Most of you must be aware of the fact that JK Rowling agreed to the theory proposed by many fans who claimed that the Dementors were metaphors for depression.
“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. […] Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself — soul-less and evil.”
– Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
At first, I thought Dementors were for fear. I mean, come on, Dementors are quite possibly the scariest creatures in the Harry Potter universe. They’re sentient to some extent and they have an over-powered ultimate called the ‘kiss of death’ which sucks out your soul and reduces you to a shell of your former self. However, there is another magical creature which is the actual embodiment of fear.
“So the boggart sitting in the darkness within has not yet assumed a form. He does not yet know what will frighten the person on the other side of the door. Nobody knows what a boggart looks like when he is alone, but when I let him out, he will immediately become whatever each of us most fears.”
Harry’s boggart was a Dementor, to which Lupin says “That suggests that what you fear most of all is- fear. Very wise, Harry.”
So I’m guessing that while a Dementor mostly represents depression, it can also represent fear for some of us. After all, some forms of depression can be a result of fear, whether it’s fear of the future, fear of people, fear of yourself, if you let fear get to you, it can culminate depression. And that’s what I think my Dementors are. Depression stemming from fear.
There’s lots of different things that make me uncomfortable (like insects) but there’s only a few things that can actually trigger a depression phase in me. For me, depression isn’t something pretty, like wistful nostalgic sadness or staring out of the window on a rainy day. Depression is lying in bed and not being able to stop crying, it’s going to the fridge or the kitchen and finding yourself gagging at the sight and smell of food, it’s feeling helpless when you’re hungry, and it’s desperation when you want this whole phase to end but you don’t know how it’s going to stop and you’re trying so hard to be happy again because depression itself is so much more scary than whatever triggered it in the first place.
And nothing works. Because depression is a phase, right? It’s like the common cold, or the flu. It’s here to stay for a few days (and you can’t change how long it’s staying) before running off. That’s how my depression works.
I know a lot of people suffer from clinical depression, the kind that makes them suicidal frequently and requires them to take drugs to stay stable. I’m not trying to say that my type of depression is something that is as important as theirs, let alone more important. I’m just saying that my kind of depression is valid and real and there’s no reason for me not to talk about it. Even if people have it way worse than me, it doesn’t mean I should sit down and stay quiet about what happens to me.
Glad we got that out of the way.
So for this post, I’m just going to talk about what my kind of depression feels like exactly. If I wrote about all my depression right into one post, it’ll turn into a very long mess that you might not be able to reach the end of. I’ll talk about all the things that have triggered my depression in the next post of this series.
For me, 2015 was a pretty rough year. It was my first year in med school so it’s not surprising that my first depression phase of the year started not very soon after classes commenced. The second phase happened during our trip to the United States in the summer of 2015. And the third phase… I can’t really remember when that happened. But it definitely happened.
The first time, I just woke up in the morning and I just didn’t want to go to school. The problem with me is that it’s surprisingly really easy for me to burst into tears, it’s very embarrassing for me. When my mother asked me why I didn’t want to go to school, I just burst into tears and I was like “I don’t like med school!” and she tried coax out some answers from me so in that cry-mode, I ended up blurting out all the pettiest reasons my subconscious could think of for hating school.
“Nobody talks to me and I haven’t made any friends and I hate going to school!” I end up blubbering. Of course my mother is a little alarmed and she calls up my father (who was in the US at that time) and he’s just listening to me cry and he says “Okay. Don’t go to school. Take as many days off as you want. We’ll sort this out when I get back to Pakistan” and I hand the phone to my mother who of course, has to agree. She personally thought I should continue going to school until I got used it.
I spent an entire week at home, skipping school, having to listen to my mother say “If you keep wallowing away like this, you’ll never fit into school, you have to force yourself to go and you have to force yourself to go talk to people. Making friends isn’t so hard. I know where you got those genetics from- it was hard for me to make friends too. But now that I’m older, I know that going up to people and making small talk isn’t so hard. You just have to push yourself”
I was in no mood to push myself.
Of course, I lost my appetite a bit as well and ended up eating fruits more than actual food and sleeping most of the time or studying. The second phase involved me generally feeling unwell and again, lost my appetite. I was completely fine until we reached Florida, the state I lived in for 10 years. We had some tickets for the local amusement park and zoo and I remember being generally tired and irritable and wishing we could just go home already. The only place I felt okay in was the car because the car meant we were moving onwards in our road trip.
My mother and brothers wanted to take a roller coaster ride in the park and I joined them in the line too. The whole time, I felt like I was hyperventilating and I told myself I was being stupid because I’d already been on that ride two years ago and there wasn’t anything scary about it. Why was I feeling this way? I stood in that line for almost an entire hour, jumping from foot to foot, wondering if I should go to the bathroom or could I handle it for five minutes of the ride? I was in this state of perpetual stress until we reached the final line, the line where they set you into the order required to board the coaster, two people per line since each coaster box had two seats. And I felt my hijab choke my neck to the point where it was hard for me to reply to what my mother was asking me and I ended up vaulting over the coaster and waving “I can’t ride this, bye” and hurrying towards the exit line.
I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t going to risk myself choking to death out of stress just to ride a stupid coaster in a land a million miles away from home among all these people who don’t look like me or dress like me but are judging me pretty hard for it. So yeah, I chickened out. That’s the kind of depression I have. It’s not something vague, it’s sharp and choking and it’s always sitting around my neck.