Magic is an integral part of every child’s life; whether it is Tinkerbell’s pixie dust or the manifold of colors in a sunset, magic can be found anywhere. For me, the most magical place in the world was the world of wizard’s- the world of Harry Potter. Harry and his friends always supported one another and continued on their journey in the midst of fear; these characters inspired me to do the same. I loved the idea of Hogwarts; I loved the idea of belonging somewhere. Depression and anxiety made me feel I could never belong anywhere, but Harry Potter surrounded me with friends who understood exactly how I felt. Harry Potter made me smile, not only for the flying cars and potions, but the support and understanding of the characters.
As a child I was often teased for how I spoke and acted; whether it was being told I ‘wasn’t allowed to’ join the others girls in games or being pushed into a piano and having sharp bruises bleed across my back, I knew I was not wanted. Hogwarts: School of Witchcraft and Wizardry gave Harry and me the one thing we always wanted: a sense of belonging. Not only did Harry find his best friends in Ron and Hermione, but he was able to meet his godfather Sirius Black. Unfortunately, Harry’s life was like water and ink: clear and then all too soon muddled with darkness. Whether it was Lord Voldemort or the thick, black fear of Dementors, Harry’s struggles were not over. Voldemort attacked both Harry and his friends throughout their journey. Lord Voldemort was so frightening wizards cannot utter his name. Like depression and anxiety, Voldemort was a fear too frightening and too real for the characters to address.
As I grew I felt more and more alone, I grew colder and found comfort in solitude when I should have ran to the open arms I could have found had I only asked. I did not know how to reach out to anyone, there was only one person who I felt truly understood me: Harry Potter. Before my life bled into black I was happy, I made people laugh and gave them the happiness I so desperately craved. Somewhere between the insults spit at my feet and the need to always please everyone around me, disappointing others meant making them sad forcing them to feel the darkness I deserved to suffer in, my happiness was scraped out of me. The Dementors in Harry Potter (creatures born of fear and sorrow) reminded me my own depression.
Mrs. Figg described meeting a Dementor in the fifth novel, “Everything went cold…And I felt … as though all happiness had gone from the world,” (Rowling 52).
Normally I was tired and sad, and when I woke from my delirium I was angry- angry at myself and the things I no longer cared for, angry that others were happy when I was filled with despair- I flickered between shades of cold blues and hot reds. Somewhere between losing my six-year-old cousin, watching my extended family fall to anger, growing to hate the person in every mirror I stared into, and breaking down in school I had become something born of bitterness, or had I been this creature all along? Or had my despondency been confused with anger? “You do care,” said Dumbledore. (…) “You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.”
My feelings of rage were perfectly summarized in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, “I just feel so angry, all the time. And what if after everything I’ve been through, something’s gone wrong inside me. What if I’m becoming bad? (Yates)” When Harry fears he is falling to darkness he is reassured by his friends and family that the darkness around him is not his fault, that bad things have happened to him but that does not make him a bad person (Yates). Harry woke me from the dark water I so often found myself drowning in, and before I found friends he showed me how to seek them out. Harry helped me to reach out to those around me. If nothing else I could always discuss ‘which was my favorite book’ and ‘did I love the new Harry Potter movie as much as another girl?’ Instead of sitting in my darkness I sought out the light, I would dance in the light of others until my own darkness fled from sight. As Albus Dumbledore said, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light (Alfonso).”
Growing older means growing wiser, and after reading seven books and watching eight movies? I had read and heard enough wise quotes to convince me to hear another’s wise thoughts. I understood that this hole of darkness was not a life sentence that I could climb out if I found the first step. I began to see the value in attending my therapy sessions. I may not sit passenger in a flying car or soar in a game of Quidditch but Harry showed me how to be happy, how to be free and I could not have touched the clouds without him.
By: Rose Younglove, AiT Contributor
Cuarón, Alfonso, director. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Warners Brothers, 2004.
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Bloomsbury, 2003.
Yates, David, director. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., 2007.