'I went to see a kids' movie and it drastically improved my anxiety.'

Anxiety and I have a somewhat taut relationship.

I don't describe myself as an anxious person but there have been specific times where my anxiety has taken over as the primary feeling in my head. 

I'm sure everyone has had some experience with anxious thoughts every now and then. My main obstacle when I get anxious (besides being anxious) is trying to make it go away. There have been so many times when I've been anxious that I start thinking about how anxious I'm being and then I become more anxious about being anxious. 

Just writing this has already made my anxiety bubble up.

Last week I went to watch a *kids* movie with my sister (for reference, we're both adult women). It was Inside Out 2 starring Amy Poehler and Maya Hawke

Watch: Mamamia Wonder Women - Amy Poehler. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

The film follows 13-year-old Riley, and all the feelings that live inside her brain. Each feeling is a separate character called Joy, Anger and Sadness. Hawke plays a newly introduced character called Anxiety. 

When the promo for the film came out, I was super skeptical at the thought of being introduced to a character that embodies anxiety.

I never saw anxiety as a separate entity to all my other feelings. My sadness, anger, happiness and embarrassment all had some level of anxiety attached to them.


If I got a promotion at work, there would be a tiny voice in my head saying "what if I'm not good enough?" 

If I mispronounced a word in a presentation, there would be a tiny voice in my head saying "Everyone is laughing at you."

If I receive a birthday present, there would be a tiny voice in my head saying "You don't deserve it."

My anxiety, had always felt like a non-issue because for the most part, it would be tied up with a more dominant feeling.

However, it was still very much present and noticeable. 

Watching the film, the character Anxiety explains her role as the planner of Riley's future that is there to protect her from the potential "scary stuff she can't see." 

A big part of her job was to plan out every possible scenario that could potentially occur before Riley made a decision. Due to her character being anxiety, the majority of those scenarios were terrifying, which would lead Riley to question her core beliefs. 

Hawke played Anxiety brilliantly. Throughout the film, my sister and I kept looking at each other to confirm that watching Anxiety play out on the screen was making us both... anxious. Everything she did would result in us squirming in our seats and increase our heartbeats.

When the film ended, I couldn't stop thinking about how Anxiety described herself... Someone that plans for the future and protects her person from the things she can't see. 

It wasn't until a few days later, did I realise that I hadn't been as anxious as usual. I didn't get the 'Sunday Scaries', I didn't think "My friends hate me" when they cancelled plans and I didn't freak out over not being good enough when I was offered a project I've always wanted at work. 


Listen to Em Vernem talk about watching Inside out 2 on The Spill podcast. Post continues below.

Since watching Inside Out 2, I've been presently aware of my anxiety as it starts to creep in, cosplaying as my other feelings. I've noticed that by thinking about it positively as something that's just trying to protect me, I've been able to play more likeable potential future situations in my head that slowly puts the anxious thoughts to rest. 

Even though I was very skeptical about introducing such a harmful feeling in a kid's movie, I do remember how anxious I was during that time in my life... more so than I am as an adult. 

Forgetting homework, having to see your friend the next day in Math after you had a fight with them, being late, getting a question wrong in class... Honestly I could list more but, yep, you guessed it — I'm starting to get anxious. My schooling days were filled with constant and crippling anxiety and I wish I had this film at that time. 

Watching Anxiety play out on the screen has been an immense help in my own struggle with it and I hope it'll do the same for kids who are at that mentally pivotal time in their life where they start to develop their core beliefs. 

Inside Out 2 is in cinemas now.

If you want more culture opinions by Emily Vernem, you can follow her on Instagram @emilyvernem.

Feature image: ScreenCrush/Supplied.

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