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, October 29, 2013

Hanging out Inpatient

I'm still in the hospital, where I've been since last week for this latest episode of depression. Tomorrow I have my twelfth ECT treatment and then plan to head home. My friend, Wendy, who assisted getting me to the hospital and who is currently watching my dog doesn't want me to go home yet. She is worried I continue to have the same dark thoughts which originally landed me in here. She doesn't think those thoughts have resolved enough yet, and she is worried I am going to go home and continue to struggle with my thinking. Neither of us want that. But I can't stand to be here for one more minute either! I really feel anxious to return to my life and my work. The New York City Marathon is next week. I am signed up and have a flight lined up, but I've decided I'm not going to go. This will be the second year in a row that I will miss the marathon, but I just haven't put in the training time to run it like I would like to run it. It's hard thinking about missing it again, but it doesn't make any sense to attempt it when I'm not prepared as needed. Maybe next year I'll finally get to run it. If I can just spend the next couple weeks getting back out onto the road, these next few weeks will be valuable. This depression dip has really stolen my running motivation from me. I'd like to get it back. That's about all I have to say at this moment. I'm anxiously awaiting tomorrow's treatment and my return home. I'm looking forward to being reunited with my dog, Jet, and returning to my daily routine. I'm anxious to get back into my own house and my own bed. At some point, this depression episode has got to abate. That will certainly be cause for celebration, and you'll hear it here first!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Back Inside Again

I've got bad news to report. I'm back in the hospital. My mom and a friend ganged up on me and brought me back in a couple days ago. Unfortunately, my mood has not responded yet to the ECT treatments. I had my tenth treatment session today. Usually I would have noticed a significant difference by now, but my mood is being particularly obstinant this time around. I'm still feeling quite low. I'm hoping for some relief within the next few days, although I'm not thrilled about spending the weekend here. Things tend to get quite boring here over the weekends. The other issue I'm coming to terms with is how unprepared I am to run a marathon. The New York City Marathon is just a few weeks away, and I am not in marathon-running shape. I've already paid my entry fee, reserved my plane ticket, and secured my hotel room. If I decide not to go, that will be a lot of money down the toilet, but I don't think I would have any fun going if I'm not in shape to run. I've got a lot more thinking to do yet, but right now I'm leaning toward staying home. That's all I have to report this evening. I'm still accepting prayers for relief from my low mood. Any good thoughts sent my way will be gladly accepted.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Struggles continue

I'm not feeling very wordy this evening. I had my eighth ECT treatment today. I'm still recovering. My mood continues to challenge, although I did have a slight reprieve over the weekend. D came to visit this weekend. We hadn't seen each other since Labor Day Weekend. It was really nice to see him.

While it was great to spend time together again, D being here also increased my stress just a bit. D is trying hard to understand what's happening with me, but he freely admits he doesn't know anything about depression. In fact, some of you may remember he disappeared a few years ago while I was being treated for a depression exacerbation. With that in mind, I thought this exacerbation might lead to the end of our relationship, but so far he's hanging in there.

In between running together, and a movie, and dinner with friends, D and I did chat a little bit about my illness. I tried to educate him without overwhelming or terrifying him. It's hard. He's not around for the daily grind. He doesn't see me day in and day out. Nevertheless, he appears to be hanging in there. He's trying to understand the illness and working to comprehend the treatment, especially ECT. I appreciated his willingness to ask questions and learn.

After my ECT treatment today, I received a text message from one of my coworkers. It was a coworker from whom I never would have expected a text. He said all of my coworkers were thinking about me and hoped I'd be back soon. That was really nice. I miss work. I miss my patients. I miss my coworkers. I feel totally useless. Yet I know I'm in no condition to work. As much as I'd like to, I know work is not an option today. Still, it was nice to hear from my coworkers.

Hopefully, if the ECT does the job it's supposed to do, I'll soon be back doing the job I'm meant to do helping the patients I'm meant to help. I continue to pray for relief from my depression symptoms so that all of the above will be possible sooner rather than later. I'll take any spare prayers from any of you, too.

Friday, October 18, 2013

ECT Revisited

After a long meeting with my regular psychiatrist yesterday afternoon, I agreed to reconsider ECT. In fact, I resumed outpatient ECT this morning. So today was my seventh ECT treatment. I'm hoping for no more than 12 total treatments, but we'll see how it goes. To say I'm ambivalent about this course of action is an understatement, but I trust my doctor. We had a good discussion of the pros and cons of ECT versus continuing on my current path of misery. In the end, I agreed with her. I cannot continue feeling as desperate and despondent as I've been feeling without risking my life. It's as simple as that.

Fortunately, my parents are in town for another couple of weeks, so they are able to assist me with getting to and from my treatments. My mom stayed with me today while I slept off the remainder of the anesthesia. It's late afternoon, and I'm just starting to feel normal again. I guess I'll only be training/running on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for the next couple weeks.

A slight disruption of my training schedule will be a minor inconvenience, however. My bigger concern is for my memory. ECT severely disrupts my memory. I've written down my passwords, and I'm going to try to be vigilant about documenting conversations and life events over these next few weeks. If I don't, I'll be lost, and I hate that feeling.

I'm praying that I'm doing the right thing by resuming ECT. With how poorly I've been feeling, I think it's about the best option I have left. Hopefully it will work as it has in the past to get me back on track. And hopefully I don't get too stupid in the process. Your continued prayers are certainly appreciated.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Things Looking Bleak

Life has not improved around here. My mood, unfortunately, has not changed. I'm feeling about as bleak as I can recall feeling in the recent and not-so-recent past. The medication changes have not made an impact. The 6 ECT treatments I've already received did not change the course I am apparently on at this time, and I'm not willing to continue subjecting my brain to the amnesia-inducing seizures. Although the pressure from my psychiatrist, whom I trust implicitly and respect immensely, to continue ECT is significant. I'm meeting with her tomorrow, so who knows? I may be convinced to change my mind.

I am miserable enough, at this point, that I will listen to other treatment ideas. I'm trying to resume my normal routine, but low energy, difficulty concentrating, and general lethargy make returning to any kind of routine difficult. I did get a 7-mile run in yesterday, but that knocked me flat for the rest of the day. Still, it was nice to run. I ran hard, made it hurt, and that helped temporarily. Physical pain is so much easier for me to deal with than mental pain.

I'm going to try to run a little again today. I actually have The New York City Marathon coming up in three weeks. I don't think I'll be at my best for that event, but I'm already entered, and I have my room and flight reserved, so I'm going to go and experience it anyway. I hope my mood is better by then. I don't think I can take three more weeks of this. I appreciate your comments and support. Your continued prayers for relief are certainly appreciated.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Trying to settle in

I've slept in my own bed for two nights now. My mom is staying with me for a few days. I'm trying to get back into some sort of a routine. I ran 13 miles yesterday and paid my overdue bills today. I took Jet out for a walk with a friend. I went grocery shopping with my mom, and she spent the rest of the day making some food to fill my freezer for the winter months.

My mom turned the spoiled bananas into some fabulous banana bread, with chocolate chips, just the way I like it. On the stove top at the moment is some wonderful split pea and ham soup, which we all ate for dinner and I will now pack in multiple freezer containers for the months down the road. Tomorrow, we've got spaghetti sauce on the menu. I look forward to eating that throughout the winter months, too.

My mom cooked like this for me last fall, as well. Being the non-cook that I am, it's really nice to pull something homemade out of the freezer in the middle of January. She might be spoiling me just a bit, but I'm okay with that!

As far as my mood goes, I'm not sure it's much improved. I'm glad to be out of the hospital. I'm glad to be in my own home. But I'm still feeling low. I'm still feeling hopeless. I have not totally turned the corner. I know that. I am not out of the woods yet.

Despite understanding that fact, I have made some decisions regarding my treatment. I've decided I am not going to do anymore ECT treatments, because the loss of memory side effect is just too severe and too scary for me to deal with any longer. I feel confused as to how I ended up in the hospital. I don't recall the events leading up to either of my recent hospitalizations, and that is as a direct result of ECT.

ECT erases history. I feel like I've been dropped into today. Being dropped into a day, with no understanding of how I got there, is very disconcerting. It's unsettling. It's confusing. There's no past on which to base my current state of being. I don't like it. I feel really, really stupid. I'm not stupid, but if you were around me for more than an hour, you might think I was. It's that bad. ECT makes me stupid.

For that reason, I'm hoping to get the rest of the way through this episode without ECT. Hopefully medication adjustments and time will be what I need to heal. Until then, I'm trying my best to settle into home, return to a routine, get back to running, and eventually return to work. That's the plan.

I'm tired now. Depression wears me down, but I'd rather be worn down and on my way to my own bed than on my way to a hospital bed any day of the week. And that's where I'm off to right now, my own bed. Good night.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Home Again

After my sixth ECT treatment in the last 14 days, I got out of the hospital today. My parents are here with me, which is nice. They'll be staying nearby for the next couple of weeks before heading south for the winter. I wish I could say that everything is great, that my mood has returned to normal, but I can't. Nevertheless, I would have gotten stir-crazy had I stayed an inpatient much longer. It was time to come home.

Being home is overwhelming. The side effects of ECT, namely loss of my memory, make getting resettled very difficult. It's like I've been dropped into my home, today, with no background as to how I got here. I don't remember what sent me to the hospital again. I don't recall what my employer knows or doesn't know. I have to re-read my own blog in order to understand how I made it to today. It's extremely unsettling to have no context for my own life.

ECT stupidity is the primary reason I've made the decision to discontinue ECT. Six treatments is a fair course, anyway, but it's the possible long term impact on my brain which really concerns me. If ECT makes me this stupid in the present, what damage will it do years from now? Nobody knows the answer to that question. I'd feel a lot better if I had an answer to that question.

In other news, I need to get back on the road. I've got The New York City Marathon coming up in 3 weeks. I could not motivate to get on that damn hospital treadmill this week, so I haven't run since last Sunday's 15-miler. I'll try to get out there for at least 13 miles tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.

And now I'm going to settle into my favorite chair and watch whatever the hell I want on television. It's nice to be home.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Update

I'm still in the hospital. I had my fifth ECT treatment today. I'm planning to have one more treatment on Friday and then head home. My parents are now in town, on their way south for the winter, so I'd like to spend some time with them. Right now they are at my house taking care of Jet for me.

I think my mood has improved slightly, not as much as I'd like, but I think it is slightly better. I worry that ECT will eventually lose its effectiveness. I mean how many times can you go to the well? I have nothing on which to base that fear. It's just fear, and I hope I am wrong. Perhaps I should instead focus on the fact that it appears to be working once again. I'm grateful for that.

I don't have much more to report. Not much happens in the hospital. I should be continuing my training for New York City, which is now 3 weeks away, but I've yet to get on one of the available treadmills. I'll try to make up for it by running long this weekend. I'm just going to run New York for the experience, anyway. It won't be about racing on that day.

That's all I've got. I so appreciate all of the comments I've received from you, my readers, on my last few posts. Thank you so much. Know that your comments do make a difference. I am one lucky woman. Here's hoping things continue to move forward and upward.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Back inside

Things remain tough here in my world. In fact, I am back in the hospital. After my third ECT treatment in the morning, I went home Friday afternoon. My friend, Wendy, picked me up and helped me get settled back at home. Unfortunately, and my memory is a bit fuzzy as to all the particulars, but by Friday evening, my mood had sunk back to such depths that Wendy came back and spent the night. My thoughts, I recall, got very dark very quickly. I crashed.

I was hoping to run The Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday, but by Saturday morning it was pretty clear that wasn't likely to happen. I spent Saturday with Wendy and her family, and we discussed returning to the hospital, but I was really hoping to stay out. I made it to Sunday morning, and I even got out on the road for a run. I had no idea how far I would make it, but I was happy to be putting one foot in front of the other.

It was a beautiful, cool morning, and based on how sore I am today, I probably ran too far, 15 miles, but it was so nice to be outside, moving, challenging my muscles, occupying my brain, and not focusing on my low mood, I just kept going. Unfortunately, once I returned home the dark thoughts did not abate.

Wendy returned to my home last night and eventually we made the decision to head back to the emergency room. I could complete an entire additional post on the idiot, ER, psychiatry resident and his absolutely unnecessary contribution to my misery, but I'm choosing to skip that drama, hopefully in furtherance of my mental health. Suffice it to say, after 3.5 hours of utter frustration and exasperation for both Wendy and I, the appropriate decision was made to re-admit me to the hospital.

I had my fourth ECT treatment this morning, with two additional treatments scheduled for later this week, and hopes for discharge by the weekend. I appreciate all of your ongoing thoughts and prayers. Your support is invaluable. Thank you. I'll keep you posted as the saga continues.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Rough

It was a long night here at the etta house. My friend, Wendy, went home late in the evening, but she ended up coming back to spend the night. I was having a hard time settling. Things are very dark right now. I don't like writing about feeling dark. I certainly don't like feeling dark. At this moment, depression has me tightly in its grimy grip, and I'm not sure what else I can do to release its grasp.

It looks like running The Twin Cities Marathon will not be possible. I don't even have the energy to go pick up my number at the expo, which is a one hour drive from here. It's probably better that I don't run, as running a marathon can impact my mood, and at this point I'm betting the impact would be negative. Still, I'm sad and frustrated to give up such a beloved race. It's yet another example of depression's master thievery.

I'm feeling pretty rough. It's been quite awhile since my illness has taken such a stranglehold. I'm still fighting, but right now I feel like I'm losing more ground than I'm gaining. That's frustrating. If you're open to prayer, a few thrown my direction would be welcome anytime.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Home with Sitter

After 4+ days in the hospital, I am now home. While an inpatient, I had 3 ECT treatments, including one today. I have ambivalent feelings regarding ECT. The process is simple and relatively painless. It's worked for me in the past. It's brought me back from the brink of self-destruction more than once. I'd likely not be alive today without it. But that healing comes at a price, of course. ECT really screws up my memory. I get pretty stupid.

The other dilemma with ECT is the "babysitter" requirement. Because ECT involves being put to sleep, the docs require 24 hour supervision afterward. That means my friend, Wendy, is here right now. Next week, it will be my parents. I have 3 more treatments scheduled for next week. I'm not a fan of babysitters, but I understand the need.

I am feeling a little bit better, not a lot better, but a little bit better. I couldn't imagine staying in the hospital over the weekend, as there is little to occupy one's time, so I was anxious to get out of there today. I had big plans for this weekend, anyway. The Twin Cities Marathon is on Sunday.

If I choose to do so, the doctors have cleared me to run. I am feeling quite ambivalent about it. After all, I've done absolutely nothing for the past 5 days. I believe the last time I ran was a short outing last Sunday. My energy followed my mood right down the toilet, and I'm sure I've gained a few pounds sitting on my butt all week. I'm not sure I'm in ideal condition to run a marathon.

I also worry how running a marathon would look to outsiders peering in, especially my coworkers. I imagine them thinking, "If she can't work, how can she run a marathon?" I can't blame them. I hope they know I'd rather be working and running! So I've yet to decide on the marathon. At this moment, 26.2 miles seems like an awful long way to run. I'm not sure I've got it in me.

That's about all I have right now. Like I said, I wish I was feeling better than I am. I hope being home with Jet, getting back into my routine, possibly running a marathon, and continuing with ECT combine to bring me out of the darkness.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Where's etta?

The predicted, feared crash finally took me down. I couldn't make it to work on Monday morning. I contacted my friend and co-worker, Wendy, and she made the 30 minute trip to my door. Apparently my voice was slow and thoughts dark. My memories of that morning are already a bit fuzzy. After Wendy and I spent half of the morning in the emergency room, I was admitted to the inpatient psych unit for treatment. That's where I am right now.

I've already completed two ECT treatments with another scheduled for Friday. Yesterday's treatment left me stiff and sore, but the doctors figured out the right dose of pre-medication today, and it went much better. My friend, Wendy, was just here to visit, and she thinks I sound better already. I'm hoping to get out of here by the weekend and continue my ECT treatments as an outpatient next week.

ECT likely sounds barbaric to some of you, and I admit, it is not my favorite treatment option, but it has always worked when I've needed it. The process is actually quick and painless, as I am sedated throughout the procedure. After the treatment, I spend several hours sleeping prior to slowly resuming my day. I do feel a little lighter already, but I hate the forgetfulness which accompanies getting my brain zapped.

Hopefully, the memory deficits will not be too bothersome, and the benefits of the ECT will pull me out of the pit. I don't like feeling so dark and slow. It's been a long time since I've been this low. I hope initiating the quick ECT intervention will keep this episode short lived. My life is waiting outside these doors.



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