Coping With Health Anxiety
Updated: Feb 6
What happens when you throw on skinny jeans, dabble in Myspace, and sleep with your cellphone under your pillow? Generational anxiety. Damn you millennials. It could be genetic but I’d rather not add it to the list that includes diabetes, heart disease, and divorce. Either way, my anxiety exists and it is a royal bastard to tend with.
The worst cocktail to have is an overactive imagination to promote my health anxiety like Don King in the 80’s. It's a recipe destined to land you in a Google induced panic. Oddly enough, flesh wounds are no problem. I’m calm in an emergency. Random headache? My blood pressure gets higher than Snoop Dogg on 4/20. Fortunately, there is a remedy for all of us health anxious folk. It lies in a little known film called Innerspace.
In this 1980s classic, a charming but washed up pilot, Dennis Quaid, volunteers to be miniaturized in the name of science. When a coup is launched and nefarious characters crash the ground breaking event, the lead scientist escapes from the lab with a syringe containing microscopic Quaid. As he runs for his life, the scientist injects the needle into an unsuspecting character, played by Martin Short.
Yes, this movie exists. What makes this story so hilarious is how they set up Martin Short’s character. He is a neurotic and clinically anxious cashier who is riddled with all kinds of fears that greatly interfere with his job... as a grocer. Clearly a high pressure-cooking situation to live in.
What ends up happening to him?
He gets stabbed with a needle by a stranger. Could you think of a greater fear coming true than this? This was made during the AIDS epidemic. Someone, somewhere, thought it was a good idea to create a film about a dirty needle being shared.
At first, I reflected on one of my one of my most notorious attacks. One time I got too close to a urinal and immediately assumed my pecker became a superhighway for all illnesses under the sun. Turns out, that's not how you get rickets.
After questionable biology, Dennis Quaid’s character begins to communicate with Martin Short as they try to figure out how to solve their very 80’s predicament. Quaid must overcome his arrogance and Short battles to preserve through his crippling neurosis. Oh and Meg Ryan shows up as Meg Ryan to do her Meg Ryan thing.
This overlooked film deserves another chance. If you have health anxiety, like me, enjoy watching an on-screen character who has it far worse. The remedy to your anxiety may lie in seeing someone else spiral into their own destructive tornado. You watch him unravel, only to be pulled back to reality by the handsome D. Quaid. It's a great movie to remind you that the 1980's were the last decade of creativity and imagination in Hollywood.
On the other side of this, avoid movies that feature a perpetually ill character or one with a freak accident. (I'm looking at you Million Dollar Baby) That can send you on a one way ticket in the wrong direction. I made the mistake of thinking My Girl was going to be a happy movie. Little did I know Macaulay Culkin gets stung into oblivion.