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, September 30, 2012

The Countdown is On

One week from today, I'll be toeing the starting line at The Twin Cities Marathon. Although unseasonably warm weather is predicted for the upcoming week, the extended forecast has highs in the 60's for marathon day. That would be perfect, especially if it was overcast, too! For the first time this year, I wouldn't have weather to worry about. That would be a nice change.

I'm excited, anxious, and ready, I think, for the big day. I've certainly put in the training. I should be ready. Since early July, I've run five 20 milers. I've done speedwork at paces I didn't think I could hit, and I've completed long tempo runs which weren't always fun. So I did my homework. Next Sunday, we'll see how well it pays off. This is a marathon, after all, and marathons are known for screwing up the best laid plans. Anything can happen. I hope everything falls into place on marathon day.

My friend, D, is running The Chicago Marathon the same day. D is the old boyfriend. We're still talking about renewing our relationship. Well, I think we have renewed it, but it is at a much slower, more cautious pace than previously. He's still worried about the depression. I'm still worried he's going to disappear the next time I have a significant episode. Hence, the abundance of caution. It's good. We're moving along.

It's cool that he's running a marathon the same day, as we've been able to commiserate during training. And I'm really looking forward to talking with him after we've both crossed our respective finish lines. Hopefully it will be a good day for both of us.

Seven days and counting... I'll be relieved when the starting gun is finally fired.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Damn money

I'm sitting here with my foot in a bucket of ice trying to abate the tendinitis in my right achilles tendon. But tendinitis is not what's on my mind tonight. I'm thinking about money, damn money. If there's one thing that gets me going, it's financial stress. And right now, if there's one thing I've got, it's financial stress. Dammit! I hate financial stress!

Financial stress almost always makes me resentful of my illness. Resentment is not a sentiment I can afford, as it, too, will drag me down. Anyway, I'm resentful of this damn illness, because my financial stress is a direct result of depression. Before I got sick, I worked full-time. Since the onset of depression, I've either not worked or worked part-time. Part-time is nice. It keeps me emotionally stable, but it sucks when it comes to paying the bills. And every once in awhile, for various unforeseen reasons, it really, really sucks! That's where I'm at right now.

I opened my checking account last night and found that, as scheduled, all my bills had been paid. Unfortunately, I also discovered my account balance was zero! I have another 7 days before my next paycheck comes. How did this happen? Well, as I mentioned, various unforeseen circumstances. I live on a razor thin line between solvency and insolvency. It doesn't take much to upset the apple cart.

I don't want to go into all of my woes, but my apple cart has definitely been upset. This kind of stuff really bothers me. I pride myself on being very good with my money. I don't buy anything I don't need. I'm never late paying bills, and I don't even use credit cards! No matter what, I take care of my responsibilities. Seeing a zero account balance, especially when I've got a week before another paycheck, is not sitting well.

I do have a small savings account, which I hate to touch, but I guess this is one of the reasons I have it. Of course, then I worry about replacing the savings account money! Ugh! Like I said, financial stress really gets me going. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Marathon on the Horizon

It's Sunday, and two weeks from today I will be sitting here recounting the details of the wonderful, hopefully, fast, hopefully, marathon I ran that morning. Two weeks from today is The Twin Cities Marathon. I ran 13 miles at marathon pace yesterday, and I felt pretty good, especially considering I had a very busy week. I spent my time running, especially when I was feeling good, visualizing marathon day. Hopefully, those visualizations will help when marathon day is actually upon me.

I'm really looking forward to this race. I'm trying not to let the negative, worry thoughts slip in. It's a bit dangerous to get too excited about a marathon, as it's such a long race, anything can happen. But I feel like I've trained really hard, and I've definitely put in the work to set myself up for a good day. That's all I could do. The outcome is yet unknown. We'll see what happens. Only two weeks to wait.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Still better

Things are going well. I'm feeling fairly good. I'm probably not back to normal yet, but I'm much closer than I was. I have occasional intrusive thoughts which creep into my brain, but today those thoughts are more annoying than they are frightening or worrisome. So things are moving along.

The one symptom I am still struggling with is fatigue. I'm flat out sleepy! I'm making it through work, but I sleep for at least an hour immediately after I get home. I spend many hours sleeping, after I finish running, on my days off. Fatigue always seems to be one of my lingering symptoms, so this is nothing new, but I'll be happy when it passes.

Other than that, I have little to report. I'm in the first week of my three week taper for my upcoming marathon. I had a great workout yesterday, and I'm generally feeling ready to go. I think it's going to be a long three weeks. I'm anxious to get to the starting line.

That's it for now, my friends. I'm living life on life's terms, and right now the living is getting a little easier. I'm very grateful for that.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fewer valleys

I think I'm getting better. My mood has been a bit more stable lately, and that has been despite, or perhaps because I've been busy. The roller coaster has mellowed. It's more like a kiddie coaster now. I am still dipping, but the valleys are fewer, and they are more shallow. I'm hoping these are both good signs.

Like I said, I've been busy this weekend. I ran my last 20-mile training run before The Twin Cities Marathon. I was out there before the sun rose yesterday morning. It was a gorgeous day! Things went well. I hit the pace I planned to hit, and I wasn't too pooped at the end. I think I'll be ready when I hit the starting line in three weeks.

Last night, I told my story at my regular AA meeting. I've only done that once before, and it was a few years ago, so I was nervous. I typed up what I thought was a fair amount of information yesterday afternoon, as I was expected to speak for close to an hour. At the meeting, what I typed up only took 25 minutes to say, but I still got good feedback from the audience members. I guess I'll have to add a couple of anecdotes to my story next time.

Today was another busy day. Do you remember "D," my boyfriend from last year? We met on a bike path in northern Wisconsin last spring and dated until I was hospitalized in January. He disappeared when I was in the hospital. He couldn't handle it. The depression scared him.

Well, D and I have been talking off and on since mid-April. It was very, very sporadic texts at first, but in mid to late July, we began speaking a bit. Finally, we decided to meet about one month ago. We live 4 hours apart from each other, so we met in the middle and had dinner.  It was nice, but we didn't talk about what happened or anything substantial.

I didn't think things were going to go anywhere after that meeting, but D and I kept in touch and met again today. Today we spent about 6 hours together. And we talked a lot about what happened in January, about depression, and about where we might go from here. We are both so comfortable with each other, I hope he's willing to be educated. We plan to meet again, and I'm really happy about that.

Now it's time for bed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Own Private Roller Coaster

Up and down, round and round, up and down I go. In the last couple days, I have felt better and then worse, and then I've been better, and then I've been worse. Sometimes the better has lasted hours. Sometimes it's been only minutes of relief. It's so frustrating. I am beside myself. I don't know what else to do. I don't feel like I can expect anything to stay the same for very long.

Today was particularly frustrating and painful. I felt okay when I got out of bed. I went for my tempo run, as planned, prior to seeing my psychiatrist at 8:30 AM. After my run, the world went dark. I crashed. By the time I saw my doc, I could barely hear myself talk. She increased one of my meds. It's helped in the past.

I slept much of the day. I could hardly wake up. Everything was slowed. I was so low. Earlier in the week, I planned to run a cross country, 5K race tonight. As race time approached, I forced myself out the door. The race was literally just down the road at a local golf course. I got there, signed up to run, and then sat on a tree stump awaiting the start. The high school cross country meet was still being run, so there were probably 500 parents, spectators, and kids running around. I felt alone in the crowd.

I began to leave, but someone stopped me to chat. I ended up running the race, a difficult, hilly affair, and I ran well. Go figure. The pain of effort felt better than the pain of emptiness. I came home 1.5 hours after I left, and my mood was good. It was like night and day.

I chatted on the phone with some friends who had been concerned. I told them I was okay. After that I took Puck for our usual walk. We were half way through our walk when the darkness descended again. Within 45 minutes of telling my friends I was well, I felt dark, heavy and alone. It didn't make any sense.

I am frustrated and baffled. It seems I am on my own private roller coaster. I'm doing life. I'm working, running, staying connected with friends, and following doctor's orders. But I can't seem to get off the roller coaster.


Huh... I just re-read this post, and I realized something. I wouldn't expect a cancer patient's illness to go into remission because she was doing all the "right" things. I wouldn't expect a diabetic to suddenly be free of diabetes because he went to work. Why am I expecting my depression to magically go away? It seems I'm forgetting this is an illness. And sometimes, like many illnesses, it just doesn't make sense.

This roller coaster is no fun. Feeling low sucks. I'd like to be able to change my illness with my actions, but I think I've now proven there's more to it than that. I think it is important to keep doing what I've been doing. I'd likely feel a hell of a lot worse right now if I hadn't taken my meds or run that race. But I have to remember I'm dealing with depression--the illness--and sometimes, no matter what I do, it rears its ugly, ugly head. I'll try to be more patient. This too, I know, shall pass.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Better

Things are looking up around here. I'm moving ahead. While I'm not quite back to full strength, I am feeling better every day. I've been able to run, work, do my chores, and meet with friends on a fairly consistent basis over the past 4 days. I'm grateful to be feeling more like myself again. And I'm especially grateful this episode did not last very long. If felt like forever when I was in the midst of it, but I know it could have been a lot, lot worse.

I'm not sure what else I have to report. I'm glad I'm doing better, because work has been long and busy the last several days, including today. I worked 9.5 hours on Friday, 8 hours yesterday, and 8.5 more today. In between I ran 15 miles on Saturday. I'm so glad I didn't have more than 15 miles scheduled, as my legs were really dead. It was a tougher than usual 15 miles, and I was glad to be done. I took a long snooze after that one.

I guess fatigue is the one lingering effect from this depression relapse. That hasn't really gotten better yet. It was really noticeable during and after Saturday's run, but it's been pretty significant every day. I'm tired. Just tired. I'm hoping the fatigue will abate soon. In the meantime, I'll keep sleeping...a lot.

Thank you all for your comments and support over the past couple weeks. I so appreciate everyone who reads my little blog. And your comments really did make a huge difference during this time.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Ray of Light

There is a ray of light peeking into my soul. With the help of my psychiatrist, I made it through the long Labor Day weekend. With the support of my social worker, I returned to work on Wednesday, and although I didn't think I'd be able to handle it, I did. I spent last evening with friends and noticed a bit of my humor coming back. Today I struggled but completed my 11 mile tempo run, actually made it to the grocery store and purchased my groceries, and again spent the evening with friends. My mood has lightened. My anger at this damn illness has softened. And tonight I'm feeling just a little bit better. I'm putting one foot in front of the other, and for the first time in a couple of weeks, I actually feel like I'm getting somewhere. I'm so grateful for that.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The fantasy lab test

I think depression is unique among illnesses. Depression is so gray. There is no signature cough, no tell-tale physical pain, no excessive bleeding, and no abnormal blood test. It leads someone like me to question whether or not I am truly ill. Is this a relapse, or am I just sad? Is depression rearing its ugly head, or do I just have a defective character? Is this me or my illness dragging me down? In the midst of feeling so low, these are horribly tormenting questions running through my head.

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a lab test which proved when depression was active? I feel bad, I go to the doctor, the doctor orders the test, and yup, there it is in black and white--I've got another case of depression, or I've had a relapse of my illness. It would be as clear as day. There would be no shades of gray. There would be no stigma, no questioning, no shaming, no guilt. What would be would be, and we'd treat it accordingly.

Wouldn't that be nice?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

broken


i am tired
i am broken

i am tired
of being broken

my brain is tired
my brain is broken
my brain is loud
my brain is

    convincing

it wants out

hard not to agree
  hard not to resist

i
am
tired



.