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!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Productivity

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

Giving thanks.

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

Feeling a bit better

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

One decade

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

domain games

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 broken brain

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

The final 20-miler

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

Moving on

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

Up early

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

A hole in my heart.

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

Catching up

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...



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