I picture a tiny hole drilled into my head, two inches or so above my right ear, piercing through my skull, forming a perfectly sized aperture to implant a spout, much like the ones used in Vermont Maple trees to collect sap for making syrup. Once inserted and locked in place, I open the spigot and feel the satisfying release of sticky sludge running through the grooves of my brain, seeping out from the hole in my head, landing in a tin bucket resting at my feet.
If only a procedure like this one really existed – a cleansing of the brain, where all of the cerebral sewage would be emptied out, washed away like grime from a clogged kitchen sink, perhaps my life with depression would be a heck of a lot easier. When a bout of depression marches in without warning, whacky ideas for unconventional remedies automatically start to formulate in my head. None of these quirky inventions make medical sense, but that’s what my desperate mind does to survive. We all know there’s no instant cure for depression, however it’s remarkable how wild my imagination can run when I know I’m in for a long battle.
There was a point several years ago when I lost all hope of ever getting better. It was a depression so fierce that it clouded my every thought and action. My meds stopped working, therapy wasn’t helping and I was convinced that I’d be trapped in the claws of despair for eternity. I started to obsessively research ways of getting a blood transfusion. I envisioned that the substance running through my veins was not blood, but a thick, poisonous liquid. I thought if I could rid my body of this venomous fluid and start fresh with blood from a non-depressed person, there might be a chance that I’d be cured. When I presented this ingenious idea to my doctor, he cut me off at “transfu…”
Okay, no transfusion – my medieval remedy proved to be a very frustrating setback. Determined to survive, I became adamant about finding a place, not a psychiatric hospital, nor a rehab center, but a welcoming resort, a Club Med(ication) where individuals with depression can go for a month or two, to get away from it all. I imagined a Fantasy Island for all the morose and melancholic people just like me, desperate to regain their lives back, to find a twinkle of hope. Sadly, after too many late-night Internet searches for Prozac Paradise or Zoloft Zen, I couldn’t find one place that allowed dogs.
I once read that each person who lives with Major Depression has his or her own brand. I gave that some thought and wondered if anyone else with a form of mental illness ever daydreams about abnormal ways to get rid of their symptoms like I do. It’s embarrassing to admit, but through the years, I’ve devised dozens of imaginary products – one of them is Drano for the brain, or Braino. It’s an antidepressant that you drink while hanging upside down. The super strength liquid goes straight to your head instead of your stomach, leaving your brain crystal clean with a sparkly shine. Why do you think Mr. Clean is always smiling?
Sometimes the only way for me to make it through a rough patch is to laugh, even at my own expense. When I’m in a bad way, having a sense of humor seems impossible. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I become withdrawn, inclined to cancel plans, close the door on life and only resurface when I’m ready. Apparently having deranged thoughts and concepts are part of what makes my particular brand of depression a tad peculiar. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a survival instinct. It may be warped, but it certainly keeps me amused.
Adrienne Gurman has over 20 years of experience in advertising, marketing and magazine publishing. She is currently the Vice President of 1212-Studio, a product design company in NYC. A native New Yorker, Adrienne lives with her husband and their vivacious chocolate lab, Anya. Adrienne began volunteering for Bring Change 2 Mind not long after the organization was founded, and has since been a leading advocate for fighting the stigma that surrounds mental illness. She has lived with Major Depression since the age of 12. Adrienne writes a weekly blog for esperanza magazine and continues to be a growing voice in the anti-stigma community.