Welcome back to another Geeky Self Care post here on bravelittlepufferfish! Today I thought I would tackle what geeky item helps me in my self care the topic for this one is extremely near and dear to my heart and that would be “Harry Potter”. The story of the boy who lived and the story that defined a generation of children who are now young adults. It is a tale of friendship, the power of love, good triumphing over evil, and of course means a lot to many people. I read them with my father from the tender age of about five and a half and have continued to love the book series. I waited in line at book stores for the books to come out and went to cinema premieres, I even have the knitting book and knit my own Weasely sweater(although by the time I was done with it I thought it would be a little bit embarrassing to have a large D on my chest). This is something that for me I could go on about for ages but I thought would break it down just a little bit!
1. Hogwarts will Always Be There
For Harry, Snape, and many students in the book series Hogwarts is a safe place where they are accepted. Dumbledore says himself that “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home”. This is a beautiful mantra and serves as a happy place. There are so many head canons on tumblr about Hogwarts accepting muslim students, trans students, Jewish students, and other often ostracized groups finding their happy place at Hogwarts. Collectively among the Harry Potter fan community there is a discussion around Hogwarts as it is ours. Across borders, religions, and cultures for those who love Harry Potter Hogwarts is a shared home we can all find. Hogwarts is a place where even the biggest of misfits can find their home. The Harry Potter community is made of misfits and in times of darkness it is a true comfort to be able to return home.
2. Boggarts and Dementors
Another point of Harry Potter is that there are specific creatures that manifest themselves as mental illnesses. The biggest being boggarts as a threat of anxiety and of course the dementors as a sign of depression. Too often these real illnesses are passed as “just being inside your head” but as Albus Dumbledore says “Just because it is in your head who is to say it isn’t real?” Perssonally I believe often the hardest part about recovering from mental illness is coming to terms with it. We see this with Harry and other wizarding children in the muggle world. They do not know of their magic, and in the case of the Dursely’s literally kept in the closet, so much that it is often out of control. It is only when that Harry accepts the fact that he is a wizard and learns how to use it properly is his magic under control. You can chase away a boggart by laughing at it, and finding that happy memory when a dementor is nearby saves your soul. It isn’t always the perfect advice but it is useful.
3. Complex Characters showcasing Complex Problems
There are several characters in the series who face abuse, racism, bigotry, manipulation, bullying, and other forms of extreme trauma. These characters rise up from the ground and are able to stand up for themselves. Through love, friendship, and some serious git and bravery these characters are able to better their situation and fight evil. Many have their times of doubt but more often in the books they are able to conquer Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters.
4. A Healthy Non Traditional Family Structure
To be honest this is a pet issue of mine. There are few non traditional family structures that operate in a healthy way so I relish any nontraditional family structure I can see.
Harry grows up in a non-nuclear family and is loved by many even those whom he would call “mom” and “dad” have passed away. For me this was big to have someone who grew up without “Mom” or “Dad” but was still loved and cared for. Of course in the muggle world he is abused by his Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, and cousin Dudley but in the wizarding world he finds a support network through his school friends and the adults around him. In a maternal way Hagrid enjoys carrying for Harry inviting him to tea every single week to talk about his classes and how his week went. This feels extremely reminiscent of the way my mother would beg me to call her about once a week. Throughout the book series we also see that Harry is given multiple father figures throughout the books including Dumbledore, Sirius, Hagrid, Lupin, and even Arthur Weaseley. Of course Harry is not short of mother figures of Molly Weasely and Minerva Mcgonagall. Each of those adult to child relationships are important to Harry and each adult recognizes that Harry’s parents are important to him even though he never had the chance to meet them. Each parental figure in the books is pertinent to Harry’s growth and development into a young man. This is big and establishes healthy relationships for those who are raised in similar non-nuclear family situations.
In truth the way I describe the relationship with my father figures is that my grandfather who raised me was a combination of loving Hagrid and wise Dumbledore while my biological father was like Sirius Black, loving but through uncontrollable circumstances was not ready to be a full time caretaker. The way my anxiety manifests itself honestly feels like a demon on my shoulder. Where suddenly opening my laptop or getting in the car can feel like a nasty boggart is hiding there. Yes boggarts for the most part are harmless but the terror they cause is real. Having the language to explain my family situations, mental health struggles, and even finding the community of misfits that make up my friends truly is a comfort that surrounds me like a warm blanket
To sum up my thoughts on Harry Potter and my mental health journey, which I am sure to return to I will leave you with this quote from Dr. Brene Brown. This is from her book “Braving the Wilderness: the Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone” Dr. Brown writes
“ Yes, we know that Harry Potter is not real, but we know that colective light is is real. And powerful. And in the face of hatred and bigotry and cruelty and everything that dark sky stood for, we were so much stronger together.”
I believe that sums up my feelings about Harry Potter, although I refuse to believe it isn’t real. Below I have also listed some resources if you would like to explore this topic further. Please let me know what you think by liking this post, sharing with your friends or any other means. Has Harry Potter resonated with you in times of darkness? Is there a particular character that resonates with you? How so? Please let me know in the comment section down below!
Harry Potter Self Care Resources.
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text
This is a 30 minute podcast series in which two humanist ministers form the Harvard divinity school, the wonderful Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile, read Harry Potter using sacred reading practices they learned in divinity school. Each episode focuses on a different chapter through the lens of a specific theme, they will use a specific sacred reading practice often from the Christian or Jewish tradition, and close with a blessing upon two of the characters. They also take voicemails from listeners about their own thoughts and interpretation of the texts. Whether you belong to a faith and actively participate in your religious community or are an atheist who would like to be more spiritual I believe there is something for everyone in this podcast. It is a loving community and you are able to pick and chose what theme you may want to focus on. I have friends who are actually reading the books alongside the podcast which is another great way to listen. Please go check them out as they are wonderful!
Harry Potter Therapy: An Unauthorized Self Help Book from the Restricted Section by Dr. Janina Scarlett
The author of this book is both a self proclaimed nerd and registered psychologist. This is a book where many common and uncommon mental health topics are discussed through the lens of Harry Potter including but not limited to anxiety, depression, body image issues, bullying and much much more. There are shared stories of other Potter Heads and how the story of harry helped them through their journeys or tough mental health situations. There are also techniqtues for mindfulness and coping that are focused through the lens of Harry Potter. They are the same ones you would expect to learn in a therapy but with a nerdy twist. I bought my copy for about $8.00 on Amazon so go check it out if you have the means. Or if you don’t perhaps ask your local library to order it.