When I wrote about being in the hospital on the 72-hour hold, I talked about playing a movie in my head over and over again. It wasn’t just a random movie that I happened to know by heart and the reasons for me focusing on that movie in particular require a long post of their own. I need to give a lot of background but hopefully this will all make sense by the end.
For at least a year leading up to that night I got wasted, I had been keeping something to myself that made damn near every relationship I had difficult. I was tearing myself up inside constantly and I got worse with every day that went by. I bottled everything up and it just kept building and in trying to maintain the friendships I knew I would have to lose if I said anything, I just made things worse by being overemotional every single time I interacted with them. I was terrified they would walk away but everything I did and said somehow drove them closer to actually doing that and I couldn’t handle knowing that, at some point, I HAD to sever contact with them anyway if I were to have any chance at getting “better.” I couldn’t bring myself to cut them off, I was terrified they were about to walk away, and I kept behaving in ways that made them WANT to walk away. No, it doesn’t make any logical sense and I knew that. It was killing me. The day before this party, the friend I worked with jostled my chair from behind as he walked past my desk. He did this all the time, jokingly, and it was never a problem. Joking around like that was what we did. But I was so messed up by that point, so tightly wound and focused on simply holding myself together so I wouldn’t cry at my desk, that time I jumped a mile. Normally, I would kind of turn and say something smart-assed or flip him off or something like that. Again, jokingly. But that time I had just jumped and he said, “What, did I really get you this time?” I managed to say, “Yeah,” and practically ran to the door. And you know how you read in books something like, “before she left, I heard a choked off sob?” That kind of thing happens in real life and I did it that day. (I can add that to my growing list of “Things I’ve Read About That CAN TOTALLY HAPPEN for Real,” along with “blood running cold.”) I got out the door and headed for the bathroom. I managed to close and lock the door behind me but I can’t remember if I turned on the light. I hit the floor and sobbed on my hands and knees for I don’t even know how long. There was a tiny puddle of tears when I was done.
I can’t help but wonder if all of this mental and emotional stress contributed to my various physical illnesses throughout the year because it sure seems as though there were a lot of things physically wrong with me. Some of the stuff I can usually expect but some of it I’d never had.
So, I think it can safely be said that I was keeping a lot locked up inside. I was trying, and failing, to hide things from people. For my sake as well as theirs. And for a long time, I was able to convince myself that the majority of what I was hiding had to do with my depression and anxiety. They played a part in it, there’s no question about that, but it was not the worst.
It might not be obvious to most people, but that’s pretty close to Elsa’s character in “Frozen.”
I realize a lot of people think that movie is overrated and they’re tired of hearing about it and they’re sick of THAT song, but I honestly don’t care what those people think. That movie got to me in ways that damn few other movies ever have and if someone wants to think less of me because of it, fuck them.
Before I watched it for the first time, I knew it was going to make me cry because of what I’d seen other people post that referenced it. The first one was the blog of a friend of a friend. “Frozen” was the last movie that woman saw in a theater with her six-year-old little girl shortly after the girl was diagnosed with incurable, inoperable brain cancer. I’ve never met this woman in person but reading her blog definitely changed the way I thought about some things and I found out more than I ever wanted to know about how little research is done on pediatric cancer. The non-profit started in her daughter’s memory is here.
The second thing was a video my brother posted on Facebook of one of my nieces singing, “Let It Go.” They had just recently moved several hours away and that was hard on all of us. They would come over three or four times a week for dinner and adjusting to not seeing them nearly every day is an ongoing process. That was over three years ago and I’m crying now just writing about it. It bothered me that I didn’t know this song my niece was singing and that I hadn’t watched the movie it was from so I finally went ahead and did it.
I sobbed for days. I couldn’t get “Let It Go” out of my head and I couldn’t stop connecting it with that little six-year-old and my family. It didn’t take me long to realize that I related to Elsa because I felt so closed off from people I was close to because of depression and anxiety.
I was not the first person to make a connection between mental illness and “Frozen.” It’s well covered elsewhere. (More here, and here, and here, know what? Just take the Google results) But “Let It Go” started to mean something else for me and instead of it being something positive and empowering it was just a constant reminder of what I couldn’t bring myself to do. A lot of people knew about my depression and anxiety, and I had to quit lying to myself that THAT was what I needed to “let go.” I needed to let go of a lot more than that and it was going to cost quite a bit.
That brings us up to the night of that party and my suicide attempt a few days later. I hadn’t wanted to go to that party but the friend hosting it had looked forward to it for a long time and I had promised him that I would go. I had been arguing with one of the friends I was shortly to lose the evening before and I had thought she wasn’t going to be there so I figured I’d be “safe” to try to relax and forget about horrible things for just one night.
We all know how well that went.
Elsa spent her life locked away from people because she was afraid of her powers and she didn’t want to hurt anyone she cared about or be hurt because she was different. She let her guard down, wrecked a party, ran away, thought she’d be left alone, only to be pursued by the person she wanted most to protect. Then she freaked out and froze Anna’s heart.
I had stopped socializing a long time ago because of depression and anxiety and I didn’t want to hurt anyone I cared about or be hurt. I let my guard down a little bit at a time and started socializing more with the friends I cared most about and had little “ice storms” here and there and THEN I wrecked a party and froze a bunch of hearts in one go.
Now, “Let It Go” means something more than just me trying to “be normal” among people that don’t have mental illnesses. It means that I’ve done the absolute worst I could to those friends and I have nothing left to hide from them. It DOESN’T mean that I’m “over” anything and feel safe away from my “ice palace,” because I don’t want to hurt any MORE people. Elsa and Anna get a happy ending because Disney movies ALWAYS have a happy ending but in my version, Elsa has killed Anna. She’s frozen forever. I killed those friendships and destroyed any chance of repairing them.
If I’m Elsa and Anna is gone, now what? There’s no Hans or Kristoff here. There’s just me. I have to try to save myself, I guess. I don’t know how. I know I have to figure it out, though. It might sound awful and selfish but I don’t have that constant weight anymore. I’m not trying to “conceal, don’t feel,” anymore. Yes, it hurts that I lost them and that they can’t stand me. It probably always will. Pain doesn’t ever go away completely; you just get used to it. That stuff about “time healing everything” is bullshit. I hadn’t actually been forced to look in any of their faces since that party and today I did have to look one in the face. It was an accident, but it happened and fucking hell, it hurts. I started out the week back at work feeling pretty good about it and now I’m a wreck because I have a text from one ex-friend that I’m not going to read and I accidently ran into another because we work in the same building and I can’t avoid him completely.
I knew a long time ago that I had to stop being friends with them. I didn’t want it to end the way it did, but I knew it needed to end. And I’m better off that way. I have to keep telling myself that. That’s why “Let It Go” is, finally, becoming a positive and empowering song for me. Replaying that movie in my head while I was in the hospital helped. Maybe someday I’ll be able to watch it without crying at all.