Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 14 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!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cloaked in Gratitude

Cloaked in gray, feeling unreal... Those are my words from a recent post. Unfortunately, those words still apply. The darkness is still here, surrounding me, but I feel the clouds lifting a bit. The cloak of gray is less weighty upon me.

That cloak is being replaced. I am now sampling a cloak of gratitude amidst the darkness. And you know what? The cloak of gratitude is yielding to the cloak of gray. The cloak of gratitude is slight upon my shoulders as compared to the cloak of depression.

I have had plenty of time to reflect while here in the hospital. At first my thoughts and questions were jaded with disappointment and a sense of failure. How did I get here? Why me? How did this happen so fast? Wasn't I doing what I was supposed to be doing? Sounds like a lot of self-pity to me, and it wasn't moving me forward.

Today, I'm working on a new attitude, and the change is all because of you, my readers. In the aftermath of my most recent blog post you responded with unbelievable eloquence and passionate support. I am overwhelmed. I cannot believe how fortunate I am. I felt your caring and concern from afar. I was changed by it. Thank you so much for sharing your hope with me. You give me strength.

Your hope and strength got me thinking. Yes, I have a debilitating, life-interrupting illness, but I have so much more than that. I have many fortunes for which to be grateful. The job, the house, the food on the table, Jet, and all the material comforts I have make my life simpler. But more importantly, my life is full and rich today not because of things but because of the people surrounding me.

These people, Wendy, Heidi, Vicky, Therese, Shelli, Mike, Molly, Nancy, Pam, Joan, Bruce, Janill, Dr. L, Deb and Shawn have all played a role in my life in just the past few days. They supported, transported, called, visited, educated, mowed, packed, dog-sat, fed, and basically took care of me when I couldn't care for myself. That's a lot of people! Despite this terrible illness, I've decided I am one of the luckiest women around. More grateful, I could not be. Thank you all.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

inpatient

Reality is not always kind. Reality when living with depression, I think, can at times be the least kind of all. I so appreciate all of your comments on my last post. It seems many of you could relate. Your support and understanding were very helpful. When I wrote that post, I had nothing more to say. It literally hurt to breathe. I wasn't sure it could get any worse that that.

Things did get worse. By yesterday it hurt to breathe and the mere action of taking one breath after another was exhausting. I tried my best to keep up. I even made it to work for 4 hours Thursday. But by yesterday, getting out of bed was a monumental task. I tried to sleep a couple of extra hours before going to work. But even after slumbering two extra hours things were still tough.

I tried to get to work anyway. I got up, cleaned up a bit, and even pulled on my shirt. But that's where getting ready for work stopped. I felt so guilty as I collapsed back onto the sofa. We are short-staffed. I knew I was leaving my bosses and co-workers in quite a predicament by not getting to work. But it hurt to breathe. And breathing was exhausting. I couldn't do it. I could not function anymore.

Within a few hours of collapsing on the sofa, useless, a friend arrived to take me to the emergency room. By yesterday afternoon, I was admitted. And so I am here, on my local inpatient psych unit, a place I swore I would never, ever come again...ever. But sometimes I don't always have the best foresight. This illness cares not what I have planned and couldn't give a rip about any pronouncements I've made. It is an illness, and whether I like it or not, I don't always have the final say.

I've done well for the past several years. I've weatherered several storms, rode some highs with pleasure and endured some lows with grit and integrity. But I was no match for this low. No match. It was taking me down one painful, exhausted breath at a time.

I do not yet know the inpatient treatment plan. I feel like something drastic needs to change to pull me out of this depth. I've even thought about ECT again. My brain is that far gone. But it's too soon to know what direction this treatment will take. I want to make my stay here as productive and brief as possible. I want to leave this unit breathing deeply, with strength, and without exhaustion or pain. I just want to get back to being me--normal, healthy, me. Thank you, my friends, for your continued support.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Breathe

It hurts.

It
hurts
to
breathe.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Not low...NO

It would be a relief if my motivation and mood were simply low right now. Instead, I am experiencing a lack of mood and no motivation. Have you ever heard of such a thing? It sounds silly writing it down, but it does seem to be my current reality. I can find nothing redeemable to pull me out of this funk. I can find no reason to accomplish any of what needs to be accomplished. I even missed work as a result of my non-mood and motivation. Why bother? I cannot seem to pull myself off the couch. I cannot stay awake long enough even if I could. I cannot wrap my mind around anything other than destructive thoughts. Is this depression? It started as typical depression symptoms, the gray cloak and all, but I seem to have hit a new low...or should I say a new "no." I've got nothing. I've got nothing to say. I've got nothing to offer. I've got nothing to contribute. What am I doing here? I feel like a despicable speck of dead. Move on...nothing to see (or read) here.

Friday, July 17, 2015

few words

Dark clouds descend
I am
Cloaked in gray
Feeling unreal

Colors muted
Sounds muffled
Lines blurred
Nothing is clear

Flailing for air
I cannot breathe

Unreal
Unclear
Suffocating
Sad

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Changing it up

I'm sitting in my house on a beautiful Sunday morning. I'm tired. My mood remains low and my energy lower. I've already napped for over an hour, and it's barely noon. I think I'm really missing running. More specifically, I think my brain and my body are missing running. I'm hoping to motivate out the door after writing this post. I don't have anything planned for the day, but even going out to throw the ball for Jet would probably help my mood.

Despite my low mood and motivation, I did get out of my house yesterday. I grabbed a cup of coffee, threw on my baseball hat, and drove to my AA meeting in the morning. After that, on a bit of a whim, I went to see my friend, Jodell. She cuts my hair. She's been cutting it for 20 years. While I waited for her to finish with another customer, I decided to change things up. Rather than the typical trim of my long, curly locks, I had her cut them off.

I used to wear my hair very, very short, but I've been keeping it long for several years now. (I got tired of being called sir.) Maybe the motivation yesterday was my mood, maybe it was just time to make a change, but for whatever reason, I felt the need to do something different. When I told her to cut it off, Jodell, with surprise, asked if I was sure. I wasn't, but I was willing to give it a try. So my hair is short again, and I have to admit, cutting it did jolt my mood upwards just a bit.

I needed that mood and energy jolt yesterday because I had other errands to run and chores to do prior to going out last night. Some friends and I went to dinner and a play last night. This was especially nice for me, as the star of the play was my friend, Ben, the young man I mentored while he was in high school. He played the villain in a melodrama, and he was fantastic. I felt like a proud mama sitting in the audience last night. I needed that.

Unfortunately, the mood jolt, the energy, and the pride did not make it through the night. I woke up in the dumps, mentally and physically. I'm going to have to motivate myself to do something more than I've done yet today. I've got to change things up again, or I fear I'll only slide deeper into the darkness. I don't want that. It's time to move. Carry on, my friends.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Readjusting

I'm having trouble getting readjusted to my life after my short vacation up north last weekend. It may not have been a long vacation, but apparently it had a major impact. It didn't help that my supervisor cancelled me on Monday so I had an extra day off with which to do nothing. And that's pretty much what I did. I continued my weekend of relaxation and did little of anything productive on Monday. Oh, I ran to the grocery store and rode my stationary bike for 90 minutes but not much else got done. It was a continuation of the laziness which I enjoyed over the weekend.

Unfortunately I am no longer enjoying the laziness, which also extended into yesterday. Besides an appointment in the morning, I didn't leave the house yesterday, and I didn't much care. I think my mood is low, but not so low as to be scary yet, just low enough to lack the motivation to accomplish anything. Dysthymia. I believe that's the official term. I don't like it.

Thankfully, I worked today so I had to get dressed and out of the house. It was difficult getting going. It was tough getting out of the house. Even after I arrived at my work site, I had to sit in the parking lot for awhile to build up the gumption to go inside. Once I was inside and treating my patients, I was fine. But the blahs returned as soon as I got home this afternoon.

I want to go back on vacation. I miss the lakes, my friends, and my family. It's a little strange. I've not felt this way previously, and I've been up north multiple times. I don't know what's different this time. Maybe it's my injury preventing me from running. I've got a lot more time on my hands. Maybe it's delayed grieving after my break-up with my boyfriend. It's been over a month since we split, so that seems far fetched, but who knows? Maybe it's just plain old depression. Anything is possible, I guess.

Whatever is going on, I hope I get past it soon. I'm not enjoying this longing to be elsewhere. I hate the low energy and lack of motivation, And missing my friends sucks. I feel lonely. It's hard to enjoy anything. I'm finding it tough to get anything done. Heck, I'm finding it tough to get off the couch! I know this too shall pass. I just wish it would pass soon.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Close Friends, Favorite Places

I had the opportunity to spend the long, holiday weekend with some close friends in two of my favorite places, Duluth and Ely, Minnesota. Both northeastern Minnesota cities are dominated by water. I grew up in northeastern Minnesota. My spirit is dominated by water. It brings me serenity.

Duluth is on the tip of Lake Superior, the largest of the five Great Lakes. Much of the city rests on the side of a hill overlooking the lake. And Lake Superior is spectacular. It dominates the landscape. There is nothing like it. Just the sight of the big lake sets my mind at ease and brings me peace. I can't get enough of it.

Ely is a small city at the gateway of The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The BWCAW is the largest wilderness area east of the Rockies. The Boundary Waters has more than one million acres of ancient forest and over 1,500 lakes and streams, all of which remain untouched by civilization. There are literally lakes everywhere! It is quiet, and beautiful, and wild, and serene.

My friends, who live in Duluth, have a cabin on a lake in Ely. We spent the sunny, warm long weekend doing absolutely nothing but relaxing. We talked, laughed, ate well, napped, shopped, took a sauna, listened to loons, watched eagles, and gazed at the stars. It was exactly what I needed, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to spend time with my friends in such a wondrous place.

I'm feeling rested and relaxed now. It was difficult to come home today, but I'm definitely ready to face the business of the week ahead. Long-time close friends, and old, familiar favorite places have rejuvenated my soul. Grateful, I am.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Napping Queen

If there was an award for sleeping, I'm afraid I'd be wearing a crown right now. I'm glad there isn't an award, because I'm not really crown material. Baseball hat, maybe, but not a crown. I digress. I'm tired! I was planning to write an amazing post this past weekend, but I couldn't get off my sofa long enough to do so. I promise, though, it would have been amazing!

Not only did I fail to write, I failed to clean my house, play with my dog, go to my meeting, or even watch a historical program I'd been planning to see. Activities I espoused, in my most recent post, as essential to maintaining my mental health fell by the wayside. Instead, I slept.

I'm not sure why I was so somnolent. After sleeping in, I napped three times on Saturday. I alternated between my bedroom and my sofa. Nothing, and I mean nothing, got done. It was as if I had the flu, but I didn't. I just couldn't stay awake, and even when I was awake, I was sleepy. Motivation was non-existent on Sunday, too, as the somnolence continued. At some point, and I think this actually happened early Saturday, I gave up fighting. I slept as long and as often as needed. I just let it be.

My week got off to a better start yesterday. I actually felt somewhat rested when I got out of bed. Work went well. I was busy but not overwhelmingly so. I felt productive. By the time I got home, I did need another nap, but that's pretty routine for me. After napping, I even had enough energy to exercise last night.

I actually figured out how to ride my stationary, recumbent bike with my boot. As I sat down to ride, my mom, who was visiting, exclaimed, "I thought you weren't supposed to do any activity with that leg. Isn't that going to be bad for your Achilles?" I replied, "It will be bad for me if I don't exercise." She understood exactly what I meant and let me ride.

I'm tired again today. I've been sleeping a bunch. Maybe work followed by an hour of riding last night was too much. I'd hate to think so, but who knows? For whatever reason, I've been tired. As long as the fatigue abates soon, I'm not going to let it worry me. For now, I'm going to keep letting my body be my guide. And my body is saying, sleep!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

slow descent

My mood has dropped. While I'm not shocked, it still stinks. I've noticed my mood slowly descending over the past few weeks. I'm at the point now where doing everyday chores, errands, and work is getting overwhelming and challenging. But what I notice most is that I'm going through the motions. I'm not enjoying life right now. I'm doing life, but I'm not really experiencing life. That sucks. I don't like going through the motions. It's difficult to motivate for that.

On the other hand things could be worse. I was expecting this divot, and I think that makes it easier to deal with. I know the impetus for this slow decline. It isn't coming out of the blue. I'm worried, but I'm aware. I knew wearing this boot, which makes everything more difficult, is exhausting, and prohibits me from almost all exercise, would put me at high risk for a depression relapse. Thankfully, I'm not there yet. Things could definitely be worse.

I don't want things to get worse. I have no desire to approach a full blown depression relapse. I'm going to continue doing whatever I can do to keep this dip to a divot. I'm not going to allow it to become a canyon. Not if I can help it! And I think I can help it.

With a little conscious effort, I'm hopeful I can stop this slow descent where it's at. I'm going to do that by sticking to my schedule and routine, regardless of how dull or overwhelmed I may feel. I'm going to continue to eat well, get enough sleep, take care of Jet, take my medications, exercise as best I can, go to work, keep my appointments, and make it to meetings. I'm even paying attention to things like showering and doing my dishes. I know if I let the simple things go, everything else will become more challenging. Conscious effort. That's what I need.

I need to keep the darkness at bay. I feel like it is waiting in the wings, and I've got to fight to keep it from enveloping me. It's weird. My depression today feels like a thing...a being, even. A very patient being waiting to pounce. I've got to protect myself. Simple steps, one foot in front of the other, I've got to keep moving forward. Sounds cliche, but for me it's true. It's the only way I know to combat the darkness waiting for me.



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