The Hobbit and the unexpected journey through depressionPosted: March 23, 2014
I am quite like Gollum in some ways. Not only do we both lack hair, we’ve spent a fair bit of time in darkness and have arguments with ourselves.
I realised when watching the first of the Hobbit films the other night that there are several other parallels between this classic adventure story and my own epic battle with depression.
The film starts with the dwarves losing their home to a large and dangerous dragon, and that’s kind of how depression feels – an unstoppable force that takes control of your life and leaves you feeling lost and confused, with a permanent sense of doom, fear, paranoia and anger.
The mighty dwarf kingdom swiftly goes from domination to desolation, and they are cast out and obliterated, with just a small band clinging on for survival. That sounds familiar too.
The story follows their mission to claim back what is rightfully theirs, and that’s what the long road to recovery is like. There are dark forces and enemies to contend with on the way, steep and treacherous paths to navigate, many perils, threats and dangers to overcome – some that seem impossible to escape from – and countless twists and turns that throw up great challenges and battles.
Let’s go back to Gollum for a moment. He’s one of my favourite characters in any book or film – a disturbed creature, possessed by the power of a ring, in turn both playful and vicious, perky and tortured.
Everything the wretched creature does is accompanied by his own running commentary, and that’s where he reminds me most of myself. His head is full of conflicting thoughts and moods in a constantly shifting power struggle. Even now I am much better, there are times I find myself caught up in a Gollum-like argument with myself – often in the morning, and most commonly in my own company. The dark powers and over-thinking can take over for a while, but, like invading orcs, hungry trolls or sly goblins, they can be overcome.
And then there’s Bilbo Baggins, our unlikely little hero, plucked from his cosy home to go on a great adventure, which will change his life – and Bilbo himself – forever.
Maybe I’m a bit like Bilbo and the dwarves myself. Rather them than Gollum, anyway. Life now is about rediscovering what depression clouded or took away, and it’s about discovering new things.
It’s been an unexpected journey, but one I am determined to learn from.