… or: How a Harry Potter spell made its way under my skin.
Yes, I have a tattoo that says „expecto patronum“. And yes, that’s a spell from the Harry Potter series. But the story behind this tattoo is not so much that of a book nerd (even though I will not deny that I am absolutely addicted to everything Harry Potter). There’s actually a lot more to it.
What pretty much everybody knows: JK Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series.
What not everybody knows: JK Rowling suffered from severe depression.
And in the third book in the series, she processes her experience with the disease by weaving a metaphor of what it looks like for her into the storyline.
More precisely, she introduces the reader to a creature that she later revealed was inspired by her clinical depression: the Dementor.
„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… soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.“
—Remus Lupin, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Luckily, JKR not only confronts us with this (in my opinion) disturbingly accurate metaphor, she also presents a way to defeat the Dementors – the Patronus Charm:
The idea of a piece of magic that uses happy memories to beat dementors/depression fascinated me so much that almost two years ago, I had „expecto patronum“ (in the handwriting of someone I love very very much) inked into my skin as a reminder to not give up. As a reminder that you have to go out and create happy moments and memories, because they can be your weapon against the dementors in your head.
So with this in mind… EXPECTO PATRONUM!