“Annushka was such a happy baby” is something I have always heard my family say. And I must admit, I liked knowing that. I always wanted to be known as a happy soul, and the one who brought sunshine to every room she entered. So I worked to be just that, positive optimistic and happy, with a glass half full outlook towards everything in life. I went on an exchange semester to France through design school at 20 and that’s when things changed drastically. I had always been an emotional and sensitive person.. but it was when I was sitting in a tiny room alone, crying my heart out, 7000 kms from home for what was probably the 20th night consecutively for no real reason is when I knew something was really wrong.
For a long time I could not understand or explain why I would get super anxious for really simple, mundane tasks. Why I would feel this empty and alone inside myself even when I was surrounded by privilege, success and love. I remember actually typing into my google search bar ‘what do you do when you feel extremely sad?’ Depression was staring me in the face, but I had never even considered the possibility. How could I? I was one of the happiest, most positive people I knew. It was only when I had tried everything I could to run away from it that I realised two things: 1. I had to face reality and stop kidding myself or it would only get worse 2. I couldn’t do this alone It took some time, but I gathered the courage and admitted being depressed to myself and then to my parents. It was a big release, it felt like I was trying so hard to be so happy for so long and finally I didn’t have to. I could just be. I could be depressed and it still wouldn’t define who I was. I could still love me and so would they. I began changing the way I went about life. I started accepting what I was really feeling instead of putting on a facade of being happy all the time. I prioritised my mental health over everything, and felt like a weight was being lifted from my shoulders.
After over a year of knowing I suffered from anxiety and depression, I spoke about it on social media for the first time. I was trying to be honest and real in my life and my own hyper ‘positive’ Instagram feed had started to make me nauseous. Nobody is constantly happy. And that’s okay. I drew and wrote about my condition and how I was learning to cope with it and accept it, and the response to it was beautiful. The kindness and support I received from absolute strangers was overwhelming. Since then I have gone through depressive episodes and phases and spoken about them openly on my social media. I use my art as a personal release and share the process in the hope that people feel less alone, less empty and know that nobody is sorted or happy all the time despite what they portray to the world. I hope with my story, people realise you’re actually happier accepting and loving who you really are. I hope with my story more people feel inspired to share their real story.”