Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Media and R.A.D. The Ugly Truth (I urge RAD parents to read this)

Dear All,

I have always been a movie fan. I love all kinds of movies, love, drama, action, you name it. As a child, I learned that movies made better friends then the people that spit on me at school. I especially loved excessively violent movies and ones that would depress me.

I would go out of my way to watch particular scenes over and over and over again. Over time, each time I would watch, another tear would drop, I would load another round (Bullet) into a rifle I owned and I would just bawl. I will write about one particular movie that still resonates with me today.

When I was roughly 22-23 years old, I had a particularly hard time watching a crash scene from the movie "Armageddon". Let's set the scene up.

Harry Stamper and his team are on two shuttles that are trying to land on an earth crushing meteor hurtling towards earth at gawd awful speeds. The ejected rocks from the meteor present a HUGE problem for the both the landing craft.

"Were gonna hit!!!" The pilot of the shuttle "Independence" screams. The next scene flashes to rocks cracking and splitting the windscreen of the shuttle. One giant, final rock smashes the entire windscreen in and the shuttle goes wildly out of control.

The pilot yells to entire team "The ship is out of control and we are going down". The entire ship breaks up as it spins out of control. People in the other shuttle can see destruction and chaos. A body from the doomed ship actually hits the other ships before the "Independence" crashes into the main body of the meteor.

Inside the doomed ship, people are killed instantly, destruction and chaos rain. Pipes, flames and bodies are thrown everywhere. The chaos inside the ship is extremely violent in nature.

Of course, being a media love, the music is very, very powerful and deep. (I am a HUGE music fan).

Why is all of this important to me? (And maybe another suffering from R.A.D.) Why did it send me into depression that was so terrible I felt like ending my own life? It took me 10 years to figure it out. In the end, it's very, very simple. So simple, it's scary.

Common association.

It took me realizing that my brain was associating what I was seeing with my own actions and life through the scene I was watching. I quite literally was "The Independence". I was spinning out of control, taking other's down with me and headed for total destruction. Others were watching me fall apart (Family and people that knew me) and there was nothing they could do. (Hence, the other ship watching the "Independence" crashing.

My previous animal killing, drug usage, destructive past and personal destruction was simply being reflected by what I saw and I never associated the crashing ship to my own life.

I remember the woman I was seeing at the time was one the phone with me, while I sobbed and I asked her "What's wrong with me?" as I was watching this scene. "I don't know, Mike". I hung up the phone of course and just watched this scene over and over and over until I either drank myself to sleep, attempted suicide or just lied in bed for a few days, doing nothing and just let myself slip further out of control.

It literally took the intervention of a hospital to stop the depression from getting any worse. I couldn't watch Armageddon ever again until today to blog about this with RAD parents and RAD sufferer's.

Media is a VERY POWERFUL tool. However, in the hands of someone with R.A.D. that is unconsciously associating what they are seeing and becoming "Cathartic" is EXTREMELY dangerous.

I write this today so that RAD parents and RAD sufferer's understand that media while intended to please can cause terrible pain and suffering if it's not used correctly and understood by the viewer.

For those that of you that would like to view the scene in it's entirety, here you go:


Lisa said...

TV is a huge trigger for J. Even supposedly kids movies can cause a rage. The smallest peril is so hard for her to watch. Honestly we just don't watch TV because of it. I appreciate the reminder of the reason why it's so troublesome for her. It seems almost everything has peril in it and through her eyes it has a different meaning.

marythemom said...

My daughter (RAD) was allowed to watch horror movies (like The Scream and Jeepers Creepers) as a preschooler. In foster care (age 9-11) her favorite TV show was CSI. She loves violent shows, the more blood and gore the better - I know this is typical for kids with RAD and PTSD.

Media of all kinds has always effected my moods (depression and attachment issues) so I choose to watch nothing but movies, and read nothing but books, that have happy endings. I don't like horror, drama, or tragedies.

With all my kids, both adopted and bio -ages 10-15, I don't allow them to watch PG-13 movies, and seriously limit what they can watch on TV (not even certain cartoon channels and shows), and what they play (no E-10+ computer games, no Bionicles or Pokemon).

All my kids think I'm the meanest mom ever and swear they can handle it. Sometimes the reactions are immediate (agitated, talking loudly, aggression, leaving the room), but other times it's delayed or less obvious (especially if they know it means I'll remove approval to watch something).

So my question is, am I the meanest mom ever? Would it have been helpful to you as a teen to have your media "censored?" I realize this doesn't change their past at all, and they ARE dealing with the issues media could be bringing up both in therapy and really all the time, but I don't think they need the exposure to upsetting media all the time.

My older son appears to be dealing with his life well right now, and could potentially be able to handle it (he sneaks it anyway), but our daughter is emotionally fragile - truthfully I expect her to be in residential treatment within the next couple of weeks.

So what do you think? My adopted children were abused, my bio kids have had to deal with PTSD caused by living with angry, "acting out" teens. Should I lighten up or get stricter? I know lots of moms who don't let their kids watch TV at all.

Mary in TX

Mom to biokids Ponito(10) and his sister Bob(12)
Sibling pair adoptive placement from NE 11/06
Finally finalized on Kitty(14) on 3/08 - 2 weeks before her 13th birthday!
Finalized on her brother Bear 7/08. He turned 15 the next day.

" Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain."

ManyBlessings said...

This is not a note specifically about your post today, just a general thank-you for allowing your life to be laid out so transparently here.

It is helping.

And we are learning.

One Future At A Time said...

Dear Many Blessings,

Thank you for reading the blog. I deserve no thank you's. I appreciate your comments.


Sara said...

I think you mean "cathartic" not "cathargic." Just an FYI

One Future At A Time said...

DOH! That is correct Sara, my apologies! :)