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, October 24, 2016

Taper has begun

Two weeks from today I will hopefully be waking up stiff, sore and smiling in a hotel room in New York City. A shiny new finisher's medal will be on the bedside table. If I don't wear it to bed, that is.

I don't usually think about the day after finishing a marathon because the marathon guarantees nothing, especially a finish. But this has been a four year odyssey of hurricanes, hospitals, and injury, each of which prevented me from getting to the starting line in New York City. If I make it to the starting line this year I can't imagine anything keeping me from crossing the finish line. Hopefully the fourth time will be the charm and two weeks from today will be a very happy day.

My training should have me prepared to get to that finish line. I completed my last long run yesterday. Jet and I ran 15 good, sunny miles. I felt great. It was a nice confidence building run, which is just what I needed out of my final long run. Now it's time to taper.

And my taper has officially begun. I'm taking today off. The rest of the week I will be running about 40% fewer miles than usual. I generally enjoy the first week of my taper, but by next week, when I'll be running even less, I'll be itching to move more than I should. Instead I'll have to trust in my training and relax. Easier said than done.

Once I board my plane to New York City my focus will be on staying present and having fun. I doubt I'll ever run the New York City Marathon again, so I want to make sure I take it all in. I plan to enjoy the marathon. I'm not going to race it. It's too crowded for that anyway. Instead I'm going to try to keep my head up and enjoy the show. Of course, I'll enjoy it more if I run well, but like I said, I'm really going to try to keep my focus on the whole experience.

I plan to romp around and experience New York, too. Since I'll be alone in the city, I can do whatever I want without concern for someone else. I guess that's one advantage of going alone. Besides the 9/11 museum, I haven't decided what I'm going to do in the days following the marathon yet. I've already been to most of the tourist places, so I'd really like to get off the beaten path (if that's possible in New York City). I'm open to suggestions!

I'm doing well. My mouth is healing. My Achilles is holding up. Work is going smoothly. Life is good right now. I'm trying to relax and enjoy that, too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


I'm frustrated. I'm going to New York City in a few weeks, alone. My Minnesota Lynx are playing in game 5, the final game, of the WNBA Championship in a couple of days, and I want to go. But if I go, I'll go alone. There's a fabulous concert coming up I'd like to attend. I'm not going. I decided not to go because I don't want to go alone.

I have nothing against being alone. I spend most of my time alone, and that's actually how I prefer it. I choose to run alone 99% of the time. I frequently travel alone. I go out to eat alone. I've even gone to movies alone. But sometimes it is nice to share experiences with others.

The problem is I'm not all that social. I really only have a few, okay 3, close friends. And while I love and value my friends, having so few friends is not conducive to finding a companion for outings. At least that's what I've discovered recently. It doesn't help that I'm single and all of my friends are married with children. They've already got busy schedules and in-house companions. Even if they'd like to socialize, it's often difficult for them to find time.

So despite asking various friends to accompany me on outings lately, it hasn't worked out. I'm frustrated. It would be fun to share New York with a friend, to attend the WNBA Championship, to go to the concert with someone, but I've not been able to find anyone free to join me. I'm not frustrated with my friends. I'm more frustrated with myself for having such a small circle.

My frustration has led me to question my current path. The self-analysis has not been kind. I must need more friends, I think, but that seems like a really tall order. Why is it a tall order? Why don't I have more friends? Is there something wrong with me? Do I have trust issues? On and on I go. It's not pretty.

I don't know the answers to the questions, and I'm trying not to spend a lot of time contemplating them. While I wish I had companions to accompany me at my whim, that's obviously not reality. I love and value my friends. I love and value them regardless of if they can attend a basketball game or not. And while I'm frustrated with my lack of playmates, I'm apparently not frustrated enough to change it (i.e. develop more close relationships) yet. So I guess I should stop complaining now...

Thursday, October 13, 2016


I must have been 16. I stood on that cliff high above Lake Superior, right there in that park just down the street from my high school, for what seemed like hours...and maybe it was. I was so, so miserable. I had been struggling alone against the depression for at least a year.

Home was chaotic, dismissive and abusive. My father was a self-centered ass in an on-again, off-again, move in, get kicked out, physically and psychologically abusive relationship with my wicked step-mother. She hated me, especially after my step-sister was killed. My dad had been beating me since my earliest days, but I didn't know any different. When I sought out respite from a teacher after one particular beating the police took me to emergency foster care. I was forced into therapy with my father. Angry, confused and dismissed, I barely said a word. My father had no trouble speaking up. He was a model patient. I, however, was a "moody, angry, rebellious" teenager.

The depression was so severe, but I still got straight A's and starred on my sports teams. Uncharacteristically, I also wore all black, over-sized clothes, struggled to maintain relationships, and began binge drinking. A suicidal gesture, an overdose of Contact, was ignored. I slept it off at a friend's house. Her concerned mother phoned my dad and step mother to tell them what happened. They never mentioned it to me. I was so miserable. My world didn't make any sense.

I stood on that cliff high above Lake Superior. I loved that park, those cliffs, the crashing waves below. It was a place that gave me respite and peace. I went there often. But on that day, I knew I wouldn't come back. I couldn't leave that park and go back to my nonsensical world. I was done. Just as I shifted my weight forward, a small group of young boys appeared, out of nowhere, off to my right, far below. They were climbing on the rocks, playing. I stopped and stepped away from the edge.

Many years later my youngest brother, who would have been 11 or 12 at the time, told me he was one of those boys. They had noticed me, he said, and thought I was about to jump. I don't remember if I admitted he was right.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Healing and Restless

I'm getting a little restless. I'm waiting for my mouth to heal enough so I may resume running. You'd think this little 4 day break would be nothing for me. After all, I sat out 15 months for my Achilles. I think that long break is making this little break feel more indeterminate than it actually is. I'm anxious to get back to my training.

I've had to be very quiet since my surgery. Any jostling to my mouth could slow or even stop the healing process. I actually tried to run today, but I began to feel soreness at my surgery site so I stopped after one mile. I went to the gym and rode an elliptical for awhile instead. I don't want to do anything that may jeopardize my mouth healing and healing well.

My mood has remained good throughout this little break. I was concerned the surgical pain, the days off of work, the inability to run, and the extended downtime would negatively impact my mood, but so far so good. I'm relieved. Relieved, but a bit restless.

I'm anxious to get back to training because my training for the New York City Marathon has been going very well. My Achilles seems to be holding up well, and I'm feeling like a runner again. I had 3 great runs in the days before my surgery. My second 20-miler is scheduled for next Sunday. It's all downhill until marathon day after that. I've purchased my plane ticket and reserved my hotel. I'm ready to go.

Yes, I'm ready to go. Now I just have to hurry up and heal.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Bone Regeneration

This morning I sat in a Mayo Clinic dental specialty chair for 2 hours and 15 minutes while two doctors cut, drilled, scraped, hammered (yes, hammered), and sewed a high tech new bone slurry into place. It was the first step in what will hopefully turn into new, supportive bone in my jaw in order to allow placement of a canine implant at a later date. Now it's up to my body, and all I can do is wait. Prayers please that solid new bone forms within the next 5 months.

If new bone does not form, I will have to undergo another procedure and wait another 5 months. I'm hoping to avoid that result, but ultimately I have no control. What will happen will happen. I'm hopeful my decent physical condition and overall good health will be of benefit right now. Like I said, if you've got a direct line to a higher power, feel free to use it and use it often. Thanks.

The surgery itself was uncomfortable and long, but it wasn't terrible. They had to re-numb various parts of my mouth at least 3 times. At one point I could feel the stitches being stitched into the roof of my mouth. That wasn't so fun. I tried to tune out and listen to some music, but my phone died about halfway through the procedure. Oh well. The doctors were wonderful and did their best to keep me comfortable.

I've been home for several hours now, and I'm doing better than I expected. I'm taking antibiotics to keep away infection, steroid pills to control the swelling, and of course, pain pills. I have stitches in my gums, my palate, and in between my teeth which run from canine tooth to canine tooth. It's a large area. But so far the pain and swelling aren't too bad. I'm surprised and grateful for that.

It's going to be a long weekend. I can't do any physical activity or eat anything that requires chewing for 4 days. I bought some protein powder for smoothies and some potatoes for mashing. And since the doctors say rest, that's exactly what I'm going to do. It's a good thing I have 3 new movies to watch and a host of football games to keep me occupied this weekend. I certainly don't want to do anything that may jeopardize my healing. I'll practice being a good patient. This too shall pass.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

20 Miles

It was kind of a big week around here. Seven days ago I ran my first race in 23 months, 7 days, and it went well. I was thrilled to be back racing. I was happy with the result. And I was grateful to do it without re-injuring my Achilles. It was a long, long time coming. I'm so glad I was able to persevere.

On Thursday, I jumped out of an airplane from 13,000 feet, and fell through the air at 125 miles per hour for 60 seconds, before floating back to earth. The experience was more amazing than I can put into words. It was everything I had hoped for and so much more!

I've wanted to skydive since I was 7 years old. It was a bucket list item, but I can honestly say I haven't completely crossed it off the list. I will definitely do it again! And if I can swing it, I plan to go through the training to jump on my own. I did add a link to the video of my jump at the end of my previous post. I've watched it, and re-lived the experience, about 50 times myself. I rarely give advice here, but if you've ever considered jumping, just do it! You won't regret it.

My seven day stretch of big events ended today with a 20 mile training run. It was my first 20-miler in 2 years. It wasn't one of my best. It was, actually, really hard. I even considered cutting it short at 10.5 miles. I worked a lot of hours this week, including almost 9 yesterday, and I think my legs were tired. Nevertheless, I pulled out my perseverance card and played it. I kept going.

It took me almost 3 hours and 40 minutes to get back home, including about 8 pit stops or water stops for both Jet and I, but my actual running time was only 3 hours, which is 9 minutes per mile, so I'm satisfied. I'm glad I continued running even though it wasn't easy.

Life, like running, isn't always easy. Don't we all know that? As simplistic as that sounds, I do think my experiences hanging tough in training help me hang tough when faced with life's challenges, too, whether the challenges come from my work, my health, my finances or my illness.

Speaking of my illness, my mood has improved significantly. The med changes we made a couple of weeks ago have certainly made a difference. Racing, jumping out of an airplane, and running 20 miles probably helped a bit, too. It was kind of a big, successful week around here. And I had fun. How cool is that? Carry on, my friends.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What did I do today??


Watch it as it happened HERE!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

23 Months, 7 Days

October 19, 2014, was the last time I lined up at the starting line. Twenty three months and seven days ago was the last time I ran and finished a race. Until today. Today I ran a race. I crossed the starting line at 8:01 AM. One hour and forty eight minutes later, after 13.1 wet miles (it rained lightly throughout), I crossed the finish line of the 2016 Med City Fall Half Marathon. My friend, Heidi, took a picture of me at the finish line. I am smiling a huge, joyful, relieved smile. I'm still smiling right now. I am so, so happy and grateful. I'm back. And it feels really good to be back!

Mile 13 Happiness

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lifting a bit

Just a short post to say thank you to all who commented on my previous post. Your feedback helped. After reading what you had to say, I no longer felt so alone. I realized my experience was not unique. That helped. It really helped. My psychiatrist and I also made some changes to my medications last week, and I think those changes have been helpful, too. I am feeling better. My mood has lifted a bit. It's not stellar. It's not anywhere I'd like it to be yet, but I have some hope I'm on the mend. I'm still isolating. I'm still having some trouble sleeping. But my energy, thinking and mood are all improved. I'm so grateful for that. I hope that last post gave some of you the same comfort your comments ended up giving me. Carry on, my friends. We are not alone.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

That sense of desperation

I've been doing this awhile. Since my depression began in November, 2000, I've been through the whole gamut of symptoms and treatments, medications and therapies, and as you know, multiple hospitalizations. I've been through dips, and lulls, and catastrophic crashes in my mood. I've lost time, friends, jobs, and financial stability. Yet I've gained perspective, humility, trusted relationships, and educational opportunities. It's been quite a ride. And while it's not what I envisioned, it is my reality, and I try my best to live through it all with honesty, compassion and integrity.

Despite all these experiences, and especially despite all the depression relapses I've endured, I find myself amazed at the sense of desperation I feel. This is not a new feeling. It's very familiar. I don't always recognize it, but I'm pretty sure it almost always accompanies an extended drop in my mood. I'm noting it today because it's been quite prevalent over the past several days. I don't know any other way to describe it. It's a sense of desperation.

You'd think, with years of this illness under my belt, I'd be better able to ride out the intermittent storms without the sense of panic and doom I currently feel. After all, I've made it this far. History reveals that even my most severe depression episodes have passed 100% of the time. One hundred percent of the time! I've felt hopeless and suicidal. I've been isolated and incapacitated. I've been knocked so low, nobody would have blinked if I hadn't managed to get back up. But I've always gotten back up. So why do I feel so desperate?

I feel scared, alarmed, and surprised by my current symptoms, even though my current symptoms are nowhere near the worst I've ever experienced. I am questioning my ability to function and persevere. I feel hopeless, alone, and lonely, yet I find it impossible to reach out. It's physically painful to be out in public, something I've experienced many times before, but today it's freaking me out. And worst of all, despite all evidence to the contrary, I find myself convinced this episode is not going to pass.

It will pass. It will. I do know that. As uncomfortable as it is in the moment, I know it won't last forever. So why do I feel so desperate? Does anyone else experience this?