Jim Murray

2 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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Apologies To Johnny Depp. It Wasn’t You, Man. It Was Me.


It was in the summer of 2007. I was sitting in a nearly empty movie theatre in Scarborough with my wife and my popcorn and my water bottle.

I was all set to be amused and entertained for a couple of hours, suspending my disbelief to the moon and watch the 3rd installment of the wildly successful Pirates of The Caribbean franchise.

But something happened that day.

As the movie rolled and some of the familiar sights and sounds began coursing through my consciousness, I started to develop a strange feeling. Kind of like the walls were closing in.

There was really no reason that popped into my brain for this to be happening. The theatre was nearly deserted because it was a weekday afternoon, which is when we always went to the movies.

The popcorn smelled great. I was with my honey on a date. Everything was pretty freakin’ normal. Everything but me.

As the movie progressed I became more obsessed with my feeling of restlessness and resentment of the darkness all around me. Finally I apologized to my wife and told her that I couldn’t stay in the theatre any longer.

After convincing her to stay, I went and camped out in the lobby with a paperback I always carried in my bag and read for the next two hours. In the light.

On the way home we talked about it a bit. But only a bit because I couldn’t explain it. We concluded that it was probably just a movie thing, because I had never really been crazy about sequels apart from Aliens (the sequel to Alien), which was pretty freakin’ scary good.

I thought about it for quite a while and finally decided to talk to my doctor, Earl The Pearl.

And that was the beginning of my journey to discovering what was wrong with me. Because honestly, up to that one specific point in time, I didn’t believe that this would, two neurologist visits later, be diagnosed as Tic Syndrome, which is a mercifully mild form of Tourette’s Syndrome.

I had had nervous tics all my life, and never really thought much about them when I was younger, because I was a kid and what kid really thinks all that deeply about anything.

I asked the neurologist why I suddenly started to feel so claustrophobic in a virtually empty theatre.

He told me that there really was little that was known about what causes Tic Syndrome, but in his opinion it was probably a misfiring of one of more synapses in the brain, and that, depending on the synapses, it could affect impulses like fear, anger, paranoia, focus and the inability to shut the brain down to make way for sleep.

That kinda scared the shit out of me, but at the same time, it really did explain a lot of my internal behaviour as an adult, and a lot of the dark writing I would do as well as a lot of the action oriented fiction I was attracted to as well as my obsessive work habits.

What followed was a couple years of experimentation with various forms of medication, most of which was pretty heavy and genuinely mood altering. This, of course, created another level of fear in me…fear for my sanity.

But oddly enough, the old chestnut, knowledge is power, came into play in my brain, and knowing the nature of my affliction, and having a fairly good brain, I was able to impose a certain amount of discipline on myself.

My writing helped immensely, because the focus required to do it allowed me to override a lot of the anxiety that this malady creates. Same was true for my bike riding and other forms of exercise.

Over the years, I have gotten much better at managing this condition, and now really only rely on very small doses of Lorazepam to help me calm down and get to sleep at night.

Getting to this point was a painful and scary process. But every day I am thankful that it was not something worse. My heart goes out to people who are in the process of dealing with, well, just about anything serious.

My Advice

If you feel anything is a little odd about your behaviour, talk to your doctor. Despite the fact that I was told that my condition does not worsen over time and is relatively easy to manage, I have no idea where my head would be right now, if I had not gone to see my doc, and if he had not taken my symptoms seriously.

As far as I know, we only have this one body and while it can take a lot of abuse if it needs to, it’s much better to take as good care of it as possible.

FYI. I have not set foot in a movie theatre since the Pirates Of The Caribbean day. I have stayed up on the movies but from the comfort of my La-z-boy rocker. And you know what, it has actually been more enjoyable than sitting in a dark room with a few hundred other humanoids with all their various noises and distractions.

Have a great weekend. jim out.

Jim Murray is an experienced advertising and marketing professional and amateur photographer. He has run his own strategic and creative consulting business since 1989 after a 20 year career in Toronto as a senior creative person in major Canadian & international advertising agencies. He is a communication strategist, writer, art director, broadcast producer, prolific marketing & op/ed blogger & beBee Brand Ambassador.

You can follow Jim

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On Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jimbobmur

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I feel extremely closed in when in a movie theater and I haven't been to a movie in years. Last night, my husband and I went to a concert to see Three Dog Night. Even though we were inside, the building was very open and airy and I didn't have that closed in feeling. Plus, the music had everyone up and dancing, so I didn't sense I was confined in a dark room. What was cool the audience was in our age bracket, as well as the band.

Jim Murray

2 years ago #6

Thanks G. I got most of that. It boils down to keeping yourself funny engaged. At least it does for me.

Jerry Fletcher

2 years ago #5

JIm, Glad you found a way to cope. Never visited a doctor until I was 65. His first rec was a colonoscopy. Had 16 inches of gut removed. diagnosed with diabetes while hospitalized. Last visit to my Doctor he asked if I wanted to go off that med. Diet and exercise can do wonders for you! And so it goes.

Ken Boddie

2 years ago #4

#5 Thanks for the good wishes, Jim, and glad your heart’s in the right place, Prav, both figuratively and anatomically. As for me, I’m undoubtedly built upside down. My feet smell and my nose runs. 🤣

Jim Murray

2 years ago #3

My condition is relatively benign compared to high blood pressure. Glad you got that under control.

Ken Boddie

2 years ago #2

I’m not a great fan of scary movies, Jim, but, like you, prefer to watch movies in the comfort of my own home, even Johnny Debb’s on occasions. Glad you were diagnosed and are being successfully treated, when needed. I can’t help but think of my own high blood pressure problem which was diagnosed on a random visit to the doc with flue and a thumping headache. It was so high it took almost 6 months of fiddling around with meds and tests to ‘normalise’ it and me, although there are plenty who would contest my normality. That was about eight years ago and so I echo your advice of “talk to your doctor”. Without that visit, by now I’d either be playing a harp on a bed of clouds, or chatting to all my old buddies while toasting marshmallows on the fires of hell. 🍡🔥

Jim Murray

2 years ago #1

The scariest movie i ever saw was Repulsion directly by Roman Polanski back in the early 70s.

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