“Do You Want To Build A Snowman?”

This post has more to do with the premise of the movie, “Frozen”, than it does with snowmen, but at least it got your attention!

I have now watched the movie “Frozen” more times than I can count on my fingers thanks to the three young girls who stay here occasionally. I also watch “Once Upon A Time” on TV which just recently had an arc about “Frozen”.

The plight of Elsa, who can make ice and/or snow with her hands, is not that far off from how I often feel about bipolar or mental illness in general. The first reaction is to cover it up with gloves and lock her away in a room by herself. Her sister Anna is taken to the Trolls where they erase her memories of her sister’s powers. But somehow Anna does remember that they built a snowman named Olaf.

I love how the song says “Do you want to build a snowman? It doesn’t have to be a snowman”. In other words, she just wants her sister back to play with her and while that is the only memory she has, she will accept anything.

I was in my thirties when my illnesses were diagnosed, but they were traced back to age 8 for depression and 16 for bipolar. I did some weird things like crushing the chimney off a gingerbread house that my mother and I made – I had no idea why, I just did it. My mother was furious not because I wrecked it but because I did it in front of company…like Elsa creating an ice wall at her coronation. This was just not acceptable behaviour.

I went away to school in another province for grade 12. My parents made it seem like I was following in my Dad’s footsteps, going to his school. But I think it was more that they hoped me being in a different environment would help me “be normal”. Well, the exact opposite happened. I was very naive and living in a dorm full of girls from different backgrounds proved a challenge for me. I think this was the trigger for my mania. I tried to be normal, but like Elsa, felt far from it.

But Elsa runs away, with her snowstorm following her. The townspeople want her to pay for freezing everything in site. She just wants to be free of their anger. As she travels up the mountain she realizes she can “Let it Go” and just be herself. That what her parents always told her was a curse was just who she was and here, with Olaf and her snow monster she could just be herself.

Once I realized that “bipolar” or “mentally ill” were labels and couldn’t hurt me, I came to not only accept my differences but learned how to control them and I started to like who I was. I don’t hide my diagnoses any more. I don’t shout it from the roof tops, but I am honest with people and I find that is a much better way to be. How they deal with it is up to them – they own their feelings and I accept that.

So, yes, I want to build a snowman, do you?

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