Anna Bashkova

@anna-bashkova | contributor
Anna Bashkova spent her early twenties feeling messed up, lost, confused, struggling with concealed anxiety and not ever having a plan B. She now dedicates her site to spread the message that you’re allowed to sidetrack. You’re allowed to feel lost. You’re allowed to have moments where you don’t love yourself. But you can never, ever let anyone fool you that you can’t do something. Including yourself.
Anna Bashkova

Loving a Person Who Has Depression

They are everything you’ve ever dreamed of, but struggle with seeing themselves as the perfection that they are. When you love a person who has depression, they will appreciate your compassion more than they can even say. Understanding and being there for them will take patience and empathy on your part; but they will pay it back tenfold and love you that much more for it. Depression doesn’t care how successful they are, that they’re in a relationship with someone who tells them they’re amazing 20 times a day, and looks at them like they might be magic. Depression is not a choice. It has nothing to do with being weak. It’s not something someone can just “get over” — it is not just a bad day or a bad mood, it cuts deeper than that. It’s frustrating. It’s leading yourself down the darkest of paths. It feels helpless, and it’s often feeling on edge, going back and forth between caring too much and not caring at all. It can leave someone feeling paralyzed in their own mind and body, unable to do the things they used to love to do or the things they know they should be doing. A silent hug can do so much more than any clichéd sayings. Advice can often be meaningless — “you should smile more” can come across as empty, insulting even, and can create more tension within. Listen with the intent to understand; you don’t have to reply. Let them know you’re there for them. Asking them questions to help guide them in discovering what could make them feel better is key: I’m here for you. I believe in you. I believe you are stronger than this and I believe you’ll get through this. What can I do to help you? What do you think would make you feel better? Remind them they don’t have to do this alone. That it’s OK to be vulnerable; it’s beautiful, in fact. Bring them out of their routine where you two can connect. Directly ask them how they are really feeling and how are they coping with their depression, ways they’re practicing self-care. This is everything. They might push you away before they can bring you closer. People who suffer from depression are just as frustrated about it as you are. Probably more. They can isolate themselves, pushing away people they need the most. They have definitely worried about every aspect of your relationship at length — often getting frustrated with feeling like they might be a burden on you. You’re quick to remind them how much you love them, but they are just as quick to be overcome with crippling doubt — it’s not about you. If they need space or become distant don’t blame yourself and wonder how you could do things differently to heal them. Sometimes just getting through the day can be overwhelming and exhausting. If they cancel plans suddenly, leave events early or say no to things altogether, it’s not about anything you did. It’s not about you at all. You’re allowed to get frustrated, too. Loving a person who has depression doesn’t mean you have to cater to all of their needs or walk around eggshells when you’re around them. Be patient, be supportive, but also communicate your needs and concerns. You’re allowed to acknowledge if something is beginning to create a negative impact in your life; to show them love and kindness without self-sacrificing. In those moments of frustration, take a step back. You want to help them but you also need to maintain your own sense of happiness and fulfillment. Discuss and set boundaries. You can find a balance that works for both of you. When you love a person who has depression, you need to understand you will not always understand. At the same time, you will see that there is always a silver lining — experiencing mental anguish can actually make one more empathetic and creative. Some of the most influential, empathetic and fascinating people have experienced depression; and though it can be difficult to understand what they’re going through, love them anyway. And love them all the way. Follow this journey on annabash.com.

Anna Bashkova

What It Feels Like to Have Hidden Anxiety

I always keep my worries hidden. I mean, how do you explain to someone the conundrum of loving people and needing to be surrounded by people to be happy, but also that my deepest triggers are usually social situations? And those panic attacks? The only thing more terrifying than a panic attack is trying to explain to people what a panic attack feels like. The symptoms — a racing mind, heart and difficulty breathing — can make you feel like you’re going to faint, lose your mind. And die. Really fun. For a long time I didn’t even know what I was going through was a panic attack and I was going to be just fine. People are puzzled by me — I come across as a perplexing mix of outgoing but introverted, very social but rarely out. Open, but selective on whom I’m open with. I connect with people easily but can only handle a few close friends who I share my whole world with. My character is bold, outgoing, my sharp tongue can get me into trouble, and I rarely care, but I can be mind-numbingly introspective too, sometimes even the smallest things can stress me out and override my nerves. Dating is hard. How am I supposed to explain that I’m not a jealous, insecure freak, I just think about everything? A lot. Me: OK, just let it go, don’t escalate it, don’t say shit. It won’t end well. Pick your battles. It’s not worth it. Let. It. Go. Anxiety: Sooo I was looking through your Facebook page and… Me:…Dammit. My anxiety doesn’t care I am in a relationship with a boy who makes me laugh, looks at me like I’m the most beautiful girl in the world and treats me better than any other boy has. Anxiety also doesn’t care about how many things I have achieved, how many compliments I get or how many people I connect with. I will still assume I’m disliked. While this is annoying, it also keeps me pretty grounded and unpretentious at the same time. Ironically, my anxiety also often keeps me moving forward. I’m always gripped by the feeling that there’s more I should be, or could be, doing with my life — and while this is stressful, it also keeps me in check. I am very driven, and my flaws in chemistry actually make me highly intuitive — I’m often hyper-conscious of what’s going on around me. People actually come to me when they’re stressed because I’m a great problem-solver — I mean c’mon, the billions of hours I spend thinking has to count for something. Never let anxiety fool you into thinking you’re not strong enough for something. Never let your anxiety fool you into thinking you can’t achieve your biggest dreams. Never let anxiety convince you you’re not loved or that there’s something wrong with you. Never let anxiety fool you into thinking this is how you will be for the rest of your life, it gets a lot better. You will fall in love with yourself regardless of your most uncomfortable state, you will learn to love your demons you can’t stand. You will learn to love your edges, all your roughness and you will one day see the perfection in all your imperfections. Follow this journey on annabash.com. The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us a story about a time you encountered a commonly held misconception about your mental illness. How did you react, and what do you want to tell people who hold his misconception? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Anna Bashkova

The Importance of Friendship for Someone With Depression

There is a phrase “no one will love you until you learn to love yourself” that I believe to be very untrue. When I was struggling, leading myself down the darkest of paths, salty blurred vision, reddened eyes, heart heavy with pain, this is when I needed to be loved the most. Sometimes all you need is one. One person to tell you everything is going to be OK. That you’re going to be OK. One person can change everything. I didn’t love myself, but you did. You gave me a glimmer of hope that things might begin to change. That the future was worth fighting for. You looked into my eyes and saw me as beautiful; your love, it changed me. You gave a breath of fresh air when I needed it the most. Wiping away my tears, giving me hugs, 3 a.m. calls when you just listened. Because the darkest of places are not so dark anymore when someone doesn’t mind sitting right there with you; the darkest eventually subsides because it can’t handle light. Your love shined a light on where I didn’t love myself. Your love and patience was the light that broke through that darkness. The effect you had on me is immeasurable. Those parts of myself I only showed to you — the regrets, guilt and painful thoughts; the shadowy corners and hidden parts, your love, it warmed them, my imperfections, you embraced them. You never told me I should smile more, but you made me smile anyway; piece by piece, you put back together my aching mind, heart, body and soul. Never let anyone tell you that you are not worth being loved if you don’t love yourself. We all go through moments of darkness where we don’t have to hide what is gory and unpleasant. A true friend will love you regardless of your most comfortable state, and if that happens to be in tear-stained bedsheets, crying because you need a moment before you get back up, then you have found a friend who’s worth the world. To the friend who loved me through my depression, Thank you. Sometimes all you need is one. Follow this journey on annabash.com. The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Write a thank you letter to someone you realize you don’t thank enough. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Anna Bashkova

15 Things You Should Know About People Who Have Concealed Depression

1. Their personalities are not dreary in the slightest. People with concealed depression might be some of the charismatic and alive people you know, prone to having a sharp tongue and hyper-creative mind. 2. Their biggest challenge is to shut off their brain. I’m able to process the world around me at rapid-fire speed — the good and the bad. It’s like my brain is a sponge soaking in everything causing me to be hyper-aware and highly intuitive. 3. Subsequently, I’m more vulnerable to numbing myself with alcohol or drugs. It can provide a temporary off switch for my brain, putting a halt to the never-ending flow of thoughts and ideas. 4. That is, until the hangover. My hangovers make me extremely emotionally vulnerable — my worry often centers on a fear of being judged by others. The next morning I’m left in fear of what I could have said to that one person. 5. They have the most agony about other people’s agony. My moments of breathtaking emotional pain are often triggered by seeing other people suffer. I’m very in tune with other people’s feelings. When strangers cry, I can’t help but feel their pain. 6. If I do something to hurt someone, it feels like a stab wound to the heart. When I say “I’m sorry,” I’m really sorry — what you will never see are the hours I spend going over every single detail of the fight. 7. Concealed sadness has a lot to do with the ways people try to personally conquer their own demons. For many, it is “self-regulating” their thoughts. Brain: What meaning does life have? You: Damn it, this again? Homie we went over this a million times and – Brain: Yeah, but there’s just one more thing I still don’t – You:… It’s 3 a.m. 8. They have many friends or acquaintances, but very few people who they truly share their world with. I hate meaningless small talk and avoid it like the plague — having unauthentic conversations can feel overwhelming and exhausting. 9. They are very difficult to truly get to know. I come across as being larger than life — many are easily drawn to me and perceive me as being extroverted, only to be confused later on when they realize I’m also very introspective, with moments of isolating myself to recharge my social batteries alone. 10. Finding someone who I relate to on an emotional plane is rare. I hang on to the people who are stimulating enough for me to stop over-thinking for dear life. 11. They are wicked smart. A high intelligence is linked to depression — smarter people can envision all sorts of worst-case scenarios, and while this is stressful, it means I know how to handle or respond to each one, making me a great problem-solver. 12. They are uncomfortable seeing people in pain… and will do everything in their power to ensure other people don’t see them struggle. I don’t want to be pitied, or to bring anyone down because making the people around me feel loved and special actually eases my sadness greatly. 13. Their sadness can actually make them driven. Since my sadness is often perpetuated by my constant search for a purpose, I will always attempt to do more to satisfy something inside of me that’s always hungry for more. 14. They often feel like they have no control… so I compensate for fear of the unknown. 15. They make situations worse for themselves by trying to conceal their sadness. I am a very expressive person, but it’s difficult for me to express anguish. I feel like people won’t understand what I’m going through and I feel like I have to protect myself — my heart, the people around me and the success of my dreams. Many of you reading this will be know how easy it is to feel lost and alone. The truth is, no one has to hide the darkest and most unpleasant parts of themselves – the world we live in encourages this, but it’s those darkest parts that also have the most light in them. All that pain produces understandings that create a new level of living. No matter how complicated someone is, it’s important for everyone to understand that person is searching for love and acceptance. We all are. Open your heart to someone even if it scares you to death. People will be in love with you regardless of your most comfortable state. Editor’s note: Not everyone experiences depression in the same way. This is based on one person’s personal experience. Follow this journey on annabash.com. The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.