Stephanie suffered from anxiety beginning as a young child and continuing throughout her life. Her symptoms were at times debilitating and crippling. There were days when she could not leave the house due to her fear of all that could potentially go wrong. Would she be sick? Would she get into a car accident? As a young woman panic attacks became the norm, one after the other, day after day. One day, Stephanie nearly threw herself out of a moving car believing that there was no other way to climb out of her anxiety riddled skin. After trying therapy, medication and some maladaptive behaviours, the anxiety continued to persist. Sure, many days were more manageable, but any unforeseen event could throw her back into the depths of despair and panic. Stephanie resigned to the fact that this was the way her life would be – some good days in which the anxiety was manageable enough to engage – and some days in which the inside of her home was the only safe place.
After becoming a mother Stephanie’s own anxiety worsened. Would her children become sick? Would they die? What would happen to them if she died? When Stephanie realized that her son was suffering from anxiety she felt lost. He didn’t want to participate in usual kid activities, sports, playdates, even family vacations because the fear of the unknowns and “what if’s” was too overwhelming. She knew something had to change in order to prevent the same long term pain for her son but had no idea how to help since she too was suffering deeply. Hearing her son say, at just 5 years old, that he didn’t want to live feeling so nervous all of the time was just too much. Mustering all of her courage, she took a “leap” and decided to try something very non-conventional and actually, counter-intuitive to manage her anxiety in hopes of finding a new way to cope and to inspire her son to push for more. This is Stephanie’s story of flying free from a place of suffering with anxiety to LIVING with anxiety.
About the Filmmaker
Submitted by Christopher Wynn
After receiving a diploma in Photography at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Chris began his film career working as a Production Assistant on commercials and music videos in Toronto. He quickly decided to move into post-production and became an Assistant Editor. Chris moved to Montreal in 2002, to help care for his father and to document his father’s struggles with Alzheimer’s which he developed into a feature documentary for TVO called “Forgetful Not Forgotten”. For the past five years Chris has traveled across Canada and the US presenting his film and talking about his experience with Alzheimer’s. He also developed a series of videos about dementia for the University of Waterloo, and is now currently working on another feature Documentary for TVO about young caregivers called “Much Too Young”. Chris continues to do public speaking presentations about caregiving and produces online videos for many different clients.