There's many themes in the latest release from Disney - Christopher Robin - themes of growing up, forgetting the carefree attitude of a child, or even the loss of innocence in war. However, there is one theme that struck me right across the face and left me a blubbering mess throughout the movie, and that was the theme of losing one’s self. From here on out - if you haven't seen the movie and don't want anything spoiled - stop reading and go enjoy the movie. I'll be here when you come back.
Ok, so for those of you who have just come back from seeing this adorable film, let's discuss what I alluded to in the opening. Christopher Robin, the film, is a great addition to the Disney film archives. The details are wonderful, the animation and look of the film is unique and breathtaking, and the theme of growing up and losing the innocence of childhood are all packed beautifully into this 2 hour film. Yet, there was just a little bit more that I connected with, and that's the idea of what it means to not be yourself. Struggling with mental illness, as many people do, I have been in a deep, dark hole where I cannot even recognize myself as I used to be. It's during those times, when the sadness is constant and the depression feels so great, that I look at myself and I don't understand how I became this person. I then question if I can ever be that happy person that I once was, what feels like so many years ago.
When Christopher finds himself in a deep hole, literally, I couldn't help but see my feelings illustrated on the big screen. Here he was, this man who had just lost his best friend because of how he acted - instead of being the fun, imaginative boy, Christopher was an angry, loud monster - stuck in a deep hole and unable to climb his way out. We hear Pooh tell Christopher to not let him go. Behind the tears that this immediately brought to my eyes, I could almost hear my own friends say the same thing - don't let go. Don't let go of who you were and don't let go of the people who are in your life to help you. It is easy to isolate and stay stuck down in the hole by yourself, but in the end, this accomplishes nothing and leaves you even more alone than how you felt you were before getting stuck down there in the first place.
So there we are - Christopher has turned into the monster, has lost all his friends, and he is stuck in a deep hole. Luckily a little (or rather a lot) of water comes to lift him out of the hole. Then he must go and find his friend because he realizes that he was wrong - water once again giving us the symbol of rebirth and renewal. On the way to find his best friend, Christopher finds others who also once knew him long ago, but they don't recognize him now. They cannot see behind the darkness that has transformed Christopher from the young happy child into this gloomy adult, and so it is up to Christopher to show them that he does remember how to imagine and play. Once he does this, once he opens himself up and becomes vulnerable, they can finally see that, yes, this is the person they once knew as their friend. On the surface, this comes off as a simple game of make believe, yet the reality of getting out of the hole and learning to act as you once did, happy and carefree, is a longer process. Sometimes it's something you have to fake - pretend to be happy until you are - and then you can see that the you that everyone remembers, the real you, is still there behind the darkness that wants to turn you into something that you are not.
Christopher's journey in the movie is a shortened version of what people like me are going through, but the end result is the beacon of hope at the end of the tunnel. His friends helped him in his time of need and, despite having much to deal with in his own life, Christopher realized that putting his friends and family first helped him become a better person than he had turned into. Christopher changes by the end of the film because he learns that certain things in life matter more than others. But the beautiful thing about all of this is that he could not have come to this realization on his own - it took the persistence of a great friend to keep pursuing him, to keep sticking around, and to keep taking steps to make sure that Christopher got the help he needed. While Pooh's help comes off as clumsy or accidentally helpful, we know that without him being there, Christopher does not see the error of his ways and does not turn his life around. Of course it's a movie perfect ending, but the hope that this hardship in life will pass and the days will be sunny again is truly what makes it all worth it. And, of course, the guarantee of friends being there for you at the end of your darkness makes the journey out of it all the much more worth it.
So, if you're like Christopher, trust that there is something better for you out there, but you need to be willing to let go of the darkness and the belief that this is just how life has to be for now. You have to be willing to attempt to get out of the hole. If you're like Pooh and have a friend who you can see is losing their selves, please, don't give up on them - your light may be the thing that leads them out of the darkness.