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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
Aug122014

Seize the Day

Last night was one of those nights I felt like a junkie trying to stay clean. Off work at ten. Home to an empty house. Itchy, pacing. Longing for my babies. Bordering on panic. What am I doing? I can't do this. This is too hard.

I ended up filling the void with a frozen pizza and season 8, episode 1 of Dexter. Serge and I left off at the end of season 7 last year and became so obsessed with the Breaking Bad series that we hadn't had a chance to finish out Dexter. Watching Dexter without Serge felt like cheating on him more than sleeping with someone else would've. It was our show. First episode I've watched without him.

The news about Robin Williams kept stealing my focus. Devastating. Beyond comprehension, really. The man who made the world laugh was so sad he couldn't fathom another day. Depression. It's something my mind has only flirted with occasionally, mostly in response to difficult events in life and never to the point of contemplating suicide. But so many bloggers have written so eloquently about their struggles with the disease that I have some idea of how debilitating it must be. Not only debilitating but misunderstood. Because we can't really see depression, we often have less compassion for those suffering. But depression is a tricky bastard. Maybe the trickiest illness of all because it lies to the person suffering from it. It twists their brain to the point that ceasing to exist seems a better option than the daily grind they deal with. Maybe if they physically manifested what was going on inside we'd be more inclined to help? We're so courteous to those rolling around in wheelchairs or with other obvious impairments, yet we often overlook people battling inner demons. But what if what was on their insides was visible? If that were the case then Williams would have been hemorrhaging blood, missing limbs.

Think of all the people who are suffering from depression as bad as his right now. If Robin Williams can't make it, imagine how hard it's got to be for the average person struggling with the same thing. It's not a choice. You can't just snap out of it. Your brain lies to you and before long you're in a hole so deep you need help to get out. If there's no help... Then what? And maybe you feel beyond all that. All the reaching out and asking for help or whatever. I read a quote on Slate that bitch slaps you something fierce with what it's like to suffer from a mental illness like clinical depression. "There comes a point where love does not matter. When things are bad, I don’t care that people love me. All I can see is that I’m a burden, that everything I have ever done is wrong, and that these good people who love me are wrong as well. At my lowest, love cannot save me. Hope, prayers, daily affirmations—none of these can save me. Therapy and medicine are what matter, and those don’t always work either."

So while reaching out might not help, it might. If there's a chance it might, then take it. I guess what I'm trying to say is if you're reading this and you're sad, tell someone. If there is one thing we can learn from Robin Williams - a legacy even larger than his talent, if that's possible - it's that you should talk to someone. Anyone. And keep talking. Leave a comment, message me, whatever you've got to do. Don't be embarrassed, don't feel like you're being dramatic or annoying. We're all in this life thing together, you know? It's hard. Don't ever assume someone else has their shit together based on a couple pithy Facebook posts or well-lit Instagram photos. As Robin Williams' death so heartbreakingly illustrates, it's often the people we least expect who are suffering the most. If you're stumbling, reach out. You may not know it but there are a bunch of us who want to help and keep helping even if your brain is telling you otherwise. It's the one thing I like most about blogging. People are here. People care. People who have never met me take the time to comment about how they're rooting for me in life and it never stops blowing my mind. And it isn't just about me. It's about you, too. I guess that's really all I have to say about that. I just wanted you to know, whoever you are and however you happened to get to this site, that I care about what's going on with you.

Reader Comments (15)

Hi! When I read the title, Seize the day, I automatically thought of Robin Williams and the film about poets, life and being young. Thank you for this beautiful post. Best regards from Barcelona,
Marta

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarta G

I so appreciate your openness, Monica. Even while you are in the midst of your own emotional battlefield, you take the time to gain perspective, consider others and actually reach out those who might be dealing with the same, or worse. I wholeheartedly believe that we ARE all in this together, we are all imperfect beings, and we need each other more than we can ever really know and most certainly more than most of us are willing to admit. Together, we can make it through this thing, we can find our way toward the beauty and light, and we can enjoy this life in ways that might not seem possible when we are in our darker moments.

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHeather MK

I've been physically disabled, though I am much more physically capable for now. Unfortunately, very few people are considerate to those in wheelchairs, and the world seems to be designed to thwart the physically disabled. I am sure that those who struggle with severe mental illness feel just as disenfranchised and ignored. Your analogy was a great one - anyone who has struggled to open a door while on crutches or to grocery shop while in a wheelchair can imagine that kind of roadblock occurring at every turn with a mental illness. Just getting out of bed must seem impossible and the challenges of going about living must seem insurmountable. It's such an important issue.

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I read that same article on Slate today and it hits the nail on the head, and so did you with this post. I don't know how many times I've wished there was some sort of physical manifestation to my depression, because even my extremely understanding and patient husband and other family members don't always get it. I try to explain how depression twists my thoughts and keeps me from being rational, and how I get so confused and distracted I can't work sometimes. But since it's all in my head and I'm obviously physically capable, I think to them I just seem very negative, weak-willed, and lazy. No self-discipline. I just need to try harder, or exercise more, or eat better - that'll do it. I need to be more positive. I need to be thankful for what I have. I need to just push negative thoughts away, and keep pushing them away. I need to try this anti-depressant, or that one, or sleep more, or meditate, and on and on and on. And it's not that those things aren't helpful, but after so long fighting it all the time just gets to be incredibly exhausting. And no matter how much I do I still feel guilt for not trying harder or doing more.

Anyway, thank you for writing this. You would think that with the number of people suffering from depression and anxiety now there wouldn't be any need to explain how debilitating and even deadly it can be, but I guess it's a difficult thing to understand if you haven't felt it yourself.

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth B

I don't have a lot of personal experience with depression- this news hit me hard last night. Like so many, I grew up loving this awesome, hilarious, poignant force of nature. And it just hit me how this beautiful person could be so beloved by millions of people, and it wasn't enough- that depression is just that much of a bitch. It feels unreal.
He will be so missed. I hope his soul has moved on to a lighter place.

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMona

Hi-- I'm in SF and there are growing shrines of flowers outside the 'Mrs. Doubtfire house' and Robin's old house in Seacliff in SF. He touched so many with that manic wit of his. Totally unique, for sure.

Monica, I like how you described a depressed person's brain lying to them. And the really insidious part is that depression sneaks up on you... you feel a little down, you're sleeping a little too much, you can't concentrate like normal and then one day: BOOM- it feels as though you cannot.move. The weight!

I have reached out to different people who have confided in me that they were struggling. I've shared my experience with anxiety/depression yet never assumed that we felt the same way-- it's never the same for two people... but what is universal is that eventually it will pass. Sometimes it takes years, ahem, and that's why medication is sooooooo helpful.

I think about Robin Williams and wonder if he just couldn't take 'another round' of the bitch that is depression. I envision his soul, finally at ease, and wrapped in the most loving-warm-peace that has ever been. amen

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Thank you, Monica! I care about you, too, as well as everyone else who is journeying through this life.

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKali

Aw, my heart is so sad for this man and his family and friend. Thanks fro writing a really sensitive piece here. You are so kind and caring to speak directly to your readers, offering a listening ear to those of us who might very welt, at some point, be entertaining the idea of checking out. I am still in shock and heartbroken and can't even fathom the pain his family and friends are dealing with, the confusing lack of closure, the shock, that vacuum when someone dies, and especially by their own hand... you feel ripped off, robbed without a discussion or a goodbye. So unfair, and yet from an isolated perspective and unable to process more than the twisted promise of relief from as I say... 'the pit of Hell', at that very moment it really feels like suicide is all you can do. Oh...one other thing, which is kind of that same note:I used to have raging PMS which was annoying to those who had to deal with me and worse for me having to deal with mental/emotional symptoms including debilitating sadness, poor judgment, ,impulsiveness, and screaming irritability. At that time, it was not widely accepted but it was very real. I read a book on PMS which stated that most women who attempt suicide are experiencing severe PMS. That said, I wanted to add that It is so important that women who are experiencing deep depression avoid caffeine, sugar, salt, and alcohol), Yes, everything I craved only make it worse. Exercise/dance, down time/TLC and rest may be helpful. Also I think it is important that those who are closest gain some understanding of the situation so they can back off.. Just saying. Scared off many a man but at least I knew what was behind the 'bouts' of depression. Thanks again for reaching out.

August 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGina

Aw, my heart is so sad for this man and his family and friend. Thanks fro writing a really sensitive piece here. You are so kind and caring to speak directly to your readers, offering a listening ear to those of us who might very welt, at some point, be entertaining the idea of checking out. I am still in shock and heartbroken and can't even fathom the pain his family and friends are dealing with, the confusing lack of closure, the shock, that vacuum when someone dies, and especially by their own hand... you feel ripped off, robbed without a discussion or a goodbye. So unfair, and yet from an isolated perspective and unable to process more than the twisted promise of relief from as I say... 'the pit of Hell', at that very moment it really feels like suicide is all you can do, which is, of course, a big fat nasty lie! Oh...one other thing, which is kind of that same note:I used to have raging PMS which was annoying to those who had to deal with me and worse for me having to deal with mental/emotional symptoms including debilitating sadness, poor judgment, ,impulsiveness, and screaming irritability. At that time, it was not widely accepted but it was very real. I read a book on PMS which stated that most women who attempt suicide are experiencing severe PMS. That said, I wanted to add that It is so important that women who are experiencing deep depression avoid caffeine, sugar, salt, and alcohol, Yes, everything I craved only make it worse. Exercise/dance, down time/TLC and rest may be helpful. Also I think it is important that those who are closest gain some understanding of the situation so they can back off.. Just saying. Scared off many a man but at least I knew what was behind the 'bouts' of depression. Thanks again for reaching out.

August 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGina

"Your brain lies to you." Truth.

August 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSue

"We're so courteous to those rolling around in wheelchairs or with other obvious impairments, yet we often overlook people battling inner demons. But what if what was on their insides was visible? If that were the case then Williams would have been hemorrhaging blood, missing limbs."

So much truth to this. I, like you, have not (yet?!) faced chemical depression. But his death, and the beautifully eloquent posts written about what depression feels like, break my heart for the people who suffer. You captured that feeling so well in this post, Monica. Big hugs. Great writing. As usual. xx

August 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina

The news about Robin Williams touched me. Maybe moreso due to the fact that I commited suicide and was resuscitated twice followed by a 11 day hospital stay, then 6 days at the paych hospital. I felt like a burden. I felt nobody understood. I didnt even understamd what it was that had me constantly depressed. I was crippled by the anxiety as well and borderline agoraphobic. I made up my mind the pain was to much for too long. I took 90 muscle relaxers. They did the trick. My mim found me dead andimmediatly started CPR. I gurgled and she kept going until the paramedics showed up. Im still depressed after all that. Just as before I still obsess with death and dying. The psych hospital just gives you meds and offer no counseling of any sort. Im on 6 meds now and they told me it could take 4 to 8 weeks to work. I cant pinpoint an exact reason for the chronic depression. I dont want to be a burden to family or friends. I dont want to come across as whiny or ungrateful for the things in my life like my kids and grandson. Its a lonely road to be on. Especially with the anxiety. I feel alone and like nobody understands.

August 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Govan

@Amy Govan You are not alone and many of us do understand. Hang in there.

August 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterE.

@Amy Govan - You are not a burden! How are you? Hanging in there? How long have you been on this current round of meds?

August 21, 2014 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

I hope I make it. Not sure now. I'll make black humor jokes about ending it and never having to deal with dog poop again, but then I don't know whether it's a joke.

December 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEwa

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