J.K. Rowling gets many, many messages from fans. But a particularly personal one got her attention on March 19.
"Dragging myself through another bout of severe depression and re-reading the 'Harry Potter' series to strengthen my Patronus," the fan wrote on Twitter, referencing the mystical, protective force that plays a key role in the series. "A million thanks to J.K. Rowling for the magical escape that's always there when it's needed."
Rowling, who often enjoys engaging readers online, was moved to reply.
Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images.
"Those stories saved their author, too," Rowling wrote. "Nothing makes me happier than to think that they went out into the world to do the same for other people. Keep that Patronus powerful."
A few minutes later, the author responded to another fan asking what other books Rowling has turned to when times get tough. "To tell you the truth," Rowling answered. "When I'm really stressed or overwhelmed I turn to biographies of people who've led turbulent lives. I find it soothing and inspiring to read about people who've endured and overcome."
Since living in the public eye, Rowling's been candid about her own struggles with mental illness.
In the years leading up to her "Harry Potter" success, a recently divorced Rowling was on the verge of homelessness, desperately trying to make ends meet for her and her young daughter. She felt like a failure.
"It’s difficult to describe to someone who’s never been there because [depression is] not sadness," Rowling once explained to Oprah Winfrey. "Sadness is not a bad thing — to cry and to feel. Depression is that really hollowed out feeling. And it was because of my daughter that I got help."
Rowling said her experiences with depression inspired the idea of Dementors in the "Harry Potter" series — dark, soul-sucking beings that drain their victims of all hope.
J.K. Rowling at a book signing in 1999. Photo by Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images.
Finding personalized ways to combat depression is key for many people living with the mental illness.
Self care is critical. And whether it's reading "Harry Potter" or biographies — or any other method to help you prioritize your own mental health — it matters.
You deserve to keep your own Patronus powerful, too.
"I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed — never," Rowling once told a student journalist. "What’s there to be ashamed of?"
If you need help, don't suffer in silence. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or visit their website for more information.