July 12, 2020
So many shows, so much anxiety: How my anxiety interrupts my binge watching
Every time I change the channel, there is a commercial about a new streaming service that is slightly different from its competitors. Though it’s good that there are a lot of options, especially for people who don’t have cable, there are so many shows! I legit have a list of shows that I need to finish just to keep track of my watch history on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Starz, etc. The list is good for keeping me organized, however, the list is also bad because I have really bad anxiety. Though my anxiety has improved from going to therapy in college and by taking CBD gummies, it has never gone away. One of the many features of my anxiety is the ability to overthink. So, as I started reflecting on all the things I feel I need to watch, my brain started spinning. There are old shows that have over 9 seasons, meaning it will take me years to finish. Then there are the new shows that I want to start watching, but because I didn’t finish those old shows, I feel like I can’t start something new. When I do start something new, I feel guilty and start to constantly question if I’ll just abruptly stop watching it like I did with the other shows. Plus, I always have to take into consideration when the show on my list will be removed from the service. If it’s going to be removed, then I feel the pressure to finish it right away, especially for older shows that can be hard to find for free. I don’t even want to receive recommendations anymore since that just gives me more shows to watch. There are times where I just let my friends spoil shows so that I don’t have to watch them later on. My watch lists are starting to feel like a pile of laundry I have to do. I could start throwing some of it in the washing machine, but I don’t know when it’ll be done, so I wonder if I should even bother.
Of course I can’t blame streaming services for my anxiety. Netflix isn’t going to know that I’m constantly debating in my head whether it’s better to force myself to binge watch a season just to say that I got it done, or if it’s better to just watch what I’m in the mood for; The obvious answer is to watch the show I’m in the mood for. My lingering anxiety is the one turning binge watching, an activity meant to be fun, into a responsibility. I’m sure there are millions of people who have a long watch list on each of their streaming services, that’s just a part of life. I’m always amazed by how much my anxiety can interfere with even the simplest of tasks. I think the best way I can approach this segment of my anxiety is by just going with the flow. If I want to start a new show, then I’ll grab some snacks, watch the show and maybe even try watching half of the season so I can get closer to the end. When I’m losing interest, then I will be honest with myself and stop watching it. I watch shows for the same reason I read books: for the journey. I want to feel like I’m walking alongside the characters as they grow, not trudging behind them, desperate to get to the end. Overcoming bits of my anxiety is a work in progress, but I know that as long as I’m training myself to go with the flow, I can feel happy when I see a new show pop up in my recommendations and fully enjoy the art of binge watching.
Edited by Kristina Drendel