Lessons on Mental Health from Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter. The name itself is enough to take us to the magic of Hogwarts and the brilliantly chaotic school life of Quidditch, magical creatures and spells. The author of the series, JK Rowling, responsible for the magic and wisdom, herself suffered from depression and therefore, has keen insights on the topic. Some of these insights have been subtly woven into the fabric of the series.

During this quarantine period, I decided to revisit the series through movies. After all, who wouldn’t want a bit of magic in these trying times?

While watching the third movie of the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I came across five things that can help us deal with our mental health in a better manner.

1. Depression = Dementors

“It was horrible,” said Neville, in a higher voice than usual. “Did you feel how cold it got when it came in?”

“I felt weird,” said Ron, shifting his shoulders uncomfortably. “Like I’d never be cheerful again […]” — JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Our lives are a mix of happy and sad, both coexisting and giving the other meaning. Take happiness out and life doesn’t feel like life anymore but a pale imitation of it. This is exactly what a dementor (depression) does.

Dementors are foul creatures who feed off all your happy memories and leave you feeling depressed and without life. When dementors descend on a place, the flowers die and the lake water turns into ice. Life becomes colourless and devoid of joy.

To be kissed by a dementor means not only forgetting the good times but also reliving the bad ones over and over again. It seems easier to just lay down and let them suck your soul out because you have no energy and reason to continue to battle them.

Depression feels similar. You have no desire to do anything including things that can help the depression to lift off.

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(Writer, Language of Mind)

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