The Ghost Life

Every now and then I re read all the Harry Potter books. I am just starting them again now and whilst reading the first one I got to thinking about Professor Binns.

Professor Binns is a teacher at Hogwarts, he teaches History of Magic, and one day he had a nap in the staff room at school and died, he however got up in ghost form, leaving his body behind and continued teaching as normal.

I love this little story, I feel it is a wonderful analogy for depression when reversed. See, on really bad days, I feel like my body gets out of bed, leaving the ghost of me behind. I am an empty shell wandering around. Life sort of happens around me, without my really being quite aware of what is going on. Or rather than being unaware it can feel like watching yourself go through the motions, as if from afar, it’s that sort of out of body experience.

Everything is slightly detached, dampened, life feels somewhat slower and like it is happening to you without any active participation. Similarly to what I imagine a ghost feels like – you are present but not able to participate. You cannot feel, or taste, somehow things seem less, but, at the same time you are conscious of the loss you are experiencing. Aware that you would like to feel again, mourning the happiness you can see but is somehow out of reach.

However, I like neat and tidy analogies to explain away how I am feeling, and whilst Binns offers something that really does seem to cover me for depression, he doesn’t really get the heart racing like anxiety.

The Harry Potter world does, however, offer a wonderful analogy to partner with good old Binns. Peeves. The constant threat around the castle of a sudden ambush by walking sticks or chalk, or the sudden shock of him appearing from nowhere, his ability to cause you shame and humiliation and panic.

With the new diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) I feel like I am living the ghost life. It isn’t sucking away my happiness (although the more my energy fades the more the depression threatens to resurface), I just feel the same sort of detachment from life I did at the height of depression.

Things just happen around me. I feel disconnected from active participation in the world and keep trying to get myself motivated with promises of adventures and trips, but really, I don’t have the energy for that anyway.

Perhaps this is what CFS does. Where depression took my happiness and will, but left me with a physical capacity for activity, CFS has left me my happiness and will and taken my ability to do anything with it. Both seem to have left me with the same result – a feeling of increasing isolation and withdrawal from the world. And that constant threat of anxiety, suddenly appearing from nowhere, leaving me with a heart racing and a screaming doubt that things will ever return to ‘normal’.

Sometimes life sucks, but I do love a good analogy, and one that comes from the world of Harry Potter is enough to make my whole day happier and more alert!


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