For millions of people who suffer from depression, the validation that sadness is real can be everything. Sliding into the vast black hole that is depression is heart-wrenching and exhausting. Disney Pixar Inside Out gives value to sadness in a beautiful, harmonious way.
Talk About Sadness
My greatest bout with depression came after we lost our baby 7 years ago. It was a dark place that took me months to dig my way out of. Joy was nowhere to be found within my mind. Any attempt at it brought me guilt and anger over the situation. As much as I wanted to choose joy, I felt overpowered and suffocated by sadness. It was all I knew.
I have also watched my (then) 7 year old daughter battle depression in another form. Bogged down by sadness and anxiety, she was overcome with emotions that she could not process at such a young age. A team of doctors, crazy medications, and tons of prayers later, we were able to bring her back, so to speak. That 7 year old is now 11. Just like Riley in Inside Out.
That transition that Pete Docter saw in his daughter Ellie is real. The struggle, as a parent, of watching your child go through a myriad of emotions they don’t understand. In the movie, Riley is sinking into depression after a big move that not even she can comprehend. Within her mind, Sadness has no understanding why she wants to touch the memories, thus turning them forever into sad moments.
Sadness struggles with the rules she has always followed because the deep feeling to touch and feel are real to her. As we watch Sadness struggle inside the mind, we notice Riley falling into a depression externally. Her physical world outside her mind seems to be crashing in around her and her adolescent mind does not fully know how to react.
Rash decisions, angry outbursts, and unsolicited sarcasm become her norm as Fear, Anger and Disgust are left to lead her mind. Sadness and Joy struggle to get back to help bring her out of the dark slump she has sunk into. Without spoilers, simply know that sadness is validated. The emotion has value and it’s definitely understood by the time the credits roll.
As parents, talking about mental health can be life-changing for our kids. Even my 5 year old now has a better grasp of the emotions she has “driving” her. As tears fall, she looks at me and tells me Sadness is driving and she just wants to have Joy back. When she notices others not happy, she tells them they need to put Joy in control.
See Inside Out. Start a conversation with your kids. It’s an important talk and Pixar just opened the door in a bright, whimsical way.
Looking for a conversation starter? Try playing the Train of Thought Board Game with your kids and go from there! Oh, and here is the Inside Out Train of Thought game Spanish! Enjoy!