Sunday, August 22, 2010

Expecto Patronum

I am a little too lazy to go back and check if I have written about this already in an earlier blogpost. Even if I have, I like to believe it is worth repeating :)

Harry Potter books have helped me in a very real way. Some years ago, I suffered from chronic migraine. I still wince at the memory of those days when the terrible headaches would last for 48 hours or more. I would darken the room and lie curled up. Then at some point, I would start hearing buzzing sounds in me ears, then I would threw up, and the headache would begin to subside. But more difficult than the migraine itself was the pool of depression it left me in in its wake. It was absolutely terrible, dark and lonely.Getting back to work/ study was immensely difficult. Since, for some reason, I found it hard to explain myself to my professors, fellow students and colleagues, I tried to deal with it by attempting to get back to work with vengeance only to feel overwhelmed and burnt out very soon. It was very frustrating for me and several others around me.

I am glad that it was around that time I started reading the Harry Potter books. When I first encountered J K Rowling's description of a dementor attack, I was stunned to see how much it sounded like a description of these attacks of depression: like all happiness has been sucked out from within me and for several miles around, like it was just one endless stretch of bleakness. The depiction of the dementors themselves as dark, hooded creatures gliding soundlessly over their victims struck me as the best allegory to how these phases of depression crawled over to me. The wizards in the Harry Potter books conjure the Patronus charm to defend themselves from the dementor. What a wizard requires to do to conjure a strong Patronus is to first seek refuge in his or her memories of happiness and love and cast the charm from there. For the dementors, in J K Rowling's imagination, cannot withstand the power of even the remembrance of love and happiness. 

It appeared to me that this could be a tool I could use to combat the onset of depression. As I usually found it hard to be verbally articulate about how I felt during these phases, it helped to have a visualization that someone else had taken the trouble to come up with. Thankfully, I have not gone through a migraine for sometime now, but depression still sneaks upon me in various ways. To this day, the Patronus charm works for me. It is quite wonderful.


asmana said...

Thanks Ani, in its usual inexplicable way, this post helped. :)

Ramki said...

Yes, I usually find refuge in the company of friends when the chills strike.

And oh, we are supposed to believe you don't use this analogy with Dementors to justify popping in blocks of chocolate?

prinzrulz said...

I usually take up Arundhadhi Roy's God of Small Things when depressed. As you read through the cruelty of life dealing with three innocent lives with simple dreams and yearnings, you feel empathy and that you are not alone.

"They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much. The laws that make grandmothers grandmothers, uncles uncles, mothers mothers, cousins cousins, jam jam, and jelly jelly.
It was a time when uncles became fathers, mothers lovers, and cousins died and had funerals.
It was a time when the unthinkable became thinkable and the impossible really happened."

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Mikaela Stoner said...

I enjoyed reading this post, I love Harry Potter and to see you write about it to help you get rid of head aches is great. I'm deffinatly going to have to try using the Patronus charm to get rid of my head aches and depression!

Salimatu said...


Ashi said...

The shape of my patronus is a dog. Really.