“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real” – J.K.Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Being a big Harry Potter fan, both reading the books and watching the films happens at least once a year for me. So I had seen or heard this quote many times since the Deathly Hallows was published. However it wasn’t until I saw this Buzzfeed article that I really READ these words from Dumbledore and they became some of the most important words I had ever come across.
Anyone who suffers mental health issues will have encountered the attitude that it is all in your head and that you simply need to pull yourself together. My anxiety may well be a product of what is happening in my head and not as real as a physical object or event, it does however have a very real impact on my life and my ability to interact with the world around me.
So to have someone say that thoughts and feelings are as real as anything physical made me feel understood and comforted in a way no self-help book or counsellor ever has. Yes my anxiety and depression do not have a physical form that I can show to people to say this is what is wrong with me like I could do when I had my bone marrow transplant for leukaemia. That does not mean that it is not real or its effects are not real. I feel those effects all the time, my day to day life is affected by things that some people would dismiss as not being real.
It is hard dealing with something that you are taught to think of as not real. I often used to feel ashamed that I was struggling with something so easily dismissed by others, as if I was rubbish or weak to be so badly affected by something that was not even real. Those words though by J.K Rowling vindicated how I was feeling, how tough I found dealing with what went on in my head. I felt less alone and more importantly that by accepting that they were real, those thoughts and feelings become more tangible and something that can be dealt with.
Help and support comes from the most unlikely of sources sometimes. Reading has often been one of my biggest escapes and comforts when I am finding things tough. I did not however expect to find such an ally in the Harry Potter books as I have. Since reading that initial article though, I have time and time again come across the impact this quote, others and the Harry Potter world in general has had on people during difficult times in their lives. Maybe this next quote explains why…