I am an enraptured fan of the Harry Potter book series. Each of my boys read the books, beginning with me reading to them when they were too young to read on their own. We were among the first to purchase each newly published work in the series as soon as it was available, even pre-ordering to get them as soon as possible. I was amazed and astonished at the story lines, the brilliance of the writing. The author, J.K.Rowling, is one of the most creative writers I have ever read- I am enamored with her ability to produce story, imagination, fantasy, and suspense. She keeps the reader holding on with bated breath for the next turn of events. I adore her style.
For anyone not familiar with the Harry Potter series (have you been living under a rock??), or not sure what Dementors are, here is a quote from one of the books, The Prisoner of Azkaban:
“The dementors are “soulless creatures … among the foulest beings on Earth”: a phantom species who, as their name suggests, gradually deprive human minds of happiness and intelligence. They are the guards of the wizard prison, Azkaban, until after the return of antagonist Lord Voldemort.”
And here’s a little more:
“There was a hand protruding from the cloak and it was glistening, grayish, slimy-looking and scabbed, like something dead that had decayed in water…and then the thing beneath the hood, whatever it was, drew a long, slow, rattling breath, as though it was trying to suck something more than air from its surroundings.”
That should be enough to give you the sense of what Dementors are, right? If you didn’t feel anything when reading those passages, well, you are much less sensitive/visual/ experiential than I am. Lord Voldemort is basically the most evil creature in the Universe, the Satan of Harry’s world. When I first read about Dementors, I felt a chill go down my spine. There is no doubt in my mind J.K.Rowling has been down the slippery slope, the terrifying slide, into a deep depression. The description of how dementors suck out happiness and steal the soul of a person is precisely how it feels to be hopelessly immersed in the quicksand of a severe depression. Anyone who has never been through a debilitating depression cannot know or fully understand how devastating it is to walk that path. It is similar to being in deep water and unable to come to the surface. I am a firm believer in the power of our thoughts, that we create our own reality, that we manifest what comes to us- but having survived multiple episodes of severe depression throughout my lifetime, I have the deepest compassion and understanding for anyone in the throws of it.
Someone I dearly love is currently drowning in depression, awaiting an appointment with a psychiatrist which has been prolonged multiple times due to COVID. It hurts my heart to see him suffer, knowing there is nothing I can or should do to rescue him. I am there for him, helping him with necessary tasks as I am able, being there and supporting, loving, encouraging, and holding him. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make his depression disappear. I have been in too many codependent relationships to believe I am able to rescue anyone, I am a “recovered codependent.” We all have to experience what we must throughout this journey, but I would not wish the agony of a deep depression on anyone, ever. Mental health is the foundation that must be treated and nurtured and prioritized if we are to live our best lives. Fortunately, our culture is SLOWLY letting go of the stigma attached to mental health and addiction, but we hav a very long way to go.
I believe in energy, that we are all (everything is) made up of energy. Sometimes we lack the energy necessary for producing or completing what is required of us throughout a “normal” day. During the worst days of a depressive episode, just getting out of bed may be all one can accomplish, and that is okay. I have learned to be gentle with myself, as the guilt and shame of not being on top of the world, knocking the “to-do list” down one task at a time, not showing up in all the ways our world expects us to show up, only worsens the self loathing, withdrawal, and low self esteem that comes with depression. It is crucial to have someone to talk to, someone who understands what the depressed person is feeling because they, too, have been there, been through it, and made it to the other side. It takes trust in knowing “This Too Shall Pass”, believing in the light at the end of the tunnel, and sometimes getting help in the form of Holistic, Eastern or Western medicine, knowing everything, even the potent psychotropics, or pharmaceutical medicines, can possibly provide the boost we need to help lift us up if guided by a professional who is extremely knowledgeable about treatments. I am thankfully free of all prescription drugs after having been on one for a decade (it took me an entire year to withdraw slowly and carefully from it), and I know that my depression has been a gift in my life. I have more compassion than anyone never having experienced it. I am able to BE in my low-tide periods, able to write (journal) about it, pray about it, sit with it. Life is multi-faceted; beautiful and frightening, delightful and painful. I choose all of it, every single moment of every single day, knowing there isn’t any part of who I am that I would toss away. I am who I am today because of everything I have experienced, including the trauma, the growth, the pain, the misery AND the blessings and the joy. One thing about growing older is the wisdom that ensues with each passing year, the faith in the Universe, the deep trust in oneself. Youth is fleeting, looks are fleeting, but wisdom, experience, resilience, compassion, real-life education- all of it makes us who we are, the sum of all our parts.
If you are in the depth of a deep depression, please reach out. Covid has been a time when more people than ever in history have experienced addiction, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, loss, and isolation. Please take good care of yourself, whatever that looks like. It’s okay to stay in bed for an entire day if you are depleted, just know that help is available if that one day turns into a week, if taking a shower and going out into the world feels like just too much. You are valuable, you are necessary, you are vital to our world, and your mental health matters, a whole lot. If I can be a sounding board or a pillow to cry on, please reach out to me, I am here to support. Sobriety has allowed me to truly be present for all my moods, the roller coaster of emotions that reach the highest highs and the lowest lows. Hang on tightly friends, life IS a wild ride, and we are all in it together. I wish you all the very best life has to offer. You deserve it!