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!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Worry Thoughts

I'm being silly. I know that. I'm staying awake nights worrying about what I said, and more importantly didn't say, during filming last Thursday. Did I highlight the stigma enough? Was I compassionate enough? Was I accurate in my description of the variety of symptoms? Did I get across how isolating and debilitating this illness can be? And on, and on, and on... Worry thoughts. I'm being silly. Right?

In other news, my mood remains good. I am getting a little worn out by the pain from my oral surgery on Friday. Nevertheless I returned to work today, swollen face and all. I made it five hours before it got to be too much. I actually think the talking I did with my patients and coworkers helped my face swelling decrease a bit. I think I look better now than when I went to work this morning.

The reason I think the mouth pain has worn me down is because I've noticed I feel overwhelmed with less provocation. Work was a little overwhelming today, though it wasn't at all difficult. I'm also a bit overwhelmed by what's on my to-do list for tomorrow, even though there's not that much to do. Despite that I'm feeling like I want to curl up on the sofa and avoid it all.

Feeling overwhelmed can be an early warning sign that things aren't going well, so I'm paying close attention to my mood and doing what I can to stay on an even keel. That's why tomorrow you'll find me putting one foot in front of the other and crossing off one errand after another. Controlling what I can control is one important piece of maintaining my mood stability.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Surgery and Videotape

I'm recovering this afternoon from my second surgery in the past month. This time it was oral surgery, and boy am I sore! Unlike my hip surgery, this one knocked me flat today. The combination of pain and not being able to eat anything substantial wore me out. The stitches inside my mouth are really sore. It will be three days before I'm allowed to eat anything hot or with any texture. Yogurt, ice cream, and chocolate milk were on the menu today, and I'm already sick of all three. I may try some cool mashed potatoes tonight. That will be exciting!

Today is in sharp contrast to yesterday. Yesterday I was busy for 10 hours. It was an exciting day! Victoria, the producer from NYC was here to shoot the videotape I wrote about in my last post. It was strange and exciting to participate. It was weird wearing make-up, as I rarely do, and even stranger to have someone else put it on my face. Thank you, Heidi. My home was turned into a studio with lights and cameras. Thank you, Christopher. Jet was beside himself with all the activity. Unfortunately, it was also incredibly cold outside, the coldest day of the year, so we froze while shooting the outdoor scenes. Even Jet was shivering. But overall, I think the day was a success. Things seemed to have gone well. I'm really looking forward to seeing the end product. It may be completed within a couple of weeks. Of course, I'll post a link here for all to see when the time comes. Carry on, friends!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Opportunity Knocks

I have big news. At this time tomorrow, I will be meeting with a producer from a NYC based website. She and her camera crew are coming from New York to film me! We begin filming tomorrow afternoon, and they will be here filming all day Thursday as well. They found my blog and decided to highlight it (and I guess me) in a video which will be broadcast on their health website. This is a huge opportunity for me to continue fighting the stigma surrounding depression and other mental illnesses. I find myself humbled and honored once again.

This all happened very fast. The producers only contacted me last week. I've been madly cleaning my house and getting ready for their arrival since then. I'm anxious about being videotaped, as I hate my voice and am afraid I'll look like an idiot, but I cannot pass up the opportunity to be a voice for all of us in this fight. I'm trying to embrace the opportunity and leave the rest in the hands of my higher power. Writing comes easily to me. I'm not so sure about speaking. I need to let go of worry and have faith I'll find the right words.

I'll let you know more about the video as I know more. I have no idea when it will be finished, but I'll post a link as soon as it's up and running. Thank you, my friends, for reading along as I've walked this journey with you over the past 8 years. I hope I live up to the opportunity with which I'm being presented.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bucket List

Have you seen the 2007 movie, The Bucket List, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson? Did it make you think? Do you have a list? I do. Long before the movie I had a things-to-do-before-I-die list. I'm thinking about this now because I recently watched a video of a woman with MS talking about her list. That led to a discussion with my boyfriend and now this post.

Like I said, I've had a list in my head for years and years. It's changed a bit from time to time. I've also crossed a few things off already, like running The Boston Marathon and traveling to Australia. Most of my list, however, has remained consistent and intact over these many years. But it's always remained in my head. For some reason, I've never actually written my list down.

Perhaps I've just never taken the time to write out my bucket list. Perhaps I've neglected to write it down out of fear. Maybe the written word forces me to be accountable to myself. If it's only in my head, if I don't tell anyone, it's much simpler to walk away from the goals, to pretend they never existed. I guess there's less chance for disappointment that way.

I think it's time for me to write out my bucket list. These are some of the things I want to do during my lifetime. I am free to add to or subtract from this list at any time, of course, but for whatever reason, I now feel the need to put it out there. And what better place than here? After all, writing this blog was somewhat of a bucket list item (see #1).

The List:
1. I want to be a voice for those with depression and to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
2. I want to write a book.
3. I want to jump out of an airplane (on my list since the age of 7).
4. I want to climb a mountain.
5. I want to hike to the basecamp of Mt. Everest.
6. I want to travel to and volunteer in Africa.
7. I want to compete in and finish an Ironman Triathlon.
8. I want to travel to Antarctica.
9. I want to remain sober, one day at a time.
10. I want to be a competitive runner into my 80's.
11. I want to take a WWII historical tour through Europe.

That's it for now. I may be forgetting something. That's the problem with keeping the list in my head for all these years. But I think this list is a pretty good representation of my desires. Several of them may never be realized purely out of lack of finances, but I didn't want to let that stop me from acknowledging them. It's a list of desires, not a list of likelihood.

Most of the goals on this list are within my grasp. I know I can do anything I set my mind to do. I know that. Even the Ironman, which I already would have conquered if I could conquer my fear of open water. That's a big one, because I know it will be scary and tough, but I also know it is totally doable. I just have to set my mind to it.

What's your list? I challenge you now to write it down. Make it real. I actually feel good, maybe relieved, now that I've shared it. I'd love to hear if you took me up on the challenge.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Humbled Again

I just found out the website GoodTherapy.org, a site dedicated to "helping people find therapists and advocating for ethical therapy," has chosen my blog as one of their favorite depression blogs from around the web. This came as a total surprise. I am humbled and honored by the unexpected recognition.

When I began this blog almost 8 years ago, I had no idea what to expect. I hoped a few people would find me and take the time to read my words. I hoped to give voice to a debilitating illness which derailed my life. I prayed others would find encouragement and solace in my struggles and triumphs. And I wanted to fight the stigma which surrounds and burdens those of us battling depression. Over 1000 posts later, I hope I've accomplished at least a couple of these goals a few times.

Writing this blog has been more therapeutic (for me) than I ever imagined. Knowing I'm accountable to you, my readers, keeps me fighting when I want to give up, keeps me running when I feel too tired to move, and motivates me to always do the next right thing. If you'll continue reading, I'll keep writing. I'm extremely grateful to Jo Sahlin at GoodTherapy.org for her recognition and support.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Long distance

I'm just now reclining after a wonderful weekend with my boyfriend, D. He arrived Friday afternoon in time for us to catch dinner before going to a concert. I hadn't been to a concert in quite a long time. It was fun! On Saturday morning we lounged, exercised, and then lounged again before heading out to lunch at a highly recommended small town cafe about 25 minutes from here.

The recommendations were dead on. The food was delicious, and the desserts were amazing! We took our time, enjoyed our food, chatted with the owners, and watched the locals, who all knew each other, come and go before heading home. Saturday night we went to a movie and had a small, late dinner at a new Thai restaurant. Again, our food was wonderful. We were laughing at ourselves, as we joked about eating our way through southern Minnesota. I don't really cook, so when D is here we do eat out a lot. And we enjoy it.

After another lazy morning this morning, we took Jet for a long walk through the woods. We had a nice talk as we took in the crisp fall day. Snow is in the forecast, so that may have been our last opportunity to enjoy crisp air and a carpet of leaves. We had another good meal at one of our favorite  restaurants and spent part of the afternoon on the sofa watching a football game together. Halfway through the game, it was time for D to go. That's the hard part.

Living four hours apart is tough. I hate when we have to leave each other. We see each other so infrequently, less than once per month, I try to soak in every minute we're together. But that doesn't make separating any easier. After the long hug goodbye, one of us always has to walk out the door. It's not easy. Of course I feel sad when he goes, but I don't let myself wallow there. I've gotten pretty good at redirecting my thoughts. As I am now, reflecting on our time together brightens my mood.

I'm already looking forward to seeing D again, likely around Christmas, at which point we'll begin our weekend routine once again. Until we decide to take this relationship one step further, and one of us (me) makes a big move, this is the way it is. Love from a distance isn't easy, but I think we're making it work.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Healing slowly

I'm sitting in my living room watching The Carol Burnett Show. My friend loaned me the complete set, so I've got lots of laughter ahead. That's good because otherwise things are moving along slowly here. My hip is healing slowly. Had I not ruptured one of the quad tendons, I'd be much further along than I am, and that's frustrating. Nevertheless I am healing.

I'm doing what I can to stay active. My surgeon told me not to do anything that hurts, so I've had limited exercise options. Fortunately I can walk without pain. In fact, Jet and I just came in from a one hour walk. It was a beautiful, sunny, brisk day for a walk. I'm grateful I've healed enough to allow me to  walk at this point in time.

My mood remains okay despite not being able to run right now. Getting outside to walk on these beautiful days helps. The more sunshine I can get the better. I'm a little worried about the shorter days coming up, but if I can keep moving I'm hopeful I will stave off any depression episodes. Laughing at Carol Burnett helps, too. I'm grateful my mood remains good. Keep moving, my friends.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Setback

Driving down the road, I lifted my right knee in order to move my foot from the gas to the brake. POP!! I heard an audible pop in my right groin area followed by immediate pain. The pain was so intense I became nauseous. When I got home, I had to lift my leg out of my vehicle, and my right groin area had begun to bruise. That was last Friday evening.

I knew immediately something significant had happened. I performed some diagnostic tests on myself (I am a physical therapist, after all) and determined that the source of the problem was likely muscular. Based on the popping sound, the area of pain and bruising, and the inability to flex my hip beyond approximately 95 degrees, I figured I had possibly ruptured a hip flexor tendon. This was not good news.

I was scared and discouraged. Over the weekend I rested, and iced, and took anti-inflammatories. I left a message for my surgeon Monday, and when we spoke on Tuesday he confirmed I had likely ruptured one of the two origins/heads of the rectus femoris muscle (part of the quads). I still have use of my quadriceps, but my hip flexion may, or may not, remain weak long term. There is no way to know at this time. This injury may take up to 5 weeks to heal, so I just have to wait and see.

The surgeon noted the muscle fibers were likely weakened during the surgical procedure. I think he said he had to go through part of the muscle in order to shave the bone. I figure the fibers must have been compromised, as the tendon ruptured with only a slight motion of my hip. I wasn't even doing anything stupid (i.e. aggressive). It has been a discouraging week.

Over the past few days, the pain has diminished a bit, but I still have to lift my leg with my hands if I want to change positions. I'm hopeful it will heal well. The surgeon thinks I will regain my strength eventually, and I sure hope he's right. Weak hip flexion is not conducive to strong or fast running. And of course, that's what I'm most concerned about at this time.

My level of overall fear and concern is decreasing. I was really, really scared and discouraged a few days ago, but since then I've tried to stay in today rather than projecting out into the future. I can't control how this will heal, so worrying about it does me no good whatsoever. I have to practice patience right now. I have to do what I can to get better. That's the only thing of which I have any control. So I'm resting, and icing, and gently exercising. I'm following my restrictions and avoiding pain at all costs. One moment at a time. One day at a time. That's all I can do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Flowers

These are the flowers my boyfriend, D, sent me last Wednesday wishing me a quick recovery from hip surgery. They're still looking good and still making me smile today. Grateful.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Surgery

Surgery, so far, has been a success. Of course it's hard to tell exactly, as I'm still in the initial stages of recovery. I had my right hip arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday. The surgeon did a CAM and Pincer resection, for those of you wanting the specifics, which is exactly what was planned. Basically, he resected bone from the hip socket and the head of the femur in order to stop the impingement (pinching) which was causing my pain.

Fortunately, I am able to put as much weight as I tolerate on my right leg. In fact, once I awoke from the procedure, I was able to walk out of the building. It hurt, but it was nice to be able to put weight on my leg immediately. Since Tuesday, things have improved. I've already been able to discontinue my pain meds, and my limping has gotten less and less pronounced. I'm hoping to be able to walk Jet by this weekend and to get on my stationary bike by early next week.

I'm hopeful this procedure, my third, will take care of my pain permanently. It is going to be quite difficult to lay low and not run for three months. Of course, the weather has been absolutely perfect for running since Tuesday. God has a strange sense of humor. In two weeks, after my incisions fully heal, I'll be able to get in the pool. I dislike getting into a cold pool, and swimming bores me, but I'm committed to maintaining as much of my fitness as possible. My mental health depends on it.

In other news, my parents, who have been very helpful over the past couple days, have left to go south for the winter. I won't see them again until May, 2015. My mood always takes a bit of a hit when they leave, and today is no exception. I enjoy my parents. We have been making up for lost time over the past few years, and we've gotten closer and closer during that time. I miss them when they are gone for so long, but I'm happy they have found a lifestyle which suits them and keeps them active.

And that's today's news. I'm off to run some errands and lift some weights (arms only) at the gym. The quest to stay fit starts today.



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