Did you know Dementors in Harry Potter are symbols for J.K. Rowling’s own struggle with depression? for me, they are the only analogy that makes sense to someone that has spent at least 15 years fighting those same monsters.
They come and go, sometimes I have the strength to fight, sometimes they overpower me. Sometimes I forget that they exist.
I have struggled with depression since I was about 12. That’s 13 years now…meaning I’ve been “depressed” longer than I’ve not been.
Yet, that’s only when I remember it getting bad enough that I thought my death might be a good option. Which is crummy that a 12 y/o would ever feel that way. Yet, at 12, even though you aren’t given the credit, we know more and feel more than the adults around us understand.
I would say my real depression started at age 9 or 10. 4th grade. When conflicts with members of my family hit a breaking point. And all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and listen to audio books. Compound this with constant and debilitating stomach aches. Splash on anxiety and I was starting to struggle with all the things a normal older child should be able to deal with.
Sadly, I didn’t always have a support system that could help me or reach me when I had attacks. Often, members of my own family could be Dementors.
This isn’t about the list of things that have made it hard to change my internal dialogue, but a list of things on how to fight the darkness that creeps steadily and sneakily into your chest when you’re busy trying to survive.
Yet, either I can fall down with the monster, into a dark hole. OR
OR I can fight it.
Because I have come too damn far to not.
It’s like getting to the final battle of Hogwarts and not showing up, you know you need to be there, but you forget to set your alarm…..
It’s easy to forget the alarm, but it’s a lot harder to make up for lost time on an already short existence on this blue marble.
Here are my tips on fighting off the Dementors…
- Find little things
- I love stupid animal videos and many hours have been spent laughing at dogs fall down stairs and cats run into walls. But who cares if it’s nonsense or silly, I can laugh. I can laugh and laugh and laugh and sometimes that is just the best feeling…remembering what it’s like to laugh.
- Remember what helps
- make a list, or just think a few moments on what helps you feel better. Is it a hug from your partner or sister? How about chocolate chip cookies? Avoid co-dependence but try the little things to help. Remember if a poem helps you feel grounded, or a favorite book helps you feel alive.
- sometimes we can’t love ourselves, but we can love something else. When we share love, we can receive love and I believe if you love more and more, then you can’t stop loving everyone, especially yourself.
- Be Healthy
- many times, when I feel at my worst, it’s because I have been eating out too much, or not eating enough healthy things my body needs. This is a good chance to eat some salad, be mindful of foods you crave and maybe take a walk or a hike.
- Keep it simple
- it’s easy, as a culture, to bury ourselves in To-Do lists. however, sometimes the list is a ridiculous set of standards that causes more harm then good. When you feel low, don’t worry about all the dishes or laundry, just enjoy little things. Embrace the crazy and be. DO WHAT YOU NEED TO FEEL BETTER.
- The world will not end if you don’t clean the toilet TODAY
- Do something for confidence
- if you feel off inside, you’ll feel off outside. Not that anything may be wrong, but one may just need a boost. Maybe it’s a new haircut, or getting your nails done. Try a new perfume, or pull out those heels you never wear. Perhaps you just need a new toilet paper, but sometimes, the little things make a big difference.
- Make a change
- Change can be terrifying, but also liberating. Move some furniture around, paint a wall, sew something. Throw out old clothes, buy some new clothes, try a new blanket etc. New hobbies and other things can help a lot.
- Reach out
- talk to the people you trust and love to see how they are doing, Go get food or a drink. Be together, be friends, be loving
- This helps myself, and millions of others, find some sense in the storm that is their mind. In the internet age you can find thousands of videos, instructions and ideas to help with meditation. No need for it to be intimidating
- Most importantly, practice self-care. Be loving, be kind and be patient. This life is hard and disappointing and no one makes it out alive….so sometimes we have to step back and care. Talk to people to get through the time, therapists and doctors may have some ideas to get you back on your feet.