The group therapy I participated in last year was filled with a spunky cast of characters one of whom used horror movies as a way to get out of her downward spirals. She said that watching someone being chased in complete terror and then beaten with one of their appendages made her feel that perhaps what she was feeling was not so bad. I understand her point of view, but I’ve always hated horror movies and I could not think of anything worse than sitting on the edge of my seat scared witless as a way to take back the lead from my depression. I also do a bang-up job creating my own horror movies in my head without any outside help.
I have tried to watch horror movies–I’ve seen three in my life and I remember and disliked them all. The first was Aliens. I was in elementary school and my brother, who is six years older, put it on one afternoon–probably to torture me. I was scared out of my mind and wanted to stop watching but I thought my friend, who sat cross-legged and unmoving just a few feet in front of the TV for the entire time, really liked it, so I stuck it out. Turns out he was simply frozen in terror and didn’t even close his eyes as I did. I watched Candyman in the theater. I have no idea why I agreed to go but I am certain I didn’t look into a mirror for a week fearing I’d be overcome with the desire to say candyman three times and then a man with a hook would appear and gut me. I still get the willies from that one, which is precisely why I don’t watch horror movies–I don’t need that kind of stuff cluttering up my brain and scaring me when I am taking the trash out at night. The final horror movie I endured had a barbed wire wielding serial killer who killed teenagers while they were off smooching in the woods. That one I may have seen in high school health class, a new program to try and keep a bunch of horny teenagers from sneaking off into the woods. It didn’t work for me.
There are a lot of ways those of us who tango with depression learn to cope. Just like with cancer treatments there is not a one size fits all remedy. If horror movies work for you then that is great. Me, I’ll stick to walks in the woods though after writing this I will be looking over my shoulder more often and singing to keep the monsters away. I may go stand in front of a mirror though, and say candy man three times. I just hope when I turn around there is a sweet old man with a basket of cookies and not a deranged psychopath who wants to run me through.