Depression Marathon Blog

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Panic

I'm trying not to panic. Things have been going so well physically. My knee has been feeling really good. I've not noticed it at all with any of my runs. The only time I've even been reminded of my surgically repaired knee has been with squats and lunges during strength training. And therein lies the problem...apparently.

I attended my favorite strength training class yesterday afternoon. I so enjoy working my muscles and strengthening my body. A strong body makes my running so much easier. Lunging and squatting during yesterday's class was exactly what I was doing when my right knee began bugging me a bit. I, of course, worked through it. It didn't feel critical. Just soreness, I thought.

I thought wrong. The 30-minute class ended. I stood around for a few minutes chatting with the instructor and then made my way to the locker room. My knee felt odd and sore. After getting changed I began walking to my car and BAM! Suddenly I could barely walk. Pain shot through my knee. I had to walk on my tip toes to make it to my car. I was totally freaked out!

By the time I got home, the knee felt a little better. It was sore, but I could walk. I was determined to walk it off, or perhaps I was just being stupid, so I took Puck for his usual 1.7 mile walk. I iced it off and on for the rest of the evening. I said a lot of prayers that it would be better by this morning. It's not. I'm afraid my medial meniscus might be torn.

I've e-mailed my orthopedic surgeon, and I will call for an appointment as soon as his office opens, but I'm so, so disappointed! I've been doing so well. I've been sticking to and following every planned workout, whether I felt like doing it or not. My running has been slowly getting back to normal. I've been cautiously optimistic about actually being able to run The Boston Marathon (rather than walking the majority of it). I've been through so much to get here, and now this?? Why? Dammit!

Dammit! I pray it's just a temporary set-back. Please pray with me. And I'll try not to panic.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Back in the Saddle

It's been a good week. I'm sitting here relaxing after a very tough 14 mile run. More on that later. I feel like I'm back in the saddle. This is the first week since October, 2011, prior to knee surgery, that I've participated in what used to be my normal routine. It's the first week since my hospitalization prior to Christmas that I worked a full, normal work week, too. So it's been a good week.

I began the week by attending my early morning strength training class. That class requires that I get up just after 4 AM, and I wasn't sure I was going to be up to it. But I did it. And I did it again on Friday. My knee was a bit sore afterward, but I was able to participate fully. It was nice to be doing some good strengthening again, especially since I know it helps my running.

Work was particularly busy this week, so I worked three full days. One day was hectic and a bit overwhelming. I know I wouldn't have been able to handle that day even one week ago. But I handled it this week. That was encouraging. Working my normal schedule will certainly help financially as well.

As I noted earlier this week, I ran well on Tuesday. I followed that up with a nice relaxed run on Thursday. So I went into this morning's long run feeling optimistic. Unfortunately, it was 12 degrees with a fairly stiff north wind when I left my house at 6:30 this morning. After a 2 mile warm-up loop with Puck, I joined my local track club for the remaining 12 miles. Running with the group is great, and it was nice to be back among my fellow running friends, but I ran a bit too fast early. At mile 12.5, running uphill and into that freezing wind, I ran out of gas. But I persevered, and I'm happy to have finished. It was a good week of running. I'm feeling much more encouraged about finishing Boston.

A nice week... It's nice to have a nice week. It's been a while.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Better

Wow. Thanks for all the great comments on my last post. Today's post should be much more upbeat. I've been focusing on living in the moment and looking toward the future rather than lamenting the past.

I'm continuing to train for Boston. In fact, yesterday I went back to the early morning weight-training class I used to regularly attend. I hadn't attended it since my knee surgery in October. It starts at 5:00 AM, so it takes a commitment to get there. I was happy to be there yesterday, although my knee was a little sore afterward. I like that class because we work our muscles while also working cardiovascularly. It's a nice compliment to running.

Speaking of running, I had a decent long run of 12 miles on Saturday. It's still much harder than I'd like it to be, but I'm trying to be patient. It just sucks to start over! Today was actually a better day. I had a great speed workout. I ran 10 by 400 meters (1/4 mile) fast. Each fast interval took me around 1 minute 40 seconds, and I rested about 2 1/2 minutes between each interval. It was tough, but I felt like my old self for just a little while. That was nice. Hopefully, that means my long run this weekend, 14 miles, will also feel easier.

I saw my psychologist today. We agreed this most recent depression relapse was the worst of my depression "career." We were discussing such things because I told her how I've been feeling cautious lately. Maybe mistrusting is a better way to describe what I've been feeling. While I'm trying to stay in this moment, I find it difficult to trust that this latest episode is truly over. I find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop. That's not a good feeling, but so far there are no shoes littering my floor. I'm grateful for every "normal" moment. I'll try to quit looking over my shoulder.

That's all I've got for today. Things continue to go better. I'm working my regular schedule. I'm getting out a little more. I'm taking care of more daily tasks. And I'm exercising in the ways of which I was previously accustomed. I pray I continue walking this gentle path.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Depression Steals Again

This post could also be titled, Another One Bites the Dust. Catchy, don't you think? Both titles are appropriate. Depression has cost me a lot over the years. So many valuable assets, like self confidence, financial independence, and employment security, have been lost to this illness. It is the king of thieves. And it has struck again.

Remember D? He was the boyfriend I had been building a relationship with since last June. Well, he's gone. Another victim of this selfish illness, he was unable to hang in there as depression ravaged my life over the past couple months. It wasn't dramatic. It was more of a slow, quiet disappearance. And then he was gone.

I last saw him at Christmas. We spent it together. In fact, I got out of the hospital, after three days, in order to travel to his home and be with him for the holiday. It was wonderful. One week later, I was back in the hospital. It was then that he began to pull away. I heard from him less and less, and only if I initiated the contact. Finally, after a long period of silence, I phoned him last week. We talked. But it was too late. He was already gone.

It's too bad. I will miss him. I already miss what we were building together. My friends tell me I deserved better. Maybe that's so, but D was where I was putting my energy. And I liked him. I respected him. We were good together. It's frustrating to lose to depression once again. It's too bad he couldn't see past an illness. It's too bad. And that's about all there is to say about that...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Accomplishing life

Sorry I've been away for a few days. I didn't go anywhere. I've just been getting back into life. I've been working more and more. I worked Sunday, Monday, today, and I'm scheduled to work tomorrow. I'm still a little overwhelmed at work. Thankfully, we've been a little slow lately. That's helped.

I've been getting back into my running as well. It's been very hard. The long layoff after knee surgery combined with a one month hospitalization left me back at square one physically. It's been really tough getting going again. I ran an interval workout yesterday, and I seriously thought I might die from the effort! The sluggishness of the depression has yet to leave, and it is most evident when I'm running. I know it will improve. I just have to continue putting in the effort.

I have to continue putting in the effort around my home as well. The little things are going undone. It's still easier to come home and fall asleep, and that's often what happens. Before I allowed myself to nap today, I got one load of laundry done. It's not a lot, but at least it's something. I'm going to continue focusing on just getting one thing done at a time. Eventually, the little things will get done.

I saw my psychiatrist today. It was nice to make it through an entire appointment without sobbing uncontrollably. It's nice to be feeling a bit better. As I told her, things still aren't perfect, but I feel less hopelessness than I did even last week. One foot in front of the other, that's my focus today. Thank you all for joining me on the journey.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Back Among the Living

Things have turned around over the past few days. I'm feeling better. I'm less isolative and not so easily overwhelmed. I'm gradually working more hours and meeting other obligations. I feel like I'm crawling back up among the living.

I had my second maintenance ECT treatment yesterday. It went very well. I'm questioning whether or not to follow through with the next two scheduled treatments. They are scheduled for the next two Fridays. If things continue to progress, I doubt I will put my body through more ECT. Hopefully, things will continue to progress.

Running is still really tough. I'm trying to be patient with myself. I'm trying to run or walk everyday. And this week I hope to return to the gym for some weight training classes, biking, and/or swimming. Boston is rapidly approaching. I've got to start accumulating some long miles.

Speaking of long miles, I had ten miles scheduled today. Unfortunately it was very, very cold outside with a stiff, below-zero wind. I attempted to run outside, but I only made it 2 miles. I went to the gym to climb on the treadmill for the final eight. Wow! It was tough. Too tough. I have to trust it will get easier if I stick with it. It always has in the past.

It's nice to be in a position to worry about my running. Until this week, running was just one more thing this recent bout of depression took from me. Even though it's difficult right now, and I'm not in running shape, I'm so grateful for the energy and motivation. I'm grateful to be back among the living.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Getting things done

Today was a good day. I worked a little over 6 hours. That is the longest I've worked in well over one month. Needless to say, I was exhausted and slightly brain-dead by the end of the day. But it felt good to contribute to the welfare of my patients and to assist my coworkers again. My mood held steady as well. It wasn't back to normal--not even close--but I wasn't in tears or totally overwhelmed at all today.  So today was a good day. It's been a really, really long time since I've been able to say that.

I've been focusing on getting one thing done at a time. Today it was work and then a walk. Tomorrow I hope to run 4 miles and then work 4 hours. I don't usually work on Thursdays, but I can't work on Friday, as I'm doing a maintenance ECT treatment on Friday. This will be my second of four maintenance ECT treatments. I'm not thrilled about the maintenance ECT treatments, but I decided I had to do everything within my power to squash this depression episode before it literally killed me. Who knows? Maybe last week's treatment contributed to feeling better today? It's possible.

It feels good to be able to say today was a good day. I'm a long way from healed. I'm still struggling in so many ways, but for today I'm just focusing on what I've gotten done. I worked. I walked with Puck. I made myself dinner. And now I'm updating my blog. I don't know what tomorrow will bring. But today was a good day.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

thinking...

After my last post, a reader asked me what I was thinking. Well, Med, perhaps I write less about my thoughts because they are difficult to sort out. Or perhaps I write less about my thoughts, and more about what I'm doing, because my thoughts are so distressing right now. One of my goals with this blog is to provide some hope to other sufferers, and I'm not sure delineating my thoughts would provide a lot of hope right now. It is a difficult balancing act. I want to be real and authentic, but I don't want to drag my readers through the muck that is depression. I figure many of you have your own muck to deal with, and that's not what you hope to get here.

That being said, I can tell you my current thoughts are not great. I try not to focus on them. I am feeling hopeless. As I've noted here recently, there is something different about this depression episode. I am more discouraged, more hopeless, and more physically stricken than previous episodes. Suicide is a constant companion. No matter what actions I take, things that previously helped, nothing seems to dent the misery. And the misery leads to more stinking thinking.

I'm going through the motions. Motions are safer than thoughts. On good days I take a shower, get dressed, and leave my house. More typically, I throw on my sweats and struggle to stay awake. Today, laundry presents a monumental task. Somehow, I'll get it done. I'll also force myself out the door for my short jaunt with Puck. There will be no attempt at running today. No matter what motion I'm taking, I'll try to stay out of my brain. After all, there is nothing worth focusing on in there.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Walk. Run. Stop.

I've been doing okay with my plan to get outside once per day. I've walked or run short distances the last four days in a row. And by short, I mean less than 2 miles on most days. My mood, unfortunately, has remained at an all time low. It's frustrating and unbelievable.

Today, since it was Saturday, I decided to reinstitute a long run of sorts. After all, Boston is on the horizon, and if I am going to have any chance to complete it, I need to get some long runs done. To that end, I scheduled myself for an 8 mile walk/run today.

It was an absolutely gorgeous morning today. The warm winter weather we're having is amazing. I attended my usual AA meeting and then came home to nap. After napping, something I've been needing to do an abundance of lately, I stepped outside to begin my effort. Unfortunately, I knew from the start it wasn't going to be an easy day.

My plan was to run one mile, walk for one minute, and then run again. So really, I was heading out for 8, one mile runs. Doable, I thought. Unfortunately, my body didn't agree. I was winded almost immediately. By mile three, I had the urge to walk for way more than one minute, and after mile four I did just that. I walked through half of mile five, and by mile six, walking 100 percent of the time, I cut my route short and came home.

I was frustrated and disappointed. While I have to give myself credit for getting outside, I'm really stunned at how difficult/impossible my little experiment turned out to be. When I got home, I fell asleep again. My body, it seems, has a mind of its own right now. And that mind is a depressed, sad, fatigued mind at best. I am beside myself with frustration.

I'm trying to get out, even though I don't feel like it. I'm trying to participate in life, even though the thought repulses me. But this depression episode just won't let go. I'm tired all the time. My mood is in the toilet. My motivation is lacking. I'll try to forget about today, and I'll get back out on the road again tomorrow. Maybe two miles is the maximum I can expect from this tired body right now.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Readjustment

I'm in the process of readjusting some of my goals. Depression is not letting up. I'm struggling. And for the first time in a long time, running is nearly impossible. I've had plenty of depression episodes over the past ten years, but one saving grace of each episode has been that I've not lost the will or desire to run. Running has been difficult at times, but it's never left me. Running right now has left me. It's not only difficult. It's not fun. I just don't have the will, desire or energy to go.

I have also lost the will, desire, and energy to swim, bike, lift weights, or do just about anything physical. Since my marathon training plan calls for all of the above--swimming, lifting, biking, and running--I'm in the process of readjusting some of my expectations. My marathon training plan has basically been scrapped. I'm trying right now to be okay with that.

Instead of rigidly following my typical training plan, I've taken the suggestion to get out and move my body at least once daily. I have an empty calendar sitting on my kitchen table. My goal is to fill that calendar with at least a walk every single day. It's working. I've gone out walking for two days, and I was actually able to run a mile today. Such a small step, but it was an enormous accomplishment.

I have to have faith that small steps will lead to bigger and bigger accomplishments. I just need to keep at it. I don't have a clue if I'll be able to prepare for Boston or not, but today I ran a mile. Considering how awful I feel, that is a pretty big deal. I'll take it.



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