The Haunting of Hill House was scary good, but the anxiety attack I had after was anything but. (Warning: Spoilers/possible triggers ahead.)
As COVID continues, we’re all jumping on to our favorite past times. Maybe you’re knitting or just endlessly gaming — but if you’re anything like me, you’ve been glued to your comfy spot of choice, binge watching shows on Netflix.
Between the warm blankets and constant supply of snacks, I know first hand how easy it can be to get lost in a series and lose touch with reality; so it’s no surprise during the Halloween season, I too was obsessed with the Netflix original The Haunting of Hill House!
The show was fantastic and so well thought out!
Horror isn’t typically a genre I gravitate to, but this had such a great blend of plot, thrills, and fear factor that I actually didn’t mind it? (Not to mention how dreamy Theodora is *insert heart eyes*).
Being able to Netflix Party (now Teleparty) and watch this show at the end of a hard day with my favorite cousin had easily become the best part of my week.
I was so stressed about school, and not being able to hang out with them was seriously taking its toll on my mental health. We had both made it a silent priority of ours. Every night at around nine, we’d send the link for the party in a google doc entitled: “Netflix Party For Bad Bitches Only: Spoopy Szn Edition”, and maybe grab a little snack before we started.
You’re probably thinking, “Draco, I get it, you don’t have to paint a picture!” Here’s the thing though, I kind of need to. Especially since this was the problem.
I loved our movie nights, however, I have an extremely bad habit of putting the needs of others above my own, even if they never tell me to.
I knew I wasn’t the only person stressed out by the new definition of “college life”; my cousin was struggling too!
We were probably towards the middle of the series when it happened.
Shirley had just fixed Nelly and the whole family rolled into the funeral home. She [Nelly] laid in her casket – which was open by the way – while her family fought and argued with each other. I thought that scene would only stay for a moment, but the longer it lasted the more I could feel something in my gut shift.
Here’s something small that I think is worth mentioning. I’m normally someone quite fascinated with the concept of Death. I write much of craft about it, and many poems/short stories that dive into the concept of death, truly are joys of mine. I wrongly assumed I’d have no problem getting through the scene, but the way the show portrayed it, and the ideology the writers attached to the series, was something I found out was extremely triggering for me.
If I claimed to have figured this trigger out “too late”, I wouldn’t be lying. But I also wouldn’t be telling the truth either.
I probably got half way through the episode before I got that small twist in my gut. I was getting uncomfortable and I could feel my headspace start shifting. It wasn’t that sharp twist in my gut I had grown used to with my anxiety attacks, so like an idiot, I ignored it.
MY BODY WAS SENDING ME A WARNING AND I BASICALLY SENT IT TO VOICEMAIL.
Like I said, the plot was good asf! Before I noticed what I was doing, I’d made every excuse possible to find out what happened next.
I told myself I’d be alright.
The feeling was small so I could just decompress after the episode.
It was almost over.
This is your only chance to hang out with your cousin, do you seriously want to make them end the episode on a cliffhanger; wasn’t this excuse magical?
I told you, I have a bad habit of not respecting my needs.
None of these excuses were good enough, especially not the last one! I knew damn well if I had told them I wasn’t in a good headspace and needed to leave, they would comply without a single hesitation! They would thank me for telling them and tell me to call them tomorrow to see how I was feeling.
I wish I had listened to my gut.
As soon as the episode finished and my cousin messaged me saying,“Good night, I love you.” I felt that control I had, slip. It was like those words had loosened my grip for a moment and the dam that held back my anxiety just crumbled.
I went from being calm and chill, to having a full blown anxiety attack, in the span of one episode.
My hands were shaking, and I was letting out more air then I was taking in.
When they asked if I was still there, I could only manage to type out a mostly misspelled “Sorry” and “panicking” before I slammed my laptop shut.
I needed my support system, but I was struggling too much to fight my tendency to fight alone. My heart was racing, and when my mind wouldn’t stop spinning in overdrive, I knew I had to call someone.
I was just pressing buttons, but I will be forever grateful to my best friend for picking up when they did. They texted my cousin and made sure they knew I was okay (I felt horrible for having freaked them out, especially because I could feel my phone buzzing with texts I couldn’t check. I hadn’t known what I expected from telling my cousin, especially since I knew it was too late for them to call me, but like I said. I was panicking.) It took so many different breathing and mindfulness techniques, as well as an emergency hug from my younger sibling, before I was finally calm enough to process what had happened.
I’m so thankful I have the support system I do, and after I explained what I was feeling to my cousin they demanded I take time off and do some hard core self-care until I felt better. No questions asked.
After time had passed and we skipped over the scenes that had triggered me (My cousin made me swear up and down to tell them if I felt that warning again), we finished The Haunting of Hill House.
It was a fantastic series! But nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important than respecting my triggers.
Consider this a lesson learned the hard way. Take it from someone who gets it; if you think you might get set off, don't risk. Play it safe, and do what's best for you.
Stay strong, you are never fighting alone,
**Remember: If you believe you or your friend are in serious trouble that may lead to thoughts or acts of suicide or self harm, seek professional assistance or call one of the following hotlines for help:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Trevor Lifeline (for the LGBTQ+ community): 1-866-488-7386
For dire and immediate help, call 9-1-1