Things That Make Me Anxious: Going to the Bathroom at the Movies

February 29, 2016

In general I hate having to get up and go to the bathroom because it feels like such a colossal waste of my time and I am inevitably going to miss out on something while I am away. But going to the bathroom at the movie theater is an experience all on its own.

First of all it seems that every time I have to go to the bathroom at the movies there are literally No. Other. People. My favorite theater is one of those enormous abominations that house like 5,000 recliners so when everyone else is seated and I am walking around by myself it feels like a ghost-town. The bathrooms are cavernous with at least twenty stalls on both sides, all tiled from floor to ceiling and they echo like crazy when they are empty (they also have auto-flushing toilets which you should remember for later).

Typically my anxiety is triggered by my vivid imagination which is constantly thinking of all the bad things that could possibly happen in any given scenario…with detail, and often graphic. I know this is irrational and yet I cannot control it. This is what happens when I have to go to the bathroom at the movies:

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Before I even get out of my seat I remember that I am afraid from the last one-hundred times this has happened. I walk nervously through the deserted lobby and take note of every detail, specifically any other people. I reach the bathroom door already shaky from psyching myself out and pause. I pause to take a deep breath and steady myself because I am consciously aware of what a crazy person I am being. As I push through the door I notice that I am alone. Why are there NEVER people in these bathrooms beside me? EVER!? There are 876 people in the building and I am alone in the bathroom!

I run—not joking—run into the nearest stall; always the one on the right hand side closest to the door. This is awkward and I look like an idiot. In my rush I am clumsy and slam the stall door shut causing it to bounce open and fumble with the lock making SO MUCH NOISE. Have you ever snuck up on a small animal and made a loud noise? That is what I look like. The small animal. At this point I feel panicked even though I know I am okay. My heart races, my hands shake, and I have to take another deep breath before I can safely pee on target.

I know that my fear is irrational but my brain and my body are not communicating properly so I begin to spiral. I know exactly what I am afraid of and which thoughts I should definitely NOT think about. This makes me think about those thoughts because it is impossible to NOT think about them once I am thinking about them (I am my own worst enemy).

I sit down and try to do my biz fast while I imagine that there is a “bad guy” (who has obviously been waiting in the next stall for someone just like me) reaching under the divider between our toilets. THIS IS A TERRIFYING IMAGE! It is hard to pee when I am staring at that space between the stalls actively imagining someone grabbing at me! For however long it takes me to pee I also imagine this ill-intentioned man crawling into my stall and begin to ponder how I might defend myself in my compromised state. Could I get the stall door unlocked in an attack? Did I put my kitty-shank in my purse? Could I even get to it? Or use it? What about my cell phone—but there’s no way I could unlock it and call John that fast…

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This is a piece of plastic in the shape of a cat that you can stab people with. I was not allowed to go into the social security office to update my name change because I had this on my keys…

I alternately imagine that this man is just waiting outside my stall (why bother crawling around when he knows I have to come out sometime) and I wonder, Could I get to the bathroom door and PULL it open before he overtakes me? For the record, I have some major beef with whoever decided that bathroom doors should PULL open from the inside. In an attack those doors need to PUSH open so that I can throw myself against them and tumble into the lobby with my attacker!

As I try to finish I can’t recall why I thought it was a good idea to come in here in the first place, and I dually hate myself for 1) having to pee, and 2) not being able to pee like a normal person. This is about when I stand up and the auto-flusher gives me a fucking heart attack! This whole entire time I have been teetering on the edge of losing my shit and then that fucking toilet flushes itself like a fucking hurricane in an empty, tiled bathroom!!! Game over. My nerves are fried, I am pretty sure I cannot defend myself, get away, or scream loud enough to be heard over the movies. I put my coat/purse on and run-like-hell-to-the-door-without-looking-back-and-yank-it-open-almost-pulling-my-arm-out-of-its-socket.

As soon as I see the lobby I am embarrassed because I am actually fine. At least no one was there to see me. I feel ashamed for being too chicken shit to wash my hands, you dirty disgusting human! I run-walk back to my seat in the dark bedside John where he smiles sweetly and grabs my filthy pee-hand, completely unaware of just how neurotic his wife truly is.

By Courtney

Author of PrettyRX, a lifestyle blog.

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