The Disney movie “Frozen” and its accompanying music are much loved by audiences of all ages. The motivational story of Elsa, who sings “Let it Go,” had a much deeper meaning for Kirsty Taylor, –a young woman suffering from severe depression.
“Its impossible to describe, Kirsty told Yahoo Health. The numbness, the loneliness. I barely left my room, really. Its the most aggressive pain mentally and physically that Ive ever been through in my life. It took me over a year to get over it.
Things started to get better for Kirsty after watching “Frozen.” She identified with the character Elsa, a Nordic princess struggling with inner demons that forced her into isolation.
Just like Elsa, Kirsty explained she was trying to pretend everything was okay when it really wasn’t, and that’s what sent her spiraling down into depression.
Severe depression like Kirsty’s, better known as major depression, can be a debilitating mental illness.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 5-8 percent of adults in the country suffer from major depression annually, and the condition can easily affect day-to-day life through physical and mental duress. Individuals with major depression often experience feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness and emptiness, suicidal thoughts, and physical pain that doesn’t respond to traditional treatment.
NAMI indicates major depression is the leading mental illness cause of disability in the United States and many other developed nations.
While it may seem strange to some that a Disney movie could help someone overcome feelings of depression, the reality is that Kirsty Taylor merely used the character Elsa in what therapists would call cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).
WebMD explains this form of treatment involves helping a person recognize negative thoughts and replace them with a more positive way of thinking. CBT is very goal-oriented, which is why having a role model (like Elsa) likely helped keep Kirsty focus on overcoming her own struggles.
“It feels incredible to be honest to be able to look at Elsa and think Ive come through the other end just like she has, said Kirsty. You watch the film and you see her progression: We begin with someone who is locked away, hiding her feelings and doesnt want to talk about it with anyone. Then she comes out on the other end as this confident person who lives her life. Ive been through the tough part, Ive been through the journey. And now Im where Elsa is in the sense thats she happy in herself and is getting on with her life. I can watch the film and just think, I made it. I made it through.”
In addition to viewing Elsa as a role model, Kirsty has started her own Elsa business, using her vast collection of costumes and collectables to do children’s birthday parties dressed as her favorite character.
“Becoming this inspirational character has really, really helped me get better, she said. Seeing how happy the children are that Im there, its like I mean something. That I matter.