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Why I Feel like 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Anxiety'

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Editor’s Note: This piece contains spoilers of the Harry Potter books and movies.

I’m no Harry Potter. I’m not brave enough to eat gillyweed to help me breathe underwater. When people look at me, they see a nice, happy, quiet girl who would most definitely be sorted into Hufflepuff — and not the Cederic Diggory kind of Hufflepuff. If I looked into the Mirror of Erised, I wouldn’t see my parents smiling back at me. Rather, I’d see myself, free from the dementor inside me.

But all the Expecto Patronum practice in the world wouldn’t be able to save me from my anxiety. I can’t escape it. Can’t push it away. Because although my anxiety sucks away my happiness just like a dementor, it is not a dementor. It’s not some new, unexpected intruder floating towards me in a black cloak. It’s something I am — like how Harry was a horcrux. I can’t kill it without also killing me.

In addition to being the worst part, the best part about my dementor is that it is all mine. That is the one power I have over it. It is confined solely to me. I am its entire world. I’m the only one who can feel its deathly kiss. Because of this, I can bottle it down. Take one for the team. Hide it. Thanks to Professor Lupin’s spell: Riddikulus, I can disguise it.

And I do. I use so much energy trying to disguise it. This part of me is ruthless, cruel, ugly and no one should have to see it in its purest form. So instead I let it do its worst — while trying my hardest to remember Professor Lupin’s verse: Riddikulus. Riddikulus! This monster is ridiculous. I am being ridiculous. And so I laugh with you after I ask if my headache is a brain tumor and I’ll be the first to point out my clammy hands, because I know most of the time I’m just fine. There’s nothing to worry about. I’m overthinking it. But these rational thoughts are so easily drowned out by the siren in my head, alerting me of everything that could go wrong and how I’m practically already dead. But I swallow it back. Put on my mask and play it off as I remind myself of the facts.

1. It’s all in my head.
2. That doesn’t make it any less real.
3. People want to help.
4. People don’t understand.
5. I want to feel better.
6. I don’t understand it. Anxiety My anxiety. Me.
7. Fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself.
8. Anxiety.
9. Anxiety.
10. Anxiety.

So yeah, maybe I would be a Hufflepuff. But not because I’m not brave enough to be a Gryffindor or smart enough to be a Ravenclaw. Maybe I’m used to being overlooked as simply nice and happy. Maybe that’s what I want. While I may avoid confrontations and fights, it’s not because I’m too scared or weak, but just that I’m busy using my resources elsewhere. I’m busy strategizing and battling this bitch of a dementor living inside my head. Although my loving friends and family will encourage me to “beat it” and remind me I’m stronger than my anxiety — despite all their input, I already know how strong I am. I’ve already been battling with it every day. And just because my dementor might win a couple battles and take off its disguise for you to see, I promise you, I am still winning the war.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Photo via Harry Potter Facebook page.

Originally published: July 11, 2017
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