Warning: Spoilers! I’ve tried to avoid spoilers in the below post, but it is about shows and movies on Netflix. Really, if anything, it would maybe just “spoil” a couple jokes and talk about vague themes, but no real plot points. But if you are extremely spoiler-averse like I am (I sometimes get mad about knowing too much about even the premise of a movie), and you aren’t caught up on Orange is the New Black and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and haven’t seen The Babadook, proceed with caution.
I don’t watch TV or movies for the life lessons or deeper meanings. Sometimes I use it for socializing with family or friends, like watching the Super Bowl or mocking a really bad movie awards ceremony telecast. Sometimes I watch because it’s interesting or I can’t wait to see what happens next, like with True Detective or American Ninja Warrior. And sometimes I use it for just zoning out, escaping from IBD pain, nausea, diarrhea or anxiety.
But in all this recreational watching, I accidentally received a few good tips from my favorite Netflix shows and movies on coping mechanisms for dealing with being sick. Below are 5 of my favorites.
One: Pretending you don’t have IBD or ignoring your feelings about it is not going to end well for you. As is shown in The Babadook, you can’t get rid of bad things by just acting as if they don’t exist.
So don’t play drinking games that involve shots of tequila or stay up till 5 am or enter pie-eating contests, just to prove to the universe that IBD hasn’t changed your life. And make sure you talk to someone – a friend, partner, therapist, whoever – about the stress that IBD causes in your life.
Putting on a brave face about your anxiety and throwing back a car bomb is not the way to feeling normal; it’s the way to feeling even sicker, plus now you're mad at yourself. But if this happens, don't beat yourself up about it either; like the Babadook, it's natural to want to stuff your Crohn's into a closet and lock the door.
Two: That being said, a little calculated indulgence can actually be beneficial, especially if it connects you with other people, is fun, or just makes you feel like a normal person for a second.
As Red said in Orange is the New Black, you have to do what you have to do to get through certain difficult situations (like incarceration, or chronic illness). I’m not saying go to extremes like Piper Chapman, but for some people, one drink with friends might not do any harm. Same with a small paleo vegan brownie or a couple vegan banana pancakes (roughly the IBD equivalent of Piper's post-funeral-wedding cheeseburger and bottle of wine).
Don’t deny yourself so many things that you suddenly get fed up one day and eat an entire pan of brownies in a day. Don't be me.
Three: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s time in the bunker actually yielded concrete tips for those coping with unpleasant situations (which has been covered in greater depth elsewhere). Have I actually used these yet to cope? No. But just thinking about them during unpleasant situations has made me laugh, which has the same effect.
In a bunker flashback, Kimmy recounts her “trick” to getting through any unpleasant situation (for IBDers, scenarios may include giving yourself prescription drug injections): Just count to 10. You can put up with anything if it's just for 10 seconds. And then when those 10 seconds are up and things are still sucky, you just start over at 1 again!
This is supposed to sound sweetly, ridiculously optimistic, and it does, but it also might be ridiculous enough to actually work.
"I'm not really here!"
Four: Another tip from Kimmy Schmidt: Whenever you’re stuck in a place you don’t want to be (whether it be an apocalypse bunker, staff meeting, colonoscopy, or emergency room), just jump up and down with your hands in the air and chant “I’m not really here!” Repeat.
Finally, five is really just the revelation to binge-watch Netflix when I don’t feel good or am anxious – during colonoscopy prep, in the doctor’s office waiting room, on the couch after a long day at work/bathroom.
When you’re temporarily escaping part of your reality, it’s a lot more effective when your programming isn’t interrupted by commercials, or a live TV channel’s sudden switch to a show you don’t like.
Once you’ve tried to address whatever issue you’re having (including contacting a healthcare provider if you need to), sometimes you just need to ride out your IBD symptoms till they pass. And this can go by much more quickly and pleasantly if you aren’t just sitting there fretting about them.
Bonus clip for coping emergencies: Unbreakable's theme song is great, but my favorite is Peeno Noir.
Have any other coping methods worked for you? Were you actually able to get any good tips from The Killing or Bates Motel? Is Amazon Prime Video your prime source for life lessons? Are you "I'm not really here"-ing right now? Please comment below.