My Depression and Why Sadness Is My Spirit Character
Today is "Dress In Blue Day" and, to celebrate it, I posted all over my social media accounts a picture of Sadness from Pixar's Inside Out. I love her so much and consider her one of my spirit characters.
Today, I thought I'd go a little more personal again. I decided a while ago that I would not be a Disney news site because I just couldn't or want to compete with all the great sites out there. My blog would be just that - a blog where I could opine about the Disney universe I have such passion for. And, I would share a little bit of me.
Why did I need all that caveat? Because I am going to talk about my depression. That doesn't mean I feel sad sometimes. I have diagnosed chronic and sometimes crippling depression and am borderline bipolar. But, I like to talk about it because I think it helps reduce stigma the more you do.
Anyway, back to Sadness. When I watched Inside Out, I felt such a catharsis. Like I had come out of therapy.
First of all, my life sort of mirrored Riley's life at that point. When I was eleven, my family also moved from Minnesota to the Bay Area and I also felt so many emotions from anger to fear to sadness. My years in Minnesota I describe as my "wonder years." It was an idyllic neighborhood I lived in with no fences and where everybody was friends. We had woods to explore and a giant hill to do bicycle tricks on. We had block parties and Christmas parties. To me it was perfection and it came to great shock to me when my parents announced we'd move across the country. And getting used to a more closed off California was hard. I remember just wanting to go home. So, an experiential level, I could totally relate.
But, a big part of my catharsis was within the character of Sadness. Its hard to be a person with depression because nobody understands it...or, at least, people who don't experience depression. During my up times, I'm humorous and mischievous and full of joy. And people love happy-go-lucky me. But, when I'm depressed, people think there is something wrong. They don't understand why I can spontaneously start crying or why old memories tend to haunt me or why little things can cripple me with anxiety (I had a breakdown watching Tiny House Hunters because a person older than me could climb into a loft). They think that if I was so happy one moment that there must be something wrong with me when I am down.
It makes them uncomfortable and, because of that, you feel uncomfortable which then gives you anxiety which only makes you feel more depressed.
Nobody will adjust to you. You have to adjust to them. For me, because of my need to make sure people are happy, I tend to feel guilty for feeling depressed. I sometimes get mad at myself for feeling sad.
So, watching this film and seeing how sadness does serve a role in our lives, I suddenly realized it okay to be sad. And because of that, it was okay to feel what I feel. Depression is not my enemy, it just is something that is part of me.
I've just felt such a closeness to Sadness. Maybe I'm obsessive because I have a shrine to her in my apartment (Note to self: Dust apartment). LOL. But, when I look at it or when I think of her, it is my cue to try not to beat myself up when I'm depressed. Maybe it's a simplistic way to look at emotions, but it helps me.
Speaking of help, that doesn't mean I shouldn't do something about managing my emotions better. If you suffer from depression, I strongly encourage you to seek help. Do not be afraid. Sometimes it takes medication to feel more balanced or sometimes it takes therapy to talk through your emotions. Or, in my case, sometimes it takes both. Do not let the stigma of mental illness prevent you from seeking the help you need. Just like diabetes, it is a disease that you have to live with, but you can find ways to improve your situation.
You can find more information about finding help at the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion's healthline.gov page on talking to your doctor about depression.
But, if you are in need of immediate help and think you might hurt yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255.