Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 16 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Going up north

I'm on my way north to the triathlon. My brothers and I are teaming up for a relay. My youngest brother was a state qualifying swimmer in multiple events, so he's obviously doing the swimming (0.8 miles) portion. I'm the only one with a bike, so that's my responsibility (20+ miles). And my other brother was an awesome runner--not sure how he's doing these days--so he's running (5 miles) the last leg. We're entered into the "silver" division. That means we're old! It should be fun, and I'm really looking forward to it.

It's been a long time since my brothers and I teamed up in anything. In fact, it's probably been since Little League Baseball since we've done any sporting activity together! We're not the closest family, and being the only girl of four siblings, I often end up feeling isolated from the guys. So this is actually kind of special. I hope it goes well. I think we may have a good chance of placing, but I'm going to focus on having fun and spending quality time with my brothers.

It will also be nice to be back up in my home area. I'm from the most beautiful part of Minnesota (in my humble opinion), and I miss it terribly. I almost always feel peaceful when I'm up there. Peace may be harder to come by on this trip, as I'm staying with my brother's family. Two young, very active children in a small space does not always lend itself to peaceful moments. Hopefully, I'll be able to get away for just a bit to gather my head. If I can do that, this will be a particularly good trip. Wish me luck! I'll let you know how everything turns out.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Up and down, up and down

My brain has been feeling less broken lately. In fact, this morning I was detailing feeling better to my doctor. We were both pleased. Unfortunately, by early afternoon, I was tired, sad, and hopeless. So very weird...

This morning, I ran my errands, did some laundry, and met the electrician working on my basement renovation. By the afternoon, I was in bed. Despite sleeping for 3 hours, I could barely drag myself out of bed. I forced myself out the door for a bike ride, which went okay, although I couldn't wait to be done. I ate dinner and e-mailed my doctor--something to the effect of WTF?

I hate when my mood shifts so quickly. As I said to my doctor, it makes my head spin. It is so strange. How does one go from feeling okay in the morning to feeling like crap in the afternoon? Shit, I don't know. It's just another one of the joys of this illness, I guess.

On another note, I've joined Weight Watchers online. Now people who know me are thinking, WTF? You see, I don't look overweight, and I'm not. But I'm heavier than I've ever been. I don't like the way I look or feel. And being a runner, heavier equals slower, too. I'd like to lose 14 pounds. I know I'll feel better physically and mentally if I do. And I'll still be well within normal weight limits for my height. My doctor and therapist approve, and the program has already paid off. It's what motivated me to get back out the door to exercise. With Weight Watchers, eating uses points and exercising accumulates them. I like to eat, so exercise is necessary! I'll keep you abreast of my progress. So far, I'm really liking the program.

That's all for now. I'm getting ready for my relay triathlon this weekend. More on that later.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Busy helps

I don't know about you, but sometimes being busy helps me distract from my current mood woes. I guess I'm getting better because I had enough energy to be busy at work today. My co-worker is on vacation this week, so I've got double the patient load. Whew... I was worried about how things would go, as my energy has been severely lacking, but I was able to put it together today. I saw all my patients, got all my paperwork done, and finished in a reasonable time. I ended up in bed when I got home--even though I really wanted to stay up--and slept for 1.5 hours. But I guess I needed that.

I think I'm doing a little better again today. I'm less overwhelmed, frustrated, and irritable. Obviously my energy is a bit better, and I'm functioning more efficiently, too. My dishes are actually washed! I hope this trend continues. The darkness was so, so dark this time. Here's hoping for more light...

"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." --Dale Carnegie

Sunday, July 25, 2010

going up?

I'm feeling a little bit better. Yesterday I got out of the house for my usual AA meeting early in the morning. It was a little difficult being surrounded by so many chatty people at first, but I settled in after a bit. On the way home, I could feel the darkness surrounding me, so I didn't go home! I went over to Bill and Cindy's home for some pancakes and espresso (they got a new toy--yummy!). After an hour or so at their house, I had to come home. I was whipped. Napping helped. I felt better again.

After my nap, I stared at my bike. I didn't feel like going, but I had just enough energy to get out the door. Thank God, because in less than 20 minutes I wanted to go home. I didn't. I soldiered on. I got a little lost and briefly ended up on a gravel road. That was exciting. No worries, I found my way back on course. It was warm and windy, and I was wishing I was done, but I kept going. After 97 minutes, 29 miles, and one hill too many, I made it home. I needed another nap.

I had to rest again. That ride really wiped me out. But I'm so glad I went. I actually have a relay triathlon with two of my brothers next weekend. I'll be doing the bike stage, and I've been feeling really guilty about not practicing. I'm definitely not in shape. Fortunately, the bike route is only 21 miles so I think I'll be able to handle it. Hopefully, I'll have the motivation to ride again before the race. At least I went today, right?

I'm encouraged I was able to get out. I'm encouraged I was able to last for 97 minutes. It wasn't the fastest ride, but I gave myself permission to go as slow as I needed to go in order to continue. I'm definitely still being racked by the fatigue of this current dip, but maybe things are improving? I don't know. I try not to think or worry about it. It will pass when it passes. Until then, I'll keep taking one day at a time and one step (or pedal stroke) at a time.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

a med change

I apologize for not writing as frequently as I usually do. Things are still tough around here. My brain is broken. At least that's how I like to think of it sometimes. Thinking like that makes this damn illness less personal. It's not me failing. My brain is failing. (I suspect that type of thinking only makes sense to those of you who've experienced depression.) Right now my brain is failing all over the place!

Things got so dark and deep yesterday, I called my doctor. She suggested I increase one of my meds. I'm never a fan of changing meds, especially if the change is to add something. My little medication cocktail has been working so well for so long, I only like to mess with it if we're decreasing or discontinuing something. At this point, however, I don't think I have much choice but to change it up. It's a small change we're making, and I'm looking at it as temporary. Hopefully, it will help lift the darkness.

I think it's the right decision at this time. I've not been able to motivate or change the current state on my own. I'm frustrated and overwhelmed. I'm tired. I've got no motivation to do anything. Being around people is painful, and I'm feeling empty and dead inside. There's no time like the present to try something different.

I know this will pass. It has to. It always has before. It's been a long time since I've been in this place, and for that I am truly grateful. I just need to hang on, and that's what I'm trying to do. It would help if I could cut myself some slack, rather than beat myself up for being tired, lazy and useless, but I can't seem to get the hang of that. Eventually, whether I practice serene acceptance or beat myself up, this ride will end. Hopefully, my med change will speed up the process. In the meantime, I'll just keep hanging on.

Monday, July 19, 2010

debility

deep
darkness
devours.

terrible
thoughts
torment.

disturbing
diatribes
dictate.

elusive
energy
escapes.

foggy
fatigue
frustrates.

stark
sorrow
suffocates.

all
activity
abates.

deftly
depression
debilitates.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

paralyzed

I'm feeling ambivalent about writing this. It's been a long day, and I don't necessarily want to focus my energy on how long it's been. But then again, that's what this blog is for, I guess. So here goes...

I'm feeling paralyzed. It's been a very long day. I've done a little here and a little there, but I've also taken to my bed for many hours today. I'm low. My motivation is low. I'm overwhelmed. Little things feel very big. Too big. I'm feeling paralyzed, and I'm so, so frustrated.

I don't want to focus on this, because I want it to go away. Now. I know it will go away eventually. I've been doing this long enough to realize that. But it's so frustrating in the mean time. I hate feeling paralyzed. And that's all I've got to say for now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Back on the bike.

This week, both my therapist and my psychiatrist encouraged me to get back to it. You see, my mood has been slipping since the last few days in Colorado, and I've taken to my bed for many, many hours since I've been home. Feeling poorly has led to laziness, lethargy, and eating poorly. Laziness, lethargy and eating poorly have led to feeling worse. It's been a vicious cycle, and I needed to get out of it.

So get back at it, they said. Get on the bike. Go for a run. Take a swim. Oh, if only it were that easy... But of course they were right. I knew that. It's just been so hard to escape the rut. Until today. Today I got back on my bike.

It's the first time I've been on my bike since the triathlon, June 20th. I had a staff inservice at work, so I got on the bike and rode a 15 mile, hilly route to get there. After sitting in the meeting for a couple hours, I rode the same hilly route back home. In total, I traveled over 31 miles in just under two hours. It was hard, but I'm so glad I was able to motivate myself to go.

I'm worried about my mood. I'm worried about my lack of motivation, lethargy, tearfulness, and inability to take proper care of myself. I don't feel like doing anything. I don't feel like setting any new goals. I feel like sitting on my ass, eating chocolate, getting fat, and sleeping. That is not a good sign. Plus, if I do what I feel like doing, I'll end up in a desperate state.

So I'm really glad I got on my bike today. I don't want to end up in a desperate state. I know this is a time I need to fight. But how does one fight when fighting is the last thing I feel like doing?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More Colorado photos

The view from the cliff outside the cabin's back door.


Puck and Puppy (that's her name) at rest.

Puck and Puppy on alert.

Blue Columbines along the hiking trail.


The view from the clearing below the summit of Middle Bald Mountain.



Three views from the summit of Middle Bald Mountain. It was breathtaking.
Pictures do not do it justice...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back home now.

I'm back home. The last couple days in Colorado were a bit long, and the drive home was, of course, very long. I apologize for not writing in quite some time, but we were very busy over the past 4-5 days. Here's the recap:

Bill and I spent most of one day fishing. I caught about 9-10 rainbow trout. We kept 5 to eat. Here's the pic of our catch. They were yummy.

We spent one entire day in Boulder. I had never been there. Too bad. What a great city! I could move there tomorrow--if I could afford to live there, that is! Yikes! Expensive! Anyway, we spent most of the day shopping on Pearl Street--very chic. I bought a very cool bike jersey that says "Girls Kick Ass," on the back. In the evening, we took the dogs to Chautauqua Park. Puck and I ran a couple miles in the "famous foothills" known as the Flatirons. After relaxing on the grass, we ate dinner in the park at the "famous" Chautauqua Dining Hall, where we sat on the huge wrap-around deck and enjoyed the night air. It was a very, very nice day. (Sorry, no pics. I was enjoying myself too much to stop for pictures.)

A couple days ago, I spent the day hiking. I went 10 miles total, ending up on the summit of Middle Bald Mountain via the Kilpecker Trail. The trail starts around 9200 feet and I ended up at 11,045 feet. That is easily the highest I've ever hiked. It was very tough. I had an amazing 360 degree view on top, so the hard work was very much worth it!
The beginning of the trail. It pretty much went straight up.

That's where I was going. This is the view looking up from around 10,400 feet.

My GPS showing the elevation, 11,028 feet, a few steps from the top.

Looking down, along the ridge, from the top.

That's all I have for now. More to come. Loved being away, but I'm also glad to be home.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Running high

Just got in from a 5.3 mile run here in the mountains. At 8000 feet, 5.3 miles at 9:30 pace feels like 10 miles at 8:00 pace. It may be beautiful, but it is all work. This is the third day in a row I've gone running, which makes me feel good, but like I said, it's tough up here. The first time I went, I made it almost 4 miles, but I thought my chest was going to explode! Yesterday, I did 6 hill repeats of about 150 yards each. I'm not sure what got into me! So today was a "long" run. Ha! Oh well, at least I've been getting out there. I do feel better once I'm finished.

I'm hoping to do a little hiking with Puck today. There is a nearby peak which takes about an 1.5 hours to summit. It's a fairly simple hike, so Puck should be okay. He sure is loving it out here. He's doing very well. No injuries. In fact he almost seems stronger than when we first arrived. I love watching him romp around freely. I love hiking with him, too, so that should be fun.

My mood has been better the past couple days. Hmmm...do you think the fact that I've been running daily has anything to do with that? We've been very mellow and relaxed around here. Bill's family has left, so it's just the three of us (and the two dogs) left up here. There's been a lot of chatting, napping, laughing, eating, napping, walking, reading, and napping going on. The days have been cool and sunny. The nights have been clear and the stars incredible. I think it's going to be tough to go back home!

That's all I've got for now. After all, I think it's time for a nap! Have a peaceful day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Accepting sadness in the midst of beauty

I don't know exactly why. Nothing significant happened. Nothing significant was said. We were in the middle of a camping store, and I found some cool dog gear, and I got sad. Then we went to Walmart, and we were shopping for cabin necessities, and I got sadder. I checked out before Bill and Cindy, went to the car, and sat in the grass and cried.

Mourning, sad, lonely...I think I was a little of each. The dog gear reminded me that my boy is getting old, unable to do many of the cool things for which the cool gear was intended. I think I've been coming to this realization slowly, as his body has been slowly letting him down. No fetch, no haphazard climbing and jumping, and very little running... The reckless abandon, which brought joy to his heart and sparkle to his eyes over the past 10 years, is quickly becoming a thing of the past. I'm mourning that loss.

I think the mourning led to a sense of alone-ness while negotiating Walmart with my two best, married friends. We are visiting Bill's family cabins here in Colorado, and every Independence Day much of his extended family gathers here. The sense of belonging among them is palpable. Bill and Cindy are as happily married as two people can be, and of course they are part of that extended family. And then there's me. I don't usually experience this around Bill and Cindy, as I have truly become part of their family, but last night I felt like the third wheel. I was alone among friends.

Puck is my family. He has been my singular partner for the last 8 years. He and I have stood alone. The mourning in the camping store quickly turned to loneliness in Walmart, I think. Projecting into the future never leads to positive results, and that was true again last night. Thinking about Puck's losses led to thoughts of Puck's ultimate loss. Where am I going to be when Puck is gone? Combine that thought with Bill talking about moving away within the year, and it is now seems clear why I felt alone--and sad. My family will eventually change. There will be future losses, and those thoughts made me sad.

So this morning I guess I'm working on acceptance. As the Big Book of AA says, "...and acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today." I'm still feeling sad. I'm not going to fight it. I guess that's where I need to be at the moment. But I'm not going to dwell on it either. Dwelling could lead down a long, dark path. Acceptance is the light at the end of that tunnel.

Life changes. In reality, I don't know what the future holds. Puck may live 5 more years of joyful bliss. Maybe he'll happily adjust to less activity and more leisure. I don't know. Bill and Cindy may or may not move away. Who knows? I may or may not move with them. It's impossible to say and therefore pointless to consider today. Instead, I'll try to go with the flow--soak in the company, the beauty, and the time with my boy. Life changes. I'll work on accepting that today.

Friday, July 2, 2010

We're here

We arrived in Colorado yesterday afternoon after about 15 hours on the road. It was an uneventful drive, and we took our time doing it. As the sun comes up this morning, I am looking out over snow capped peaks and "purple mountains majesty." What makes them appear purple, I wonder? Actually, this morning, very early, a whole lower range appeared orange. It was strange and incredible. It certainly is beautiful out here.

Puck is loving the freedom of roaming the rocks, prairies and meadows. He's on a leash or tie-out at all times at home, so being free to roam is quite new to him. He's growing so old so fast these days, it's nice for me to see him gallivanting around. His ball days have been over since his second ACL repair two years ago, and I think his running days are coming to an end, too. (He injured his right wrist one month ago, and it hasn't been the same since.) I'm so grateful Bill and Cindy allowed him to come.

We've got no plans for the day. I really like that. Probably, we'll get in some fishing. I'm going to try to go for a short run. We're at 8000 feet, so 20 minutes up here can feel like 20 miles. I'm going to set my sights on 20 minutes and allow myself the freedom to be satisfied with that. If I do a little bit every day I'll be happy.

That's all for now. I'll post pics as I take them. Have a restful day!

Scary!

I don't know if this was apparent to any of you out there, but when I tried to sign into my blog this morning, in order to update you on my trip, my blog had been REMOVED! YIKES!

I'm still not sure what happened. Blogger and Google said something about suspicious activity on my account. For several moments my vacation was thrown into total chaos and panic! This will be my 600th post to this little experiment of mine, and I thought I had lost all of my previous work!

Thankfully, as you can see, I was able to get it all back. I apologize for any inconvenience over the past couple days. I have no idea if you were able to see my blog or not, but rest assured I am still here. And thanks for being here with me!



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