I saw Frozen for the second time, and I cried. Again. But the weird thing is, Frozen isn’t a sad movie. Not really. It’s nowhere near as heart wrenching as Toy Story 3, or Wall-E, or even Lilo & Stitch (which makes me bawl every goddamn time). But I cannot watch Frozen and not cry.
It took me a while to really understand why Frozen made me have that kind of weirdly emotional reaction. It’s not that the movie is sad: it’s that I see so many uncomfortable parallels to myself in Elsa that seeing that shit played out onscreen makes me cry as a kneejerk reaction.
I’m 1000% sure Disney didn’t make Frozen with the intention of people finding depression parallels within it, but I accidentally did anyway. And Elsa was the one I found myself accidentally identifying with.
All of her relationships and dialogue and interactions were so uncomfortably familiar. The first time I watched it and cried I wasn’t really sure what the fuck was going on. The second time I realized I’d been mentally substituting “weird ice powers” for “fucked up mental disorders,” and then it started to hurt.
Why won’t you talk to me?
There’s something wrong with me.
Why do you shut yourself away?
You’ll see there’s something wrong with me.
Is it something I did?
No. I’m sorry. I don’t know how to fix it.
Why didn’t you tell me?
This isn’t your battle. I don’t want you hurt by it.
Why can’t you just do the opposite of what you’re doing?
Oh god, I wish I could.
So many people try to help Elsa, but none of them really know how to do that, because what’s wrong with her isn’t anything they’ve ever had to experience before. Their advice is well-intentioned but is more harmful than good: control it; hide it; just stop feeling that way.
And when Anna asks (so earnestly and with such good intentions) for Elsa to just reverse what she’s done, it was painful to watch Elsa try to explain she can’t. She doesn’t know how. And admitting that makes her terrified and angry and sad, and I get that.
Why can’t you just be happy again?
I don’t know why. I can’t. I don’t know how. And I’m sorry.
I don’t shut down because I want to. When I’m cold, and sad, and feel empty, it’s not because I enjoy being in that place. I just…don’t know how to do any differently. This is something that’s part of me, and something that continually gets worse, and I just don’t know how else to handle it.
To have someone really care about you and try so completely to help you when you know they can’t is so goddamn heartbreaking. Because in your mind, you’re the broken one, not them, and yet you’re making them suffer for it. You can’t be a good friend, a good daughter; you don’t have the capacity, and everyone you love deserves better.
Social interaction isn’t fun—it’s a terrifying foray into seeing how far you can push your acting skills before someone notices there’s something very wrong with you. And it’s a wrongness you only ever feel shame for. Mental illness is weakness. It’s your fault. And for god’s sake, don’t burden other people with your fucked up shit. “Conceal it. Don’t feel it. Don’t let it show.”
Recently I attended a friend’s birthday party, and had to leave abruptly halfway through because I’d used up all my willpower and was 100% sure going to break down crying. And no one else needs to deal with that mess. So I left, and my friend spent the rest of her party being worried and wondering what was wrong, and Jesus, that made me feel awful. I essentially fucked up her birthday by making her sad all night. I didn’t mean to—and I blamed myself, because I should have fucking known better than to venture out of my house and into the company of happy, normal people for that long.
So when Elsa breaks, ruins her coronation, scares everyone, hurts her sister and runs away to be alone—I could get that. “Yeah. That happens to me, too. It’s awful. And I’m sorry.”
I think it hit me hardest when I got a text from one of my friends—my best friend—saying, “I miss you.” I knew what she meant. I still see her, and I’ll talk to her, but it’s not really me and we both know that. I’m present, sort of, but locked away.
When you’re depressed you want to isolate yourself—because it’s the only way you know how to help. You hurt people when you’re around them, because they can tell you’re not you, and they don’t know how to help. Your sadness becomes infectious. And you’d rather deal with it all alone than touch someone you love with that kind of horror. You can’t disappoint or disillusion if you’re not around to remind them someone they love hurts and they’re helpless against it. "I don’t want to hurt you."
But that doesn’t work either, and of course it doesn’t. Because they notice you’re gone, and they still want to help, and pleading for them to please, just let you go, let go so they can be happy without you will never actually work.
Misery doesn’t love company, actually. What misery really wants is for everyone to go on with their lives and please be happy, because it can’t.
So I get it. I get why Elsa won’t let herself be around people, and is so much happier alone, and would rather give up her kingdom and her family for the chance at allowing everyone to have peace without her.
And I also get why none of that actually works, and why isolation hurts your loved ones just as much, and why it’s so important to surround yourself with people who understand and love you anyway and are going to be there.
I also get the freedom that comes with finally just admitting something’s wrong. "No, I’m not okay. I’m broken, and I’m fucked up, and this will always be part of me, inside me. And you know what? I don’t need to hide that. I can let that go."
I guess that’s why I cry when I watch Frozen. It’s a good movie, but it’s not spectacular. It has far too many songs, the animation was far too similar to Tangled, the plot was far from airtight, etc. It doesn’t make me cry like Toy Story 3 does, or Wall-E does, because it’s not sad. But it will make me cry every goddamn time because yes, I know that, I hurt people, too, and I’m so sorry.