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From Our Readers: How JK Rowling Saved Me from Depression

You saved me from my depression.
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This week, I decided to write about my favorite superhero. If we were talking about Marvel, DC, folklore, local, or mythical, I don't have any. I can't think of any. I could write about the people who saved me, though, but I'll save that for later. Right now, I want to write about my favorite author.

My sophomore year in college was revolutionary—life-changing, soul-shattering, heart-wrenching. I began to see what life was really about; it was far from the fairytales that they made me believe and read when I was younger. Thanks to my depression, I became a bookworm.

I held on to books as if my life depended on them. And by books, I meant To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Looking for Alaska, The Women's Room, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Bridget Jones' Diary, 13 Reasons Why, and more. These books justified the realities of life and the existence of negative things—evil, racism, loneliness, being alone, depression, societal sexism, injustice, failures, and death. These coming-of-age realizations made me want to disappear from the world completely. They knocked down my studies, relationships, and above all, my emotional, physical, and mental health.

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These coming-of-age realizations made me want to disappear from the world completely. They knocked down my studies, relationships, and above all, my emotional, physical, and mental health.

All of a sudden, alcohol became my constant companion. My favorite pastime was to drink the night away with my college friends. I wanted to leave the city and disappear forever like Margo in Paper Towns, but I didn't have money. Even if I did, I didn't have the courage to leave. One day, I decided I'd be Alaska Young. I thought that perhaps if I smoked and drank too much, I could suffer from a serious disease and die. Still, I didn't. I was like Marla in Fight Club. My philosophy in life, like her, was that I could die at any moment—the tragedy was that I didn't.

Then I decided to read everybody's favorite—the Harry Potter series. For a girl with great disdain for mainstream books, I admit that I have fallen head over heels in love with this series.

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I was lucky I became acquainted with these witches and wizards. In the times when the Death Eaters cast unforgivable curses on me, I buried myself between the pages of the books and lived in fantasy. In those moments when the Dementors tried to kiss me, I relived the movie scenes in my head and became happy. At school, my friends and I even formed a friendship as strong as the Dumbledore's Army. To make the long story short, the Harry Potter series became my ultimate escape from reality.

So thank you, J.K. Rowling, for saving me from real-life Dementors when they kissed my soul and sucked all the happiness out of me. You are Sirius to me, the one who inspired me to keep fighting while the Slytherins awaited my downfall. You are also Ron and Hermione to me, the friends cheered for me when Draco caught the Golden Snitch. You are Professor McGonagall when Snape closed the door to the Headmaster's office. Yet you are also Snape who saved me from the worst enemy of all.

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You are Sirius to me, the one who inspired me to keep fighting while the Slytherins awaited my downfall.

You were like me once—the aspiring author who suffered from depression and chose to write her way through life instead. You are the Molly to my Ginny and the Lily to my Harry. You are the Mad-Eye Moody who inspired me to become an Auror. You are also Dumbledore, the greatest Headmaster I've ever known.

Thank you for creating all these characters that became my companion during my life's darkest hours. Thank you for teaching me Defense Against the Dark Arts to prepare for Voldemort's return to power.

Thanks to you, I am now on a journey to find the Deathly Hallows and destroy the seven Horcruxes. Thanks to you and your magical spells, I am now ready to fight the Dark Lord.

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PRIMO.

First. Pixie dust and paper cuts – these are the first things Wendy knew about Peter Pan. Aurora first met Prince Philip when she was sixteen. Learning how to ride a bike was also a first while I was growing up, but you are probably the first of too many. The first collection of dust and stars; maybe Luna will try to ask, who was your first? I might answer and tell her that it was you.

The first of too many stars in the sky. You are the first of too many fallen leaves during fall – and you will be the most anticipated snowflake as winter comes. A dark path that you can’t see without any light, hence, you were once the moon and there are the stars that shine so bright at night. Are we too early? Or we just really want to be ahead of time? Even in a glimpse, I would like to see the two of us connect as if we can reach the sky. There are other parts of the heavens you have never saw and other oceans you haven’t laid your feet onto – but the constellations will always wait for you. Close your eyes, love, close your eyes. Start counting backward: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Count backward until you see the twinkling lights that will guide you to the right path. To the right satellite; to the right person. A first.

There are many firsts – first love, first heartbreak, first sport you played, the first thing you do in the morning, the first thing you remember about the person in front of you. There are a lot. It’s actually up to us how we will consider something as a first. So, Primo, you are already a first of too many.

Bea Alamis 7 hours ago

If you know me, and know me well, I am not the biggest fan of idyllic lifestyles. With a Type A personality, I act immediately upon whatever challenge that needs to be addressed. I actually enjoy keeping my mind preoccupied: doing university work in my favourite cafe then running errands around town, grocery shopping here, updating my accounts there, photocopying documents on the way down the street - all just in time before having a glass of champagne at the bar with my friends come evening.

And so, you could imagine my bewilderment when the next challenge to be faced was an extensive self-quarantine protocol. I didn’t know what to do when my greatest responsibility in this situation was to do nothing at all. My first few attempts to combat my consternation were very much rooted in distraction and imagination. My distractions involved conducting research, writing songs, calling family and friends, filming videos, and eating chocolate! My imaginations and fantasies were centred on travelling, shopping, even clubbing (which I rarely do) for when they find a cure to COVID-19. I did anything and everything that could be considered constructive in order to pass the time, mainly hoping I could just undertake the basic human necessities to survive - that is, eat and sleep the day through - until the next day comes, until the world is closer to becoming a better place, until quarantine ends, until my flight follows through, until I see my family and friends again.

Days in self-isolation and suspended flights turned to weeks and turned to months. By the third extension here in Spain where I study Fashion Business, I had to tell myself this shall be my new normal now, that I was blessed to be healthy, that I was tired of merely existing and missed what it was like to actually live - even if just within four walls. Little by little, I began to find significance in the simple occurrences of the day: the soft glare of the rising sun beaming golden streaks through my bedroom window upon waking up, the fragrance of freshly washed bed sheets that I had painstakingly hung to fit a relatively small clothes rack without crumpling them, the crunch and tanginess of warm toasted bread topped with raspberry marmalade, the buzzing sound of a phone call from home just waiting to be answered, to the caress of a fuzzy sweater to keep warm at night. I realised, “What pleasures to be enjoyed in the pause of slow living!” Through this continued pause, which I loathed at first, I began to appreciate each moment of the day rather than wish it would pass more swiftly, moments I had overlooked so often before the lockdown. I started to find that the challenge of self-isolation was never to pause both the regular routines of life as well as the positive emotions that came with these - as initially, I thought it meant to pause all happiness, so as to withstand a time of endurance in hopes for a better tomorrow, much like a form of delaying gratification. Life is just too fragile these days to delay gratification any further.

Life has paused, but it has not stopped. Believe that like any punctuation mark in a sentence, the pause will provide the right timing of things to take place. Till then, let us not waste our time waiting. Instead, we could be in the moment, seek substance in simplicity (that is, in what we already have), And enjoy the pleasure in pause. “Practice the Pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.”

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