I hear about a documentary and I think “damn, that sounds so interesting! I’d love to see that.” But, I almost never do. I barely get to the movies unless I’m escorting my kids to an animated film…then I prefer to go to a theater that has wine. It relaxes me when I see animals talking.
But, when I was invited to watch a documentary about teens and anxiety I did watch it. Not on a “screener” ( which I NEVER get unlike everyone else I know in Los Angeles), not streaming, but got in my car and drove. Drove to Westwood no less. I hate driving to Westwood. Not as much as I hate driving to Glendale, but much more than driving Downtown.
Why did I go? I now have a tween. I can see that middle school seems more challenging than elementary school. Not academically, but socially, the vibe, the lack of play. Schools seem to think that at 12 no one wants unstructured outdoor time. Join a sports team! (more anxiety.) My husband came with me. He has already had 3 other children go through teen years and he seemed to have less insight into the process than I have.
The movie is called “Angst“. It’s a lot of people talking about their anxiety, so I did feel a bit anxious watching it, but the good news ( and for short attention span Brogdon this is very good) it clocks in just under an hour. There are different teens describing what they went through, some of what made them better. Various therapist talking about treating teens with anxiety. Now, there were moments watching were I thought, “Gee shut up you nice looking, largely white kids who live in America and are scared to go to school. You are not in Cambodia scared your back yard has unexploded land mines.” But, then I am not worried about land mines either and my children’s worries are probably more like the kids in this film. Urban, metro, educated families. Makes sense they would get anxious.. they have a mom who stresses about driving to Westwood ( also cause it’s all crap chain restaurants, except Falafel King, thank God that is still there).
Two things really jumped out at me as take aways for parents: 1) if your kid has chronic tummy aches it is probably anxiety. Which doesn’t mean “tough it out”, but address the underlying issue. 2) one therapist said it would help young people to process feelings if their parents did openly as well. Example a parent might share with their youngin: “I had a disagreement with my friend at work. I didn’t know why she was mad at me and I ignored it, but it started to bother me, so I asked her to get a coffee with me and we worked it out.” Remember being a teen in your darkened bedroom with headphones on listening to Pete Townsend’s solo works and thinking ” I am the ONLY ONE in the world who feels like I do” ( on hi low carpeting as I recall).
When Mark told some friend’s of ours about it the next day he summed it up well, “It scared the shit out of me.”
I don’t want to be a spoiler, but near the end of the film a FAMOUS person surprises one of the kids and speaks frankly about their struggles with anxiety and depression (which kinda sorta go together a lot). It’s a real high point and I’m sure the producers high fived when they booked THIS PERSON. “woo- hoo, we have our ending”
So, check out the film. The film makers have a comprehensive website with resources. Also, if you want the film to be shown at your school or youth organization they will set that up for free. They will help facilitate talking points, etc.