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!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Anticipation

I'm feeling a little giddy. I had a really nice, productive day, including a stellar run. I'm also getting prepared to go on vacation soon with my boyfriend, D. I'm really looking forward to seeing him. We haven't seen each other since Christmas! We're heading off to a warmer climate. I'm looking forward to some heat, as it actually snowed here today. It was very cold and blustery. Ridiculous for this time of year, but that's the great state of Minnesota for you! Regardless, I'm still feeling a little giddy.

Maybe the crazy weather is actually contributing to my giddiness, as I can't wait to get away from it. I was cursing it earlier today. I had a nine mile tempo run scheduled, and I just couldn't face the cold temperatures and high winds. The alternative, of course, was to run nine fast miles on the treadmill, which as you know, I frequently curse! But the weather pushed me to the treadmill, and I actually did my tempo run inside.

I knew running nine miles on the treadmill was going to be a significant challenge, and running at tempo pace, which is defined as comfortably hard, was going to be even tougher. I'm happy to report I survived. Not only did I survive, I actually did well. It was very tough, and I had to do a lot of mental gymnastics and bargaining with myself to get it done, but I did it. I love surprising myself by accomplishing a difficult task. I felt very satisfied when I left the gym.

Running well and accomplishing goals has helped my mood remain stable and strong. I expect some sunshine and warm temperatures will also keep me going. I will be running 19 miles one day while away, and I have a half marathon scheduled soon after I return. More goals to shoot for. More to look forward to and anticipate. Anticipation is good. Looking forward is good. It means I'm moving, not stuck, and movement is very good. Keep moving forward, my friends.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A little splurge


I ran 9 miles yesterday morning, less than 24 hours after running 6, half mile repeats at a very fast pace Wednesday afternoon, so I treated myself to a little splurge for lunch. We have a new restaurant in town, and I've discovered they make the best, juiciest burgers around. And the sweet potato fries made it all very healthy, right?

Actually, I sometimes feel the need to eat red meat when I'm training hard. That was the case yesterday. Women do need more iron when training hard, and I don't get a lot of iron from other sources. Plus, I love a good steak or hamburger every once in awhile. And this one was quite delicious.

Tomorrow I'm scheduled to run 17 miles. My 15-miler last Sunday was quite challenging, so I'm a little apprehensive right now. I find I need to mentally prepare for my long runs in much the same way as I prepare for races. I even lay out my clothing the night before, just as I do for races, so nothing gets in my way before a long run. I have few worries and no excuses that way. Tomorrow morning I'll only have to worry about getting out the door. And it's supposed to be beautiful, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Jet will join me for most of my miles tomorrow. He ran all 15 last week and then bounced around the yard afterward as if he'd been laying around all morning! He's a trooper. I love spending the time with him. He's so cute. He actually looks like he's smiling the whole time we run. If he makes it all 17 miles tomorrow, which he will if it's cool enough, perhaps he'll be the next one to enjoy a little splurge.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Building Positive Experiences

One of the symptom-busting techniques I have learned in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is to build positive experiences, and I'd say this week I did enough building to construct a house! I had a really good week. I built positive experiences working with others, helping a friend, celebrating another friend, and taking good care of myself throughout the week. I feel so fortunate.

I had a great week at work. My patients were particularly rewarding to work with this week. Sometimes that happens. I can't explain it. I just had the pleasure of treating a group of very motivated, hard working, fun and appreciative patients. It made work very enjoyable, and more importantly I felt like I made a difference. That's always nice.

I think I also made a difference helping a young man I know. It was my pleasure to assist him as he prepared for his first job interview. We went over his resume, how to write a cover letter, and every aspect of the interviewing process. From the hand shake to thanking the interviewer for his time, including practicing actual questions and answers, we covered it all. It was awesome! I mentored this young man when he was in high school. To see him now, all grown up, and to still be called upon for assistance, is absolutely one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I'm so proud of him.

It was my friend Wendy's birthday this past week. I had fun surprising her at work. I brought her some good Tollhouse cookies, a bouquet of flowers, and her favorite, Diet Pepsi. Wendy has been so kind, generous and supportive over these last 3-4 years. She's been a true friend. I try not to let an opportunity to show her how much I care for and appreciate her pass by.

I also cared for myself this week. I'm happy with my stable mood, and I'm feeling more functional than I've felt in a long time. Jet and I ran 5 days for a total of 33 miles, including a challenging, hilly 15 miler today. I feel like I'm getting back into racing form. I continued to work on my eating this week, and I ate well. I stayed away from the sweets, which I love. That's a first! I'm still not losing the weight I'd like to lose, but my clothes are fitting better, which is satisfying. Finally, I took my medications as prescribed, slept when I needed to sleep, and attended all my meetings and therapy appointments. It was a good week filled with positive experiences. I'm grateful and pleased.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Running in the Rain

Jet and I had a great run this morning. I was scheduled for an 8-miler. My busy day dictated that I run early this morning. Unfortunately, it was gray and 36 degrees with a light mist, so I wasn't too enthusiastic when I stepped outside. My enthusiasm waned even more when the sky opened, and it began to pour just as I passed one mile. It was a cold, hard rain with occasional rumbles of thunder, which Jet really didn't appreciate. Rather than turn around and go home, after all I was already wet, I decided I'd at least run a few miles and finish on the treadmill later. But the cold, hard rain slowed to a sprinkle at my turn around point, mile two, so I decided to go ahead and finish my 8 miles.

Before we hit mile three, the sky opened again. It poured and poured and poured more cold, hard rain. I was far from home, so I decided I might as well continue. It was absolutely silly, so silly I began to laugh. Jet and I were alone in the city stomping through the rain. I'm sure people driving by questioned my sanity and maybe even wanted to rescue my adorably soaked dog. But instead of feeling sorry for myself, I enjoyed myself. It was fun! We ran through the downpour for over an hour. I was energized and ready for my day by the time we got home. It turned out to be a great run.

I like when I have unexpected experiences like that. It adds a little spice to my life. The day has remained cold, wet and gray, but I'm still feeling energized. My run in the rain really set the tone for the rest of my day!

The rest of my day has been filled with appointments, errands and a speaking engagement. I told my story to a group of students at the local college. As usual, I appreciated the opportunity to share my experience with depression. I'm not sure my story is all that interesting, but at least it's a first hand account of living with this sometimes debilitating illness. I think that's helpful for anyone learning about mental illness. And as is usual after I speak, I end up feeling full of gratitude for the experience. It's been a good day.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Spring Cleaning

I'm not a big fan of cleaning. Who is? But I'm even less a fan of a dirty environment. I find my mood suffers if I let my surroundings get too messy. So I've been doing my spring cleaning. Today I went outside. It's sunny and crisp here, a perfect day to do some yard work. If you own a dog in a northern climate you know what that means. When the snow melts a full winter of potty breaks is left behind. It's not pretty. After a couple of hours I had filled more than one bag with dead grass, leaves, and Jet's doggy deposits. My yard is now clean. Jet and I are both happy.

Speaking of happy, I'm still feeling well. It's been two weeks since I asked and my doctor agreed to lower one of my medications. I think I'm well enough to be on the lower dose, and I'm pretty sure the med was keeping me from losing the extra weight I gained during my layoff from running. I'm happy to report I got on the scale this morning, and I have indeed lost one pound. One pound is not a lot, but it's a start. I've been working very hard to eat well, stay away from sweets (which I love), and running or exercising consistently. It's nice to see the work paying off.

I've been running consistently over the last couple weeks. I'm getting back on track. I'm scheduled to run long tomorrow morning. How long I go has yet to be determined. My schedule calls for 16 miles, but I'm not back up to that level yet. I ran 11.5 last weekend, so I think 13 miles might be doable. That's what I'm going to shoot for, but I'll let my body be my guide. I had dead legs during my run yesterday. They feel better today. I'm being cautiously optimistic that I'll continue to feel strong and be able to run longer tomorrow.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Stacking them up

Things continue to go well here. I'm feeling well. I'm back to running. I'm working at least 3 days per week, and I'm staying on top of my bills, errands and chores. It's the simple things. When the simple things in life are actually simple I know I'm doing well. I'm stacking one good day on top of another. That may be boring for you to read, but it sure is cool to be experiencing it.

Today I had a very good run. It wasn't an easy run, but I'm so satisfied with accomplishing what I set out to do. I set out to run at least 10 miles. I know that may have been a foolish goal, as I haven't run that far in several weeks, but sometimes I'm foolish. What can I say?

It was crisp and clear when Jet and I set out this morning. Having run 7 miles without walk breaks a few days ago, I hoped to run at least that far before taking a short walk break today. In the beginning my legs were tired. My left knee was a little sore. My right achilles was a little tight. I was worried I had set my sights too high. Those aches and worries made for a challenging first few miles, but I persevered. I battled my brain and my fatigue, and things improved. I ran right through my 7 mile walk break. In fact, I ran right through my 10 mile goal. I finished one hour and forty five minutes after I started, and I ran a total of 11.5 miles. No walk breaks. I was smiling a very big smile when I arrived home.

I enjoy challenging myself. I seem to thrive when I have a goal for which to shoot. That's one of the reasons I run marathons. Aiming my running toward that long term goal gives me motivation and direction. And I need direction. Growing up as an athlete my workouts and practices were always geared toward a future goal. I doubt I will ever be someone who exercises just for the heck of it. There's nothing wrong with exercising for exercise sake, but I think I'd lose interest pretty quickly. I need a goal.

Today I set and met my goal. That felt good. The goal kept me going. I'm so glad to back running. Life is good. My goal tonight is to continue stacking one good day upon another. I hope you will, too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Little Celebration

I've had an interesting day today. It's my day off, and I had lots of errands and chores to cross off my list. I got up around 6:30 AM with great intentions but immediately knew I was in for a slow start. I just couldn't wake up. I tried. I ate breakfast and had two cups of coffee, but by 8:00 AM I was sleeping once again. I slept from 8-9 and then got up but couldn't wake up. I laid back down. I slept again from 9-10 and 10-11. Each time I got up I was overwhelmed with somnolence. At 11:00 I got dressed in my running clothes for my now long overdue trip to the gym. Getting dressed didn't help. I didn't get out of my house until 1:00 PM! It was a bit ridiculous. Apparently my body needed rest today. I guess I should be glad I had the time to give it.

Despite the slow start, today has been a good day. I'm having a little celebration right now. I just returned from my first run in 2 weeks. I got on the treadmill at the gym with great trepidation, walked for five minutes, and then set the pace for 9:00 minutes per mile. That first mile was pretty tough. Everything hurt. I think I was so nervous about my right calf seizing up that I was altering my gait and causing other areas, like my left knee, to get sore. By mile two I had relaxed a bit and was able to run without pain. I completed 3 one mile segments with one minute walk breaks between each mile. I ran and walked for 40 minutes total. I'm happy to report I'm pleasantly tired and still pain free right now.

I'm feeling happy and hopeful. I'm hopeful I can get back on my training schedule, get back into regular running shape and start racing again. I've got Grandmas Marathon penciled in for mid-June. If I don't get back to training soon, I won't have enough time to prepare. I love Grandmas. I want to run it. Yet I'm going to try my best to take things slow, give my body a chance to adjust to training again, and hopefully continue to run injury free. Patience is not one of my best qualities, but I'm going to do my best.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sidelined

I got some great news this week. My boyfriend, D, and I are going to New York to run the New York City Marathon on November 1st. We're thrilled to be going. I'm especially excited. Some of you who've been around awhile may remember I was in New York to run in 2012. That was the year the marathon was cancelled as a result of Hurricane Sandy. In 2013, another entry fee ($266.00) and plane ticket were lost when I couldn't run because of my illness. I believe I was in the hospital on the day of the marathon. So this hopefully will be the year I finally get to compete in New York. To share the experience with D is just icing on the cake.

That was the good news. Now the bad news. I am still sidelined with my right calf injury. I have not been able to run for 10 days. I'm going a little crazy. I want to run so badly. I am particularly frustrated because this injury occurred just as I was getting back into running shape after my three month layoff. The day I injured it I was able to run 6 miles at a good pace without walk breaks. That was the culmination of several weeks of hard work. Now I feel the conditioning leaving my body as I try valiantly to maintain by walking, biking, circuit training, and even swimming! But nothing trains the body to run like running, so I'm frustrated to be sidelined again. My running shoes are calling!

As a result of not being able to run I'm monitoring my mood closely. I felt it slipping just a bit earlier this week, but a couple of hard workouts on my bike seemed to help. I'm also monitoring my mood because my doctor agreed, at my request, to lower one of my medications this week. It's a med that augments my primary antidepressant. But this particular medication seems to be interfering with my attempt at weight loss, and since I've been feeling well we negotiated a lower dose.

I wanted to discontinue the medication completely, but my psychiatrist wants me to be further removed from my recent relapse before we think about that. She is concerned about my mood faltering. I promised I would tell her immediately if I felt that happening. I appreciate that she trusts me and allowed me to lower the dose despite her concerns. I certainly don't want to slide backwards, so I'm paying close attention to my mood. And I will increase the med again if the need arises. I'm feeling pretty confident, which might be silly with this unpredictable illness, but I'm feeling hopeful nonetheless.

And that's the news. Despite my injury, life is good. I've got nothing to complain about really. The injury will heal, and I'll be back on the road soon. I'm a lucky woman. Forward, with gratitude, is the only way to go. Carry on, friends.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Another injury

It's been a little while since my last post. Chalk it up to more pleasantly boring living. Well that's not entirely true. While I've been feeling emotionally well, my physical body began a bit of a revolt this week. After five runs last week, four of them very encouraging, I was having another really good six mile run on Tuesday. At mile four, my right soleus muscle (the lower part of the calf) tied up in a knot. Of course I failed to heed the warning, choosing instead to continue running, and made what may have been a slight injury into a major one. I completed my six miles, but I could barely walk the next day. I haven't been able to run since. So much for pleasantly boring.

Being injured is tough on my psyche. I spent a couple of days wallowing in chocolate and cookies. That turns out to be a pretty ineffective strategy for dealing with anything when trying to lose weight. And if I don't lose the extra pounds I gained after my hip surgery my running will suffer. I believe it's called self sabotage. I sabotaged my weight loss with chocolate and cookies which ends up sabotaging my running. And it all started because I felt like a slug when I wasn't able to run. Does that make any sense? It doesn't to me, but it's not the first time I've self sabotaged. I don't quite understand what's behind it, but I'm glad I'm aware of it. It means I can work to change the pattern.

I'm back on the horse today. I'm changing the pattern. I went grocery shopping last night and filled my house with good, healthy food. And rather than fretting about not being able to run, I got my bike out of the closet this morning. I rode hard for almost 22 miles. An hour and seventeen minutes of oxygen sucking, heart pounding hard work was just what I needed. I feel much better now. Perhaps pleasantly boring is on its way back into my life. I'll take it.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Springing Ahead

I don't know about you, but I hate losing an hour of sleep "springing ahead" every Spring. I feel like it takes me until Fall to adapt to that lost hour. It's already late afternoon, too soon, and my body is confused. Sure it's nice to stay sunny later in the day, but I'm a morning person. I like seeing the sun when I get out of bed, too. Some states don't bother changing their clocks. I wish my state was one of them.

That being said, it is a beautiful, sunny, warmer day today. We are finally climbing out of the deep freeze up here in the North. I ran outside with Jet and soaked in the warm, brilliant rays this morning. Unfortunately, that was about the only good thing that came out of my run today. I was scheduled to go 8 miles but barely made it, slowly, to six. My legs were dead. It's okay, though. The other four runs this week were quite good.

I'm not surprised my legs didn't respond today. I challenged myself this week with a lot of faster miles. I was on the treadmill for the previous four runs, and I generally pushed it. I'm still taking walk breaks, but my pace has increased fairly dramatically, and my walk breaks have been fewer. I even did some half mile repeats one day. Speed work! How fun! Even yesterday, after working all day, I was motivated and energetic enough to get a quick 5 miler done. So the dead legs this morning actually made perfect sense. I'm accepting it, looking forward to a rest day, and moving on.

One thing I'm struggling to accept, however, is my weight. I don't like feeling so heavy when I run. I've been working hard to monitor and control my intake, while exercising regularly and strenuously, for almost 30 days now, and I've only lost 3 pounds. I was hoping for a more dramatic response to my behavior changes. I have 7 pounds yet to lose, and at this rate, it will be racing season before I drop those last few pounds, if at all! My jeans are fitting better, which is nice, but I'm still too self conscious to squeeze into my running attire. I'm not giving up on the process. It's just taking a lot longer than I had hoped.

My mood remains good. My life continues on its pleasantly boring track, just the way I like it. I've taken the opportunity to apply for a regular, benefited, physical therapy position, rather than working on-call without benefits as I currently do, at a new senior facility. I expect I will hear back from them soon, as I have the experience for which they are advertising. It's always exciting to pursue something new. I'll let you know if anything comes of my application. Spring forward and carry on, friends.



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