Disney's Animated Short 'Inner Workings' Speaks to My Anxiety and OCD

Although Disney’s “Moana” was the feature presentation, it was the short film prior to it that left me speechless, in a good way. The animated short, “Inner Workings” is the story of a single man who lives a very ordinary life as an everyday office worker. What the audience sees is how his “inner” emotions work through the eyes of his brain, heart, stomach and other organs.

While his heart and the rest of his organs long for adventure, fun, the occasional heavy meal and a girlfriend, it’s his anxiety-ridden brain that leads him to not do anything out of the ordinary for he fears it will kill him. Yes, each scene ends with him envisioning his funeral because of harmless actions like stepping in ankle deep water or eating a meal with bacon.

If you’ve lived with anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) like I do, you know exactly what this feels like. The urge to want to do fun stuff but the inability to do so out of the mind-controlling fear that comes along with it. Watching the film triggered many memories of my life when each day would be exactly as the previous one out of fear of doing things out of order and ending up with some sort of horrible repercussion for doing so. I spent months fearing even the slightest change or “adventure” would somehow dangerously backfire. Even ordinary things like going down a waterslide or being on a swing would trigger my anxiety.

While the film ends with him realizing his life would be like this forever and he would die an unhappy and lonely old man if he didn’t try to change something, for most of us, it isn’t that easy. In fact, this kind of immediate change is next to impossible for almost anyone. Yet, the story still resonates on multiple levels because it was like seeing into our own minds. I for one, wished for such a long time I could just be fearless and do mundane tasks without overanalyzing the outcomes. I saw so much of my former anxiety-ridden, OCD-filled life in this character. While my transition to an anxiety-free life was nowhere near instantaneous like his, the time spent working on it was well worth it.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Screenshot via Walt Disney Animation Studios

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Watercolor of beautiful woman

When Intrusive Thoughts Make Me Question 'Where Is My Mind?'

Where is my mind? Where is my mind? Where is my mind? I find myself listening to this Pixies track fairly often, reciting and questioning the chorus in my head. Where is my mind? For few years it has been missing — or at least particular fragments have. The parts that give you the ability [...]
A woman covering her face with her hands

To Anyone Who Feels Guilty About Their OCD

My boyfriend is probably the happiest person on earth. He sings in the shower, he dances even when there’s no music playing and he rarely ever cries. So when his voice caught as he said, “Your heart is racing,” and when he kissed the sore and broken skin on my hands and begged me to take better care of [...]
portrait of the beautiful young girl

When I Overheard Someone Judge Me for Having OCD

“You know how Nikki is.” Five words I was never meant to hear. Someone who is supposed to care about me, love and protect me said: “You know how Nikki is.” It wasn’t said in a “nudge nudge, wink wink” way. It wasn’t “You know how Nikki is funny?” No. It was said with judgment [...]
girl in forest

What Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Feels Like in My Brain

At 7 years old, I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. I obsessively washed my hands in fear of germs. I sat at the kitchen table for three hours trying to get my letter “e” to look just right. Every time my parents would leave the house, I was convinced they were never coming back. I developed [...]