Nina - A Short Film on Anxiety
Why is it that artists so often depict two autonomous versions of the self? The self leaning on the sink and the self reflected in the mirror. The self pacing the kitchen in a frenzy and the self calmly seated at the table. The self barricaded inside the walk-in freezer at work for just a moment of solitude and the self leaning nonchalantly against the frozen french fries, without a care in the world. In endeavoring to show others that they are not alone with their thoughts, Nina has become a reminder for me as well — a reminder to take the time to sit with my thoughts and emotions, to speak to myself in a certain way.
It’s such a common human experience, something that connects more of us than we realize — for different reasons, to different degrees; some daily, others infrequently — but we all have conversations with ourselves.
I am eternally optimistic about other people. I trust and trust and trust again for the good in someone. Most of us do. And yet for many years, the world in which I saw myself became very small. I never allowed myself the second and third chances I afforded to others. I was deeply self-critical. I felt that there was little I could do well, little I had to offer — I told myself it was easy for others to find reasons not to like me. So over the years I lived as versions of the impressive and endlessly equable person I thought I should be.. I watched myself dull the spark I felt inside. Terrified to exist, terrified to voice my thoughts, to take issue with anything, to be honest about how I felt. What if someone realized I wasn’t perfect in every way? What if they realized I had needs?
There were endless discussions in my head about these things. Back and forth. Up and down. Side to side. The same repetitive thoughts, often judgmental and sad, cycling in the back of my mind as I lived, smiled, studied, played. It was painful to see my wonderful life and feel the way I did about myself. I felt guilty. Why couldn’t I just make myself better?
Turns out there was a name for all of these feelings, that they could be chronic. There were others who experienced the same! I started therapy at 29, and after a year of following a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy plan, I started to see a major change in the way I spoke to myself. I was using the tools I learned in therapy to deal with anxiety and spirals in the moments that they were happening. I was beginning to have a way to navigate through this anxiety and depression. A big part of healing is learning to shine a light on those self critical years, remembering wonderful memories with my loved ones, even amidst the dark moments that seemed to overwhelm me at the time. Appreciating the things I have been able to do and achieve.
Now I know I am not alone and have never been alone. This feeling is true for so many, which is a huge reason why we made Nina. That can be scary too -- sharing an authentic part of yourself. Sharing your truth, and inevitably someone else’s truth. Nina offers one perspective of a person working through some anxious thoughts, ultimately having the tools in the proverbial tool box to move forward in a healthy and empowering way.
ADAA is such an incredible resource for those seeking answers. The Nina team is happy to share our work on this platform because ADAA is dedicated to creating a place where options for treatment, support, and a wealth of content can be found. There have been many times that an artwork has felt like a hand was reaching out saying, “Let’s stay here together for a moment. I see you. You are not alone. We are connected.”