• Emily Stetzer / 0 comments

My OCD was triggered by a TV show.

As you might have guessed, this blog post was created based on a personal experience I had. My OCD was triggered by a tv show.

The culprit? The Crowded Room (There may be some spoilers in here so if you don’t want to be spoiled, I suggest bookmarking this page until you’ve watched it).

Essentially, it’s about a boy, played by Tom Holland (Tom—if you’re reading this—I’m a big, big fan). Everything seems “normal” in this kid's life, he’s in high school, he’s got buddies, he’s got a crush. But then, big shocker, there’s a mystery to solve after he helps a friend in a shooting, with some secrets that have yet to be uncovered. I’m thinking— another crime show, right? NBD. 

And again — for those of you who skim — SPOILER ALERT HERE. 

Turns out, the kid has Multiple Personality Disorder, which was in part brought on by abuse he suffered as a child. The friend he helped in the shooting turned out to be an alternate personality he created in his mind, along with a bunch of people he knew and loved.

Two triggers here: 

  1. Real people in your life, that you love, turn out to only exist in your head.
  2. Suffering abuse as a child and repressing the memory.

Oh boy. Oh boy. I don’t remember the last time I was THIS triggered by a show/movie. 

If this were 8 years ago, I probably would have called it quits and never finished the series. But I know better than that now. Instead, I watched the entire thing. Now, it wasn't easy and it didn't come without giving into some compulsions here and there. I confess, I did some googling, and I did sneakily ask for reassurance from my sister, who was watching with me. 

But after this whole ordeal I realize that there are probably other people out there who have experienced the same dilemma of wanting so badly to turn off the show when it brings you anxiety. So here are some strategies for coping when a show triggers your anxiety.

1. Take Breaks and Create Distance

Pause and Breathe: When scenes become overwhelming, pause the show, take deep breaths, and remind yourself it's just a story.

Step Away: Don't hesitate to take breaks or switch to another show for a while. Give yourself time to process and regain composure.

2. Practice Mindfulness and Grounding Techniques

Ground Yourself: Focus on your surroundings, feeling the ground beneath your feet or noticing objects in the room to anchor yourself in the present.

Mindfulness Exercises: Engage in mindfulness practices like meditation or deep breathing exercises to center yourself.

3. Set Boundaries and Prioritize Self-Care

Establish Limits: Decide on a specific episode limit per day or week to prevent overwhelming yourself.

Self-Care Rituals: After watching, engage in self-soothing activities such as taking a bath, listening to calming music, or practicing a hobby.

4. Reach Out for Support (With Caution)

Find a friend or family member who understands your situation to talk to about your feelings regarding the show.

Limit Reassurance Seeking: While seeking support is beneficial, try to limit reassurance-seeking behavior to avoid reinforcing anxiety patterns.

5. Remember: It's Fiction, Not Reality

Reality Check: Remind yourself that what's depicted in the show is fictional and does not reflect your reality or the likelihood of similar events occurring.

Conclusion: Empowering Yourself Amid Triggers

Watching a show that triggers anxiety can be tough, but it's an opportunity for growth. By implementing healthy coping strategies and acknowledging your triggers, you're taking charge of your anxiety instead of letting it control you. Remember, it's okay to step back, seek support, and prioritize your mental well-being. You're not alone in this journey, and there are ways to navigate these challenges and come out stronger on the other side.


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