Funny Matters

How Jennifer Aniston can help monitor your mental health

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Funny Matters - Mental Health - Angela Wilson

I can gauge my emotional health by the things I want to watch on TV.

You see, I’ve always been a bit of a telly and film snob. I would gladly take QI over Celebrity Juice; Little Miss Sunshine over Sleepless in Seattle; Dangermouse over Thundercats any day.

I blame my mum. She raised me to believe that the BBC was better than ITV. I still haven’t worked out why. Maybe she just fancied Bergerac.

Sometimes though when life feels a bit overwhelming all I can cope with is Come Dine With Me on constant loop. Or Grand Designs. As pretentious as he can be, there’s something oddly re-assuring about having Kevin McLoud in a hard helmet in my living room.

But I know I’m really depressed when I start searching Netflix for Jennifer Aniston movies.

After my mum got diagnosed with terminal cancer and for the 18 months up until she died, I only wanted to watch films with Jennifer Aniston: The Switch (awful); Wanderlust (awful); Marley & Me (awful, with a cute dog); Along Came Polly (beyond awful).

I couldn’t stop myself. I needed them. Undemanding, hollow fluff. It was my heroin. My escapism from reality: mum’s out-of-the-blue diagnosis, appointments with consultants who seemed to almost enjoy reminding us that it was terminal, seeing the fear day by day etch another line into my mum’s lovely face, then watching her decline and holding her hand as she died.

At the end of every day I’d go home and let Jennifer Aniston make me feel better. For 98 minutes, at least. Then I’d spend the next 98 minutes hating myself for not watching a Michael Haneke film.

I think the NHS should update their emotional health tests. Introduce a new sliding scale system:

Patient craves films containing:

  1. Michael Fassbender – so upbeat they probably need their meds reduced (come on, you’ve got to be pretty sorted to choose to see 12 Years a Slave … and don’t get me started on Shame)
  2. Tilda Swinton/Meryl Streep – nothing to worry about here, stop wasting our time
  3. Ben Stiller – could be a bit low, re-assess in 6 weeks
  4. Jennifer Aniston – shit, things are bad, get help immediately!

Either that, or Jennifer Aniston should be given an award for services to the bereaved.

Right after mum died, my brother, stepdad and I left the hospice, went home and watched Dad’s Army. It sounds like a strange thing to do right after you lose someone you love dearly, but it felt quite comforting. Maybe it was the nostalgia of old times, the normality of a typical evening’s old-school TV.

Mum would have approved though. It was BBC after all.

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4 Comments on “How Jennifer Aniston can help monitor your mental health

  1. Jenni
    April 25, 2014

    Excellent idea for the scale for determining mental health – I’ll have to pass it on to my husband, the clinicians at work will find it invaluable I’m sure. Thanks for taking part.

    • Angela
      April 25, 2014

      Thanks Jenni – glad you liked my new scale idea – you never know, it might just catch on….hmm

  2. Pingback: Funny Ha Ha or Funny Grief? | Funny MattersFunny Matters

  3. Melissa White
    October 23, 2014

    Again, you made me smile. Thank you. I have many mind numbing TV/movie addictions that I run to, in times of grief and mild depression…. Jennifer A. has never been one of them. Hmmm, What have I missed?

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