I have a lot of respect for Disney Pixar. They make exceptional movies that are sure to bring a laugh and a smile. I can confidently say that I never walk away an emotional mess or feeling like I have to “process” what I just watched after Disney films. Until I saw “Inside Out.”
This last year was both the best and hardest year of my life. Getting married was everything I dreamed, and being a wife to Blake has been incredible. But this year I also experienced depression on a level I did not know was possible. For about 6 months I felt numb to life or I would start crying and did not know how to stop. Life overwhelmed me and I thought I had lost myself for good. I still do not know how to explain it, except that I had lost all hope. And the craziest part of it all was that I had no idea why I was was going through depression.
Whether it was time that healed me, or the miraculous hand of God that pulled me out, in April I started coming out of it. I could laugh again, my appetite came back and I could go to sleep at night without bawling myself to sleep. I could go through a list of lessons I learned through those six months, but one thing I realized was the severity of depression and what it looks like to walk with someone who is in the midst of it.
Which brings me to why “Inside Out” hit me in a way I did not expect. The main character (Riley) looses joy and sadness. All she if left with is anger, disgust and fear. After moving from Minnesota to San Francisco, Riley is trying to adjust to her new home, which was nearly impossible to do as her emotions are entirely out of wack. Her parents could discipline her all they wanted, but it was completely impossible for Riley to walk in joy because it did not even exist.
And that, my friends, is how depression feels. Joy does not even exist. I came to terms with this early on… Joy had left me and I was alone, sitting in anger and misery. But just because I realized this did not mean my peers understood. In the Christian world, you may hear the phrase, “choose joy.” It’s a nice way of saying, “don’t be stuck in your emotions, choose Jesus and choose Joy.” And in reality, that’s great and so true. But in telling someone who is depressed, “just choose joy,” you are asking them to conquer the impossible. And in some cases, you are leaving them empty-handed and alone.
You see… Someone who is going through depression is not needing you to answer their pain, they are needing you to enter their pain. They do not need your sympathy or your sermon, they need to you step into the awkwardness and hear that you are with them. Bravery is not trying to fix someone, bravery is sticking by someone in the midst of hell. When you enter the mess with people, then they see Jesus, Joy and Truth. He is not in the bandaid.
And then, in typical Disney fashion, the movie ended with an incredible message. It actually took sadness for joy to be restored. Riley had to grieve until she could move on and experience joy. My heart literally ached as I watched it unfold in the movie because it was hitting so close to home. For me, it took grieving and facing the pain to come out of depression. I did not run away from sadness, but entered it full throttle and saw victory on the other end. And thank God I did not go through it alone. With a fearless husband and friends who were not afraid of the pain, I could walk through depression and come out on the other side.
I’ve never blogged before (well… I’ve never shared my empty blog before), but today I could not help it. I think we as society have a lot to learn how to walk with someone through depression. So, Thank you Disney. For giving me words to put to my feelings. And opening a door for me to process my own journey.