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 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


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.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Negativity is exhausting

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend several days in close contact with someone with whom I rarely spend time. For this person the glass is always half empty. You know the type? Regardless of what is going on, this person sees the negative side of it. Anything legitimately negative is always the result of some conspiracy, and this person is always on the short end of the stick. The world, in a nutshell, is against this person. What a waste. I wish I had the days I spent with that person back.

That person, unfortunately, was quite vocal in expressing all opinions and displeasure. It wore me out! I couldn't handle it. I can't handle negativity in general. I don't listen to political news or political talk shows because of all the negative speech and name calling. I don't watch reality television. I don't listen to cranky radio personalities. I don't need that negative energy. I'd much rather surround myself with something positive.

As a result of working the steps of my recovery program, I attempt to maintain a positive attitude. I no longer feel the world is out to get me. There are no conspiracies. I'm not that important. I try to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. Given the opportunity, I look for hope in difficult situations. Don't get me wrong. I'm not always happy, joyous and free, and I'm no Pollyanna. But I now realize how much energy negativity saps from me. It's not worth it. My energy is too valuable to waste.

I'll never get those days spent with vocal negative person back, but they weren't entirely wasted. The time spent actually reinforced my desire to stay positive. Spending that time also reminded me of how I used to be. I no longer have to live that way. I feel sorry for vocal negative person. That person is completely unaware of how much simpler and pleasant life can be. I am grateful today to live simply.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Back home

I apologize for the lack of posts while away on my vacation with D, but time flew by. I'm now back home. D and I had a very nice time. We spent time on and in the water, time playing with Jet, time cooking wonderful meals, time running together, and time relaxing quietly in the house. It was difficult to leave today. It seems to be getting harder and harder to separate after spending time together. Life sure would be simpler if we lived near each other.

We made time for running while we were together. A couple of days ago we ran a beautiful 13-miler on a bike trail through the woods. In fact, it was the very trail on which we met four years ago. I always enjoy running and biking on that trail. As we did a couple days ago, D and I usually end up reminiscing about our chance meeting when we're on the trail. It's really quite amazing we met there, in the woods, five and a half hours from my house and four hours from his. Perhaps it was meant to be.

Work resumes tomorrow. Things continue to go well there. I'm actually looking forward to checking in with my patients. I'm anxious to see how much they've improved (hopefully) while I was gone. It will be good to get back to life. Maybe jumping back into things will help me miss D less. I hope so, because right now I'm missing him a bunch.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Packing up

I don't have much to report tonight. My mood has improved over the past few days. My thinking didn't keep me awake last night, either. That was quite a relief. I've been really busy lately. Work, Jet, running, keeping up with my house, and packing for the weekend have kept me occupied.

I'm getting ready to go see D for the holiday. We're spending time together at his lake home in northern Wisconsin. In fact, we'll be together for several days, as I'm not returning until next week. I'm really looking forward to spending some quality time together. I'm also really looking forward to just getting away. I need some relaxation time. I feel like I've been running steady since getting back from Grandma's Marathon 10 days ago. I'm ready to stop and sit awhile. I can't wait.

To my American readers, have a safe and happy 4th of July holiday. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Vampires in the night

As I have the past several nights, I spent much of last night awake. I think my mood has recovered a little bit, but part of my brain is apparently unaware. It's on overdrive. Worry thoughts, negative thoughts, future concerns; they are all crowded in there and wanting to be heard. Unfortunately, they've recently chosen the middle of the night or very early morning as the time to clamor out. Don't you hate that? It's not like there's anything I can do about anything, no matter how much the thoughts clamor, in the middle of the night. Yet clamor on they do.

Last night was no different. Thought after thought took its turn, each one making a racket, one louder than the last. I covered my head with the pillow. I rolled from side to side and flipped from front to back. I turned on the television. I turned off the television. Bathroom trips were routine. But sleep was elusive, and it didn't last. Daylight was the only thing which successfully sent the thoughts away. But I know they're still there. Like vampires they're hidden now in the dark recesses of my mind, waiting, it seems, for the moon to shine before making their boisterous rounds again.