Going To The Movies [Mental Health Mondays]

When it comes to anxiety, some triggers for myself are known and some aren’t. Going to the movies is one of those known triggers for me. In fact, movies, in general, can be a trigger for me. However, I finally went to the movie theater for the first time in forever a few months ago.

Mental Health Monday: Going To The Movies | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Mental Health Matters | RachelPoli.com

Why Movies?

Honestly, I have no idea why movies are a trigger for me. I’m not one for blood and gore and, I think, with the more serious kinds of movies, not knowing what to expect or what will happen throws me off. I used to be able to watch superhero movies like Iron Man with ease and now that kind of stuff bothers me. I still watch them though because I love those movies, but I can only take one or two movies at a time.

I can watch PG-13 movies to a certain point, but I’ve never watched a rated R movie before (not willingly, at least). Needless to say, I can’t and will never do horror. There are exceptions, of course, though when watching a movie for the first time, it can be rough for me.

Why they’re a trigger for me, I don’t know. I think a lot of it stems from school. We’d watch movies that, I personally believe, were not age-appropriate. In ninth grade, my biology teacher gave the substitute a movie for us to watch and it was similar to America’s Funniest Home Videos but it was called That’s Gotta Hurt and was totally bloody and people were getting hurt and screaming. It was not entertaining in the least bit. The sub happened to be the most infamous one among all the students and he refused to let me go to the nurse thinking I was trying to get out of class… because we were totally busy, right?

Long story short, I had an anxiety attack and passed out in front of the class.

More Examples

In eighth grade, we watched a rated R movie about some war and I have certain bloody scenes embedded in my mind.

In fifth grade, we watched Pirates of the Carribean. I love that movie now, but at the time, I was deathly afraid of the pirates and skeletons. I spent that whole time with my eyes closed.

In third grade, that was when 9/11 tragically happened. My teachers were in a panic and, rightfully so, couldn’t focus on work. They brought in the TVs to the classrooms and we watched it all happen on live TV. Their reasoning was that it was “history in the making.” Of course, they didn’t mean that in a good way. I can’t begin to imagine what people went through who were actually present and had loved ones pass away. However, for an eight-year-old watching that live on TV… it was pretty scarring.

Needless to say, whenever I saw a TV in the classroom, I immediately felt anxiety to the point where I would fake being sick or lie to my teachers and tell them my parents didn’t allow me to watch whatever it was we were watching.

I Shied Away From Movies

Throughout the years, I became more and more distant to movies. Cartoon movies and such are totally fine but rated R and some rated PG-13 movies along with live-action or even CGI are tough for me to watch. Despite all that I just said, I still don’t entirely understand why. Again, I think it may be the unknown of what’s going to happen in the movie but I haven’t pinpointed the exact reasoning.

This grew to affect the movie theater as well. I was never one for loud noises, crowds, or the dark – all of which can describe a movie theater. I stopped going to the theater when Fantastic Four came out in 2015. I went with Kris and our friend and I ended up leaving in the middle of the previews. I never went back to the theater after that. Only on the occasion when a new Disney movie came out or something. Then I might go, but I usually waited for the DVD. That way, I could pause and walk away if I needed a break.

Aside from the occasionally Disney movie exception, there was one movie in particular that I was determined to see.

Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu came out in May 2019 and I couldn’t resist not seeing it. It’s Pokemon, which I adore, and I’ve been waiting for this movie for so long. CGI and live-action have been daunting to me because there can be some scary or trippy scenes. (And there was.) But, I made it work.

I’ve never forced myself to work on going to the movie theater. One thing I learned from therapy was to pick and choose my battles. School gave me anxiety, but I needed to work through that as it was stopping me from doing something important in my life. Going to the movies is just a fun activity that I could live without. Plus, there are DVDs and streaming. In fact, it saves me money in the long run.

I didn’t want my anxiety to stop me from seeing a Pokemon movie though. It was something I looked forward to for so long. Being in the gaming community, I would have sorely missed out on Twitter conversations talking about the movie. It’s not the same watching it on a DVD for the first time months after everyone has stopped talking about it.

I Was Prepared

We got our tickets early and went opening weekend so we could get the special Detective Pikachu Pokemon cards (another incentive for me to go). So, I knew it was coming for a few weeks. I was mentally preparing myself.

When I go to the movies, I have my worry stone and bring a cold drink and a snack. The food helps me focus on something else if I need a distraction from the big screen in front of me. For Detective Pikachu, I hid an entire bag of cheese pretzels in my backpack – they were so good!

I sat in between Kris and our friend Nickie and we were also in the back, which I prefer if I need to step outside for some air. I also had two other friends with me to cuddle with – Detective Pikachu himself and Psyduck.

Kris and I went to Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks before the movie and I found plush toys from the movie. Psyduck talks and Detective Pikachu, oddly enough, doesn’t. I got both of them though because Psyduck is one of my favorite Pokemon and Detective Pikachu is the title character. ($40 later…)

I had both plushes in my lap throughout the movie (I even brought them into the restaurant with us for dinner before the movie). I had anxiety, yes. That was to be expected. However, when the movie actually started, all of that seemed to go away.

I’m Still Anti-Movie Theaters

After that, I’ve gone back to the theater to see Toy Story 4 and that’s it. I had a good time at Detective Pikachu, but I’m still not thrilled of the idea of going to a movie theater. As fun as seeing Detective Pikachu was, it took a lot out of me. I’m going to continue picking and choosing my battles.

But at least I can say I won that one.

Mental Health Monday: Going To The Movies | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Mental Health Matters | RachelPoli.com

Can you relate to any of this? What was the last movie you saw at the theater? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around!

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9 thoughts on “Going To The Movies [Mental Health Mondays]

  1. Oh Rachel, I do understand the triggers. When I first realized what they were I was super psyched about it because now I know what my triggers are and what to do with them.
    Nice move on your part with the movie.
    Hang in there, love.

    • It is a relief when you figure out a trigger for yourself. Then you fell like you can really begin to heal and push through it or avoid it all together – whatever you think is best for you. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. I had a similar 9/11 experience; the whole school was forced to watch for the entire day on the premise that “this was history in the making.” We were basically all white trash, though, and all of us were too poor to have ever been on a plane, so we all became terrified of planes. I was 22 when I went on my first plane ride, and I broke down and people were annoyed. My younger brother still hasn’t gotten on a plane. Anyway, point is that our teachers – both yours and mine – did not handle it well. 9/11 was scary, and teachers’ curiosity shouldn’t have trumped students’ mental health.

    • Agreed. Although, nothing like that had ever happened before so I just don’t think the teachers knew how to handle it and thus, this happened. I just got on a plane for the first time in 2018 (technically, I went on when I was 3, but I don’t remember that) and I went somewhere in March and in April. So that’s four plane rides in two months. It was a lot, but I pulled through.

  3. I can’t deal with movie theatres. I used to love going to the movies. But after I lost the last of my sight, they became a scary environment full of inconsiderate people to me. I found it annoying enough when I could still see that people would talk, play with phones, etc, while I was trying to enjoy a movie, but it was even worse when hearing was my only way to enjoy it, especially since crowds of people became an even worse source of anxiety for me than they had been once I was fully blind. So, the last movie I saw on the big screen was Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2. I had to go see that one, because I’d seen every single one before that on opening weekend, and wasn’t about to break that tradition. Since then, I’ve either brought the DVD, or watched them on the movie channels on Sky. I desperately want to see Detective Pikachu and Toy Story 4 too, but am waiting for the DVDs.

    • Movie theaters aren’t really a friendly environment, per se. They don’t have a lot of options for people who don’t necessarily care for or can deal with the whole, “movie theater experience.” Detective Pikachu just came out on DVD on August 6… at least where I am. I hope you can get it soon. It was a good one. 🙂

  4. I can’t watch horror movies either. Too many of them rely on “jump scares” and those rattle my nerves. I’m forcing myself to watch IT Chapter 2, only because I love Stephen King.

    Glad that you were able to win this battle!

    • Agreed. I will never watch IT, lol. I hope you enjoy it regardless. And there’s nothing wrong with them either. It’s just that technology has advanced so much and special effects are so good that it makes the movies look too realistic.

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