Wow! PsychCentral, one of the most comprehensive mental health sites on the web, has included me in their list of Top Ten Depression Blogs for 2010! Once again, I am honored and humbled by this recognition. I really can't believe it. I dreamt of writing a blog about depression for several years before taking the blind leap and starting this one. I'm now about to complete my third year of writing here. It's been a labor of love, but I never imagined being officially recognized for my work! Thank you, PsychCentral. Thank you.
Depression Marathon Blog
- 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!
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
It's hard to believe. Today is the day. Five years ago today, I realized I couldn't stop. Today is the day. Five years ago today, I couldn't continue living with it. Today is the day. Five years ago today, I couldn't imagine living without it. Today is the day. Five years ago today, all other options had been explored. Today is the day. Five years ago today, all other options had failed. Today is the day. Five years ago today, I finally had enough. Today is the day. Five years ago today, I finally gave up. Today is the day. Five years ago today, I quit drinking. Today... I've been sober five years. Today.
It's hard to believe. When I quit, I didn't think I could do it. In fact, I was hanging on so tightly, so desperately, I have no memory of sobriety days one through three. On December 31st, 2005, I guess I woke up. I remember that day vividly. I couldn't believe I hadn't drank in three, whole days! It was my first taste of relief.
It's hard to believe the relief has continued this long. It hasn't been particularly easy. It hasn't been particularly difficult. It's been what it's been. And that's a gift of my program of recovery. I've learned to live one moment at a time and one day at a time. I've learned to accept life's ups and downs without dwelling on either one. Mood stability has gone hand in hand with my sobriety. It's another gift of working a recovery program in all of my affairs. The relief has expanded to many areas of my life.
Since recovery, I've been more successful in all aspects of my life. They say stick around until the miracle happens. I'm beginning to see the miracles in my life. I now have successful relationships, successful employment, and successful health and well-being. Sobriety has cleared the way for these successes--each a miracle when compared against my life five years ago today.
Life began anew when I set down that last drink. Working my recovery program has changed my life. Once suicide was the only option I could see, but today I lead a life worth living, and that in and of itself is the biggest miracle of all. I am so grateful to be sober today.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Happy Holidays to everyone! I hope you all spent time with people you love. However, as I noted in my last post, I know that's sometimes an issue for those of us with mental illness. For a variety of reasons, we may spend this holiday of all holidays alone. As for me, I had time with friends, but I also spent a lot of time alone.
For me, the last two days were, in many ways, nothing more than normal days. I ran. I biked. I cleaned my house. I went to my AA meeting. I did my laundry. I watched television. I went grocery shopping. I updated Facebook. I listened to NPR. Normal days...
For a variety of reasons, I didn't see family. I didn't open presents. I didn't have a house full of people. Christmas eve, in particular, was a very long day. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a little sorry for myself.
After working out, cleaning, doing some laundry, and grocery shopping, there was nothing left to do. My friends were spending time with their family. My family was silent from afar. The special-ness of the day was evident everywhere I went--from the excited families and lovers last minute shopping in Walmart, to the extra cars with far away license plates crowding my street. I began to feel very, very sad.
I got dressed up and went to church that evening. It was a beautiful service, but again, it was impossible not to feel very, very alone. I sat in the back. There was one other woman, apparently alone as well, sitting in my pew. Before me the church was filled with smiling extended families. I was envious. Perhaps it would have been better not to go, yet sitting alone at home wouldn't have felt good either. I left the service feeling a strange combination of celebration and sadness.
I teared up as I got into my car. I could have gone home and really let the sadness overtake me, but I dialed my phone instead. When Cindy answered my voice broke. "Why don't you come over here," she said? And so I did. I collected Puck, put on some sweats, and headed back out the door. For a moment, I had stood on the precipice of the hole, but thankfully I didn't jump in. I'm so glad I made that call.
Yesterday was another normal day until dinner, at which time Puck and I headed out again. Bill and Cindy made a lovely dinner, we chuckled our way through A Christmas Story, and we lounged around listening to Christmas tunes together. A nice, relaxed time was had by all.
It was Christmas, and ultimately, I spent my time with the family I love, the family who knows me best, and the family with whom I can most be myself. That was my Christmas. I hope you, too, found your family over these past two days. I hope you did what you needed to do to keep yourself safe and healthy. Happy Holidays, my friends.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Darkness is settling in and it's only 4:30 PM. The winter solstice has passed, and the days are actually getting longer, but obviously that's not noticeable yet. The street lights are just beginning to flicker. It's winter.
Tomorrow, I've almost got no choice. I'm going to do my long run, and I'm going to have to begin amongst the darkness to get it done. Seventeen miles. I don't think I can do that indoors. It's just too much. I'm hoping for a bright sunrise, clear pathways and mild temperatures! What do you think? Asking too much? I'm being optimistic--and I've got my headlight ready!
I know this can be a tough time of year for many of us, especially those with depression. The darkness and the stress of the holidays are universal, but perhaps we're more acutely aware or affected. Perhaps we've been separated from our family and friends because of our illness. Loneliness seems to intensify during the holiday season. Whatever your reason, if this is a difficult time of year for you, please hang in there. The stress will abate. The darkness will pass. Be patient. Wait for the light. It will be here soon.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
It's almost my birthday. Another year gone by, another number added to my age... I'm not really thrilled about it. I'm not too fond of this aging thing. I think it reminds me, again, of my lost decade. I have all the thoughts about not being where I wanted to be at this point in my life. All of those depression resentments resurface. And each advancing year feels like I have less and less time to get where I already thought I'd be. I'm trying to let tomorrow be a special day, but all of this garbage successfully sneaks in, too.
I'm attacking the garbage, and trying to make a special day, by throwing myself a little dinner party with a bunch of sober friends. So far I've got 10 on the guest list. I don't think I've had 10 people in one place to celebrate me since I graduated from high school! We're going to a slightly fancy local restaurant with nice atmosphere. I'm really looking forward to it!
I think I'll bring my newly purchased birthday present to dinner tomorrow night. I bought myself a new digital camera this afternoon. I had a couple of Best Buy gift cards, so old I couldn't remember when I got them, so I bought myself a Sony Cybershot. It's half the size of my current digital camera, which is exactly what I wanted. I'm excited to try it out.
New toys, old friends...I'm going to have a good day. Happy Birthday to me.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Someone with significant depression told me today that they couldn't relate to my blog because I was doing too well. That made me sad. I'm still sad about it. And I must confess, it is something I've worried about recently. What do I do?
I started this blog to support people with depression and to educate others about depression. When I started this blog I wasn't doing all that well. I was occasionally well, but my depression was ever present. As the years passed, the balance shifted. Now I'm well more often than not. My episodes into the black hole continue, but they are shorter-lived and less frequent. Make no mistake, I'm thrilled about that. It's what I wanted. It's what I worked hard to achieve. And while I'm certain I can still use this blog to educate, can I offer support when those in the black hole can't relate?
I'm sad that those I intend to assist cannot relate to my story, but I understand. I remember being there. I know the only books about depression I ever read are the ones that tell it like it is--the ones that explore the depths, describe their experiences within the black hole, and detail the darkness. I get it. It makes me sad that some can't draw inspiration from where I'm at now, but I totally get it.
Those of you who've been around awhile know I've explored, described and detailed those dark experiences in this blog, but many of those posts are long in the past. One would have to search to find them, but they are here. My hope is writing about how I'm doing now, which is well more often than not, would inspire and/or give hope to some sufferers. But again, I understand how it may have the opposite effect as well. I've been there!
I'm not sure what to do about this. Recently, I contemplated discontinuing my blog for this very reason, but I got a lot of feedback to keep going. I want to help. I want to be a safe haven for fellow sufferers of this illness. I'm sad this person isn't reading, but I'm not sure there's anything I can do.
Realistically, I know I can't be everything for everyone. Realistically, this blog helps me as much or more than it helps you. I don't think it's a coincidence that three years after starting here, I'm doing very well. I thought again today about discontinuing my writing, but I'm going to continue. Many of you have told me I'm making a difference, and I appreciate that feedback. Thank you. I hope I can continue to provide something for someone.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
We're having a beautiful blizzard today! The snow is fluffy and deep. It's a perfect day to hunker down in pajamas, sip some warm cocoa, and then take a long nap, which is what I plan to do as soon as I finish my laundry. Unfortunately, I guess this beautiful snow is to be followed by near record low temperatures. I'm not so fond of those.
I had intended to do my long run outside this morning, but the depth of the snow meant I couldn't keep a decent pace. So I headed to the gym and galloped on the treadmill for 90+ minutes. Yuck. My effort always feels greater when I run on the treadmill. And my legs were tired today. I'm sure I'm still feeling the effects of the marathon.
I'm still glowing from the marathon, too. I'm going to hang onto that glow for as long as it will carry me. Why not, right? I'm glowing so brightly I can't wait to do it again! Austin can't get here soon enough. I just hope I can do most of my training outside.
Life is running along quite smoothly, and I like that. Days like these make depression feel like a distant memory. I like that, too. It's funny, because I've been discussing my depression a lot lately. Whether it's been reconnecting with old friends, meeting new people, or just ending up in discussions about mental illness, my depression has been a hot topic. I find it hard to impress upon people how debilitating depression is when I'm feeling so well, but I'll take that dilemma over feeling like crap any day of the week! Wouldn't you?
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.--Epictetus
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I'm still glowing, albeit quite stiffly, post marathon. Here's the story.
The weather forecast called for temps in the 30's at the start, with sunshine and mid-50's predicted for most of the race. Based on that, my friend Kate and I both went with tank-tops, shorts, arm warmers, and gloves. Unfortunately, there was a 10-15 mph wind, and thin clouds kept the sun from warming the air. It was cold! Huddling at the start, I knew I was in trouble. My teeth were chattering, my arms, hands and legs were freezing, and I couldn't get warm no matter how much I jumped around. I enviously gawked at all of the runners around me who had remembered extra, throw-away layers or garbage bags to block the wind and retain their body heat.
Fortunately, after standing there freezing for 30 minutes, a woman in front of me began to remove one of her long-sleeve shirts. She was about to toss it aside when I desperately stopped her. She graciously gave me the shirt, and I couldn't put it on quickly enough. Ahhh... I was still freezing, but I was immediately relieved.
I ended up wearing that throw-away shirt for the entire race, as I never did totally warm up. The cold wind just wouldn't allow it. Without that shirt, I doubt I would have finished this marathon. I likely would have dropped out due to hypothermia. The shirt is now in my laundry, and I figure I'll use it as throw-away garb at my next marathon. It's obviously got some good ju-ju! (If the woman who lent me the pale yellow, hi-tech, long sleeve, Austin race shirt is reading this...THANK YOU!)
With 27,000 runners, the waiting time at the start was significant. Like I said, I stood in my starting corral for at least 30-45 minutes. Once running, it was slow going due to the crowds. My first mile was my slowest, but things thinned out fairly early. The race wound through downtown and some Dallas neighborhoods (with some of the largest homes I've ever seen) before heading out to White Rock Lake (and even bigger homes). The lake would have been the highlight if it had been warmer, but instead we were exposed to the cold wind for 5-7 miles. I was happy to get back into the city.
From the beginning, I felt good. That's atypical for me, as I'm usually very slow to warm up. I typically have several miles of feeling like the pace is too fast. But this time, I was running fast and feeling good. I actually forced myself to slow down through miles 6-8, as I let my worry about the quick pace get the best of me. In retrospect, I wish I had had more of a plan going into the race, but I really didn't know what to expect. By mile nine, despite my best efforts, I had sped up again. This time, I decided to just go with it. I'm so glad I did.
I went through the half in 1:49:30. It was then that I realized I was on sub 3:40 pace. Again my brain was nudging worry in my way, but I tried to avoid it. It wasn't until after the halfway point, and after I reeled off 5-6 sub 8:20 miles, that qualifying for New York even entered my mind. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be in such a position.
After exiting the lake, we hit a few long, but not-too-steep, hills around miles 21-23. I had heard it was all downhill to the finish from there. I could hear the 3:40 pace team behind me. I still felt good, so I went. My last 6 miles were the fastest by far. I averaged 8:11 per mile over the last quarter of the race. Otherwise, my best quarter was an 8:17 average. I was passing people left and right, and I felt like I was flying. It was hard. It hurt. But it was so doable, I couldn't believe it.
According to the race website, I passed 137 people, men and women, in the last quarter of the race, while only 4 people passed me. What a cool stat! I went through mile 24 in 3:20. I thought then that I had New York licked. After all, I was running 8 minute pace, and I had 18 minutes to get to the finish. Unfortunately, we re-combined with the finishing half-marathoners with about 1.5 miles left to go. Suddenly the road was clogged with thousands of walkers and joggers.
I made my way through the crowds as fast as my rapidly tightening legs would allow. With just a few hundred yards to the finish, I looked at my watch and realized in horror that I had less than 30 seconds to get to the promised land! Sprinting and dodging people, I gave it everything I had. Passing under the finish arch, I stopped my watch. 3:38:06.
I'm so proud of my accomplishment. I ran a personal best. My previous best was run more than 8 years ago, and I hadn't come close to it since! Yet those 6 seconds leave a bitter taste in my mouth. On the other hand, now I know what to expect from myself. With The Austin Marathon just 2.5 months away, I've got another chance to run fast. And this time, I'll go in with a plan--a plan that will not include panic if I'm running fast.
Here are my splits, for those of you who like such stats: 8:47, 8:21, 8:16, 8:20, 8:12, 8:29, 8:29, 8:28, 8:17, 8:07, 8:07, 8:19, 8:20, 8:18, 8:23, 8:17, 8:10, 8:18, 8:22, 8:15, 8:27, 8:33, 8:08, 8:00, 8:02, 7:58, 7:35. (My sprint to the line was at 6:30 pace!) Overall, I finished 10th out of 271 women in my age group, and in the top 100 of over 1700 female finishers. That, too, is pretty cool. I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity and this experience.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I ran a 3:38:06!
That's an unbelievable personal best! I wasn't expecting that.
Unfortunately, despite sprinting for the finish line, I missed qualifying for The New York City Marathon by 6 measly seconds.
But I did run a personal best!
Friday, December 3, 2010
After an uneventful flight, I arrived in Dallas. I'd never been to Texas before. So far it looks a lot like Minnesota except it's sunny and 70 degrees! It was below 10 degrees when I left home this morning. The sun and warmth feels really good. Thankfully, it won't be this sunny and warm on Sunday, though. The forecast calls for lows in the 30's and a high of 55 degrees. Perfect!
After I pick up my number at the expo tomorrow morning, I'm hoping to see the Historic West End. It's only a couple of miles from where I'm staying. The area includes the spot where JFK was assassinated. I'd like to see more than that, but staying off my feet is more important.
I actually wish the race was tomorrow. I'm anxious to get going. This will be the largest marathon I've ever run. I think there are something like 22,000 runners! Yikes! It will be interesting to be among that many moving people. I'll let you know what happens. Wish me luck!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Our first very cold day today. According to my car's temp readout, I don't think it ever reached 20 degrees. At least the sun was out. That was nice. But now it's dark outside. I don't like the early darkness at all. It's getting more and more difficult for me as I age, I think. It's especially tough on my mood. I don't want to go outside when it's like this, which means I don't get as much exercise or even fresh air. And that's also tough on my mood. I feel like going to bed, and it's only 6:30 PM!
I can't go to bed, though, as I need to ride a little yet tonight. I was going to go to the gym, but again, it's tough for me to go out in this weather. I guess I'll pull my stationary bike in front of the television and ride at home for awhile. I usually like tapering for my marathons, but I'm feeling restless and anxious this time. Hopefully getting on the bike will help.
It's hard to believe I'll be in Dallas on Friday. The marathon is Sunday. I feel ready. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to run the race hard or just for fun. I think I will probably race it. My training went well, and I feel like I'm in good shape. I don't think I ran enough miles to run a personal best or anything, but it would be fun to re-qualify for Boston. I'd have to finish under 3:50 to do that.
A few thoughts before I sign off: Did anyone notice that Major League Baseball's American League and National League MVPs both had mental illness and/or substance abuse histories? ESPN talking about depression and alcoholism... That was refreshing!
Did anyone else notice that Dorothy Hamill is now doing TV commercials to raise money, as a cancer survivor, for cancer? I wonder why she never did that, as a depression survivor, for mental illness? Too bad.
The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.--Author unknown
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Wow...I don't know what's gotten into me, but I've had a very productive couple of days! After a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with my friends, I've spent the last two days cleaning and reorganizing my house. This is not normal for me! But thank God I finally got a burr in my saddle and got going.
The biggest accomplishment was getting my basement re-stocked. I had to empty it out in order for the renovation to begin last spring. Unfortunately, that meant I had to fill up my garage with all the of the basement stuff. I've not been able to use my garage since last spring. With the snow beginning to fly, emptying my garage had taken on new urgency. And so I tackled it...finally!
It's amazing what you can do when you live alone. I was certain emptying my garage and carrying heavy things back into the basement was a two person job. It wasn't. By the time I had finished doing what I could do, I only had three things for which I needed a hand. My friend Bill obliged, and we took care of the remaining heavy items.
One funny note about this whole process. I've been toting around an extremely heavy, non-operable treadmill for the past 6-7 years. It needed a new motor, but I never bothered to get one. Finally, with the help of Bill and his daughter, we got the damn thing out of my house and to the curb. I put a free sign on it, noting of course that it needed a new motor. It sat there overnight, so yesterday I called my garbage company and scheduled a Monday pick-up. Five minutes later I looked outside, and it was gone! Thank you! I hope whomever took it puts it to good use.
Speaking of treadmills, I had to do my 8-mile tempo run indoors on Thursday. I hated it, but it was just too damn cold. It was almost as cold yesterday for my final long run before Dallas, but I went outdoors anyway. I stayed in the woods and let Puck run free. It's so much easier to run when I can focus on him and his happiness. Plus, he can run so much further when he's off leash. We did 6 miles together before I dropped him at home and finished alone. I only had to do 10 miles, and the sun was shining, so that was nice. Dallas is seven days away!
Well I'm off to church. I'm sampling a new venue. I need a little more spirituality than my current church provides. Then it's off to the pool for a nice recovery swim before I settle in for some afternoon football. Perhaps I'll even begin organizing that basement full of stuff. If I do, someone better take my temperature, because that would be unusually productive!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
My gratitude list:
--I am grateful for my health, yes even my mental illness and alcoholism. After all, both diseases played a role in creating the person I am today, and today I'm pretty okay with who I am.
--I am grateful for my friends. Even though I tend to be an isolative person, I do have some incredible friends who make me smile, and laugh, and support me no matter what.
--I am grateful for my mom and step-dad. They also support me no matter what, and I enjoy spending time with both of them.
--I am grateful for the rest of my family. Despite our dysfunctional moments, they are still my family and I love them.
--I am grateful for my job. In these tough times, I have a job I love, and I work with people I really enjoy.
--I am grateful to be a runner. I am grateful for the motivation, strength, and ability I possess, as well as the opportunity to compete.
--I am grateful for my dog, Puck. What else is there to say? I don't know what I'd do without him. He completes my family.
--I am grateful for my home. Especially on days like this--colder than cold outside--I am lucky to have a warm, comfortable place of my own.
--I am grateful for the ability to care for myself. I think those of us who've temporarily lost this ability are the only ones who'd even think to add this to a gratitude list.
--I am grateful to be sober. Without sobriety, I wouldn't be able to effectively take care of myself, or more likely, I'd be dead.
--I am grateful for my sponsor, my social worker, my doctor and my psychologist. Without their expertise, kindness, and care, my life likely would have ended long ago.
--I am grateful for this blog and my readers. This space has routinely kept my illness at bay, propped me up when I was down, and opened my life to a world beyond typical boundaries.
I'm sure I'm forgetting a multitude of things for which I'm grateful. This list will likely grow. It will change as I change. Gratitude is a very fluid thing, and I appreciate the ability to feel it.
Today is a great day to reflect. I'll spend the day with close friends, in a warm home, eating delicious food and watching football. What could be better than that? I'm grateful. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Monday, November 22, 2010
If you've been following along, you know my brain has been a bit off lately. First I had screwed up thinking. That was followed by a precipitous dive in my mood, which scared the crap out of me! Well, I'm feeling a tiny bit better. My thinking has cleared, and my mood has elevated slightly, but it's still low.
It's nice not having screwed up, racing, nor intrusive thoughts, but my low mood is disturbing. Like I said, it is a little better. But of course I want it to be all better. I find I'm growing more impatient with these low mood episodes. Actually, my doctor pointed that out to me. She said she sensed I had an urgency to get through this. She was right. I was in a bit of panic mode, which was not helping at all!
I'm not sure what the urgency is about. Cognitively, I know this episode will pass. They always have in the past, and there is no reason to think this time will be any different. I know that. Yet I was pressuring myself to get better immediately. And I was fearful that if I didn't get better immediately, something big and tragic would happen. Strange.
My tolerance for feeling low seems to have decreased dramatically. I was feeling worried and shameful about that, but my psychologist put a positive spin on it for me. She said it made sense that I'd be more intolerant, as I spend much more time feeling good, rather than bad, these days. Hmmm...I think she's on to something. Feeling low is the exception rather than the rule. Now that is a nice thought.
This too shall pass.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Ten years. Gone. Finished. Over. It's now been one decade since depression stole the life I once had, shredded it, and threw it away. It's my own, personal lost decade. I could spend the rest of this post lamenting everything I've lost--spouse, friends, home, job, financial security, opportunity--but lamenting the losses won't bring them back. And I've already spent plenty of time lamenting over the past ten years. (Including time earlier this month...) Suffice it to say that depression, like any other major illness, is a life altering event.
My life has certainly been altered. I was so sick in those early years, I don't know how I made it to this point. I couldn't do anything, take care of anything, or sustain a relationship. My head was sunk in a morass so dark and thick, death felt like my only option. Fortunately, I failed at that, too.
At some point a few years into my lost decade, the drinking began. Drinking worked where nothing else would. It numbed me. It stole me away from my barely tolerable reality. It was a miracle. Unfortunately, the miracle cure quickly became its own separate problem.
Help, fortunately, was something I was lucky to get and willing to accept. An inpatient DBT program, outpatient DBT groups, and years of AA have taught me life skills to deal with people, places, and things (including my illness). Medications have been tweaked, and tweaked, and tweaked again. Numerous doctors, psychologists, social workers, sponsors, friends, family and patients have helped me find a level of stability I never thought possible just 5 years ago.
I would never wish this devastating illness on anyone. Yet because of depression and alcoholism, I have reinvented myself. I look nothing today like I did 10 years ago. In almost every way, I'm actually a better, kinder, more responsible, harder working, more humble and grateful person than I used to be. Is it possible to grieve the loss of a life I will never know while simultaneously feeling grateful for the difficult, painful path I've been given? I think so.
It's been ten years. One decade. No, I would not want to re-live this decade. But today, on a day when my mood is low and my thoughts are still off, I have to look for the gratitude. I have to, or I will not survive. Ten years is a long, long time. Here's hoping year 11 is the best one yet.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I found out tonight that the domain name, depressionmarathon.com, which I thought I owned, and for which I have been paying the last three years, is being used by somebody else. It's not a real big deal, but it is frustrating. I reserved the name when I began this blog. I reserved it, and have been paying to keep it inactive, so that I would own it if I ever wanted to move to my own website (i.e. off of Blogger). How it got into somebody else's hands, I do not know. It was supposed to automatically renew every year. They (the hosting company) have certainly been charging me every year! Now I'm not too smart when it comes to stuff like this, but I thought this was pretty straightforward, and I thought I was doing what I needed to do to keep depression marathon mine. Apparently not.
I suppose I should be honored someone thought enough of my site that they went out and stole the name. But I'm just frustrated. I'd hate to have people think that was my site. I certainly doubt they are making any money off of it! Maybe they hope I'll come begging to buy the name back. Nope. That won't happen either. So it's just an annoyance. And I guess it prohibits me from ever navigating away from blogspot.com, but that probably wasn't going to happen either. Obviously, I don't understand this whole domain system well enough to do that!
Monday, November 15, 2010
My brain is broken again. It's been going on for a few days. I've got broken thoughts. I've been dreaming broken dreams. My mood is a okay, but my brain is broken.
The catalyst, I think, was discovering the ex's kids. But I'm not sure about that because the last few days have really been the roughest. I'm having strange thoughts, repetitive thoughts, racing thoughts. Some of them scare me. Some of them make me feel unsafe. Some of them are just stupid. They're all annoying. They're all disconcerting.
I hate writing about this. It bothers me to have these thoughts. I don't like to admit to them. But maybe this makes sense to some of you. Maybe some of you don't like to admit them, too. So here I am admitting to my broken brain.
I'm working with my doc to fix my brain. A med we recently decreased may need to be restored to it's previous level. Of course I want to take as few meds as possible, but if that's what I need to do, I'll do it. Other than that, I'm trying to stick to my training schedule, work when I need to work, sleep when I need to sleep, and battle with my brain when it gets out of line. I'm making it sound easy. I wish it was. It's not. I hate my broken brain.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
What a crappy day! How's that for an opening line? No two ways about it, it was wet, sloppy, cold, dark, and windy today. Unfortunately, I was scheduled to run 20 miles--my final 20 miler before tapering for Dallas. I sat in my recliner and finished my first cup of coffee, all dressed up and ready to go, but not willing to challenge the elements. There was a slurry of rain and sleet falling from the sky. The wind occasionally whipped the slurry sideways. And the temperature? It was a balmy 32 degrees. My heart sank. I didn't want to put off my run, but I didn't want to venture out either. It was a conundrum.
Finally, after three hours waiting for the weather to break, I pulled on the Gortex and headed out the door. It was raining fairly hard, and the wind was still blowing. I told myself I'd at least do 10, and if I had to, I could finish the final 10 at the gym. But I hate treadmills. Things started okay, but by mile five I was already huffing and puffing. I walked a bit and kept on going.
By mile 10 I was soaked to the bone and my hands were getting cold. I had purposefully run far from home, and I'd begun to regret that decision. Heading into the wind from miles 11-14 didn't help. I stopped several times to regroup, refill my water, or take another gel. It just wasn't my day, and I'm sure the extra 5 pounds of soaked clothing didn't help. This was a tough run.
I started toward home. Fourteen miles showed on my watch. Only six to go, but I was wet, and my hands were freezing. I had flashes of pep but long stretches of heavy legs and sluggishness. My watch turned over to twenty miles as I stepped into my driveway. Finished. Thank God.
This was a tough, tough run. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was just a bad day. I don't know. It was another exercise in perseverance. I'm proud of myself for sticking it out, although it would have been nice if it was just a little easier! Now it's taper time. The Dallas Marathon is three weeks from tomorrow. Despite today, I'm happy with where I'm at. I will be ready come race day. Now, it's time to rest.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I have the best readers in the world. Your comments on the last two posts were poignant, thoughtful and inspiring. I appreciate what you had to say. You gave me a lot to think about. Thank you. I'm trying to move on.
Speaking of moving on, I only have 3.5 weeks left before the Dallas Marathon. I had a really tough 6 x 1200 meters speed workout yesterday, and I will run my final 20-miler on Saturday. It's hard to believe I'll be starting my taper soon. Usually I'm totally wiped out by this stage of training, but I'm feeling really good. Running only 3 days per week has definitely paid off in the training arena. It will be interesting to see how it works in the race.
One thing is certain, racing should be easier now that I'm 13 pounds lighter. Yes, that's right. I've lost 13 pounds since beginning the Weight Watchers online program in August. I'm sure the weight loss is one of the reasons I'm recovering better from my training. It's also the reason my clothes, including my running clothes, fit better. I even had to go shopping to buy some new pants, as my current stock was getting a bit large! How fun! I feel better physically and mentally. And running is definitely easier without the extra pounds. I don't miss them at all!
That's about all I have for now. Take care my friends.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
My dog doesn't know we turned the clocks back last night. Right on schedule, he was at my bedside wagging his tail. Unfortunately, today it was 5:30 AM rather than 6:30 AM; not that my body knows the difference either. I'm not a fan of turning the clocks back. I'd much rather have an extra hour of daylight during the evening, when I'm awake, than in the morning. It's time to get out my SAD light, I guess.
I had a good day yesterday. The hole in my heart is healing just a bit. I spent the first 4 miles of my 15 mile run letting Puck romp through the woods. He made me smile, and smile, and smile. I love watching him romp free, especially now. He is the picture of unabashed joy. After dropping him back at home, I finished my 15 miles. It was sunny and crisp, and my run went very well. I recovered while watching some entertaining college football, took a nap, and then got ready for an evening out.
Last night was my AA group's monthly celebration of sobriety anniversaries. A friend was celebrating one year of sobriety. We began the evening with his family at a nice local restaurant. It was a bit of splurge for me, but I figured I deserved it. After our dinner, we went to the meeting where cakes are presented. Each person who celebrated a sobriety anniversary in the previous month received a cake. Last night we celebrated almost 200 total years of sobriety with families and friends. It was a night filled with gratitude. It was also a good reminder of what I've been doing over the past several years--getting healthy.
That fact, the fact that I've spent my time getting healthy, doesn't take the sting out of not having children (see previous post). I'm trying to believe what others are telling me--that I was doing important work on myself battling depression and getting sober. I'm trying not to waste energy on regret and resentment. I don't know if I'm succeeding.
I think I'll always regret not having kids, but I can't do anything about it now. I'll let the sting subside with time, but the regret, I'm sure, will always remain. Resentment, on the other hand, I have to let go. I resent the illness which took the option of children away from me and sidetracked my life. That's where I'm stuck now. And resentment isn't good for me. I have to pray for the willingness to let it go. I'll take any prayers you have, too. Thanks.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I went snooping around on Facebook the other day. Bad idea. I discovered my ex apparently has twin baby boys. The ex and I had talked about having kids. We had planned to have kids. At this point in our lives, we would have had kids together. If only all had gone according to plan.
As we all know, plans don't always work out. If they did, I wouldn't have spent the last ten years of my life battling mental illness. I would have been pursuing multiple dreams instead, including the dream of having children. But the best laid plans...
I don't have kids. I'm too old now to tempt fate, and I don't have a partner anyway. So children are likely not in my future. It's my biggest regret. The fact that my ex continued along the path we had set, without me, stings.
This discovery has me suffering industrial strength sadness. I've cried more tears in the past few days than I have in the past year. The depth and intensity of my sadness caught me off guard. I'm sad. Very, very sad.
There is a hole in my heart. It is a hole which will likely never be filled. Perhaps it's been there all along, and this discovery brought it into my awareness. I feel like I am grieving. I guess I am grieving. I'm grieving for what will never be--children, my own children.
There is a hole in my heart, and I am sad.
Monday, November 1, 2010
I spent the day yesterday cleaning my house. I had a lot of catching up to do. Cleaning is one of my least favorite things to do. When I'm training hard and working, it is way, way at the bottom of my list of priorities. So I hadn't cleaned in quite awhile, and my house was due. Needless to say, I'm much happier with how my house looks and feels today. I like a clean house. I just don't like to be the one cleaning it!
Today I had a short day at work. I only had one patient in the morning. My afternoon got cancelled, so I ran some errands, got my oil changed, and went swimming instead. Today was supposed to be a rest day, but after cleaning yesterday I had no desire to go exercise. I sat and watched football and baseball instead. It was one of those low motivation days. I hate those days.
I think my low motivation yesterday was actually carried over from Saturday night. I did go to the Halloween party. I decided to put my wet suit to good use and went as a scuba diver. I knew that wet suit would come in handy! God only knows if it will ever be used for a triathlon again! I only stayed at the party for a couple of hours, but I did get some nice compliments--wet suits leave little to the imagination, after all. As was the case yesterday, when I couldn't get interested in anything, I just couldn't get very interested in the party.
I'm hoping this lack of interest, and the isolating I wrote of in my last post, isn't a foreboding sign of things to come. I am currently cutting back on one of my meds, and my doctor wanted to do it much slower than I did (of course) for this very reason. She's very cautious when it comes to my mood. I guess that's a good thing, and I do appreciate it. If this is the beginning of a little dip, I don't think it's the med change. More likely, it's a hormonal thing, and hopefully it will be different in about one week. But I'm definitely on guard.
Well, I think you're caught up. Now it's time for me to go catch up on my bills before game 5 of the World Series begins. Thank God the Yankees aren't in it again! Sorry, Yankee fans...
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Considering I ran 20 miles in the cold and wind on Thursday, the 10K I raced this morning went pretty darn well. Of course I wanted to run faster, but I managed a 47:55 (7:45/mile) and felt good while doing it. It was nothing like last week's race. This one was tough, especially the steep hills at the end, but I never felt out of my league. I ran hard but within myself. I went as fast as my body and tired legs would allow, but I wasn't in agony like I was one week ago. That was nice. I felt good about how I felt even if I wasn't thrilled with my time.
On an entirely different note, I've got a Halloween Party tonight. It's a sober affair put on by two women for whom Halloween is like Christmas! They love it! I don't have a costume because I've been too lazy to go out and find one. I don't have anyone to go with, which is typical for this single sole. And the World Series is going to be on tonight. These are all good excuses for me not to go to this party. I can stay home in my sweats and be my usual isolative self instead. But should I? Probably not.
I'm confessing my solitary thoughts here because I know I should get out of my house and socialize. If I'm honest with myself, I've been a bit isolative--okay, more than a bit--lately. It's easy when I'm training hard, racing, and working to just stay home at all other times. And that's what I've been doing. My parents have gone south for the winter. My best friends have been busy with their families. It's easy and comfortable to put on my sweats and never take them off. I can't remember the last time I've done anything social.
So I should go to this party, right? Isolation is often a sign of things going down hill for me. I don't think that's what's happening here, but I do worry just a little. So I should go to this party, right? Well, I'm still undecided, but I'll let you know. What about you? What are you doing tonight?
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I'm feeling tired. I'm not sure if it's due to the hard race this past weekend, or if it's the result of many busy days in a row. After racing hard on Saturday, I worked 8.5 hours and swam 35 minutes on Sunday, and then I worked a full day again Monday. I'm typing here right now because I couldn't quite get out of bed for my strength training class this morning. (Unfortunately, Puck got me up within 20 minutes anyway, so I would have been better off getting my butt to the gym.) I did get my speed workout in yesterday, but much of the rest of the day was spent lounging or sleeping on the sofa. I'm not panicking, just observing. It makes sense to me that I'm tired. I just don't care much for the feeling.
I'm smack in the middle of marathon training, so tired is a normal state of being at this time. I'm scheduled to run my first 20-miler this week, and I may do that tomorrow. I may do it Thursday because there is a 10K race I'd like to run on Saturday. Maybe that's dumb, or too much, but if the weather is decent, it's a fun race. If the weather is crappy, I'll likely skip it. Anyway, I'm going to be running 20 no matter what.
I found out my official results from Saturday's race. I was a little surprised. Despite my disappointing time, I finished 6th of 102 women in my age division. I was the 41st woman overall, and I think there were around 500 women in the race. Both results made me feel a little better about my effort.
Well, I need to wake up now and get ready for work. A second cup of coffee is calling my name. My body is tired, but my mood remains stable and good. I'm very grateful for that. Have a great day!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I raced a half marathon today in Mankato, MN. It was their inaugural marathon, half marathon, and 10K, and boy they did a great job! It was an excellent race course, with excellent organization, plenty of port-o-potties, and great goodies at the finish. Even the weather cooperated. It was overcast and in the 50's (I think). Nice job, Mankato! I'll definitely be back.
I was up before 4 AM in order to get to the starting line on time. I felt good. Even though I didn't taper for this race, my legs felt ready. Not having a clue what to expect from myself, I decided to jump in with the 1:45 (8:01 per mile) pace group. I figured that was a pace I should be able to handle based on my speed work, tempo runs and quick long training runs. But again, I really didn't have a clue.
We got off right on time, and I fell in with my pace group. I even ran slightly in front of the group for awhile, as I felt really good. The course was very nice--mostly on a long, wide, paved trail. Around mile 5 we descended a very long, steep hill. I remarked that the marathoners would hate this hill, as they would hit it at mile 18, and it was a quad buster at mile five! Shortly thereafter, we descended another steep hill. Okay, my legs felt that, but the pace felt fine.
There were about 5-6 of us (5 men and me) still hanging with our pacer when we passed mile seven. Somewhere between mile 7.5 and mile 8.5 we began a long ascent. I'm not sure what happened, but I got dropped, big time! Just a few minutes beforehand, I had been conversing with my fellow runners, but when that hill started my legs just wouldn't go. I believe I blew up.
I regained my stride, briefly, within the 10th mile, but I felt like crap! My legs felt like wooden stilts. I think those downhills really tore me up. By mile 11, I really went BOOM! I walked through some water stops and up some small hills before again regaining my stride in the last mile. I was an unhappy camper from about mile 9 onward. That made for a very long race. I was so very glad to cross that finish line and be done.
I finished in 1:48:30, which was 8:16 per mile. I was disappointed, not with my time as much as with the incredible, painful effort. Here are my splits: 8:01, 7:53, 8:12, 8:01, 7:53, 8:02, 8:04, 8:17, hill 8:32, 8:16, 8:58 (boom!), 8:39, 8:17. When I reviewed my splits, I was actually surprised to see that I pulled off a few sub 8:20's after blowing up. I felt as if I was running so much slower. Like I said, my wooden legs just wouldn't go. Considering how poorly I felt, I guess I should be pretty happy with my time. I'm trying.
I'm trying to be kind to myself. There are a lot of reasons my legs wouldn't go up that hill. I didn't taper. I ran 18 miles just last weekend and did my usual speed work during the week. What did I expect? Well, you know me, I always expect more. But really, this was an exercise in perseverance, and I proved to myself once again that I can persevere. I'm glad I did.
Perseverance deserves a reward, and I'm rewarding myself with a big, juicy steak tonight. I think my muscles need some red meat to rebuild! Then it will be back to speed work on Tuesday and 20 miles either Thursday or Saturday. I may even run a 10K next Saturday, but we'll see how I recover first. I got my tickets, so look out Dallas. I'll battle with you in December.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I'm not sure why, but it's happening with more and more regularity. Brain inflammation, virus, pessimistic outlook, born on a day that ends in Y... I have been getting a barrage of comments lately from concerned people wanting me to know the real cause of depression. You haven't seen most of these comments. They almost always include a link to a page dedicated to their cause, and I rarely publish comments with links such as those.
I value the integrity of my blog. I don't want readers to get confused and think I approve of or endorse most of these sites. It seems commenters who leave links are typically more interested in pushing their favorite site than they are in the post on which they've commented. So to keep my blog mine, I reject most link-laden comments.
But let's talk about this issue. Why are people so concerned that I hear about the real cause of depression? For the record, I believe depression is an organic brain disorder or disease caused by chemical imbalances or other mechanisms of which we are not yet aware. I also think high-tech MRI imaging will soon show differences between the brains of those with depression and those without. This is the kind of depression I have. I also realize there are situational factors which can bring about an episode of depression. Certainly, if I had cancer or MS, I think I might also develop depression. If I broke up with a boyfriend or someone died, I might be more prone to depression. And maybe someday we'll understand if situational depression looks the same in the brain as non-situational depression. That will be a big day!
Could I get depression if I had a virus? Sure, if the virus were significant enough to significantly alter my life. But I don't think the virus necessarily causes the depression. I think the depression results from the debility the virus causes. Those are my opinions based on the scientific facts of which I've learned.
Why am I writing about this? I guess because I'm a little offended by all of the suggestions. To me they smack of the ongoing stigma that surrounds mental illness. Why can't we accept depression as a medical condition? Is it because we can't see it in the lab or on an x-ray? Suggesting that I have brain inflammation or a virus is just about as offensive to me as telling me I don't smile enough. Where is the science? And why would anyone think, after ten years of struggle, I wouldn't have looked into every cause imaginable before accepting my condition? Before I accepted my depression for what it was--a brain disorder or disease--I examined every other facet of my life and health. We found the sleep apnea, but other than that all we proved was that I was incredibly healthy! Unfortunately, my brain is a little off.
Fortunately, my brain and my depression respond well to medication, which only reinforces my belief in an organic medical condition such as screwed up neurotransmitters. It also, like many other illnesses (MS, cancer, HBP), responds well to healthy living and exercise. It doesn't help to smile more. It does help to sleep more. In summary, it acts like a lot of other illnesses--illnesses fortunate enough to show up in a lab or on an image. Hmmm...
I don't know where I'm going with this exactly. I guess I just needed a little rant. As usual, I look forward to hearing what you think, but please, leave your links at home.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Today was the first day of registration for the Boston Marathon, which is April 18, 2011. Registration opened at 8:00AM. I was up at six! Unfortunately, 20,000 other people were awake, too, because the system was apparently overloaded for several hours. It took me about 20 tries, but at 1:30 this afternoon, I finally got signed up. I'm in! No missed Boston this year! Whew! What a relief!
Now I can forget about Boston until sometime this winter when training will begin anew. As for my current training, it's going well. I've got a fairly difficult speed workout tomorrow, 12 x 400 meters, which I'm already thinking about. But I love this three day a week training plan I'm doing. None of my miles are junk. Every run is challenging. Plus, I have four days with which I can swim, bike and/or lift weights. So far it's working great! I think I'm in pretty good shape.
My race this weekend, I guess, will be my conditioning test. I really have no idea what to expect. At the same time, I don't really want to race it all out. I have another race the following weekend, and I don't want to take too much away from my marathon training. But who am I kidding? I'll probably run my little brains out! At least I'm predictable.
You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want. --Zig Ziglar
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Maybe that second cup of coffee made the difference this morning. On a perfectly gorgeous day, I ended up running 18 miles today rather than the 13 I was fretting about (see previous post). I had 18 scheduled for next weekend, but I'm doing a half-marathon next weekend, so I was already fretting about completing the eighteen. All week I thought about switching today's 13 with next week's 18, but I didn't want to put pressure on myself.
My tentative plan for next Saturday was to warm-up with a couple miles and then run 3 more at the end of the race, but I also knew that would suck. That plan, and the thought that it would just be easier to run 18 today, was in the back of my mind for the first 13 miles. When I got to 13, I felt pretty good, so I said, "What the hell!" And I went for it.
Fourteen miles came up pretty quickly, but those last four miles were particularly tough. I had a difficult schedule this week including a 10 mile tempo run just two days ago. I really felt the cumulative effect during those last four miles today. But, hey, I finished! I maintained my pace, too, despite the hurt. It must have been that second cup...
I don't know why this happens sometimes. I guess it's because I'm human. For some reason, when I think of my fellow runners, I imagine they never have this issue. I imagine they bounce out of bed every morning. Sure in their plans for the day, they whip on their running gear and zip out the door. I, on the other hand, am on my second cup of coffee. My butt is firmly molded to my recliner. My mind is lost in mindless SportsCenter. I'm trying to wake up. I'm trying to motivate out the door. So far, I've not been successful.
I don't know why I can't motivate out the door. I only have 13 miles to run. Last week, I had 17, and everything went according to plan. I wonder if I'm too hard on myself. I wonder that a lot. I can't help it. I'm so sure those around me don't have the same struggles, although realistically I know they do. I just have a hard time believing it. And I know I'll motivate eventually, so there's no need to panic. Perhaps I just want everything to be easy, and that's far from realistic.
Things are going well. I've got to learn to take that in stride. I don't always have to battle. I think having an almost ten year battle with depression has put me constantly on guard. I've got to learn to be more kind to myself. That's been a life-long battle. I've always been more critical of me than you could ever be. My expectations of others are likely as unrealistic as are my expectations of myself. I picture others doing everything perfectly, while my slightest internal struggle (like today) causes me great concern. It's silly. Nobody is perfect, and therefore nobody can live up to my expectations. Boy, if that isn't setting myself up for failure and disappointment, I don't know what is! Revealing...
Things are going well. I will run my 13 miles today. But for now, I'm going to be kind. I'm going to finish my second cup.
Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.-- James Matthew Barrie
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Life has been cruising along at break-neck speed. I'm sorry I've been absent from this blog for several days. I don't like doing that. I feel a responsibility to all of you to keep up. Keeping up with my speedy life has been a little tough, but I'm certainly not bored!
Work has had a bit of drama, and that's always tiring. Unfortunately, two of our team members have separated themselves by being disrespectful to many of us, including my boss. They have a different boss even though they are part of our team in our office. It's a little bizarre that way. For some reason, they seem to feel they have a right to behave as they see fit because they don't share our boss. And their behavior lately has been less than professional. It's too bad. We have a great office with great people. I can't figure out what they're thinking. I don't think they realize that their behavior reflects poorly on them rather than on the staff they are disrespecting. It's been a little stressful, as my boss tries to deal with them.
Other than that stress, work has been great. I've got a full load of patients now, and I'm very busy. It's testing my energy limits. For example, I didn't get to work out until after 8:00 PM last night, and that was after working 10 hours. Getting on a bike was the last thing I wanted to do, but I didn't want to skip a day after training so hard for so many weeks now. So I went to the gym and rode my little heart out for 45 minutes. Of course, I was glad I did. As usual, I felt better physically and mentally once done.
Today, I ran a 10 mile tempo run in between doctor appointments, meetings, and errands. It was a great run--difficult, but great. I maintained my 8:25 pace throughout. It was a gorgeous day. And my form felt decent, even when I was tired. It was all good. I'm planning to run a half-marathon next Saturday, so it was nice to get a decent, fast run under my belt beforehand.
My training is going so well, and yet I'm still not sure I'll have the funds to travel to Dallas for the marathon in December. I'm going to keep training as if I'll be running it, continue running some local races, and hopefully have the funding when the time comes. The race is December 5th, so I have a little more time to prepare. Even if I don't run the race, however, the training is serving me well so it's worth it.
There. I think you're all caught up. I'm considering increasing my work hours, but I'll leave that discussion for a future post. Have a great day.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
It's almost 8:00pm on Sunday night, and I'm finally sitting down! I had a class yesterday--all day--about 100 miles away. Today, I worked. In between I watched my Twins look terrible and get knocked out of the playoffs. Tonight, I ran a 5 mile tempo run on some pretty dead legs before heading to my least favorite place to spend money--the grocery store. I'm finally home now, but I've got little else to say. I'm tired. I'm hungry. I need to get ready for work tomorrow, and my body is screaming for bed. I promise I'll be more verbose once I'm rested. Good night.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
I finished my Saturday long run today, as I have a class this weekend. It wasn't pretty, even though the day was beautiful. Actually, I'm being too hard on myself--shocking--as it was actually a decent run. I had to take a couple of breaks along the way, and I developed a side ache around mile 14, but I finished. I averaged a bit over 9 minutes per mile, too, just as I had planned. Those last few miles colored my perception of the entire run, I guess. It was a good run.
Like I said, it's a gorgeous day today. I love fall. It is my favorite season by far! The air is warm and dry. The breeze is cool. The changing leaves are beautiful. And the smell of fall is the best. I love the sound of the leaves tumbling in the wind, too. I spent a large part of my run trampling through leaves in the parks and along shady lanes. The scenery certainly added a bit of serenity to my effort today.
Now I'm resting, watching baseball (boo, hoo... my Twins lost last night) and enjoying the fresh air streaming through my windows. I don't think I'll have the energy to accomplish much else today. I'm hoping for dinner with some friends and a Twins win tonight. Life is back to a little bit of normal now that the stress of the last week is past. I'm very grateful for that!
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.--Thomas Edison
Some people dream of success... while others wake up and work hard at it.--Author Unknown
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Well, my local office of American HomePatient came through for me. It's a little complicated, but the end result is that I no longer have an outstanding $600.00 bill from them, and I get to keep my C-PAP machine. I have to thank Carol at my local office for her compassion and hard work.
To say I'm relieved is an understatement. Yet it is a cautious relief, as I have reason not to totally trust this fix. As long as I am doing business with AHP, I think I will be wary. I don't like that. But I think I should stick with my local office after they worked so hard on my behalf.
This whole situation was quite a test of my sanity. I can't stand these out-of-my-control situations. So this was good; albeit painful, anxiety-laden, sanity-busting, practice for me. One of the lessons of living, which I learned in AA, is taking action. After clearing my head here, I used my last post to craft an intelligent, succinct letter to AHP, which I delivered to my local office Monday morning. That gave me a sense of control I didn't have previous to taking the action.
Another life lesson (via AA) is accepting things I cannot change. It took me several days, and taking the action of writing certainly helped, but I was coming to some acceptance. I had gotten to the point where I had done what I could do. I knew things might not come out as I wished, but I also knew there was nothing more on which I should waste my energy. The only sanity-saving thing to do was accept the bill and work out a payment plan. I wouldn't have liked that, but acceptance does not require agreement. Strangely, acceptance, even without agreement, also gave me back some control.
The last life lesson on which I relied was treating others as I would like to be treated myself. So even though I was mad as hell and felt totally justified in my rage, I made sure I kept my tone even and my language clean in each of my dealings with AHP personnel. I had to remember that my local office was doing the best they could with the situation--again, whether I liked what they were doing or not, or whether it was on my time schedule or not! That wasn't always easy, but I did my best. In the end, I felt my behavior was appropriate, and I can hold my head high.
I'm really hoping I don't have to deal with this again. I'm really praying God doesn't have any more "practice" for me in the near future. This was incredibly stressful. I'd like to put it behind me for good.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
A couple days ago, I told you about a healthcare company I was dealing with...well, struggling with. The company, American HomePatient, is the supplier of my sleep apnea C-PAP machine and supplies. I've detailed in this blog how much the C-PAP has improved my level of fatigue--amazingly improved--and my mood. I hate wearing the damn thing--it's not sexy and is sometimes uncomfortable--but the benefits far outweigh the occasional cost to my pride and comfort. It works, despite the fact that I have very mild sleep apnea.
And therein lies the problem, my mild sleep apnea. When I originally received the equipment, in May, 2009, I was told my insurance and co-insurance would totally cover the cost of rental and supplies. The way it works is you rent the unit for 13 months, and if you're still using it at that time, you own it. (My 13th month was June, 2010.) The supplies are needed quarterly and were also fully covered. Since May of 2009, I have not received one bill from AHP, as was expected. You can see where this is going, can't you?
In August, I was told by AHP that they screwed up. My sleep study actually didn't qualify me for a C-PAP. My sleep apnea was too mild. Because of that, they told me, I would now be responsible for my own supplies. (They had to reimburse my insurance company for the cost of the machine rental.) I even signed a form agreeing to pay for my own supplies from that moment forward. Nothing was mentioned about the rental of the unit, as was expected, because as far as I knew, I owned it. After all, it had been 15 months since I originally received it. I bet you can really see where this is heading now!
Yup, you guessed it, a few days ago I received a very large bill. AHP apparently figured out in March, 2010, that my insurance company was not paying, because I got a C-PAP rental bill--in late, late September--for April, May, June, July, and August, 2010, to the tune of $600.00! I was horrified and stunned!
It seems, like I said, that AHP knew in March that I would begin getting billed. Yet, they never informed me! I was not sentenced to C-PAP. I chose it. I made a decision to try it specifically because my insurance would cover it. To me, it's common sense that a company would notify a customer that their insurance coverage had changed. Shouldn't I have been given the choice to keep, and pay for the C-PAP, or return it? Of course I should have been! If they had called, I would have returned the unit. Problem solved. Done.
Instead, I began getting billed in secret. How lucrative is that? Rather than give their patient (me) notice that something had changed, they just started billing! And more incredulously, they didn't send the bill for 6 months! While this is technically legal, they should expect payment for services rendered, it is so wrong on so many levels, I can't stand it!
Why wasn't I given the option of returning the unit at the moment they discovered the issue? Why wasn't I notified? Even when they did call me in August, the rental cost was NOT mentioned. I was told I would need to pay for my supplies only. Fine. That was the decision I was allowed to make. Thank you very much. And since I am now on month 17 of C-PAP use, how do they justify billing me for July and August anyway? I fully expect to be billed for September, too, even though I shouldn't be. Now that I am aware of the issue, I will be returning the unit on Monday--way too late!
But wait, there's more! Of course I made numerous frustrating phone calls regarding this issue to both my local office (compassionate, though so far not helpful) and the national billing center. I was on the phone with someone nationally for maybe 5 minutes. On Friday afternoon, I got an extremely terse, bordering on rude, letter from a national customer "service" rep I'd never interacted with. I point that out because based on the tone of the letter, you'd assume I had just chewed Marcee a new asshole! Among other things, she told me AHP had every right to "roll the billing" to me because my sleep study didn't qualify me for C-PAP, and because I was "not cooperative in getting qualified." HUH?!? Marcee apparently knew something I didn't. To be uncooperative, wouldn't I have had to have been notified?? Since I was never notified of this "rolling" process, how could I have been uncooperative? Unbelievable! No one ever asked me to "help get qualified." The letter was so inappropriate, it was insulting.
Needless to say, I've been awake nights, literally, ruminating about this. I was already financially stressed when this unexpected bill arrived. I have no control over what happens, which is exceedingly frustrating. And then the unbelievable letter... No matter how much I stamp my feet, there's not much I can do about the outcome. I'm hoping the people in the local office will see the injustice in the whole situation and have some compassion. But for all I know, they have no control either. Someone is going to have to agree to lose even more money for this to come out favorably for me. I work in the healthcare business. Losing money is tough and not taken lightly. I realize I will have to get past my sense of injustice and incredulousness in order to get to some acceptance. But this is just so wrong. It's really knocked me off course...
Thanks for letting me vent.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Whoopee! I saw my doc today and got weighed. I was shocked! I've lost 8.3 pounds! I haven't weighed what I weigh now since December, 2006! I love Weight Watchers Online! I'm telling you, this program is amazing! I can't believe how easy this has been. And I've not been hungry, which was my biggest fear. Geez, I could be a Weight Watchers spokesperson!
By using the WW points system I've learned to eat mindfully, and that's been the most positive thing that could have happened. I eat whatever I want, but I pay much closer attention to what I'm putting in my mouth. I think about what I'm having and plan for later meals when making food decisions. I never did that before. I just ate. When I crave something, I think about whether I need it before I speed through the drive-thru. Sometimes, I decide I do need it. Usually, I can satisfy my craving with something worth fewer points. I've really changed the way I eat.
I haven't given up anything either. (Last week, I had a Brownie Batter Blizzard at Dairy Queen!) But I'm certainly eating fewer treats than I used to, and when I do have them, there's more thought behind them. I've had fewer fancy coffees, french fries, and desserts. I can now eat one cookie rather than three or four. That's amazing! Sometimes my eating felt out of my control before. Now it feels totally within my control. I think that's been a pretty big deal.
I think I've been more motivated to exercise, too. Exercising earns extra points, which means extra pasta, burgers, or ice cream. Again, I'm more aware of the energy I'm putting out and the nutrition I'm putting into my bod. Cool.
These results were all totally unexpected. It all adds up to me feeling better about me. My clothes fit much better, and I look better in them. Running is easier because I'm carrying around fewer pounds, and that motivates me to run more. And I feel good about successfully sticking with this program. It's all good. I'm happy.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Not much to report today, and that's a good thing. It was a gray day, but I had a list of things to do, and I accomplished them all. I love crossing things off a list. It makes me feel so productive.
Unfortunately, my first order of business was battling with a health care company about a $600 bill, which they had no business sending me! I do not owe them $600, yet there I sat with the bill. I've battled with this company before. They can't seem to figure anything out. It's frustrating. I said my piece, stomped around the house for a few minutes, and then tried to let it go. I hate having to deal with this kind of shit, especially before finishing my morning coffee!
Things got better from there. I finished my coffee while taking care of some business over the phone. I ordered refills of my meds. I took Puck for his 1.5 mile run, which served as my warm-up. After dropping Puck at home, I completed a daunting speed workout. I ran 10 x 400 meters at 7 minute per mile pace. I thought it would be way more difficult than it was. I actually ran them all around 6:45 pace, and I felt great afterward--not overly tired or drained. I love it when my running feels like that!
After my shower, I did some more painting. I'm getting close to finishing. One more coat and I'll be done. Finally. Then it was time for a luxurious 2 hour nap. I do take a lot of naps, but I rarely have the time nor the inclination to just let go and sleep. I had nothing pressing to take care of afterward, so I just relaxed. It was lovely.
In the evening, I did a little shopping for some new lights. The old lights look really bad now that I've spiffed up the place. Then I attended my usual AA meeting before going out to dinner with my parents. We had the never-ending pasta at The Olive Garden. I'm stuffed! My mom and step dad are leaving town tomorrow. I'm still sad about that, but that's life. I'll survive. It was nice to have dinner with them.
It was a good day. Things are going well. There is life with depression, and life is what I've been doing lately. Pretty normal stuff... Pleasantly non-dramatic. I'll take it.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Three walls and a hallway.
My whole house.
An awful lot of clothes!
Boy I had a productive weekend! My fourteen mile run went really great yesterday. Don't get me wrong, I was glad to be done. But I maintained my 9 minute per mile average throughout, and I was really happy with that! It was a beautiful day for a run.
Today I began the day by cleaning my house. Oh my, it was a mess! I really love a clean house, but I hate cleaning. Perhaps that's why I let it go so long before cleaning it. I wish I wouldn't do that. I hopped on my bike after that. It was another beautiful day, but I nearly froze my ass off on my 60 minute ride. It was beautiful, but the air was much, much cooler than I anticipated! It took me two hours to warm up once I got home.
After rewarding myself with some yummy ice cream, I watched my Vikings win...finally! Unfortunately, my Twins lost...bummer. (That's okay, they've already secured the Central Division Championship!) And then I painted my basement while doing many loads of laundry. Eventually, I'll be finished painting down there. Right now it seems never ending, though.
Now my house is cleaned, my laundry is cleaned, and even my bod is cleaned (I just got out of the shower). It was a good weekend. No worries about my mood. Felt good about my training. And was productive around my house. How normal is that?
Thursday, September 23, 2010
As we say up north, Uff-Da, we've been getting dumped on. It's been raining for at least 24 hours, I think, and there are no signs of it stopping. Basements are filling up. Rivers are swollen beyond their banks. Major highways are closed due to flooding. There is water everywhere!
Fortunately, my basement is DRY! That 6K I spent on the waterproofing system apparently was well spent. This has definitely been the biggest test my basement has had since I fixed it after it flooded 3 years ago. So far, so good. I'm so relieved. It's so dry down there, I even spent time painting it today! I would have been devastated if it had flooded again!
The weather forced me indoors for my run today. Yuck! I hate running on treadmills. Treadmills feel so much harder than running outdoors. I know some people find them easier, but not me. I always feel more tired on a treadmill. Nevertheless, it was raining so hard and so consistently, I couldn't stand the thought of doing 7 miles outdoors. I ran my tempo run on the treadmill instead.
The good thing about the treadmill was I didn't have to worry about maintaining tempo pace (8:30/mile). I set the treadmill speed, after a 1/2 mile warm-up, and took off. I did have to bargain with myself all the way through the run, though. Feeling tired, I told myself I could stop after 4 miles, and then 5 miles, and then 6... I made the entire 7 on pace. Whew! I was pooped.
But of course I felt good--physically and mentally--after I finished. That's the beauty of exercise for me. Even if I don't enjoy it in the moment, I know I'll feel better when I'm done.
I felt so energized after my run that I began painting again. Now I'm sitting here waiting for the paint to dry so I can continue on my basement renovation journey. It's still raining. It's gloomy outside. But it was another good day, and life moves on...
God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?" --William A. Ward
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This time it was an athlete. Denver Broncos wide receiver, Kenny McKinley, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. This young man was only in his second year in the NFL. He played in 8 games last year, his first as a pro, and is the all-time leading receiver at his Alma mater, South Carolina. Obviously, Kenny McKinley was a talented young man with seemingly everything going for him, and yet he took his life.
Suicide, like mental illness, knows no boundaries. Black, white, rich, poor, educated or not, nobody is immune. I don't know if Mr. McKinley suffered from untreated depression--the most common cause of suicide--but one has to wonder. Regardless, it's tragic.
This is the second time in the last few days I've been reminded of suicide's pervasiveness. As I ran my twelve-miler on Saturday, I ran smack into the middle of the Out of the Darkness walk. For two of my twelve miles, I ran side-by-side with walkers raising awareness.
The families and friends of suicide victims were obvious, with their coordinated memorial t-shirts, and they were everywhere. The path was lined with numerous memorial placards--photo montages of those no longer here. Among the pictures, all ages were represented from very young to very old. There were students, nurses, bartenders, and more. There were pictures of graduations, weddings, beaches, and friends. There was loss everywhere. It was a powerful event.
It was odd, being a survivor of a suicide attempt, to be among the families of those who've been lost. Suicide's lasting effect on those left behind was palpable. It was good I was there. It was good for me to feel that effect. As I ran, I quietly thanked God for the reminder, and I said a prayer for each survivor I passed. Perhaps it was no accident I happened upon that scene. I won't soon forget it.
Suicide is permanent. Its effects are devastating. If you are considering suicide--I get it. But please, if you are contemplating suicide, call someone, tell someone now.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Have you heard about Parapluesch? They are a German toy company currently marketing stuffed "cuddlytoys" with mental illnesses. Huh? I just heard about them, so I checked out their website. It is very strange. There is a selection of small stuffed animals who are apparently supposed to represent different mental illnesses. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out which one portrayed which illness. One of the toys is a sheep. Do sheep have mental illness? How about a crocodile with a pillow? What do you suppose that represents? I have no idea. It is a very strange website.
The toys are odd. The concept is odd. But the game on their website is offensive. It's called The Asylum--Psychiatric Clinic for Abused Cuddlytoys. What the...? Okay, so all of us with mental illness have been abused? If you were abused you will certainly have a mental illness? All victims of abuse require psychiatry? I don't get it.
I tried the game. It was also very odd. If you are old enough to remember the game Myst, I think this "game" is somewhat like that. I think you have to find your way from somewhere to somewhere by going through therapy with various animals. Or maybe curing them and getting them out of the clinic? It's hard to say. There are no instructions. No directions. No clues as to the premise of the game. On second thought, maybe this isn't offensive at all. Maybe it's just plain stupid.
Can anyone explain this to me?
Friday, September 17, 2010
I got a note today from someone at nursingschools.net informing me that they featured my blog in an article about depression blogs. It's always surprising when my little blog gets recognized like this, and I am very honored. I appreciate nursingschools.net support, and I am glad they are doing their part in getting the word out about this illness.
In other news... I ran a race last night. It was a 5K cross country race at a nearby golf course. I thought long and hard about running it because I really don't care for it. This race hurts. There is a very vertical hill about 400 yards into the race, which is where the pain begins. There are 3 or 4 short, steep hills and 3 or 4 long, gradual hills interspersed throughout the course, so the hurting doesn't end until the finish. It's a bit brutal.
Knowing that I wasn't in the best shape, and keeping in mind the difficulty of the course, I decided I wouldn't race all out. It didn't matter. It still hurt. And I think I ended up going as fast as I could anyway. I was disappointed with my time, which averaged just over 8 minutes per mile, but I shouldn't have been. I knew I wasn't in racing shape. I should have just patted myself on the back for getting out there at all. But alas, my perfectionism struck again!
Perfectionism is a dangerous trait for someone with depression. Sometimes, I think, perfectionism has kept me in my low spots longer, because I expected so much from myself--even though I felt like crap! I've worked hard to keep those perfectionistic thoughts at bay when I've felt low, and I think I've been fairly successful. I've learned to allow myself space and accept where I'm at where my depression is concerned. If only I could allow myself space and accept where I'm at where my running is concerned! Like I said in my last post, I'm a work in progress.
Tomorrow during my long run, perhaps I'll keep Henry van Dyke's words in mind: Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. Carry on, my friends!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Between running speedy workouts and painting for hours on end, I am sore. My legs hurt from my speed workout. I'm not used to running that fast anymore, but that's what my training plan called for, so I did it. Of course standing and painting my basement for hours probably contributed to the sore legs, and I know it's the reason for my aching shoulders! I need an ice pack!
I needed some sustenance after my long day of painting and running, so I went out to eat with my mom and step-dad. They are full-time RV'ers, and they will only be in town another two weeks. I'm bummed about that. They were supposed to stay until the end of October, but their plans changed. They're leaving at the end of September instead. Worse yet, they won't be coming back next summer. They've been here three summers in a row, and it's been really nice having my mom around. She left when I was twelve, and I had spent very little time with her until they began coming here for the summers 3 years ago. I've enjoyed spending time with her. Of course, the fact that she cooks for me is nice, too. I'll miss that. I'll miss them.
I'm sure my mom would be surprised to read that last sentence. We don't exactly have a touchy-feely relationship. I'm still fairly guarded around her. I don't know why. It's just the way it is. I've gotten a lot better over the past several years. I think just being around her more has helped. It also helps that I've learned to live life through the AA program. I've learned to be more honest, grateful, and real. And that has helped me be a little more open with my mom. I still don't know if I'll be able to tell her I'll miss her though. Isn't that dumb?
I envy people who have easy relationships with their parents. I envy families that express their feelings for each other. There's a lot of trash in our past in my family. We also weren't raised to say things like, "I love you." Strange? I don't know. That's just how it was/is. But like I said, I've gotten better with my mom, and I'm a work in progress, so I'll keep working on it.
I'd love to hear how things were in your families. Is my situation weird, or is it more normal than I think? Do you tell your parents you love them? Do you have kids who say that without a thought? Or is it rare to hear those words in your family, as it is in mine? Just curious...
And on that note, I'm off to rest my weary bones in bed. Good night.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Just finished my first week of being back in training. I'm tired and my muscles are sore, but I feel better having a direction. I knew I would. This past week I ran three times, including 10 miles yesterday, and swam, biked, and strength trained once each. It feels really good to work my muscles again.
I've also done some work on my house this week. Today, after biking, I painted the primer on all the walls in my basement--over 3 hours of work. My shoulders are sore. I'll hopefully complete the priming process by Tuesday. Then I can paint. I haven't picked out the color yet, but I've got it narrowed down to a few different shades. Since it's a basement, it's going to be a boring shade of bright white or beige. I'll be glad when the painting is done.
Work also went well this week. I learned a new skill. I admitted a couple of new patients, and my schedule was almost full. Tomorrow will be a very busy, full day. Busy and full are good things. We're a new company in town, so we are still in the process of getting our name out there and our reputation established. It appears we are successfully doing so, and that's pretty exciting.
I'm relaxing now in front of a boring football game. My dog is asleep at my feet, awaiting his exercise I think. It was a beautiful day here in Minnesota, and it's turning into a beautiful evening. So I think I'll shut off the TV, put away the computer, grab the leash, and be on my way. It was a good week. I'm grateful for that. Take care!
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Yesterday, a former sponsee killed herself.
She was maybe 22 years old.
We worked through the Big Book of AA together.
She graduated from her halfway house with pride.
She got her apartment.
She held down a job.
She was sober.
And then she got drunk.
And now, one year later, she's dead.
She hung herself in detox.
Clearly she was still struggling with her disease.
Why couldn't she get it?
Why did she go back out there again and again?
Why did she struggle so much?
Why her and not me?
I'm so grateful to be sober today.
Rest in peace, Maria.
Rest in peace.
Monday, September 6, 2010
I should know better. I should know better than to open their discussions and follow their threads. Their rantings are always the same, and they are based on nothing more than their own perceived experience. Yet they present themselves as authorities on the subject. I should know better than to get involved, but today I apparently didn't.
I found a psychology discussion board on Craig's List today. Didn't know they has such a thing, so I opened it up and took a look. Against my better judgement, I opened a thread about psych meds. Bad idea. Rant, rant, rant, rant, rant... If I were to believe any of the crap I read, I should be a.) dead, b.) in tremendous pain, c.)just as crazy as ever, perhaps even more so, or d.) all of the above! Hmmm... I wonder how I've survived these many years?
The rantings were led by a writer who claimed to still be "recovering" from taking psych meds 18 years ago! She complained over and over again about how much pain she's been in ever since taking these meds. Fine. That's her experience, and for her own reasons, she connects her pain to psych meds. Unfortunately, she didn't stop there. She went on with wild claims, presented as fact, about how psych meds effect the body and brain, and why they cause pain and suffering to "anyone" who dares to take them. If it wasn't so irritating, it would have been comical.
Unfortunately, it's not comical because people with these extreme, unsupported views perpetuate the stigma and myths surrounding mental illness. Rantings such as these may keep people from seeking the treatment they need and deserve. They spread fear. It's too bad.
I've said it here before, and now I'll say it again. I would NOT be alive today if I were not taking my meds. My psych meds are no different than my asthma drugs. I probably wouldn't be alive if I weren't taking the asthma drugs either! Pain? Suffering? Craziness? Yup. I've got all of those in spades when I don't take my medication! I'm not going to tell you to take meds. There are a lot of ways to treat mental illness. But for some of us, these meds--instruments of torture if I were to believe the ranters--are an essential piece of healing.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
I can't believe we are already into September! What happened to the summer? It seems like only yesterday I was blabbering on about my upcoming triathlon and swimming dilemma. That's already more than two months ago! Then there was my dip into the darkness in July. Thankfully that didn't last too long. August saw me take three solid weeks off from any kind of training. Not great, because I'm having a really difficult time getting started again! And now it's September. Wow. Time flies.
Like I said, I'm having a lot of trouble getting back into any kind of exercise routine. I'm proving, once again, that I can't just run, bike or swim for the heck of it. I need a goal. I need to be training for something. That's just the way I'm wired, I guess.
So I'm looking for a goal. It will soon be too cold to bike or swim outside, therefore a triathlon is not a great option. Training for a marathon is the better choice. Of course, any late fall or winter marathon will have to be out of state, as the Minnesota racing season pretty much ends at Halloween. Earlier this summer, I had a plan to run with a whole group of Minnesotans in North Carolina in early November. I let go of that plan when my basement renovation became way more expensive than anticipated. But I do need a goal...
I figure I might have some money again by December, so I searched online for December marathons. There are a few good ones out there. I focused on the ones which would be easy (and therefore less expensive) to travel to. That left me with Dallas and a few others. I've heard good things about the Dallas marathon, so I'm tentatively making that my goal. Tentatively... Tomorrow, I'm going to sit down and make a training schedule. I'll evaluate how I'm doing at the end of September before I make a more definitive decision.
I really hope I can get off my butt and get out the door once I have a goal and a schedule in front of me. Of course, you'll be the first to know if I'm succeeding or failing. Wish me luck.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I had a date last night. It's been a long time since I had a date. We met for the first time yesterday afternoon at a local establishment. He had a beer and popcorn. I had a Coke and popcorn. After three hours of talking, it appeared we were hitting it off just fine. He's a nice guy. Well established. Mature with two kids. It was kind of nice to be out. I so rarely do anything like that. I think there will be a second date.
I was worried, as I always am, about meeting someone new. With a convoluted history as long as mine--well, it's not exactly a selling point. I got more worried when he began talking about his ex-wife, who had an eating disorder, and one of the women he's dated recently, who had bi-polar disorder. He wasn't exactly complimentary of either woman's illness, and he definitely had bad experiences with each one. I decided to leave my immediate history hidden, for now, right then and there.
Hiding any part of me is not how I typically proceed, and I hope I've not disappointed anyone with that decision. I did tell him I was in recovery. I'd rather he get to know me before he makes any decisions about me. I figured if he knew I had depression up front, we'd probably never have gotten to the "getting to know me" stage. Maybe he'll drop me like a hot potato once I'm more forthcoming with him, but I figure that says more about him than me.
I don't know. It's so hard to know how people will react to any type of mental illness history. The stigma out there is so great. What's interesting is this guy sees a therapist, so he's gotten past some of that stigma. He also has some education about mental illness, but he's definitely still got some stereotyped ideas. Maybe I'm being a fool even considering a second date...but then again, it's been an awful long time since I've had a second date! Right now I plan to take it a moment at a time, enjoy it for what it is, and go from there.