Down in the dumps

Anna Tanko

“You never have to do today again.” I first saw this quote on Pinterest and it’s now the background screen of my phone. It has helped me survive through days that seem unbearable. 

This is an article that I hesitated to write over and over but I’m a big believer in trusting your gut and my gut kept pushing me to talk about this. 

At the beginning of December, my mom sat me down on the couch and uttered five words that I will never forget: “I think you have depression.” 

My heart stopped and I immediately jumped to denial. All I knew about the disorder was that people who had it were sad all the time. And that wasn’t me. It couldn’t have been me. But after I told her that I couldn’t possibly be depressed, she asked me this question: “Anna, when was the last time you were truly happy?” 

And suddenly, things began to click. Later that night, I looked up the actual symptoms of depression. What I found shocked me about the disorder that I previously thought was just for sad people. Common symptoms are irritability, loss of appetite, loss of interest in usual activities, feelings of worthlessness, sleeping too much and so much more. I related to almost every symptom I saw and immediately burst into tears. I didn’t want to be “that girl” who was mentally unstable or had to be on antidepressants. 

As I talked with my mom and  my doctor, I realized that the reason why I hadn’t been feeling like myself lately wasn’t my fault and there were things, like medicine, meditation and so much more, that could help me through this. My odd behavior and frequent mood swings over the past several months made sense. After discussing possible side effects and what medication we felt would work best for my situation, I got a prescription for antidepressants from my doctor and felt a weight lift off my shoulders as I was finally able to talk about my pain. 

The past few months haven’t been easy. Sometimes getting out of bed seems impossible and other days it feels like nothing is wrong. I will never be able to thank people like my mom and certain friends who I opened up to that  have constantly made sure I was okay. Simple things like checking up on someone can completely make their day. Other things that helped me were meditating, coloring, listening to music on a long drive, etc. This diagnosis has allowed me to begin to find myself again and who is really there for me. 

To be honest, I am terrified to share this. I’m a private person and not many people know this. But I felt compelled to say that if you are going through something, you’re not alone. According to WHO, more than 264 million people are affected by depression globally. Talking about it helps beyond words. If you need somebody to talk to, I, along with so many others, are here for you. Normalizing mental health and talking about what you are experiencing is so incredibly important right now. You are bigger than a disorder and you are bigger than your bad days. Even if you feel down in the dumps, just remember: you never have to do today again.