I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, and with it being World Mental Health day today, now seemed like a good time to do it. It’s going to be a long one so apologies for that, but it would mean a lot to me if you’d give it a read.
I often get asked why I “still like Disney so much” when I’m an adult. It still seems to be one of those “things” that a lot of people think you should grow out of when you hit a certain age.
I’ve loved Disney since I was a young child. I was born in the late 80s and grew up in the 90s when a lot of the beloved classics Disney films such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Aladdin, The Lion King etc.; were all being released so they were a big part of my childhood. I watched the movies, had the toys, played the tie-in video games, re-enacted scenes from the films when I was playing etc. They made me feel happy, and I have a lot of fond memories relating to watching the films or playing with the toys I had. I loved all the classics but there wasn’t one in particular I adored; they all appealed to me in different ways. When Toy Story was released in 1995 though, it was love at first sight and marked the beginning of my passion for all things Pixar (but in particular, Toy Story and Woody). I was only 9 then, and actually sadly a lot of people thought I was already too old even then to be loving a “kids” film so much; but I did, and I started to collect as many things as I could relating to the film. 23 years later and I’m still going (though now I also collect items from the other Pixar films too, but with a main focus on my first love, Toy Story). When I think about why the film meant so much to me when I saw it back then; sure, I was enthralled by the idea of my toys coming to life when I left the room; but it was the loyalty and friendship of Woody that spoke to me most, and the idea of having a best friend for life.
So why do I still love it? What does Pixar and Disney mean to me now I’m an adult? Honestly, pretty much the same but in fact, probably even more deeply now. My love for Disney and Pixar has never stopped, but I did have periods in my adult life where it wasn’t such a main focus; mainly because I was busy doing other things like working and trying to save up to get my own home etc. However, around 4 years ago, I got too ill to be able to continue working. I hadn’t been well for a number of years before that, but at first it was kind of manageable so I just plodded on; but also, it took YEARS before I was finally diagnosed so I HAD to keep carrying on as best as I could. As the years went on though, I got more and more unwell before I reached a crisis point and was finally diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease called Behcet’s. I wasn’t too worried at first, more relieved in fact that I has a diagnosis, as the doctors were all so positive and kept assuring me that now they knew what it was, they would get it back under control and get me back to work ASAP. That was four years ago. Behcet’s has no cure, but in some cases, they can control it fairly well and many patients can live fairly normal lives with occasional flare-ups etc. Unfortunately, some patients get to the point that it can’t be controlled and they don’t respond to treatment so are in a constant “flare”, and sadly that seems to be me. The disease affects patients so differently; but for me, just SOME of the things it has resulted in for me include the loss of use of my right arm/hand (which was my dominant side), terrible agonising sores/ulcers on various parts of my body, including all over the lower parts of both arms and on my feet; generalised pain and joint pain all over my body, extreme exhaustion and fatigue, constantly getting ill with infections due to my weakened immune system, and probably unsurprisingly, periods of depression and anxiety.
When you are a kid, and even a young adult, you have visions of how you think your life will be. I imagined that I would get a good job I was happy in, have my own home, get married, have kids, and live happily ever after; but unfortunately, I’m not sure if any of that is going to happen for me anymore. I had a job that I really loved; I didn’t earn loads but enough to mostly do and buy what I wanted, and after saving for a long time I was literally about to buy my first flat; but I got so ill, I had to pull out, and stay at home to be looked after by my parents. I lost my job, and as a result, most of my friends. I now need help with getting dressed and undressed, washing, eating; when I am up to going out for short periods, I have to walk with a stick or use a wheelchair. I have to go to the GP surgery twice a week to get my dressings changed, as well as multiple other hospital appointments most months. I can’t go anywhere on my own; I have to have someone with me at all times as I can’t carry things, or pull my own trousers up if they start slipping down. I have to endure seeing people visibly recoil from me sometimes when they see my bandages because they think I’m contagious (I’m not!); or listen to people tutting impatiently behind me when I’m walking somewhere because they want to get past me and I’m too slow. I’m lonely. Desperately lonely, much of the time.
So the reason I still love Disney so much as an adult, and probably even more now than as a child; is because its constant. Its never left me, even when actual people did. When I am in agony, it provides a distraction from the pain. It enables me to escape my life for a while and imagine that maybe one day I still might find my own Prince Charming or have my own castle or my own little prince’s or princesses. When waves of panic come over me in bed at night and I can’t stop crying because I’m worrying about what will happen in the future if it gets to the point that my parents can’t look after me anymore and how I’ll afford anything, or if I’ll ever be well enough to meet someone or have my own children that I would so desperately love, I reach out and hug my Woody doll that I’ve had since I was 9, and I am comforted.
Its also provided me with friendship. I started up my Instagram account not long after I got really ill, just as something to “do” and keep me distracted. I always enjoyed photography and I had come across Dan the Pixar Fan online and loved seeing photos of his Pixar collection so thought I’d have a go at sharing pictures of some of mine. Through my Instagram account, I have formed some truly wonderful friendships with some even more amazing people who all love Disney as much as I do and understand how much it means to me. Although I still get really lonely its much less than it was as now, through our shared love for Disney, I have some wonderful friends that I know I can always talk to when I’m feeling low, who always know the right things to say to cheer me up; and I hope I provide the same to them. Disney brought us together.
So yes, I’m an adult that “still” loves Disney, but Disney has provided me with comfort and happiness at some of the most difficult points in my life. How can that be a bad thing? And as Walt himself said, “Adults are only kids grown up, anyway”.