But I'm Just a Grape
Let me introduce myself. I’m Brannigan Leo, but you can call me Brannigan… or Leo. Actually, I’ll respond to anything, as I really enjoy attention. Anyway, I’m a Grape Chia. I usually hate grape-flavored things, but Magical Chia Pops have a certain sweetness to them that leaves you licking your fingers- I think. I actually don’t have any fingers anymore because I’m a grape. I’m still getting used to this transformation, but being tiny is generally pretty awesome, and my morning breath smells like grape juice.
I have three sisters. They’re much older than me. My owner, Amsurito, has been around for a long time. She often tells me of the olden days, back when Faerieland rested on a magical cloud in the sky (absurd concept) and some weird board game was all the rage- what was it called again? Key Quest or something? Anyway, things have changed a lot in Amsurito’s time. Kejolica was her first pet, from back in Y12 (the olden days). Kejolica, despite being ancient, is actually a baby because she was blasted by a Baby Bruce named Boochi, which is a long story. Anyway, the point is that my sisters are all elderly and should probably be painted with an elderly paint brush.
My oldest sister is Kurayia the Sketch Bruce. She was actually born in Y10 and she’s a complex, brooding character. Amsurito adopted her somewhat recently, and bonding with her has been especially difficult because she’s so standoffish. I do my best, though, but sometimes the issue is bigger than me. (A lot of things are bigger than me, seeing as I am a grape.)
I didn’t know Neopets could get depression. I’ve seen those Grey ones and I thought maybe they were just upset because they’re ugly? I mean, of all colors, why would anyone want to be Grey? Turns out they just look like they’re miserable and they’re actually fine. Come to find out, anyone can get depression no matter what they look like. I think there’s a mental health stigma here in Neopia that we should address: depression doesn’t always look like a Grey neopet with sad eyes. It can be present in any Neopet of any color, background, world, guild, skill level, etc. I realized this when I saw how deeply it affected my sister, Kuraiya.
I’m not sure what exactly causes depression. I’ve always attributed Kuraiya’s depression to the fact that she was in the Pound for so long, but there are pets who have never set foot in the Pound who have depressive episodes sometimes. I’ve heard it can happen in random events, or it can even happen due to neglect.
Like I said, my owner Amsurito has been around for a loooong time. But she’s confessed that she’s never seen a Neopet as depressed as Kuraiya was. She was deeply worried, obviously. Kurayia wouldn’t interact with her PetPet. She was severely underperforming in Battledome, despite being an excellent fighter. She was always tired, she wouldn’t eat, and she was irritable. Amsurito scoured the pharmacy for some kind of cure, and even looked for a diagnosis at the hospital, but the Neopian Pharmacy doesn’t offer antidepressants. Amsurito discussed this dilemma with her Neofriends, who all swore up and down that the best cure was toys and a few trips to the Merry Go Round in Roo Island.
I have to admit that I was a bit jealous watching Kurayia play with all the different plushies. She didn’t thoroughly enjoy it, though, although she expressed that she appreciated them. She liked the Merry Go Round alright, but eventually said it just made her dizzy. Nothing seemed to work. We took her fishing (a fish almost ATE me because I am, as aforementioned, a grape), we bought her books, we dunked her in the Healing Springs, we bought her ice cream… everything that one could possibly think of. We tried it. To no avail.
I was really worried. I’m not a particularly religious person, but I found myself at the foot of Coltzan’s Shrine, begging the old spirit for an answer. We turned to the Wishing Well for help as well. Even King Hagan the Wise had no good advice for us. Having a depressed Neopet in the family was a dark and difficult time for all of us, and I have never seen Amsurito so concerned in my life.
I should mention here that my other two sisters, Kejolica and Hesperilla, are babies. They are both older and wiser than me, but physically, they are drooly and smelly babies. I love them very much, but they have trouble understanding these things. Every night, Amsurito tucks them into bed and sings them lullabies, and tells them bedtime stories about fantastical things such as Jelly World and tales of lore. We would sit together on the hearth and try to be merry but there was always this looming presence, the Elephante in the room, the fact that Kurayia would never join us or smile anymore. That has a profound effect on young children; they always think they did something wrong, and their little minds find it very scary to see someone they love in that state. We tried to reassure them that everything would be okay, but even they weren’t convinced. How can they believe in whimsical fictions such as Jelly World, but not believe that their own sister would be okay? Kids are just like that.
The seasons passed. Omelettes were eaten. Life goes on. And even after all hope was lost, something shifted.
One day, out of absolutely nowhere, I noticed that Kurayia was smiling for the first time in a long time. Was that a glimmer of light in her eyes once more? (It’s hard for me to see that high up, as I am… a grape.)
We all took notice of it, but we didn’t verbalize it out of fear of jinxing it. The days following seemed somewhat the same. Kurayia would sleep and mope around most of the day, but every now and then she would surprise us with a comment that reminded us of her old, joyful self.
The following week, after visiting the obsidian quarry and encountering a wriggling worm on the ground in Moltara (one of the babies tried to eat it, to my disgust, but we placed it in our safety deposit box), I noticed Kurayia reading. She hadn’t had the energy or motivation to actually read a book in a long time. The next day, she suggested that we go feed some Kadoaties. The day after that, she offered to take us to the disgusting, pulsating Brain Tree.
Slowly but surely, our Kurayia was coming back. We saw it in the way she talked and walked and carried herself. I asked her one day, “What happened? What changed?”
“Frankly, I’m not sure. I don’t know why I’ve been in this slump. I don’t know why I’ve been so fatigued for so long, or why the world seemed to lose its color. And I’m not sure why things are slowly getting better now. It’s hard for me to trust that things will continue to improve for me, but I’m taking this all one step at a time. I don’t always know what the future holds, but I do know that right now, I’m feeling up to taking a hike up to Terror Mountain.”
“Ugh, that’s such a long walk. Can you carry me?” I replied.
“But you’re so heavy!”
“I’m literally a GRAPE.”
Kurayia’s always been a very profound individual, while I am not. But I understood the gist of what she meant, and I appreciate her honesty. And over the next few weeks, I watched her bounce back slowly but surely. Now, I’m pleased to report that she’s back to her old self. She still has her moments sometimes, but overall, she is a very happy Bruce. I’m sharing this story because I think that there are probably plenty of Neopets out there, or even their owners, who experience something similar. It can be draining and monotonous, kind of like the Wheel of Monotony, but it always gets better; the Wheel doesn’t spin forever, it always stops to land on a prize, and the prize is usually worth the wait. Similarly, it always gets better eventually. We go through seasons of different emotions, and I’ve gathered that even when life gets tough, it always gets better. But what do I know? I’m just a grape.