When J.K. Rowling created the Dementors that haunt Harry Potter, she reportedly based them on her experience of depression. In their presence, all the joy, warmth and happiness feels like it’s being sucked out of the air, though the real terror lies in their ‘kiss’, which drags out one’s soul (though maybe she’s trying to ward her kids off dating there).
If you haven’t had depression the Dementors probably washed over you as generically evil creatures, particularly with their hooded cloaks, rotting hands, and general hovering around. But to those in the know, the Dementors are clearly Depression. And they affect every witch, wizard and muggle in a 100 metre radius.
It’s no coincidence that they are a portmanteau of dement and tormentor. If you want to understand what depression feels like, these gravity-challenged entities hit the mark: “If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself… soulless and evil. You’ll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.” They then “freeze your insides”. And to top it off: “they don’t need walls” to keep their prisoners, their prisoners become “trapped inside their own heads”.
Despite the multitude of campaigns around telling us the signs of depression, it’s often not easy to recognise those signs in yourself and pop down to your GP. People who fall under depression might very well need help to get help. Unfortunately, just like you wouldn’t want to be around a Dementor, it is tough being around their prisoners. While depression can affect people differently, there are a few possible, and not often talked about, by-products which can make it even harder.
Failure to consider other people. Describing people suffering depression as ‘self-absorbed’ seems like a harsh way of describing those already clinically down on themselves. But there’s truth in the sentiment: it’s a self-obsession about how everything about you and in your life points to how horrible and useless you are. This is pretty time consuming. It’s not that you don’t care about others; your inability to show this, or feel complete happiness for them, makes you feel even worse. But if it’s between beating yourself up or thinking about how you affect someone else, the depressed brain will always be sentenced to the former.
Irrationality or hyper-sensitivity. Here’s an example: after a less-than-stellar attempt to park her car, a girl suffering depression goes into a panic, crying over her inability to do the simplest things and the mocking gestures of bystanders (or so she perceived).
She phones her partner and blames him for not driving her, knowing that it isn’t his fault. It was obviously unfair, but she was acting to stop something we can’t see. She was trying to grasp onto something that didn’t point to her being worthless, incapable, a joke. You’ll do whatever, to whoever, to make depression ease up on you.