J.K. Rowling has risen to international fame and success after her Harry Potter series acquired unprecedented popularity among fiction books. The Harry Potter series has been translated into 65 different languages and has become an indispensable part of many of our childhood memories. Rowling is also now one of the wealthiest women in the world with a net worth of $1 billion. But this success did not come easily for Rowling. It could have slipped away in an instant.
Rowling’s first marriage with Portuguese journalist Jorge Arantes ended on an unsuccessful note in her mid-20s. At the time, she was a single mother with a young daughter named Jessica and an unpromising literary career. During an interview with Edinburgh University, Rowling was quoted saying, “Mid-twenties, my life circumstances were poor and I really plummeted. We’re talking suicidal thoughts here; we’re not talking ‘I’m a bit miserable’.” To many of you who are familiar with the Harry Potter Series, you can probably recognize by now that the Dementors in the books were in fact inspired by Rowling’s illness. After a prolonged struggle with depression, Rowling finally sought help. As Rowling reported in the interview, “the thing that made me go for help was probably my daughter. She was something that earthed me, grounded me, and I thought, this isn’t right, she cannot grow up with me in this state.” Afterwards, Rowling received medical assistance from doctors and spent nine months attending behavioral therapy sessions. Recovery was a long and agonizing process for Rowling, but she persisted through and is now more grateful for her life than she has ever been.
Rowling’s public confession of her struggle with depression not only proves that she is a strong and courageous female, but also sends out a powerful message to all the women out there who are suffering from depression or in need of serious attention – do not hesitate to seek help. Rowling claimed that she has” never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never.” Always ask for help when needed because your well-being has a direct impact on others in a way more than your can ever realize. Imagine how different many people’s childhood and the literary world would look if Rowling had taken her own life. Suicide is a selfish decision and you are not in this alone. Everything will indeed get better with the help of others – just remember to ask.
The University of California, Berkeley