I was in a supermarket today and in the DVD section I saw a number of high certificate horror movies in a section labelled ‘Family DVDs’. Now, I’m sure the sign was in the wrong section, because they definitely weren’t suitable for young kids. But anyway, the fact that they were placed in this section caught my eye and made me think about those sorts of movies.
I’ve never been a horror movie kind of girl. I have a vivid, over-active imagination and to willingly watch one would be very silly of me. In a high school English class we studied the infamous ‘shower scene’ from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, and that alone was enough to make me paranoid about having a shower for a little while.
Today I was considering how people spend money on these sorts of movies so that they can experience tension and fear. They see it as a thrill. And then there’s me, on a regular basis experiencing more fear and tension than I want in my life because of anxiety. If I could get rid of it all, I would. I would give the fear to someone else if they wanted, to save them spending money on buying a horror movie.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising people who enjoy those films. Not at all. I’m just saying that I’ve experienced enough tension and terror to last me a lifetime, but it still keeps coming. I can’t just get rid of it. It doesn’t wear off like the effects of a scary movie do. Without treatment, it keeps getting stronger and more debilitating.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to watch horror movies. But I am saying that if you do, maybe it can help you understand what anxiety is like. That knot you feel in your stomach when you know something bad is about to happen, that moment where something sudden makes you jump and your heart races, that dread at seeing what’s around the corner, that feeling of being terrified of what might happen next… these are all symptoms people with anxiety experience, sometimes on a daily basis. Small, trivial things can trigger panic attacks. Seemingly easy, mundane tasks can cause dread so intense it literally paralyses you.
Life with anxiety isn’t in any way easy, and I know that people can’t understand it unless they experience it. But maybe you can understand a part of it if you’ve ever watched a horror movie. Or if you’ve ever realised you no longer know where your child is in a crowded shopping mall. Or if you’re sitting in an exam and you can’t do any of the questions.
Fear, tension and panic are familiar companions for those of us who struggle with anxiety. If you don’t, be thankful for it and please try to be understanding of those who do.