Depression & Feeling "Inside Out"

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As someone who has battled with depression for most of my adult life, I’ve always struggled to explain to my loved ones exactly how it feels. I don’t know if there are the proper words to truly communicate the feelings of loneliness, despair and apathy to someone who has never felt that low. And maybe words aren’t enough. It took watching the little kids movie “Inside Out” to figure out how to truly articulate it.


As I watched the movie I sat there bawling, because never before have I been able to tell the people I love how I felt. This movie  depicted it perfectly. It’s as though Sadness has touched every memory and is in control of every emotion, reaction and thought, even if you were previously driven by Joy. You lose your core and everything that has ever mattered to you - you lose yourself.


One of the things that struck me most was how aggressive Joy was with Sadness. When someone is depressed, telling them to think happy thoughts and focus on the positive may be well intentioned, but is often hurtful to the person feeling depressed. If the problem were as simple as thinking a different thought than it is likely the depression would not be as devastating as it is.


Depression is sadness at the core. There is no thinking past the sad thoughts or feelings; there is no drive to do what could likely help because it feels like nothing will ever help.  Being told to think happy thoughts can make someone feel guilty or ashamed for being unable to. They may blame themselves or feel it is their fault they are unable to "fix" the depression if the solution is that simple.


Depression is not simply a matter of “thinking happy thoughts”, it is a serious illness that will likely require professional help. Most people would not deal with an infection or broken bone without seeking help, and mental illness is no different than these serious diagnoses. It absolutely must be treated as such.


Like the movie shows, eventually all the horrible feelings are just too painful, so feeling nothing seems like the better option. When there is no feeling, there can be no confusion about how life has gotten to this point, no fear about what is to come – there is just emptiness. And honestly, relief when the hurting stops. Some other moments that struck a chord with me was the need to contain Sadness, the fear of ruining everything, and feeling so heavy that moving may just be impossible.


It is a fucking battle to get back from that darkness. As in the movie's ending, expecting to feel joy all of the time is unrealistic. It is okay to feel sad some days, and even when the depression has been beaten down there will still be days that feel low as hell. You must remember that it is okay to not feel joy all of the time. Reach out to your family, give yourself a break, and BE KIND to yourself. You are healing, and this is a process.


If someone you love is battling depression, hopefully this movie can provide some insight into what they might be going through. Be patient, as they will not be the person you knew for a long time – they might never again be that same person. And that is okay. Give them room to feel, to process, to deal on their own terms. But never give up on them.