I was late in jumping on the Frozen bandwagon. I didn’t see it until I got the Frozen (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD + Digital Copy) from Amazon. (<– I get a small commission for that if you buy.) Then I knew exactly why everyone loved it so much. It was so well done. But it was also very personal, and I found myself sobbing the first time I heard “Let It Go.”

I’m certainly not the only one who saw the movie as a metaphor for depression.

So although many of my friends have massive love for “Let It Go” as an anthem for female empowerment, it struck a chord deep within me. Of course, there are many different interpretations, as all of them are valid depending on the personal experience of the listener. (Thanks to AZ Lyrics for reference.)

A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I’m the queen.

When I’m in the midst of a depressive episode, I turn completely inward. I may post on Facebook about how horrible I feel, and friends reach out to let me know I can talk to them at any time – but I don’t want to talk. I want to keep curling inward. Talking makes it worse. I’ll even hide up in my bedroom so that I don’t inflict my mood on my husband and kid. My husband tries to help me open up, but it’s really hard.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know

My parents were good and loving, but I cried a lot as a child. It didn’t take much to set me off – I’ve always been a very sensitive soul. So I was told quite often to stop crying. Before the internet, parents could say things like, “You’ll get ruts in your face from those tears,” and kids like me would believe them. I had to learn to dry my tears quickly, even when I was still torn up inside. Therapy has helped me understand how I internalized this to my own detriment, but that sort of thing wasn’t even a matter for consideration 30 years ago. My autism and literal thinking made me impose ever harsher restrictions on my own behavior than my parents ever intended. I was the good girl, the perfect girl…

As an adult, the cycle of internalizing my feelings and then having them explode out…it doesn’t just affect my mental and physical health, it affects my relationships.

Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door

There was an incident a few years ago involving a handful of people where I was told that my emotional needs in the aftermath were causing more problems. So one night, the middle of such a conversation, I completely shut down. For the first time in my life, I somehow turned off all of my emotions. I was numb. It didn’t hurt anymore. It was…freeing. The emotional torment was gone. It was amazing.

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

But – and this is why Elsa’s words touch me so deeply – I became cold, like ice. The same people who had told me to dial back my emotional response were now begging me to stop this. “You can’t go on living like a robot.” “It’s even worse seeing you this way.” But shutting everything out, not letting anything touch me…it was the only way I could get a handle on myself. If I let down the shield for a moment, I knew I’d be back to the beginning, needy and in pain. In the end, that’s what happened. Maybe I could’ve kept myself locked in that icy prison, but it was my husband’s pleas that reached me. I couldn’t keep him shut out. “Well, now they know…”

Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry

Elsa really wasn’t “letting it go” after all. Sure, she unleashed her icy powers and built herself a beautiful castle from ice, dressed herself the way she wanted to dress, but she was still shutting people out, driving her own sister away, not letting anyone see her cry. The song isn’t about letting depression go. It’s about letting go of the relationships, those emotional entanglements – pushing people away so she doesn’t hurt them, not realizing that this very thing was still hurtful.

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway

The storm of depression rages on inside her, inside me. The last line isn’t actually true…she’s trying to convince herself that it’s true. That she doesn’t mind being alone, that she doesn’t mind feeling like this. Depression lies, makes you feel like you deserve it, makes you feel like it’s better when you keep your loved ones at a distance “for their own good.”

I’ve been in my own icy palace too often in recent months. One of my best friends, who struggles with her own mental health, has told me repeatedly to call her when I’m down. But I don’t, because it’s easier not to. And I was touched by the number of people who reached out to me privately to check on my personal safety when I posted something (with a restricted filter) about understanding the urge to self-injure, even though I would never act on it. It’s still so easy to feel alone even when surrounded by supportive people, creating distance where it doesn’t need to be.

A former friend quoted Frozen at me not that long ago. “Let it go, Elsa.” It was ironic that she said those words on very many levels. She’d been one of the ones to tell me I couldn’t live like a robot way back when. She probably had no idea that telling me to “let it go” like Elsa could only mean going numb again for me. I’ve been trying it, but it hasn’t been working. The cold does bother me. After I blocked this former friend on Facebook – an oversight that had to be remedied – I had a complete breakdown that night. As I sobbed against my husband’s chest, I apologized through my tears for completely falling apart. He said some very powerful words to me.

“You’re allowed to completely fall apart.”

That’s the thing I need to internalize. Then, maybe, I can really let it go.

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