Smile Empty Soul (Depression Through The Looking Glass)

It you haven’t seen the recent Pixar movie “Inside Out”, y’all need to watch that ASAP!!!!! That movie will change your life in ways you couldn’t imagine. Now the movie follows a girl through her life and a major transition that will rattle her emotions. Her core emotions (anger, fear, joy, sadness, and disgust) are presented in a personified form and you get to witness how each of these emotions work to manage through a tough time in the main character’s life. The basic premise of the film is that you have a girl who has grown accustom to her life in Minnesota. One day you find out that her father has gotten a new job in San Francisco and they movie across the country which sends her emotions and her entire nervous system which is represented by a control center into complete chaos. Each emotion handles each new situation in their own unique fashion with the emotion Joy trying to keep everything together. Certain events in the film cause the emotions Joy and Sadness to get separated from the rest of the crew and the rest are left to manage the best they can.

Now the movie is simple enough that children can follow a journey consisting for friends trying to reunite but for adults, it’s a brilliantly executed life metaphor that hit home harder than a half bald Miley Cyrus riding a wrecking ball through your house. It’s not so much the basic story that really hits hard but rather the way the different emotions interact with each other, particularly the dynamic between Sadness and Joy. Throughout the movie, Sadness will always find some way to make things worse and Joy wounds up having to fix her messes. It gets to the point where Joy finds ways to keep sadness at bay so she won’t cause any more problems. Joy is also constantly berating Sadness for being negative and keeps telling her to look on the bright side and that everything will be okay. Now while kids will simply see one character helping another, I saw two life metaphors with one of them speaking to my heart in a way not many movies have. In the moments where Joy constantly finds ways to keep sadness at bay, I saw myself over this recent summer and at other points of my life, I saw me putting a smile on my face in moments where I just wanted to drop everything and just cry the Nile River of tears. I saw me trying way too hard to over power my pain and hurt. There’s a moment in the movie where Joy ends up in what she thinks is an impossible situation and she finally breaks emotionally. In that moment I saw myself at the end of a rough summer crying myself to sleep several nights in a row over things I tried to be strong about for several months. There was however a much bigger life metaphor that became all too real for me. Through that dynamic, Pixar showed us how ridiculous we as a society look with how we treat those with depression.

The character Sadness is a personification of true depression, that endless pain and that feeling of hopelessness. She’s a representation of the feeling of walking through a dark and endless tunnel where it feels like the light at the end is as non existent as the Sasquatch Animal Planet keeps chasing. When I saw the character Sadness my eyes got kind of watery, not because she was sad but because she was a portrait of myself through some of the darkest times of my life. Throughout the movie, Joy’s negative reactions to Sadness reminded me of the many cruel things people say to those who are depressed. There seems to be this misconception that depression is something you snap out of or, that it’s just a phase and that everything will be okay. People with depression will constantly hear things like “get over it” or “quit crying” or “man up” or “you’re making things a bigger deal than they should be” or “you make yourself feel this way” or “you’ve got to fight through it and be strong”. Depression unfortunately isn’t a magical switch that we can turn on and off when ever we please. There are people who are depressed due to internal factors beyond their control or meds that trigger and then, there are people who battled depressive episodes because they remained strong against trying circumstances for longer than they were supposed to and crumbled under the weight. I remember being berated in those dark times by people I thought I could count on. I felt weak and thought I would never be happy again. People constantly told me that everything would be okay but to me it felt as though I was enduring an infinite sadness, a hurricane of pain with no eye and a radius that spanned and eternity. Most of the people telling me that everything would be okay were miles away from the epicenter and knew nothing of what it was like to weather that storm. Very few were willing to walk into that storm just stand by my side and weather it with me and that’s the key to helping those with depression.

No one dealing with depression constantly wants to hear “everything will be okay” from people who don’t even bother to walk into the storm to weather it with them. It’s okay though, I’d avoid the storm to if I had the option of not getting trapped in it. Walking into the hurricane known as depression can be scary. Many of us fear what we don’t understand so we try to help from the sidelines in order to protect ourselves. To truly help people in any situation, you have to get where they’re at and sometimes that means going to places that may confuse and scare the shit out of you. I found this comic on facebook that accurately explains the right thing to do in situations like this.lrLPrWQ

There are people out there who have no control over when they get depressed, it just happens and telling them to man up and smile just doesn’t help at all. If you truly love someone, you walk into that hurricane, find them at the center and just stand by them. The storm eventually passes but time moves slower when the world feels like it’s crumbling around you. The only remedy for sadness is love and showing love is the only thing you can do in situations like this. Depression, sadness, and trauma can be pretty confusing for someone who has never experienced and a complete whirlwind for those who are enduring it. The next time someone tells you they’re depressed, don’t ever tell them to “man up” or that they making a big deal out of nothing because within the context of their life, the fucking world is crumbling and all they truly want is to be held by those who are dear to them. Some will occasionally need space and that’s fine too but, if you feel that someone could possibly be a danger to themselves and others, that’s when you jump in there and intervene. I hope this sheds some insight into what depression is like, I don’t know if I’ve captured the whole story but I feel like I’ve hit the important points. Stay classy folks….

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