Inside Out is probably the best thing to come out of Pixar for a long long time.  I know it isn’t the most recent Pixar film, but I recently got it on  Blu-ray and had a chance to sit down and watch it without having to make sure two children behaved at the drive-in.  Turns out I missed a lot on my first pass of this film.  Now that I’ve had a chance to watch it more closely, I love it even more.  The message of this film is a valuable lesson for every person on this planet.  It does a good job of showing you what depression looks and feels like without being preachy or obvious about it.  I need to talk about many significant details of the film in order to express this thought so things are gonna be a little spoilery from here on out.

The parallels to depression start almost right away.  At the beginning, Joy treats Sadness as this unavoidable thing she has to deal with even though she doesn’t want to.  This is reminiscent of what I’ve experienced from people when depressed.  Sadness touches the memories of Minnesota without really being sure why she’s doing it.  The personified version of  Sadness was equally confused about what was happening as Riley.  This is how depression works, though.  It comes out of nowhere without warning or explanation.  One day a dark cloud just consumes you inexplicably.  Sometimes (like in Riley’s case) there is a situation that triggers the depression.

While Sadness and Joy are on their epic mission through the mind all that is left in headquarters is Fear, Anger, and Disgust.  Sometimes, that really can be all you’re left with.  Depression isn’t just a deep dark sadness… it is a lack of feeling anything.  Happiness is definitely not an option but I don’t really feel sad either.  Actually, a lot of times I feel like I want to cry but I can’t.  If I am able to feel anything usually I’m really irritable and easily frustrated, afraid people will reject me because of my depression, or I’m disgusted by myself and everything around me.  (Except the fur babies, because fur babies).  That to me looks like what is happening inside the mind of this little girl.

People make horrible decisions when they’re depressed.  In the absence of Joy and Sadness, Anger makes a really regrettable decision.  Carrying out that idea and pulling away from the people who are important to her SHUTS DOWN THE CONSOLE!!  Meaning that not sharing your feelings, pulling away and isolating shut you down emotionally.  This is true, trust me I know.  Ultimately the only reason this state of mind is rectified is because Riley acknowledges her sadness and returns to the people who can help her feel better about it.

This is the ultimate message:  that being sad is ok.  The film advocates that the right way to deal with sadness isn’t to try to dismiss it and cheer the person up, but to listen to them and help them work through it.  This is evident in the sombre moment that Sadness shares with Bing Bong.  I can’t even begin to express how significant this is.  Most people don’t want to hear the bad news from your life or are afraid to share their struggles with you because they don’t want to be a downer.  We have the range of emotions that we do for a reason and this film is going to teach a generation of children/parents to deal with them all  equally.

When Sadness was compelled to touch all those old memories, nothing Joy did make this compulsive activity stop.  It even seemed like Sadness was unaware she was doing it at times.  Only through acknowledging what she was feeling was Riley able to get through the issue in a healthy way.  No one emotion should dominate all the rest.  Life is about balance in all its forms.  That doesn’t mean give in to negativity or stinkin’ thinkin’.  A positive attitude can accomplish a lot.  Just acknowledge anything you feel, give yourself permission to feel lit and then try to find a way to deal with it that is healthy, positive, and constructive.  All the while remembering: if you can’t think of one, it’s ok to reach out for help.

Inside Out is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD

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