Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 13 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Why DONATE? Read: Asking for Help, post from 12/04/2013. Enjoy your visit!

Saturday, July 19, 2014


If you've been around here for several years, you know I had a right hip injury which required surgical intervention in the past. I tore my right hip labrum many years ago. It went undiagnosed for years despite many visits to several doctors, the last of whom, an orthopedic resident at the world famous Mayo Clinic, told me to see a psychiatrist because she didn't know what was wrong and therefore determined I was faking it.

Shortly after this insult, I took a physical therapy continuing education hip course taught by a European instructor. He described my symptoms exactly, as he taught us about labral tears. Turns out European doctors had been diagnosing and treating labral tears for years, while only two doctors in the United States, at that time, were in the know. Thankfully, one of them, Dr. Palmer, was located in Stillwater, Minnesota, just 90 minutes up the road. I had my first arthroscopic surgery in 2002. I was pain free for the first time in years.

Being stupid, I reinjured my hip, had another procedure in 2006, and was again pain free. Now, eight years later, I've been having trouble again. I didn't do anything stupid this time. The pain has been coming on gradually over the past 2-3 months. When it began, I recognized the ache in my groin immediately. It was my labral pain. Of course I hoped it would just pass, but it didn't, so I finally returned to Dr. Palmer a couple of weeks ago. An injection helped, but the follow-up 3D CT scan showed bony irregularities, likely congenital, to both my femur (leg bone) and my acetabulum (hip socket) which together are causing a pinching of my labrum (a ring of soft tissue which helps hold the leg bone in the hip socket). If any of you have had shoulder impingement, this is very similar to what's going on in my hip.

Fortunately, this is not a running injury. In fact, my hips and knees looked great on x-ray. I have beautiful joints. This is a pinching of soft tissue. Sitting is actually my most uncomfortable position. But I do feel the ache in my groin most of the time now. It needs to be fixed, and that means another arthroscopic surgical procedure. Hopefully, this will be the last, as the 3D CT very clearly identified the areas which need to be addressed. The bony irregularities will be smoothed out so the labrum has room and won't be pinched. And I'll again be without pain.

I've decided to put off the surgery until after I run the Chicago Marathon this October. Dr. Palmer has given me the okay to continue training. Running won't make anything worse. I'm waiting until after Chicago because while I'll be able to walk immediately after surgery, I will not be allowed to run, jump, or squat for three months following the procedure. That means no training until mid to late January, 2015. That puts Boston, 2015, in question, but I've done Boston three times. I've never run Chicago. My training is going very well, and I'm really looking forward to experiencing all that the Chicago Marathon has to offer.

I'm feeling very hopeful that this surgery, guided by the incredible 3D CT scan, will finally take care of what's been an on and off injury for close to 20 years now. While it hasn't really affected my running, it's no fun to be in pain. I'm looking forward to no longer having to endure that familiar, lingering ache in my right groin, and it will be really great to be able to sit without discomfort. Prayers are, of course, appreciated.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Negativity is exhausting

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend several days in close contact with someone with whom I rarely spend time. For this person the glass is always half empty. You know the type? Regardless of what is going on, this person sees the negative side of it. Anything legitimately negative is always the result of some conspiracy, and this person is always on the short end of the stick. The world, in a nutshell, is against this person. What a waste. I wish I had the days I spent with that person back.

That person, unfortunately, was quite vocal in expressing all opinions and displeasure. It wore me out! I couldn't handle it. I can't handle negativity in general. I don't listen to political news or political talk shows because of all the negative speech and name calling. I don't watch reality television. I don't listen to cranky radio personalities. I don't need that negative energy. I'd much rather surround myself with something positive.

As a result of working the steps of my recovery program, I attempt to maintain a positive attitude. I no longer feel the world is out to get me. There are no conspiracies. I'm not that important. I try to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. Given the opportunity, I look for hope in difficult situations. Don't get me wrong. I'm not always happy, joyous and free, and I'm no Pollyanna. But I now realize how much energy negativity saps from me. It's not worth it. My energy is too valuable to waste.

I'll never get those days spent with vocal negative person back, but they weren't entirely wasted. The time spent actually reinforced my desire to stay positive. Spending that time also reminded me of how I used to be. I no longer have to live that way. I feel sorry for vocal negative person. That person is completely unaware of how much simpler and pleasant life can be. I am grateful today to live simply.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Back home

I apologize for the lack of posts while away on my vacation with D, but time flew by. I'm now back home. D and I had a very nice time. We spent time on and in the water, time playing with Jet, time cooking wonderful meals, time running together, and time relaxing quietly in the house. It was difficult to leave today. It seems to be getting harder and harder to separate after spending time together. Life sure would be simpler if we lived near each other.

We made time for running while we were together. A couple of days ago we ran a beautiful 13-miler on a bike trail through the woods. In fact, it was the very trail on which we met four years ago. I always enjoy running and biking on that trail. As we did a couple days ago, D and I usually end up reminiscing about our chance meeting when we're on the trail. It's really quite amazing we met there, in the woods, five and a half hours from my house and four hours from his. Perhaps it was meant to be.

Work resumes tomorrow. Things continue to go well there. I'm actually looking forward to checking in with my patients. I'm anxious to see how much they've improved (hopefully) while I was gone. It will be good to get back to life. Maybe jumping back into things will help me miss D less. I hope so, because right now I'm missing him a bunch.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Packing up

I don't have much to report tonight. My mood has improved over the past few days. My thinking didn't keep me awake last night, either. That was quite a relief. I've been really busy lately. Work, Jet, running, keeping up with my house, and packing for the weekend have kept me occupied.

I'm getting ready to go see D for the holiday. We're spending time together at his lake home in northern Wisconsin. In fact, we'll be together for several days, as I'm not returning until next week. I'm really looking forward to spending some quality time together. I'm also really looking forward to just getting away. I need some relaxation time. I feel like I've been running steady since getting back from Grandma's Marathon 10 days ago. I'm ready to stop and sit awhile. I can't wait.

To my American readers, have a safe and happy 4th of July holiday. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Vampires in the night

As I have the past several nights, I spent much of last night awake. I think my mood has recovered a little bit, but part of my brain is apparently unaware. It's on overdrive. Worry thoughts, negative thoughts, future concerns; they are all crowded in there and wanting to be heard. Unfortunately, they've recently chosen the middle of the night or very early morning as the time to clamor out. Don't you hate that? It's not like there's anything I can do about anything, no matter how much the thoughts clamor, in the middle of the night. Yet clamor on they do.

Last night was no different. Thought after thought took its turn, each one making a racket, one louder than the last. I covered my head with the pillow. I rolled from side to side and flipped from front to back. I turned on the television. I turned off the television. Bathroom trips were routine. But sleep was elusive, and it didn't last. Daylight was the only thing which successfully sent the thoughts away. But I know they're still there. Like vampires they're hidden now in the dark recesses of my mind, waiting, it seems, for the moon to shine before making their boisterous rounds again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Post Marathon Dip

I'm having a little dip in my mood. I think it has to do with the marathon I just completed. I've experienced this kind of low before, after a marathon, but it's been a rare occurrence. Of course, I'm getting anxious about it. I'm anxious about the fact I don't find anything intriguing or interesting. Anxious about feeling lethargic. Anxious about feeling easily distracted and stressed. Anxious about feeling low. I'm anxious, and a little scared, that this little slide could lead to an avalanche.

Since returning from the race, I've gone to work, but I haven't been out of the house much otherwise. I skipped a social event last night, but at least I went for a walk instead. Other than that walk, I haven't done anything active. No weight lifting, no running, no swimming and no biking. About the only thing I have done a lot of is sleep. I'm not so much tired as I am bored and lethargic. Sleeping is the easiest thing to do. It's not the best, though, and I know that.

I'm going to try to do something better today. I'm planning to go for a nice, slow run this afternoon. Right now that goal feels far away, but I know I can do it. I'll at least take a walk. No matter how difficult it is to get started, I know I'll feel better after I go. I've got to go. It's beautiful outside. If I don't move, my slide may eventually turn into an avalanche. I cannot take that risk.

This too shall pass. Like the rough patches during the marathon, I have to remember that. They passed. This too shall pass.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Happy 3:43

Yesterday dawned drizzly, cold and gray. It was a perfect day for a long run. Rather than worry about overheating, as was the case in my last two marathons, there was actually a risk of hypothermia at Grandmas Marathon yesterday. The fog was so heavy and thick, it was hard to see the mile markers (huge, tethered, yellow balloons) as we approached each of them. And I don't think the temperature ever rose beyond the mid-50's. Like I said, it was a perfect day for a long run.

I took advantage of the conditions. Wearing shorts, two shirts, a hat, and a pair of gloves, I raced my way to a 3:43:59 Boston-Qualifying time. I definitely run better in cooler weather!

I actually surprised myself yesterday. Despite the cool conditions, I didn't feel all that great for quite awhile. I ran the first three miles with my friend, Therese, but then I asked her to go ahead without me. I could tell I needed to slow down, or I was going to crash later, and I certainly didn't want that. She went ahead, and I slowed my pace just a bit. Still things were iffy. I wasn't at all confident. It wasn't until after a pit stop at mile eight, which cost me 40 seconds, that I began to improve mentally and physically.

Concerned about the lost 40 seconds, which I know is silly, I picked up the pace and surprisingly felt okay. I went from running 8:30's per mile to running 8:20's for most of the middle miles. Rather than thinking too far ahead, I focused on each successive mile. I thought only of making it to the next mile marker, literally running one mile at a time, rather than worrying about what was going to happen miles down the road. I also smiled a lot.

The smiling started, innocently, around mile 12 or 13 when I began to gain confidence. With each successful mile completed, I got more and more confident that I was going to finish, and perhaps even finish well. The smiling seemed to help my running, so then I began smiling on purpose, especially during rough patches. It worked. Each time I felt tired or worn out, I smiled, and each rough patch eventually passed. And that led to more smiling!

Before I knew it, I was at mile 22, then 23 and 24. I knew I was going to finish. I let it go. I couldn't wait to cross that line. Miles 24 and 25 were the two fastest miles I ran in the entire race. I slowed again during mile 26, as my legs tightened up, but I crossed the finish line tall and proud.

Unlike the recent Boston and Med-City Marathons, there was no walking yesterday. I ran the entire distance, and I was proud of that. I also ran a negative split, meaning I ran the second half of the race faster than the first, and I was proud of that. For the most part, I didn't even think about my overall time. I was at mile 25 before I noted I was likely going to finish well under the Boston Qualifying standard. And I did. I qualified by more than 10 minutes.

Qualifying was a bonus, however. I'm really happy to have run well and to have felt well while doing it. I'm really proud I didn't let myself down. I didn't let negativity creep in. Instead I felt almost giddy at times. I had fun. Even though I initially didn't feel great, I kept going until I felt better. The training, which hadn't had me feeling very confident lately, did pay off. I challenged myself, and I met the challenge. It was a good day.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dear Kathy

I don't know if you remember me, but I certainly haven't forgotten you. I tend not to forget people who have made a huge, positive impact on my life. You were one of the first. You tended to my psychological needs for years, from the time we first met, which was after my first suicide attempt landed me in the your inpatient, adolescent, mental health unit, through the end of my college years, when I picked up and moved away. Even after that time, I returned when I could and stopped in to say hello. I always wanted you to know, needed you to know, I was doing well.

Kathy, you were such a big part of my earliest healing from this nasty illness of depression. When I needed a steady, loving presence, you were there. You were patient, and kind, and caring. You were generous with your time and spirit. As I grew, and the depression resolved, I kept in touch because I wanted to show you what all your work had done for me. Despite my challenges throughout childhood and adolescence, I was well. Depression hadn't beaten me, and much of the credit for that goes to you.

Thirteen years ago, the depression returned, and I lost touch. My journey changed direction more than once. Life got complicated. For awhile, I got lost in a bottle. Job loss, hospitalizations, financial strain...mental illness reigned supreme. I struggled, alternating periods of wellness with stretches of devastation. I love rollercoasters, but this one was no fun.

During those difficult years, I'd return to Duluth, wander past your hospital or drive by your home and think, "I should stop in," but I didn't. For some reason, I didn't want you to know things were tough. I can't explain why. But I missed keeping in touch. I never forgot your impact on my life. I continue to want to thank you, over and over again.

And it's been too long, Kathy, since I've checked in, and I hope it's not too late. With great trepidation, I tried to call, but a thirteen year old number only rang without end. I was almost relieved. After all, what would I say? Too many years have passed. You may not even know who I am.

Yet I want you to know, Kathy, that when I'm here in Duluth, as I am practically every year at marathon time, I always think of you. And I think of you with tremendous gratitude in my heart, for you saved me when I wanted to jump. Again and again and again, you were there. Today I am sober and living with, rather than suffering from, depression. Many impactful people have passed through my life, and my gratitude extends to all of them. But I wouldn't be here today without you, Kathy. Thank you.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tapering yet Tired

I had my last long run prior to next Saturday's Grandmas Marathon this morning. It was only 8 miles, but you could have fooled me! I had totally dead legs. Every step was work, and I just wanted to quit. I didn't, of course, but I didn't have any fun despite almost ideal running weather. I'm really concerned now. Grandmas is only one week away, and I can't seem to shake this fatigue. I don't want to have another difficult race. I like Grandmas, and I want to enjoy it.

I almost always have some level of fatigue, but this feels different. I feel heavy. My muscles are sore. And my legs just don't seem to be responding to training. Despite tapering for the marathon, running many fewer miles than usual, and running them with less intensity, I'm tired. Running is difficult. And that's not fun.

As I mentioned here previously, I've decided to take a couple of weeks off and get away from training after Grandmas. I'll run less and only for fun. Maybe I won't even wear my watch! That would be an amazing development for me. I'm hoping to run some shorter races later this summer. I'd like to mix it up a bit. My next marathon isn't until the Chicago Marathon in October, so I have some time to play before I have to get back to serious training. At this point I need the mental break as much as the physical one.

I'm taking a break this weekend, too. Besides an easy (I hope) 4-miler tomorrow, I don't have anything planned for the rest of the weekend. I took advantage of the rainy afternoon and napped today. Tonight and tomorrow I will just be puttering around the house, relaxing, and getting a few chores done. With the exception of running, I don't even need to leave the house. And I may not.

Before long, I'll be in Duluth, Minnesota, preparing to run Grandmas. Until then, I'm going to try to take one day at a time and not spend too much time worrying about the race. Whatever happens will be okay. I need to keep reminding myself of that. It's the journey, not the destination. Right?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Feeling Apologetic

I must confess. I feel bad. I feel like I need to apologize to my regular readers. I'm sorry I haven't been writing here as frequently as usual. Things have been going so well lately, I feel like I have little to say. I don't think another report about my past few days is all that interesting.

That being said, I'm somewhat grateful I have little to say. Things have been pretty simple and straight forward lately. There is no drama, and I'm so, so thankful for that. Work is going well, running is running, and Jet still makes me laugh out loud every day. What else is there to say?

So I apologize. I don't have much to say. Day by day, my life is moving forward. I've been putting one foot in front of the other, meeting my responsibilities, tapering for Grandmas Marathon, loving Jet, getting out with friends once in awhile, and taking care of my physical and mental being. It may sound boring, but sometimes boring is good.