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!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy Birthday

Yes, today is my birthday. It's rather anticlimactic, as my mood and energy have sunk to new lows. Nevertheless, I did have a few highlights to my day. My mother called, as is her custom, and sang Happy Birthday over the phone. I got a morning delivery of some lovely flowers from my boyfriend, D. They are beautiful and fragrant.

Tonight I spent time with my friend, Wendy, and she treated me to dinner. It was all good.

I saw my doctor this afternoon. Not much to report there. My mood is low. Fatigue is knocking me flat. I haven't made it to the gym for several days. It's difficult to get out of the house. I don't like to be around others. None of these are positive signs. But I'm forcing myself out the door. I'm at least walking when I can muster the energy. I'm doing what I can to ride out the low. My doctor is not changing anything yet. I'm hanging on for now. Like birthdays, I know this too shall pass.

Monday, December 15, 2014


It's way past my bedtime, but sleep is not coming tonight. Today was the anniversary of Puck's death. Puck was my 12-year-old lab who died two years ago.  He went from healthy to gravely ill in moments. I had about 12 hours to say goodbye. It was, as I expected it would be, one of the most difficult decisions I ever had to make. And while I love Jet with all my heart, there will never be another Puck. I still miss him.

Puck was my soul mate. He had been through it all with me. Only one year old when I became ill, we traveled the depression journey and later the alcoholism journey together. I've been thinking about him a lot over the past several days, which led me to thinking about my journey with this illness as well. These thoughts, combined with the release of the videos, have me in quite the reflective mood. 

Speaking of the videos, it seems many of you have had a chance to view them. has been having some technical problems with them, but they're working on that. They seem to work best when viewed on a computer versus a tablet or phone. I want to thank all of you who have left your comments here. While this was a huge opportunity for me, it was also a pretty big risk. How many of you noticed I used my actual name? I also didn't have any say as far as what went into the videos or not. I had to have faith my message would be presented in a favorable way. And it was.

I was quite happy with the videos. Of course, there is always more that could have been said, but I try not to worry about that. I am satisfied by your reaction (comments) that we did put some education and hope out there for all to see. If one life is brighter, or less lonely; if one person sees themselves as having an illness rather than a character defect; or if another who otherwise wouldn't have now seeks help, the opportunity and the risk was more than worth it. I thank from the bottom of my heart.

And now I think it's time for bed. Carry on, friends.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Videos

Here I am:

Feel free to join the fight and share them widely. Let's stomp out the stigma of this illness. And please let me know what you think. Without you, my readers, this opportunity and these videos would never have been possible. I am so blessed and grateful.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

status quo

I'm continuing to put one foot in front of the other here, but my mood remains low. I'm busy looking for hours to work. Right now I'm scheduled to work the next four days in a row, which is good, but I'm a little nervous about working four days in a row. As most of you know, I usually work every other day. I expect I'll be worn out in four days, but I'm just going to take it one day at a time, one moment at a time, and attempt to keep the worry thoughts at bay. I'm utilizing my support system to get through the low mood. One of the things I'm dealing with is feeling overwhelmed. Simple things which otherwise wouldn't register suddenly become overwhelming when my mood is low. It's frustrating. But I'm reaching out. I'm doing what my support people recommend. Instead of pulling the covers over my head, I'm sticking to my schedule and also getting my exercise in. I'll make it through. I can do anything I set my mind to if I stay in the moment and keep moving forward. That's what I'm trying to do.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Little low

Things have been a little tough around here. That's why you haven't heard from me this week. I haven't had the gumption to write anything. I'm not sure I yet do, but I wanted to check in. My mood has been a bit low. It's not significantly low, but it is trending that way. That worries me, of course, but I'm trying to stay in the moment and do what I can. Worrying doesn't do me any good. I know that.

Employment is still my primary concern. Unfortunately I have no control over whether there are hours available for me to work. It's stressful, but rather than worry, I'm trying to stay focused on taking care of the things I can control. I've let most of the regional program directors know I'm available to work. I've picked up a couple of hours here and there over the past few days. I'm taking whatever shifts come along. I'm doing what I can. I'm hoping and praying the opportunities to work continue. My mood always improves when I can pay my bills.

I think my mood might also be affected by the approaching anniversary of Puck's death. He died two years ago. For those of you unfamiliar, Puck was my black lab partner for over 12 years. He was only a year old when my depression began, so we'd been through a lifetime together. He was my soul mate. I've been thinking about him a lot lately. I miss him. I actually don't mind thinking about him. I'm far enough removed from his death now that thoughts of him make me smile a tearful smile. It's comforting to remember him and our special bond. But I do miss him.

That's all I have for now. The weather is warming, so I think it's time to take Jet for a walk. I don't feel like going, but I need to move. Besides, spending time with Jet always makes me smile.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Gratitude and Concern

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, everyone. I had a very nice holiday. I was invited to share Thanksgiving with my friend, Wendy, and her huge extended family. I think she was expecting something like 30 friends and relatives. She amazes me. She was totally in her element hosting that many people! I would have died! No thank you! But it was very nice. It is tradition that her entire family spends the day together, and I mean all day, at Wendy's house. Everyone brought 1 or 2 food items, so our meal was huge! I think I stopped after my third dessert. Feel free to remind me of that the next time I complain about my weight. It was very kind of Wendy to invite me to share in her family's traditional day. I am grateful for her continued friendship.

After Wendy's house, I went to see my friends, Joan and Frank. They ate later in the day. By the time I got there, it was just the three of us. We ate a bit of leftovers, chatted, and watched some football. It was a nice contrast to Wendy's big event and a calming way to end my holiday. By the time I returned home to Jet, I was exhausted but filled with joy and gratitude. I think that's the way we're "supposed" to feel at Thanksgiving. It was a very nice day.

Unfortunately, I've been battling a little dip in my mood since Thanksgiving Day. Financial strain has reared its ugly head, and that always negatively affects my mood. I'm still trying to catch up with my finances following my hip and oral surgeries. Those missed days of work hurt me. I was trying not to worry, however, as I had a full schedule ahead of me. I figured I'd eventually catch up.

Catching up was the plan anyway. Unfortunately, my laptop died early last week. My laptop is so old, I was told by multiple knowledgeable sources it made more sense to get a new one. Easier said than done. Following closely on the heels of the dead laptop was the announcement by my employer that they weren't going to need me as much as I had been scheduled. In fact, I was supposed to work yesterday, but I got cancelled. That really set the worry in motion. And the lower mood followed quickly behind.

I'm battling. Financial stress always, always creates an emotional challenge for me. The past couple of days I've been saying a lot of prayers. I've already picked up an extra shift next week at one of my other jobs. Thankfully that opportunity opened up. I'm praying for the faith and confidence that things will work out. I've made it through in the past. I have to believe I'll get through this, too. I can't afford not to have faith. Worry is too detrimental to my mood. It's toxic. I'm battling to keep the worry at bay. Prayers, of course, are always accepted.

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.