How Frozen Helped Me Embrace My Anxiety

By Siobhan Eardley.

If you type ‘Disney and mental health’ into Google, there are a plethora of articles listing the abundance of mental health disorders that Disney characters have, bearing in mind most of them seem to focus on the Princesses, diagnosing them with conditions from Stockholm Syndrome to OCD.

Flicking through all of these articles makes me so frustrated, and I know they are just click-bait nonsense, but I can’t help it, they make absolutely no sense and make wild claims about so many disorders that are potentially damaging.



I am going to leave these behind however, to focus on how Disney actually portrays mental illness in a way that is relatable. I am not going to diagnose any characters, because quite frankly, I am not a professional, also these are fictional beings…I just want to discuss how certain films have really helped me with my own struggles with anxiety and depression.

To do this, I am going to be focusing on Frozen. After the trailer dropped for the second film the other day, I just had to go back and watch the first film. Although it isn’t my all-time favourite Disney film, I can’t help but adore it. The animation is stunning, the songs are hella catchy and the themes are relatable (for me anyway).

For me, Frozen is all about speaking about your emotions, letting them go (yes that was a terrible reference…sue me). I used to be the absolute worst person for bottling my feelings up until they got so blown out of proportion. I can fully relate to Elsa’s troubles, the ice is a genuine representation of how I used to either get angry or burst into tears when I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about what was going on in my head, which would, in turn, make everything worse.

This is precisely what happens in Frozen, to the point where she locks herself away from the world, another thing that I am always tempted to do. Yet again, this is so relatable, because when I have done this in the past, the results have probably been worse than just being my true self.

What is so wonderful about Frozen is this relatability, but also the conclusion gives hope to those who may suffer from the same anxieties. It is about embracing them and living with them in a healthy manner, which mainly focuses on talking to people about things.

When we attribute specific mental health conditions to characters such as this, it is so damaging and it sure as hell isn’t what the creators intended to portray, which just leads to more damaging ideas about certain conditions. What is good about Elsa’s character, however, is that her actions point towards anxiety, which can be suffered by anyone with a number of mental health conditions (again I am not a psychiatrist, so I probably have no idea what I am actually on about). Looking at Frozen in this way has honestly helped me understand my anxieties a lot better than I did.

Funnily enough, it kind of clicked when I asked my boyfriend what movie character I would be. He replied: “Ana from Frozen, but on a bad day Elsa” and I just thought…oh my, he is so right!!

I don’t know if it is how much of a hit it was when it came out (and ever since) that that message has kind of become lost in the hype. I remember there being a lot of discussion about how the film challenged the traditional Disney model of helpless Princess is saved by Prince and was replaced by the Princesses saving themselves. Which is still such an important element in the film. But I can’t remember its relationship with mental health being discussed, I have seen the odd article floating around, but there was nothing major, as far as I can remember.

But after watching the trailer for the second film, it was so clear. What is great about Elsa, is that she is completely badass, whilst being so vulnerable. Her power represents her anxiety, but it is how she uses it that is fascinating. In the first film, predominantly she used it to shut people off from her, scare them away. From the very small scene we see in the trailer for Frozen 2, where Elsa is attempting to conquer giant waves with her freezing power along with great strength and determination; it is amazing to see her test her powers and see how she can overcome her fears, and use her anxiety to her advantage.

I can’t wait to see how this theme is pursued and built upon in Frozen 2, which comes out this Autumn, you can watch the trailer here!


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