Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
That's What She Said
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Tuesday
Nov062012

Your Average, Run Of The Mill Stress, Search For Self, What Does It All Mean Kind Of Depression

Like showing up to work the day after getting blasted at an office party where you're fairly certain you said a bunch of drunk shit and then photocopied your ass before being driven home by a co-worker, I always feel completely embarrassed logging in here after a particularly dramatic blog post. I write in the heat of the moment and then, after a good night's sleep, end up feeling really stupid for ranting and raving.

That's okay, though, I guess. And I'm okay too. Over the weekend I watched The Real Housewives of Atlanta and then last night tuned in to watch the premiere of a new season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and immediately felt better about my comparatively tiny capacity for drama and really just altogether felt better about myself as a human being... Again, comparatively speaking.

I also felt better about my wrinkles because my God but plastic surgery and Botox and Restylane are freaking me out. What has become acceptable for women's faces, what is seemingly the norm for a woman, is just BEYOND. Almost every woman on the left coast is morphing into some bizarre duck-lipped, smooth foreheaded, puffy-faced creature sporting an enormous set of eye-blindingly white choppers that would make Joe Biden jealous (sorry, Joe and good luck tonight!) courtesy of the dentist du jour. And even worse? People interact with these women in a normal manner instead of immediately alerting the nearest doctor and getting their obviously crazy asses into some involuntary psychiatric hold situation a la Britney Spears where somebody in authority can look into their tightly pulled eyes and tell them they are destroying themselves. I mean, I'm all for someone shaving the bump off their nose or going from A cups to a full C or whatever but shit is getting really crazy, y'all, when 25-year-old girls are regularly injecting themselves with poison, end up looking twenty years older and yet feel like that is the ideal. Seen Lindsay Lohan lately? Oh ma god.

I don't mean to get all Kumbaya about womanhood and shit because I hate my stretch marks as much as the next person and I ain't too keen on the ridges of wrinkles developing around my mouth either but when your lips can be used as a flotation device in case of a plane crash and your 45-year-old forehead is smoother than a newborn's ass - get yourself to a psychiatrist because something is seriously wrong and it ain't the kind of problem that can be fixed by scheduling another Botox sesh with the gals, yo.

But really, I'm one to talk, right? My crazy just doesn't manifest itself on my face, mostly just here on this website. Writing publicly on the internet is my Botox. Which, by the way, speaking of crazy, I really appreciate all your comments. I read them and hear you loud and clear. Therapy, pills etc. Here's the thing though - I'm all for therapy even if it is expensive and isn't covered by my health insurance. But I don't think my anxiety or depression is a chemical thing that can be fixed by pills. It's a situational depression. Or your average, run of the mill stress, relationship problems, search for self, what does it all mean kind of ordinary aches and pains depression.

While I'm all for folks who need medication to help with depression, I just don't think I'm one of them. I'm not in denial either. At least I don't think I am. I mean, I was totally honest with you about the possibility I might have a beer or two more than I should some nights, right? So I think I would be open to the fact that I should probably get on some pills to help with depression. I think? I don't know. I think I just think too much sometimes. Most of the time. All the time.

I guess I'm not a huge fan of pills. Don't like 'em, never have. And I worry about being over-medicated. I worry that Americans are becoming a nation of pill popping zombies. Feeling a little down? Here! Have this! And yes, you're right! My drinking in the evening can be compared to pill popping so I may come off as a little hypocritical here, but let me ask you this... If a couple beers in the evening works for me, what's the difference between that and filling my body with some chemical medication? Is there a difference? I'm not getting loaded every night, hell, I'm barely getting buzzed, it's generally just a couple beers to relax. Additionally, my beer consumption doesn't come with a lot of mild to super freaky side-effects. Now, I realize this all may sound like some kind of defensive reasoning to justify drinking but I'm being serious. When I stopped taking the anti-depressants I was on when I got pregnant with Violet my body reacted violently. It was a horrible detox. The shakes, sweating, nausea, diarrhea, the works! It scared me.

I realize there is a fine line between a few drinks to unwind and slip-sliding into alcoholism, but isn't there a nice balance of having a couple to unwind after a stressful day of wrangling toddlers without being told I need to start popping depression pills? Or is the fact I worry about my drinking already indicative of a problem? Or am I worried about my drinking because I over-think everything and have maybe viewed one too many episodes of Intervention? Just wondering aloud here.

Reader Comments (46)

One of the best and worst things about half in the bag blogging is the inability to activate fore-sight. On one hand you get to express to the world exactly how you feel, get your botox on,..only to be hit in the face with hind-sight, which can be embarrassing. Don't be though, Monica because while you are at it, your readers are generally pleased with the fact that you can be so honest and forthright with your thoughts. Thls transparency is a good thing. Donald Trump would approve. Hey, some of the best blogs are written during those low tides. You snap out of it. As for meds, you don't seem so screwed up that you can't just find natural relief measures...yplike vitamins (I was pushing 5htp since it works wonders with my hyper and scattered brain), but there are a number of natural foods and supplements and lifestyle changes which are remarkably effective in reducing anxiety. Exercise is HUGE. As for alcohol I would save that for special occasions....limit the amount. cut back and try something else. Break up the treatments....But don't ever feel bad about writing in your natural style and being open. We all have our tides and your writing IS your medicine. AND it's medicinal for your readers who love you sight unseen. Crack us up some more!

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergina

Um, that's nice, but can we keep yelling advice at you? Because if so, I also wanted to add this: YOGA!!!

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersherewin

(Just a heads up re: cost of therapy--a lot of therapists are offering sessions without requiring insurance, since insurance companies tend to drive up the cost of therapy in unreasonable ways. My own counselor offers a sliding scale depending on the client's financial circumstances, and can go as low as $30 per hour.

Basically, I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to avoid medication, but I do hope you'll be able to find someone to talk to. You deserve a space to take care of yourself.)

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Um, that's nice, but can we keep yelling advice at you? Because if so, I also wanted to add this: YOGA!!!

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersherewin

How did you feel when you were taking medication before you became pregnant (not counting the detox)? Better than now? I see your point about a couple of beers not being much different than taking meds, but I'm not sure if I agree or not. It could be that as a society, we're taught to see nightly (or daily) drinking as a bad thing...but is it worse than being medicated in other ways? Hmm...it's an interesting point. I tend to think that I'd rather see you avoid alcohol...

What I know for sure, though, is that I hope you can figure it out and do what's best for you and your family. You're a cool person, Monica, with a beautiful family - we're all rooting for you out here!

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

So, I am a therapist. I have no idea if therapy would help or not in your situation. And I am not a huge proponent of psych meds. (A big study came out a few years ago that for those who are mildly depressed, they have only about a half of a percent advantage over a placebo).

But I do know that alcohol is a depressant, and that it can act as a depressant in your system for up to a week. Read: it can MAKE you depressed. If you are anxious and trying to self medicate, alcohol sort of makes sense, but then you wind up feeling down instead of just "normal." One drink for a female probably would not have this effect, but if you have a few several night a week it definitely could. I really commiserate as a mom to to a 2 year old and a 6 month old how HARD it is to just get through some days. I just wanted you to be aware that it may be keeping you feeling crappy and undoing some of that hard work you are doing in other ways!

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

I think almost every.single.person who makes the difficult decision to begin taking medication for a psychological disorder isn't a 'fan' of pills. They want to be able to handle things themselves, and resent the fact that their brain's chemicals can't be changed by behavior or will. I am one of those people--

I remember when you stopped taking Paxil because you wanted to conceive- I don't think you tapered off, and that's an important aspect of keeping the side effects to a minimum: taper, taper, taper.
And... most insurance companies don't cover therapy- I know mine doesn't, but where there's a will there's a fucking way.

Only you can find YOUR way. I think the most important thing to remember is that you do not have to do it by yourself. There are many ways to reach out for help be it medical, professional, spiritual... the list is endless. Reaching out to connect when you're having a hard time is when a bit of healing can begin.

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Dude.... when you post about the kind of panic/anxiety that is as extreme as you did and describe the kind of unhappiness that you so often do here...you just gotta stop then always minimizing it afterwards... If it's situational, so be it, but surely you realize situational depression does not repeat in the same exact patterns over years as anyone reading your blog over time can see that yours does. You don't have to take pills and I'm frankly not a big fan of them either. But drinking more than 1 or 2 drinks a day at most is simply bad for you on every imaginable level. And yes, maybe most to the point, as many have pointed out, it will make you more depressed and more anxious over time, that's just the chemical facts of the matter. You should certainly be as wary of drinking to relieve whatever feelings you're feeling that you don't like to feel as you are of taking said pills. In any case, skip the pills if you want and keep drinking if you think that's the way to go but make an appointment with a therapist too. Most will take you on a sliding scale which means it's not expensive but even if it were...isn't you being healthy and at peace worth it?

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterE.

Having a few beers in the evening certainly doesn't make you an alcoholic but alcohol is a depressant. If you are already feeling down, why take something that only temporary lifts you up (if at all?) and will eventually leave you in the same depressed state as before (if not worse as others have commented)? Why not do something that makes you feel good and keeps you feeling good? You've posted before how you take the kids on walks around your town- there is so much joy that comes through in the photos that you post from the walks. It seems like oing on walks is something you really enjoy and brings you peace. Do you ever get to walk without the kids- maybe just with the dogs? Why not do that in the evening? yes it is dark and cold but if walking is something you like to do - then what the hell- live a little and hit the road (without children)! If it's not walking - then what else brings you joy that doesn't have the same side effects of alcohol? What have you to lose by trying a different evening activity?

Rooting for you!!!

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSracey

Amen.. Those plastic women scare me too. Actually I can't even watch those shows. It freaks me the hell out...And damn it.. I love my Jameson on the rocks even more so when I have a debbie downer kinda of a day where nothing went wrong.. Life is hard.. Motherhood sucks the life right out of you and you tend to lose yourself in it.. Hold on tight, stay away from the pills it will get better.

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersejo hansen

Hi Monica

I tend to agree with what others have said; of course a couple of beers of an evening does not an aloholic make, but if you tend to be depressive anyway (for whatever reason), it will almost certainly worsen your general mood the following day. I LOVE my glass of wine, I am a huge fan of moderate drinking, I also think Americans have a skewed view of alcohol consumption generally - not sure why - that Europeans tend not to have.

The thing is though, if you feel on some level that it may be turning into an issue, then you are probably right. Yes, there are lots of people who have 2-4 beers every night of their lives and have no problem at all beyond a bit of a beer belly, but of course we're all different, and if you are struggling right now, possibly what is generally a harmless relaxation might not be quite so harmless. I quite agree re the meds, but I do think a therapist, a good one, preferably trained in CBT, would be the one to delve into that and establish root causes. It is possible that meds might help, or they might be complete overkill and unnecessary, I don't think it's possible to take a rational view because it's your own mental wellbeing. There is a reason why therapists go to therapists and don't just diagnose themselves!!

You may find that anxiety rather than depression is the issue, or that simply talking through the issues helps enormously. I hope you see that you ARE doing the best you can and are a brilliant mom, trying your best in your relationship with Serge and need to cut yourself a little bit of slack...

x

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarlie@f2s.com

The majority of people who drink do so in a safe, balanced way.

But if you're worried about it, maybe try cutting back. What's the worst that could happen? You very well may realize that there was nothing to worry about in the first place and that would be some piece of mind, right? And if it IS something to worry about? Well, then, at least you dealt with it before it got out of hand.

And I agree on the pill/zombie thing. Also, you wouldn't believe the things that people come out of their family docs with... and the majority of us are uneducated about these drugs. So are our family docs! Lots of these drugs are meant for Britney Spears type of crazy and we have family docs handing them out like skittles. This is a huge problem that we need to be aware of. You got anything with a "pine" or "pam" at the end in your medicine cabinet? Whoa Nelly! People shouldn't be getting that crap from a family doctor. Just like your family doc wouldn't treat your hard core heart problems or give your hard core cardiac drugs, he should keep the same in mind about your BRAIN. Sorry. End rant.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Too bad you don't live in Colorado, I think they've got the right idea. Pot can occasionally help people to chill and regroup. And laugh.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMartha

Cool. I am a huge proponent of therapy over pills, to be honest. I don't want to trash medication, I've been on it and it helped. But I think people do often overlook deeper problems by treating them with pills. It's like when fire alarms go off and you just take out the batteries to stop the noise rather than putting out the fire.
I always thought my anxiety and depression were chronic. I was given pills without much thought. Therapy changed that, though. I learned that general anxiety and depression don't always have to be a chronic illness that only pills can fix. In my case, it was just the result of a shitty childhood and the resulting shitty coping skills and low self esteem. Super over simplified, but in therapy I learned not only to recognize what had happened, but I got a deeper understanding of exactly how it was still affecting my life in the present, and how to make real changes. After years of pills, I kicked the pills AND depression/anxiety to the curb. I've been med free for six years now.

I do understand why people turn to meds, though. Honestly, therapy was super hard and I had to question everything I thought I knew, including a relationship that at the time, getting out of was just not an option for me. But eventually I saw the light, ditched the bad man, and even though it was fucking hard and my life felt out of control for a while, the end results were more than worth it.

I'm rambling, but basically I'm glad you're considering therapy more than pills. And good luck to you, you deserve the best.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLuna

Sorry, Monica, but I don't buy it. I've been reading your blog for years. I wish we could hang out and have a drink. I love your writing. What I'm about to say comes from a place of kindness and pixelated fondness.

Your depression is not situational, it's cyclical, it's often, and it's not the kind of thing you can ignore. I can't stand when people decide that they're going to take a stand against medication predicated on some whimsical denial that they don't need it. It's not always just about you, but your family as well.

Yes, Americans are over-medicated, but some people, many people need those pills and whether you mean to or not, you're judging those of us who accept that we need those medications. But see what a therapist suggests. Just don't get on a high horse about how you aren't going to use medication.

Pot is terrible for depression and anxiety. I'm glad states are legalizing it, but it's not always the best option.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjeneria

Monica,

I'm really struggling with how to write this. I've been reading your blog for years. I agree with jeneria - I think it would be a lot of fun to hang out and have a beer. But I also feel like I've watched you go in and out of depression/anxiety for years too.

I know how you feel re: meds. I spent years (YEARS) dealing with cyclical depression that I attributed to situations (hate my job, young kids, rough spot with husband, taking classes and stressed out, etc.). And I declined meds multiple times. I felt like it would be "giving up" somehow - of course, I only felt that way for ME, not for anyone else I knew on meds. I thought, I'm smart, I'm strong, I have a basically good life with a few stressors, I should be able to work through this. But I couldn't. Therapy helped some, but definitely not enough. I finally went to see my doc after I spent about two weeks in a deep depression - I managed to get out of bed every day and go to work, but that was it. I didn't actually do any work, and when I was home I just sat on the couch and waited for bedtime. Felt frozen, couldn't interact with the family, just wanted to be asleep. But I didn't go see the doc while I was in the depression, I went after I snapped out - it was deep enough that I could see it was really a problem, and that I'd been having less intense episodes like that for years.

Meds worked. I was scared to start taking them, worried about side effects, worried about feeling numb, but that's not what happened. I felt like ME again - that fun person who liked to spend time with friends, play with the kids, have sex with her husband - the ME that I hadn't really seen in years.

I'm sharing all of this because what I see that's similar in your situatuion the the cyclical nature of your depression/anxiety. I think that makes it so hard to really see it as a problem, because you have bad times, but then you feel better. And you get sort of tricked into thinking that things are on the mend, event though you're really just on the upside of the wave. It's hard to see that the wave will come crashing down again. I really, really encourage you to see a therapist, and listen to what they have to say. If I had listened to the first therapist who told me I needed meds, my life would have been so much HAPPIER over the last 5 years. I cannot believe I wasted so much time feeling so terrible. I feel guilty for that - I put my kids and my husband through a lot. But really, they're just happy that I'm back to being happy.

Anyway. I feel you. I really do. I hope you can get in to see an affordable therapist, and I hope that you can find something that works for you, meds or otherwise. Because depression blows, and when you're in it, you can't even really see how far down you are.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Just one thing to add. Getting on meds does not have to be permanent. You can use it as a tool to take other steps to change your situation if you think that is really the underlying problem. Be honest with your doctor. Tell him/her that you want to go on meds SHORT TERM so that you can use that time to make changes that will impact your mental health in the LONG TERM. I don't know what changes you have in mind - but I can pretty much guarantee that whatever it is will be easier to accomplish with the stability meds will bring than trying to do it while in panic mode. Also, making decisions when you are in panic mode is never a good idea so going on meds could help you stabilize enough to make the best possible choices for the long term. Best wishes Monica. You really deserve some stability.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlyn

+1 to what Luna said

I don't think it's fair for us to give you a diagnosis based on some blog posts. That's for you and a professional to decide. I think you need to tuck the possibility of meds back into the recesses of your mind for now, in case you do think you need them later. But as someone who was on Paxil (and then Celexa) and has felt the side effects (brain zaps? Oh GOD!), I can understand the reluctance to be on them again. Go talk to someone. Give him/her AND you a chance to do some good work together. Delve deep. If you think you need meds later on, so be it. If not, hopefully some good therapy will help with some of your challenges.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKat

I didn't take it as a hellbent rant. You may have been raging and felt out of control, but I took it as simply needing to release some feelings. Maybe I don't take things seriously enough sometimes. Regardless, it's good to express and get things off your non-plastic-surgery chest. It was what you were feeling then.

And I like to release the week on Friday or Saturday nights with a couple of Roadhouse Teas at Logans. So what? Does that make me an alcoholic. Some may think so, but in reality, no. We all cope with stress different ways. Do what works for you.

Take it easier on yourself. And I know that's easier said than done sometimes. I used to beat myself up quite often. But as you get older you ask more often, "In the grand scheme of life, is the stress really worth it?"

We try every day to put the best effort forward. Some days it works; some days it doesn't. Begin again every morning. It's a new day to take another stab at making life easier for you and your family.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPam

You don't need pills. You need prayer. It's way more effective with zero side effects. Based on this post, it looks like my prayers for you are helping. I will continue them. Peace, love & blessings!

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrace Miller

You don't need pills. You need prayer. It's way more effective with zero side effects. Grace Miller

If this were true, why then do so many illnesses continue to stalk extremely committed Christians, some of them even suffer from Depression! If prayer were effective - let's face it, it's been around for a whole lot longer than the medication and psychological viewpooint, and doesn't seem to have proved terribly effective in terms of widespread cure, now does it?

I know, I know, we have to be tolerant (unlike so many very religious people of all faiths) and all that good stuff, but really, telling someone that prayer is all they need to resolve quite serious issues, some of which may or may not be chemical is just way off base. Great if you are sending prayers and positive thoughts out, that cannot hurt and is very kind and all, but it's not actually practically terribly helpful.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarlie@f2s.com

Have you considered taking up running? I have yet to meet a runner that is a basket case. Try it, you might like it. Free, can be done any where, good for your mind and body.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

For me talk therapy isn't gonna do it. I don't wanna talk to some young person straight out of college who has no life experience or little life experience, trying to understand MY issues. Been there, done that. Maybe I've just been unlucky with therapists, I don't know but none have ever helped me....or maybe I wasn't ready to help myself.

For me, taking medication just takes the edge off and allows me to think a bit clearer without falling apart. I'm just able to cope better. I rarely drink, sometimes smoke a little weed to help with my chronic pain (cancer survivor) yet that one little lexapro pill does wonders to help me cope. Well, that, and walking. I try to walk two miles daily just to get the blood pumping; plus, its time for me to be alone with my thoughts and try to figure things out. Hell sometimes I wish I had a blog so that I could vent.

Relationships are just work. I've been married for 35 years and there are always ups and downs, good times and bad, I don't know anyone who is perfectly happy in their marriage all the time. As relationships change so do the people within those relationships. I think being home together all day, everyday, raising two toddlers, and writing for a living would be difficult. You need time away, to talk to other adults, and just alone time or down time.

You're not crazy, Monica. You seem more normal to me than most people. You're just more honest with your feelings than most, and you have the courage to write about it. Its all out there on the interrweb for people to read and comment. I could not do that. I can be honest, but not with the whole world........

Try not to be so hard on yourself, Monica. You're doing OK. You and Serge will be fine -- just try not to sweat the small stuff. Trust me, when you get to my age you do look back and wonder why you bothered reacting to half the crap that set you off. Pick your fights well and let the other shit roll off your back. OR get a divorce and end it, but the back and forth stuff is not good for anybody including yourself.

And I'm rambling.........................

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDona

Hmmm. Ok, so I read the post the other night. Years ago, I found myself in a situational depression kind of thing, similar to you. As a matter of fact, I spoke to my doctor about it a few times and they suggested anti-depressants and I was all like - "no, that's cool - for somebody else. not me."

But as I handled my situational depression, the situations kind of never went away. Other than the times I fell pregnant (twice) in between that time, my drinking went from a few drinks and steadily increased.

I know that years later, I found myself in a situation where I really, really crave alcohol more than I should, especially when I am stressed. But I have put strict boundaries around it now - I still have a glass when I want. I can't go total teetotaler, which probably says something too. But the increase in alcohol drinking steadily increased my depression.

I am on on meds now. And I think I will need them for a while.

Regardless what you decide, just wanted to share what I am going through.

And in regards to Botox and all that shit - those women look like freaks. It's really sad. They would look so much better without the injections. Especially Brandi - she is already young and pretty. Why did she have to inject herself so much?

Kiran

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKiran@Masalachica

Here's a suggestion that I don't think anyone has thrown your way.... fast forward 20 years, and Violet, as a young woman, comes to you with the same thoughts, issues, emotional distress of one too many cycles of few highs and shitty scary lows --- and this is after you and Serge have been AMAZING parents and she had an incredibly bright and safe childhood.... What would you tell her to do? How would you help? Be proactive; whether it is a therapist (at least look into before you shut it down) , meds (you admit they helped when you were on them), a meet-up group with knitters, an art class, a book club, walking dogs etc. etc. etc.) OR would you tell her to stick to what she knows and that she have to deal with what life gives her as long as she's can still 'function' the next day because that's how you dealt with it? That no one ever died from 2 beers a night - right?
Can you tell that I have adopted you as a younger sister? Sorry for that. I think we all have. We all know the last few years have been kinda hectic (2 kids in 2 years, big move, family shit, and working in your home all day?!?!?!) Put a calendar on the fridge for your all you family stuff and in big print write in pink "MOMMY'S TIME" at least twice a week --- whether is 8pm or 11:30 am... and that's your time to find your happiness. Good luck!

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBonnieLee

carlie@f2s.com, I'm sorry if my comment bothered you. However, I have personallly seen the power of prayer, and how it can make a huge difference in a person suffering from anxiety and depression's life. Prayer and the Holy Spirit transformed me and diminished my anxiety, and you can't take that away from me by your disbelief. I will continue to pray for Monica, and expect God to bring tangible results. I will pray that God blesses you too, carlie@f2s.com.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrace Miller

I don't think pills are the answer and I really don't see anything wrong with quaffing a few beers every evening. (I've been doing that since my kids were born). But I think the elephant in the room (maybe a baby elephant because you do write about it) is that you are deeply unhappy in your relationship. It seems sometimes that you try to convince yourself that it's okay. That by changing your mindset your relationship will get better. I don't think it works that way. I don't think changing your attitude will help. Relationships are "hard work" in that yes, you sometimes have to work at it. But I really don't think it should be that difficult all the time.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBetts

there's nothing wrong with having a couple of drinks in the evening to relax. I do the same thing! And I feel exactly the same way about pills- the only thing I'll take, even under duress, is aspirin. I don't think you should beat yourself up about drinking- it's not as if you're sitting there getting blasted every night.

What you really need is a good (real life) friend who lives nearby.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermrg

I know everyone is different, but let me share a piece of my story. My brother started off with a couple beers to relax. He shared your reasoning. A couple beers never hurt anyone and he was an adult who took care of his responsibilities. He's now a raging alcoholic who sees nothing but misery, has no sense of humor to speak of unless he's drinking, and is in general just a miserable person to be around. The really sad thing? He now sees it of himself. He never did until recently. And he hates himself. Wants so bad to stop drinking but can't find the strength or the courage.

In my opinion, taking a pill every day is nothing compared to the harm you are causing yourself by drinking every day. And the potential for so much worse if the day comes that those two beers no longer do the trick and you need to add a third, then fourth. Like I said, just my opinion.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

People here are generally right. You are minimizing a problem and have been trying to cope with it yourself for years with no luck there. And there is no reason to be surprised since people can't will themselves out of a depressive cycle. You moved to cow country because you thought it would help fix things. But you isolated yourself and moved further away from the kinds of networks that might help. You drink at home at night to feel better, but, as many have said, alcohol doesn't relax so much as depress. You need help, whether meds or talk or both, and you need to do it now. Trust me when I say that looking back on a childhood raised by people who could have been helped and didn't get it sucks. Don't do that to Violet and Henry.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

I think you need some friends. Or maybe you have friends and don't write about them. If that is the case then just ignore me. But if you don't really have friends I think it's time you make some! Last night I put my daughter to bed and went to my friend's house, watched Magic Mike (it was dumb as expected), ate popcorn and had wine. Is it the same kind of fun as drinking your face off, hanging out until 5AM, and hooking up with randoms? No. But it's like, 35 year old mom fun-I was without my husband and kid for a few hours, and I was home before 10. it was good for my soul! Minus Magic Mike.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends limiting alcohol consumption (for women) to no more than 3 drinks in a day or 7 in a week. If you're exceeding these limits regularly, that is considered heavy drinking and a major risk factor for alcohol abuse disorders. That is not considered "moderate drinking." If you also have depressive symptoms (situational or not), or other health issues that might be worsened by alcohol consumption, that increases your risk for health-related problems. Am I purposely trying to scare you? Maybe, but you've got little kids and they deserve the best version of their mother you can possibly give them. If you feel like you're doing that, fine, but my guess is you don't feel like that.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I loved Bonnie Lee's comment. Agreed. xx

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra

To Andrea: I've been a runner my entire life....and have run long distance for the past 30 years. I LOVE to run, yet I have suffered from anxiety so intensely, at one point I was housebound for three months. Anxiety and depression affect people of all walks of life.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Hey Monica, cut yourself some slack please. Please. Have your couple beers at night, damn it, and enjoy them... we all have our vices. Can you stop being so very hard on yourself? (oh that's a hard one! I too suck at being kind in judging myself... but I am working on it!)
Reality is often ugly and violent, and it's a lot to deal with for an over-sensitive, over-thinking, over-intelligent, always-questioning soul like you. We all have our vices to seek shelter from reality. Some are socially accepted and others frowned upon - and the dividing line is quite a random one. And having that vice is okay, I believe, as long as you observe yourself carefully. Which very obviously, you do.
I don't think it's healthy how society expects us to be upbeat and optimistic and full of energy all the time. Most of us live through patterns of ups and downs. Your anxiety attacks sound dreadful - and I know what they feel like - but I believe they can also be a sign of measuring yourself against the unattainable and twisted ideals society shoves down our throats, and which so many of us play along with and pretend to achieve.
I think not allowing yourself to be down sometimes, to be imperfect, to be troubled, is about as healthy an ideal to follow as it is comparing your body to a Barbie doll's. Because, after all, there IS a lot of stuff to get depressed and anxious about, if you look around...
Love,
A

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra

You write a post that is honest and makes you vulnerable, then when people write comments with concern you change your story. It's like you're saying, "oh, I was just overreacting and everything is fine and there's nothing wrong."
That's just a defense mechanism.
It's fine, everyone struggles and once you put it out there it feels more real, but don't downplay it after to help yourself believe everything is ok. You can talk yourself out of it for a while, but that shit doesn't go away just because you try to ignore it.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbby

Chiming in again... take pills, don't take pills. Have a couple of drinks, don't have a couple of drinks. Whatevs. Your life, your choice (obviously). But, like I said before, it cannot possibly hurt you to try and talk some of this stuff out with a trained professional. Therapy is hard. And sometimes it kind of sucks. And it won't fix you. But it will absolutely (provided you've found yourself a good therapist) equip you with the tools you need to help yourself. It will also help you to recognize patterns in your behaviors and the root causes of those behaviors and give you tools to mitigate the bad effects and strengthen the good ones. And it will feel great because, ultimately, this is work you've done yourself, for yourself.

I am the child of a mother who has dealt with and continues to deal with serious depression and issues related to it. She is a good, solid, caring, loving person. She's a great mom. I'm very glad she's my mom. That said, I sincerely and profoundly wish she'd gotten professional help long before she actually did. I do not have depression. But I have gone to therapy myself for issues related to growing up with a depressed mom. Her and I continue to deal with the struggles her depression has caused, including the fact that we have a relationship in which I am, more often than I'd like, put in the position of having to parent my parent simply because my emotional stability is, well, more stable than hers. Her depression is a burden that (through no fault of her own, other than she resisted professional help for a long time) I've resented having to carry, and that resentment has occasionally complicated our relationship and, as I said a few sentences earlier, has caused me to seek help for myself.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, at some point it's likely someone is going to have to seek therapy to deal with your depression. It's probably best that person be you, rather than one of your children. And as things like depression and anxiety tend to be hereditary, should one of your children (heaven forbid) deal with similar issues, wouldn't you like to be able to help guide them through it using the information and experience you've gained, rather than simply shrugging, saying, "yeah, me too" and cracking open a beer for them?

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ.

I love your honesty and wish more people were as real as you are. I have been through a lot of anxiety and depression and I am definitely anti-meds but grew up with a mom that drank to calm down every night. It became a heavier and heavier habit and eventually the alcohol couldn't mask her issues and it has permanently damaged our relationship. I will do anything to not repeat that cycle. So, I skip the drinks and take the meds and hate them, but I know I'm trying to do better for my daughter and for myself. However you choose to handle things, I hope circumstances improve and you feel comfortable with them. Love your writing and your videos with Serge. Best, M.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMolly C

What Laura and Caitlyn said. Plus, that amount of alcohol greatly increases your risk of cancer, which I would call a freaky side effect.

And did no-one tell you to taper Paxil? Seriously? I know you had to stop suddenly but it really sounds like you have never been informed of this. Shaking my head at the woeful care you have received. More another time, I am busy and on my phone. But I am thinking of you.

Oh, and keep meditating.

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterL

Monica - I was the same as you - NO PILLS, PILLS ARE BAAADDDDD!!!!!!!!! My doctor asked me if I thought I needed them and I laughed in her face. And the therapist recommended me taking them, and I told him no. And he said to me, as long as you are functioning at the same status that you were before then you don't need them. And that really spoke to me - I WASN'T functioning, I WASN'T being the best mom/wife/worker I could be. So I made the choice to take them....... and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I'm on the generic for Celexa, and it has really really really helped. I am no longer crying every day. I am no longer down in the dumps and think my life is awful every day. I can laugh every day. So, while I still think that the pills are bad, there are times that you just have to suck it up and say you need them.

I think that when you get in your thirties (which is where I am at), and you look around and say "is this it? is this my life?" You aren't an astronaut, or the president, or out saving the world. All those things that they say you can be when you are a kid. Just that could be depressing!

I have a wonderful therapist. He doesn't judge me (at least outwardly) for the decisions I make or anything I say. And that is so very refreshing. I highly recommend therapy.......if you can find the right therapist. He's worth all the $$ I spend on him. There has to be someone around there that is older than you and can listen.

Also, friends. A night out a month, or an hour each day reading a book can really help.

You are the best Monica, and don't forget it!

November 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndee

Depression is cyclical. This too shall pass. Plus, dont negate the hormonal aspect... you had two kids, pretty much back to back, and it could be that your hormones are just adjusting to this longer not-pregnant state.

I agree 100% that drinking is no worse than taking pills. What you need to do is let go of your guilt about drinking. If you are not drinking during the day, and you arent drinking too much to function the next day, then let it go. It isnt an issue. Really! We in North America have this weird puritanical attitude that alcohol is the devil, but we forget that alcohol has been consumed throughout history (hell, even pregnant women used to drink beer because the water wasnt safe! no word of a lie) and it just isnt that damn dangerous as long as you dont get shit faced on a regular basis.

Lastly may I recommend two books to you. They really opened my eyes about psychiatric drugs. And I say this as someone who took them happily for years:

http://www.amazon.com/Anatomy-Epidemic-Bullets-Psychiatric-Astonishing/dp/0307452425

http://www.amazon.com/Emperors-New-Drugs-Exploding-Antidepressant/dp/046502016X

I will even gladly send you my copies, if you have a PO box. They are really THAT important.

You have excellent instincts, and will probably be just fine. This is just a season. Remember that.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca

If you were diabetic, you would not look in the mirror and tell your pancreas to suck it up. You would take the insulin. You would change your diet and get more exercise, but you would take the insulin. If you have depression/anxiety, these have chemical roots in the body and brain. Meds can and do help. Being anti-pills as a reflexive position is simply being willfully ignorant and anti-science. There is nothing of your's that I have read that leads me to believe you are anti-science. Talk to a competent therapist, get a check up from a competent doctor and see what they say. Don't close down possibilities because of your own, untrained biases. And please don't ignore me and the others who say that growing up as the child of a person with depression and/or a person who self-medicates with alcohol sucks completely. You think it doesn't affect V and H, but you are wrong.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Been reading you for years. I think you're very talented and very interesting and I've enjoyed the ups and downs of your life as though I'm watching a real-life soap opera. Now listen. I'm a nice guy and I'm not too therapized and I have three little kids and I know the stress that causes. So I know the difference between situational depression caused by the confluence of life and kids and marriage and all that. What you are describing is deeper and more dangerous. Flat out, you are in deep trouble, Monica, and you know it, and you're trying to talk yourself out of understanding this. It's like you have a broken limb and you're trying to go about your life dragging it around as though it will heal on its own or just be that kind of bad. The drinking is dangerous and the refusal to seek help even more so. This is mental illness. Go get help. Today. Stop bullshitting about how people take too many pills. Stop using superficial honesty to cover the fact that you're bullshitting. You have two little kids and a husband and you're in trouble and you're being negligent to yourself and your loved ones. I'm writing with a blunt tone because I fear for your life.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

The problem is that alcohol is a depressant, not an anti-depressant. I say this because I am going through the EXACT same thing. I have to lay off the wine. It's not the problem, but it certainly isn't helping my anxiety issues. I've kind of decided to treat my own anxiety like an illness. If I were sick with some sort of disease, would I take better care of myself? So I'm cutting out the wine and I'm making myself work out. Sleep. Etc. If it doesn't work, step two will be pills - but I'm like you...I hate them.
There is no easy cure. But for me, if i keep doing the same things day in and day out and expecting different results, I'm gonna go nuts. So I'm throwing some different shit against the wall. I hope you will as well.

November 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

I dont think having a few beers at night is a big deal at all. I've been doing this for years, as just a way to unwine at the end of the day. I think it just maybe sounds "worse" to have a 'few beers' versus the standard "glass of wine" because well -that glass of wine could be tiny or it could be enormous. And if you're like me, and prefer light beer, the alcohol content is extremely low. So, it does take more than one or two to get a small buzz. I always feel like such a loaded alkie when I say stuff like that, but I'm no alcoholic and I'm quite successful so -- I have decided to just give myself a damn break and fuck the guilt. You know?

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSJ

I don't know what's right for you (obviously!) but just a little food for thought from someone who loves a drink or five but has way more experience with an alcoholic parent who drank to get past depression than I ever wanted -- having a drink and chilling out is fantastic. Wonderful, tasty, lovely...all of those good things. But drinking to overcome emotions is a slippery, scary slope. And folks who end up on the alcoholic side of that fence detox in ways that can nearly kill them (see: my dad...and seizures, nearly dying during detox, etc.). I think the huge difference between having a drink to get past situational depression and taking medication is that you will never start needing more medication than your correct dose to feel results. But the drinks? It's a near guarantee that if one works now, two will be needed in six months...and four in a year...etc. Again, not saying I know you or your situation and I'd never judge a drink or three; I've just seen too many lives torn apart by drinking that started as an emotional band-aid.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersandra

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