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!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Less stress, please

I finished up my mentally challenging, and therefore physically exhausting, week with a nice, sunny ride this morning on my ElliptiGo. I was supposed to run 10 miles today, but I've been having some lingering soreness in my right Achilles tendon, so I fought my urge to run and went for a ride instead.

I needed a challenging effort, one without worry about my Achilles, to clear my head. I got one. I rode an out and back 20.6 mile course on a smooth, wide, country road with beautiful views of local farms and greenery. It was also a hilly road, so I got a really good workout. It took me just over 90 minutes, which is about the same time it would have taken to run 10 miles, so I'm satisfied.

I'm hoping for a less challenging week this week. I'm working my usual schedule, nothing extra. I have one more dental consultation Tuesday morning, and I'm praying that soothes some of my anxiety and worry. I'm also going to dial back the intensity of my marathon training in order to decrease the stress on my Achilles. I have to remember the goal is simply to get to the starting line in New York and to let go of my high performance expectations. If I re-injure myself, there will be no performance at all. Keep it simple, etta. Keep it simple.

Still feeling frazzled, stressed and worried, I'm hoping to get back into some sort of comforting rhythm and routine this week, I've been feeling so close to breaking, worrying about the potential doom lurking around the next corner, that day-to-day functioning has been challenging. I'd like to shed that feeling this week. That will be my goal. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Bad and The Good

I spent 3 hours in the chairs of 2 different dental specialists yesterday afternoon. It was the horrible culmination to what otherwise was a lovely weekend away. Today I find myself overwhelmed and afraid. The drama with my teeth has taken another turn for the worse, but I can't say anymore about it without breaking down into tears, so that's all I have to tell you for now. I have another dental appointment tomorrow. I'm trying to hold it together, keep my fears in check, and put one foot in front of the other until then.

As far as my weekend, otherwise, it was really nice. I spent Saturday morning running 7 miles around some remote lakes near my parent's place. It was beautiful, and I felt great. The rest of Saturday morning was spent helping my mother organize her delayed wedding reception, which took place Saturday afternoon.

After at least 15 years together, my mom and stepfather were finally married in a small ceremony in Florida this past Spring. Since their local families and friends couldn't attend the wedding, they had a small reception in Duluth Saturday afternoon. It went really well, and I think my mom thoroughly enjoyed it.

The reception was the only time in the past 12 months that all of my brothers and I were in the same place at the same time. It was really nice spending time with my brothers, their spouses, and almost all of my nieces and nephews. Like many families, I suppose, we have some interesting, sometimes touchy family dynamics, but everyone was on their best, most loving behavior, and it was quite nice.

Actually, the reception was fun. It was so fun, we continued the party after the party. We all spent the evening together at my brother's house eating pizza and watching the Olympics. We haven't had that much fun family time together in a long, long time.

On Sunday, I spent another beautiful Duluth morning running 14 miles on a bike path through the woods. It was great to be outside, in the woods, feeling good, running again. My mom and I then watched the Olympic marathon together while I recovered after my run. I enjoyed that. The afternoon included more family time, as we attended the Duluth Tall Ships festival on the Lake Superior waterfront. I even splurged for some fabulous, greasy, sugary, mini donuts! Why not? I ran 14 miles.

On Monday, I got some cherished one-on-one time with my youngest brother. I rarely get one-on-one time with him, as he has two very active young boys. We played golf together, on another gorgeous day, for 3 hours. My brother is an incredible athlete, so it was fun to watch him hit the ball. I'm a beginner, so he gave me some good tips. We talked and laughed and simply enjoyed each other's company. Like I said, it was a cherished opportunity.

Finally, I spent Monday evening having dinner with my good friend, Mary. It's always great to spend time with her. We go way back and have a special bond. She's one of those friends I can go without seeing for long stretches of time, and yet we pick up right where we left off when we do get together. I have very few of those people in my life. I value her friendship.

Good times had with family and friends in a place I love, that's what I'm trying to keep in mind today. The stress of the continued drama with my teeth is going to play out however it's going to play out. I can't, unfortunately, control that. It sucks. It's unfortunate. It's not fair. But it is what it is. I'm very grateful to have had such a pleasant weekend away with my family. Those are the moments I need to remember and focus on today.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

One foot, another foot

I'm getting ready tonight to get away. I'm going to visit family this weekend, which may or may not be a good thing. Isn't that the way with families? I'm hoping for a nice, not too stressful weekend. I'll be in one of my favorite places on the planet, Duluth, Minnesota, so that should help.

It's been a long week. I'm still not quite right with all the recent stresses in my life. I'm still not sure I'm coping the best. On top of that, the antibiotics I'm taking for my tooth infection have made me so nauseous it's been difficult to eat, and unfortunately, just as difficult not to eat. I'm uncomfortable either way. It's exhausting.

I'm tired, and I've not been able to rest. I worked everyday this week, as I'm covering for my assistant who is on vacation. So besides working 5 days, rather than my usual 3, I've also treated almost twice as many patients as I normally do. Feeling mentally stressed and physically under the weather has made staying focused and patient at work challenging.

I'm thankful tomorrow is my fifth and final work day. And while I'm not looking forward to traveling tomorrow, I am padding my weekend with an extra day off. So if the weekend turns out to be less than restful, I know I'll be coming home to a quiet, totally unscheduled day. I'm almost looking forward to that day off more than the weekend. Until then, I'll keep putting one foot in front of the other and do my best to get through.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Coping...or not

I haven't had much motivation to update this blog or do much of anything else lately. I don't think I'm coping too well with the new drama with my teeth. My mood has definitely taken a hit. I've been struggling to move some days. I missed work on Friday because I had a migraine headache and just couldn't get out of bed. And since beginning the antibiotics for my tooth infection, I've been consistently and constantly nauseous.

Physical and mental discomfort has been the norm since Tuesday, which is when the tooth infection was diagnosed. Life hasn't been much fun. I'm not happy with how I've been coping. I'm discouraged. I'm not feeling hopeful. And I'm fearing the worst. It's no wonder I have little motivation or energy.

Fear, I think, is really weighing me down. I've been struggling to stay in the moment. I'm projecting my fears way out into the future. I don't usually do that. But now I find myself fearing the worst possible outcomes, especially where my teeth are concerned. It's mentally exhausting.

I'm not doing myself any favors by focusing my energy on my fears. But I can't seem to stop. I've had so much bad luck with my teeth over the past couple of years, it's hard not to feel cursed. Of course, I know I'm not cursed, but I am feeling incredibly unfortunate. That's the problem.

I need to stop feeling unfortunate, i.e. sorry for myself. It's certainly not beneficial. If I can't cope with today, tomorrow is not going to get any better. I've already proven that this week. Migraines, low motivation, low energy, irritability...not fun. Somehow I've got to get a grip, focus on today and move forward.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Careful what you wish for...

I believe it was just 2 or 3 posts ago that I was complaining about feeling cooped up and wishing for some excitement in my life. I wonder if I can retract that wish? The wish actually came true, but it's been the wrong kind of excitement infiltrating my life lately.

The morning after the post, I had the pleasure (sarcasm) of being reamed out for 20 minutes by a patient's angry spouse. That stressful situation went unresolved for a week, and it continues to cause me grief. I've not yet recovered from her tongue lashing, or my resentment, but I'm working on it.

Unfortunately, today I was blessed (sarcasm) with another obstacle to battle. I'm in the midst of more very stressful drama with my teeth. Long story short, I may lose another molar. I'm being treated for an infection of another old root canal. You may recall I lost a molar less than a year ago for the same reason. If the high doses of two different antibiotics don't cure the infection, this molar, on the other side of my mouth, will have to be pulled, too.

I really don't know if I can handle the removal of another tooth. This 2.5 year process, which was only supposed to last 18 months, of getting braces in order to pull down my right canine tooth, which after 14 months of pulling turned out to be ankylosed and had to be removed, and the loss due to infection of an upper left molar, and the long process of bone grafting, which may or may not be successful, and then hopefully surgical implants to replace the canine and molar, has already been exhausting, exasperating, and painful. This was all supposed to turn out so, so differently. I'm not sure I can go through anymore drama with my teeth.

Of course, I am sure I don't have a choice in the matter. Drama or no drama, I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and continue to take the next right action. That's all I can control.

If this molar, on the lower right side, has to be removed, it will have to be removed. I'm praying hard for the pain to subside and for the infection to clear. And I'm praying really hard that the infection never returns so I can keep the tooth, and for the braces to do their job so I can begin bone grafting, and for the bone grafting to be successful so I can get the implants, and for one day to have a normal mouth again! That's all.

Is that too much to wish for?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Freedom from Resentment

In my program of recovery we learn, " which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness," and that, "...this business of resentment is infinitely is fatal." I have found this to be incredibly accurate and true in my life. One of the greatest gifts of my sobriety has been freedom from resentments.

I use the word freedom purposefully, because that is exactly what it is. Freedom. I never imagined I'd be able to get through the trials and tribulations, the inevitable slights and inherent unfairness, of this thing called life without feeling resentful. It's like magic.

Of course, I'm not perfect. In fact, I'm writing this post because I've been extremely imperfect over the last week. One week ago I was reamed for 20 minutes by the spouse of one of my patients. She disagreed with my plan of care. It was ugly.

Despite my rising frustration and anger, I was professional and calm throughout our interaction. I tried to offer compromises and solutions, but it eventually became clear she was only interested in her solution. Toward the end of our interaction she got personal and nasty. I wanted to tear her head off. I didn't. The interaction ended. I don't even remember how, but neither of us went away happy.

Unfortunately, the situation went unresolved until yesterday. My boss, who needed to step in and educate the spouse about the realities of treatment and about appropriately interacting with therapy staff, was on vacation until yesterday. In the interim, the patient, and his spouse, had returned for his regularly scheduled appointments multiple times. The atmosphere was less than ideal.

I guess the situation is now resolved, but I'm still not happy. In reviewing the heated conversation, I feel good about how I interacted with the spouse and the patient. There was more than enough provocation for me to lose my cool, but I didn't. I'm satisfied with that. But internally, it's been a different story. I haven't been feeling quite so satisfied.

Rather than satisfied, I've been steaming. I've tried and tried and tried to let it go. I've tried to put out of my mind the nasty, unfair things the spouse said. Unfortunately, I haven't been very successful. Throughout this last week my feelings of resentment, and all the things I wish I could have said, were never far from my consciousness. My resentment impacted my mood, my energy, and my sleep. That really frustrated me.

Last night I spoke about my feelings with a woman wiser than I. She has 25+ years of sobriety. She reminded me of one of the tenets of our program of recovery. It's on page 67 in our book. It describes the path from resentment to freedom. It says, in part, "We realized that the people who wronged us were spiritually sick." "We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend." "When a person offended we said to ourselves, 'This is a sick person. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.'"

I moaned, loudly, as she reminded me of this prayer. Over the past week it never even crossed my mind. I protested. Pray for this woman who had been so mean and unfair? That's the last thing I wanted to do! But I knew, from my own experience, it would work. Dammit. I knew what I needed to do.

So my task now is to say this prayer daily, for two weeks, in order to free myself from my resentment. I can't afford to continue allowing this woman to occupy free space in my brain. If past results are any indication, and I have no reason to expect otherwise, as long as I do what I need to do I know I will again feel free. It's like magic.

Saturday, July 30, 2016


If I do nothing else today, and I just may not based on how I'm feeling right now, I've already had what I hope will be a momentous day. I ran this morning. Yes, that's right, I ran.

It's been just over 15 months since I originally suffered a partial tear to my right Achilles tendon. I haven't raced in nearly 2 years. If you had told me after the Mankato Half Marathon in mid-October, 2014, that I wouldn't race again until, hopefully, the Fall of 2016, I'd have told you to shut up. I knew when I tore my Achilles in April, 2015, that I was in for a long recovery, but I never expected this. Fifteen months is a long, long time.

And yet here I am, alive and fairly well, despite not being able to run for over a year. That's why my 51 minute run this morning was a momentous occasion. I was more than a little nervous when I stepped outside. I was scared. What if I couldn't do it? What if I suddenly felt pain again? I knew I'd be totally demoralized if that happened. Thankfully, it didn't.

Jet and I walked for a block and then slowly picked up the pace. I was so worried. I had run for 25 minutes at 100% of my body weight on the Alter-G Treadmill, at 7:45 pace, on Thursday, and it went well, but I knew running on the street would be different. It was. I felt very heavy and very slow initially. I looked down at my watch after a few blocks. I was running around 10:30 pace, and I could barely breathe! I decided not to look at my watch again.

After a few miles, I was still breathing heavily, but I was more relaxed and moving quicker than I had initially, and most importantly, I wasn't having any pain. I was hyper-vigilantly monitoring every right foot landing and propulsion. I stayed close to home in case I needed to stop suddenly, but I reveled in the sunshine and warmth. I smiled and said hello to every runner I passed, and I cherished being among them. I loved the feeling of running again.

I'm now sitting here satisfied and grateful, but I'm still a little nervous. What if I have pain later? What if it just doesn't hurt yet? I'm trying to push these thoughts out, however, and have faith that all will be okay. I've already iced my ankle, and I'll foam roll my calves later. I have to keep my focus on the actions I can control while leaving the results to God.

I ended up running over 5 miles at 9 minute pace. I actually stopped more out of concern for my dog, Jet, than for my Achilles. He was looking hot and tired, but he was smiling, too. It's been a long time for both of us. A momentous day? I certainly hope so. Carry on, my friends.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cooped up

I think I need to get away. I'm feeling cooped up and restless. Before major depression cleaned out my bank accounts and limited my future earning potential, I used to travel whenever I could. I enjoyed getting away.

I love to travel. Nothing extravagant, I actually prefer to wander off the beaten path. Even if I find myself in a major tourist destination, I like to learn from the locals and see the things they find interesting or important. I like to eat at local diners rather than tourist-filled restaurants. I don't think I've ever hailed a cab. If I don't rent my own vehicle, I prefer to walk or use public transportation. Again, it brings me closer to the local daily life. I like to learn.

Maybe that's the problem. Maybe I need to learn something new. I don't know though. Suddenly, that sounds overwhelming. I think I just need to get away, to see something new and different, to do something new and different. I've been focused on daily tasks lately. Since I'm feeling like my mood may be on shaky ground, I've been concentrating on taking the next right action, and then the next, and the next. I've been staying on top of things and getting things done.

I'm getting through my days, but I'm flat. I'm working when I need to work. I'm exercising when I need to exercise. I'm completing chores when they need to be done. I'm even socializing more than usual. But I'm restless. I'm lacking excitement. I'm usually totally happy with my pleasantly boring life, but today I guess I need a bit more.

I better start making some plans. I've been spending a lot of time online researching some pretty fantastic far away places, but those, out of necessity, are long range tentative plans. I think I need to find something more immediate than that. Maybe Jet and I should go for a hike this weekend. I'm sure I can find a Minnesota State Park I have yet to visit. Will that be enough? I don't know, but it's worth a shot. At least I'll be away.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Another Achilles Update

My official 16-week New York City Marathon training schedule began Monday, July 18th. I'm not yet back on the road, but I'm getting closer. Today I ran on the Alter-G Treadmill for 37 minutes at 85-90% of my body weight. I ran at 85% of my body weight for 10 minutes and then increased the percentage to 90 for the final 27 minutes. It was the first time I ran at 90%. And it went well.

I saw my orthopedic doctor right after my run, and he's pleased with my progress. More importantly, I'm pleased with my progress. My Achilles responded well to the increased demand. I have a couple more 90% treadmill runs scheduled. If things continue to go okay, I'm hoping to be back on the road for my first run by late next week.

My first run... As I wrote that sentence, the anxiety rose up within me. I'm cautiously optimistic I will be back to running soon, but I'm also worried. Actually, I'm scared. I've come so far. I've got so much emotional baggage attached to this now 15-month injury/healing process. Fifteen months. Whew... It's been a long, long road.

I'm hoping the road is about to come to an end. I have faith I will handle whatever next comes my way, whether I like it or not. Of course, I really hope I like what's on the horizon.

The thing is, at this point it really is out of my hands. As my doctor said today, we did the best we could in our treatment and rehabilitation. There is nothing else we could have done to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. I've taken it slow. I've followed recommendations. I've patiently worked toward what comes next, a return to my running life. But it's no longer about me. It's up to something bigger than me now. I pray my Higher Power will take good care of me in the weeks to come.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Feeling punky

According to something called The Urban Dictionary, punky means feeling run down, tired, worn out, dragging... I guess that's somewhat accurate. But it's more than that. My brain is also feeling run down, tired, worn out, and dragging. My mood is feeling run down, tired, worn out...well, you get the idea. I'm feeling punky.

It's been a long week. My motivation is still lacking, and my mood is, well, a bit off. I don't think I'm low. I don't feel my usual depression symptoms, necessarily. I'm just a bit off. I'm feeling restless, irritable, and discontented. Spiritually unfit is the phrase I used earlier this week. Things I usually brush off are getting under my skin. Resentments are cropping up. Frustration is common. And because of that, it's been a long week.

It's been a long week in this world of ours, too. I think that's also weighing on me. There's so much hate, and divisiveness, and pain in our world right now. It's hard to feel safe. It's difficult to even have a conversation sometimes. It seems everybody thinks they're right. Discourse seems impossible. Name calling, bad behavior, and murder have apparently become the only option to deal with our disagreements and discontent. That bothers and discourages me.

I'm paying attention to my own discontent. I'm talking to friends. I'm keeping my treatment team up to date. We're all on guard. It's been just about one year since the beginning of my last, and possibly most severe, depression relapse. So I'm paying attention. I have no desire to go there again.