how a harry potter character saved my life
This is a part of my story I have only recently been able to publicly talk about. It's taken over 4 years for me to really be able to put this part of everything into words and also to be able to not break down when I'm telling the story. Some of you may already know what happened after I shared this on the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. This is going to be a little more in-depth than that because I've got longer than a few minutes to limit myself to.
Alright, here we go!
A handful of months after my sexual assault, (the assault happened in December '13) I hit my lowest of lows. I wasn't really eating, I wasn't sleeping properly, and I was spending all my time isolating myself from everyone. The only time I would really get out of bed was for school, going to the bathroom, or walking to the fridge to get some water in an attempt to show my face to my parents so they wouldn't come knocking on my door checking on me. Mind you, they had no clue what had happened to me and had no clue what I was going through because I had not told a single soul. Well, I had told someone and it didn't go well, but that's a story for another time. I kept everything to myself. I had joined the Navy back in December a couple days after everything had happened because I wanted to be away from everything that happened. I didn't care about anything anymore. I stopped painting which had been my go-to hobby that I loved. I stopped caring about my appearance, only doing the bare minimum so I didn't look how I was feeling.
I ended up slowly collecting a pile of pills, and stashing them in a ZipLock bag under my mattress. I hadn't had a specific date in mind. I didn't even really walk around truly knowing I was suicidal. It was sort of just like something that was there for when I finally decided I wanted to take them and end my life. If it happened, it happened. Granted, there were days when I wasn't suicidal and could find joy in life, but those slight reprieves were not often enough to really keep me going. I was lost and I didn't know a way out.
One night, I decided I'd had enough. I had a really bad flashback that was so vivid, I could've sworn he was in the room with me again with his hand around my neck. It broke me. I couldn't see a way to go on. I sat on my bed and held my bag of pills in my hands. I couldn't stop crying. I was so exhausted, frustrated, and hurting. I sat there rocking back and forth trying to muster up the will to just take the pills. As I was sitting there, I had this really strange urge to read Harry Potter. It was just this super intense feeling and I just knew I had to do it. I justified it by thinking, "Well, at least I can get a few moments of reprieve from my own thoughts before I go. I can spend a few minutes in a world where I'm not hurting."
I grabbed the nearest Harry Potter book I could find. It was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I flipped through the book a couple of times trying to think of which part I wanted to read. I stopped in chapter 12, called "The Patronus", where Professor Remus Lupin is trying to teach Harry how to perform the patronus charm to be able to ward off the dementors. I began to read, taking my time because I wanted to spend as much time as possible out of my own head. I wanted to feel something that wasn't anger or desperation or fear.
Suddenly, I stopped and re-read a paragraph because I felt like there was something there. It was the scene where Remus is telling Harry about the dementor's kiss. What gave me pause was this quote: "You can exist without your soul, you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you'll have no sense of self anymore, no memory, no... anything. There's no chance at all of recovery. You'll just - exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone forever... lost."
Reading that passage, it suddenly dawned on me that Remus may have been talking about the dementor's kiss on the surface, but that, underneath it all, he was talking about the fact he was a werewolf. He was talking about the fact that he got attacked at a young age by a werewolf, something completely out of his control, and had his entire life changed. He was talking about how it felt to have his identity ripped from him because of someone else's horrid choices. He was talking about how it feels to be constantly battling the shame and stigma that comes from being a werewolf and how, at times, it feels like you don't have a soul and that life is just empty.
At that moment, I understood that I wasn't alone. Remus had been subjected to a vicious attack just as I had. Remus had struggled under the weight of what he had become, him a werewolf, me, a victim of rape. Remus spent so much time hiding that part of himself because it was looked at as being shameful, just how much of society looks at victims of rape and the reason I hadn't publically stated what had happened to me. He didn't ask to get attacked and become a werewolf just as I had not asked to be violated. I understood that, even though Remus is a fictional character, he had a very similar life experience and that I was not alone. I realized that if Remus Lupin could choose to survive every single day and find something to keep living for, I could do it, too. I remembered that, even as a werewolf, Remus found friends, he found love, and he found life. I wanted that for myself. If Remus had defied what society had laid out for him as a werewolf, I could defy what had been laid out for me, too. I could survive, too. I could live, too.
I got up immediately after this dawning idea and dumped all my pills into the toilet and flushed them away. I decided that I was going to be like Remus. I was going to push through and I was going to survive this. Never once have I considered suicide since. Remus Lupin saved my life that night and I will never forget it. This is why the Harry Potter series means so much to me. I loved it my whole life but this brought an entirely new meaning into my life. Harry Potter is such a large part of me because of this. I could not be more grateful to J.K. Rowling for writing Remus' character in that fashion. I don't know if she meant what I got out of that scene or just what, but I would not be alive today if it wasn't for that. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
For anyone struggling with anything like this, please, please, remember that you are not alone. You are never alone. I'm here for you. There's a whole community here for you. I love you and we will get through this together.
What actually inspired me to be able to tell this part of my experience was a podcast by the name of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. It's my all-time favorite podcast and it brightens my week up every time they release a new episode. In January of 2018, they released an episode where they were reading a chapter of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire through the theme of "trauma." I listened to the episode diligently and afterward, I felt a fire in my heart. I felt that I had something I needed to say. I recorded a message telling them a condensed version of what I've told you above and sent it in, not really expecting anything to come of it. A week and a half later, I received an email response letting me know that they aired my voicemail in an episode because all three of them truly felt that there were people out there who needed to hear my story and my blessing of healing for them.
If you would like to hear my story on the podcast, you can click here and scroll down to the episode titled "Unity: The Four Champions (Book 4, Chapter 17). My portion of the podcast goes from 30:34 until 35:04.