Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Humongous Anxiety Attack

*Spoilers for the final Harry Potter movie in bullet points at the end!*

There are a number of close friends and family members that text me while they are having diarrhea. You know, to let me know they are thinking of me in their moment of discomfort.
I. Love. It.
I love being the Diarrhea Guru, it totally cracks me up. Because if you can't laugh about literally 20 years of chronic diarrhea, you will weep with frustration that your anxiety disorder manifests in such a gross and unfair manor.

Over the last few months of this pregnancy I've been pretty constipated. For just about the first time in my life. And I hate it. Diarrhea sucks, but like anything you get used to it. I'd rather deal with the enemy I know than some new thing. So I haven't had diarrhea in a few months, probably my longest run (I'm cracking myself up here) in that 20 year period. It started up again a few days ago, and I was almost relieved. At least I don't have to deal with the constipation anymore...

I ended up not seeing HP 7.5 last night at midnight. I was stupid and thought I could get a ticket the day of. Who knew there were that many people in Syracuse that wanted to see a movie in the middle of the night? I realized later it was those damn teenagers that are out of school for the summer. They spoil everyone's fun. As bummed as I was, it all worked out fine. I got to go to the first showing this morning and Z and I watched the first HP last night. But my stomach was a mess today. And I took Imodium for the first time in ages before the film.

On the way to the theater I was fighting back tears. I felt frighteningly alone and overwhelmingly sad and weary. Someone with my history is at higher risk for postpartum depression (which didn't happen at all with T, thankfully) and I started worrying that the depression fairy was visiting early. I've only had one severe depressive episode in my life, and that was plenty. In my opinion, those who suffer from chronic depression deserve our sympathy and support. Anxiety is a million times easier to manage, depression is beyond terrible. No matter how many people who love and want to help you are nearby you feel completely and utterly alone. Everything gets fuzzy, nothing in your life has definition. You are separated from everyone and everything by an insurmountable and invisible barrier.

But it wasn't depression. About 15 minutes into the move I had the kind of anxiety attack wherein one questions whether a trip to the ER isn't a good idea. My heart was absolutely racing. I was sure that my blood pressure was so high that I was endangering the New Guy. I was unbelievably hot and dizzy. After about 20 minutes of wondering if I should stay or go I started to realize what was going on. It's amazing how slow I am when having a little episode. All semblance of self-awareness goes right out the window. In another 20 minutes my heart had slowed considerably and I knew the attack was passing.

Z is sure that the attack had to do with confronting the end of something very important to me, with the last of the new HP stuff, but I don't quite buy it. Yes, I really don't handle change and the end of things well, but there are plenty of stressful things going on in my real life. I still have the HP books and movies for comfort. I'm more concerned with the reno project that has become more complicated and time consuming than originally planned. Z is having a hard time because he doesn't have any help from here on out, all the work falls to him, there is a ton of work left to do, and there is a very hard deadline. He's on edge, so I'm on edge. I'm concerned about how the next few months are going to affect T and the New Guy. I'm concerned that I won't be up to the challenge of mothering two instead of one. I'm worried that we are broke and I really need to get a job but I don't know what I can do or want to do and I'd have to bring in a significant amount of money to make day care fees worth it. HP ending is very sad, but it is the least of my worries.

Jeeze, this is getting long. I'm rambly when I'm feeling unwell. So a few quick thoughts on the movie and I'll wrap it up:

  • A lot of quippy and silly little lines have been added to the battle scene stuff. I found them embarrassing and stupid. 
  • It's easy for me to separate the books and the movies, the movies are going to be watered down. It is the nature of the beast. But some of the scenes were so beautiful that it really bugged me this time when the subtlety was lost. When Snape is dying and asks Harry to look at him in the book before we know for sure that he is a good guy it is a strong hint and a rather lovely moment. Him telling Harry he has his mother's eyes before that moment in the movie is like getting struck over the head with a bag of bricks. 
  • That said, the journey into the Pensieve exceeded my expectations. I adore Alan Rickman and it was such an amazing emotional payoff after 7 movies to learn he was motivated by a very pure love. It was excellently done. 
  • Though I love the books more than the movies, I find it fun and interesting, rather than off putting, to see how they put big moments in different contexts, like Ron and Hermione's kiss, Fred's death, Percy's return (didn't even happen). 
  • There was a moment added in the Pensieve flashbacks of Lily telling Harry how loved he was as she was waiting for Voldemort to climb the stairs and kill them. Much like the awkward Harry/Hermione dance scene of the 7th movie, it was not from the book, but it was perfect and enriched the movie considerably. 
  • Chris Columbus and his casting director deserves major kudos for their casting work. I see most of the movie characters in my head when reading the books now, and that is rarely the case with me.
  • It's an incredible experience to be so invested in a group of characters you've watch grow up over a decade, and I think it's completely unique in movie history. That the same group of people were in all eight films creates a much stronger reaction from the viewer. We love and hate them all the more because we've watched them for so long.
  • There is also an incredible self reflection that happens while watching this film. Where were you guys ten years ago? How much have you changed? I was a 24 year old newlywed living in Brooklyn and desperately trying to process the events of two months prior. The breakdown hadn't happened yet. We were happy. I hadn't gotten better. We hadn't worked to save our marriage. Z hadn't decide he didn't want to work in theater. I didn't know I'd work in bakeries professionally, hell I was just learning to cook. We certainly weren't parents. Yes, the kids on film have grown, but so have we. If I'd seen the clip of Lily trying to put her consuming love of her son into words in the last few moments of her life a decade ago I would have been moved, but I wouldn't have felt it in my bones like I did today. I'm grateful that the movies have provided a framework for that reflection. Being a fan of this series has been an amazing experience. 
He's gotten very expressive when he tells us long and complicated stories. 

 He wants to drink out of any glass or bottle, but the ones that are for him.

Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith
This is my favorite one of Z and me from the July 4th weekend. I look at it and I can see how much we love each other. It helps to look on days like today when I feel so alone and helpless. It's hard to explain why someone who has a mostly happy and functioning relationship can feel such terror and doubt about one's place in that relationship. Mental illness is scary and majorly fucked up. I really hate it. 


  1. So. I'm starting to realize all the diarrhea junk feels very disconnected to the rest of the post, and therefore rather gratuitous. The return of it was suppost to be foreshadowing in terms of the anxiety. Yup, not gratuitous, just kind of crappy writing. I'll do a better job of editing next time...

  2. Love the pic at the end. Hate movie theaters and the only pics I have seen in them in the last ten years are the HP ones. Hate crowds, hate crowds with kids in them.

  3. Oh look! time to turn on comment moderation...

    1. Wow, didn't even notice that comment. I'll just delete the spam...