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.

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!

Family
BXGD / Flickr and Cody Bondarchuk / Twitter

Sometimes the smallest gesture can turn your entire day around. You find a $5 bill in the pockets of your jeans. There's no traffic on the way home from work. Or by some divine intervention, you get 11 chicken McNuggets in your 10-piece box.

Of course, if you've ever had such a blessing, you know your first thought is, "Must be some sort of mistake."

But do you return the extra McNugget? Nope. You don't even feel an ounce of guilt for it. You dunk it in barbecue sauce and relish it like a gift from the gods.

A former McDonald's employee in Edmonton, Canada let the world know that sometimes an extra McNugget is not a mistake and he's become a viral hero.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
terimakasih0/Pixabay

When Iowa Valley Junior-Senior High School principal Janet Behrens observed her students in the cafeteria, she was dismayed to see that they spent more time looking down at their phones than they did looking at and interacting with each other. So last year, she implemented a new policy that's having a big impact.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Cierra Brittany Forney

Children in middle school can be super shallow when it comes to fashion. To be part of the in-crowd, you have to wear the right shoes and brand-name clothing, and listen to the right music.

The sad thing is that kids that age can be so creative, but they're forced into conformity by their peers.

Some people never escape this developmental phase and spend their entire lives wasting their money on material goods and judging those who do not or can not.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

They say that kids say the darnedest things, and seriously, they do. Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time with young children knows that sometimes the things they say can blow your mind.

Since teachers spend more time around little kids than anyone else, they are particularly privy to their profound and hilarious thoughts. That's why NYC kindergarten teacher Alyssa Cowit started collecting kid quotes from teachers around the country and sharing them on her Instagram account, Live from Snack Time, as well as her websiteand other social media channels.

Keep Reading Show less
popular