Anxiety, Cinema Trips And Eating Out


B and I generally like going to the cinema, its something we used to do more a few years ago. Having a baby makes it more difficult anyway, but we’ve got a few people who would watch X for us when we went. Whether we can go usually depends a bit on B’s state of mind, sometimes she really can’t focus for too long and the thought of sitting through a whole film is just too much. Her mind can wander and her thoughts can go to bad places and then those bad thoughts are going through her mind for the whole film. I tend to worry about this happening more since her incident as some of her bad thoughts can then affect and upset her for weeks afterwards. She needs an “off” switch, which I used to think I needed when I would worry about things, but B can take it to a whole new level!

B Switch

One of our first ever trips out was to go and see Transformers, she was in a fairly good place back then, so was able to enjoy the film even with her general anxiety about being out and about. We’ve also seen most of the Avengers films together, the tail end of the Harry Potter films and various others over the years. There has been a period in the last few years where she really hasn’t been able to enjoy films because of her brain being not in the right place, but we’re hoping we can get some more good visits in soon. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “Brains are shit.”.

A few years ago, when we we’re able to go more often regularly, things had to be planned though, because of B’s anxiety I have to think of certain unexpected things beforehand. For example, she’d rather I didn’t go off and leave her alone, which means if I need to pee, I have to ensure it’s also when she needs to go too. Scheduling pee breaks isn’t the sort of thing you’ll end up doing. The same tends to apply when we go out for something to eat, B wouldn’t want to be alone at the table if a member of waiting staff came over, or if the food arrived etc.

I think going out to eat is even more stressful for B. She worries that there’ll be nothing she likes, and suggestions of “We can ask for it without that” just worry her that we’ll then stand out or that they won’t be willing/able to do so. She’s not keen on people watching her eat, and given her usual anxiety we couldn’t go somewhere with the modern “Shared large table” type layout for risk of having to share a table. She also feels out of place if the place is “Posh”, the definition of which is impossible to pin down, but generally means they’ve got “Jus” on things instead of “Sauce” and feature other unnecessary foreign words used just to make the food sound “interesting”! The final hurdle when going out to eat is actually one I share, we’re actually both quite fussy eaters. I won’t generally eat things with mushrooms and only recently started eating things with onions, B tends to dislike lots of vegetables generally and neither of us will eat anything that mentions alcohol in the ingredients, even if in theory it would have burned off. We went to one place with some other family a while ago which we assumed would be fine as it was large chain of american style place. Of the 8 or so sauces they offered, all but one was made with alcohol, which even I thought was bloody ridiculous! If you combine this with B not wanting us to make a fuss and ask if things can be changed, it it does limit out options somewhat. All these worries mean that we often have trouble leaving the house in the first place, meaning we’re often running really late, which then adds to the worry as we’ll be making a scene when we arrive late, and “Should we just not go now”, “People wont miss us anyway”, “They don’t really mind if we go”. The ideal thing, is if we can tuck ourselves quietly away in a corner, and she can know there is something she can eat before we arrive, she’s usually OK. 

Anyway, back to the cinema, she’d not want to leave the film part way through, and wouldn’t want me to do the same, this would risk annoying other people who were trying to watch. Plus, you can guarantee that the best 2 minutes of the three hour film would happen to come on at that exact moment! We’ve been to our local cinema a few times now, so the anxiety is lessened for her as she knows where things are, and what is likely to happen.

I’ll check my phone is switched off, then I’ll check it again, then she’ll check my phone is off, sometimes twice. To be honest I’d be mortified if it did ring during the film, so her checking is great from my point of view as I then can’t forget. We have switched it off when still getting popcorn before thinking we were being clover, then realised our tickets were actually on the phone, so it had to go back on again so we could actually get into the screen!

Picking a seat is kind of like a mix between battleships, chess and othello with certain locations and combinations being good and some being bad. She would rather not sit next to anyone other than me, and she’s fairly “vertically challenged” so we try not to sit in the row behind, or even two rows behind, anyone that would be in her way. She’d rather avoid having to go past people, but as it’s only once will do so. If the screen is very crowded it gets hard to figure out where to sit where I think she’ll be comfortable. Aisle near the middle is best in case we do need to leave she wouldn’t disturb anyone else. It should be noted that sometimes B is better than others, but I tend to worry about her being comfortable all time and as I don’t know what’s going on in her head, I just make sure everything as how it should be all the time.


She enjoys popcorn and we will just get a big bag of that, she worries about being a rustler but I tend to just grab a few handfuls at the start and put them in with my sweets. She can then simply reach into the big bag then without having to worry about noise. 

Afterwards we usually make a fairly quick exit, and locally we park in the multistory which is near the cinema. It is slightly more expensive, but there is not worry for B about running out of time as it’s a pay as you exit type. There is also no worry about having to walk back through town if she is feeling funny when she comes out.

So, generally, going out and about for simple things like cinema trips for something to eat becomes a bit of military planning exercise. However, when I’ve managed to take B out for something good to eat, and she’s enjoyed it, and she’s full and she says she’d like to “try something else on the menu when we go back”, It’s all worth it!


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