Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota
About twenty years ago I told my supervisor, also a psychologist, about the latest movie husband and I watched. We liked dramatic, offbeat films at the time. I remember feeling somewhat appalled and a little disdainful when my supervisor told me he could no longer watch heavily dramatic and/or suspenseful films any longer. He attributed it to his clinical work and the trauma and heartbreak he dealt with all day. I remember thinking that nothing like that would ever happen to me.
Well, it has happened. For the past couple of years I have found that I can’t tolerate the least bit of suspense or uncertainty or drama in films. We usually watch films at home (not having the greatest of movie theatres in town), and once things start getting worrisome or too suspenseful I excuse myself and leave the room until I deem it safe to go back. Then husband has to tell me what happened while I was gone.
I can only describe the sensation as major knots in my stomach accompanied by an overwhelming urge to flee. Guardians of the Galaxy just about did me in, since my clever but annoying son stopped the movie every time I left the room, and wouldn’t start it up again until I came back.. We had to take first two seasons of the recent BBC production of The Three Musketeers back to the library half watched. I particularly dislike plots involving people wrongly accused of crimes, and such plots are far too plentiful in this version of the Musketeers. I take some comfort that my supervisor also suffered with this, and it isn’t just my own neuroses to blame.
One of my friends is a former State inspector of butcher shops, meat markets, and meat-packing plants. Her experiences in this job left her quite sensitive to issues surrounding the handling of raw and processed meat. If she is coming over for supper, I know that I have only a few locations where I can buy the meat for our meal. Her husband says he always knows when they are having chicken for dinner, as he can smell the bleach she douses all the kitchen surfaces with during meal preparation even before he gets in the house. She wasn’t always like this before she had her inspector job.
I wonder if hotel housekeepers get to the point that they can only sleep at home, knowing what they know about hotel rooms. Do fire fighters lie awake wondering if the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are really working? Do classical musicians find that they can only listen to certain works performed by certain ensembles with certain conductors at just the right tempi?
Occupational hazards come in many forms. I hope that after I retire I can return to watching new and suspenseful films. Until then, I am stuck with comforting reruns.
What are your occupational hazards?