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!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Trip to the ER

Yesterday I was scheduled to run 20 miles. As mentioned in my previous post, in addition to my recent poor mood I haven't been feeling physically well since Tuesday. What started as a sore throat and body aches had moved into my chest by Friday. Still, without the body aches and sore throat, I felt better overall, and decided to give my run a shot.

Unfortunately, the day did not begin well. My mood Friday night into Saturday morning was awful. I was heavy and sad. I had decided to run with my friend and the local running group, so I had to drive to the meeting point. As I sat in my car waiting for the run to start, I could hardly move. I was heavy and sad. I felt hopeless. Depression had me gripped tightly in its fist.

Somehow I got my feet to move and began the run, but within the first mile I began having trouble. This time it was my chest more than my mood dragging me down. I had used my asthma inhalers prior to running, but I was still wheezing and working way too hard for the pace I was running. I needed to slow my pace, which I did, and I watched as the majority of the group (20-25 people) ran ahead and out of sight. Metaphorically, that sight was a perfect match for my mood. Heavy, sad, and alone.

I almost turned around at mile three, but a water stop rejuvenated me a bit. I knew, however, I was not going to finish the entire distance. I could have taken an 8 mile route, but I pushed past that turn and forced myself to complete 11, which was a mistake. I ended up walking much of the last mile. I was supremely frustrated with my body's limitations. And I was wasted, mentally and physically. I pushed too hard for my current condition.

By the time I arrived home, took a shower, and attempted to lie down, I couldn't stop coughing. And my coughs were deep and painful. I was wheezing and gurgling. My lungs were heavy and full of gunk. My temperature was high. I tried to rest, but after just a few minutes it became obvious I needed some medical attention. I drove to the emergency room a few miles away.

I think the doctor was pretty impressed with how horrid my lungs sounded. He quickly got me going on a nebulizer treatment. That helped. It took care of the gurgling, but I was still wheezing. The doctor was a little surprised my chest x-ray looked okay, but he thought I was probably developing something worse and started me on a short course (5 days) of Prednisone and antibiotics.

I got home and took the prescribed Prednisone. Shortly thereafter I was able to breathe better and also able to rest. It seemed to help almost immediately. Today, I'm feeling much better. Besides cleaning my house and walking Jet, I've allowed myself to rest. I've got enough fluids in me to run a couple of marathons! And while I'm still coughing, it's a little less painful and a little more productive.

Some of you are probably wondering what the hell I was thinking when I began my run. Well, here's the thing. My mood has been so poor, I knew running would improve it at least a bit. Also, I thought running might actually help loosen up my chest. I've had previous experiences where that has been the case. Hindsight being 20/20, I shouldn't have pushed past the 8-mile turn. Even 8 miles likely would have been too far. Four to six miles was probably a better goal. Deciding to run 20 miles with a group was probably the worst decision I made, as it spurred me to push on, despite how poorly I felt, for fear of what others might think.

The good news is I'm feeling better. Even mentally, I'm a little less low today. I'll wait until tomorrow to make a decision about my next run. I'm going to try to be patient and take as much time as my body needs. Lesson(s) learned.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Still slow

I'm still frustrated and angry about the current state of affairs. My mood is not good. I'm still having trouble moving my body. I'm still heavy and slow. I'm sleeping more hours than I'm awake, no matter how hard I try to stay awake. I'm exhausted. And I'm feeling worthless, isolated and alone.

My thoughts are about the only things that are moving quickly right now, and they're providing no relief. I'm being bombarded by negative thinking. I'm being heckled by my worthless brain. I'm being trashed by thoughts about my character, my illness, what I should be doing, etc... It's no fun.

On top of all that joy, I developed some sort of virus today. Sore throat, headache, body aches; the whole ball of wax. I had to stay home from work. Even though it has been difficult getting through the days at work, it has at least been a healthy distraction. Today was a really long day of feeling like crap mentally and physically.

I'm hoping this virus is short-lived, as I'm supposed to spend the weekend with D at the lake. I'll figure out tomorrow whether that's going to happen or not. I'm also scheduled to run a 20-miler this Saturday. I was able to run a bit yesterday, but today was impossible for all of the above, obvious reasons. I hope things improve for Saturday. It sure would be nice to feel like a runner again. Come to think of it, it sure would be nice to feel human again.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

At mile six...

I ran a local half marathon this morning. It was at mile six that I began composing the title to this post, and the title most appropriate at the time was/is Fuck Depression! Fuck this despicable illness. Fuck the despair and negativity. Fuck the lonliness and isolation. Fuck the emptiness. And most pertinent this morning, fuck the heavy, paralyzing, immobility. I hate this illness.

I knew running this morning was a dubious idea. After all, with the exception of work, I had been stuck in my house all week. Depression had me tightly in its grasp. I had hardly moved, much less run any miles. But I was hopeful nonetheless. I thought, if I could get myself to the starting line my fitness may prevail. After all, I've been running/training for months. I was hoping the missed week wouldn't bite me in the ass.

But I did get bit in the ass this morning. Depression ripped me to shreds. I could do nothing to change what took place. With the exception of the first mile, when I felt okay, every successive mile was painful and slow, and slower, and slowest. The first time I contemplated dropping out was at mile three. My legs were dead. I couldn't catch my breath. My energy was already low. I knew it wasn't going to get better.

I knew the next ten miles would only get tougher, and they did. I don't know why I didn't drop out. Pure stubborness, I guess. But I didn't have fun. I didn't enjoy myself. Instead I was angry and frustrated, disappointed and uncomfortable. I ran as much as I could, but I walked a fair amount, too. I didn't want to walk, but there was no other choice. My body and my brain rebelled the entire race today.

Fuck depression! Today I ran the second slowest half marathon I've ever run. Ever. I'm not happy, but I'm glad I tried. I think staying home and giving in to the lethargy would have ultimately felt worse.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Slammed

As we say in Minnesota, "Uff Da!" Life got difficult yesterday. It happened in mere moments. Depression slammed me to the ground. It slammed me so violently, there must be a deep etta-shaped divot in the earth. I don't know what happened. It was awful.

On Monday, I felt a little low, but it was no big deal. It happens. But Tuesday...I could barely get out of bed yesterday. I didn't do anything all day. I tried several times to get moving, but I failed each time. From my bed to the sofa and from the sofa to the bed, that's as far as I got. I slept and slept and slept. But no matter how much I slept, it wasn't enough. My mood was low, and the less I moved the lower it got.

It was a vicious cycle. I became more distressed as the day went along. I was distressed about how distressed I was. But being distressed didn't change the reality. My body was heavy. It was difficult to move. I was so, so low. And I could do nothing to stop the free fall. Depression got the best of me yesterday.

I'm still not great today, but I was able to get up and go for a very short run. I missed my scheduled 9 miles yesterday, so I was hoping for 6-9 before work this morning. I was pretty proud of myself for getting out of bed, getting dressed, and making it outside. But it became very clear very quickly that I was not going to get very far. I struggled through two miles and immediately went back to bed.

I got out again to go to work, and that went okay, but it wasn't easy. I've been home for several hours now, and I just got out of bed again. I think things are improving. I never could have worked yesterday.

I was hoping to run a little tonight, but now I'm focusing more on a walk. I have a half marathon this weekend. Feeling so heavy and low, and missing all these scheduled miles isn't making me feel very optimistic about the race.

I'm trying not to panic about my missed miles or my mood. I'm trying to be patient. I know this will pass, and I'm hoping for sooner rather than later. I can't continue like this. I have things to do, miles to run, work to perform. Being cooped up in my house feeling like crap isn't working for me.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Some thoughts on Robin

Rest in peace, Robin Williams. I am so sorry you had to experience the soul-sucking despair this illness forces upon us. Like most of us, you kicked and screamed your way through life despite depression. You defied the darkness. You battled the demons. You ignored the lonely suffering. You survived. Until you couldn't anymore. I am so sorry you're gone.

I realize it's been several days since the brilliant Robin Williams took his own life. To say I, like many, was shocked, is an understatement. I didn't know. I didn't know of the long standing depression. I didn't know of the alcoholism. I don't watch enough talk television, I guess. I didn't know. But when I heard, I totally understood.

In the days since his death, I've found myself scared. Most of you know suicide is something with which I've done battle. The depression relapse I endured last fall and early winter nearly took me to the end. So I get it. But why him and not me? In a moment, I could have made the same decision, but I didn't. That doesn't make me better or worse. It just is. But why is it? I don't know the answer to that. I don't understand, and yet I do.

I get it, Robin Williams, and I feel nothing but empathy toward you today. I'm sad depression took your magnificent soul from us. I'm sorry you died alone. I wish someone, anyone, had been there to help, but it wasn't meant to be. I don't condone or condemn suicide, but I do understand. Rest in peace, Robin Williams. Rest. In. Peace.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Just a little note

Things are going well around here. I've been busy working, running, and taking care of Jet. Work has been busier than usual, and so far I'm handling it okay, although I am a bit brain dead by the time I get home. I definitely need my days off for my brain to recuperate.

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings I'm taking a weight training class, which just about knocks me flat every time! I love it, though. I'm definitely getting stronger. Unfortunately, I am scheduled to run my longer, speedier workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well. Thus far, I've gotten the miles done, but I've not been able to do any of the scheduled speed work. I figure I'll get back to speed training when my weight training class ends in 4 weeks. Until then, I'll just keep working on getting stronger.

Other than missing some speed training, my running is going well. My hip is holding up, and I'm putting in the miles. I ran 17 miles with a friend this past Saturday. It's funny, as my friend and I noted on Saturday, 17-20 miles used to be such a big deal, and we often dreaded it. That's not the case anymore. Sure it's still difficult, but I don't dread the long runs and actually enjoy them most of the time now. I guess that means I'm in decent shape.

Work, running, Jet, sleep...that's pretty much my life right now. I'm not up to much otherwise. By the time I take care of each of those things it's time to start another day. My mood is holding up well. I'm glad. I'm grateful. It's nice to feel good and to be able to handle whatever life throws my way. But it's also nice that life isn't tossing too many curveballs right now. Carry on, friends.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A really nice weekend

D was here over the weekend. He arrived Friday and left yesterday. We had a wonderful time together. It was so nice, I'm missing him a bunch today.

We ran an 11 mile race Saturday morning, which went fairly well for both of us. It was a gorgeous morning for a run, and we ran on a beautiful, woodsy, paved trail. We're both training for marathons right now, and this race fit right into our training schedules. We spent time before and after the race socializing with the other runners. I am lucky to be a part of a very kind, fun loving, running community. It was a nice way to start the day.

Shortly after arriving home and cleaning ourselves up, we left for another adventure. I arranged for us to do the ropes course at a local environmental learning center Saturday afternoon. First we took in the main street of a small, charming town nearby. They were having a weekend celebration, so there was a lot going on. We took in the sights, did a little shopping, and had a little to eat before heading for the ropes course.

The ropes course consisted of six "events" 30-feet in the air. The course is in the middle of the woods, on a 200 foot bluff, so you walk among the tree tops while out there. It starts with walking from one 30-foot tower to another on a long log and finishes with a stroll along a single wire before taking a zip line back to earth. It was awesome!

I'm not afraid of heights, and of course I was safely harnessed into two overhead wires while up there, so I was surprised at how nervous I got. The log was pretty easy, but the second event was called the Cherry Picker, and it was nerve-wracking! By the time I finished, I was dripping with sweat. D had the same experience. It was really challenging but really fun, too. We were both glad we went. I'd like to go again.

We wrapped up Saturday with a lovely dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. After our busy day it was nice to get dressed up and have a really good, relaxed meal. Yesterday we spent time outside with Jet. We went for a long walk around a small lake and even took him out for coffee with us. It was difficult when it was time for D to go. But we had a really nice weekend. I'm already looking forward to seeing him again.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Not feeling it

I know. I've been out of touch. I just haven't felt like writing lately. I've felt like working. I've felt like running. I've felt like going to meetings. I've even felt like seeing friends. But I haven't felt like writing. Sorry about that. It's a pretty rare occasion when I don't feel like writing. I'm not sure what's going on. I don't have a lot to say, I guess.

I'm doing better than I was a few days ago. My slumping mood lasted a couple of days. Thursday was long and tough. I got pretty low and pretty lazy. Friday and Saturday were better, but work both days wasn't great. I did the best I could with my distracted brain. I got through. As was my hope, the slump passed. Today I'm okay.

I'm back in training mode now. I have a weight training class every Tuesday and Thursday morning, and I'm already doing some lengthy runs, like 16 miles, which I ran on Sunday. The Chicago Marathon will be here before I know it.

This weekend D will be here, and we're running an 11 mile race together on Saturday. We haven't been together since early July, so I'm anxious to see him. I'm sure the weekend will come and go way too quickly. It usually does.

That pretty much covers things. As I noted earlier, I just don't have much to say right now. I apologize to those of you looking for more. This too shall pass. Carry on, Friends.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

One strange day

Things have been going well. I've been working, running, lifting weights, going to meetings, and generally keeping up with life. But today, as they say in bike racing, I apparently cracked. I've fallen a long way down, and I don't like it one bit.

The day began as every Tuesday and Thursday does, with me lifting weights and circuit training in my 5AM, 45 minute class. I then had some breakfast, saw my doctor, and did a bit of shopping for my mom's birthday gift. It was a beautiful morning and all was well.

The plan was to come home after shopping, rest, and watch The Tour de France (hence the bike racing reference above), before going for my afternoon run and to my evening meeting. But the plan didn't materialize. After returning home, I began feeling off. Suddenly I was slammed with fatigue and could barely keep my head up. I tried to take a nap, but my brain wasn't as sleepy as my body, and it wouldn't shut up. I was bothered by horrible, intrusive thoughts as I fitfully tried to rest. Without the needed rest, my day quickly went black.

It all happened so fast. My mood followed my energy and dove into the toilet. As I sit here now, I'm frustrated and confused. I know I should just force myself out of this chair and at least go for a walk. I know I should stop typing and get to my Thursday night meeting. But the motivation is flagging to say the least. Knowing what I should do and doing it are two very different things.

There's still time, of course. This very strange, rapidly changing day is not over yet. I'm going to make an effort to do something outside my house. Perhaps it will help. Likely, it will help. But getting out of this chair may take all the energy I've got.

I pray it's a one and done day. I pray the sun arising tomorrow lifts me up. I don't have to figure out what happened. It is what it is. I'll keep on keeping on. After all, this too shall pass. I have to count on that.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Surgery

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.



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