SPOILER ALERT: This post contains some spoilers for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Anxiety has so many forms, from general to social to PTSD. I can’t speak to all forms, but I’ve noticed a lot of my anxiety has been coming from the way I think. All any person has is their own personal perspective of reality. This is true about the situations around them as well. No one can see through your eyes or read your mind. It can be be challenging for people with anxiety to express their perspective and those without anxiety to try to understand it. It is sometimes (most of the time) difficult for people with anxiety of any kind to voice exactly how they’re feeling or discuss how anxiety manifests. This can be both to others around them and even to themselves! After getting my head truly spinning, I sat down for some serious Harry Potter binge watching. Little did I know I would find some great ways to transfigure my thinking about anxiety.
I bring you: Anxiety Transfiguration!
When Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them came out, I was so excited to see the dream of the Harry Potter universe continue. Finally, we got to step back into the world of magic that us avid fans of the films and books so greatly missed. I became so wrapped up in the world that David Yates so expertly crafted for us, I was not prepared for a scene close to the end that ended up affecting me very deeply. It was the most poignant portrayal of what it feels like to be out of control of your emotions that I had ever seen.
Toward the end of the film, Creedence, a timid boy who has been very abused, turns out to be the host of the Obscurus, which is a disease that manifests itself in young witches or wizards who suppress their magical powers. It hit me. Creedence was suppressing his magical ability just as I was suppressing my anxiety. This suppression, paired with the rage he began to feel, led Creedence to become overtaken by the Obscurus, transforming him into a cloud of black smoke capable of obliterating roads, uprooting houses, and leaving a trail of destruction in his wake.
Creedence spirals in and out of his human and Obscurus forms. He goes in and out of being able to calm himself down for a moment only to be overtaken and lose control in a destructive black cloud of emotion and rage. Anxiety often feels like this. One moment my feet are on solid ground, and the next I’m falling down a dark train of thought that spirals uncontrollably into self-destruction. This scene is anxiety personified; it is a visual representation of what an anxiety attack can feel like from start to finish.
This got me thinking all the way back to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Surprisingly, there was another anxiety thought transformer hidden there that helped me to come to yet another understanding. Anxiety bore a strange resemblance to Devil’s Snare, a magical plant that the more you struggle against, the more tightly the Devil’s Snare holds on to you and squeezes the life out of you. When you relax, only then are you able to sink below and get through the maze going on underneath. Only in Hermione’s case, Ron and Harry must be saved because they don’t stop struggling and almost die. That right there is a message in and of it self. All this crazy stuff with my health and sleep being off, my daily stress, my constant need to work – it was all because I was struggling so hard, the life was being squeezed out of me. No one was going to come though with a magic spell to stop the squeezing of my Devil’s Snare though. The doctors could only prescribe so much, and my friends could only empathize, but not fix. I had to take some responsibility to relax myself and get a new perspective, or I was going to be squeezed to death.
Anxiety sometimes consumes us. Sometimes it squeezes us dry of all rational thought. Sometimes it is a raging path of destructive thoughts when we are feeling misunderstood and trapped. It’s okay to feel this way. It really is alright. We wouldn’t be intelligent beings if our thoughts did not consume us. It’s how our species has evolved. But sometimes, things sneak up on us and affect us more than we can explain, no matter how hard we try to rationalize or think through it.
I believe our key and our hope lies in learning and understanding. Once we begin to lean into our anxiety instead of shy away from it, we can begin learning and understanding deep fears, conditioning, and situations that have, or are currently, triggering anxiety. I try to set my thoughts to the side rather than letting them consume me, especially the big dark, anxious ones. I just wrap them in pretty wrapping paper and put them into the Vanishing Cabinet until I am in a better space to interact with them. As we know, the vanishing cabinet is a two way street, and sometimes it brings things back to us that we need to deal with. But all in good time! With the help of some great resources (coming to the blog soon!), I’ve been learning how to do just that. I’m starting to relax into the Devil’s Snare and disintegrate the dark cloud spinning around in my chest. I’m starting to figure out how to harness my magic, and feeling the freest from anxiety yet!
(Image cred to Kristopher Roller: https://unsplash.com)