I watched Frozen again the other night and both times I watched it I couldn’t help but notice the similarities to my life with MI (mental illness). Could Disney be speaking of the dangers of stigmatizing MI and the power that love and acceptance has in recovery? Honestly, I don’t know…but the similarities were too much for me to pass up.
Elsa, one of the main characters in the film, has a “condition” that is strongly linked to her emotions. She has explosions of ice from her hands that she cannot control. With my mental illness I have emotions and actions that, at times, I cannot control.
When Elsa is little she accidentally hurts her sister, Anna, with her powers. I know there have been times where I have hurt other people when I’ve done things I didn’t mean to do.
Elsa and her parents become afraid that Elsa will become completely uncontrollable. They chose to shield everyone from her powers by keeping them a secret. They give her gloves to control her ice powers. My family and I are big believers in raising awareness for MI but there still has been times when the stigma has seeped into our minds. My family has never asked me to keep my illness a secret though, and they are completely supportive of this blog. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many children and teens. Many people go undiagnosed because they are afraid to have something “wrong” with them, or if they are diagnosed, it’s kept low key.
“Conceal; don’t feel” became Elsa’s motto. I could write a whole blog about trying to “control” my illness in a society that doesn’t understand it.
Elsa learns to shut everyone out of her life, even the people who desperately wanted to connect with her. I can’t even count how many times I’ve felt so unloveable and ashamed that i locked myself away from the people who care about me. To everyone who’s been trying to love me: you deserve a medal.
In the movie, Elsa has an embarrassing public outburst which causes some confusion and even some harsh criticism. One man repeatedly calls her a monster and tries to convince everyone that she is unfit to rule the kingdom. I’m not sure if this is a negative or positive that I can’t remember most of what happens during a psychotic episode. Even though I can’t remember, I still feel so embarrassed for doing such silly things that I wouldn’t do in my right state of mind. At one point, Satan even had me convinced that I am unforgivable and that I would never make it to heaven.
Elsa runs away to the mountains by herself where she slowly learns to accept and even find beauty in her “condition.” The lyrics to the song Let it Go (It’s not just some little catchy song!) are so relatable to my life with MI! The song talks about holding everything inside because of shame, then “letting go” of it all, not letting the things that make you different hold you captive.
In the end, love is what restores Elsa, Anna, and their kingdom back to order. It is that love that inspires the entire kingdom to accept & embrace Elsa’s powers. I know that I wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for the power of unconditional love and support from my family, friends, and God.
Stigma keeps us silent.
Stigma keeps us away from others.
Stigma banishes us to the outskirts of society.
But love and acceptance can heal.
In order to teach the mentally ill how to love themselves; we must first learn how to love them.
It starts with the conversation. Lets talk!
(That is, if you can get Let it Go out of your head for a minute. 😉