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Aspergers - managing anxiety through film

MJDeanMJDean Member Posts: 40 Courageous

My name is Maxwell and I am on the autistic spectrum with Aspergers. I have a huge passion and interest in films which I explore in my own personal blog; alternativeangle.wordpress.com. These have become an important way for me to manage my anxiety.

 In September I will be 27. Yet, like many other people, I wasn’t diagnosed with autism when I was young. I was diagnosed in June 2016. This came from encouragement from both my parents and my own decision.

Day to day, autism affects me in many ways. Some days I suffer from feeling of anxiety to depression or both. This can also affect my sleep. Often I am unable to resist comparing myself to others on social media and this can have a severe impact on my self-esteem.

Though I have always been shy, I only came to really struggle with these feelings when I started university. Almost from day one it seemed that my fellow students were more confident and outgoing than me, especially when everyone would go to nightclubs and I would be left alone in my flat to watch BBC Newsnight or a new horror film. As I grew my confidence with friends I did start to go out more to house parties. Though I after my visit my one and only visit to a nightclub I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t got back.


Since I was diagnosed with autism, films have therefore become an important way for me to manage my anxiety. I also greatly enjoy revisiting my childhood from time to time through rewatching Disney’s The Lion King or one of my other favourites, Jurassic Park. 

My passion for cinema, particularly horror cinema, however, really began as a teenager, shorty before I started University. The one film which changed everything was Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I couldn’t tell you why it was this film in particular, but ever since this viewing experience it has been the characters in horror films which I seem to be most drawn too, whether this is Bub, the zombie who listens to Beethoven in George Romero’s Day of the Dead or Frankenstein’s Monster in Bride of Frankenstein. Upon reflection, I think that I am drawn to such a character as Frankenstein because of the way others perceive him. Indeed, Bride of Frankenstein contains one of my favourite scenes of all time when Frankenstein befriends a blind hermit. In several horror films, the so called ‘monsters’ are simply misunderstood loners, isolated from society due to its own preconceptions about what should be normal.

Films have always been for me, a way to explore my thoughts and express my feelings. Watching them I can be transported to new worlds where my worries disappear, if only for a little bit. In fact, if I had the choice of hanging out with Frankenstein’s Monster and a job interview, I would tempted to choose the former nearly every time. This is also true in the case of the films from Studio Ghibli, such as Spirited Away or my personal favourite Nausicaa: Valley of The Wind. Such films offer truly immersive and very imaginative worlds for me to escape to. 

Despite my anxiety and the times when I do doubt myself, I have come to realise that I should not be ashamed of my autism. After all, without it, I might not have discovered such wonderful and obscure films such as the Japanese Female Prison Scorpion series, the Stray Cat Rock series from the 1970’s and the works of the great Italian horror director Mario Bava, all of which give me such joy.

 

What films do you like to watch when you are feeling anxious or do you have any other ways to manage your anxiety?

Replies

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 689 Listener
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  • MJDeanMJDean Member Posts: 40 Courageous
    Great to hear your thoughts @DannyMoore :)

    Do you have any favourite particular bands? My own favourite is Thin Lizzy. I also used to do Judo myself when I was younger. 


  • RussellwiRussellwi Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Films i have found are House of cards, crash (Sandra bullock) green mile, instinct (Anthony Hopkins)the climb
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 689 Listener
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  • Barrylad1957Barrylad1957 Member Posts: 100 Courageous
    @MJDean
    Nice one mate, my grandson Luke is on the autism spectrum, and (he's 18 now) movies have always been a big part of his leisure life, and, like yourself, he often harks back to his childhood by re watching old films he loved when he was a kid. He is currently obsessed with the Alien continuity, and he's like a walking encyclopaedia about the films from Alien to the latest Covenant instalment. Again, like you, he hasnt taken to the social scene other young men his age have, he's also not a lover of nightclubs. Its awesome that youve gotten to Uni and are doing well, there must be a great deal of pressure on you to interact with your peers, but it appears that youre happy to keep on doing what youre doing, so, more power to you. I hope you get a first, good luck mate. Keep us posted on how youre getting along.
    Baz
  • MJDeanMJDean Member Posts: 40 Courageous
    @MJDean
    Nice one mate, my grandson Luke is on the autism spectrum, and (he's 18 now) movies have always been a big part of his leisure life, and, like yourself, he often harks back to his childhood by re watching old films he loved when he was a kid. He is currently obsessed with the Alien continuity, and he's like a walking encyclopaedia about the films from Alien to the latest Covenant instalment. Again, like you, he hasnt taken to the social scene other young men his age have, he's also not a lover of nightclubs. Its awesome that youve gotten to Uni and are doing well, there must be a great deal of pressure on you to interact with your peers, but it appears that youre happy to keep on doing what youre doing, so, more power to you. I hope you get a first, good luck mate. Keep us posted on how youre getting along.
    Baz

    Thank you @Barrylad1957

    I should have perhaps said in my piece that I graduated with a 2:1 in 2013 and currently looking for a job (which in itself is quite a struggle) but as I say thank you for the kind words! 

    :smile:
  • Wonky61Wonky61 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    I have Essential Tremor and anxiety is just part of the condition. My favourite way to cope is by being self deprecating humour.
  • DasiydoDasiydo Member Posts: 94 Courageous
    House cards on Netflix and Disney's films but got two pets cats help me Sydnee and Annabel
    V.shaw
  • thespicemanthespiceman Member Posts: 6,408 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello how I cope with anxiety films got be the old MGM musicals.  In the fifties MGM one of the great studios produced a lot of musicals with colour and fantastic songs. Stars like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire and Judy Garland danced and sang about love, being in love and losing love.  Plots all too simple boy meets girl loses girl finds girl  Just really good cheers me and I forget problems for once.  Top three favourites On the Town, American In Paris, Summer Stock.  I used to have them on the  old Video cassette recorded from the TV.  Trying find them on DVD. 
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  • tugs26tugs26 Member Posts: 7 Listener
    Just out of curiosity what when you guys say you have anxiety - I am keen to know over what exactly. 

    For example I suffered with Anxiety for years - had no idea it stemmed from childhood issues but I finally got over it. The anxiety I had was mainly around Relationships - it was called Anxious Attachment. 

    I had extensive CBT therapy... therefore happy to share the learning methods I went through in order to change my mindset.

    Tugs
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 689 Listener
    edited September 2017
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  • thespicemanthespiceman Member Posts: 6,408 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello with regard to comments about anxiety.  Mine started as a young lad.  Had to go into hospital at very young age for operations on hands.  Parents especially my mother would leave me and rarely visit.  One trip to London involved me staying for long periods in hospital and that's when the problems really arose.  I have other family members she exclaimed he be ok down here and returned home... Left alone no one to talk to seeing young children die and be aware that I could be next.  Even then I knew I was not wanted.  Used to ring up from London and very often too busy to talk.  That's the situation as time progressed the teens and early adulthood I realised that I was getting ill and became an alcoholic. Have been on my own for a very long time and that causes my anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety were the stomach pains always sweating always nervous.  Chest pains, panic attacks.  Remember if you lived with someone who is controlling your life and putting you down constantly.  If you felt the same then reaching out for some thing to numb the pain such as addictive substances whether alcohol or drugs.  I am only too aware there are many various causes of anxiety and I get the picture.  Even now I am on meds and free of addiction.  Been clean ten years.  Get now anxiety most days with just being alone struggling to contact and connect to people.  Recently the ESA situation on going now in the support group.  Last twenty two years every two years or more been assessed all the time.  Told fit for work.  Knowning that my anxiety was getting bad with this situation.  Mental health charity and doctors came on board to tell DWP not well and too ill. So now am getting right money plus told will not have to sign on.  Always will and do get severe anxiety over money and like the majority of people in my situation worry and get angst over every little thing. Hope that answers any questions
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  • thespicemanthespiceman Member Posts: 6,408 Disability Gamechanger
    Please can I also add this CBT treatment does not work for everybody.  I had over three months of appointments, they the charity who was treating me said I had too deep issues to help.  I am using a mental health charity with a floating support worker.  Used to talking that helps, this helps saying to all of you about problems issues.  Been in contact on Emails to charity that helps.  I know it also helps having the benefit of healthy diet and wellbeing.
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  • MJDeanMJDean Member Posts: 40 Courageous
    Dasiydo said:
    House cards on Netflix and Disney's films but got two pets cats help me Sydnee and Annabel

    Pets are great for my anxiety. I have a dog and cat myself, Archie and Annie. 
  • MJDeanMJDean Member Posts: 40 Courageous
    Hello how I cope with anxiety films got be the old MGM musicals.  In the fifties MGM one of the great studios produced a lot of musicals with colour and fantastic songs. Stars like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire and Judy Garland danced and sang about love, being in love and losing love.  Plots all too simple boy meets girl loses girl finds girl  Just really good cheers me and I forget problems for once.  Top three favourites On the Town, American In Paris, Summer Stock.  I used to have them on the  old Video cassette recorded from the TV.  Trying find them on DVD. 
    Great to hear your thoughts @thespiceman. I will have to look up your favourites myself!
  • thespicemanthespiceman Member Posts: 6,408 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you for kind words.  Hope you will enjoy them. I know am still looking for them by way.  Hopefully turn up near to the C word that's not far away. I forgot to say MGM did a series of compilations of the musicals called That's Entertaintment.  Great afternoon when they come on usually Saturday afternoon. Certainly worth the watch a bout three hours of the greats doing their funky stuff.  In part one of the series Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire performed a routine the time mind blowing.  The story was anybody who danced with Fred ended up with bleeding feet.  So Ginger Rogers said once. I believe she and him did numerous takes till she and him got it right.  Anyway look forward to see them again.
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