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The Prisoner of Azkaban. Wednesday April 6, 2016

Sometimes it's just days. Sometimes it's for weeks. Every so often I am incarcerated for months.

So far, thank goodness, my sentence has not been for years – unlike some people I know – poor souls.

I'm locked up now, in that foul place, chained in a corner and tormented by Dementors.

J K Rowling wrote this about the Dementors:

"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. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can't see 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 — soul-less and evil. You'll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life."

― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Yes – even Muggles feel their presence although to them, Azkaban is invisible. My family and friends cannot see my cell and they cannot see my chains. I don't want them to see the Dementors either.

I can't give into those Dementors right now; I have too many people dependent on me. They need me strong and happy - so I will give them strong and happy. One friend in particular needs my light. I will keep that light burning if at all possible.

And I've got a few excuses racked up for the times the happiness slips and the light grows dim. My newly mended ankle hurts. I'm frustrated I can't do more. I'm worried about my friend who is going through a hard time. I'm concerned for my husband who has borne the burden for the past few weeks.

They're all excellent excuses and they're not the truth.

We all know the truth, because we're the ones who see and feel the Dementors. I guess it's a bit like seeing ghosts, but less glamorous – and actually a bit more scary. My buddies know the truth as they are the ones who see my scores and who question me when those scores drop into dungeon territory. They know that, once again, I'm in my prison rags and cut off from the light. They can't see the Dementors but they see the effects.

Usually I am fairly honest about where I am on my depression cycle, but this time I have to keep things to myself. My family cannot deal with anything more just at the moment.

I hope this sentence will be short. I hope the cell door will unlock soon. And I hope my release will be less melodramatic than that of Bellatrix Lestrange! (Cue manic laughter and the waving of wands...)

At least they let me have my quill and parchment to write this letter to you! I hope the owl delivered it on time.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Lexi Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 6:16am

Hang on hang on hang on Mary. The light is around the corner. Love from across the pond xo Lexi.

Mary Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 8:44pm

Bless you Lexi! Hanging on in there!

Eva Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 6:40am

Hi Mary, I am sorry to hear about your sentence following all of your recent trials. I have recently been thinking over my bouts of depression and feel that they are situational rather than internally chemical based. Mine have occurred through external influence, or poor (ignorance) balance management on my part. I know a lot more about keeping myself healthy, so I think it's mainly external sources that affect me these days. Currently I am still greiving and I have a medical issue which is causing fatigue, so I think that is my current source. I know you have mentioned that you are bipolar, are you also situationally affected? Who wouldn't be with such a lot to juggle currently. Can you take time out here and there for rest when no one is around, and take lots of vitamins and try to recharge yourself secretly along the way?

Mary Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 11:35am

Yes Eva - this one is situational I think, not chemical. I need to drink a lot more water and your idea of vitamins is a good one. I wrote this yesterday and then ended up sleeping for the rest of the day. Today's score was higher. Not much, but better. Thank you for your thoughts.

Salt Water Mum Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 8:23am

Oh Mary, I hear you. I hear you loud and clear. And I do understand. The Dementors are terrifying creatures. The notion that they suck out your happiness and leave you soul-less always gave me shudders. It was too close to the bone.

I read all the HPs as a singleton and then again I read them all aloud to my children. I performed (still do!) all the voices - oh yes, I loved doing Bellatrix and Dumbledore and Professor McG and Ron and Voldemort, I had no problem with the evil characters at all. But ... the Dementors reminded me of that very dark unbearably sad feeling we all know so well. My children (thankfully) thought I was silly to fear the Dementors more than Voldemort. In their opinion, Voldemort kills and the Dementors don't - but we know the pain of a slow brutal killing of the spirt.

I have a dear close friend who suffers from depression too and she too is a HP and JK fan and we have talked together about the Dementors in relation to our own darkness. We sort of thought we were the only ones to think this! Now, I know our little gang is expanding Mary!

If you don't mind, I would like to show her your blog today?

I hope your son's heart is healing and your daughter's leg (and your own) and I hope your friend stays well. How lovely to have such a supportive husband.
Keep that quill close Mary and soon I hope you will be having a metaphorical cosy dinner in the Weasley household...


Mary Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 11:41am

Ah bless you SWM! You have made me smile! And - of course - this blog is public!!! Pass Moodscope and everything in it to anyone you think would benefit. And you know that I'm pretty public with it - and easy to find out there. If anonymity were important to me I would publish under a pen-name. Ah - I would love to get together with you and your friend for a glass of pumpkin juice or butter-beer. Since my daughter has been out of commission with her elbow and I with my leg we have had a marathon HP film session. Sadly, she is not a reader, so she doesn't get the full benefit of the books... Maybe one day....

Ali Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 8:49am

Thank you, Mary. Your post really struck a chord with me and I did the test for the first time in months, and I upgraded to paid membership.Something in what you wrote reminded me to be more diligent in monitoring my mental health objectively, and to take responsibility for it as much as I can.

We're in the middle of rewatching the HP films and saw Prisoner of Azkaban a couple of nights ago. The dementors are very clear and terrifying in my mind. Like you, I identify them with depression.

All the best x

Andrew Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 9:14am

Oh Mary - so brilliantly put. To folk who can't understand, I liken it to something they CAN understand, like a bad back - one minute everything is fine, the next, for no apparent reason (putting on a sock, getting a plate from the top cupboard, getting out of the car)there you are - in agony - every movement a pain, every turn or twist indescribably debilitating....
And if someone does suffer from back pain, they will instantly recognise the utter futility of anyone suggesting how ridiculous it is someone like them with all they have in their life/on such a lovely day/compared to so many others worse off etc could POSSIBLY be suffering.....
And so it goes, and so it goes....
I had my first visit for a long while from the Dementors this week - not sure what brought it on - well a combination of sock/cupboard/car movements I guess - they have found another nasty trick too - they 'block' all outgoing calls/messages...such that it is IMPOSSIBLE to ask a friend for comfort. Until after they pass. By which time....etc

Stay strong Mary. Expecto Patronum!

Mary Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 11:44am

Andrew! Thank you for the Expecto Patronum reminder. Like all spells we have to practise it diligently. Just off to rootle through memories to find a really good one. I wonder what shape my patronus will take. What is yours, dear friend? And - thank goodness the Dementors let you get that message out. Received load and clear!

Holly Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 9:41am

I'm trying to learn Expecto Patronum to keep the Dementors at bay, but it is hard work!

Mary Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 11:45am

It is hard. Especially if the Dementors have you in their grip. Hold on Holly, and wait for them to get complacent just for a moment and then practise hard!

JohnWalker Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 11:11am

Yes, I know the feeling, and I have also read HP. But haven't you forgotten something rather important? The treatment of the aftereffects of a Dementor attack is chocolate. A big, thick slab of yummy chocolate. It is in the book, somewhere. When the Hogwarts express is attacked by the Dementors, a teacher gives Harry a big chunk of chocolate. Forget caries and calories. Just do it. It helps...

Mary Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 11:47am

Thank you John. Yes - I had forgotten chocolate. I have a Lindt bunny still by my bed left from Easter (chocolate is not usually my thing)I shall apply it to my mouth and see if it works! I'm sure you are right and that it will.

JohnWalker Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 12:24pm

Well, and if Lindt doesn't do it, you could always treat "chocolate" as a metaphor for all good things in life, a hot bath, for example. Be yourself a good parent.

Mary Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 8:47pm

And John - if you're reading this - this late, then I am indulging myself by writing a hand written letter to a dear friend. Words are nearly always my solace - together with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc!

LillyPet Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 11:30am

Dear Mary,
I'm sorry that you are in that dark place and that your thoughts are causing you pain.
Your writing so effectively conveys what you are going through and what the inner atmosphere has been like.
It was so good to read that you know there will be an end point. Also that you have moodscope buddies looking out for you.
Do you have tools that help you to live with it? Your quill and parchment are amongst your strongest!
Things are going on around you, it's hard to stay on top of it all as it is, let alone when you are feeling low. Your oxygen mask needs to be firmly in place and allowed some time to take effect.
You would be able to give heartfelt advice to a loved one in that place. You would be able to support that loved one. You also deserve that support.
Taking one positive action has brought me relief in the past.
I hope you find ways to soothe and look after yourself.
We are here as always Mary, holding hands, sending compassionate, warm and loving vibes your way.
There is warm sunshine and blue skies coming from my window which would send any dementors recoiling in horror at its beauty and power. They have no substance and maybe are there because of physiological causes as I'm sure you know. With support you will take the key and unlock the cell door.
On your moodscope cards which are your strongest? Mine is determination.
Will stop myself now! Love light and peace to you and all. LP xx

Mary Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 11:51am

LillyPet my dear - thank you so much. Like you, determination is usually my strongest power. When that slips lower than a 2 I know things are dark. My dear buddies are lovely and my family are also a source of strength (my faith too). But you are right - words are my solace and a source of healing. If I can write what is inside it helps immeasurably. And - if those words help others then that's golden. I have sunshine too. I need to go and sit out in it for a moment. That will help chase these blues away.

Vincent Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 1:12pm

Hi, Mary, this article is the best I have ever read so far on Moodscope since I registered on Moodscope days ago.
What you wrote is exactly what I feel when I suffer from serious depression on and off. I just can do nothing but hang on to wait the point where depression ends although I keep having anti-depression pills for years(I am 27 years old, and I am a graduate student in China).I think my depression is situational and based on my introversive disposition.
And I have read these comments following your article one by one, excellent suggestions from kind buddies! And some of them have found their own way to fight against depression already, while I don't have any effective methods but wait depression go away by itself! Obviously, you and most of others have read the HP books, but unfortunately, I didn't read them or watch the movies. Some buddies mentioned "learn Expecto Patronum to keep the Dementors at the bay",but I totally don't understand what that mean! What is Expecto Patronum? Is is something appeared in HP books? Can you give me a little explanation?

Vincent Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 1:49pm

Okay, I have googled it and get a sense of what it is. I wonder Can we ordinary people can practice this sort of spells like Harry Porter? Or,it is just a metaphor for all things that can fight against depression.

Mary Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 3:02pm

Hello Vincent, first of all - a big welcome to the Moodscope community. I am sorry that you have to be here at all (none of us wish this condition on anyone), but given that you have lived with depression on and off for years, then at least you have come to the right place and found friends. You are not alone. I think mostly we are talking about the Expecto Patronum charm in jest, but it is certainly one of our weapons against depression. Depression does seem to take away our happy thoughts and replace them with misery. It seems therefore worthwhile that, when well, we actively seek out those happy thoughts and embed them deep in our memory, that we build powerful protections around them so that, in times of depression, we can take them out and use them against the despair. My blog on (I think) April 21st last year, entitled "Brain Muscle Memory" (you can find all the previous blogs to the right of this page)talks a bit more about how preparation in the good times can help in the bad times. I've lived with bi-polar since I was seven years old and - while it never gets easy - it does get easier. Please stay with us Vincent, and carry on commenting. You will find this page a real source of encouragement and solace. I know these folk here are my lifeline. Also - we always welcome blogs from members, so if you feel inspired to put fingers to keyboard with your own experiences, please do. Send them to our wonderful admin, Caroline at I look forward to seeing you again, Vincent.

Vincent Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 4:29pm

First, I understand the meaning of Expecto Patronum better now.And I will read your blog entitled "Brain Muscle Memory".Second, Thank you very much for replying me with such a long paragraph, which let me feel I am paid attention to and encouraged by you, such a kind person. What you wrote does warm me a lot,thanks again. I will keep in touch with you and other folks on in the future.

Leah Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 11:01pm

Vincent, I want to welcome you to Moodscope. Mary has written an informative reply. Please stay in touch. We are all on a journey , but on different stages. AS Mary explained there are very useful blogs available to read which may be helpful to you. Take care.

Vincent Thu, Apr 7th 2016 @ 2:49am

Thank you.

The Gardener Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 2:01pm

Mary, so sorry. Since discovery of my mineral lack (lifelong allergy to dairy products and magnesium lack produced equivalent of heart attacks) I have had balanced calcium and magnesium. Opinion is divided about the latter in France - many docs think it vital in struggle against stress and/or depression. If I miss out for a few days immediate affects - chest pains and irritablity affects athletes after major efforts

The Gardener Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 2:08pm

Feel in a grey cell, not for your reasons - life not joyous but kitchen table full of mates this a.m I crave some light - world seems a grey place. A d-in-law is a geographer - and at the beginning of global warming fears she said global dimming as real. The 'sameness' of the seasons means more gloomy weather, less sun, no bright frosty days and, yes, generally higher temperatures but bringing unseasonable warmth but not more light. Someone suggested a strict 'Buddhist' routine and organisation - tried it for whole morning!

Mary Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 8:49pm

TG - oh, you do make me giggle, dear friend! I think a whole morning would be more than I could manage of strict routine and organisation! Unless I got my eldest daughter to manage it for me!

Carol Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 2:35pm

thank you, this made me feel less haunted. reminding me of the power of my mantra, 'this too shall pass' and the metaphysical truth of 'that which we resist most persists' and whilst im at ti, rumi's guest house poem. like many of you, ive been having the same visitors for many years. they make me stronger, more compassionate, caring, wiser, more human.

Mary Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 8:53pm

Indeed. None of us would choose this refiner's fire. But many have it harder. Waaaaay harder. I give thanks that I have come through the suicidal phase (I hope) and just have to grin and bear it now. You are right. This affliction can make us stronger, more compassionate, more caring, wiser and better human beings. I pray that it does.

Brum Mum Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 4:13pm

Dear Mary you've had a rough Easter....lots of broken bones and almost burnt lamb. If you need to sleep patient with yourself as you know it won't last forever. If you can get out in the sun, feel the wind on your face or spot a daffodil it won't take the Dementors away but it might just take the edge off things. Go gently, my friend.

Mary Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 8:54pm

Thank you so much my dear! You are a consolation. I am grateful for your words.

Brum Mum Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 4:13pm

Dear Mary you've had a rough Easter....lots of broken bones and almost burnt lamb. If you need to sleep patient with yourself as you know it won't last forever. If you can get out in the sun, feel the wind on your face or spot a daffodil it won't take the Dementors away but it might just take the edge off things. Go gently, my friend.

Jean Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 6:56pm

Hello dear,dear Mary. So hard to hear that you are still going through the dark and horrible, horrible tunnel and that the demons are still on your tail. You are such a help and inspiration for all of us fellow sufferers and we just wish and pray you well again.
With love and hugs Jean

Mary Wed, Apr 6th 2016 @ 8:56pm

Well - the demons took a holiday from Christmas to a couple of weeks ago - so I am grateful for small mercies. Also _ I am pretty sure this is situational rather than chemical, so as the sun shines and bones heal, I should be better. Thank you so much for your concern. I do appreciate all the kind comments.

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