one of the Comic Con floors, which is obviously Not Great, Bob. I’d like to think this won’t happen this year, but in case it does, bear that in mind when you’re planning your time and here’s to a future in which this is not a thing that needs saying because everyone has the same access to basic amenities.
There’s a quiet resting area! Use it if you need to! I sat down there last year next to a large plastic flower and read through a bunch of samplers with my headphones on and it was great. It’s a good place to go if you’re overstimulated, or if you need to rest, or if you just need to be somewhere quieter for a while. This is usually way less busy than the main YALC floor, so it’s a great place to go if you need to be away from other people for a while. I would advise bringing headphones if noise is an issue for you, because although it’s quieter than the main area, it is still a place with people in it.
Have a physical book budget as WELL as a financial one. Am I terrible at this? WHY YES I AM, JANET. Books are generally cheaper from YALC stalls than in bookstores (unless you’re buying from the Waterstones pop-up, but DO THAT TOO because supporting Waterstones is also important) and ARCs are around too but you still need to have a rough budget of what is okay for you to spend to minimise post-YALC bank-checking panic! This year, I’m also giving myself a physical book budget: I can’t carry anything particularly heavy for very long (read: I can’t really carry home the shopping) but I DO want to pick up a few books while I’m there. If you’re there for more than one day, try picking up the books you want over the few days rather than getting them all at once. If you’re only there for one day, bring something you’re comfortable carrying, and try not to over your physical limit even if it’s super tempting. Don’t be me! I did this last year when I was WAY less sick and basically spent like two days in bed afterwards. This year, I’m bringing a backpack (easier for me to carry than tote bags) and I’m being super careful about how many books I bring home. This is breaking my heart a bit but MY HEALTH IS WORTH IT <—- me yelling this repeatedly at myself to make sure it sticks.
YALC only happens once a year, and you know your body better than me, a random on the internet, so do what you know you need to keep yourself okay and having the best time. Everyone I met at YALC last year was super friendly and helpful, so if you need help, ask a volunteer or staff member! They’re there to help, and they want you to have a great time too.
- Bring food and water
- Pay attention to your body
- Don’t over-exert yourself if you can help it
- Plan toilet breaks
- Remember to rest!
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing
- Take advantage of quieter areas when you need them
- Ask for help if you need it, even when it’s really hard
And you know what? We’re going to have a freaking awesome time. BOOKS FOR EVERYONE AND EVERYONE FOR BOOKS ❤ ❤ ❤
(PS: non chronic illness specific tip: bring cash. Not every stall has a card machine and it’s a pain to leave the floor/the building to get to a cash point. Plan ahead for maximum book efficiency!)
Was this post helpful? Do you have any tips that have worked for you when attending events with a chronic illness? Let me know in the comments!
Moog Florin is going to STICK TO HER YALC BUDGET THIS YEAR, FOR REALSIES.