Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Lately I Find I'm Losing My Mind

I've been keeping something from you. I know, it's been all GREAT EXPERIMENT this and GREAT EXPERIMENT that but that's been a positive distraction from what's really going on.

I left work Tuesday night and haven't been back since.

It's kind of a work-sponsored breakdown, if you will, except they aren't really sponsoring it, Corona is. What I mean to say is, this time off? It's unpaid and they're letting me be here in my house instead of there at a desk. Corona is a valued member of this family but at work? Not so much. They prefer FDA approved mood-altering drugs like Prozac and Zoloft and Hydrocodone for those pesky workplace anxiety attacks. Although in the swampy heat of a breaking news moment I've often considered a secret hooch stash somewhere on the premises. Shit, Cronkite had to have tucked a flask of Johnny Walker Red in a sock suspender or duct taped it to the CBS anchor desk and he was the Most Trusted Man In America. I'll bet the first thing he did upon announcing Kennedy was dead was slug straight from the flask and light up a smoke.

Newsrooms need more alcohol, I say! Save your birthday cake petty cash fund and buy us a Goddamn case of whiskey for those crisis moments. Car accident wipes out an entire family? Here everyone! Shots at my desk during the next commercial break. Another toddler nearly beaten to death by mom? Meet me in the break room in five... and bring shot glasses! I think Jason has a commemorative glass he brought back from his "staycation" to Moab. Or not. I'm not above necking a shot of Jim Beam if the situation calls for it.

The past month has been very difficult and a non-work-related incident Tuesday on my lunch break pushed me over the edge. It didn't push me over the edge so much as pick me up and drop kick me so far over the edge I landed in Arizona. It's hot there. So I crawled home, turned on the A/C, got in bed and haven't really been out much except to roll over and tell Violet to do that army crawl thing she does and git to the 7/11 for more Corona and oh yeah, if they have the new Us Weekly gityer Momma one a them too, you know how she loves her stories about Brangelina and who killed Michael Jackson this week? Couldja do that fer Momma darlin?

Good girl. All that morning sickness is finally paying off

I really should get on medication again. That's what Serge keeps ballyhooing about. He does, he ballyhoos! Have you ever lived with a BALLYHOOER? It's annoying, all the ballyhooing. Take your ballyhooing somewhere else, dickhead. Despite so many ringing anti-depressant endorsements from women I admire I just have a hard time with the medication thing. I don't know how I feel about all these high falutin' drugs with scary names and even scarier side-effects. Can't I just smoke pot instead? Not that I would EVER engage in law-breaking, of course. Only if it ever became legal. Because DRUGS ARE BAD, Violet, BAD BAD BAD. Say NO to drugs. And stuff.

I've soul-searched and come up with the same conclusion every time. Something about taking pills doesn't sit right with me. But panic attacks don't sit right with me either. And panic attacks don't even sit. They tap dance. All over your fragile self until the needle to the RPM's of your heart done broke off and you're left sweatier than Little Richard after jitterbugging his way through Good Golly Miss Molly. Still, I'd rather smoke a joint for a panic attack than pop a pill. Panic attacks are one thing but what about this depression, this yawn-inducing depression that it seems nearly the whole of America is yammering about. You know THOSE commercials that have me ready to off myself before their thirty second violin and/or clarinet solo is over.

It's to the point where I don't even like to talk about it because I find depression so utterly boring and self-absorbing. Plus, I don't really feel depressed, just dissatisfied. Isn't that just part of life? Does anyone trot through life, full throttle, all grins and giggles? And if they do, don't we hate those people anyway? Aren't they the ones that singsong for you to "smile" in that bright-eyed, bushy-tailed tone? The ones whose fingers you want to accidentally slam in work filing cabinets? Oh, I'm sorry! Was that your finger? My goodness. Butterfingers me! Ouch, looks like you might lose a nail! SMILE!

Reader Comments (38)

All I can tell you is that I felt the same way you did until I found myself about to pull the trigger and wound up in the mental hospital because of it. Yeah, it sucks knowing I'm forever bipolar but the medication keeps me so much more alive in every sense of the word.

I mean, yeah, I sometimes blame my lithium for my lack of creative writing, but the reality is that I'm a professor and now my creative outlet is academic writing.

I hope you never look into that abyss and see the world as a happier place without you.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeneria

I'm really sad to hear you're going through such a rough time Monica. Just my humble opinion, but do you think that the panic attacks might be b/c of your post-partum hormones? It's very common for some women to have anxiety/panic instead of depression after child birth. In which case the booze will dull your anxiety as long as you stay drunkish, but when it wears off, your anxiety will be back in full swing. At least with meds, you won't have the ups and downs.

No judgement here on my part and I'm not going to tell you what you should do....believe me I've tried the bottle of wine cure for my anxiety/panic more times than I care to admit & I know all too well how it dulls the pain. But I'm sure that it's not the way you want to go through life just to feel human.

I'll be praying for you big time & hope you're back to feeling like yourself soon.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChrissy

i struggle with the med issue on a daily basis, but like the first commenter, the last time i went completely off all meds, i became suicidal and ended up spending weeks on a psych unit. also, i spent years self-medicating with alcohol, only to find that the instant, sweet relief led to massive rebound anxiety. definitely not bringing this up to preach, but just to let you know that many people go this route rather than traditional psycho stuff. but it may be something to consider for the future, if you do want to avoid future panic attacks and overall malaise. whatever, the outcome, take good care of yourself. you are talented and i enjoy reading your blog. just know that you do impact many people through your writing and your experience.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

I think that dissatisfaction is one thing, but major depression seems to be another. If you are skeptical about meds, you can aggressively try the other options out there simultaneously. I mean, I don't think the other options work sufficiently when attempted in isolation.

other options:
1. commit to at least 6 months or 12 months of therapy with a skilled and effective therapist
2. exercise 3-4 times a week - both intense cardio and weight-training
3. avoid bad carbs, excess sugar and salt as they are said to fuck with hormones and brain chemistry
4. get your omega fatty acid whatever the hell it is (basically nuts, avocadoes, salmon, etc)
5. adopt a regimen of de-escalation or de-stressing strategies (yoga, mindfulness, breathing, blah blah)

It's exhausting to write all that, let alone think about really doing it when working and being a mom and wife, etc. It's really hard to consistently and wholeheartedly do all that shit above in a simultaneous fashion. If someone does try all of the above for at least 6 months and then still feels horrible, then anyone who would judge or critique that person for medicating is a fucking asshole. I am not implying that you would do that, just saying.

Think about it this way, if meds were seen as decadent or unnecessary or excessive, then no insurance company would pay one penny for them. They would dispute their use or their effectiveness. When insurance companies are willing to pay for something, then you know it is needed or "legit."

By the way, dude! alcohol is so freakin bad for the body! Also, depression is bad for the body as well.

Anyway, regardless of what you do, it will be right for you! It's very commendable and badass that you went off your medicine for pregnancy. VERY badass. was that hard? I mean, how did you deal with that? I don't recall you writing about that, but I always wished you would.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterleyla

A side note, I wonder if people who suffer from Diabetes or Lupus or MS or whatever have the same sense of shame and inadequacy that people who suffer from depression do. Why does it seem like certain illnesses are more shameful than others?

In this boot-strap obsessed country, it often seems like people want those who suffer from depression to will their way out of it or something. I don't know. I'm just thinking "out loud." My intent is NOT to get into some long, drawn out debate with other readers of this site in your comments section.

Disclaimer: I'm sure I'm wrong about something, everything, just thinking aloud, don't mean to offend.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterleyla

I don't know if other illnesses inspire such shame. I know that being diagnosed bipolar was, on one hand a relief because we knew it was treatable. On the other hand, though, it's for the rest of my life. My therapists have all likened it to diabetes, as an illness that must be managed on a daily basis.

On the flip side, that management isn't too hard. Monitor my sleep, take my meds, make sure I eat healthy, exercise a bit every day, try and limit stress, and don't overdo it on the alcohol (yes, I can still drink). The tricky part is gauging when I'm feeling up or down and being away of a cycle. So far in the past five years, it hasn't been too hard.

I know I'm very open about my disease, but I see no reason to hide why I sometimes throw temper tantrums.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeneria

y'know i had a work related 'breakdown' last year which left me in a constant state of panic for months...during the day i looked comatose from the outside but inside i was a panicked deer in the headlights, at night i lay in bed, night after night with my heart racing so hard I was convinced i was going to have a stroke.

I got on the pills, just for 4 months until i could get the hell out of that job....and it was the best thing i ever did. I was vehemently anti drugs before then, but it was absolutely worth not being stuck in that perpetual state of terror. At first I went off them cold turkey over Christmas - thinking that the happy times, long days at the beach and endless supply of champagne would help ease me back into normality...I won't go into how wrong i was on that count suffice to say that on Christmas Eve i wanted to slit my wrists with the carving knife at the thought of facing a new year. I went back on, per doctors instructions and eased myself off slowly over Jan and Feb and now, in August...I haven't had a 'moment' since back then and hope that I never will. But if I do? I will go straight back on them...I never want to look longingly at a carving knife or bottle of sleeping tablets ever again.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Monica, I totally agree!

Taking medication doesn't sit right with me either, but I have to...and if/when I don't, it's hard. Side effects do suck, but the up and down moods of NOT taking them are worse.

I have decided to take them every other day...that way I still don't get depressed (that often), and I'm not subjected to and suffering from, the side effects every single day of my life! I agree with what Leyla said--there ARE other ways of treating/combating depression.

I'm a firm believer that DIET plays a KEY role...and by eating and not eating certain foods, moods CAN be better managed. (And even with anti-depressants, it doesn't mean you'll NEVER be depressed! Just not AS depressed AS often, you know!) I'm living proof of it!

Physical excerise does help and so does doing a little something for yourself EACH day!

But I also agree with you that maybe it's NOT so much depression and it i IS dissatifaction...

I went through this myself for a few weeks, I was a raging bitch--and I kept hearing "you're depressed," and it's like "No, I'm NOT depressed, I'm just not HAPPY about the way my life is going thus far...that doesn't mean I can't and or am unwilling to change it, but sometimes, life just sucks." I wrote a blog entry about it! (The link's @ the bottom of this comment!)

Anyway, I don't think "mental breakdowns," are always bad things, they can be absolute turning/starting points for a new attitude and a better road ahead.

They're not fun or easy, but EVERYONE gets a little down sometimes.

Life is blessed & wonderful, but it's also crazy, stressful and maddening at times.

LIVING it, EXPERIENCING it and LEARNING from it is what can IMPROVE it though!

Think about this also: let's see, you're a wife trying to work her marriage (which I totally applaud you for, admire & commend), a new mom with a 7, 8 month baby girl (who is lovely and beautiful by the way!), a full-time "regular," job worker in an industry that is utterly depressing (I'm sure a lot of journalists/newscasters struggle with depression, how can you not? I mean, there's a TON of BAD news in the world today--it's crazy!) and you're on the verge of've spoken about wanting to quit work all together and be a stay-at-home-mom; you've spoke about The Great Experiment (which IS a great idea!), and from my point of view, you're just kind of tossing and turning and rumbling ideas around in your head--new ideas and big changes that affect every aspect of your life. I don't blame you for having a "break down,'" can either continue to break down or you can PUSH FORWARD!

Use this "breakdown," as a HAND UP and let it lift you out of something dark and dreary and into something feesable, wonderful and amazing!

Granted, it won't happen overnight, and admittance is the first step--but you're by no means a bad person for being fed up. We ALL get fed up, we all get CAUGHT up with life, and then turn around and realize "Hey! Wait a minute, this is so NOT what I thought this would be!" I've been there, I was there for the past few weeks, and I'm literally just STARTING to come out of it now. No kidding!

It took a lot of talking calmly, getting in touch with my feelings, my own not so nice sides, barking at my husband, crying, thinking, writing and continuiously counting my many blessings and ADMITTING that I wasn't really THAT happy!

It was scary and ugly and bad, but I GOT THROUGH IT! And YOU WILL TOO!

We're all human, all flawed and we've all had ENOUGH at certain points in our lives! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

I appreciate your honesty, your courage and your bravery! Depression isn't the end of the world, it just feels like it. Relish in your miraculous baby girl or great husband (mine annoys the crap out of me too, but I still love him, appreciate him and couldn't do this crazy life without him!), the fact that you have a home to live in, hair on your head (regardless of its color!), arms, legs, you're walking/talking/peeing/eating, WRITING! The smell of the seasons, the taste of avacados (or beer if that's your thing), etc,'s important to REMEMBER THE LITTLE THINGS and be oh so grateful for them! It helps tremendously, at least it does for me!

I wish you the best of luck, and I will be praying hard for you--in a good way! ;) I hope you feel better soon and once again, THANK YOU FOR YOUR HONESTY! And thank you for echoing the EXACT same thing (though non-work related) that I've been feeling lately. We're not as "unique" as we think we are when it comes to feelings/moods/experiences!

Please keep writing here and continue to share with us, your journey! Your sharing what's REALLY going on has helped me tremendously, and I'm sure it has, and will continue to, help others!

Once again, best of luck & take care of yourself! Be KIND to yourself! And if all else fails, go look at your lovely daughter and think about the beautiful miracle that she is! (Even if she has complicated your life and stressed it out more than ever!)

Love, Health, Peace & Happiness & Many Blessings Too,
A Long-Time Reader,
-Sarah Liz :)

Check out my Blog at: (Especially the entries entitled "I don't make frosting," and "It's not always depression & it ain't about a pill!" Also "Be Kind To Yourself," Seriously, please check them out, they're the third, fourth & fifth entries down on the page! I think, at least I hope, they'll help you! -Sarah

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Liz

Ah, well, I hear you about the pot thing. SO WISH IT WAS LEGAL!! I worked for child protection for too long to do it, but man it would be nice sometimes. So know where you are coming from. I just wrote a post about my struggle with depression and how bad is sucks! BUT, without my meds, I wouldn't be here today with my family. It sucks! But, they help. Sorry you are struggling. My thoughts on the med thing, I would rather be on them and risk the side effects than not be here for Ele and Phin. My kiddies need mommy to be sane. I also think living in Utah is hard. I think I would be SOOOOOOOOO much better if I didn't live in Happy Valley where you are expected to be so damn perfect.
Good luck! I hope all works out for you. Keep writing. Maybe that will help with the panic attacks. It eases my anxiety.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKel Scott

I'm a long-time reader who NEVER comments. (It's your voice I enjoy, not my own.) But the pain in your post makes me want to reach out and let you know how appreciated you are. Good luck! (If you're counting, I too vote for the pharmaceuticals--in combination with a good psychotherapist.)

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

My opinion, for the little amount that it is worth, is this....

In the last 12-15 months your life has taken some pretty dramatic turns.

From reading your blog, and also Serge's, I know that you guys absolutely adore each other, but at the same time infuriate each other. And from the chats I've had with Serge after gigs I know without any shadow of a doubt just how much that guy is crazy about you! I'm damn sure you feel the same about him. Pretty much most of the time. But in all relationships we have periods where we really don't like the other party much.

And all that was fine, when Serge was spending huge chunks of his time off on tour, calling you from motel bathrooms telling you how much he loved you. But now you guys are spending a hell of a lot more time together than ever before, and so all of the little shit that you let slide because he'll be on tour in a few weeks is building up. And you also have Violet there to think about as well.

When it comes to work, I can tell you love your job, but you are torn between doing your job and being at home for your beautiful daughter. Which of course means being at home with your really cool ex-rockstar husband, who you adore around 97% of the time, but he pisses you off now and then. Except, law of averages, because you are spending more time together, means that him pissing you off is happening a lot more often than it used to when he was off on tour and shit.

For the record, I am not writing this to suggest that Serge rejoin the band and get the hell out of your life again for x-number of months per year. Far from it. I am just writing it to explain where I personally think the problems are stemming from.

At the end of the day, as you have said in a previous post, you would rather be at home with Violet than at work, even though you love your job. And you are getting wound up that you maybe can't do this right now, plus the aforementioned problems with Serge, which are really nothing to worry about, as you both love each other far too much for either of you to be able to cope if things ever went wrong between you!

Your problems are that you are spending time you are not used to with Serge, not spending as much time as you would like with Violet, and feel your job is the main cause of both of these problems. I would not suggest medication, but more a period of sitting down and deciding what you REALLY want to achieve in the next five years of your life. Once you know within yourself what you want to achieve, and start making steps to get there, you will start to feel better about yourself, because you will then have the control that you have always felt you lacked over your destiny in the past.

It is possible, of course, that most of the above is a pile of crap. But one thing I know for sure. From backstage at a lot of gigs all over Europe. You are the most important person in Serge's life. You were before Violet, and even more so afterwards. Because he really thinks SHE is the most important person in his life. When in reality it is you, as you helped him create this beautiful little person that you both adore so much.

And now I'm going to stop, as what I meant to say here was "I'm sure things will work out in the end for you all"......

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDamien

My mom always told her that her doctor said it takes one year for your body to recover from being pregnant, and two years for your nervous system to recover. Get on the meds until you can even out, you can't just think of yourself anymore (and I know you are not).

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Better living through chemistry! You are medicating yourself; just with alcohol, but that is masking the issue, not treating. If you were diabetic, you would take insulin, without blinking an eye. If you were hypothyroid, you would take replacement hormone and be thankful there was a treatment. Take care of yourself and quit buying into the idea that taking medicine to regulate the chemicals in your brain is wrong! I was raised Christian Science and have had to battle all my life to even believe taking aspirin was OK. Now that I have gotten over that, I kick myself in the bum for every headache suffered and every time I would just "power through it". Life is meant to be savored, not endured.

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

oh Monica, it's good you wrote it down here, just to keep distance to your feelings, what I want to say Serge is right, that's the only person who knows you better then maybe you do, even if it's annoying to listen that, I guess those all experiences for the past year, pregnancy, baby, being at home, working, crisis, news, looking for cash, saving some up etc. even small things being up in your mind, those all just get boiled, so let listen people who love you [us, net friends as well :)], probably pills will be good to start to fight with these anxiety attacks, and it's nothing wrong with that at all, let this boiled staff calm down. and I really like the idea to find spare time for exercises, jogging, swimming, biking, gardening, walking whatever make you comfortable and relaxing and HAPPY it will help clear your head, put your affairs in order, day by day, because each day looks different, here we're saying something like more life's struggles give you more and more strenght, take care, have a nice and relaxing weekend!

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterana_jo

As someone who self medicated with alcohol for way too many years, all I can say is that finding the right anti depressant can change your life. Even if you only take them for a while to get through a difficult time they can be immensely helpful.

I can understand reluctance to take drugs, but as others have said a bit of medication to treat a problem isn't a bad thing - who doesn't take something for a headache?

Sending love to Salt Lake City from an unusually sunny Scotland!

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGordon

Hi Monica,

I am sorry that you feel this way....I think you are a really nice person with a very big heart and deserve to be happy.

I have also felt very depressed at times in my life, I have never been to therapy or taken any meds. Like you I was scared of what they would do to me, or that they would make me addicted..I don't want to rely on a pill to be happy!

In recent years I have gone through some ups and downs but now I feel I´ve entered a new stage in my life (touch wood) where I am happy and contempt...and the reason is I have understood that being happy or sad is entirely a matter of perception and my own attitude towards things.

If you look at the facts I think you have everything you need to be happy:

You are beautiful, intelligent and a good person - be confident in yourself

You have a beautiful daughter and a gorgeous intelligent husband (go to therapy and learn to appreciatte each other! if you do that no matter what happens in your life you will always have each other to turn to)

You have a job that you love (you have said so yourself at times - every job sucks at times but imagine how much worse it would be to do a mind-numbing job for very little money e.g. full time MacDonalds employee). If you want to spend more time with your daughter, go part time, think of an alternative out what you want to do, it is not going to happen overnight but if you are sure of what you want to do you'll be happy you are heading in the right direction.

You have a nice home and enough money to live comfortably (you know material things are not important and know how to live within your means if you need to- that is a blessing)

You haven't had an easy life all the time but you have lived up to each situation and have come out a well rounded, wonderful person out of it I think...and you are obviously close to your family which is a very important thing in life.

You are blessed with all these things, so why are you wasting your life feeling depressed?
Change your attitude, focus on the positive, value what you have, enjoy the present.
And if there is something in your life that you are not happy with, take the steps to change it.

It's all up to you. I know I have managed to be much happier by changing my attitude, I know you can do it too!

x P

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterP

"You are blessed with all these things, so why are you wasting your life feeling depressed?"

you say that as though being depressed is a isn't. It's just something that happens to some people and they rarely have any real control over it.

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Hi Sarah...I agree with you and I wasn't trying to be patronising...being depressed is not a choice, but I believe you can choose to fight it by changing your attitude towards life if you don't want to take meds (which Monica isn't keen on). All I can say is that making a big effort to think positive-appreciating what I have-enjoying the present has changed my life dramatically.

Even if it is not enough and you decide to take meds too, I think it is the right attitude anyway... Only you can change your life...I know of people who take meds and it helps them get by but it doesn't make them happy.

My mother had chronic depression all her life..went to psychiatrists, therapy, took different meds for decades...but it always came back. Last year she had a life-threatening illness and her attitute towards life has totally changed..her husband is still grumpy, her daughters still live far away, she had to quit her job which she loved... but now she focusses in all the good things, she's the happiest I've ever seen her and for the first time in her adult life has quit the meds.

All I am saying is I believe the power is within you to make yourself better.

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterP


Wow. That is pretty incredible if that is true. I mean, if we are capable of getting rid of depression with a major attitudinal change. Food for thought.. thks!

(I guess I never really thought that that could work.)

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterleyla

You may not want to hear this, but I am the daughter of a recovering alcoholic and for many years instead of dealing with her shit she drank. And drank. And drank. Until she went over the edge and landed herself in the hospital for a broken nose which she obtained because she was so wasted and tripped over the coffee table.
Alcohol is a depressant and is only making things worse.
I have seen the effects of it first hand, the years of abuse and self medication instead of getting to the origin of the issue, If only she she did get herself on something my childhood may have been vastly different. Don't let Violet see what I saw.

So get your ass out of bed, strap that beautiful baby in the ergo and fight for yourself.

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara

You are a lovely woman and deserve to be happy. However, if you sent home by your employer to take an unpaid leave you should see a doctor immediately. Pulling yourself up by your boot straps is a lovely sentiment but I would seriously address your issues before they are so enormous that decisions are made for you and not by you.

I am glad you have allowed comments and I am not trying to insult any of the previous posters. Prescription drugs are not for everyone but anxiety attacks are soul crushing. Allow yourself to explore options.

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDas Reader

I have chronic depression and it is mostly seasonal, so light therapy helps. But not completely. I have gotten really good results with Wellbutrin and am damn glad I have something to turn to instead of being in constant pain and anguish. I am also on thyroid meds permanently, so for me, the meds keep me alive. It's a personal choice, but I wouldn't reject meds out of hand just because they're meds. Prozac has kept my sister alive--believe me, I know what happens when she doesn't have it and really don't fancy another trip to the ER. You are in my thoughts and prayers, Monica.

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I diislike having to take even Advil, so I get the dislike of taking the drugs. I think you have a lot of thoughtful comments on here, and sure, there are alternatives, and heck, it's a lot of work to be in balance sometimes. My thoughts are this: pregnancy does mess with your hormones for AGES. There is no shame in taking anti-depressants. There is no shame in being human and living a life with ups and downs and all that.

My advice, if you want it, is to take the anti-depressants, and then if you feel like, it figure out another way.


August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEDW

Re: the attitude change that P is talking about: I recommend looking into Katie Byron´s books. They did help me a great deal.

Also, I don´t like to take meds. I´ve been trying to quit Prozac twice in the last two years. About three months did it go well, then I all of a sudden, when some difficulties came around, I turned into a depression slug and became - and remained - so trapped inside myself that I couldn´t pull myself back our. Eventually it ended up with me running, not walking to the doc to get back on Prozac. I have no side effects so I guess that´s lucky. I´ve been on it over 10 years, since my early 20ies, way before anyone would easily describe it (lived in Europe back then were taking psychopharmaceuticals is still far more uncommon, and was even more so a decade ago).
I think I´ve learned from going there and back twice. I still don´t love taking meds, it does creep me out. BUT I hate being despressed more - not being able to enjoy the life I have. I too think it´s unrealistic to walk through life all grins. I don´t. And I don´t think people who do are "real". I am not one to succumb to that "pressure"... to be happy and cheery and be able to function like a smooth little wheel and be productive... I just want to not suffer.

August 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra

I just took a 'pot class' a few weeks ago and learned that marijuana won't lessen panic attacks and will actually induce them after long-term use. Wellbutrin isn't going to help in that department, either. Maybe you can get a prescription for Xanax?

August 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterthat girl

The Herb changes your brain chemistry, too- so it is, in its own way, medicating you. Do pop the pills, don't pop the pills---- do what's best for you. It does seem you're so overwhelmed that you need some help.

Shall we rename the pills to something like SSRIs (Stigma Shit Really Irks)? As someone whose serotonin was just oozing around in my gray matter, when the drugs finally kicked in, I was able to concentrate for the first time in, well I CAN'T REMEMBER because I was having constant anxiety. Panic attacks since age 10, ugh- yeah, so don't talk to me about boot straps because throughout the years, my panic morphed (as it does) so it could come at me at any and every angle.

Be kind to yourself, Monica. You fucking totally deserve it.

August 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I didn't want to take meds and really fought it but I was finally so low that I was desperate. It brought me my life back. Then with a good therapist and some diet changes, I was able to get off the meds and have been off for a few years but I never rule out having to go back on if I really need it. Really a good therapist was the real key for me. Sugar and carbs are huge in affecting mood. Just please don't suffer. There are plenty of options to try if you don't want to go the med route. Acupuncture can work for depression too. Just throwing out ideas and not trying to be preachy, just want to help. I have noticed a big difference in my mood lately if I get exercise. I biked to work three days in a week and I was feeling so positive. It is hard to find the time with a full time job and a baby (I have two teens in the house so it is a different kind of nuts) but keep on taking Violet and the dogs for walks and finding things that really feel good to you.

August 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterhockeychic

isn't Xanax somewhat difficult? I mean, I have known people who have taken that long term and they suffer from abnormal sleep patterns that are actually Xanax-induced. And it is also highly addictive and can contribute to paranoia or something like that. Don't quote me, but I've heard some bad things. Side effects are one thing, but side effects that trigger the very same symptoms that one is trying to alleviate are another. Of course, the person I am thinking of was actually abusing the Xanax, so perhaps it can be wonderful when used more conservatively, more properly.

August 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterleyla

I had really BAD depression after my first child was born and when I just could not shake it any longer I went to the doctor and he put me on something {I can't remember the name right now} but man oh man did it not only help me but it was the right thing at the time for my marriage and my son. After a year of taking it and really feeling better I stopped "cold turkey" ,which they say not to do, but I did and have never taken it again. At the time I needed it and I am glad I did it.

Today however I have been suffering from these anxiety attacks that I can not control so yes I am now going to a new doctor and we are going to look into more and see. I don't like the idea of taking a pill but I do like the idea of having a long an healthy relationship with Dominic and my kids.

Last week she took a bunch of blood and wants to look at all my blood work and talk to me more before she "hands out pills" like she said and I respect that. But what ever she find and says I am willing to try for my family.

Hang in there Monica and do what you need to do for you, Serge and Violet.

August 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShelly

A few disjointed thoughts, which are my own and not a judgment on you. I do see a lot of parallels between you and me, which is probably why I enjoy reading your blog. There are parallels in my life and relationships too. I also see a lot of similar pain to my own, some of which I am getting beyond, and I would hope for that for you too, in whatever way is appropriate for you.

I too resisted taking medicine for a long time, until I found the one that worked for me. Now, when I look back and notice that I was actually given a precription for said drug years beforehand, I reflect that I could have had a couple more years of actual life. Instead, I spent that time damaging relationships, burning bridges, being miserable, making my husband miserable some of the time, doing things which reflected badly on me (personally and professionally), earning less than I could have, not doing things I was capable of, putting off graduate school and parenthood - things which are arguably best done before age 35 in many cases (certainly in my case). This year, for the first time in my life, I noticed flowers opening in spring. I had lterally never noticed that it was possible to be uplifted by that before.

I was worried about side-effects, of course. But when I look back on my previous state of mind, thoughts, habits, I see that my entire life was completely unhealthy and hardly likely to get me to a good, healthy old age in any case. I also noticed the plight of many older people around me and saw that although life might seem depressing now, it would be much more so if I continued to contribute towards preventable illnesses/disabilities as I age. I also don't want my future kids to have to take care of me through things I might have been able to avoid. Especially if I only have one. You only get one body. You probably only get one life. I'm sure none of what I'm saying is at all new, but still.

I find your descriptions of your alcohol use worrying. (And I'm from a culture that accepts it far more than the US, so much so that when I came to live here I found many doctors and therapists unworkably conservative about it, for example asking if my husband "also abused alcohol" because I mentioned having got drunk on my birthday.) As others have said, you are self-medicating, which is understandable - but it will only make mental issues worse.

So far it sounds like from the viewpoint of your job, that this time is simply taking a week off from work to recuperate / have a mental health break after having a baby. It doesn't sound so bad, like a string of similar events could. Don't let it get out of hand, and that includes on the internet. Take some time off - change jobs if you want - but don't let your life become one where you have a patchy work history.

This time can be valuable if you let it. I think others have addressed this idea, so I'm not going to because I've gone on long enough as it is.

I hope you're doing OK today.

August 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterL

How much are you drinking? If it's a bottle a night, or even half - what happens if you don't have it? Do you have days off?

I put this separately so you can delete the comment if you want. Your name comes up on Google pretty fast already.

August 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterL

Oh, and by the way, have you actually had a panic attack? Have you had more than one? If so, you MUST get yourself checked out by a professional. It doesn't necessarily mean you need treatment, but you might.

August 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterL

If you are linterested in looking into how diet effects mood I highly recommend the book The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. Lots of good tips on diet and supplements.

August 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSuzie

Hi Monica,

My heart truly goes out to you after reading your post. You're obviously a very intelligent, self-aware woman, and I know you will end up making the right choices in the end. Like many other people who have commented before me, I can say with certainty that anti-depressants saved my life on at least two occasions. Maybe you don't think your situation is that dire, but why wait until it is?

I don't want to be a bally-hooer, but I often think about how lucky we are to live in 2009, when we have choices. And if you have the choice do take a step that will help you live a more joyful life, well then I REALLY think you should take that step. For you and your daughter. You owe it to yourself to use all of the tools that are available to you.

All of your readers keep coming back because we see something special in you and the way you look at the world. We're all in your corner. We believe in you and want you to be your best self.

August 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate

the pot is a good idea, it works for many.

August 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersmokey

I'm a long-time reader who NEVER comments. (It's your voice I enjoy, not my own.) But the pain in your post makes me want to reach out and let you know how appreciated you are. Good luck! (If you're counting, I too vote for the pharmaceuticals--in combination with a good psychotherapist.)

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June 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercarababe

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June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBible Audio

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May 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrose

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