Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 15 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. Enjoy your visit!

Monday, June 27, 2016

A New Training Partner

It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's an ElliptiGo! I am excited. After years of yearning, and months of searching, I am now the proud owner of an ElliptiGo. It's my new training tool.


An ElliptiGo is basically an elliptical bike. As you can see in the photos, I stand on the pedals and "pedal" in an elliptical motion that closely resembles running but without the impact. I heard about the ElliptiGo several years ago and immediately wanted one. Unfortunately, they were way out of my price range. As a result of my ongoing Achilles injury, I decided several months ago I wanted to pursue purchasing a used ElliptiGo. Unfortunately, there are very, very few used ElliptiGos on the market and most were still out of my price range. Finally, after months of searching across the country, I found one in Colorado. The woman selling it was very generous. We negotiated a fair price, and she agreed to have it disassembled and shipped to me. Now I'm the happy owner.


I'm still getting used to my new training partner, but I've already ridden it several times. I get very strange looks from everyone I pass while riding it. Not sure I like that, but it's to be expected. It's not something one sees every day.

Riding the ElliptiGo is fun, and it's a great workout! It works my legs like running, but I also get a good core and even arm workout while riding it. I generally average just under 5 minutes per mile on my rides. I only wish I could run that fast, even for a mile! I'll keep dreaming.

Once I'm back to training, I'm really hopeful riding the ElliptiGo will allow me to log more weekly miles than I'd otherwise be able to safely log on my recovering Achilles. I may use it on my easy days instead of running. We'll see how it all works out, but I'm excited to add it to my training routine. I feel like I'm taking another step in the process of getting back on the roads, and I'm really grateful for that.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Only 25% to go

I'm happy to report I ran for 35 minutes today, on the Alter G Treadmill, at 75% of my body weight. I ran 8 minute miles without pain. I'm cautiously optimistic I've turned a corner in my recovery from my right Achilles tendon tear. This is the first time I've been able to increase the body weight percentage, from 70% to 75%, without my Achilles revolting at least a bit. And at 75% of my body weight, I finally felt like I was actually running more than floating.

Like I said, I'm cautiously optimistic. I'm now beginning my 15th month of no running. If you had suggested at any time in my past that I'd be able to survive 15 months without running, I'd have called you crazy. I wouldn't have believed it. I'm actually quite amazed with myself. That may sound silly, but it's true. In fact, perhaps all the cross training, biking, and weight lifting will actually help once I'm back on the road. At least that's what I'm telling myself. That being said, I can't wait to get back on the road!

I'm doing well, otherwise. My mood is better than it was over the weekend. I'm not in a funk anymore. I'm busy. Between work, exercising, and taking care of Jet, I've got little time for much else. Work especially has been busy with some challenging patients. They're keeping me on my toes.

I am taking some time to go to a play on Sunday with the young man I mentored several years ago. He's in his mid-twenties now. It's cool to spend time with him all grown up. I'm proud of the person he's become, and I'm really happy he's still in my life all these years later. It will be nice to spend some time together.

That's all that's happening around here. Things are good. My life is pleasantly boring again, just the way I like it. Hope everything is pleasantly boring in your lives, too. Carry on, my friends.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Weekend away

I'm back from my weekend in Duluth where, if I wasn't still injured, I would have run Grandma's Marathon. I had a nice time, but not great. I felt conflicted most of the weekend and kind of wished I hadn't gone. But at other times I was glad I was there. I spent most of the time with my mom and stepfather. I saw my friends a bit. And I spent some time alone down by the lake and on the golf course. It was warm and sunny, no good for running a marathon, but fine for visiting.

The weekend got off to a rough start when I saw a dog get hit on the highway within 30 minutes of leaving home. The dog was severely injured and likely died. I cursed the owners for letting their dog run loose so close to a busy highway. But I couldn't get the image of that poor dog out of my head for the rest of my 3.5 hour drive. It sickened me, and the repeated imagery was quite distressing.

I spent a couple hours Thursday afternoon at the marathon expo, where I picked up my race packet anyway, and then had dinner with my friends and a large group of their friends and colleagues. That was fun, and the distraction finally relieved me of the dog images, an extra bonus. My stepfather and I spent a few hours golfing together Friday. We're both beginners, so it was at times frustrating and at others comical. We had a good time, though. My parents and I finished off the afternoon with a late lunch, some ice cream, and a walk down by Lake Superior.

I planned to watch the marathon Saturday morning, but for the second year in a row, I didn't. By the end of the evening Friday, I was feeling mounting disappointment about missing the 40th anniversary edition of my hometown, and favorite, marathon. I woke up in a funk Saturday morning, so I went out for what turned out to be a bad breakfast with my parents instead of venturing down to the race.

The funk continued after breakfast. I couldn't even lift myself from my mom's couch despite the beautiful Duluth day. Finally, after dozing on and off most of the day, I dragged myself out to a little golf course nearby. I planned to just hit some practice balls, but there was hardly a soul on the course, so I played a relaxed nine holes instead. That was a good decision. The time alone, the exercise, and focusing on something besides missing the marathon was good for me.

After taking my stepfather out for Father's Day breakfast early this morning, I drove home. I wanted to get home. I'm still not sure how I feel about the weekend overall. I guess it was okay. I'm happy to be back in my home, though. I picked up Jet from the dog sitter, gave him a hug, got some exercise, and after finishing this post, I'll likely be ready for a nap. I like my house. It's not much, but it's my space, and I'm comfortable in it. After my weekend away, filled with mixed emotions, I needed to get back here. I'm looking forward to resuming my regular routine.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Can't listen anymore

I just turned on a baseball game. I've been listening to National Public Radio all day. That's my usual Sunday routine. But unlike usual Sundays, my radio has not been filled with clever quips and laughter today. My usual shows, Car Talk, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and Prairie Home Companion, have, of course, been preempted today by constant reporting about the tragedy in Orlando, Florida. I can't listen anymore.

This tragedy... this hate crime... this terrorist attack... this murder of 49 people is really affecting me. I've never mentioned this here before, but I used to be a part of the very community targeted in this attack. Like the Boston Marathon bombings, this one feels too close. And I don't get it! I just don't get it.

I can't listen anymore. I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of one person's hate. It sickens me. I'm shocked, horrified and angry. My heart aches for the victims and for the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people directly impacted by this small-minded murderer's actions. Why? Why? I don't understand.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

untitled

This post has no title, as I truly have little to say. My brain has been preoccupied this week. I'm still ruminating about my oral surgery consult from last week. Ruminating is no good. It's a total waste of energy. Perhaps that's why I'm feeling a little more tired this week, too.

It's one thing to know ruminating is a total negative drain. It's another thing, apparently, to actually stop it. I'm worrying about the huge financial drain of the upcoming surgeries. I'm worried about the huge amount of time before my mouth will be normal again. Actually, there's no guarantee my mouth will ever be normal again. That's really stressing me out! It's odd. I'm not even scared about the pain, and there will be pain. I'm anxious about all the other crap, none of which I have control over. I've got to reign it in.

Despite my worried brain churning in the background, I'm doing okay otherwise. Work has been busy, but I'm handling it. Working more hours would actually help quell some of the financial fear, but my mood suffered when I tried that a couple of months ago, so I'm resisting the urge to do so.

I'm exercising as much as my energy will allow. I'm starting to get some of my running shape back and dropping some weight, which is exciting. That certainly helps my mood. I'll be traveling to Grandma's Marathon next week. It's the 40th anniversary of my hometown race, so it will be tough to be an observer, but I'm looking forward to the excitement and energy nonetheless.

I'm also looking forward to spending time with some close friends, my parents, and hopefully my brother and his family while up in Duluth. It will be great to focus on those valuable relationships rather than on my lack of race participation. I'll race again, but future moments with friends and family are never guaranteed. I'm not going to waste them.

Finally I'm really excited to spend some time by the big lake. I love Lake Superior. It is my happy place. Calm serenity washes over me whenever I'm fortunate enough to stand on it's shore. I've been to several wonderful, beautiful places around this world, but Lake Superior remains my favorite.

And that's all I've got. Carry on, my friends.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Foot and mouth update

I just returned home from my 8th physical therapy session. It's been almost one month since I began rehab on the Alter-G Treadmill. Today I ran on the Alter-G for 30 minutes, at 8:30 pace, at 60% of my body weight. This was the first time I ran at 60% of my body weight. We tried advancing to 60% early last week, but my Achilles began to hurt almost immediately, so back down to 50% we went. I ran the full 30 minutes today without increased soreness. It's progress. Slow, slow progress.

I'm trying to be patient with this return to running. I must admit, though, I figured I'd be back on the roads by now. Instead, I'm only up to running at 60% body weight on a treadmill. I've got a long way to go, and I didn't think it would take this long to get there. But I'm trying to be patient. I am grateful my Achilles didn't hurt today. My worst fear is another setback. I'm not sure I could handle that.

Speaking of not handling... I've got more issues with my mouth. It seems I have a crown that's loose, at least I hope that's all it is. Now this typically wouldn't be a big deal, but with all the issues I've had with my mouth over the last two years (braces, 3 oral surgeries, fractured and extracted teeth) it became a much bigger deal in my head. To fix it means money. More on that later. It also means coordinating with the orthodontist to remove the braces at his office, then traveling to and fixing the crown at the dentist's office, before traveling back to the orthodontist to reassemble the braces. It's going to be a pain in the butt. And it stresses me out.

The crown came loose yesterday afternoon, coincidentally about one hour prior to my second consult with an oral surgeon regarding replacing my missing canine tooth and molar with implants. My first consult a couple of months ago was discouraging. The molar is going to be simple. The canine tooth is going to be complicated, costly and time consuming. Unfortunately, the second consult yesterday resulted in the same recommendations and cautions.

Here's what needs to happen. After I am finished with the braces, which may be another 3-6 months (a full year longer than the orthodontist expected me to need them), I'm going to need the first of at least two bone grafting procedures. There is no guarantee bone will grow, but if it does, I will almost certainly need another procedure 5-9 months after the first. If sufficient bone grows, I will get the initial implant hardware 5-9 months later. It isn't until those implants heal, another 5 months, that I will finally get the actual teeth (crowns) and will be able to smile without a hole in my face. It's going to be a long, painful road. Again, I'm trying to be patient.

It's hard to be patient, though, when the road feels so long. And I'd be lying if I said the whole process wasn't totally stressing me out. Never mind the pain of multiple oral surgeries. Financially, I'm not sure how it's going to work out. One estimate was $10,000. The other estimate of total cost was just over $11,000. I don't have that kind of money. Thank you, Depression. I am able to take a loan out against the value of my vehicle, which I just paid off, but loans need to be repaid. Like I said, I don't know how it's going to work out. I'm just going to have to say a few prayers and believe it will.

So I'm focusing forward to get through the long road(s) ahead. When I find myself worrying about my Achilles and the (too) slow progress I'm making, I try instead to visualize running freely and think about how grateful and happy I will feel when I'm back on the road. My patience will pay off. When I find myself disgusted with and stressed by all the issues, complications, pain and expense of my mouth, I try to visualize a smile free of brackets and holes. I imagine what it will be like to chew without struggle or pain. I've got a lot of years of a wide smile ahead. This too shall pass...eventually.

I've got to continue to practice patience. Easier said than done, but I'll keep at it.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Missing memories

It's hard to believe, but my 30th high school reunion is coming up this summer. 30 years! Talking with a friend the other day, we were chuckling about how, 30 years ago, we thought people our current age were so terribly old. And now here I am, 48 years old, 30 years removed from those high school days. It's hard to believe.

I have yet to decide if I'm going to attend my reunion. Despite being a good student, an athlete, and having had a steady boyfriend, I never felt like I fit in during high school. I wouldn't say I was popular, but I wasn't unpopular either. I just felt like I didn't fit. This was especially true after the age of 15, my sophomore year of high school, which is when my first bout with depression began.

That bout with depression may have something to do with my indecisiveness regarding attending the reunion as well. As an adult, it has become apparent when my depression symptoms are bad, I have difficulty forming new memories. Whether it's the result of depression or not, the fact is I don't remember a lot of my high school years.

I have a general, fuzzy overview of high school, but specific memories are lacking. I worry I'll look like a lost puppy while reminiscing with friends at the reunion. I have a fear of feeling left out...
um... not fitting in, 30 years later! (Okay, that was difficult to admit.) Of course, this is reinforced on Facebook when old classmates make references to past events I can't recall. I hate that.

Depression plays a roll in another piece of this puzzle. When I went off to college, I packed all of my yearbooks, photos, awards, etc... in boxes and stored them in my mom and former stepfather's garage. They divorced shortly thereafter, and my mom moved out, but my brothers and I continued to maintain contact with my former stepfather. He's still in our lives today.

Fast forward multiple years. I am now in the throes of my adult depression. My former stepfather announces he's selling his home and asks my brothers and I to remove our stuff from his garage. He also, apparently, told us he would throw out anything we left behind.

I never retrieved my boxes. I don't know why. I don't remember. I probably couldn't pull myself together to make the 4.5 hour journey. And my former stepfather threw out all of my high school yearbooks, photos, awards, etc... Everything from my childhood and teenage years...gone.

If I had some reference points, like yearbook photos, I'm certain I'd have some concrete high school memories. I'm also certain I'd feel a lot more connected to my past and be much less worried about attending my reunion. I don't want to look, or feel, like a lost puppy. It sucks not being able to remember.

To make matters worse, it's not only high school memories which have disappeared. Depression has stripped many of my adult memories, too, whether due to the side effects of ECT treatment or simply because of the illness itself. It doesn't matter, the memories are gone either way, and I end up feeling lost in space. It's disconcerting.

Disconcerting is often my reality. The missing memories are unlikely to return. I have so little, internally or externally, connecting me to what's gone on before, I truly must live each moment for that moment. Sometimes that's okay, but with this reunion coming up, I wish I was a bit more tethered.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A little flat

Things are going fairly well here lately. Life is stable. I'm feeling okay. I'd like to feel better than okay, but that's not yet my reality. I'm definitely still feeling better and functioning better than last month, but I think I'm a little flat. I feel dulled, if that makes any sense.

It's probably hyper-critical of me to be complaining about feeling flat. And I don't mean to complain. I am grateful last month's 3-4 week depression dip was arrested when it was. I am doing well, especially when compared to that time. I guess I'm just not back to 100% yet, and I've been hanging out here for about 3 weeks now.

My mood is good, but not great. My energy is improved, but not normal. I'm getting things done, but not everything. I'm functioning at work, but I could be doing better. I've put in the work, scaled the rock face, and I'm approaching the summit. I'm hanging on the precipice, but I can't quite boost myself up the last few feet. It's there. I can see it. But it's out of reach. I'm just shy of feeling normal.

It's strange feeling this way. I don't remember having this issue in the past. Flat. And again, I feel a little ashamed to even mention it. I know things could be so, so much worse! I'm talking with my doctor, we're tinkering with my meds, and I'm continuing to put one foot in front of the other. I'm moving forward.

I'll try to quit worrying about feeling flat. Focusing forward and remembering to maintain an attitude of gratitude is what I think I need to do now. After all, I have many blessings in my life today. I'm glad to be functioning well, and I'm happy my mood has rebounded. Feeling okay is better than not okay any day of the week. I'll keep taking the actions I can take. Hopefully the rest will follow.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I want to help

I have a friend with depression and anxiety. She's a good friend, a wise friend, and a generous friend. She gives freely of her time to assist others in whatever way she can. She's helped me out multiple times. She always provides emotional support when I'm low. All I have to do is ask.

Unfortunately, my helpful friend has trouble asking for help for herself. A few days ago I realized my friend needs help. She's struggling. Through tears, she finally let out some of what's been going on lately. I was surprised. Apparently she's been struggling for awhile, but I didn't know.

I couldn't know what my friend was going through. We haven't seen each other lately, as we've both been busy, and she didn't mention it. When I saw her a few days ago, I had an inkling something wasn't quite right. It wasn't, and by the time she let it out, she was really hurting. I felt so bad for her. I did what I could in that moment. I hugged her and let her cry.

My friend and I are similar in many ways. She doesn't like to cry anymore than I do. I'm not even sure she liked being hugged, but it felt like the right thing to do. And like my friend, I often think I should be able to fix things, like my mood, by myself. Sometimes I wait too long to ask for help. My friend waited too long, too, in my humble opinion.

I want to help my friend. I want to hold her and tell her it will be okay. I want to help her clean her house, take her dogs for a walk, or cook her a meal. But like me, my friend can be fiercely independent, and it's tough sometimes to get in. That frustrates me. She's hurting, and I want to fix it.

I did ask her how I could help. I spent time with her last evening at a local event, but I could do so much more. I could do more if my friend would allow it. She doesn't have to go through this alone. I don't want her to struggle alone, but I guess I can't help unless she requests it. Right?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Humbled again

I was notified yesterday by the website Healthline.com that they have chosen my little blog as one of their 17 best for 2016. I've been similarly honored previously, but it always amazes me when it happens. Of course I hope people who find my blog enjoy it and even gain new information or perspective from it, but when I compare my small effort to some of the other depression blogs out there, I rarely feel I measure up. For example, most of them have Twitter accounts and Facebook pages! I guess I'm a bit behind in the whole social media realm. I'm lucky I can figure out how to add pictures to my own blog posts. Nevertheless, I am extremely honored and grateful for the Healthline.com recognition. If you are here for the first time, welcome to Depression Marathon. Enjoy your visit. And a big thank you, to my regular readers and Healthline.com, for your continued support.



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