Mental Health

How I Deal with Movie Anxiety

mo·vie anx·i·e·ty

/ˈmo͞ovē aNGˈzīədē/

a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease that comes from not knowing what is going to happen during a movie
“her movie anxiety kept her from seeing scary movies in theaters”

Does this sound familiar?

Apparently, a lot of people feel this way before and during movies. Nausea, headaches, panicked breathing, crying – these are all symptoms movie anxiety sufferers have described to me.

And I totally get it!

According to my (saint of a) mom, I first started experiencing movie anxiety when I was a toddler. She bought Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on VHS and by the end of it was regretting her decision because I. Was. Wrecked.

That witch disguised as a crusty old lady freaked me the eff out – I still remember vivid nightmares I’d have that she was in my house, forcing me to chew poisoned bubble gum. No matter how many times I reminded myself that “it’s just a movie,” I couldn’t separate the made up stuff from real life.

movieanxiety_snowwhitequeen
Image courtesy of Disney

I responded in a way as dignified as I could muster (LOL I WAS FOUR) and demanded that my mom hide the VHS forever. And she did! Every few months, she would take it out of its hiding place to check if I was over it or not, and I responded by bursting into tears.

Unfortunately, this was a preview for the rest of my life.

Middle school me regularly ended up in the guidance counselor’s office, trying to explain why I felt like I couldn’t sit through a video about how the Egyptians put King Tut’s brain in a fancy jar. Some teachers were super understanding and let me take movies home before we watched them in class – knowing exactly what was going to happen was almost euphoric. But some teachers, understandably, were like, “WTF? Can’t I get a movie day breather without someone sobbing?”

By high school, I learned ways to work with my movie anxiety without causing a scene. I could tell it wasn’t “normal” to panic over a sword fighting scene in Zorro, so I made a habit of going to the bathroom during movies. (Obviously, by going to the bathroom, I mean roaming the halls and using my pay-per-text cell phone plan to send 15¢ messages to my friends.) One of my proudest triumphs was excusing myself during a showing of Schindler’s List and crashing a different class where it was someone’s birthday. Eating cake and avoiding crying in public felt like a win-win.

Movie anxiety is confusing, even to me. It’s hard to explain, and people often dismiss my feelings because they think I’m trying to get out of plans or am just being a, “baby.” A group of college friends couldn’t understand why I could read The Shining right before bed, but got a stress migraine from watching The Leprechaun. Listen, it doesn’t make sense to me either! But my suspicion is that it all starts and ends with control. When I’m reading a book, I get to control literally everything: how fast I read, what the characters look like in my head, and the amount of PG-13 violence I allow to occur. During movies, I feel like I’m at the mercy of someone else’s vision, which CAN BE THE BEST ESCAPE EVER, but can also be, well, anxiety-inducing.

Luckily, I learned a fabulous solution from Shrek.

Yes, Shrek, the unofficial second greatest movie of all time. (Shrek 2 is even better and you know it.) I was eleven and felt way too old to be quaking with nerves over seeing a frickin cartoon featuring a talking donkey. So I signed on to our dial-up internet (weeewoooweewoooberrpbeeberrrp) and asked Jeeves what to do. He pointed me to a website called Kids in Mind, Ratings that Work, which is a website for overprotective parents to check all the reasons a movie is rated the way that it is. For instance, Shrek got a PG rating from Hollywood, but on Kids in Mind, it has a 3.4.3. The threes indicate a 3/10 for Sex & Nudity and Language, while the 4 is a 4/10 for Violence & Gore.

movieanxiety_shrek
Image courtesy of Dream Works

Kids in Mind breaks down the reasons for the ratings in each category. The anxious side of my brain was like FOUR OUT OF TEN VIOLENCE NO WAY CAN WE HANDLE THAT, but then I read the description: “A woman fights off a bunch of men using “Matrix”-like moves … An ogre knocks a woman into some shrubs (they are having a shoving match) … a donkey talks about the effects of eating gas-causing food.” Oh, never mind, my brain admitted. This is totally our kind of movie.

I’m pushing thirty and I still use that website on a regular basis. Recently, a friend invited me to a free screening of Red Sparrow, and Kids in Mind was like NUH UH, GIRL. RED SPARROW HAS AN 8/10 VIOLENCE RATING BECAUSE SPOILER ALERT SOMEONE GETS SKINNED ALIVE AND THAT’S NOT EVEN THE WORST PART.

In the words of the great Valerie Cherish, “I don’t wanna see that!”

On the other hand, a group of pals were going to see A Quiet Place, which I was positive would be too scary for me. But once I checked it out on Kids in Mind and saw it had a low gore rating, I felt way better about paying $15 to see it. Plus, BONUS, I knew exactly when all the jump scares were coming, so I actually came off as extra brave compared to all of the grown men who yelped in surprise.

If you get movie anxiety, I bet Kids in Mind could be a great resource for you!

For those of you who are wondering, yes, of course I’ve talked to a therapist about this. And she told me to keep doing what I’m doing. We all have unique fears or anxieties or reasons we cry in public restrooms. Sometimes, getting “better” isn’t about finding a cure, but finding ways to work with what we’ve got. So, yeah, I have movie anxiety, but I’ve found ways to work with it.

No matter what your version of movie anxiety is – maybe you have a fear of public speaking or of commitment or of driving on the highway – YOU WILL FIGURE IT OUT, TOO. You’ll find your own version of Shrek.

I believe in you!

Annndddd, now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch Shrek 2. Love you byeeee!

Wellbeing

What It’s Like to Get Your Septum Pierced

I got my septum pierced about a year ago, but the process of decision-making before and healing after took months and months. Listen, a septum piercing involves poking a needle through the middle of your nose holes – it’s intense!

I freaking love my piercing and am so glad I did it, but in case you are not 100% sure if it’s for you, here are some things I learned from the process.

1. Try on the look first.
Even though I already had one of my nostrils pierced (wow how glamorous does THAT sound?), I teetered back and forth about whether I wanted more jewelry in that area. I mean,  I didn’t want to end up looking like a blinged-out Rudolph. Actually, now that I’m saying it, maybe that’s the exact aesthetic I’m usually going for, but I just wanted to be VERY SURE before letting someone put another hole in my face.

61KudWRODtL._UL1500_

So I wore fake septum jewelry for a few months! Amazon has some great options (like this and this and this) that allowed me to test out life as a fabulous bull. These hoops do not stay in super well (I sneezed quite a few out DURING IMPORTANT MEETINGS), but they helped me see how the piercing fit in with my everyday looks and also prepared me for how people would react to the new addition. You’d be surprised how many folks went out of their way to tell me they didn’t like it – even strangers! But, luckily, I also realized I don’t give a fart about what other people think, and if I want to be a shiny human Rudolph, that’s my choice thankyouverymuch.

For the record, I’ve also “tried on” tattoos I’ve thought about getting by drawing them on in Sharpie for a few weeks, and testing those convinced me I may never get a tattoo. I like being able to change up my look too much to get something so permanent. (P.S. Is drawing in Sharpie on yourself bad for you? Whatever, it’s too late. Ok bye.)

2. Watch videos of other people getting pierced
It’s totally savage, but seeing the process before I took the plunge helped me SO. MUCH. Without further ado, here’s Brittany Balyn’s vlog of her septum piercing, which I’ve watched about a hundred times.

3. Prepare for the time commitment
Ugghhhhhh, responsibility is SO STUPID and I hate it. But, lemme tell you about the healing process so you can decide whether or not you wanna do it or not. Not to be dramatic, but if you don’t take care of your piercing, your nose WILL FALL OFF AND YOU MIGHT DIE (this statement has not been approved by any doctors and I have zero proof if it’s the truth).

No matter where you get your new nose hole, you will have to wear a bull-ring for the first 4-6 weeks of healing. The amazing woman who pierced me explained that the open jewelry prevents damage as your skin expands and contracts, especially while you sleep.

BONUS VIDEO OF MY PIERCING, SWIPE RIGHT.

At first, I wasn’t a fan of the bull lewk, but it grew on me. Plus, if you need to hide your new piercing from, say, your parents who are in town and might cry if they see you’ve gotten yet another hole poked in your skin, you can *whoop* flip the hoop up into your nostrils.

The other time-intensive part of le healing process is how much cleaning is involved. You have to swab foul smelling cleaner UP YOUR NOSE morning and night. I also carried around a small spray bottle of a tea tree concoction that I sprayed UP MY NOSE every time the piercing itched. All of this dedication was worth it, though, because I avoided that weird ball of fat the sometimes shows up around piercings – whew! I am sooo responsible, omg.

One last thing …
Before you scurry off to your nearest tattoo parlor to get a needle through your nostrils, I should probably tell you the true secret to my septum piercing decision making process, even though I’m a little embarrassed about it.

I was drunk as a skunk when I got it done.

Yes, I’d done the research, and yes, I was sure I wanted it. BUT I didn’t go all in until I was at an event that happened to take place in a fabulous, all-female run tattoo and piercing paradise called Earth Altar Studio.

We drank two or four glasses of rosé, and the next thing I knew, I was holding other women’s hands as they got the piercings they’d been too scared to get while sober. The energy was intense, my babies. I cheered on so many other people as they got their piercings that I started to feel extra EXTRA brave. When I woke up the next morning, I had a headache and a nose ring, and I was pretty pleased about one of those things.

This is the only alteration I’ve ever made to my body while under the influence of alcohol (unless you count eating half a pizza by myself in a stairwell after the first time I tried Four Loko), and I don’t necessarily recommend it.

You do you, and if you want to share a photo of your new septum piercing with me, tag me on instagram! @itsthecwolf

Ok, love you byeeee!

Wellbeing

Switching to Natural Deodorant? Here’s What Works

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Since I shared my natural deodorant *journey* with you all, so many people have asked what kind of anti-smell sticks I like to rub on my pits.

WELL. I’ve tried way too many brands, but I’ve only found five that actually work. For the record, this list is being compiled by someone who survived the B.O. phase of switching to natural deodorant. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should check out the video above.) So, if you’re just starting to ditch anti-perspirants, I can’t promise that these products will work for you right away.

1. Bunny Butt Apothecary
bestnaturaldeodorant_bunnybutt

This deodorant is life-changing. I always come back to Bunny Butt’s “The Pits” deodorant, mostly because they all smell delicious. My top two scents are Sucre Bleu and Birthday Cake (yes, it smells exactly how you’re imagining), and it’s a relief to know this clear gel formula is made with essential oils and not, like, the tears of baby otters.

2. Schmidt’s
bestnaturaldeodorant_rosevanillaschmidts

Schmidt’s might be the biggest natural deodorant brand out there right now. Like, you can buy it at Targét. My only ish with the company is that it seems like some of the flavors work better than others. I highly recommend the Rose+Vanilla scent – it’s very floral and sweet, but fades away as the day goes on so you don’t feel like a giant walking flower garden.

For my goth fashionistas out there, steer away from Schmidt’s. Its consistency is chalky, so it might end up leaving tracks on your favorite black get ups.

3. Crystal Deodorant
bestnaturaldeodorant_crystalstick

Yes, this is an actual crystal you rub under your arms. What a time to be alive. There’s a little bit of finesse required to this product: to activate the anti-bacterial properties, you have to hold the stick under some water before applying. The secret to getting this to actually do something, rather than leave you sweaty and reeking of billy goat during your 11 a.m. meeting, is to RUB RUB RUB. Once you feel like you’ve over-applied, rub on a tad bit more.

Honestly, I think crystal deodorant is best for natural deodz pros. If you’re still at the start of your *journey* check out the Crystal Deodorant Roll-On. It’s already in liquid form, so no mad scientist-ing required.

4. Arm & Hammer
bestnaturaldeodorant_armandhammerunscented

This may not look like the hippie-dippiest health-conscious deodorant, but it WORKS. If you hate perfumed deods, definitely try Arm & Hammer, because they are serious about this clear gel being unscented. The main ingredient, baking soda, acts as a B.O. buster without bells and/or whistles. I’m literally shrugging as I write this – this deodorant is so simple, I don’t have anything else to say.

5. EO Spray Deodorant
bestnaturaldeodorant_EOlavender

If you are the exact opposite of Arm & Hammer unscented fans and love smelling like a fresh herb garden of lavender, try this spray. It’s not as powerful as a stick or gel deodorant, so I keep this stuff in my gym bag to spritz on after I sweat. Lavender is hands down my favorite anti-anxiety aromatherapy, so j’adore this scent.

To be honest, I’ve never tried EO’s wipes, but I really want to.

If you try any of these deodorants out, please let me know! You can leave a comment, or write to me on Facebook or Instagram.

Ok. love you bye!

Hair

The 7 Best Products for Bleached Hair

Whether my hair is natural blonde, white, or all the colors of the rainbow, I have to bleach my hair every few months. Over the years, I’ve wandered the aisles of CVS, Sally’s, and local hair salons, spending way too much money on any and all products with the words, “blonde”.

Here are the goos and gadgets that actually worked, either to repair or prevent damage caused by regularly dunking your head into hydrogen peroxide.

1. A Shower Cap
bleachedhair_showercap
Try washing your hair only once a week. Seriously, since I started doing this, my hair has been so much happier. Yes, at first, my head smelled a little funky, and my scalp was noticeably oily, but after training my follicles for a few months, I can go well over a week between washes. I save money on shampoo and avoid hairdryer damage: win win win.

You probably already know this, but it took me a while to realize that even if you’re not washing your hair daily, you should probably still take showers. Which is why the shower cap is a lifesaver. Thanks, shower cap!

2. Hair Oil
bleachedhair_oribeoil
Using hair oil might feel counterintuitive if your scalp gets gooey between your weekly washes, but this stuff is for your ends. Bleach famously dries out hair and the bits furthest away from those natural noggin oils will need a lil help. It’s on the pricier side, but I put an itty bitty half a pump of this Oribe Gold Lust Oil on my ends any time they get crunchy, and they immediately smooth out. For the record, I bought my bottle in 2012 and still have about a quarter of it left.

If you’re like, “ew, that is way too expensive, what is wrong with you,” I’ve also tried this $5 hair oil. The consistency is thicker, so definitely don’t work it too far up your hairs because you might end up looking like a spaghetti monster.

No matter what hair oil you go with, make sure that it doesn’t have any yellow color in it. Those hues will build up and create brass, which will make your hair look darker, WHICH will make you want to go to the salon more.

3. Olaplex
bleachedhair_olaplex
I wish there was an option to make my Olaplex come out of my shower-head. A scientist could probably explain it better, but this goo is basically personal training for hair. It builds up each strand’s strength and actually reverses damage. You can use it on damp hair for 10 minutes before you shampoo and condition, OR you can leave it in overnight. I have no real evidence that leaving it on longer works better, but gosh darn it does sleeping in fancy hair goo make it FEEL like it works better.

Olaplex smells like Juniper Breeze from Bath and Body Works and helped me finally grow my gross straw hair past my shoulders. If you want to read more about that journey, I wrote about it here.

4. Purple Deep Conditioner
bleachedhair_deepconditioner

This masque – please note the spelling makes it fancier – does two things. One, it contains so much purple color, it is like PAINT. All purple shampoos and conditioners deposit violet hues on your hair to balance out yellow, but this conditioner does it perfectly every time. In fact, if I want a more silverly look, I’ll leave it on a few minutes longer – that’s how well it works.

Secondly, and most importantly, this deep conditioner actually conditions. Deeply. I’ve tried many (MANY) blonde/purple products that deposit color but suck out moisture, but The Perfect Blonde leaves my hair soft for days.

5. Silk Pillowcase
bleachedhair_silkpillow
I roll around in my sleep, crunching and floofing my hair all over the place. Silk pillowcases prevent that nightmarish sleep dance from damaging my hair. Plus, they keep your pillow cool!

6. Tangle Teezer Brush
bleachedhair_tangleteezer
Hmmm … how can I say this without being dramatic? Oh, I can’t. The Tangle Teezer Brush is the best, most wonderful brush I’ve ever used and I love it.

In the past, brushing hair hair sounded like a metal pipe being dragged over concrete – crunch crunch crunch. Remember in The Princess Diaries when Mia Thermopolis gets her makeover, but the hair stylist guy gets all mad because she, “broke-uh my brrrush!” That was me. That. Was. Me. Until Tangle Teezer.

(This is not sponsored by Tangle Teezer.)

7. Scrunchies
bleachedhair_scrunchies

Besides being the ~most fashionable~, scrunchies can help prevent breakage. They are way gentler than those super tight, thick black hair ties that you buy in a pack of 50, only to end up wearing one on your wrist for months, protecting it with your life because all 49 of its brethren mysteriously disappeared. (Seriously, what weird ghost is haunting us, collecting our hair ties?)

I started wearing scrunchies during workouts and sleepy times when I had extensions, and now understand how well they ward off split ends. Plus, they don’t leave a wonky ponytail dent in my hair, which means I don’t have to re-curl my hair, WHICH MEANS less heat on my hairs, which means less damage. I rest my case.