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What I want you to know about finding your own depression-crushing Patronus.

Depression was the dementor in my life. But J.K. Rowling inspired me to take action.

What I want you to know about finding your own depression-crushing Patronus.

I’m a Harry Potter fanatic.

I have been ever since I picked up the very first book over a decade ago, when I was in fifth grade, and I especially love “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

I’m also in recovery from major depressive disorder and attempted suicide. For seven years, I felt like I was in a very dark place. I feared I'd never see the light again. I didn't understand how an illness could suck the life out of me completely.


I found the dementors in Harry Potter to be especially terrifying.

For those of you who have never read the book, a dementor is a very dark creature, almost like a demon.

Image via iKobe!/Flickr.

As Professor Lupin explains in the book, "Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this Earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places. They glory in decay and despair. They drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. ... Get too near a dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you.”

Back then, I had no idea that dementors were based off J.K. Rowling’s own battle with depression.

Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images.

But now, I can see the characters pretty clearly: the dementor was depression; Professor Lupin, the therapist; Harry, the patient; and the Patronus, a treatment plan.

In the book, Harry was attacked by the dementors many times. He grew tired of it. He didn't want to feel despair anymore, so finally, he sought help. He went to someone he trusted, and Lupin spent many sessions with Harry.

At first, Harry’s Patronus only lit dimly. However, over time, his Patronus became so powerful and so bright that the dementors started to actually flee from him.

I read this book over and over again after I learned about Rowling's depression, and it powerfully changed my perspective of how I dealt with my own depression.

At first, I was afraid of the stigma attached to mental illness. I felt so alone. I was afraid of being called weak because it felt like life affected me much differently than others. But, finally, after suffering for so long and nearly dying, I found the strength to get help with my dementors — just like Harry did. And in doing so, the light turned on again in my life.

Just like Harry, I was able to eventually find my own version of Lupin, someone who I was able to speak to about my illness. And while antidepressants never really helped me, things like exercise, writing, and music became my Patronus. It wasn't entirely easy (remember, being able to ignite a Patronus is really advanced stuff!), but eventually I got the hang of it.

What’s most important to remember is that Harry didn’t do any of this on his own.

At one point during the third book, Harry and Sirius Black are attacked by dementors. They both nearly die. However, because Harry has worked hard to learn about his Patronus and his own power, he saves himself and Sirius too. Like Harry, I’ve learned that I can help others.

Photo via Warner Bros. Entertainment.

I also had help along the way, and it brought me out of the darkness. And my hope for you, if you struggle from depression, is that you can also find this relief. Your Patronus might only shine dimly at first, but if you keep working at it, eventually the dementors will run in the opposite direction. Once you learn to wield your own power, you will be able to drive those dementors away every time.

Expecto patronum!

A young boy tried to grab the Pope's skull cap

A boy of about 10-years-old with a mental disability stole the show at Pope Francis' weekly general audience on Wednesday at the Vatican auditorium. In front of an audience of thousands the boy walked past security and onto the stage while priests delivered prayers and introductory speeches.

The boy, later identified as Paolo, Jr., greeted the pope by shaking his hand and when it was clear that he had no intention of leaving, the pontiff asked Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza, the head of protocol, to let the boy borrow his chair.

The boy's activity on the stage was clearly a breach of Vatican protocol but Pope Francis didn't seem to be bothered one bit. He looked at the child with a sense of joy and wasn't even disturbed when he repeatedly motioned that he wanted to remove his skull cap.

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