I Had a Depressive Episode at the 'Happiest Place on Earth'

I cried.
I cried like I haven’t cried in a couple of days.
I cried sobbing like a little girl.
I cried out loud at Disneyland.

I was with my dad, who removed my hands which covered my face in an attempt to hide the shame of having a meltdown.

“Why are you crying? You are at Disneyland,” he said.

I was indeed. I had just arrived a couple of hours ago, and I’d been hugging princesses and taking pictures. And all of the sudden, my dear friend depression showed up — the friend I tend to forget but never misses a second from my life. And of course, she was coming with me to Disneyland. She had never been there. And she couldn’t let me travel alone with anxiety and arthritis and miss the party.

I had just met Moana, I went on the Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones rides, I went on the jungle cruise and the train that goes all through the park. And all of the sudden, it hit me. And I cried, and cried, and sobbed uncontrollably.

And my mind — who is absolutely wicked when she wants to be — kept telling me I didn’t deserve to be there, that all of the people there were enjoying it, so why couldn’t I? She kept me thinking I was making my father feel anxious and confused.

As I looked at every single one of the beautiful children dressed up like princesses or Mickey Mouse or Donald or Stitch, I couldn’t help but cry a lot more. Because I was one of them. I still am some days. That dreamy girl who grew up in a fantasy perfect world, thinking reality eventually will be like Disney movies or the other way around. And I looked at them, at their faces full of joy, asking myself where I went wrong, where I lost the girl I used to be — wondering when life became this and not that which reflects in all of those babies’ eyes: happiness, joy, hope, magic.

My dad offered me an ice cream (plus my medication) to make it better. And we stood there in an alley, watching people go by, I stared at the people around me because of their costumes. They seemed to stare at me because I was the freak crying at the happiest place on earth.

When I could calm again, I told my dad why I was crying. “Because it’s my daily life. And I’ve got some issues that don’t discriminate if I’m at my house, or China, or Disneyland. Every day, or most of them, there comes a moment when my emotions go downhill. I start crying or feel miserable or have an anxiety breakdown and it is what it is. Every single day, there’s a moment I remember what I’m struggling with. Every single day, there’s a moment when something enters my routine and reminds me I’m not “normal.” That I’ve got issues. That those issues haven’t or aren’t ever to go away. That this is me, and I love me. Even if I break down at Disneyland. Even if I get a breakdown at the happiest place on earth.

That being told, I changed my perception at Disney. I had always enjoyed it way too much. I admire people there, the princesses, the salespeople, the dancers, the ticket vendors… Every single one of them makes you think being that happy is possible. That magic will never stop existing. They make a little tribute to the Genie from Aladdin, voiced by none other than the majestic Robin Williams, and I swear there wasn’t any dry cheek or eye while watching World of Color. But still, they make you feel that your dream can and will come true, that life is a celebration, that love exists.

And boy, we need that. We so need something that reminds us, even if we know it isn’t possible or that we are clearly not in the real world. But we need it. We cherish it. We need to go to see the magic in kids’ eyes, the love of parents who hold them during the long lines, the talent of dancers, singers, actors and actresses. We need to go to a place where the flowers are always blooming, where there is a whole town designed to fit in the world of Mickey and Minnie.

We need to go there. Even if we cry. Even if we have meltdowns. Even if we are still ourselves, symptoms and all, cane and all, tears and all, because for a second, we can forget about it, or at least be inspired with the possibility of magic, drama and love.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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