Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 16 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!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Restoring the energy

I was going to call this post rejuvenated, but that wasn't entirely true. I'm not quite there yet. But I do feel a bit restored. As planned, I only worked my regularly scheduled 3 days this week. That made a big difference. I was able to get back to my preferred training intensity, and I caught up on some much needed napping. I love naps! I'm feeling better, physically and mentally.

I'm training for my next marathon, which comes up in just a couple of weeks. I'll be running the 3 Bridges Marathon in Arkansas for my 49th (ugh!) birthday. I had a great, quick paced 10-mile run today. It felt good to go fast. Tomorrow I'll run a 12-15 mile long run and then start tapering again. I'm looking forward to experiencing another new marathon. It will be my next adventure.

Hmm... I don't know what else to tell you today. I'm relieved to be feeling less tired and worn out. My mood eventually suffers, and sometimes suffers mightily, if I stay tired too long. I have a little busier week ahead, but I think I now have the energy to tackle it. And I only have to tackle it one day at a time. Keep moving forward, and carry on, my friends.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tired and Frustrated

I've written about this before, but it's what's happening right now, so bear with me. I've been working more often lately, more days and more hours, and I'm wiped out. This frustrates me because I don't think I should feel so worn out when I'm not even working full time hours. I know that may be a bit harsh, but I can't help it. That's how I feel.

Before this illness struck I worked full time. Since I've had depression, however, part time is my max. That's frustrating. My life would certainly be easier if I was able to work more hours than I do now. I'd be less financially challenged and probably have less stress. But even with that incentive sitting out there tantalizing me, I don't do well when I work more.

I don't regularly work more than 3-4 days per week. My typical weekly schedule is Monday, Wednesday and Friday plus an additional one or two Saturdays per month. It's not a lot. I know. I'm embarrassed to even admit that meager schedule. But when I work more hours or more often, my brain can't keep up. I get really tired.

I'm tired now. Tired is not good for my mood. I could have worked today, but I had to turn down the opportunity. I worked 5 days two weeks ago followed by 4 days last week, and they were long days. By yesterday afternoon I was physically and mentally exhausted. That led to an evening vegging on the sofa rather than exercising. I ran today, because that's a priority in my life, but my training suffers when I feel so wiped out. That's not good for my mood, either.

So far, thankfully, my mood is holding steady. I'm hoping to stick to my 3-day schedule this week in order to regain some energy. But dammit, why can't I work more? Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to be working. I love what I do. And I'm grateful I can survive and even play a little on the income I earn. I'm very fortunate in that regard. My life is good. I just wish working more than usual didn't exhaust me. That would be nice.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Gratitude Season

If you're not a fan of gratitude, you may not enjoy my blog for the next month or so. I can't help it. Recognizing the blessings of my life and expressing gratitude for what I have is a huge part of maintaining my mental health. In fact, I'm grateful for the ability to feel grateful. That wasn't always the case. Gratitude was something I had to learn.

Gratitude season has begun for me. Of course, today is Thanksgiving, and the focus of the day is gratitude. I'm grateful for my friend, Wendy, and her large, extended family for including me once again in their very festive holiday. We ate a lot of really good food, watched a lot of football, and laughed a ton. It's so nice to feel so welcome and included in her clan.

My gratitude season continues in a few weeks when I celebrate another birthday. For the past several years my birthday has been a time of reflection and thankfulness. I need a lot of support and assistance to get through each year, and I'm grateful to all in my life who play a role, no matter how big or small. In fact, I usually begin my birthday by sending a thank you note to those role players, and this year will be no different.

Christmas follows closely on the heals of my birthday, and just a few days after that I will celebrate another year of sobriety. If there's ever a time for me to be grateful, celebrating the day I took my last drink is the time. Nothing in my life today would be possible if I was still drinking. Nothing. In fact, I'd likely be dead. So my sobriety anniversary is a very special day filled with gratitude. All these years later, I'm still amazed I'm sober. I'm more amazed I've learned to live life on life's terms. And I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunities gifted to me as a result.

Living with a chronic illness like depression doesn't stop me, can't stop me, from recognizing the gifts in my life. Depression sucks, and I wish I hadn't had to face it, but then again would I be the same person I am today without the challenge of persistent depression? Probably not. And I kind of like who I am today. Guess what? I'm grateful for that, too.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Nominated

I received a nice message a few days ago. Apparently Healthline.com is promoting a contest to find the best health blog, and my little blog has been nominated. How cool is that? There's even prize money! I'm humbled and honored.

I'm honored, but I have no expectation I will finish in the money. I'm a little gal in a big world of bloggers. I don't Twitter. I don't Facebook. I'm not even very knowledgeable about the ways of the internet. I'm a little fish in what has become a very big pond, and I'm okay with that.

When I created this blog in 2008, there wasn't a lot of first person information about depression on the internet. I couldn't find what I needed, so I began this blog. A lot of people turned up their noses when I told them I was going to blog about depression. Despite their misgivings, I began to write anyway.

I wanted to educate people about mental illness and stigma. I also wanted to share my experience, strength and hope. Quality of life is possible despite having depression. I hope those who happen upon Depression Marathon find something of value. I hope sharing my experience is helpful to others, but the secret is I actually help myself every time I sit here and type.

I'm as surprised as anyone that I'm still typing after all these years. I don't know what I expected when I began, but I'm pretty sure I never imagined I'd still be writing almost 9 years later. I never imagined many people would read anything I wrote either.

That being said, if you're reading this, feel free to vote here! Voting begins November 21st and runs through December 12th. And if you feel strongly, you may even vote once per day! Regardless of the outcome, I appreciate the recognition by you, my readers, and by Healthline.com. Thank you.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Saying Thank You

One of my supervisors left me a note yesterday. We've been really busy, and I worked later than usual yesterday. I was actually the last one in the office. When I returned to my desk from my patient's room there was a handwritten note thanking me for "all you do." It was a simple note on plain paper, likely scribbled on her way out the door, but it made a difference in my day. It changed my attitude about being there later than usual and made my drive home a little more serene.

I appreciated her note so much I folded it up and took it home. I'm looking at it right now. Why throw it away? Every time I look at it, the note reminds me of her kind gesture. It reminds me someone appreciates what I do. It acknowledges I'm making a difference. That's pretty cool. I like the reminders. I'm glad I didn't toss it out.

Saying thank you. It's such a simple thing to do. My supervisor's note reminds me I need to pay it forward. I need to make sure I'm thanking others for their kindness, hard work, or friendship. I think I do an okay job of saying thanks, but there's always room for improvement. And when I'm feeling stressed or overwhelmed, which I may be on the verge of feeling right now, it's probably even more important for me to remember what others are doing for me rather than concerning myself only with what I am doing for others. Just a thought.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Settling in again

I just came in from a gloriously sunny, cool, 10-mile run. I felt great. It was my second run since finishing the New York City Marathon last Sunday. It was nice to be out on my local, familiar trails running with Jet again. I missed him a lot while I was gone. I loved New York, but it's nice to be home. I'm slowly settling back into my routine. 

The finish line in Central Park
I've been home from New York for a few days. Jet and I reunited Wednesday evening. I returned to work Thursday and Friday. I attended my usual Saturday meeting this morning. I've got some leaves to rake and some errands to run, but I'm kind of enjoying simply sitting on my butt right now. Jet's napping. I may join him soon.

I enjoyed New York City in the days immediately following the marathon. I spent all day Monday and Tuesday touring the city. I'm a huge Seinfeld fan, so I checked out some of the familiar television show sites, including Tom's Restaurant (aka Monk's Cafe) and The Original Soupman (aka The Soup Nazi). I toured St. Paul's Chapel near Ground Zero and the 9/11 Museum. I was in the museum 2.5 hours when I realized I couldn't absorb another minute. I left despite there being much more to see. It was an amazing museum. I will go back.


I also traveled over to Brooklyn where I ate at Grimaldi's Pizza, which has been honored as "the best pizza in New York City." It's located right under the Brooklyn Bridge, so I took advantage and walked to the top of the bridge, which was pretty cool. Then I spent much of the day walking along the Brooklyn waterfront, where there was a lot of green space and amazing views of the Manhattan skyline. I took in the sites and sounds of Greenwich Village late into the night.

Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge
I'm already thinking about my next marathon. I've got a few tentatively penciled into my schedule, including one in December and one in January. Unfortunately New York was so spendy, I may not be able to afford the time off or expense of another race for awhile. I'm looking at races within driving, albeit long driving, distance. I've definitely got the marathon bug again. I don't want to wait until Spring to experience another one. 

Thank you, my friends, for your support over these past few years of illness and injury. Your comments have carried me through some difficult times. I am grateful for my New York City experience, and I am so grateful to be back running again. I feel I've reclaimed a huge piece of what makes me, me. That's pretty cool.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Great Day in New York


I had a great day in New York today! I cried, actually cried, when the starting line came into view for the first time. After the start I kept my head up and my eyes open. I looked around, paid special attention to each neighborhood we ran through, enjoyed every moment, and ran well to boot! I finished in 3:51:30.

It was tough to run with a consistent or quick pace through the first 15 miles, as the streets were quite crowded. As a result, I ran a massive negative split, meaning I ran the second half faster than the first. I ran 1:57:15 through 13.1 miles, which equates to a 3:54:30 finish time for the full 26.2. It's every marathoner's goal to run a negative split, but I didn't have such expectations today, which made the surprise negative split even more fun!

At mile 16, after coming off the very long, very uphill, Queensboro Bridge; my slowest mile of the entire day, I realized I was feeling good so I went for it. I felt good and ran well through mile 23, at which point I was certain I was going to finish (and shed a few more tears). From that point forward I hung on for the ride. The last 3 miles were tough but powerful, I maintained my pace, passed a lot of runners, and shed more than a few tears at the finish line.

I don't remember if I've ever before cried at a marathon. I was truly overcome with emotion today, and that was totally okay. I deserved it. It's been a long haul getting back here. So I cried. But I also smiled more, waved more, said thank you more (to volunteers, military and police officers), and generally enjoyed myself more today than I have at previous marathons. It was a good day.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Start spreading the news...

I'm here. I made it. But if I ever do this again, remind me not to land at a NYC airport during rush hour on a Friday afternoon! I landed at Laguardia at 5:35 PM. Despite my incredibly talented, shuttle van, Ninja driver, I didn't get to my hotel until 8:05 PM. No big deal, except I was starving and too exhausted to update my blog last night as planned. All part of the experience.

It's a gorgeous day in New York City today! I've already been out for my 2-mile, shake out run, which is my routine the day before a marathon. I've picked up my race packet, bought my groceries, and begun to lay out my clothing. I'm excited. I can't wait to get going.

In spite of my excitement, I'll have to practice patience tomorrow morning. I'm planning to be up before 5:00 AM, a full 5+ hours before my starting time. After a subway ride, I'll board my bus to Staten Island at 6:00. I heard the bus takes 90 minutes to get to the start, although Staten Island doesn't seem that far away. I hope I don't have to pee! I begin the procession into my starting corral, along with 10-15,000 others, at 9:00. My race officially begins at 10:15 AM Eastern Standard Time.

I feel happy. I feel grateful. I have no idea what will happen tomorrow. My legs might feel heavy and slow. They might feel light and quick. I really don't know what to expect from my body, but I do expect to have fun. That's my plan. Take it all in and have fun. I'm already on my way.

Number goes on the front. My customized sign, Beating Depression One Step at a Time, on the back. I'm running for all of us!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Consumer is offensive

An Open Letter to Mental Health Organizations:

I am writing regarding the use of the term Consumer when referring to a person with mental illness. As a person who has battled depression for 16 years, I find this term baffling and offensive. I ask you to discontinue using it when referring to people with mental illness. I am not a consumer.

According to Merriam-Webster a consumer is: a) a person who buys goods and services, or b) an organism requiring complex organic compounds for food which it obtains by preying on other organisms or by eating particles of organic matter. How does a person with mental illness fit into either of those definitions?

Why are we hijacking a term typically used for Wal-Mart shoppers to label people with mental illness? When did patient become a four-letter word? Why is referring to me as a person with mental illness pejorative? I am not a consumer. I am a person with mental illness.

My mental illness is a biological, treatable brain disease. It is no different than a biological, treatable pancreatic disease like diabetes, or a biological, treatable heart disease like congestive heart failure. Yet while it is acceptable to refer to a diabetic as a person with diabetes, and it is normal to refer to a person with heart disease as a patient, it is somehow unacceptable to refer to me, a person with depression, as a person with mental illness or as a patient? That doesn’t make any sense.

Consumer, used in an attempt to destigmatize mental illness, actually increases the stigma by separating persons with mental illness from those with any other type of biological, treatable illness. It highlights difference. I am not different.

When I am hospitalized, I am not there to choose between a green gown and a blue gown. I am there because my symptoms have gotten worse, and I need specialized medical care to manage my illness. This is true whether I have appendicitis, diabetes, or depression. Each is an illness that may lead to death if I do not allow myself to be treated, to be a patient.

I ask you again to discontinue using the term consumer. It is inaccurate, stigmatizing and offensive. Concocting a term to classify people with depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder rather than speaking directly about mental illness only furthers the stigma we already face.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Taper has begun

Two weeks from today I will hopefully be waking up stiff, sore and smiling in a hotel room in New York City. A shiny new finisher's medal will be on the bedside table. If I don't wear it to bed, that is.

I don't usually think about the day after finishing a marathon because the marathon guarantees nothing, especially a finish. But this has been a four year odyssey of hurricanes, hospitals, and injury, each of which prevented me from getting to the starting line in New York City. If I make it to the starting line this year I can't imagine anything keeping me from crossing the finish line. Hopefully the fourth time will be the charm and two weeks from today will be a very happy day.

My training should have me prepared to get to that finish line. I completed my last long run yesterday. Jet and I ran 15 good, sunny miles. I felt great. It was a nice confidence building run, which is just what I needed out of my final long run. Now it's time to taper.

And my taper has officially begun. I'm taking today off. The rest of the week I will be running about 40% fewer miles than usual. I generally enjoy the first week of my taper, but by next week, when I'll be running even less, I'll be itching to move more than I should. Instead I'll have to trust in my training and relax. Easier said than done.

Once I board my plane to New York City my focus will be on staying present and having fun. I doubt I'll ever run the New York City Marathon again, so I want to make sure I take it all in. I plan to enjoy the marathon. I'm not going to race it. It's too crowded for that anyway. Instead I'm going to try to keep my head up and enjoy the show. Of course, I'll enjoy it more if I run well, but like I said, I'm really going to try to keep my focus on the whole experience.

I plan to romp around and experience New York, too. Since I'll be alone in the city, I can do whatever I want without concern for someone else. I guess that's one advantage of going alone. Besides the 9/11 museum, I haven't decided what I'm going to do in the days following the marathon yet. I've already been to most of the tourist places, so I'd really like to get off the beaten path (if that's possible in New York City). I'm open to suggestions!

I'm doing well. My mouth is healing. My Achilles is holding up. Work is going smoothly. Life is good right now. I'm trying to relax and enjoy that, too.



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