The Dementor’s Kiss and Hermione’s Secret (PoA 20 & 21)

On a different note from my last post, as I finish Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at the same time summer comes to an end I want to take these last 3 chapters (2 blog posts) to sort of reflect on my summer. Now I had a pretty epic summer. I went to Italy, I earned 10 credits, I started to pull my GPA out of the hole I put it in first semester, I made some new friends and may have lost some old ones, but most importantly of all I found this incredible strength to keep moving forward and found that second chances are abundant.

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The tribe that started it…

I went into this summer a little stressed. Last fall when finals came around the stress monster started to take over. The result was a poor grade in a class I thought would be my highest grade and a truly low GPA. It’s hard to keep your head up when you’ve surrounded yourself with people who are truly brilliant and don’t seem to be struggling at all. So everything was now riding on the spring semester. During this time stress was constantly running high. I went to class and stress levels would skyrocket. I would go home to study and be stressed. Every choice, every decision, every interaction was nothing but stressful. So as finals wrapped up and I packed my stuff up to head out to Italy, I couldn’t shake the stress.

Now I enjoyed Italy, it was a great experience, full of life and laughter and plenty of pasta. Yet, I was stressed the entire time. Between my own anxiety and dealing with other people’s anxiety over grades, being in a foreign country, reading assignments, law review write-ons and more I couldn’t help but feel anxious every day. I wanted to be chill. I wanted to just lay on the beach every day without a care in the world, but I couldn’t.

When I got back from Italy, the stress of finals, an externship, a part-time job and dealing with friend issues all got to be too much. I felt like I was on the brink of losing it. I wanted to cry everyday. Things that were perfectly fine to be upset about on a micro level, exploded all over the place. Hiking mountains resulted in tears, dealing with an actual crisis resulted in bigger problems to deal with later. Everything felt like it was spiraling. Nothing felt safe. Nothing felt okay. Everything felt like another boulder being added to my bag to carry. IMG_1575

And then something changed.

IN these two chapters the gang heads back towards the castle with Peter in tow. But as the night unfolds, Lupin turns into a werewolf, Peter gets away, Sirius is injured and almost has his soul sucked out by dementors (alongside Harry), Sirius is taken into captivity again, Hermione and Dumbledore let harry in on a secret, Hermione and Harry go back in time to save Buckbeak and Sirius and rush back so no one knows they have messed with the way things unfold.

One of the key moments in this chapter, something that gives Harry strength is when Sirius asks Harry to live with him instead of the Durselys. Of course all hope of this is lost when Peter gets away, but in the moment, when Harry needs to save himself, Hermione and Sirius from the Dementor’s Kiss, that moment gives him the power to conjure one of the strongest Patronus charms anyone has ever seen out of Harry’s age group.

For me, this summer that strength has come in a few spread out moments. One of them was when I decided to take back my life from my anxiety, to become independent again and head back to living on my own. Another moment came from raising my GPA back up to a 3.0. Another moment was getting word that I wouldn’t be losing my scholarship and last but not least it has been in getting grades back form my summer classes. At the end of the day I am not my anxiety and my anxiety is not me.

mary-grandpre-rescue-of-sirusWhen you have a mental disorder such as depression or anxiety, it threatens to constantly consume your entire life. People define you by it, they tell you things like “oh, it’s just your anxiety”, “Oh you must be on the track towards a depressed state.” And you do it towards yourself. You start to make excuses for the way you act when you are actually upset about how you’ve been treated or the circumstances at hand. You start to apologize for ever getting upset about something that you should actually be upset about. You change the way you act, you change the way you speak, you change so much about yourself to fit into this anxious role you now only see yourself starring in.

Choosing to no longer live this way: the best damn decision one can make. It’s a second chance, a way to change your own life. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing this second year of law school. Don’t get me wrong, law school is a great place for people, it’s just not my actual favorite place. It’s competitive, it’s a horse and pony show for those who need ego boosts, it’s unforgiving at times, it’s difficult to navigate. But in the end it’s rewarding in reflecting to you who you are and then showing you who you truly want to be.

Sirius Black was made out to be a murderer, then actually almost became one, then almost died and then was brought back into custody to be killed and then was given a second chance at life with Hermione and Harry’s rescue. Sure, he now goes on the run, but he’s been given a chance to no longer live int he role of a murderer seeking revenge. Getting to start a new school year feels similar. We are no longer stuck in the sections we were assigned, we get a chance to pick our classes, meet new people and step out of our comfort zones. We get the chance to start anew, to start fresh, to explore more of who we are as compared to who we thought we were. IMG_1101

Looking back on this summer I was able to truly connect with a side of me I no longer really knew. I was able to step back and see what I wanted, explore who I wanted to be and appreciate who I already am. And we will now wait and see who I become this next year, this fresh start of a school year… the 2L year.

We’ve got one more post to wrap this book today… so stay tuned.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

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Snape’s Grudge (PoA 14)

Sometimes I think this blog should really be called The Wizarding World of Dealing with an Anxiety Disorder and Preaching Mental Health in Law School.

tumblr_static_6jad1rleycws0sgckck88808w_640_v2.gifSnape’s grudge is one that will truly unfold itself as the series progresses, but in this chapter we see it really start to be revealed to readers. The chapter begins with Harry and Ron visiting Hagrid. Hagrid tells them they should be nicer to Hermione and talks about his upcoming trial with the hippogriff Buckbeak. The next day is a trip to Hogsmeade, Harry sneaks out after almost being caught by Professor Snape, slips up and has Malfoy see him out from under Harry’s invisibility cloak. Harry rushes back but is caught by Professor Snape and questioned. Snape reveals his hatred for Harry’s father from back in school and Harry yells at Snape to shut up and that James Potter was a hero not a bully.  Snape has Harry empty his pockets and Snape confiscates the Marauder’s Map, calling Lupin in to take a look at it. Lupin takes the map, warning Harry of its dangers and Harry goes on his way back to the dormitory, where Harry and Ron find out that Hagrid has lost his case and Buckbeak will be executed.

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Being present allows you to build friendships that will last. 

One of the worst things I tend to do is not be in the present moment. My friend Lyn used to have this saying at all social gatherings (dinners, parties, wine nights, etc.): “Be Present.” This was a social cue that we or at least one of us was on our phone, not paying attention to the group. It makes you think though: how many times am I not being present, not paying attention to what is happening in the moment but instead living in the future or the past.

Hagrid tells Harry and Ron that they need to care for Hermione a little more. Both of them have been living in the past a bit hurt from either Harry’s broom being confiscated for anti-jinx spells (and then returned) because of Hermione or Ron’s rat disappearing which is blamed on Hermione’s cat. By living in these hang-ups they fail to see that Hermione is overwhelmed with school work and could use a friend right about now. Also in the fury of all of this and quidditch, both Harry and Ron have forgotten about promises they made to Hagrid to help him prepare for his upcoming trial. And then you have Snape who instead of playing the role of a teacher who should be caring for his students and lecturing them on how they shouldn’t be trying to leave the castle, he personally attacks Harry based on a grudge against Harry’s father from Snape’s childhood.

Living in the past or living in a fantasy future tends to make us unaware of our surroundings and the people around us.  Just this weekend my boyfriend and I were walking around the Garden of the Gods and I started talking about plans for the next weekend instead of taking in the beautiful rock formations and landscape around us. When we talked about it later, he said he wasn’t trying to be disinterested in what I was saying, but instead present in the moment.

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Being present helps you see the beauty in front of you 

It’s hard to always be present in the moment, to cast aside any past feelings, hang-ups or hurts or to cast aside any anxious planning and fantasies for the future. To be present means to actually have to mindfully stay engaged with where you are at all times. (Now don’t get me wrong, planning ahead and daydreaming are useful, and should happen whenever you truly need it to happen.) When we aren’t mindful of our surroundings, of the present moment, we mistake people’s actions, we miss out on beautiful moments, we don’t get a chance to see the world as it is.

 

In our spring semester I had a friend who started planning out the rest of her time at law school. She created a spread sheet to plan out what classes to take in order to graduate early and get out of school as soon as possible. I started thinking to myself, man that’s a great idea, I should do something similar and began to create my own plan to get out early, a race against the traditional law school clock. I took 10 credits this summer… 5 less than my spring semester and in a truncated semester. My goal was to take as many as possible so I could keep up, out pace the traditional law school path and graduate early, take the bar exam early, and start practicing as soon as possible.

Let’s just say… presently I AM EXHAUSTED. My goal of living this fast-paced future has been a tiring one, one that I didn’t plan out with any breaks or breathers. My goal to get to the future already didn’t take into account my spring semester fatigue either or my present (at the time of the decision and currently) desire to just relax and see more of Colorado. I tried to live in a fantasy world, an anxious world built on this need to keep up with the girl sitting next to me planning her future so she didn’t have to pay attention in her current class. And now, i’m tired and not enjoying myself as much as I would like.

Living in the future or living in the past doesn’t let your gut instinct have a voice. It gives your brain a voice. It gives your heart a voice, but not your gut. For Snape, living in the past gave his heart that voice that said he was still hurting from the way he was bullied in school while his brain told him to take it out on the next best person, his bully’s son. For me, my head was the lone ranger in this race telling me to keep up, get it done and be as cool as those around you. You need all three parts of your personality to have a voice. The head needs to be able to reason with your decisions and thoughtfully assess situations. The Heart needs to be able to whisper your desires, your pains, and your loves to the head in the decisions it makes. The Gut needs to be able to feel what’s right and wrong and scream that to the other two parts in order to make solid decisions. Without all three of them working together you make bad choices for yourself.

In law school its easy to see what others are doing and try to imitate it, following only the head’s voice or the heart’s desire to be loved and accepted. The gut feels like it’s usually snuffed out, that no one seems to always listen to it, but the gut tells us a lot about the world around us in the moment. With Anxiety my gut never gets listened to, I plan out and logically look at every scenario and choose which one to go with instead of feeling which one is right. It’s a mental decision, but not always the right one.

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Being present helps you bond with people.

Being present helps take that away. It helps ease the depressed mind or the anxious one and allows a person to feel, think and listen their way through each moment. When my friend Lyn would tell us to be present, to put down our phones and really connect in the moment, we always had more fun, or had deeper conversations. One of my goals this up coming semester is to be more present, to mindfully see every moment in the moment, listening to my head, my heart and my gut equally, letting go of all other distractions. I encourage more people to do this too. So try it this week or sometime this year, be present, let go of grudges, let go of plans for the future and just live in the moment. Make new friends, reconnect with old friends, explore with no plans and let yourself be uncomfortable, you never know what the present can gift us.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

 

The Firebolt and the Patronus (PoA 11 &12)

What. A. Summer.

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http://sandradeillustration.com/artwork/619386-Patronus-Practice.html

The past month has been one hell of a ride between an internship, my part-time job, a 5,000 word essay, a 10-pg essay, a 1,000 word essay final, a 1500 word final and numerous mini-assignments for my summer seminar class. But, now that they are all either done or wrapping up I have ALLLLLLLL the time to write Harry Potter blogs again. It’s perfect timing with Harry’s Bday coming up next week!

Today we are combining two chapters and looking at how we can be blinded by our negative emotions AND how we can unblind ourselves by getting our own “patronus.”

So let’s start with a quick recap of the two chapters and then dive on in!

The Firebolt starts with Harry storming back through the secret passage ways to Hogwarts from Hogsmeade after finding out the Sirius Black was the reason his parent were dead. He then has a horrible dream about the whole thing. The trio goes to visit Hagrid who tells them all about dementors and his time at Azkaban. Christmas comes and harry’s got an anonymous gift under the tree which turns out to be a Firebolt, the fastest new Quidditch broom there is out there! Hermione tells the professor’s who then take the broom because they are worried its hexed or jinxed and they wanna run tests on it before Harry can use it. Harry and Ron get mad at hermione. The Patronus chapter begins with everyone still mad at hermione as the holidays wrap up. Oliver Wood hears about the Firebolt and tells Harry that Harry needs to get his reaction to dementors under control before they lose the Quidditch cup this year. Harry starts his demeanor fighting lessons with Lupin where Harry starts to work on conjuring a patronus charm. After a few tries harry manages to conjure a weak charm and Lupin and Harry talk about Harry’s parents. Harry learns more about dementors, gets his Firebolt back and everyone makes up with Hermione until Ron finds blood and Hermione’s cat’s hair on his bed, but not his pet rat.

What’s funny about this post that I am writing at work today is that I could really use a patronus charm right about now. Social Media is overflowing with posts about how sad people are to at their last day of their internship, or how happy they are to have made all these new friends this summer. I’m extremely happy for them, but at the same time I’m trying to fight of the negative feelings I am starting to drown in. My summer internship has been one of extreme loneliness. I’m the only intern in my department (well for the most part, someone just started but only works Fridays) and most days I sit alone at a cubicle waiting for the time to pass because there’s not a flux of information requests coming in. I’m very lucky to have this internship and have learned a lot, but its extremely lonely at times, and not something I enjoy immensely.

It’s hard to not get stuck in negative feelings. Looking at these two chapters there are negative feelings everywhere. Harry has anger and hatred towards Sirius Black that causes him to lash out at friends or isolate himself. Hermione is stressed with class work and isolates herself from others (but also is isolated because Harry and Ron are mad at her for her worrying over Harry’s safety with the Firebolt broom). Ron is consumed with jealousy towards Harry and uses snippy remarks in celebrating Harry’s new broom. Wood is consumed by a desire to win and even admits to Professor McGonagall that he doesn’t care if Harry falls off his broom again so long as he catches the snitch first. And lastly Lupin is stuck in a nostalgic rut failing to see the hurt Harry is going through as they discuss Harry’s parents at length.

Negative feelings tend to blind us. These feelings cause us to only see our hurts or hang-ups and not be able to view the world clearly. For me, negative feelings tend to rule my life. I tend to dwell on the things that aren’t going right, the things that feel strained or hurtful in my life and I act out of those emotions instead of the numerous positive ones that surround me daily.  But then Lupin described a patronus and it made me start to think that there’s something to truly having a positive mindset.

The Patronus is a kind of positive force, a projection of the very things that the demeanor feeds upon- hope, happiness, the desire to survive- but it cannot feel despair, as real humans can, so the dementors can’t hurt it.

Dementors are commonly compared to depression, that very deep despair people can feel until they feel nothing anymore. And sometimes a positive mindset doesn’t help in the deepest of depressions and you should seek professional help when depression sets in that deep.

But when it comes to warding off negative feelings and thoughts I think being able to conjure up your own patronus of sorts is an important thing to do and it takes dwelling on positive memories, ones that aren’t tainted with a hint of despair, but feel us with hope, happiness and the desire to survive. So here’s my little outline for conjuring your own patronus:

  1. Find a happy memory, like super happy!
  2. Focus on that memory, journal about it, dwell on it, live in it for 5 minutes
  3. identify why you chose that memory and how it makes you feel
  4. No hold on tightly to those feelings
  5. Go and face your troubles with those feelings and memory as your shield
  6. If you fall victim to negativity, it’s okay, eat some chocolate, get back up and try again.

It’s not a fool proof method, it’s truly one that you have to work on, just like Harry. Even Lupin says qualified wizards have trouble with the Patronus Charm, but it doesn’t mean you can’t try to make the most of every moment, every time.  Hope, happiness, and the desire to survive are the quintessential parts of getting through anything hard, including a job that turns out not to be what you thought it would be, law school and tough patches in life.

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A memory I hold onto… 80s dress up day…

But as long as you remember there are so many beautiful parts of life to counter those negative, hard parts you’ll make it through. I believe in you. And for me, today I am focusing on using humor as a means of curing my loneliness, because all the time I have spent laughing with good friends makes me have hope that I can get through anything.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

 

P.S. log onto pottermore.com and see what your patronus is! Here’s mine:

 

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That those who take the form of dogs tend to be friendly and loyal is no secret. The borzoi dog usually marks someone who is also easy-going, often quiet, and possessed of a good sense of humor. They have active, intelligent minds and are experts at amusing themselves, being content alone or with others. Rare is the borzoi that can manage to keep themselves bored for long. The tendency to find humor in almost anything is also common in borzois, from the mundane to the macabre. Though, naturally, the range depends on the individual. The humor comes with a helping of class and, when applied properly, they are quite eloquent people that can navigate difficulties in life with easy grace.