Movie Problems…

Growing up within the millennial generation, there were certain fads and films that everyone was involved in during my childhood. From the bell-bottom jeans and chokers of the late 90’s, to the crimped hair and Lizzie McGuire films of the early 2000’s, my generation has seen a series of styles fade in and out of mainstream fashion. Yes, even the tiny South-Western Ontario town in which I grew up in, the fads were impossible to escape.

My childhood was spent in a town that still can proudly claim to be a ‘blink-and-you-miss’ it place. When people ask me where I grew up, I always give the municipality’s name instead of the specific town from that conglomeration of residences because sometimes people recognize the general area (although, even that’s rare for Chatham Kent).

Despite the small-town theme of my childhood, mainstream pop-culture (like ‘life’ in Jurassic Park) always found a way to mold the brains of my peers and I.  Some of my fondest memories include making my childhood friend Noah be ‘Short Round’ from the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (while I, of course, pretended to be the head-lining character).
Sadly, Harrison Ford is not the focus of this blog post.

Do you remember that Disney film Spirit
I do.
My mother knew the significance that horses seemed to play on my generation from the moment that film was released. My peers loved horses. They loved them so much that, despite my otherwise indifference to the beasts,  a ripple effect made its way through the town. The children loved horses, which meant that all houses within in the horse ‘splash-zone’ had to love horses.

My Mum bought us the VHS.
From the get-go of owning that film, there were a few things I came to realize…

One– movies where action is narrated only by horse-thoughts held way less appeal to me than lions being able to talk to each other (see- The Lion King).
Two– VHS copies can have flaws on them that can change the way you see a movie forever.

Our tape of Spirit had a flaw that messed up the visuals to an entire scene; a scene that was very important to the movie’s plot.

There is a sequence in the film where the protagonist horse is separated from his horse-love by falling into a river. Note, I have never actually seen a copy of the film where there isn’t a flaw so I can only assume that’s what happens before the static sets in.

When I was young, I assumed all copies were like this- that no one had the ability to see the scene because that’s how the creators intended it to be. Now? I know there are copies out there where the horses fall into water without sudden visual interruptions; I refuse to watch them.

That (most-likely) pre-broken VHS was a part of my childhood and I am not about to let a non-broken version of the film change that. My lot in life is to live out my days, never really knowing what happened in that scene. I am okay with this- I want this.
This is how you keep the world MAGICAL.

-Jessica Dixon

Stay Cool, Pony Boy.

Mental illness has always played a part within my life. Whereas most people remember spending their childhood days running around like mad/semi-drunken fools, kicking their friends into the dirt as they ate as much junk-food their grubby baby hands could carry, I remember mine as being far more stressful. Admittedly, I probably ate enough raw sugar to drown a small herd of cows, and kicked my friends so many times that it is a wonder they weren’t permanently crippled, yet it is the style with which I accomplished said tasks that was strange. My behaviour could be described with one word: nervous.

My mother’s stories surrounding the attitudes and behaviours of my siblings and I usually follow a specific pattern; my brother was a kid who deserved more credit than he got, my sister was “tough, big-hearted, and stubborn”, and I, the youngest of the three, was “easy to raise”. The reason for this comment makes that less of a compliment, and more of a case-study.

I was a child who was so terrified of breaking the rules that if I were to break any house rule, I would find a punishment for myself. For example: if I were to swear, I would wash my own mouth out with soap. Why? Because my mother had once told me that this was what happened to her as a child. I would take the punishments she described as having been inflicted upon her, and assume that it had bridged the generational divide like a regal title.

Not only had I a constant fear of parental law, but I was horrifically indecisive. When my Father would ask me to choose (out of 2 places) where I wanted to get coffee, I would take quite some time to decide. Wrapped in abysmal indecision, sweat shining upon my pre-pubescent brow, I would finally plead for him to choose instead. When I talk about these trips now, he laughs. Apparently he had once asked me why I had such a hard time making a choice and I replied, “if we [went] to Macs, the doughnuts at Tim Hortons [would] know and get mad.”

This feeling of dread has remained constant throughout my life in one form or another. I remember staying up most of the night before my first day of grade 9 worrying about what I wanted to major in for University, and thinking that if I didn’t figure it out that night I would fail in life. I was in a constant state of anxiety throughout high school, and oftentimes found my mind obsessing over the ‘what ifs’ of my day-to-day. It was only when I got to University that I realized perhaps this had gone a bit too far.

In 2013, about the time I was diagnosed with ‘General Anxiety Disorder’, an estimated 3 million Canadians (11.6%) aged 18 years or older reported having a mood and/or anxiety disorder (Government of Canada). Although I had always known that having a mental breakdown over what to choose on a menu, or crying for seemingly ‘no reason’ was not normal, it had taken me until I was almost 20 years old to get help.

Mental illness is invisible, and because of this it is highly stigmatized. When someone has a broken limb they are given treatment and compassion. When someone has a ‘broken’ mind they are given the cold shoulder, and told to “calm down”. I will not speak for everyone, but when I am told to “just relax” in the midst of a panic attack, an inner beast awakens (an inner beast that is frequently just two steps away from clawing out the eyes of the well-intentioned speaker). Sadly, people have been left in the dark  as to how they can help those experiencing mental illness. It is not necessarily the public’s fault either; our entire culture is based on the “Conceal, Don’t Feel” format of interactions. If someone is able to discover your inner ice-queen, you are seen as already having lost. That is why it is so important to talk about mental illness; if we talk about it, then the mystery is gone.

I encourage you, dear reader, to go from this humble blog post and talk about that which should not be the ‘Dark Lord’ of our society (Voldemort, not Trump). If you are suffering from a mental illness, know that you are not alone. More and more people are coming out of the fold to speak about their own experiences with mental illness, and we are slowly eliminating the stigma associated with getting help. You do not have to to be alone in this. The more we talk about mental illness, the closer we are to sending the Mystery Gang back to unmasking ghosts instead of complacently patting Shaggy on the shoulder and telling him that he should “just stop worrying”.

For information on how to help someone you know who is suffering from mental illness, go here. If you are suffering from a mental illness yourself and do not know where to turn, call 1-866-531-2600 (if you are in Ontario), or find a number that can help you here.

-J. Dixon-