Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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More Of The Same

Have you ever climbed a mountain that has a lot of loose rock? You take a step and the rocks begin to slide, leaving you almost exactly where you started? That's how I feel. I'm trying so hard to move onward and upward and I just keep sliding back to square one.

Then I wonder if I'm really trying my hardest or I'm just telling myself I'm trying my hardest so I feel better about giving up. Because I really feel like giving up.

I've been self-medicating quite a bit in the evenings with the usual suspects to help me get over this hump, if it is just a hump and not the aforementioned mountain. A mountain may require the doctor-approved medication I'm trying to avoid. Except I no longer have health insurance... and also, I'd rather change my environment first and see if that makes a difference? In less than 30 days my entire life is going to change in almost every single way imaginable, so we'll see how I feel then.

I really can't thank you guys enough for all your comments. They are AWESOME. Y'all were just brutally honest and kind and super helpful and I'm just so lucky that you come here and read and care enough to comment and email.

Anyway... That's it for now. I'm sitting here looking at the cutest, smiling-est, grinning-est baby you ever did see and feel like an asshole for being such a downer.

Reader Comments (25)

Monica, we moved across the country five months after my second child was born, and I quit my job right before. And I felt basically exactly as you describe. I wrote about meds in comments before and did a PPD post on my blog and all, so I won't go through it all again. I just want to encourage you to do something different to get support or perspective or help or whatever. Even one or two counseling sessions before you leave could be helpful. I'm remembering myself, doing the same things day after day and having it get worse and worse - and even worse when we moved because of all the upheaval. I hope you feel better soon, even if it is just a little.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErin

In my experience the usual suspects are not very effective medication. If you need effective meds you should do your best to get them. Talk therapy can also be helpful. So can changes to environment, and other things like exercise, goal oriented action, and meditation. But nothing medicates like real medication. It can also give you the space to make the changes and try the other things that will allow you to wean yourself from them.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRetief

As someone who also struggles with depression for years and have, to the best of my ability, stayed off meds, I too self -medicated. I finally realized I wasn't weak, or giving up, when I decided to get real help and go on medication; I have a non-physical chronic illness that requires treatment.

I really appreciate all that you share, that's support in itself for me. I hope you that you can feel that you have choices and are supported whatever you do and that you know, when you move, you're going to take YOU with you;)

Best of everything.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSan Diego Jenn

My comment somehow got lost and didn't make it on to your last post, but you know, from the outside it's obvious just how much stuff you have going on (that we know about!). Huge, life changing stuff. Apparently, in a study I heard about the stress of moving house (even if it's a positive move) can take it's toll as much as grieving the loss as a loved one... And your baby is still so young... We are potentially facing a lifstyle/repatriation type change in the next few months as my husband's work is up in the air. We live overseas and if the job falls through we have to leave. I'm only weeks away from having our second baby... I'm trying not to freak out, but it's potentially going to suck big dog's balls... I don't know if it's just how you come across in your writing, but having JUST had a baby and now having to a) pack everything up and move in a mammoth effort, and b) adjust to a brand new situation on top of life/marriage stress and big job leaps... Give yourself a break! These are all BIG DEALS by themselves. Take care of yourself.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

Taking care of yourself when you are responsible for taking care of little ones is so much harder than anyone can imagine. It is so very important that you do all you can to be healthy and even happy for yourself and your family- as your moods and feelings impact everyone in your household.
Keep in mind the science behind not using depressants to battle depressed moods- alcohol is not doing you any favors in this area- try to choose another method for improving the mood.
I hope for you that you are able to find your answer, whether it is a therapist or a prescription or a natural resolution to decreased serotonin. Be kind to yourself!

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterali

In less than 30 days my world will completely change as well. I am moving to Houston for a job, not just any job, but definately my dream job so far! I don't know anyone there, have no idea where I will live YET. But just got the word today that I was "approved" to be hired, that is def a first for me. I have worked at this job for almost 8 years, it is where I developed a passion for this industry that I work in. I am so excited I can't see straight, but so sad to leave everyone it makes me cry.
And yes, I do take a prescription, and thank god I am!

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Hugs to you. We moved cross country when my first born was only two months old. I remember the upheaval and the lack of control as things kept zooming by. Don't forget that you still have lots of pregnancy hormones throwing your emotions out of whack in addition to all of the "stuff" that goes with quitting a job and moving cross country, AND taking care of two little people.

I'm not at all against self medicating every once in a while, but if you're doing it nightly - for days and days on end - then you might be causing more harm than help. Hiding behind alcohol isn't the long term answer. That's just avoiding it for later. Though you may not have health insurance right now, the cost of prescription drugs may be worth it (besides, so many of them come in generic forms now). I know that you don't want to have to resort to prescriptions, but there is no shame in seeking them out. I have not ever been on anti-depressants, but two of my very best friends have. I've seen them through their child bearing years when they went on them, off them, and back on (etc., etc.). I know how much these drugs have helped them cope when they felt hopeless. We sometimes joke about the "happy pills," but one of them said, "once I was on meds, I finally realized that THIS is the way other people feel - that they don't constantly feel like the world is going to crumple around them."

Be kind to yourself, but be real. And thanks for sharing your reality with us, your readers. You've got a lot of people rooting for you :-).

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLori

While I agree that there is a tendency to overmedicate in this country, I bristle at the people who claim you can cure depression, bipolar, etc with just diet, supplements, and exercise. By saying that, they are judging those who opt for therapy and medicines designed to affect brain chemistry. Not everything can be healed with meditation, kale, and a dose of beta carotene. I do think holistic approaches are best, but even then some of us need the medications.

There's no shame in needing medication, but when you espouse the evils of medication, you are casting aspersions on those of us who tried the healthy, crunchy, new age route and found ourselves on the precipices of suicide.

It's bad enough that I have to deal with the knowledge that I will deal with my bipolar EVERY SINGLE DAY for the rest of my life. There's no cure. It doesn't magically go away with age. And I run the risk of another episode that may derail my entire life and put me in the psych ward. I have to take lithium and deal with it every day. I have to monitor my diet, my sleep, and my exercise. I have to watch my moods very closely and if I begin to slip, I have to take half a xanax to prevent me from flipping out. My husband and I deal with this ever day. I don't need people telling me that I'm weak or a victim of the pharmaceutical industry or lazy or that they overcame their illness with salads, chants, and vitamin C. If you were cured that easily, then you were never seriously suffering from a mental illness.

Monica, I don't know you but I've been reading for years and I love you as much as I can love a digital entity. I know you don't have health insurance, but please, please, please, see a doctor. The downward spiral is not as cool as the NIN album that bears its name and its not helpful to creative energy to bottom out.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjeneria

Just doing a quick Google search turned up Jewish Family Services, which offers counseling on a sliding cost scale:
You don't have to be Jewish to get services from them. Downside: they are located in Park City. There are probably other services near your house.

Self medication is a bad idea for any psychological/mental health condition. You owe it to yourself and to your beautiful family to get some help, even if it is just a visit or two to a therapist before the big move. Not being able to fix yourself is NOT a sign of weakness. If you had cancer, you wouldn't try to self-medicate and take it as a personal failure if you couldn't, would you? And the sooner you get help the better it will be for you, your adorable kiddos, and your husband. Let me tell you, my mother-in-law refused drugs or any sort of treatment while my husband was growing up (she spent some time in a mental institution in her 20's and I don't think she really trusted any psych stuff after that) even though she clearly had mental health issues, and it left lasting damage. She's finally on meds now, and things are much better for everyone, first and foremost for her and her husband. I just wish she'd gotten meds when my husband was a tiny kid so that he could have avoided the lasting effects of having a depressed, unstable, and occasionally abusive mother. But she is doing way, way better now.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnika

I should add: if it is easier for you, let Serge take charge and schedule appointments for you and figure out what to do with the kids. Sometimes when one is really down one has to let someone else take control. Let someone take care of you for a while.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnika

It's gonna be alright!!! You are feeling the blues. That's all. It's normal. Maybe part of it is your nature and the other part is just wondering what the future has in store...maybe you're thinking too much and just need to let go and see how it goes. God will take care of you ( stay out of Tornado Alley, though) . It's really gonna be alright!

Hey- Did we ever get a manual on how to do life? Where is MY mentor? ( i feel like Nick Cage in Moonstruck) I have no idea. Every mistake I have made I look around at my loved ones and say "WHY the HECK didn't YOU tell me not to ____________?" My parents tried to talk me out of my first marriage. They said they weren't doing cartwheels. I went ahead and to their embarrassment did the front yard wedding. Scary hairy. The second one was less of a fight but with Mom draggin' her feet down the aisle as I pulled her along on my fancy train. I will not bore you with these stories, but as I see it, there's always gonna be mess-ups, disappointments, ruined plans, shattered dreams....death of a vision. It's really okay, you see, because this is it. IT's the way it goes. We make our beautiful beds and stink em up. Did I ever tell you about the old woman ( a virtual stranger) who gave me the 200 bucks I needed to get my injured dog the surgery she needed? This philanthropist had founded Animal Birth Control and was known in the area. I was desperate and broke. So she gives me the money and Bailey gets the surgery and lives... and over the next 6 months I paid her back. So a few months later she calls me at work and GIVES me her FARM and HOUSE. FREE because I paid her back and she said no one had ever done that in all the years she had given people money... All I had to to was sign the papers and throw out the squatters and agree to take sick animals in, feed them and let them die a natural death.... Ya know what?! I said " Thank you Mrs. Emmanual, but I can't POSSIBLY accept your fine offer, as I have no idea how to run an animal hospice. I'd surely put them to sleep when they started moaning. I just can't do that. Please forgive me, but I must decline. " Oh what a saint I am...

I gave away the freakin FARM. STUPIDEST THING.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergina

Hi Monica, if you realize you're self-medicating, I don't understand why you're so adverse to using prescribed medication to help you through this hard time. I do understand that without health insurance... well, I don't know how you would do it. It was nice of the commenter to recommend the Jewish Family Services--

Please take care. I know what it feels like to be in The Hole and not even have the energy to look up to convince myself there was a way out. It is devastating. Here's to bluer skies...

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Monica, Damn it! You are encoutering some many of life's top stressers all at the same time. New baby, quit job, moving....How much more do you think you can take. Please stop self medicating..that can only hurt you and your family. Get the help you need now, before starting down a spriling path of nothingness! Please, if not for yourself, for your family, for us who all love you!

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commentervchilds

I know this is an over-used argument... but it made sense to me when I had to decide to seek treatment. If you had a broken arm- would you hesitate to get help to fix it? Prolly not. There are ways around the insurance thing- lots of resources available for low cost options.
And as @Annika said- let someone else make the appointments. It helps me soooo much when the weight of having to make the calls is off of me. It may seem silly, but for whatever reason I HATE making the calls. But when someone else sets it up for me, I go.
Much Love to you!

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCasey in Boise
I've had what I call "situational depression" twice. Once was when we were waiting on our adoption. I *knew* once she was ours, that I would be fine. And yes, the day came and I was fine from then on. BUT these Adrenal Health herbs got me through the situation and helped me hang on. It sounds like your depression may be worse than situational though. But if you get the feeling that moving to PA might clear stuff up, maybe these herbs can get you through.
Take care of yourself, so you can take care of your loves.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

You just had a (second) baby, coupled with major life change. I know it's hard to see in the moment because you're feeling bad, but rationally speaking, you are in a situation that's tailor made for post-partum depression. I think that if most of us had a friend in this boat, we'd gently remind her that getting help isn't the same as giving up - mental illness is not a failure. Furthermore, you don't have to be perfect, you're human! Cut yourself some slack. The only person who expects you to be superwoman here is yourself. There are lots of low cost options for health care. Since you seemed to like your OB-GYN, I think it would be totally appropriate to give him a call and basically say, "I don't have health insurance right now, but I just had a baby and I'm feeling incredibly down, can you help me figure out some options?" Seriously - I know it seems like situational changes might help, but there's also a good chance that if you're already feeling awful, all that stress might make things worse. You deserve to be happy, and mental illness is not a battle to win, a mountain to climb, or something to tough out. You don't get bonus points for fixing it yourself and it's not weak to get the help you need. It's an illness, just like any other. I hope you feel better soon!

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMadison

Where to begin? I've been in a downward spiral for the last five years do to mental illness. I lost my marriage, my friends, my jobs, my home, my family and mostly my will to live. I've attempted suicide twice. So I understand fully when you say "You take a step and the rocks begin to slide, leaving you almost exactly where you started? That's how I feel. I'm trying so hard to move onward and upward and I just keep sliding back to square one. " Some mornings I wake and wonder if I can just get up and move, let alone function as a productive member of society. It pains me to no end to be stuck in this "no man's time". I want to work and be functional but my mental illness always comes a knocking at the most inopportune time. I'm so tired of the judgement of my friends and family. If only they could walk in my shoes...
Hang in there, you have a wonderful man in Serge and two beautiful children. They love you and will help.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike

I've been there. The new baby thing, the moving cross country thing, the self medicating thing. OMG, it's A.W.F.U.L. Please get some meds, it was the best thing I ever did for myself (and my family). It could be short term, but Good God, it helped...............

May 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersusan

I'm not sure if anyone brought this up in the comments to your previous posts but Zoloft is not the only antidepressant on the market. Wellbutrin is an atypical antidepressant that works quite well and has fewer side effects ( and no real issues with withdrawal ) than SSRI's like zoloft or prozac. You're getting good advice here. Especially with re: to calling your OB and asking for help. Maybe even try the local Health department. It's clear how badly you're suffering. There's no shame in getting help.

May 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaty E.

Monica, you know I took anti-depressants for about 5 months when my son was 18 months. It was more circumstances than I think my own mental health - but boy it helped. Marriage is beyond hard - ESPECIALLY when you have just had a baby. Husband and I rowed on Sunday and he said 'why are you always so angry all the time? You know, you're better than that...' and I just cried and cried. Then we went for pizza and drank 2 large glasses of wine and put on brave faces for the kids. I am so stressssssed all the time. Juggling two kids makes me want to scream. I am envious my husband can go to work and escape a crying demanding needy baby that is my diva daughter. I missed your post on marriage being hard - just read it. I can assure you my marriage is a constant roller coaster. But we are two tired, stressed parents, with no family help, trying to juggle our lives and bringing up two kids - one at almost 6 months. Money is tight, time is tighter.

Do whatever if is to make your path easier and remember above all - you are team. You went into this as ateam and you have to work as a team. Even when one team member wants to string the other team member up by the balls. If in doubt - have a glass of red, and never go to sleep on a row.

Love to you hun. Sx

May 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercrummymummy

Monica - I commented with the whole "if you had diabetes, would you think it was 'weak' or optional to take insulin" thing in your original post, but I wanted to address your concerns about medication cost really quickly. Your primary care doctor, or your OB/GYN, likely has a sample closet in their office, SSRIs are extremely likely to be among those product samples. It's a good idea, and a common practice, to have a patient start on samples of the product versus filling a full 30-day script anyway, so you and your doctor can gauge effectiveness and tolerability before investing in a whole month's worth of meds. Many times, it takes a couple of tries to find the "right mousetrap" of meds for an individual.

But samples are also a boon to patients who are without health insurance or short of funds; my experience has been that if you let your doctor know your circumstances they will go out of their way to minimize the impact of prescribing on your wallet. That can mean prescribing a generic version of an older brand (e.g., fluoxetine vs. Prozac), or providing you with a passel of samples to hold you over a bit. So please - talk to your docs, and see what they have to say.

A big "huzzah" for the commenter above who is tired of defending herself for taking meds to treat, as she said, a chronic non-medical health issue. And tired of hearing about all of the "alterna-med" fixes that would supplant pharmaceutical therapy if only we who take those meds would just give those alternatives a chance. Mental health is one of the most stigmatized areas of healthcare, and that will never improve until people truly understand that - even though a diagnosis can't be confirmed through a blood test or an MRI - these are very real, neuro-chemical conditions with a highly-genetic component, No one in their right mind (kind of a pun, i know) would take these meds without having a really compelling reason for doing so and without exhausting less-invasive or possibly-harmful options first; why subject yourself to side effects, adverse events, and the criticism of others if you don't absolutely have to do so??

Anyhow -- samples. Investigate, assuming that your doctor thinks that you are a good candidate! It doesn't have to be "forever", but it also wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if it turns out to be a long-term thing that gives you a much better and more consistent quality of life. I hope that you're able to procure some semblance of health insurance coverage soon so this ceases to be a huge issue for you, but I totally understand why it is right now. Unfortunately, feeling as you do not always the case of "ignore it and it will go away", and the self-medicating daily is a huge red flag (IMO) to take how you're feeling very seriously. Hang in there, and breathe. And ... samples! ;-)

May 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRuth

Yes to what Ruth said. Many pharmacies do many of these meds for $10 a go, or some other affordable amount.

When you're on the right one, you feel fine. It's even possible to come off with barely any side effects. Promise. And it's also possible to be on them for a period of time and really feel pretty much 'cured' afterwards - your brain kind of rewires itself. You don't hear about these stories so much, but I promise you they exist. I'd say they are more the norm than otherwise, or barely anyone would take the meds.

Also, I am a related professional, and while it is certainly not usual to completely cure oneself of a serious illness through diet and exercise, no responsible professional should fail to point out that these things are an excellent way to start which can have a surprising, measurable effect, while you're waiting for the meds to work, or if you want to see if it's possible to manage without the meds. This means you have to be really disciplined about it though, which depressed people (and parents) find hard to do, of course.

May 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterL

Monika - Don't call yourself an asshole, darlin. I think you'd be an ass if you weren't honest about feeling down and tried to hide it. I think there is so much normalcy to your situation - I don't want to downplay serious feelings of depression or the need for medication - but I also think what you are feelings is so gd normal.

I married my husband rapidly and we have had four kids over the past 10 years. I worked nonstop with the top two, and have been home with the bottom two. Do not underestimate the decision you have recently made - to leave your career and stay home - on top of the birth of your beautiful boy, while parenting your toddler, while trying to save some time for the hubby, while writing these fabulous, honest posts, while preparing to move.

Like I said, I am not downplaying the need for medication, but ANYONE would have a hard time dealing with all of these feelings.

Hang in there sister, you have a ton of people cheering you on, even if you slip down the mountain a bit.

May 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Poor've got just about all of life's stressors going on, plus you are weaning- which can be messy and painful! Hopefully it will get easier with time. I'm sending you hugs- trust your instincts and do what you need to do. If weaning is still rough, maybe try a slightly more gradual approach for the girls and pump a little off when they are too full- I know I feel better when I'm not leaky and in pain.

May 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephaniw

Monica-If you think you're feeling blue now, it's not going to get better just because you my experience, that kind of transition is a risk factor for depression in and of itself, it's going to be a huge adjustment even if it is for the positive. It may make whatever is going on now much worse...not trying to scare you, just trying to prepare you. Maybe you should come up with a plan about what to do before moving all the way across the country.

May 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

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