Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some of my feelings towards these books. Anyone who knows me knows that Harry Potter is a big part of my life (out of 10 my obsession with it is 9 and 3/4’s 😉 ) – I read the books and watched the films for the first time when I was about 11 or 12 but in the last few years I’ve really gotten into the world that JK Rowling created with her words. I received all the books as a set a couple of Christmas’ ago and haven’t really stopped reading them since. One support worker from a hospital last year once told me that she could sometimes tell how well I was doing from what I was reading. If I was feeling bad then I’d return to the wizarding world with all of it’s familiarity and comfort but if I was starting to feel better I’d be able to read something new and absorb new information and stories. Below is something I wrote last year when I first started to recognise that the books were no longer just books, but distractions, comfort blankets and friends to me in some of the loneliest times of my life.
Every night I return to the same seven books, the same story, the same characters. And lately I’ve found myself asking, ‘why?’
These are the books that have acted as my shield from the world, from the thoughts that have plagued me, tortured me, driven me to destroy my body and mind. These are the books I have turned to to tune out the noise of other people doing the same to themselves. These are the books I have used to distract myself from everything wrong in my life – in the world. These are the books I love, the books that saved me and helped me save myself. These are the books that contain pieces of me, parts of my very soul.*
I saw myself in each and every one of these characters. In Harry I saw a fellow fighter, someone fighting a constant and evolving battle against his enemies, I saw someone that overcame his struggles, his experiences and didn’t let them define him or his future. I saw a flawed person fighting for others as well, because that was what he believed was right. I saw someone locked away for years, restricted and made to feel small, like my mind made me. I saw someone else with scars, his iconic lightening bolt on his head particularly resonated with me. Harry mentions the familiar ‘flick’ people’s eyes made when they saw his scar, something that frequently happened with me when my mind convinced me to scratch for hours at my face until it bled and left marks.
I saw as boy that made mistakes, that had had bad things happen to him and used them to grow as a person, but most of all, I saw a boy who lived.
It wasn’t just Harry whom I related to, I felt like all of the characters contained some aspects of me, and I’m sure thousands of other people feel the same. In Hermione I saw someone else that was eager to learn and be liked, someone who stood up for her beliefs and what was right, someone who fought past her negative labels. In Ron I saw someone funny, passionate and a fiercely loyal friend. In Dumbledore I saw someone who feared his past and bad experiences but still wanted to help others and change the world, to make sure that no one had to feel like he did again. In Luna I saw someone slightly mad and often misunderstood but also someone proud of who she was, that stayed true to herself in spite of this and didn’t feel like she had to change herself to fit in with what society viewed as normal; she helped me feel able to say and feel compeltely at peace with the fact that, as the Dursley’s would definitely not have said, ‘I’m perfectly not normal thank you very much!” In Sirius Black I saw someone who spent years away from his family and friends fighting the dementors (evil beings synonymous with depression) for his sanity. JK Rowling has mentioned in interviews before that the dementors were in fact inspired by her own depression before she wrote the books.
“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. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can’t see 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. You’ll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”
-Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
JK Rowling is an incredible human who has touched so, so many people all around the world with her books and I will forever be grateful to her for what she’s created and the impact she’s had on me. Her words have literally stopped me from harming myself at times, been a distraction from suicidal thoughts, thoughts to self harm or restrict. I know I could say this about a number of things but who knows, one of the times they distracted me could well have been the time that I managed to harm myself beyond repair – they may even have saved my life.
As Dumbledore once said, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.” I hope that one day I’m able to inspire others with my words in the same way JK Rowling has, and continues to do so, with me.
To be able to write must be the most wondrous gift of all: to entertain people with eloquent thoughts written on paper, to paint pictures of people and far off places with your words and for people to read and read and find little pieces of themselves in your story or quotes that will stay with them for years after the final turn of the page – how wonderful that is. How powerful the author must feel.
Some of my favourite quotes from Harry Potter and JK Rowling.
Okay, deep thoughts over, here are a couple of pictures from my Harry Potter marathon (all the movies in two days!). I had a really great time with my friends both real and fictional and definitely want to make it an annual event – next time I’m definitely going to try and make butterbeer!
I’ve finished my exams now (they’ll be another post about that soon) so expect to hear a lot more from me now I have nine weeks off!
I hope you’re all okay, if you feel like it, comment below what books or movies have helped you through dark times or what Harry Potter means to you.
Lots of love and air hugs,
*10 House Points to anyone that understood the horcrux reference, and the many other Harry Potter puns hidden in this post 😉