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!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

waiting...

In this last week before my marathon, a time when only marathon, marathon, marathon typically occupies my brain, I have only other thoughts. My friend Jeannie is still hanging on. I'm not surprised. She's one resilient lady. She is surrounded by family and friends 24 hours a day. Her CaringBridge site is inundated with gushing praise, love, admiration and support. She's touched and changed lives from coast to coast. Recovery will do that, and she is a shining example of what living The Twelve Steps can do. I will miss her.

Addendum: My friend Jeannie quietly passed away just before 1:00 PM today. There is a hole in the world which cannot be filled. Give 'em hell up there, Jeannie. Until we meet again...

Monday, September 29, 2008

What's important right now...

Just a note to say I'm sorry for the lack of posts recently. My friend Jeannie is dying. She's unconscious and has already been visited by her priest. Nothing else seems very important right now.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Getting Smacked Around by the Past--but still standing.

Ever have one of those days where the past smacks you in the face over and over again? I created one of those days today. I've been missing some important items for a few years, and I set out to find them today. Why have I been missing things? As I've remarked here previously, I had ECT treatments for my treatment-resistant depression. As a result, I lost my memory--totally--and therefore lost a few years of my life. I moved into this house right in the middle of that lost time period.

Today, I was looking for my marathon and track medals (for important reasons I won't get into here). I have 4 beautiful medals (3 gold and a bronze) from a 2002 international track meet in Sydney, Australia. Had no idea where they were, but I figured they were probably with my 7 marathon medals, which were also missing.

I was also searching for my wedding ring. It's true, I am no longer married, but that ring represents a beautiful time in my life. Besides, we designed them and had a jeweler hand craft them for our wedding. It had been so long since I had seen it, I was really afraid I might have accidentally thrown it away. In the end, I found all of the above, but I had to do a lot of digging to get there.

The digging became the problem. In the process of searching through my bedroom, I emptied some drawers containing lots of old writing and recovery stuff. There were folders full of crap from outpatient treatment, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, 12-step work, and multiple hospitalizations. The journal containing one of my suicide notes was under some books. I unearthed pictures of friends who used to be close but are now distant (ouch), family photos from relatives I no longer hear from, and even a picture of an old college flame. Ancient watches, jewelry, cards, and notes...everything meant something. Everything reminded me, usually painfully so, of a different time in my life. It was amazing. Even old, broken watches instantly transported me back to the days each watch dressed my wrist. It was an exhausting trip down memory lane. Divergent, wide-ranging feelings crowded my soul.

As if competing for supremacy, those multiple mixed-up feelings threatened to overwhelm me throughout the day. Sadness, hurt, disappointment, anger, loss, grief, gratitude, and cheer--each took center stage at one point or another. Deciding what to keep and what to throw also caused internal conflict. By the time I found what I was looking for I felt battered and bruised from the inside out. Yet, I also felt relieved.

Cleaning out some of the "trash" from the past, whether it was a sock, a key, a card, a piece of writing, or an entire program's folder, felt healing. Although reading some of my previous troubled writing was difficult, it also healed me. I felt grateful to no longer be in such a painful space. I was grateful for the difference between then and now. It reaffirmed the work I'd done and reinforced that I had improved. Some of the writing even filled in pieces of my lost years, which apparently were quite painful and filled with drink. It was quite clear, I didn't want to live.

In some ways, I'm amazed to be sitting here today feeling so different. Though not gone, my depression is different. Suicide, once a daily contemplation, now enters only occasionally, and it rarely feels like an option. Today, my writing reveals more control, less desperation and hopelessness. I am less a victim of a cruel, cruel world today. I am more willing to take responsibility for my care. Back then, I was certain I was doomed. There was no light ever coming my way. Today, I'm more accepting of the lows. I have more faith they will pass. And while I still don't wish depression on anyone, while depression still stops me in my tracks, I feel less helpless and more willing to do what I can within its temporary limits.

After my difficult trip through the past, it was nice to see I'd improved. Today, because of the work I've done and the help I've received, my life is better and easier. I am more functional. I am more accepting of myself and others. I've learned to take responsibility for my actions. I'm more tolerant, and I am significantly more spiritual. I'm not perfect, but now I'm okay with that. And I have gratitude today. I never had that in the past. Being able to function today was an example of these changes. I continued functioning despite a myriad of painful feelings and memories without hurting myself, lashing out at someone else, self-medicating or sleeping. That is not only an improvement, it's a miracle.

Thank you: D.E., K.L., A.A., Kim, Cindy and Bill, Mom and Bruce, running, and Puck. Thank you. I am so grateful to all of you.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

thinking wide awake

Up earlier than usual this morning after a restless night of restless sleep. Thinking, thinking, thinking...you know how it is.

Perhaps it was the sore shoulder which kept me awake. I've been putting off calling the doctor back, although clearly this pain has not gone away as we both had wished. I'm too busy now anyway.
Perhaps it was the right leg which ached with a bony pain. I've been worried about a stress fracture, yet hoped it would magically resolve like so many other running aches. Knowing it's too close to the marathon for me to pay attention to it yet, I'll continue wishing it away.
Perhaps it was the speaking issue I had yet to confront. No need, it had gone away for a time, but now it is back. Angry that I'd been too meek to address the person or the issue as I should have, when I should have, I beat myself up in my bed.
Perhaps it was thoughts of my dying friend and my inadequate response which had me rolling to and fro. I urged myself to take an action before it is too late.
The injustice of dying too soon reminded me of the injustice of living with an alcoholic mother. As happened yesterday, this situation sickened me, and I felt angry and tense. Yet, on this score, there is nothing I can do.
Perhaps snapping rudely at my own mother kept me awake thinking of the amends I needed to make. She pushes my buttons with her I'm-a-victim world outlook, catastrophizing even the smallest mistake as a personal, deliberate affront. Last night, the pizza order arrived incorrect. She just couldn't believe it! She just couldn't believe it! After a few minutes, I yelled, "Mom, let it go! It was a simple mistake. No big deal. It can be fixed." I wasn't wrong, but I could have said it with less force and disgust. Feeling ashamed has always kept me awake.
Perhaps it was the health care paperwork looming over my head. It irritates me that I have to go through a lengthy process every six months just to show the insurers nothing has changed. I should be grateful, and I am, but I hate the busy-work. It's overwhelming and time consuming, especially when I've got other stuff going on. But I have to do it. Soon.
Perhaps it was worrying about spending too little, and yet too much time on my blogs. I need to do so much more to improve my visiblility, but do I care? No matter what I do, I feel like I should be doing more--writing more, writing more in depth, publicizing more, reading more.
I'd do more, I thought, if my computer were faster and wireless, which brought me to another solution I had yet to take. I had the phone numbers of three computer techs looking for work, but I hadn't made one call. If I want simpler, more time-efficient blogging, I have to initiate computer repair.
Perhaps it was because I hadn't seen my doc in a couple weeks, and I won't see her for a couple more. That's not typical, and I feel like an idiot for having it effect me so. I guess it's part of my stability routine. Without that frequent connection, I seem to be "off." I'll call, I thought, as soon as the sun comes up.
Perhaps it was procrastination which kept me awake. Not taking actions where and when I'd been able kept spinning in my head. In AA we say take the next right action. It seemed, as I laid there awake thinking, there were many actions I had yet to take. It all boiled down to a lack of action. Lack of action kept me thinking wide awake.

Well, now that I've figured it out, I'll begin taking some action...
As soon as I'm done with my nap!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sad observations

This day could not be more beautiful. Bluer than blue skies, wispy white clouds, warm sun mixed with cool, dry air. It is a day to behold, an awesome and awe-inspiring day. Today reminds me I am but one minute particle in this enormous collage we call the world. I am so grateful. It's a beautiful day.

I picked her up from school. We said our hellos. She is quiet and shy. She often looks uncomfortable in her own, ever-changing skin. I remember... Thirteen is a tough age, especially for a girl. I wouldn't do it again if you paid me!

In this routine, now almost two years old, we've become comfortable with silence. Once in awhile I do try to engage, but silence is acceptable to both of us. Ten minutes later, I drop her at piano lessons, and 30 minutes after that, she's on her way to confirmation. As we pull into the church lot, I ask her if she knows who's picking her up, something I usually do but can't today. She says it's her mom, and in the following seconds, we share the unspoken dread. "You're going to call her when you're done, right," I ask? "Yes," she says, opening the door. "Good," I say. "That's a good idea." The too-wise-for-her-age smirk tells me she understands. We go our separate ways.

I arrive at her home 2 minutes later. She won't need to picked up for an hour, but I'm not confident mom will be prepared. I want to see. Is mom even awake? It's not typical, and as expected, today is no exception. Mom sometimes rallies for these once-in-a-blue-moon responsibilities. She's even bragged about "not drinking" on days where she has to go out, the occasional doctor's appointment or to pick a child up, but 4:30 PM is a long time for her to wait.

I doubt she did wait today. The empty bottles and cans are in their typical places. They could be from last night, but the darkened house, quiet except for the blaring TV, suggests more recent activity. I hang around to help the teenage son with some simple stuff--maybe 20 minutes at most. Yet, before I'm out the door, the phone begins to ring. It rings, and rings, and rings, pauses, and then rings, and rings, and rings again.

I hesitate. Is it her? Couldn't be, I just dropped her off. But what if it is? What if confirmation got canceled and she now needs that ride home? I never answer their phone, and I make no exception this time despite my concern. I exit. The ringing follows me out, stopping only when I close my car door and drive away.

I reassure myself by thinking it is probably dad on the phone. He's likely concerned, too. He's likely phoning from his office to remind mom of her upcoming responsibility. With each unanswered ring, I picture him becoming more and more agitated. He knows. She's either sleeping, or passed out, or just ignoring the phone. And why shouldn't she? If there is never a "hello" at the other end of the line, eventually dad will leave his office to fill-in. He'll walk blocks to his car and then drive halfway across town to fetch his daughter from a church which is only 1/2 mile from their home--the same home where mom is lying uncaring, or unconscious, or both in her bed.

I drive home feeling sick on a beautiful, beautiful day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What is Fair? Not Life.

A church I passed posed this question on it's sign, "What is fair?" I've been pondering that question ever since. I guess that's exactly what the church hoped would happen. What is fair? I've known since an early age that "life" was not the correct answer. Tonight, I was reminded of that with more clarity than I ever needed.
-------------------

My friend Jeannie is dying. My friend Jeannie, whom I know from the rooms of recovery, entered hospice today. My friend Jeannie was just diagnosed with inoperable, deadly, liver cancer a couple months ago. She may not make it to Christmas. My friend Jeannie is dying. Life is not fair.

My friend Jeannie is everyone's friend. She's one of those people who lights up a room. Rarely serious, she can always be counted on for a laugh. Even if the topic is dire or morose, Jeannie can find the giggle-points. Yet she is a wise, business-minded woman, too. Bold, and unconcerned with others opinions of her, she'll dance in the street or hug a perfect stranger. She'll also tell you exactly what she sees, whether you want to hear it or not. Her observations are almost always spot-on. It sounds so cliche, but of all the people on the planet, why this person? Why the woman so many of us humbly admired, asked for guidance, and looked to for perspective? Why her? And why so fast? Why so much pain? She doesn't deserve the apparently excruciating pain. Why? Why? Why?

I feel utterly and totally helpless. There is nothing I can do. This illness is taking her from us incomprehensibly swiftly. There is nothing any of us can do to stop it's malicious march. It will win. Jeannie will lose. We will all lose, and that is not fair. I want to sit with her, wrap her in my arms, and tell her how much I admire her. But I can't, and she likely has no idea. She is the picture of admirable recovery. We counted on her for that. What do you do when you can't do anything? What do I do?

My friend Jeannie is dying, and I haven't done a thing. I didn't realize how quick... I don't want to intrude. I don't feel I have the right to occupy any of her time. Family, close friends...I am not one of them. It feels selfish of me to even call. So I haven't done anything, and that feels bad, too. Bottom line--I don't want her to go. I don't want her to be in pain. I don't want her to die. But my friend Jeannie is dying, and there's not a thing I can do. I am so sorry, Jeannie. I am so, so sorry.
LIFE is not fair.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Running with Depression or Depression with Running

I can survive a tough, nasty, ugly run--like the one I had yesterday--because I've survived thousands of tough, nasty, ugly days of depression. The run yesterday didn't go well. It was not what I was expecting nor wanting from the last long run before my marathon. The GI distress had me stopped three times with little warning. I was unprepared for that. Figuring the gels I was consuming were the possible culprit, I stopped using them and paid the price. The last 3-4 miles were a full-on slog fest. My legs were heavy from lack of nutrition. My heart rate quickened. I lost my breath. There seemed no reason to move. My brain screamed for relief.

Just STOP! Just STOP! Who cares? It doesn't matter if you stop! Nobody will care if you stop!
Deafened by the cacophony, I kept moving. Run to the next mailbox. Okay. Now, just to that telephone pole, it's okay to stop once you get to that telephone pole. Okay. Just to the end of that building... One monument. One block. One foot at a time. I made it to the end--15.5 miles. I was dirty. I smelled. I hurt. But I was still standing. I persevered. I persevered, because, as a person with depression, I've learned to survive more than I ever thought I could.


I can survive a tough, nasty, ugly day of depression because I've survived thousands of tough, nasty, ugly runs. Depression interferes with my goals. Planned days or events don't go well. They don't turn out as I expected. My brain disturbance stops me without warning. I'm never prepared for that. Regardless of what I think may be the culprit, it always comes back to depression, and I pay the price. The fatigue, irrational thinking, and hopelessness transforms the day into a full-on slog fest. My legs get heavy from lack of purpose. My thoughts jumble and quicken into an irrational mess. I lose my breath. There seems no reason to move. My brain screams for relief.
Just STOP! Just STOP! Who cares? It doesn't matter if you stop! Nobody will care if you stop!
Deafened by the cacophony, I keep moving. Move one foot onto the floor. Okay. Now, just go to the kitchen and feed Puck. It's okay to stop once you feed Puck. Okay. Now, just go to the bathroom, it's okay to return to bed once you go to the bathroom. Okay. Now just eat something, anything. You don't have to do anything else once you eat something. Okay. How about putting on some clothes? Just change into one clean thing... One moment. One step. One foot at a time. I've made it to the end--through the hour, through the day, through the week--one foot at a time. I've been dirty. I've smelled. I've hurt. But I've remained standing. I've persevered. I've persevered, because, as a runner, I've learned to survive more than I ever thought I could.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Puck's BACK! Mom's happy!

Big News!!
Puck's running again! He's had trouble gaining full flexion in his reconstructed knee, which means he's also had trouble re-building the muscles in that leg. Last week, I thought he'd finally gained enough muscle (from consistent swimming) that he'd be able to handle running again. He was SOOOOO excited when I grabbed his leash! I could feel him smiling the entire run. He was especially happy to see all the squirrels were still scampering about the neighborhood! Now, if only mom would let go of the damn leash...just for a second!

We've run together 3 times. He's not in the shape either of us are used to, so I'm limiting him to 2-3 miles for now. He gets pooped, but his leg seems to be holding up just fine. He's happy. I'm happy. It's so nice to be running with my boy again.

I am forever grateful for my vet's skillful intervention. I am grateful Puck is able to resume living the life he was accustomed to living. And I am grateful to all of you for your encouragement, prayers and support. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Practicing Mindfulness On the Run

I've been feeling a bit restless, irritable and discontent lately. No particular reason. Just me being me. Me focusing too much on me, as my sponsor so nicely observed. Thanks, K. So on my run today, I practiced something I learned long ago but don't do often enough. In DBT it's referred to as mindfulness. It's a meditative technique which, when I practice it, helps me focus on something other than my own restlessness. Like I said, today I did it on my run.

Running meditation is probably the only way I'll ever succeed at meditating. Meditation doesn't sit well with me, because I rarely have the patience to sit and practice it. Sitting quietly in an attempt to meditate makes me more anxious! I've long since given up trying, even though it's supposed to be an integral part of my recovery program. Maybe someday I'll grow into it...

While running a hard workout today, however, I realized I was actually practicing a form of meditation--mindfulness. My training schedule called for a speed workout. Specifically, I was to run 10 reps of 1:30 hard followed by 1 minute recovery within my 7 mile run. One minute and thirty seconds of hard running doesn’t seem like a lot on paper, but you’d be amazed how long 1:30 lasts when you’re running hard, especially on reps 8, 9, and ten. To keep my mind off my increasingly heavy legs, burning lungs, and racing heart rate, I counted my steps.

Yup. Simple as that. I counted my steps. But again, it only sounds simple. With distracting traffic, pedestrians, the urge to look continually at my watch, my fast pace (i.e. counting very fast), AND heavy legs, burning lungs, and racing heart; counting from 1-300 got a bit more complicated. (Was I on 49 or 59?)

I found I really had to focus on the numbers, at times even visualizing them, or I quickly lost track of where I was. A few times, I found myself stuck on the same number repeatedly or jumping from 49 to 60 instead of 50. It was challenging. It was mindful. It kept me from focusing on my effort (read: pain!) and helped me through a tough run. It helped me get out of myself, and I felt very satisfied once done.

Maybe I’m not as hopeless as I thought. Maybe meditation isn’t such a far flung idea for me. Maybe meditation can be something other than sitting on a pillow chanting, “Ooohhhmmmm…” Maybe.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Not in the NFL!

Depression? Suicide? In the NFL? Among the manliest, most macho, testosterone-laden athletes on earth? Depression? Suicide? NO WAY!! NOT in the National Football League!!

HA! Try as I might, I have not been able to escape the hoopla surrounding Tennessee Titans quarterback, Vince Young. For those unaware, Young, a former star college QB who led his team to the national championship, and now the starting QB at Tennessee, played poorly a couple Sundays ago and was booed by the hometown fans. To make matters worse, he responded to the booing by "pouting" on the bench and refusing to go back into the game--this is the starting quarterback.

The next day, last Monday, Young's mother phoned the coach, Jeff Fisher, to report she was concerned about her son's mental state. She reported that he had left the house with a gun and without his cell phone. She had no idea where Young was, nor did any of his friends know his whereabouts. Fisher, the coach, called police and alerted them to the emergent situation. A search was begun, at which time this all became quite public. The SWAT team was mobilized, and the local psychiatric hospital was put on alert. The media was abuzz!

Young was eventually found at a local establishment watching Monday Night Football. Fisher and Young said it was "no big deal," and they were sorry things got blown out of proportion. However, the media soon reported that mom, coach, friends, and therapist had been concerned that Young was suicidal.

The therapist apparently told Fisher that Young sounded down and had "mentioned suicide" during a session that day. (Hello? Can you say confidential information??? Do NFL players not have privacy rights?) Fisher, in the midst of the search for Young, relayed this confidential(?) tidbit to the MEDIA! Brilliant! So...far from "no big deal," there obviously was significant concern for Young's safety.

It appears, if Young is to be believed, that this really was an overblown reaction initiated by his worried mother. Unfortunately for Young, he's an NFL football player. Overblown or not, once this circus began there was no possibility his casual reaction would bring it to a stop. Suicide, depression, poor performance--all too juicy for the media to abandon.

I cringed. From the moment of the first reports, my heart sank. "Here we go again," I thought. Being a fan of the macho sports, I've listened to my fair share of macho men analyze, critique, and postulate about every facet of every game. Now they had something new to sink their teeth into, something they clearly knew absolutely nothing about. But while the sports commentators had to maintain at least a modicum of political correctness, I knew fans (sometimes better described as idiots) would be held to no such standard. Vince was about to get bashed, and bashed he did get.

It wasn't until today, in preparation for writing this post that I actually looked at some of the sports page message boards. I could leave you with tons, but I've chosen just one recent retort. I think this one succinctly sums up the lack of knowledge of and the stigma surrounding mental illness in America:

Wow Titan fans....it must really suuuuck to have to debate on whether a washed-up has-been achoholic that's been rejected by almost every team in the league, OR a psycho headcase that NEVER WAS should be your QB!
If people in Tennessee had any brains or common sense (what and I am thinking to even say that!), they would've drafted their homeboy Jay Cutler instead of Psycho Young!---comment courtesy of MSN member, ElwayTheGreat.


Thanks, dude, for your insightful, compassionate summary of Kerry Collins (the "washed-up has-been alcoholic), Vince Young, and the current situation in Tennessee.
Enough said.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The best laid plans...

It was supposed to be 18, but everyone else was doing 20. I did 20 last week, but everyone else was doing 20 now, today. Oh...all right. I did 20, too. Wait, actually, I did 21. Yup, that's right. I ran 21 miles yesterday.

That wasn't exactly the plan, but I've never been really fond of plans anyway. I planned to run 18 yesterday. I planned to run my last 20-miler next week. Plans are overrated.

I've never run more than 20 miles in training before, and even after I changed the plan and became a conformist, I still wasn't planning on 21--only 20. But, like I said, plans are overrated. The course was a bit off, therefore everyone ran 21 or even 22 miles. I guess someone else had trouble planning, too.

In the end, my GPS read 20.8 miles. Allow me to round up, please. I'm going with 21. Not bad. The marathon is 3 weeks from today. Despite my shortened training program, I've got both 20-milers done with time to spare. I can now taper for the next three weeks, which is my typical taper time frame. I'm feeling okay, too. It's good. It's all good right now. That's a nice change of pace.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years ago today, 09/11/01

I had just arisen. It was a beautiful, fall, Tuesday morning. As a full-time PT who worked four ten hour shifts, I always looked forward to my Tuesday's off. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, as I opened the back door to allow Puck to escape. Wandering sleepily back into the kitchen, I clicked on the counter top TV. I had just straightened up after fetching Puck's rations from a bottom cabinet when something surreal flashed before my eyes. "What the," I asked aloud? I turned up the volume. The Good Morning America hosts--apparently I hadn't taken the time to flip to SportsCenter yet--were similarly dumbfounded. I stood there frozen, Puck's food in hand, as we all tried to figure out what we'd witnessed. They, horrified in a New York studio, and me, horrified in a small Midwestern kitchen, hungry dog yipping at the door; we all waited and wondered. It was 8:02 AM central time.

The replay came, and it was all too clear. A plane had just flown directly into the south tower of the World Trade Center, live, on national television. Horrifying scenes of Columbine, which also occurred on a Tuesday, flashed through my brain. Sirens, screams, gasps, and silence followed--TV hosts silent, without words. Tears filled my eyes. I couldn't leave the TV. There I was in my bright, sunny, serene kitchen holding my dog's food in my hands. It was a beautiful, fall day, and I was witnessing over 2000 people from 80 countries dying right before my eyes. It is a moment I will never forget.

Today, I am flying my American flag in honor and remembrance of the tens of thousands of lives needlessly shattered by hate. Join me. Pray for compassion. Pray for tolerance. Pray for peace.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The tired and sleepy dilemma

Writing here has been difficult lately, as I have been struggling with fatigue, or more definitively, somnolence. My doc and I have slowly figured out that one of the major causes of my slower-than-normal running pace is a significantly increased heart rate. Recently, we realized the culprit behind the increased heart rate was one of my most beneficial medications. It is a med I take primarily for fatigue. Fatigue became a crippling symptom of my depression about 2-3 years ago. This med, once I started it, changed my life. I was able to function again.

One significant piece of my functioning life is running and racing. I am a runner. It is part of my identity. I have been incredibly frustrated over the past couple years with my running, as no matter how well-trained I've been, I have not been able to come near my past running performances. Not only that, but running paces that would have been "too slow" just a couple years ago have been painful, breathless, slogs since.

Fortunately and unfortunately, we now realize this fatigue medication is the culprit. It's main side effect for me (and another female runner my doc treats) is an increased heart rate. For a runner, increasing the resting heart rate is tortuous! It's akin to being totally out of shape despite thousands of hours and hundreds of miles of training! I've been breathless and unable to move my body any faster at what used to be a mundane pace. It's been very frustrating.

Fortunately, figuring out that it is the medication causing the problem means the problem is easily fixable. Decrease the medication! And that's what we've been doing over the past 4-6 weeks. Decreasing the med didn't seem to cause an increase in fatigue initially. Unfortunately, it also did not decrease my heart rate nor facilitate improved running tolerance.

We decreased the medication again about 10-14 days ago. Low and behold, I just completed a breakthrough running week! I saw almost miraculous improvements in my running pace and tolerance! Unfortunately, I've also begun to re-experience some days, like yesterday, where I've not been able to wake-up nor stay awake. Days, like yesterday, where I've run and run well, but otherwise slept almost as many hours as I was awake. The med decrease improved my running life, as I wished. But what about the rest of my life?

What do I do? Do I increase the med, which will increase my heart rate and slow my running again leaving me frustrated and non-competitive? Do I stay on the decreased med, run fast, which improves my self-esteem and confidence, but otherwise struggle to function due to debilitating fatigue? I don't know. I don't know.

I'm worried. I don't want to have to make this decision, and maybe I won't have to after all. There are other possibilities for the present fatigue. I don't have to figure it all out today, right? I pray I don't have to figure it out at all. The dilemma feels impossible. Do I take more of the med and improve my life, or do I take less of the med and improve my life? I pray I don't have to decide.

What would you do?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

another tired, sleepy day...

I'm a little worried. You see, my excellent run this weekend may have been due in part to a decrease in one of my medications. It is a med I take for fatigue. Today, I had another sleep-filled, heavy, dragging day. I did run my scheduled ten-miler, but otherwise I slept almost as many hours as I was awake. I'm barely hanging on now despite all that sleep. So, I'm a little worried. Running faster may equal being more fatigued. I really, really hope not, but I'm a little worried.

More on this tomorrow...I gotta get to bed!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

20, 20, 20 MILES!!

I ran 20 miles yesterday.
I ran 20 miles yesterday, and I can still walk today.
I ran 20 miles yesterday, and the last 14 miles were all under 9 minutes per mile. I wasn't trying to do that. It just happened. To qualify for Boston, I need to run 8:47 per mile for 26.2 miles. As of yesterday, I am feeling a whole lot better about my chances to do just that! Although, even as I write that statement, I cringe; 8:47 per mile would have been a cake walk a few years back.

Stop it! Stop it! Stop focusing on that! Let go of the past! Shut-up, shut-up, shut-up! Focus on this huge achievement and what it means today, you doh-doh!

Okay, I'm back. Sorry about the interruption. Yesterday...
I hadn't intended to run that fast. I had a pit-stop (and I don't mean for coffee) around 3 miles that put me well behind the running group. I spent the next 10 miles trying to catch everyone else and make it to the water stops before the volunteers closed shop. By 5 miles in, my "catch-up pace" sort of morphed into my relaxed pace. I knew I was running "too fast" for a long, slow, distance run, but I was comfortable, so I went with it.
I stopped looking at my watch and let my body dictate the pace. I rarely knew what mile I was running. I never knew my pace, or how long I had been running. I ran alone the entire way. It was a beautiful, cool and sunny day. I just let my body go. What a relief! I was free.
These are the moments we runners agonize, sweat and suffer for--moments when our legs feel strong, our minds let us go, and our lungs are just along for the ride. When I finished, I could barely believe my eyes. I averaged just over 9 minutes per mile for the entire distance and finished in just over 3 hours. I even felt relatively fresh. It was a good run. It was a good day. And I'm really, really happy about it!

The marathon is less than 4 weeks away.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Your comments keep me going!

Thank You!!!

I want to take this moment to thank ALL of you who have ever commented on this blog. If you do not write a blog, you may not realize how nice it is to get a comment! Lately, I've been struggling with motivation. I've been questioning my purpose. It's classic depression crap, but that doesn't make it less bothersome or real. Your comments help me cope with the crap.

Submitting a comment lets me know I've touched someone outside my miserable self. When you comment, I learn a bit about "you," and what you need, want, or appreciate. Comments let me know that I've connected with you, and for that instant my writing fulfilled the intended purpose. Maybe something I wrote made a small difference in your day--that's always rewarding to hear. Maybe a post helped you think about something in a little different way--positive or negatively--and that, too, is satisfying. Maybe something you read helped begin a discussion with others in the real world. That's very cool.

Depression is such a silent illness, maybe reading my blog is the only time you "talk" about it. I always hope I've caught at least one person like that. I want to offer support and relief. I want readers to know, "You are not alone." And when you submit a comment, you also tell me I am not alone. Your comments help me because my depression is isolating. It is often a silent, solitary illness for me, too.

Your comments keep me going when I want to stop. They keep me connected when I think I want to be alone. They instigate a smile, a laugh, or a bright moment in my day. I appreciate your opinions, your feedback, and your experience. Your comments support me, and I appreciate them more than I can express.

So, thank you! Thank you for taking a moment to read my pondering. Thank you for expressing your point of view. Thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope with me and all the other readers here. Thank you.
Thank you.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

a disinterested life

I've been having a really difficult time motivating to do anything or caring about anything other than running and sleeping lately. I began noticing it a few days ago. I sat down to write several times only to get up and walk away. As I stated in my last post, it's not unusual for life to get a bit unbalanced at this point in a marathon training program. This seems different, however. Yes, I am a bit out of balance--necessarily so--but is that the reason for my lethargy? I don't know, but I don't want to do anything, and most of the time, I don't even care.

I don't care too much about how I look. I don't want to shower. I don't want to cook. I haven't cleaned my house--not pretty when you have a shedding dog! I don't want to go out. I've missed some of my meetings. I don't want to write, and worse, sometimes I don't even care about this blog. My brain tells me to forget about it. What's the point? It's just another thing I
don't want to do. Lack of motivation scares me. Lack of caring...that's terrifying.

Disinterest scares me because lack of motivation usually signals impending doom, i.e. depression. If I get to the point of not caring, well, that's worse. So I'm choosing to interpret my recent disinterest as a result of running lots and lots of miles. But I am worried, and worried doesn't do me any good either. That's why I'm writing it down. Often saying this crap out loud turns things around. Let's hope that's the case this time, too.

I'll let you know.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

tired, tired, tired

busy, busy, busy leads to tired, tired, tired...apparently. yesterday, after briefly getting up to attend to Puck, I slept until Noon! I didn't get much done after getting up, either. every piece of my physical being felt weighted with lead. by 3:00, I needed another nap! after 2 more hours of sleep, I forced myself from my bed, but to no avail. I may have been standing, but neither my mind nor my body was awake. an entire day swallowed by fatigue.

I mentioned training for a marathon takes a ton of time. it may seem obvious, but I failed to mention it takes a ton of energy, too. I need to be very careful during this time. one step too many, and more days like yesterday will descend. one step--that's how it feels. it's like that old game, "Don't Spill the Beans" where each player piles a single bean on top of the precariously balanced kettle. bean number 9 might be fine, but bean number 10 empties the pot.

maybe sunday's mile 15.99 was my ninth bean, but mile 16 emptied my monday pot. or maybe it was the fact that I was busier than usual over the weekend. maybe those couple extra hours of work were enough to skew the balance, I don't know. with depression, life is a precarious balancing act. throwing marathon training into the pot makes it even more tipsy.

endurance training with depression requires extra vigilance. everything I do, I scrutinize. how will eating that food fuel my next run? will it help or hurt? if I have my coffee now, will I be able to run, or should I run now, risk getting a headache, and then have coffee? I have to do 20 miles this weekend, should I run saturday and work sunday or the other way around? if I run 20 miles at 7:00, will I have enough recovery time before the meeting? should I skip the meeting so I don't have to worry about it? you get the idea. everything I do I filter through my training needs.

this scrutiny may not be any different than that of normie marathoners. even normie runners are fatigued right now. this point in the training program, four to six weeks prior to the goal marathon, is always fatiguing. the long runs are really long (I really do have to run 20 miles this weekend) and the short runs are no longer short. my legs are constantly tired, and I rarely feel recovered prior to my next run. motivation is difficult. this seems true whether a normie runner or not.

the difference for me, a non-normie, is a day like yesterday may have dire consequences. a day of overwhelming fatigue and functional inability can drag me into the abyss. depression can cause fatigue, but unfortunately fatigue can also trigger my depression. that one extra bean, which upsets my balance, results in a bad run or even a bad day--as happened yesterday. unfortunately, that bad day may cascade into a full-scale emptying of my pot. barren days, weeks, or months could follow. it's tricky. days like yesterday scare the crap out of me. I am not a normie. I must be vigilent. balance is key, but training for a marathon intensifies and complicates that necessity.



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