How I Fought through my Anxiety for my Love of Film & The Avengers!

“How I Fought through my Anxiety for my Love of Film & The Avengers!”

We are so proud to present an amazing guest blog from one of our client’s who over came her extreme anxiety to go and review the biggest film of all time to date, Marvel’s “End Game.” She kindly wanted to share her review and her experience with us and all of you.

“I’ve loved comics ever since I was a little kid, I would read them over and over, wherever I went. To my parents’ grimace, I would often neglect homework in favour of reading the latest issue! The movies are an extension of this interest, and since Iron Man hit the screens in 2008, I’ve been an avid fan of the MCU.

The appeal of these characters has always been consistent; an escape from the dreary reality of daily life, a repose for a brain which works overtime against itself; the tiniest hope that (super) human goodness still exists, in a world clouded by depression; an idea of righteous struggle when everything seems lost.

When I booked tickets to see Endgame, I did so with the intention of going with my mother. It just felt safer to do so; struggling with social anxiety and agoraphobia has made situations like this hard to deal with. I was intent on pushing myself to go out to a cinema I have never went to, in the middle of London, and I wouldn’t be alone.

Furthermore, Dr Mark Silvert, my Consultant Psychiatrist asked me to go and try and review the movie to help me motivate myself to leave my house, and I was more than happy to share my thoughts in an accepting space. Suddenly going out didn’t seem so bad!

You can imagine how distraught I felt when my mother cancelled on me on the day of the screening. The anxiety overloaded my brain and made my way there confusing- I nearly gave up and went home. However, part of me was determined; to push forward, to continue to struggle. I had to be my own hero and make my own day better! Mark counted on me! With this in mind, I eventually worked up the courage to ask a member of staff to direct me to the cinema. It took me half an hour longer than expected, but I was finally there. Victory.

After experiencing End game’s finale, after all the emotions settled, I got to think how, these characters shaped me in the course of a decade. Captain America showed me that power does not have to corrupt; Black Widow showed me the importance of redemption; Dr Banner taught me to accept my flaws instead of repressing them; the Guardians taught me that family is not where you come from, but where the heart lies; Antman showed me that, uh, ants are actually pretty cool insects!

Some of these might not connect to mental health directly, but let me pose this- when I felt lost, powerless, worthless, these heroes were an anchor. As strong as they were, they had to find inner strength and rely on their moral values to overcome evil. As I stepped out of my house that day, I had to find my own inner strength to overcome my struggles.

This inner strength wouldn’t manifest as quickly as a super soldier serum or a suit of armour. It took time. I had planned extra time to get ready because I had to mentally prepare myself to go out. I took my favourite roll-on scent and some chocolate with me for the journey there. I had a playlist that I could listen to distract myself. It felt like I was ready enough to endure whatever negative thought my brain could throw at me. The medication and therapy I had been undergoing recently really helped me consolidate what these coping skills. These small steps eventually led me to do something that felt so monumental to me.

Even then, superpowers don’t necessarily make a hero- it’s their sense of identity that does. What do they stand for? Who do they protect? And why? Having a strong sense of identity is empowering- but it is something I have lacked as a result of my poor mental health. My interests, connections and characteristics had been stifled by depression. It is something I had recognised within me; but it is only recently when I started to want to reclaim myself. To avenge my old self by fighting back mental illness with all the strength I could muster, to be myself even in the face of adversity or abuse.

Mental illness made me think like I truly lost myself- that my identity had been warped and deformed beyond recognition because of it. Much like Thor becoming unworthy of Mjolnir and then seeing it destroyed, I felt like I could never pick myself up again because I was unworthy of an identity. But what makes Thor isn’t his hammer- his identity as God of Thunder was still within him because of his bravery and goodness, and that could never be taken away from him. When he made Stormbreaker, he empowered himself through renovation. And I realised that I could do so too- even in my lowest moments, I still had worth, and that nothing about me was ever truly lost. I still had the power to piece myself together again, as long as I tried.
This is what gave me courage to go out alone to a place I have never been before. It wasn’t easy, but it felt right. Even if part of me wanted to give up and go home under the safety of my blankets, even if my parents disapproved of my choices, I would enjoy myself for a few hours. I wouldn’t let anything get in my way of redemption.

I would like to end this post with this quote from Captain America: Civil War

“Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say ‘No, you move’.”

As much as I would like my issues to dissolve with a Snap, I’m afraid that no gauntlet exists for that. I have to take the long road and tell my own superhero origin story.”

By A Blue Tree Clinic Client.