I’ve been having a hard time recently, so I took a few days off work to deal with that (which seems to have helped). During that time, I decided to watch some of the Harry Potter movies. When I got to The Deathly Hallows Part 1, I found a very tangible explanation of what’s been going on and of depression in general: the horcrux.
A brief recap: While trying to find a way to destroy it, Harry wears the horcrux necklace to avoid losing it. He becomes angry and constantly on edge, finally snapping at Hermoine. Realizing that this was caused by the necklace, Hermoine tells him to take it off and they all take turns wearing it. Ron has the hardest time wearing it and ultimately becomes the one to destroy the necklace.
There are a few ways I see this as depression.
First, it often feels situational when it starts. Harry thinks he’s just angry because he has an impossible mission and immense pressure (a perfectly good reason to be snappy!). The idea that the horcrux could be causing all of this doesn’t even cross his mind. When you have an episode of depression during a hard time in your life, it feels like that is what’s wrong. Only you try to make your life better and you don’t feel any better. Sometimes it takes someone else pointing that out for you to make the connection. After all, Harry doesn’t even think to take the necklace off until Hermoine tells him to.
Like the horcrux, there isn’t an easy solution to depression. They realize the horcrux is making them miserable, but they still can’t get rid of the thing. They have to keep hunting until the solution they need presents itself. If all it took to get rid of depression was realizing you’re depressed and wanting to get better, no one would have depression. It takes a lot of work to find the right blend of therapy and/or medication(s). You’re wandering through the world trying to find a sword to destroy the horcrux, all while you get more and more miserable with it around.
Most importantly to me, though, the horcrux captures what it feels like to be depressed. When people think of depression, they think of being really, really sad all the time. It’s the Death Eater approach to depression–something comes and sucks all of the happiness and life out of you. Except not always. Depression (especially in children and men) looks a lot like anger and irritability. Everything in your life puts you on edge. Everything that goes wrong is amplified by a thousand. You hate everyone and, most of all, yourself. You suspect people around you. They’re all having a good time without you and don’t want you around. Your mind tells you nothing but lies, only you can’t tell that they are. Oh, and all of the joy and happiness is gone. All you have is anger and depression. Absolutely miserable.
There’s some good in this analogy, though. Remember the deal about them sharing the responsibility of wearing the horcrux? That works with depression, too. No one can actually “wear” your depression for you, but I’ve found that a good conversation can be like that. Talking to someone honestly about depression while they listen and don’t try to solve things can lift an immense weight. The depression isn’t gone, but you got a breather during that conversation. Someone else wore the horcrux for a few minutes. You still have to put it back on when the conversation is done, but it’s easier to bear while you keep searching.
I’ve said it many times before and I’ll do it again- listening to someone in need is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. It’s not easy. It’s wearing the horcrux, even if it’s only for a few minutes. But it’s the key to helping someone’s depression end. I promise, meds on their own don’t do it. Talking is always part of the path forward, whether to a friend, family member, or therapist. If you see that someone is having a hard time, give them a break from wearing the horcrux alone. For those of you reading this going through your own hard times, I hope you find someone to do that for you.