Movie Watching Rules

I’ve come to realize over the years that there are certain movies and TV shows that I shouldn’t watch during certain times of day or while I’m alone. If I’m not in the right frame of mind or mood, just about anything can trigger a depressive state. 

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Just a few things I can think of off the top of my head that I’m not allowed to watch late at night, before bed, or by myself are:

  • Jessica Jones
  • 13 Reasons Why
  • Girl Interrupted
  • Finding Neverland
  • My Girl
  • Flatliners
  • Elizabethtown
  • Butterfly Effect
  • One Day
  • Knight’s Tale
  • Something Borrowed
  • If Only
  • The Dark Knight Rises

They’re all different genres and have different story lines, however they each have something or someone in them that triggers bad memories or thoughts. I can remember vividly the moment I realized that there needed to be rules regarding certain movies and things. Not watching them later at night or before bed, not watching them alone, and not watching them depending on my mood or recent thoughts about certain things (death, relationships, life goals and achievements, etc.).

We were sitting in the living room, the four of us. Her with her husband at the time and me with my boyfriend at the time. She was about 8 months into her first pregnancy and I had moved up to Virginia to help her out there at the end. I had never moved away from my family before, and not counting summer camps and visiting other family, I had never lived off of the island. Yet there I found myself, in suburban Chesapeake spending an evening with my pregnant soul sister, her husband, and my tired mechanic boyfriend who seldom made the drive to come see me. 

She and I had been trying to naturally induce labor and had bought every sort of tea that had every sort of herb you’re not supposed to consume whilst expecting. That night in particular we had made what would come to be known, at least to us, as “weed tea.” (Really it’s Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer Tea – blue box with a dragon, absolutely fantastic!  *end ad*) We had made it very strong to be extra relaxing, a little too relaxing. The sort of relaxing that gives you less control over your mind and lets it wander to all those places your conscience mind doesn’t like to remember exists.

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We were watching “Girl Interrupted” which, come to find out, has a ton of triggers. (I know, go figure, right?!) She may have not dreamed of death as I did, but she had her own demons she battled. Regardless of our respective cerebral circuses, we always seemed to be attuned to one another. I hadn’t even realized that I had retreated into myself and was fantasizing about the old days; back in high school when feelings were truer than the stars and couldn’t lie if they wanted to. Everything was real and meant something, meant everything. Feeling the hot, wet, sensuous slices across our skin as we transferred our inner turmoil into outward ornaments. After all, if we had to feel it all on the inside, why not share that burden on the outside. Not that we cared, but it also allowed us to show the world just how much pain we were in without having to say a word. Something the man sitting next to me had never even had to consider; until he met me. 

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She clapped her hands and waved me back from the other side of the room. I looked down for a moment and then met her stare. Nothing needed explaining between the two of us, we’d both been there before. A mental vacation to our favourite torture chamber. Her husband, being the careless dick that he was, ignored us and continued watching the movie, while the mechanic next to me looked at me with a face I’d seen for the latter half of my life. That terrified mix of curiosity and unadulterated incomprehension, perhaps with the slightest dash of expired concern. He put his hand on my knee and applied the gentlest of affectionate pressure. Just enough to say that he acknowledged that some unspoken emotional thing had just happened, but he didn’t understand what it was or meant, and that it had seemed to pass and for us to get back to the boring-drawn-out-female-character-driven movie we had made him watch on the one night he had made the drive up just to see little ole me. Either that, or the weed tea had done the trick and he was so mellowed out that that’s the best he could do before he passed out despite the noise of the movie.

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Whichever way it was, the moment was added to by many more that would provide further proof to me that no one I ever met, or will meet, would understand me as deeply as she had…until she had the baby and irrevocably shattered my soul. But that’s a story for another time.

Understanding and accepting that certain outside forces can effect your mental state is so important to being able to control and maneuver life with a mental illness. So many different things can effect any and all of us under the right, or wrong, circumstances. Learning what things effect you, and how, can help you determine how to avoid them, and when unavoidable, how to deal with them. Restricting my movie and show watching is just one of the ways I can manage my mood swings and erratic, harmful thoughts. It’s important for everyone to understand that people who live with these sorts of disabilities aren’t trying to be difficult, or selfish, they’re just trying to take care of themselves, even if that means not participating in certain events with friends and family. Be respectful no matter which side you find yourself on, and if you notice that someone you know is effected by things that you watch or do on the regular basis, suggest that you try something else, every little thing matters and can help someone exponentially. 

Take care of each other out there; love you awesome nerds!

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