I saw The Deathly Hallows in the theatre this weekend and once again, the soul sucking Dementors reminded me of depression. Ever since they first appeared in the Harry Potter books they reminded me of what sucked at my own soul. I thought this was a genius association and upon being reminded of this the other night I realized it would make a great blog post. Then this morning in doing some research for the blog I found that J.K. Rowling admitted that she created the Dementors after being, in her words, “clinically depressed.” So, I’m not the genius – Rowling still owns that crown.
For those of you not familiar with the Harry Potter books or movies, Dementors are soulless creatures who formerly guarded the famous Azkaban prison. They kept prisoners in line by sucking out all their positive emotions and memories and forcing them to relive their worst memories. A Dementor’s kiss is meant to be worse than death because it sucks out your entire soul. Later in the series the Dementors show up at Hogwarts and Harry has to learn the Patronus spell in order to protect himself and his soul. What does that spell entail? It acts as a shield from Dementors and other predators, but wizards can only perform it properly by strongly summoning up feelings from their most happy memories.
Obviously J. K. Rowling is an amazing writer, but her gift strikes me even more in the way she personifies depression through the Dementors. Considering the fact that I made that connection between the two before even reading that Rowling based the Dementors on her own depression proves that she really knows what she’s talking about. She had to perform her own Patronus spell in her mind in order to beat her depression.
This all makes me think of two things. One being that using a metaphor for your pain or mental illness is therapeutic, and that we have to be equally creative in order to protect ourselves from the pain in our lives.
When you think about any negative emotions you’ve had (or your mental illness) what images come to mind? Are they villains or evil creatures, or are they a lack of something? Using your creativity, you might just be able to help arm yourself in the battle of depression or other adversity. J. K. Rowling invented a whole world to escape to in her art and helped connect with others through that world. The possibilities for us in recovery are endless.