Notes On… Sobbing Uncontrollably During ‘Inside Out’

NB: This post contains spoilers. So, watch the film! ❤

The other day I sat down to watch the beautifully animated Disney film ‘Inside Out’ expecting a fun, light hearted experience to relax to on my typically uneventful Friday night. I definitely did not expect that it would affect me in such a powerful way that I would be sobbing uncontrollably into a fluffy blanket and my cat. Waterworks during a family film? Pretty.

For those of you who haven’t seen the film, and want to a bit of a premise to why I was crying like a five year old who dropped their ice cream cone, I’ll fill you in on the plot points. In the film a little girl, Riley, has five personified emotions controlling her reactions to her world; Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger. She’s grown up very joyfully and all of her core memories are happy ones, which Joy is determined to keep the same at any cost. These core memories dictate her personality; family loving, goofy, sporty and honest.

One day, her whole life is uprooted as the family moves to a new city and a new home. Riley gets really upset and Sadness starts to try to take control within her mind, but Joy simply won’t let her. While Sadness and Joy are fighting, they get trapped in the outer corners of Riley’s mind along with her core memories, leaving the control centre of Riley to Fear, Disgust and Anger. Things get messed up and Riley’s personality starts shifting and collapsing without her core memories and her full range of emotions. Joy and Sadness try desperately to get back to the control centre to help balance Riley’s mind.

Throughout the film Joy slowly learns that Riley needs both Joy and Sadness to be her, although Sadness is annoying and downbeat, she has huge value. Without Sadness, she cannot experience Joy. Joy learns that you cannot supress emotions to be happy all the time, because if you do, you will break. You need to express your emotions fully or you will cease to be who you are.

Joy realises this big fact in time and makes sure that Sadness can do her thing when they finally get back to the control centre. Riley is able to cry, to hug her parents and tell them that she is not OK and eventually, in time, Joy comes back and the whole team work together in balance.

It was towards the end of the film, when Riley’s mind was completely blank, when she stopped being her, and none of her emotions worked, that I started bawling. Full on sobbing. Because, I felt so connected to this story. The way that Riley was unable to be sad, the way that she couldn’t be happy; Riley was numb and she was depressed. And it hit me, that really, this is what happened to me last year. I tried really hard to be happy when I should have just been sad, and eventually I broke and everything went numb.

This year I have learnt that you need sadness to balance joy, and you can only be happy to your fullest extent if you have been sad to your saddest, darkest extent.

So yeah, I cried. Like hella ugly tears, puffy face cried. And I cried even more when Riley was finally able to feel and cry to her parents and tell them that she wasn’t happy. And I felt so foolish that this movie that is meant for children got to me on such a deep level. But, I also laughed. The movie was equally hilarious as it was affecting.

Yes, it’s a family friendly, animated flick, but it is very smart and slick, funny and moving. I’d recommend it in a heartbeat, and don’t worry, I promise you won’t cry as much as I did. And if you do, just let it happen.


My thoughts, prayers and love go out to anyone affected by what has happened in our fragile world this past week, from Paris to Mali and beyond. I have no words, I am deeply saddened and sending so much compassion your way. 



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