We need talk about Inside Out – and being sad

Let’s all say it together – it’s okay to be depressed sometimes

At the 2016 Oscars, Inside Out won best animated film, just the day after I happened to watch it.

If you’ve not seen it, Inside Out is a journey inside the mind of 11 year old Riley. Her parents move her from her school, friends, and ice hockey team from Minnesota to San Francisco. We follow Riley’s journey through the emotions that control her brain; Joy (her primary emotion), Sadness, Anger, Digest and Fear.

Aside from the bright colours, excellent voice work and incredibly detailed animation I’d always expect from a Disney | Pixar film, there’s just something else about this film I can’t quite put my finger on.

In an interview the film’s writer and director Brad Bird said that he wanted to make a film that didn’t just appeal to both children and adults but that would be a different film to children and adults.

There are many points of overlap where both parents and children laughed and maybe more tellingly, cried.

But there were also more than a handful of moments where I got a squeeze on my hand from Barbara and we looked at each other knowing we were thinking the same thing. There are some incredibly emotional moments in the film for adults that kids might not quite get.

What it made me think about was how we’re driven by different emotions depending on what’s going on in our lives.  As a ten year-old kid I always felt like it was more preferable to be happy than sad – I don’t think that’s an uncommon thing for kids to feel.

But now, as a 26 year old man-child with a beard, I’ve started to feel differently. Just a few weeks ago I lost my grandfather to cancer. I loved him absolutely. He was – and it’s not just me that thought it – just the kindest person I’ve ever had the priviledge to know.

Over the last fourteen years, since my second grandmother died – when I was just 12 -there have been people in my family and close friends who have passed away. But no-one I would say I truly loved. Of course I’ve had a cry, I’ve supported those who felt more of a loss and as sad to say as it is, I’ve moved on.

But my grandfather is the first person who I’ve had to grieve for as an adult human being. At first, of course I cried. I’ve read about the grieving process before, it’s something that’s interested on more than one occasion. So I spent a few days looking for one of the five stages. That is denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

But the weirdest thing is, I didn’t feel any of these. I just felt sad. Really fucking sad. And that didn’t go away quite as quickly as I might have thought. It’s a feeling that wasn’t apparent in my head like I’d feel happiness or anger. Grief is a thump in the stomach. A song comes on the radio that makes me suddenly think of him – thump. A photo of us pops up on my phone while I’m idly flicking left and right – thump. Someone at work says they’re sorry for my loss – thump, I’d been trying to forget about it just for a minute.

It sounds such a cliche but I’m not sure this feeling is ever going to go away – like I said, I’ve never dealt with this as an adult. I have the fondest memories of my Big Nan who was married to the wonderful man in question and she died when I was somewhere in the region of ten years old. And I don’t remember the pain of that stomach punch when I lost her. I can assume it was there but I felt very differently 16 years ago.

What I saw in Inside Out yesterday – compared to the first time I watched it a few months back – was that it’s okay. It’s okay to be sad sometimes and let that sadness make a couple of decisions for you. We’re human and humans have emotions. And don’t let social situations, pressures or assumptions let you think any other way.

If I’m sad for another couple of weeks, I think I’m alright with that. I lost someone who I loved very very much. I just need to make sure when those punches stop hurting so much that I remember the wonderful human being my Big Grandad was.

As for the film – like I said… Five Stars – absolutely loved it. But it left me really depressed.



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