All the Extras
This page is where I'll discuss a mix of other topics which either are important or I just want to discuss and let you know about.
Ever since last Friday, I've been feeling really nostalgic over Harry Potter. People on Goodreads are re-reading the books (the only series from my childhood that I still don't own my own copies of- I will work on that), and so I decided to watch the films again when I have the time.
As of writing this post, I'm watched the first 3- Prisoner of Azkaban is one of my favourite of the films and the last book of the series I read, due to my school library not having it. I've also been listening to the soundtracks a lot.
I was 11 years old when I first found the series and a librarian at my primary school. I've been waiting 12 years for my Hogwarts letter to arrive (not just throwing references around, it's true!) and the closest myself and some friends came to wearing the school robes where when we graduated university this summer.
So, I thought about what I could put in a post and decided to just pour out my love for this world. Harry Potter was a major part of my childhood and will always hold a special place in my heart. I also recently joined Pottermore too; don't know why I waited so long, but there we are. I did it mainly because I wanted to find out my Patronus and see if my house would be the same as the quiz I'll mention later.
Something I found interesting on Pottermore was my wand. The wand for me on there is Acacia wood with a Dragon Heartstring core, as shown here.
However, I got my own custom wand when we visited the HP world at Universal Studios, with its own box to keep it in. That wand is quite small- like me!- and I love the fact that I own it. It didn't come with a card or anything, but I think it is willow with the core of unicorn hair. I remember the wood is willow anyway. Having read through the different types of wood and cores on Pottermore, the wand from Universal seems to be more suited to me. :)
Not gonna lie, the whole reason I made a Pottermore account was to find out my Patronus. I saw the video where a few of the film cast members took the test and I just...wanted to know my own!! I think it might have been the first thing I did on the website. :D
I loved the mystery of the Patronus in the books- that not many witches and wizards can actually produce one, the way it works against Dementors, and so much more. Here is my Patronus:
Yep, I got Beethoven as my Patronus. I'm glad I don't have to deal with the loud barking and drooling though. Of course, every time I visit this page, I say "Expecto patronum"- just because I can and it's fun. I'm very happy that my doggy guardian matches some aspects of my personality as well.
Now, finally, onto my Hogwarts House. Growing up, I always wanted to be in Gryffindor (who didn't??) but had an inkling I could be in Ravenclaw as well. Not necessarily because I ever thought of myself as particularly clever, but because I preferred to study to get good grades when other people might not have.
Just one reason why I loved Hermione so much as a child. Just think of what she would have been like in Ravenclaw instead.
But after visiting Harry Potter world in Florida (which was about 5 years ago, has since been updated and now I really want to go back!), I began to think about it. I'm not actually that brave when it comes to it, at least not in Gryffindor terms. Slytherin was never going to be an option. And though I have some of both Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw in me, I wasn't certain about what Hogwarts House I'd be in- which was rather sad.
Cue the 20th anniversary of The Philosopher's Stone being released and we get this quiz:
It's apparently the Sorting Hat quiz of all Sorting Hat quizzes. So, naturally, I took it. My Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw debate was sorted- just.
These were my results, including how well I fit into each House:-
Your personality shows a high degree of friendliness and humility, which are valued among members of Hufflepuff House.
I'm rather glad about the Slytherin result, I like to round my Gryffindor result up to 2%, and now my uncertainty with the other two make sense. It was rather close! :)
But when I wanted to find out my Patronus, I was also really curious to find out if things would match. So I took the Pottermore Sorting Hat test too.
First of all, I'm so glad the results match, because can we imagine how awkward that would have been otherwise!
But...I'm so proud to be a Hufflepuff. I have lots of favourite HP characters, past and present, dead and alive, who are/were in Hufflepuff, but none more so than Nymphadora Tonks. I love how she didn't possess all of the natural qualities to be in this House, but she was still so amazing and inspiring. Though improving, just like Tonks, I'm not always the most patient and can be so clumsy at times. Though just like in any Hogwarts House, its' members aren't perfect.
I know Hufflepuff gets the rep of being the least greatest House, but as someone once pointed out online- nearly al Hufflepuffs stayed to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts because they knew it was the right thing to do. That's not bad going, for a start. This Pottermore article gives other reasons why hufflepuff deserves better credit:
I'm having so much fun reading all of the articles on Hufflepuff over on Pottermore- and the other Houses too. Also, yellow is my second favourite colour and I love nature, so I'd hope I'd do quite well in Herbology. Plus, Professor Sprout seems really laid back to teach that subject and be the Head of House, while being more open than Professor McGonagall- though I'll always admire her a ton, of course.
So that's it. Thanks for reading this. What Hogwarts House are you in? Do you know your Patronus and wand- and have you been to the Universal Studiod Harry Potter World? Comment and let me know. :)
Today, I bring you my very first post talking about depression. I'd like to hope that the things I write about my own personal experiences with mental health would reach and help others, even if it's just a little bit. To help someone know they're not, and are NEVER, alone in this.
This is going to be a post of two halves. It will be long.
When I was about 15 or 16 and in my last year or so of school, (For those who don't know, I'm from England) we had to decide if we were going to college, where we would go, and what we were going to study for our futures. Luckily for me, I'd had it worked out since I was six years old. I was going to work with animals and be a vet. I chose my subjects accordingly and made sure I got really good grades in science- I did. I was thrilled; even more so to be accepted into college.
Unfortunately, I experienced my fair share of bullying throughout school- all of it. But mostly in this year and a half period where I was close to leaving- and it was horrible. Finally, I was in Year 11- my final year- when my nanna died. At that time, I put all of my feelings down to grief, down to stress, down to worry of surviving a school day with minimum bullying...let alone anything of my future. But that crept up as well.
I left school with very low self-esteem and confidence. With social anxiety. With depression.
I can look back now and identify that as being the time it happened. I thought college might be better- but 95% of people in my Year 11 classes went to the same college I did.
It wasn't quite the fresh start I'd hoped for.
The classes I'd hoped to take, put so much time and energy into...didn't happen. Any of them. Apart from to improve my Maths grade, which has always been my worse subject (and still is!) But there was a silver lining to this change. In not knowing what I wanted to do as a career anymore, I managed to choose subjects I liked- and just because I liked them. One was completely new and I feel I wasted time with it, but the rest were great. A chance to explore new areas. I was cautiously optimistic.
As an introvert living with social anxiety, I was just as quiet in college as I had been at school. Having people who had spent five years with me was both a blessing and a curse. But I didn't ask for help when I struggled with the work- I suppose I was scared of being judged and laughed at further. It turned out there is a big gap between school and college...and I had fallen head first into it.
As if this wasn't enough, college was a competition in another new way. At school in England, we all wear the same uniform. At college, we can wear our own clothes. It became a battle every day to figure out what to wear, to make sure I wasn't wearing the same things too often. I felt as though I was being judged for it- and little stupid things crept in.
I hated having to wear glasses, when other people didn't. (Back then, I had to wear all the time- now my eyesight has improved a lot. And I don't care about wearing glasses sometimes.) I felt ugly. I felt I was a failure for not being able to do the work to a standard I wanted. I...
I was depressed. And didn't know it. Or, if I did, didn't want to acknowledge it. I thought having something else wrong with me...that it would make me a freak.
I was trying to prove too hard to everyone else- to MYSELF- that I was a different person to who I'd been at school, now I was quickly becoming an adult.
That first year of college wasn't ALL bad. I made some new friends- surprised? I surprised myself. :) I did enjoy most of the subjects I'd picked. And somehow, somewhere in all of the mess, I found enough to attend the college's Christian Union. To ask questions. To try not to...feel alone.
I can't remember the reason I went now, but I'd always believed in the afterlife from a young age, even if I didn't fully believe in God. But some of the music I'd listened to was uplifting and not preachy and it made me feel like I wasn't alone in my head. So I went. Took me a good month or so, but I eventually realised I did believe in God.
For a while, things got better. It was in April 2011, about two weeks after my 17th birthday, that I hit my rock bottom. I had my first ever thought about suicide. It terrified me and to this day, I've only told a few trusted friends about that part. Not even my parents know. I didn't want to hurt them with it, especially as I'm an only child. But some part of my brain that wasn't so weighed down under depression, realised what I was thinking. My world fell apart. I just...felt hollow. Empty.
At that time, I believed that lie. You know, the one which says no one will listen or believe you if you tell someone else. Yeah, that one. That was me too. And it IS a lie.
So I sat there that night, not long turned 17, crying so much more than I thought capable because of the mess that was my life, because I had no one to turn to. Somewhere in that, I remembered that I was supposed to believe in God. At that point, I had no idea what anything was- and I didn't care. But I knew I didn't want to die and was so scared of what else my brain might whisper to me after that...I sat and cried to God instead.
Layer after layer. All of the things I knew I knew and all of the things underneath it. I was an onion. I had also never talked about what I was feeling, not once. Not to anyone. But when I was done- I can't remember how long it took- I've never known peace like what I did that night. I woke up in the morning and knew I'd turned a corner. I had this certainty that thought I didn't know how long it would take or if I'd be alright...I knew I would be. Eventually.
Months. Months later, I could tell myself that I wasn't fat, or ugly, or worthless, that my life had a purpose regardless of whether I could see it or not. That God loved me. Most Christians I know have a date they came to faith. I do too. But it was a long process for me, through all of this and my messed up brain to really say that I believe in God. But He wants me to come as I am and I did. Messed up brain and all.
I also told my parents about my depression. Not quite everything, but most of it. They listened. They maybe didn't understand it all- and I know they still don't, since they've never experienced it for themselves...but they listened. Other people I told listened. And some of my friends began to tell me that they sometimes struggled too.
It was so freeing. At the end of that college year, I was told I hadn't gotten good enough grades. It was a mutual decision for me to leave. I was gutted. But I went to another college, did another course unrelated to animals. In time, the depression caused by my thoughts went away.
All of this was a fresh start. The only person in my class I knew was a friend of a friend in school. We got on and I made other friends too. Learnt how to start over being the person I wanted to be, but didn't know how to reach.
Fast forward another four years- we get to the second half of this post. My third and final year of university. (Can you see a theme? I've only just realised myself) September to July 2017. In fact, just before that- the end of 2016 in my second year. That was when I began to feel things were not quite right. Our assignment schedule was insane, we were all stressed and had so much to consider, with final year dissertations and what we were going to do once we'd graduated and...
...I felt like I couldn't breathe. Like I didn't have time to stop. I felt trapped.
I recognised it better that time. The thoughts that weren't the most friendly and it scared me. Surely, I thought, surely my depression can't be coming back?!????
It was. It did. In a different way, because this was an entirely different situation. My final year was so hard, battling so much on so any fronts. But this time, I knew what it was. I spotted it earlier. I had people I trusted to believe me- one friend at my church is actually a counsellor, which helped a lot just in talking with her. And so when I had breakdowns and those rare yet still terrifying panic attacks, I had plenty of people to cry on. I've done a lot of crying this year. I've also helped friends with their own mental health a great deal more than I ever thought I would. I mean, I'm no expert, after all. :)
In July 2017, I graduated university. Not with what I thought I'd get, but I have a degree now. And it is in working with animals. Not a vet, as I imagined at six, but still in that sector. I don't know what I want to do with it yet (a contrast to all those people throughout school and college who made it sound like I had to) and the not knowing is fine.
Now the immediate stress of university is gone and behind me...but I still have depression. I still have anxiety. And that's ok too. I'm not a freak. I'm not broken because I have bad days due to my mental health, or because I can't specifically point out where in my brain it comes from.
I'm just...me. I'm a work in progress on every front. And that is enough. I am enough.
So are you. You, reading this. You're amazing and wonderful and have something to contribute to this world, even if you don't know it yet. Just as I still don't. That is ok.
You'll have good days and bad days. That is ok.
There'll be the days where you could probably climb Mount Everest if you wanted to, alongside the days when you can't get out of bed. That is beyond ok too.
Someone will be there to listen to you. I hold my hand up to be the first to say I never thought that possible. It was. It is.
Even if the words come out in ways that make you think it will take forever...someone will be there on the other side, listening to you tell it. The people who love you and who you trust. Start with them. You're never alone.
I want to end by sharing a story I found a few months ago, which is the reason why I named this post as I did. Someone was talking about glow sticks and how they shine really brightly when you shake them. All put together, they're really pretty and colourful, ect, ect. But they pointed out that, to turn out bright, the seal thing on them has to be broken. A glow stick has to be broken before it can produce the light it does.
They said how that's like us. Being broken to produce light. That we might be able to tell our stories and help other people through them.
I hope, wherever you are, my story here has helped you. Even a little bit. Keep going. Keep producing your light to change this world.
Hi, I'm an animal lover and have a degree. You can usually find me either reading or writing. Failing that, I might have actually ventured into the outside world...