Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling (By John Tiffany & Jack Thorne)

Nine years ago, I anxiously waited in line at my local Barnes and Noble to see how the epic Harry Potter series would draw to a close. I opened the book immediately and read at every stoplight and stop sign on the way home (Sorry Mom and Dad! At least I wasn’t reading WHILE driving). I don’t remember if I slept before I finished it or not. If I did, I stayed up late into the early morning reading it that first night. The midnight release of Cursed Child brought me no less anxiety but also almost just as much joy as receiving the final tome of the Rowling 7. The other difference nine years has made is that I now have Bipolar Disorder and a sleep schedule is incredibly important, so it was an internal battle whether to even open Cursed Child on the first night. Though not written by J.K. Rowling, it is, after all, based on an original new story by her. The idea of more J.K. Rowling sanctioned Harry Potter canon was ultimately too tempting, and I got comfy to read “just a chapter or two.” Alas, the book is a script instead of an actual novel and is split into two parts that each contain two acts, so reading “just a chapter or two” was never really in the cards, but I was optimistic at the time.

The script starts exactly where the last novel left off, immediately throwing the reader back into the world of magic and witches and wizards. Albus Potter is sorted into Slytherin and time initially passes very quickly, with about three years passing in only six scenes. The first piece of information that was noteworthy was that Hermione Granger-Weasley (of course she hyphenated) has become the Minister of Magic. That information had come out in the media a few weeks ago, so it wasn’t a surprise, but it was still interesting. The second was that wizarding nursing homes exist. I don’t know why I found that so fascinating, but I love learning about the wizarding equivalents for mundane Muggle things. It seems to me that Albus has some type of mental illness, maybe depression, which is going untreated. He is miserable at school, disliked by and disliking most of his peers. The biggest surprise in the early part of the script, however, is that the Trolley Witch is an utter and complete bad ass! However, her scene was very clearly not one where J.K. Rowling had a lot of input. By the end of the first act, I had my suspicions about what it meant that Albus Severus was the “Cursed Child,” but nothing had been even close to confirmed yet. At this point, I had been reading for about an hour and a half and was a quarter of the way through the script, so it’s a fairly quick read.

In Act Two, Harry says and does things that are decidedly unlike the Harry I’ve come to know and love. This could be because 22 years have passed but is more likely because someone other than J.K. Rowling is writing him. At this point, I’m grateful for the new story but a little frustrated by all the tiny differences that seem to shout “J.K. Rowling didn’t write this!” at me. Harry continues to act very unlike himself and I found reading the sections with him in them unsatisfying and a little confusing. I understand that the whole point is that Albus’ actions have had undesired consequences, but watching the Golden Trio all act so out of character is a difficult thing to read. I’m also left desiring to read more Ginny Potter. I always wanted to see her character fleshed out more in the book series but that doesn’t seem to be a wish that will be fulfilled in the script. There was a bit thrown in at the end of Act Two, Scene Sixteen that I found very confusing. Scorpius says something to Albus about how he isn’t allowed to leave the school building. Given the circumstances of what they are about to do, whatever prevents him from leaving the school building shouldn’t be able to work. A fun little cameo was made by Moaning Myrtle, whose full name we finally learned. That was a question I never knew I needed the answer to, but I like knowing more about her as a live human. Exhaustion got the better of me and I only made it through half of the book in the first sitting, but even that only lasted until 2:45AM after starting to read around 12:45 due to the format of the book.

The concept of alternative realities really explores what it could have been like if Voldemort had won the Battle of Hogwarts. One of the most interesting things to read was about what became of Mudbloods if that was the case. It really drove home the parallels between Voldemort/Hitler and Death Eaters/Nazis. The end of Act 3, Scene 11 seemed like it would be an appropriate place for the script to end, but it kept on going and I was not disappointed. My favorite quote  really hit home and reminded me of my struggle with Bipolar Disorder in a big way. In a sea of words written by others, these words rang the most true to Rowling’s previous writings and were completely appropriate for the character who said them:

In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.

 If I’m being honest, the climax was a bit rushed and didn’t have me on the edge of my seat or anything, but I’ve come to expect a lot from any book with “Harry Potter” in the title and may be judging the script a little too harshly. Overall, I greatly enjoyed delving back into Harry’s world and feel like the authors did the characters justice. I would definitely recommend that any Harry Potter fan find a copy of this and read it!

mental health

Coming Clean

This is a post that has been brewing for over two years. If you know me in real life, you likely already know this; but, I lied to you, readers. Or at least, I didn’t tell the whole truth. I wasn’t sure how or when or how to know when it was the right time, but I think I’ve reached the point I was waiting for.

Over two years ago, I described to you how depressed I became while serving in the Peace Corps. I named it as the reason for my medical separation from PC (the reason they brought me home). While that was partially true, I left a lot – and perhaps the more important parts- out. I was embarrassed and ashamed and was stigmatizing my own very new and misunderstood illness.

While I did get very depressed while serving and PC did take me into Pretoria to get treatment and the psychiatrist I saw there did change my antidepressant, I left out what happened when he changed the antidepressant. I left out how I became irritable and irrationally angry. I left out how I would become furious when people invited me to do things because they were interrupting my reading. I left out how ungrateful I was to the few people who were reaching out to try to help me. Most of all, I left out the night I didn’t sleep, electing instead to stay up listening to music, singing along, and dancing in the room of my bed and breakfast, only stopping for an hour to nap before leaving for PC headquarters to tell the doctor what I knew by then to be true- I was manic, which means my diagnosis had changed from Major Depressive Disorder to Bipolar Disorder. The not sleeping was the biggest clue, but the dancing was a pretty big one as well because I don’t usually dance. My mind was racing a million miles an hour and I just couldn’t stay still, even after taking some anti anxiety medication to try to get myself to calm down. My appointment got moved to later in the day for some reason or another, so I spent the day in the company of a few other PCVs, hardly able to close my mouth for a second to let anyone else speak.

Things happened pretty quickly after I saw the PC Doctor. A team of people at PC headquarters in Washington D.C., the PC Doctor, and I made the decision that I would go home to stay with my parents and get treatment. I actually vaguely remember them speaking with my parents to make sure that was okay. The only other option I was given was to go to DC and be hospitalized at an inpatient psychiatric ward. Thanks to my M.A.Ed. in School Counseling, I knew that they couldn’t commit me without my consent because I wasn’t a danger to myself or anyone else. I elected to go home where my parents would become responsible for me. A PCMO (Peace Corps Medical Officer) from another country happened to be in South Africa, and it was decided that she would “accompany” (babysit) me all the way home until I was with my parents.  In hindsight, it was probably a good thing that I had her by my side.

I saw someone at my primary care physician’s office shortly after arriving home (maybe the next day?) and got into an intensive outpatient treatment program through our local hospital the next week. That consisted of three hours a day three days a week for three months of group therapy with an hour of individual therapy each week and an appointment with a psychiatrist each week. That was in the fall and winter of 2013-2014.

Though I have had short periods of stability since, my longest period of stability so far was for about eight months from September 5, 2015 to some time in April.  At that time, I started hallucinating the feeling that there were bugs crawling all over me and the sound that a man was repeatedly calling “no” to me from the yard as I was grilling my chicken.  Things progressed from there with me not sleeping, speaking too quickly and too much, and having racing thoughts and far too much energy, culminating in a week long stay at one of our local psychiatric wards thanks to my psychiatric nurse practitioner not taking me seriously when I called and said I was in crisis and refusing to return my phone calls and adjust my medications.  I haven’t said anything about it publicly yet because I just didn’t know how, but this seems as appropriate a format as any.

I am in the process of writing a book about my experiences starting all the way back when I was first diagnosed and going through the current Intensive Outpatient Program I am in in beyond.  I currently do group therapy three days a week for three hours a day, individual therapy for one hour a week, and see a psychiatrist every week.  When I become more well, I will no longer have to do the IOP and will just have therapy one day a week and see the psychiatrist once a month or less.  I can tell that the mania is finally waning but that means that I now feel apathetic and occasionally hopeless, which means the depression is probably about to rear its ugly head, at least for a while.

I’m sorry that I lied and I’m sorry that it took me so long to have the courage to be honest.  My current diagnoses are Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Bipolar Disorder I with mixed features and anxious distress.  If you’re reading this, you know someone with Bipolar Disorder.  Sometimes that person needs extra help, and that’s okay.  Bipolar Disorder results in a 9.2 year reduction in life expectancy and as many as one in five people with Bipolar Disorder complete suicide.  One in five.  That number is way too high and I’m convinced that part of the reason for it is the stigma associated with Bipolar Disorder and people not getting the help they need.  So here I am, trying to be vulnerable by having the courage to show up and be seen, as Brené Brown would say.

In other news, after my hospital stay I decided it would be really great if River could be trained as a psychiatric service animal, so we are currently working on training so that she can accompany me almost anywhere and perform certain tasks for me to help ground me when I’m manic or anxious and help provide a buffer between myself and strangers so that I don’t feel crowded and become panicky.  If you see her with me and she is wearing her vest, please completely ignore her.  We will be going out into public for the first time as a team on Wednesday.  Wish us luck!

River the Wonderdale



P.S. I am very open to talking about my illness.  If you have questions, feel free to ask me when you see me or shoot me a message on facebook or e-mail me at


I hope you are all doing well!

UPDATE: River had training today (Wednesday) and she totally rocked it! She didn’t steal a little kid’s waffle fry, she rode the escalator even though she hated it, and she held a stay command for the duration of a large snack. She also sat behind me to act as a buffer like she was supposed to, ignored another dog, and didn’t freak out when she heard construction or saw kids jumping on trampolines.  She is a natural and I can’t wait to see what working with her brings. Thank you so much to those who have donated at the link above the photo! It truly means the world to me and I am so appreciative of you investing in my quality of life!