If asked how I feel right now, the first thing to pop into my head would be The Seven Dwarfs of Snow White. Not all seven fit my mood, but Sleepy, Dopey, and Grumpy would be at the top of the list. I’ll hold out for Happy (never lose hope) and Doc would be somewhat appropriate considering I’ve had my share of medical traumas recently.
The most apropos is Grumpy. If I made up my own Dwarf name, it would be Slumpy. I’ve been in a mental slump for months. On one hand, it’s good that I know why I’ve been so low, yet on the other hand I seem to be fighting a war that I’m unable to win. When depression sets in, it makes itself at home, setting up house, hanging paintings on the wall, placing potted plants on the windowsills. Depression is not a stranger to me, it has its own key to my brain and uses it whenever it needs a familiar nesting place, just to remind me “Hey, I’m still around. Don’t you forget it! Now, let’s see what you’ve got in the fridge.”
It’s times like these when I count and recount my blessings and all of the fantabulous people I have in my life. Perhaps we don’t physically see each other as much as we’d like, yet I know they are there for me, that they love me, as I do them. They mean so much more to me than a fair-weathered friend who shows up when it’s convenient for them and only when I have good and happy things to talk about. Why can’t these “friends” see that I would much rather be Happy than Grumpy/Slumpy? This isn’t fun for me. This isn’t what my family wants for me. I see the pain in their eyes when they listen to me berate myself or go on about “if only I started treatment at an earlier age, think about what I would have achieved by now,” when unfairly comparing myself to my classmates and peers who’ve made it big from my standpoint.
You would think I’d have learned not to compare my insides to other peoples’ outsides, but that is what depression does. It’s so cruel. I question if comparing my life to others helps me in any way and the answer is always a resounding NO. All it does is take up precious space in my brain when I should be focusing on my accomplishments and positive progress. The good stuff should rise to the surface, instead of the wasteful muck.
Last night I told one of my closest friends that I’ve hit a low point. It sounds strange, but to be able to say that to someone who gets it, and doesn’t try to talk me out of it, is truly priceless. She didn’t say, “but look at all of the good things in your life” or “you just need some rest.” She let me say it, without judgment, without grimacing, without telling me that she only wants good news from me, especially since I’ve been chock full of bad news lately.
For years I rhetorically asked why I have depression. People who have suffered through horrific things that I can’t ever imagine have never been depressed. The only reason I come up with is that my brain is wired differently than people without depression. On the upside, by living with this illness, I have an immense appreciation for the small pockets of joy that come my way. The contrast between depression and lightness of being is like the North and South Poles.
Having hit this low point, I’d like to think there’s only one place to go from here — up. I don’t want to jinx myself (I was raised in a superstitious family) but I can visualize things getting better soon.
Was it the Seven Dwarfs who whistled while they worked? I’m pretty sure it was them, but at the moment, Grumpy is too Sleepy to Google it. If I could whistle, I’d give it a shot, since it’s a possible remedy to depression I’ve never tried, but then I’d really annoy anyone within earshot and I couldn’t do such a thing to my dog Anya.
If only depression could be swept away with a broom, or, get sucked into a vacuum, life would be easier and I’d be less Grumpy. But then again, I’d have less character.
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.