Joy Is At The Helm

Boyfriend and I saw Inside Out last night.  Why is it anyway that they’ve starting showing movies that open Friday at like 7pm on Thursday, anyway?  Regardless, this was a very good movie.  No, it wasn’t any Up as the previews kept saying.  However, I think that Inside Out is going to be a movie that starts some very important conversations.

First up, the plot.   The main character, Riley, an 11 year old girl has some major changes come up in her life.  Actually, the main characters are the personified emotions in Riley’s head: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust.  They each have their own role in keeping Riley safe, happy, and healthy, by basically influencing her into making memories.  We all know how that goes – something happens, we’re influenced by some emotion based on past experiences, and we react and create new memories.

When these big changes happen in Riley’s life, her emotions are thrown into a panic, but Joy tries to keep everything together.  She tries to keep Riley happy and well, joyful.  Joy is at the emotion that seems to be “in charge,” she’s at the helm, trying to keep Riley in her personal happy places.  Unfortunately, when Riley’s life is in flux, Sadness has an uncontrollable urge to touch the memories, which starts turning them blue.  Joy and the other emotions try to banish Sadness and prevent her from touching anything, but she cannot seem to stop it, and doesn’t know why, so she’s eternally apologetic.

When all this was happening, I turned to Evan and said, “Holy crap, she’s depressed!”  Even though I’m no mental health professional and I’ve never been diagnosed with depression, this sounded like every conversation I’ve ever had with someone about their diagnosis, if they have either depression or bipolar.  What’s important to RIley starts to crumble away, and Joy and Sadness embark on an epic quest through long term memory to bring Riley back to them.

I don’t want to give away too too much, but the ending, the moral, it’s a heavy one for kids.  It’s okay to be sad sometimes.  We can’t always be Joy.  And without Sadness, Joy loses it’s luster.

This movie could seriously bring up what needs to get brought out of the shadows and into the light of mental illness.  It’s the beginning of a conversation about how no matter how wonderful and how perfect our life seems and how much of a happy face we put on, there’s a million more things going on below the surface.  It’s the story of how we’re all different, even though we have the same emotions (for each glimpse into another person’s head, there was a different emotion, “at the helm”).  Emotions are simply not that simple and memory can change over time.  And sometimes things go wrong and we need help.

Let’s talk about childhood depression.  It exists.  It’s heart-wrenching, and it’s usually swept under the rug.  Thank you Pixar, for taking steps to bring it into the light.

That being said, my new mantra is: JOY IS AT THE HELM.  Maybe I can keep Joy at the helm of my life (though I can’t imagine – I think Anger’s at my helm).

Joy is at the Helm

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