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, December 28, 2014

Nine Years

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. I know the holidays can be stressful. Fortunately, my holidays have so far gone well. I just got home from spending Christmas with my boyfriend, D. We had a very nice time. I drove the four hour drive after working the morning of Christmas Eve, and then we left immediately to spend the evening with his entire, huge family. D has eight siblings and a seemingly unending supply of nieces, nephews, grand nieces, and grand nephews. It was confusing, controlled chaos, but I had fun.

Christmas morning was spent with D's son. We opened presents and ate their traditional brunch. The rest of the day D and I spent together. We relaxed, went for a walk with Jet, watched a movie, and cooked a nice dinner together. It was quiet, and I think we were both quite content with that. The rest of the weekend was equally simple and relaxing. It's always hard to leave, but I'm glad to be back in my home environment, nonetheless.

Today is a big day. Nine years ago today I finally got it. I took my last drink, and I've stayed sober one-day-at-a-time ever since. Nine years...it's really quite amazing. Nine years ago I was a hopeless case. I was selfish, self-centered, and discontent. I had tried multiple times to stop drinking for good. Stopping wasn't the problem. I was actually pretty good at that. Staying stopped was the problem. It wasn't until I finally committed myself to the simple tools laid, multiple times, at my feet, and decided to focus on staying sober for 24 hours at a time that I got it.

I've grown a lot over the last 9 years. Being sober has opened my eyes and heart to whole new life, a life I never thought imaginable. I never knew how to be an equal in a relationship until I got sober. I never knew how to handle anger and resentments until I got sober. I never knew the meaning of gratitude and humility until I found sobriety. Sobriety brought me a relationship with my mother I was previously too immature to handle or appreciate. Being sober didn't cure my depression, but it certainly made a huge difference in my mental health stability. It's amazing how much better mental health medications work when I'm not washing them down with beer! Sobriety, in a nutshell, gave me a life worth living.

Nine years. I've had hurts and heartaches, joys and celebrations, good times and bad times, depression relapses and remissions, and I've remained sober through it all. It can be done. I'm doing it. And if I can do it, anyone can do it. It's a beautiful thing. I'm so grateful to be sober today.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Shoulds and Shouldn'ts

I'm busy getting ready for Christmas. That process has been made easier, as I've slowly been on the mend from my low energy and mood. I'm so relieved. I'm always worried the depression symptoms, once present, are going to drag on forever. Of course, they never do. Bad days are always followed by better days eventually. Even last year at this time, when I was fresh out of my fifth hospitalization in three months, the bad days did eventually dissipate.

I think I helped myself mend a bit quicker from this low episode. I was reminded of a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skill called Radical Acceptance. Last Thursday, lying on my sofa, unable to move, feeling desperate and hopeless, I reached for the phone. I explained to my therapist how I shouldn't be feeling this low. Not me. Not now. I should be feeling better. I should have more energy. I should be exercising rather than lying on the sofa. With so many good things going on in my life, I shouldn't be feeling hopeless and sad. Blah, blah, blah... You get the idea.

Instead of dealing with my reality, I was fighting it tooth and nail. I was should-ing myself to death. Rather than accepting my symptoms as part of my depression, I was treating them like character defects. For example, rather than resting when I felt tired, I laid down and admonished myself for laying there. I was incredulous that I had so little energy rather than remembering and accepting that I almost never have energy when I'm low. I was treating myself with less than kindness. Instead I was forcing stereotypes on myself. How could I have symptoms when there were good, even exciting things going on in my life? Umm...because depression is an illness, and just like other illnesses, it can rear it's ugly head at any time? Geez...I think I just made a video addressing this stuff!

I got off the phone and turned my mind. I worked on radically accepting where I was at, staying in just that moment, and doing what I could and/or needed to do at just that time. (At that moment is was taking a nap!) It took a couple of days, and lots of reminders, but I began to feel better. Whenever a should or shouldn't statement came to mind, I stopped it and went back to accepting the moment. It was what it was. That's all. With this illness, we already face plenty of judgments, I certainly didn't need to pile on more of them, yet that's exactly what I was doing.

Should and shouldn't statements did nothing to relieve my depression symptoms. Accepting where I was at and working on just that moment gave me some power and control in what otherwise felt like a powerless situation. I'm working hard to rid should and shouldn't from my vocabulary.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy Birthday

Yes, today is my birthday. It's rather anticlimactic, as my mood and energy have sunk to new lows. Nevertheless, I did have a few highlights to my day. My mother called, as is her custom, and sang Happy Birthday over the phone. I got a morning delivery of some lovely flowers from my boyfriend, D. They are beautiful and fragrant.


Tonight I spent time with my friend, Wendy, and she treated me to dinner. It was all good.

I saw my doctor this afternoon. Not much to report there. My mood is low. Fatigue is knocking me flat. I haven't made it to the gym for several days. It's difficult to get out of the house. I don't like to be around others. None of these are positive signs. But I'm forcing myself out the door. I'm at least walking when I can muster the energy. I'm doing what I can to ride out the low. My doctor is not changing anything yet. I'm hanging on for now. Like birthdays, I know this too shall pass.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Reflections

It's way past my bedtime, but sleep is not coming tonight. Today was the anniversary of Puck's death. Puck was my 12-year-old lab who died two years ago.  He went from healthy to gravely ill in moments. I had about 12 hours to say goodbye. It was, as I expected it would be, one of the most difficult decisions I ever had to make. And while I love Jet with all my heart, there will never be another Puck. I still miss him.

Puck was my soul mate. He had been through it all with me. Only one year old when I became ill, we traveled the depression journey and later the alcoholism journey together. I've been thinking about him a lot over the past several days, which led me to thinking about my journey with this illness as well. These thoughts, combined with the release of the videos, have me in quite the reflective mood. 

Speaking of the videos, it seems many of you have had a chance to view them. HealthiNation.com has been having some technical problems with them, but they're working on that. They seem to work best when viewed on a computer versus a tablet or phone. I want to thank all of you who have left your comments here. While this was a huge opportunity for me, it was also a pretty big risk. How many of you noticed I used my actual name? I also didn't have any say as far as what went into the videos or not. I had to have faith my message would be presented in a favorable way. And it was.

I was quite happy with the videos. Of course, there is always more that could have been said, but I try not to worry about that. I am satisfied by your reaction (comments) that we did put some education and hope out there for all to see. If one life is brighter, or less lonely; if one person sees themselves as having an illness rather than a character defect; or if another who otherwise wouldn't have now seeks help, the opportunity and the risk was more than worth it. I thank HealthiNation.com from the bottom of my heart.

And now I think it's time for bed. Carry on, friends.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Videos

Here I am: http://www.healthination.com/mental-health/true-champions-depression-laree/

Feel free to join the fight and share them widely. Let's stomp out the stigma of this illness. And please let me know what you think. Without you, my readers, this opportunity and these videos would never have been possible. I am so blessed and grateful.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

status quo

I'm continuing to put one foot in front of the other here, but my mood remains low. I'm busy looking for hours to work. Right now I'm scheduled to work the next four days in a row, which is good, but I'm a little nervous about working four days in a row. As most of you know, I usually work every other day. I expect I'll be worn out in four days, but I'm just going to take it one day at a time, one moment at a time, and attempt to keep the worry thoughts at bay. I'm utilizing my support system to get through the low mood. One of the things I'm dealing with is feeling overwhelmed. Simple things which otherwise wouldn't register suddenly become overwhelming when my mood is low. It's frustrating. But I'm reaching out. I'm doing what my support people recommend. Instead of pulling the covers over my head, I'm sticking to my schedule and also getting my exercise in. I'll make it through. I can do anything I set my mind to if I stay in the moment and keep moving forward. That's what I'm trying to do.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Little low

Things have been a little tough around here. That's why you haven't heard from me this week. I haven't had the gumption to write anything. I'm not sure I yet do, but I wanted to check in. My mood has been a bit low. It's not significantly low, but it is trending that way. That worries me, of course, but I'm trying to stay in the moment and do what I can. Worrying doesn't do me any good. I know that.

Employment is still my primary concern. Unfortunately I have no control over whether there are hours available for me to work. It's stressful, but rather than worry, I'm trying to stay focused on taking care of the things I can control. I've let most of the regional program directors know I'm available to work. I've picked up a couple of hours here and there over the past few days. I'm taking whatever shifts come along. I'm doing what I can. I'm hoping and praying the opportunities to work continue. My mood always improves when I can pay my bills.

I think my mood might also be affected by the approaching anniversary of Puck's death. He died two years ago. For those of you unfamiliar, Puck was my black lab partner for over 12 years. He was only a year old when my depression began, so we'd been through a lifetime together. He was my soul mate. I've been thinking about him a lot lately. I miss him. I actually don't mind thinking about him. I'm far enough removed from his death now that thoughts of him make me smile a tearful smile. It's comforting to remember him and our special bond. But I do miss him.

That's all I have for now. The weather is warming, so I think it's time to take Jet for a walk. I don't feel like going, but I need to move. Besides, spending time with Jet always makes me smile.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Gratitude and Concern

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, everyone. I had a very nice holiday. I was invited to share Thanksgiving with my friend, Wendy, and her huge extended family. I think she was expecting something like 30 friends and relatives. She amazes me. She was totally in her element hosting that many people! I would have died! No thank you! But it was very nice. It is tradition that her entire family spends the day together, and I mean all day, at Wendy's house. Everyone brought 1 or 2 food items, so our meal was huge! I think I stopped after my third dessert. Feel free to remind me of that the next time I complain about my weight. It was very kind of Wendy to invite me to share in her family's traditional day. I am grateful for her continued friendship.

After Wendy's house, I went to see my friends, Joan and Frank. They ate later in the day. By the time I got there, it was just the three of us. We ate a bit of leftovers, chatted, and watched some football. It was a nice contrast to Wendy's big event and a calming way to end my holiday. By the time I returned home to Jet, I was exhausted but filled with joy and gratitude. I think that's the way we're "supposed" to feel at Thanksgiving. It was a very nice day.

Unfortunately, I've been battling a little dip in my mood since Thanksgiving Day. Financial strain has reared its ugly head, and that always negatively affects my mood. I'm still trying to catch up with my finances following my hip and oral surgeries. Those missed days of work hurt me. I was trying not to worry, however, as I had a full schedule ahead of me. I figured I'd eventually catch up.

Catching up was the plan anyway. Unfortunately, my laptop died early last week. My laptop is so old, I was told by multiple knowledgeable sources it made more sense to get a new one. Easier said than done. Following closely on the heels of the dead laptop was the announcement by my employer that they weren't going to need me as much as I had been scheduled. In fact, I was supposed to work yesterday, but I got cancelled. That really set the worry in motion. And the lower mood followed quickly behind.

I'm battling. Financial stress always, always creates an emotional challenge for me. The past couple of days I've been saying a lot of prayers. I've already picked up an extra shift next week at one of my other jobs. Thankfully that opportunity opened up. I'm praying for the faith and confidence that things will work out. I've made it through in the past. I have to believe I'll get through this, too. I can't afford not to have faith. Worry is too detrimental to my mood. It's toxic. I'm battling to keep the worry at bay. Prayers, of course, are always accepted.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Worry Thoughts

I'm being silly. I know that. I'm staying awake nights worrying about what I said, and more importantly didn't say, during filming last Thursday. Did I highlight the stigma enough? Was I compassionate enough? Was I accurate in my description of the variety of symptoms? Did I get across how isolating and debilitating this illness can be? And on, and on, and on... Worry thoughts. I'm being silly. Right?

In other news, my mood remains good. I am getting a little worn out by the pain from my oral surgery on Friday. Nevertheless I returned to work today, swollen face and all. I made it five hours before it got to be too much. I actually think the talking I did with my patients and coworkers helped my face swelling decrease a bit. I think I look better now than when I went to work this morning.

The reason I think the mouth pain has worn me down is because I've noticed I feel overwhelmed with less provocation. Work was a little overwhelming today, though it wasn't at all difficult. I'm also a bit overwhelmed by what's on my to-do list for tomorrow, even though there's not that much to do. Despite that I'm feeling like I want to curl up on the sofa and avoid it all.

Feeling overwhelmed can be an early warning sign that things aren't going well, so I'm paying close attention to my mood and doing what I can to stay on an even keel. That's why tomorrow you'll find me putting one foot in front of the other and crossing off one errand after another. Controlling what I can control is one important piece of maintaining my mood stability.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Surgery and Videotape

I'm recovering this afternoon from my second surgery in the past month. This time it was oral surgery, and boy am I sore! Unlike my hip surgery, this one knocked me flat today. The combination of pain and not being able to eat anything substantial wore me out. The stitches inside my mouth are really sore. It will be three days before I'm allowed to eat anything hot or with any texture. Yogurt, ice cream, and chocolate milk were on the menu today, and I'm already sick of all three. I may try some cool mashed potatoes tonight. That will be exciting!

Today is in sharp contrast to yesterday. Yesterday I was busy for 10 hours. It was an exciting day! Victoria, the producer from NYC was here to shoot the videotape I wrote about in my last post. It was strange and exciting to participate. It was weird wearing make-up, as I rarely do, and even stranger to have someone else put it on my face. Thank you, Heidi. My home was turned into a studio with lights and cameras. Thank you, Christopher. Jet was beside himself with all the activity. Unfortunately, it was also incredibly cold outside, the coldest day of the year, so we froze while shooting the outdoor scenes. Even Jet was shivering. But overall, I think the day was a success. Things seemed to have gone well. I'm really looking forward to seeing the end product. It may be completed within a couple of weeks. Of course, I'll post a link here for all to see when the time comes. Carry on, friends!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Opportunity Knocks

I have big news. At this time tomorrow, I will be meeting with a producer from a NYC based website. She and her camera crew are coming from New York to film me! We begin filming tomorrow afternoon, and they will be here filming all day Thursday as well. They found my blog and decided to highlight it (and I guess me) in a video which will be broadcast on their health website. This is a huge opportunity for me to continue fighting the stigma surrounding depression and other mental illnesses. I find myself humbled and honored once again.

This all happened very fast. The producers only contacted me last week. I've been madly cleaning my house and getting ready for their arrival since then. I'm anxious about being videotaped, as I hate my voice and am afraid I'll look like an idiot, but I cannot pass up the opportunity to be a voice for all of us in this fight. I'm trying to embrace the opportunity and leave the rest in the hands of my higher power. Writing comes easily to me. I'm not so sure about speaking. I need to let go of worry and have faith I'll find the right words.

I'll let you know more about the video as I know more. I have no idea when it will be finished, but I'll post a link as soon as it's up and running. Thank you, my friends, for reading along as I've walked this journey with you over the past 8 years. I hope I live up to the opportunity with which I'm being presented.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bucket List

Have you seen the 2007 movie, The Bucket List, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson? Did it make you think? Do you have a list? I do. Long before the movie I had a things-to-do-before-I-die list. I'm thinking about this now because I recently watched a video of a woman with MS talking about her list. That led to a discussion with my boyfriend and now this post.

Like I said, I've had a list in my head for years and years. It's changed a bit from time to time. I've also crossed a few things off already, like running The Boston Marathon and traveling to Australia. Most of my list, however, has remained consistent and intact over these many years. But it's always remained in my head. For some reason, I've never actually written my list down.

Perhaps I've just never taken the time to write out my bucket list. Perhaps I've neglected to write it down out of fear. Maybe the written word forces me to be accountable to myself. If it's only in my head, if I don't tell anyone, it's much simpler to walk away from the goals, to pretend they never existed. I guess there's less chance for disappointment that way.

I think it's time for me to write out my bucket list. These are some of the things I want to do during my lifetime. I am free to add to or subtract from this list at any time, of course, but for whatever reason, I now feel the need to put it out there. And what better place than here? After all, writing this blog was somewhat of a bucket list item (see #1).

The List:
1. I want to be a voice for those with depression and to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
2. I want to write a book.
3. I want to jump out of an airplane (on my list since the age of 7).
4. I want to climb a mountain.
5. I want to hike to the basecamp of Mt. Everest.
6. I want to travel to and volunteer in Africa.
7. I want to compete in and finish an Ironman Triathlon.
8. I want to travel to Antarctica.
9. I want to remain sober, one day at a time.
10. I want to be a competitive runner into my 80's.
11. I want to take a WWII historical tour through Europe.

That's it for now. I may be forgetting something. That's the problem with keeping the list in my head for all these years. But I think this list is a pretty good representation of my desires. Several of them may never be realized purely out of lack of finances, but I didn't want to let that stop me from acknowledging them. It's a list of desires, not a list of likelihood.

Most of the goals on this list are within my grasp. I know I can do anything I set my mind to do. I know that. Even the Ironman, which I already would have conquered if I could conquer my fear of open water. That's a big one, because I know it will be scary and tough, but I also know it is totally doable. I just have to set my mind to it.

What's your list? I challenge you now to write it down. Make it real. I actually feel good, maybe relieved, now that I've shared it. I'd love to hear if you took me up on the challenge.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Humbled Again

I just found out the website GoodTherapy.org, a site dedicated to "helping people find therapists and advocating for ethical therapy," has chosen my blog as one of their favorite depression blogs from around the web. This came as a total surprise. I am humbled and honored by the unexpected recognition.

When I began this blog almost 8 years ago, I had no idea what to expect. I hoped a few people would find me and take the time to read my words. I hoped to give voice to a debilitating illness which derailed my life. I prayed others would find encouragement and solace in my struggles and triumphs. And I wanted to fight the stigma which surrounds and burdens those of us battling depression. Over 1000 posts later, I hope I've accomplished at least a couple of these goals a few times.

Writing this blog has been more therapeutic (for me) than I ever imagined. Knowing I'm accountable to you, my readers, keeps me fighting when I want to give up, keeps me running when I feel too tired to move, and motivates me to always do the next right thing. If you'll continue reading, I'll keep writing. I'm extremely grateful to Jo Sahlin at GoodTherapy.org for her recognition and support.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Long distance

I'm just now reclining after a wonderful weekend with my boyfriend, D. He arrived Friday afternoon in time for us to catch dinner before going to a concert. I hadn't been to a concert in quite a long time. It was fun! On Saturday morning we lounged, exercised, and then lounged again before heading out to lunch at a highly recommended small town cafe about 25 minutes from here.

The recommendations were dead on. The food was delicious, and the desserts were amazing! We took our time, enjoyed our food, chatted with the owners, and watched the locals, who all knew each other, come and go before heading home. Saturday night we went to a movie and had a small, late dinner at a new Thai restaurant. Again, our food was wonderful. We were laughing at ourselves, as we joked about eating our way through southern Minnesota. I don't really cook, so when D is here we do eat out a lot. And we enjoy it.

After another lazy morning this morning, we took Jet for a long walk through the woods. We had a nice talk as we took in the crisp fall day. Snow is in the forecast, so that may have been our last opportunity to enjoy crisp air and a carpet of leaves. We had another good meal at one of our favorite  restaurants and spent part of the afternoon on the sofa watching a football game together. Halfway through the game, it was time for D to go. That's the hard part.

Living four hours apart is tough. I hate when we have to leave each other. We see each other so infrequently, less than once per month, I try to soak in every minute we're together. But that doesn't make separating any easier. After the long hug goodbye, one of us always has to walk out the door. It's not easy. Of course I feel sad when he goes, but I don't let myself wallow there. I've gotten pretty good at redirecting my thoughts. As I am now, reflecting on our time together brightens my mood.

I'm already looking forward to seeing D again, likely around Christmas, at which point we'll begin our weekend routine once again. Until we decide to take this relationship one step further, and one of us (me) makes a big move, this is the way it is. Love from a distance isn't easy, but I think we're making it work.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Healing slowly

I'm sitting in my living room watching The Carol Burnett Show. My friend loaned me the complete set, so I've got lots of laughter ahead. That's good because otherwise things are moving along slowly here. My hip is healing slowly. Had I not ruptured one of the quad tendons, I'd be much further along than I am, and that's frustrating. Nevertheless I am healing.

I'm doing what I can to stay active. My surgeon told me not to do anything that hurts, so I've had limited exercise options. Fortunately I can walk without pain. In fact, Jet and I just came in from a one hour walk. It was a beautiful, sunny, brisk day for a walk. I'm grateful I've healed enough to allow me to  walk at this point in time.

My mood remains okay despite not being able to run right now. Getting outside to walk on these beautiful days helps. The more sunshine I can get the better. I'm a little worried about the shorter days coming up, but if I can keep moving I'm hopeful I will stave off any depression episodes. Laughing at Carol Burnett helps, too. I'm grateful my mood remains good. Keep moving, my friends.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Setback

Driving down the road, I lifted my right knee in order to move my foot from the gas to the brake. POP!! I heard an audible pop in my right groin area followed by immediate pain. The pain was so intense I became nauseous. When I got home, I had to lift my leg out of my vehicle, and my right groin area had begun to bruise. That was last Friday evening.

I knew immediately something significant had happened. I performed some diagnostic tests on myself (I am a physical therapist, after all) and determined that the source of the problem was likely muscular. Based on the popping sound, the area of pain and bruising, and the inability to flex my hip beyond approximately 95 degrees, I figured I had possibly ruptured a hip flexor tendon. This was not good news.

I was scared and discouraged. Over the weekend I rested, and iced, and took anti-inflammatories. I left a message for my surgeon Monday, and when we spoke on Tuesday he confirmed I had likely ruptured one of the two origins/heads of the rectus femoris muscle (part of the quads). I still have use of my quadriceps, but my hip flexion may, or may not, remain weak long term. There is no way to know at this time. This injury may take up to 5 weeks to heal, so I just have to wait and see.

The surgeon noted the muscle fibers were likely weakened during the surgical procedure. I think he said he had to go through part of the muscle in order to shave the bone. I figure the fibers must have been compromised, as the tendon ruptured with only a slight motion of my hip. I wasn't even doing anything stupid (i.e. aggressive). It has been a discouraging week.

Over the past few days, the pain has diminished a bit, but I still have to lift my leg with my hands if I want to change positions. I'm hopeful it will heal well. The surgeon thinks I will regain my strength eventually, and I sure hope he's right. Weak hip flexion is not conducive to strong or fast running. And of course, that's what I'm most concerned about at this time.

My level of overall fear and concern is decreasing. I was really, really scared and discouraged a few days ago, but since then I've tried to stay in today rather than projecting out into the future. I can't control how this will heal, so worrying about it does me no good whatsoever. I have to practice patience right now. I have to do what I can to get better. That's the only thing of which I have any control. So I'm resting, and icing, and gently exercising. I'm following my restrictions and avoiding pain at all costs. One moment at a time. One day at a time. That's all I can do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Flowers

These are the flowers my boyfriend, D, sent me last Wednesday wishing me a quick recovery from hip surgery. They're still looking good and still making me smile today. Grateful.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Surgery

Surgery, so far, has been a success. Of course it's hard to tell exactly, as I'm still in the initial stages of recovery. I had my right hip arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday. The surgeon did a CAM and Pincer resection, for those of you wanting the specifics, which is exactly what was planned. Basically, he resected bone from the hip socket and the head of the femur in order to stop the impingement (pinching) which was causing my pain.

Fortunately, I am able to put as much weight as I tolerate on my right leg. In fact, once I awoke from the procedure, I was able to walk out of the building. It hurt, but it was nice to be able to put weight on my leg immediately. Since Tuesday, things have improved. I've already been able to discontinue my pain meds, and my limping has gotten less and less pronounced. I'm hoping to be able to walk Jet by this weekend and to get on my stationary bike by early next week.

I'm hopeful this procedure, my third, will take care of my pain permanently. It is going to be quite difficult to lay low and not run for three months. Of course, the weather has been absolutely perfect for running since Tuesday. God has a strange sense of humor. In two weeks, after my incisions fully heal, I'll be able to get in the pool. I dislike getting into a cold pool, and swimming bores me, but I'm committed to maintaining as much of my fitness as possible. My mental health depends on it.

In other news, my parents, who have been very helpful over the past couple days, have left to go south for the winter. I won't see them again until May, 2015. My mood always takes a bit of a hit when they leave, and today is no exception. I enjoy my parents. We have been making up for lost time over the past few years, and we've gotten closer and closer during that time. I miss them when they are gone for so long, but I'm happy they have found a lifestyle which suits them and keeps them active.

And that's today's news. I'm off to run some errands and lift some weights (arms only) at the gym. The quest to stay fit starts today.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Last Race of 2014

I had a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth from the Chicago Marathon last Sunday, so yesterday I signed up to run another half marathon...today. I ran the Mankato Half Marathon, which was about 90 minutes from my home, this morning. I wanted to run one more time before my hip surgery, Tuesday, sidelines me for the next three months. And I wanted to run well, up to my potential, which I failed to do in Chicago.

My goals this morning were similar to Chicago, run the entire race and finish feeling strong. I started conservatively, following my friend Therese, who was pacing the 1:50 crowd (8:23/mile). I had to combat negative thinking through those early miles, as usual, as we traversed some rolling hills and ran into a significant headwind. But by mile five, the pace felt too relaxed and I soon found myself passing Therese and heading off on my own. I still wasn't sure what to expect, but before long I found myself at mile ten feeling fairly good. I knew with only 5K left I would definitely finish, and I picked up the pace. The last three miles were tough. I was pushing hard, racing, and it felt good. I do love to race. Within the last two miles, I dropped three women I had been dueling with for several miles. That was fun. I finished audibly huffing, but strong, around 1:47:30 (8:12/mile).

It was fun to race. I was happy to meet both of my goals. It makes going into surgery in two days a bit more palatable, though I'm still dreading not being able to run for three months. Actually, I'm a little worried about the next three months. Running is so much a part of my life. It keeps me balanced and mentally healthy. I am really going to have to work hard to maintain my physical fitness while I'm recovering, otherwise my mental health will be in jeopardy. I hope I can stay motivated to swim and bike for the next three months.

My other concern with surgery is, of course, financial. Besides running, I am not allowed to jump or squat for three months either. Jumping shouldn't be an issue, but as a physical therapist I repeatedly squat all day long at work. At this point I'm not sure how I'm going to work effectively without squatting. And since I don't have any vacation benefits, the missed work is going to hurt. I'm hoping to figure out how to work without squatting, but I'll likely still miss many days. Paying the bills will be a challenge. Things have a way of working out sometimes, and I'm praying this is one of those times. I'll have to trust in my higher power on this one.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

3:55

The Chicago Marathon has come and gone. It was a great event. I enjoyed it, and I'd definitely do it again. I had a decent performance. It wasn't my best. It wasn't my worst. But I admit, I am a little disappointed. I made a couple of mistakes which cost me time in the end. That's one of the reasons I'd like to do it again, to correct those mistakes. Nevertheless, I had a good race on a perfectly gorgeous day.

My first mistake came early, but it wasn't entirely avoidable. I didn't want to start too fast, probably the most common mistake marathoners make. Unfortunately, within the first two miles, we ran underneath a couple of very wide freeway overpasses. My Garmin GPS watch couldn't get a signal, as we were essentially underground for an extended period of time, so I couldn't see how fast I was going. I did my best to run conservatively, but instead of the 9 minute pace I was shooting for, I learned afterward that I actually ran an 8 minute pace those first two miles! Way too fast!

Despite the fast start, I felt good and ran really well through mile 17.5. I was on a fairly steady 8:30 pace. Unfortunately, my second mistake, which came between miles 10 and 15, caught up to me by mile 18. For a variety of reasons, one of which was to just enjoy the experience, I stopped looking at my watch after mile 10. For 5 miles, I just ran. It was nice, but eventually I had the inkling that I was going too fast, and I began looking at my pace again. I should have kept track all along, as I ran mile 13 at a blistering (for me) 7:40 pace! Way, way too fast.

I was enjoying myself, but my day got a little longer after 17.5 miles. By mile 18, I had to slow to a walk for the first time. My legs left me. My mile pace gradually slowed. I ran and walked the rest of the way to the finish. Between miles 21 and 25, four out of the five miles took over 10 minutes. On pace to run around 3:42-3:45 most of the race, I ended up finishing in 3:55:41. I know I was in shape to run faster, and I have no doubt those fast miles came back to bite me. I was very happy to see and cross the finish line.

D was there waiting for me at the end of the finishing chute. That was nice. He gave me a big hug. Overall, the Chicago Marathon was a good experience. The race, which catered to 50,000 runners this year, was very well organized. Everything went smoothly. I was satisfied with my result, but like I said, I know I could have done better. That's the beauty of the marathon. This was my 26th finish, and I still haven't got it figured out! I guess I'll just have to keep trying.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Preparation

I'm busy preparing for Chicago. I just had a really great run, so I'm feeling more confident about running well in Chicago on Sunday. I only have a couple of 2 mile runs left, tomorrow and Saturday, before the big event. I've been mentally preparing by picturing myself running confidently and comfortably past various mile markers and across the finish line. Marathon day is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one, so I think it helps to do some visualization beforehand. I'm really looking forward to a good race.

Speaking of mental, I'm still doing well. My mood has been good. I've had enough energy to work and run and take care of my pre-travel business. Of course, most days do include a 45-60 minute nap, but that's always been a part of my routine. I need a lot of sleep. I'm grateful to be doing well.

I'm looking forward to seeing D in just a couple of days. We are going to Chicago together. He ran his marathon this past Sunday, so he'll be my cheerleader in Chicago. We haven't seen each other since mid-August, so I'm just as anxious to see him as I am to run.

I'll try to post an update or two when I'm in Chicago. As is typical, I'm sure there will be a lengthy dissection of my race at some point. You may suffer through it if you so choose. Until then, carry on, my friends.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

One year

I'm in the midst of an anniversary of sorts. It was one year ago this week that I entered the hospital for the first time. At that moment I had no idea I was about to embark on what would end up being the worst depression relapse I'd ever have. I ended up surviving through five hospitalizations between October and mid-December. I went through unsuccessful ECT treatments that left my memory so impaired I could barely remember my friends' names. My mother had to fly up from her winter home in the southern US to take care of me because I was barely able to move, much less take care of myself or Jet. When my mom wasn't here, my friend Wendy opened her home to Jet and I. She and her family provided us safe shelter, companionship, food, and assistance. I was then, and remain today, forever grateful.

Depression sucks. My depression has been unpredictable, debilitating, and life threatening. This past  year was a particularly tough one. I'm grateful today to be battling and surviving. I'm doing well right now, although I still feel like I'm on shaky ground. But I'll take shaky ground over underground any day. Today I'm continuing to move ahead rather than look behind. I'm looking forward to spending time with D and running the Chicago Marathon in a little over a week. I'm taking care of business at home, working, running, keeping my house, and being a mom to Jet. I'm doing life on life's terms, and that's the best I can do, illness or not.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Yo-Yo Etta

What an unstable little world I've been living in lately. My mood has been on an up and down journey as of late. While I'm still feeling better overall, as I noted in my last post, I've suffered through some awful lows this week. As usual, there's been no rhyme or reason to it. One afternoon I crashed after having a relatively good day. I woke up one morning near tears but felt a bit better by the evening. One night I barely slept because I felt so low, but by morning I was okay. It's weird. It's uncomfortable, and I don't like it much.

During the lows, I've had to work really hard to keep my frustration in check. Those of you who walk in my shoes know how difficult it is to not fear the worst when the bottom hits. I've been trying to focus my energy on the good times, putting one foot in front of the other during the low times, and doing what I can no matter my fickle mood. It's been a challenge.

Today has been a good day. I ran my last long run prior to the upcoming Chicago Marathon. I ran 16 miles, which was really important, as I missed two scheduled runs this week when I couldn't garner enough energy to get out the door. Those were low days. I was so pleased with myself after running, I treated myself to a Dairy Queen Blizzard, which I didn't need, but it was oh, so delicious. I spent the rest of my day running errands, napping, and watching football. It was, as I said, a good day.

I'm grateful for my good day. And I'm hoping my fortune continues and the ups outnumber the downs in the days to come. Whatever comes my way, I'm committed to ride it out. I'm tired of fighting the lows, but the alternative, giving in to them, is not a palatable idea either. So I might as well continue to fight. Eventually, I'm going to beat this damn illness. I hope.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Improved

I'm on my fourth cup of coffee already today, and it's just after noon. I've been very busy this week, and I guess it's finally caught up with me today. I'm tired. But I'm doing well. My mood has been slowly improving since last weekend.

The time of my last post, 3:00 Sunday morning, seems to have been a turning point. My direction changed. The downward, dark spiral stopped and light began to reenter my life. I've been on a slow, upward trajectory ever since.

The light reentering has been such a relief. A relief, yes, that's been my primary reaction. I'm so grateful I'm no longer in free fall. The improved mood allowed me to take care of my business this week. And I've been busy.

As my mood improved, I noticed a little more energy. That allowed me to work an extra day and earn some extra money, which I'll need when I'm unable to work after my hip surgery next month. I'm going to try to get some extra hours each week until my surgery. I don't have any benefits, so no vacation time, or pay, after my surgery, although I will likely miss at least a couple of weeks of work.

The extra energy also came in handy when it came to training. After missing a week of training because of my mood and bronchitis it was nice to get all of my runs in this week. I even did a little speed work. That really wore me out, but it was great to run fast again.

I still have to run today. I have 12 miles on the schedule. Unfortunately, I woke up woefully tired this morning. I'm now finishing my fourth cup of coffee, and I've already taken a one hour nap. Perhaps by the time I finish my mound of laundry I'll have generated enough steam to get out the door.

I'm sure I'll get my run in somehow, but regardless I'm happy to feel the light again. I hate this illness. I hate the ups and downs which always seem to surprise. But I'm so relieved to be on an upward rather than downward trajectory today. I'll take it, fatigue and all.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fortune at the End of the Road

There is a popular song right now with a line I find particularly poignant. In February Seven, The Avett Brothers sing, "There's no fortune at the end of a road that has no end." That line is the reason I am sitting up, now, in the middle of the night composing this post.

I ran 20 miles yesterday. I ran for three hours and three minutes. How was I able to do that when feeling so low? I was able to do it because there was an end to the road.

Running long distances, like 20 miles or a marathon, can be quite uncomfortable, often painful, and always a ton of work. But I can do it because there's a fortune at the end of the road. I can endure the pain and discomfort because I know I will feel better in a matter of hours or minutes.

With my depression, the road, for the past 13+ years, has had no end. I've had multiple relapses, treatments, and hospitalizations. I've always known each relapse was going to be temporary, and that often helped me endure. But this time, my thinking has been different. I have been focused on the relapses rather than the recoveries. I've been negatively focused on the endless road, and there is no fortune at the end of a road without an end.

I think I set myself up for failure when I left the hospital last December. I really felt like I had turned a corner. That relapse was so painful, so difficult, so debilitating, and yet I survived. I know I didn't expect to feel so low again so soon. I figured I must have earned at least a few years worth of relapse-free illness. To be so low again, within months, not years, of getting well has really taken a toll on my thinking.

My doctor and I talked a lot about my thinking and how it may contribute to my depression the other day. Actually, as is the case when I'm feeling very low, she did most of the talking. I sat there feeling scolded for thinking negatively, though I know that was not her intent. I think her point was just what I said. During this relapse, my thinking has gotten pretty negative.

This is a subject about which I am particularly sensitive. In fact, I've done an entire post on negative thinking actually being a symptom, not a cause, of depression. But the stigma out there among many "normies" is simple, change our thinking, think happier thoughts, and our depression will be relieved. It's not that simple, but that doesn't mean it's not entirely true.

When feeling well, I work on thinking positively, on not sweating small things, and on being compassionate and humble. The combination of years of cognitive therapy and twelve step work have led me to a simpler, happier life. This simpler life has been due to a change in my approach to the world, which is to say a change in my thinking. For example, gratitude was a foreign concept to me years ago. Now gratitude and humility are a huge part of my life and my being.

However, over the past couple of weeks gratitude has been thrown out the window. I haven't been holding onto what's good in my life. Instead, I've seen only gloom and doom on the horizon. Even if this relapse is going to be temporary, as it certainly will be, instead of recovery I have been focused on the endless road of relapses ahead.

Reflecting on my recent thoughts highlights that focus. I couldn't believe I was going through another relapse. I couldn't imagine I deserved to feel so low again. Why me? Why again? Why now? Suicide felt like the only option, as I knew (actually a thought) I couldn't go through the depths of despair all over again, and I knew (thought) that this relapse would only be followed by another, and another, and another. No matter the work I have done. What was the point? These negative thoughts certainly have not, as my doctor pointed out, helped me get through this relapse, and may, in fact, be prolonging it instead.

The solution is simple, which is not to say easy. I've got to work on my thinking. I've got to refocus my energy. I've got to focus on the fortune at the end of this road, this temporary road I am currently on. I've got to endure the discomfort and the pain. After all, it may only be hours, even minutes, until this road ends. I can't predict the path ahead. I don't know anything for sure. I can only live, and run, in today.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

alone

This is a very lonely illness. Just one more thing to hate about depression.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

darkness

I am a woman of few words today. Just checking in... darkness has descended. My thoughts are bleak and feelings dark. I have slipped into the black hole that is depression. The world swirls around me. I cannot connect. I cannot step in. I cannot stop the free fall. Kicking and screaming have long since left me. I have not the energy for that. Instead, I fall without fight. It's dark. Very, very dark.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sickness and Sickness

This has been a particularly long, tough week. Mentally and physically, things aren't going well. My lungs still aren't cleared up enough to allow me to run. I've been compensating with a bit of weight lifting and some long walks with Jet, but that's about it. That's been tough on my mood.

My mood has been as complicated as my lungs. I've been so, so low, that my MD increased one of my medications. Unfortunately, it appears that increase has caused akathisia, which is this unrelenting restlessness where you feel like you are crawling out of your skin all the time. It's very uncomfortable.

So what to do? Well, we decreased the offending med slightly, which ironically had begun to improve my mood, in order to get rid of the nasty akathisia, but that puts me at risk of another decline in my mood. The fun never ends.

The combination of poor physical health combined with poor mental health, and now anxiety, has really taken a toll on my ability to work. I've managed very few hours over the past week. I made it in to work today, but my anxiety/akathisia was so intense, I could barely breathe, much less think, and I left after only 45 minutes. I spent the rest of the day paralyzed on the sofa, restless, feeling like I needed to move, yet unable to do so. It's been a long day.

I'm supposed to work tomorrow, and I'm very concerned about that. Mornings have been exceptionally tough to get going. Once I get to work, I'm usually okay. Today was the exception. But getting my heavy, low mood out the door has been a challenge. Hopefully tomorrow will begin a little brighter.

I'm also feeling more and more pressure to get back to training. I've missed a 20-miler and one whole week of training, right in the middle of my marathon training program. This is not a recipe for success. I'm hoping to get back out on the road this weekend, probably Sunday, and hoping I can manage more than just a few miles, too. The Chicago Marathon is only a five weeks away.

The bottom line, however, is I am exhausted and frustrated with the current state of things, mentally and physically. I feel like a yo-yo. One day things are improving, the next I have a brand new debilitating symptom. One day I feel some energy and hope, the next day I can't force my body to move. Today, I wanted to curl up and disappear. I'm tired. Stability, I hope, has to return soon.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Trip to the ER

Yesterday I was scheduled to run 20 miles. As mentioned in my previous post, in addition to my recent poor mood I haven't been feeling physically well since Tuesday. What started as a sore throat and body aches had moved into my chest by Friday. Still, without the body aches and sore throat, I felt better overall, and decided to give my run a shot.

Unfortunately, the day did not begin well. My mood Friday night into Saturday morning was awful. I was heavy and sad. I had decided to run with my friend and the local running group, so I had to drive to the meeting point. As I sat in my car waiting for the run to start, I could hardly move. I was heavy and sad. I felt hopeless. Depression had me gripped tightly in its fist.

Somehow I got my feet to move and began the run, but within the first mile I began having trouble. This time it was my chest more than my mood dragging me down. I had used my asthma inhalers prior to running, but I was still wheezing and working way too hard for the pace I was running. I needed to slow my pace, which I did, and I watched as the majority of the group (20-25 people) ran ahead and out of sight. Metaphorically, that sight was a perfect match for my mood. Heavy, sad, and alone.

I almost turned around at mile three, but a water stop rejuvenated me a bit. I knew, however, I was not going to finish the entire distance. I could have taken an 8 mile route, but I pushed past that turn and forced myself to complete 11, which was a mistake. I ended up walking much of the last mile. I was supremely frustrated with my body's limitations. And I was wasted, mentally and physically. I pushed too hard for my current condition.

By the time I arrived home, took a shower, and attempted to lie down, I couldn't stop coughing. And my coughs were deep and painful. I was wheezing and gurgling. My lungs were heavy and full of gunk. My temperature was high. I tried to rest, but after just a few minutes it became obvious I needed some medical attention. I drove to the emergency room a few miles away.

I think the doctor was pretty impressed with how horrid my lungs sounded. He quickly got me going on a nebulizer treatment. That helped. It took care of the gurgling, but I was still wheezing. The doctor was a little surprised my chest x-ray looked okay, but he thought I was probably developing something worse and started me on a short course (5 days) of Prednisone and antibiotics.

I got home and took the prescribed Prednisone. Shortly thereafter I was able to breathe better and also able to rest. It seemed to help almost immediately. Today, I'm feeling much better. Besides cleaning my house and walking Jet, I've allowed myself to rest. I've got enough fluids in me to run a couple of marathons! And while I'm still coughing, it's a little less painful and a little more productive.

Some of you are probably wondering what the hell I was thinking when I began my run. Well, here's the thing. My mood has been so poor, I knew running would improve it at least a bit. Also, I thought running might actually help loosen up my chest. I've had previous experiences where that has been the case. Hindsight being 20/20, I shouldn't have pushed past the 8-mile turn. Even 8 miles likely would have been too far. Four to six miles was probably a better goal. Deciding to run 20 miles with a group was probably the worst decision I made, as it spurred me to push on, despite how poorly I felt, for fear of what others might think.

The good news is I'm feeling better. Even mentally, I'm a little less low today. I'll wait until tomorrow to make a decision about my next run. I'm going to try to be patient and take as much time as my body needs. Lesson(s) learned.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Still slow

I'm still frustrated and angry about the current state of affairs. My mood is not good. I'm still having trouble moving my body. I'm still heavy and slow. I'm sleeping more hours than I'm awake, no matter how hard I try to stay awake. I'm exhausted. And I'm feeling worthless, isolated and alone.

My thoughts are about the only things that are moving quickly right now, and they're providing no relief. I'm being bombarded by negative thinking. I'm being heckled by my worthless brain. I'm being trashed by thoughts about my character, my illness, what I should be doing, etc... It's no fun.

On top of all that joy, I developed some sort of virus today. Sore throat, headache, body aches; the whole ball of wax. I had to stay home from work. Even though it has been difficult getting through the days at work, it has at least been a healthy distraction. Today was a really long day of feeling like crap mentally and physically.

I'm hoping this virus is short-lived, as I'm supposed to spend the weekend with D at the lake. I'll figure out tomorrow whether that's going to happen or not. I'm also scheduled to run a 20-miler this Saturday. I was able to run a bit yesterday, but today was impossible for all of the above, obvious reasons. I hope things improve for Saturday. It sure would be nice to feel like a runner again. Come to think of it, it sure would be nice to feel human again.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

At mile six...

I ran a local half marathon this morning. It was at mile six that I began composing the title to this post, and the title most appropriate at the time was/is Fuck Depression! Fuck this despicable illness. Fuck the despair and negativity. Fuck the lonliness and isolation. Fuck the emptiness. And most pertinent this morning, fuck the heavy, paralyzing, immobility. I hate this illness.

I knew running this morning was a dubious idea. After all, with the exception of work, I had been stuck in my house all week. Depression had me tightly in its grasp. I had hardly moved, much less run any miles. But I was hopeful nonetheless. I thought, if I could get myself to the starting line my fitness may prevail. After all, I've been running/training for months. I was hoping the missed week wouldn't bite me in the ass.

But I did get bit in the ass this morning. Depression ripped me to shreds. I could do nothing to change what took place. With the exception of the first mile, when I felt okay, every successive mile was painful and slow, and slower, and slowest. The first time I contemplated dropping out was at mile three. My legs were dead. I couldn't catch my breath. My energy was already low. I knew it wasn't going to get better.

I knew the next ten miles would only get tougher, and they did. I don't know why I didn't drop out. Pure stubborness, I guess. But I didn't have fun. I didn't enjoy myself. Instead I was angry and frustrated, disappointed and uncomfortable. I ran as much as I could, but I walked a fair amount, too. I didn't want to walk, but there was no other choice. My body and my brain rebelled the entire race today.

Fuck depression! Today I ran the second slowest half marathon I've ever run. Ever. I'm not happy, but I'm glad I tried. I think staying home and giving in to the lethargy would have ultimately felt worse.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Slammed

As we say in Minnesota, "Uff Da!" Life got difficult yesterday. It happened in mere moments. Depression slammed me to the ground. It slammed me so violently, there must be a deep etta-shaped divot in the earth. I don't know what happened. It was awful.

On Monday, I felt a little low, but it was no big deal. It happens. But Tuesday...I could barely get out of bed yesterday. I didn't do anything all day. I tried several times to get moving, but I failed each time. From my bed to the sofa and from the sofa to the bed, that's as far as I got. I slept and slept and slept. But no matter how much I slept, it wasn't enough. My mood was low, and the less I moved the lower it got.

It was a vicious cycle. I became more distressed as the day went along. I was distressed about how distressed I was. But being distressed didn't change the reality. My body was heavy. It was difficult to move. I was so, so low. And I could do nothing to stop the free fall. Depression got the best of me yesterday.

I'm still not great today, but I was able to get up and go for a very short run. I missed my scheduled 9 miles yesterday, so I was hoping for 6-9 before work this morning. I was pretty proud of myself for getting out of bed, getting dressed, and making it outside. But it became very clear very quickly that I was not going to get very far. I struggled through two miles and immediately went back to bed.

I got out again to go to work, and that went okay, but it wasn't easy. I've been home for several hours now, and I just got out of bed again. I think things are improving. I never could have worked yesterday.

I was hoping to run a little tonight, but now I'm focusing more on a walk. I have a half marathon this weekend. Feeling so heavy and low, and missing all these scheduled miles isn't making me feel very optimistic about the race.

I'm trying not to panic about my missed miles or my mood. I'm trying to be patient. I know this will pass, and I'm hoping for sooner rather than later. I can't continue like this. I have things to do, miles to run, work to perform. Being cooped up in my house feeling like crap isn't working for me.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Some thoughts on Robin

Rest in peace, Robin Williams. I am so sorry you had to experience the soul-sucking despair this illness forces upon us. Like most of us, you kicked and screamed your way through life despite depression. You defied the darkness. You battled the demons. You ignored the lonely suffering. You survived. Until you couldn't anymore. I am so sorry you're gone.

I realize it's been several days since the brilliant Robin Williams took his own life. To say I, like many, was shocked, is an understatement. I didn't know. I didn't know of the long standing depression. I didn't know of the alcoholism. I don't watch enough talk television, I guess. I didn't know. But when I heard, I totally understood.

In the days since his death, I've found myself scared. Most of you know suicide is something with which I've done battle. The depression relapse I endured last fall and early winter nearly took me to the end. So I get it. But why him and not me? In a moment, I could have made the same decision, but I didn't. That doesn't make me better or worse. It just is. But why is it? I don't know the answer to that. I don't understand, and yet I do.

I get it, Robin Williams, and I feel nothing but empathy toward you today. I'm sad depression took your magnificent soul from us. I'm sorry you died alone. I wish someone, anyone, had been there to help, but it wasn't meant to be. I don't condone or condemn suicide, but I do understand. Rest in peace, Robin Williams. Rest. In. Peace.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Just a little note

Things are going well around here. I've been busy working, running, and taking care of Jet. Work has been busier than usual, and so far I'm handling it okay, although I am a bit brain dead by the time I get home. I definitely need my days off for my brain to recuperate.

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings I'm taking a weight training class, which just about knocks me flat every time! I love it, though. I'm definitely getting stronger. Unfortunately, I am scheduled to run my longer, speedier workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well. Thus far, I've gotten the miles done, but I've not been able to do any of the scheduled speed work. I figure I'll get back to speed training when my weight training class ends in 4 weeks. Until then, I'll just keep working on getting stronger.

Other than missing some speed training, my running is going well. My hip is holding up, and I'm putting in the miles. I ran 17 miles with a friend this past Saturday. It's funny, as my friend and I noted on Saturday, 17-20 miles used to be such a big deal, and we often dreaded it. That's not the case anymore. Sure it's still difficult, but I don't dread the long runs and actually enjoy them most of the time now. I guess that means I'm in decent shape.

Work, running, Jet, sleep...that's pretty much my life right now. I'm not up to much otherwise. By the time I take care of each of those things it's time to start another day. My mood is holding up well. I'm glad. I'm grateful. It's nice to feel good and to be able to handle whatever life throws my way. But it's also nice that life isn't tossing too many curveballs right now. Carry on, friends.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A really nice weekend

D was here over the weekend. He arrived Friday and left yesterday. We had a wonderful time together. It was so nice, I'm missing him a bunch today.

We ran an 11 mile race Saturday morning, which went fairly well for both of us. It was a gorgeous morning for a run, and we ran on a beautiful, woodsy, paved trail. We're both training for marathons right now, and this race fit right into our training schedules. We spent time before and after the race socializing with the other runners. I am lucky to be a part of a very kind, fun loving, running community. It was a nice way to start the day.

Shortly after arriving home and cleaning ourselves up, we left for another adventure. I arranged for us to do the ropes course at a local environmental learning center Saturday afternoon. First we took in the main street of a small, charming town nearby. They were having a weekend celebration, so there was a lot going on. We took in the sights, did a little shopping, and had a little to eat before heading for the ropes course.

The ropes course consisted of six "events" 30-feet in the air. The course is in the middle of the woods, on a 200 foot bluff, so you walk among the tree tops while out there. It starts with walking from one 30-foot tower to another on a long log and finishes with a stroll along a single wire before taking a zip line back to earth. It was awesome!

I'm not afraid of heights, and of course I was safely harnessed into two overhead wires while up there, so I was surprised at how nervous I got. The log was pretty easy, but the second event was called the Cherry Picker, and it was nerve-wracking! By the time I finished, I was dripping with sweat. D had the same experience. It was really challenging but really fun, too. We were both glad we went. I'd like to go again.

We wrapped up Saturday with a lovely dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. After our busy day it was nice to get dressed up and have a really good, relaxed meal. Yesterday we spent time outside with Jet. We went for a long walk around a small lake and even took him out for coffee with us. It was difficult when it was time for D to go. But we had a really nice weekend. I'm already looking forward to seeing him again.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Not feeling it

I know. I've been out of touch. I just haven't felt like writing lately. I've felt like working. I've felt like running. I've felt like going to meetings. I've even felt like seeing friends. But I haven't felt like writing. Sorry about that. It's a pretty rare occasion when I don't feel like writing. I'm not sure what's going on. I don't have a lot to say, I guess.

I'm doing better than I was a few days ago. My slumping mood lasted a couple of days. Thursday was long and tough. I got pretty low and pretty lazy. Friday and Saturday were better, but work both days wasn't great. I did the best I could with my distracted brain. I got through. As was my hope, the slump passed. Today I'm okay.

I'm back in training mode now. I have a weight training class every Tuesday and Thursday morning, and I'm already doing some lengthy runs, like 16 miles, which I ran on Sunday. The Chicago Marathon will be here before I know it.

This weekend D will be here, and we're running an 11 mile race together on Saturday. We haven't been together since early July, so I'm anxious to see him. I'm sure the weekend will come and go way too quickly. It usually does.

That pretty much covers things. As I noted earlier, I just don't have much to say right now. I apologize to those of you looking for more. This too shall pass. Carry on, Friends.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

One strange day

Things have been going well. I've been working, running, lifting weights, going to meetings, and generally keeping up with life. But today, as they say in bike racing, I apparently cracked. I've fallen a long way down, and I don't like it one bit.

The day began as every Tuesday and Thursday does, with me lifting weights and circuit training in my 5AM, 45 minute class. I then had some breakfast, saw my doctor, and did a bit of shopping for my mom's birthday gift. It was a beautiful morning and all was well.

The plan was to come home after shopping, rest, and watch The Tour de France (hence the bike racing reference above), before going for my afternoon run and to my evening meeting. But the plan didn't materialize. After returning home, I began feeling off. Suddenly I was slammed with fatigue and could barely keep my head up. I tried to take a nap, but my brain wasn't as sleepy as my body, and it wouldn't shut up. I was bothered by horrible, intrusive thoughts as I fitfully tried to rest. Without the needed rest, my day quickly went black.

It all happened so fast. My mood followed my energy and dove into the toilet. As I sit here now, I'm frustrated and confused. I know I should just force myself out of this chair and at least go for a walk. I know I should stop typing and get to my Thursday night meeting. But the motivation is flagging to say the least. Knowing what I should do and doing it are two very different things.

There's still time, of course. This very strange, rapidly changing day is not over yet. I'm going to make an effort to do something outside my house. Perhaps it will help. Likely, it will help. But getting out of this chair may take all the energy I've got.

I pray it's a one and done day. I pray the sun arising tomorrow lifts me up. I don't have to figure out what happened. It is what it is. I'll keep on keeping on. After all, this too shall pass. I have to count on that.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Surgery

If you've been around here for several years, you know I had a right hip injury which required surgical intervention in the past. I tore my right hip labrum many years ago. It went undiagnosed for years despite many visits to several doctors, the last of whom, an orthopedic resident at the world famous Mayo Clinic, told me to see a psychiatrist because she didn't know what was wrong and therefore determined I was faking it.

Shortly after this insult, I took a physical therapy continuing education hip course taught by a European instructor. He described my symptoms exactly, as he taught us about labral tears. Turns out European doctors had been diagnosing and treating labral tears for years, while only two doctors in the United States, at that time, were in the know. Thankfully, one of them, Dr. Palmer, was located in Stillwater, Minnesota, just 90 minutes up the road. I had my first arthroscopic surgery in 2002. I was pain free for the first time in years.

Being stupid, I reinjured my hip, had another procedure in 2006, and was again pain free. Now, eight years later, I've been having trouble again. I didn't do anything stupid this time. The pain has been coming on gradually over the past 2-3 months. When it began, I recognized the ache in my groin immediately. It was my labral pain. Of course I hoped it would just pass, but it didn't, so I finally returned to Dr. Palmer a couple of weeks ago. An injection helped, but the follow-up 3D CT scan showed bony irregularities, likely congenital, to both my femur (leg bone) and my acetabulum (hip socket) which together are causing a pinching of my labrum (a ring of soft tissue which helps hold the leg bone in the hip socket). If any of you have had shoulder impingement, this is very similar to what's going on in my hip.

Fortunately, this is not a running injury. In fact, my hips and knees looked great on x-ray. I have beautiful joints. This is a pinching of soft tissue. Sitting is actually my most uncomfortable position. But I do feel the ache in my groin most of the time now. It needs to be fixed, and that means another arthroscopic surgical procedure. Hopefully, this will be the last, as the 3D CT very clearly identified the areas which need to be addressed. The bony irregularities will be smoothed out so the labrum has room and won't be pinched. And I'll again be without pain.

I've decided to put off the surgery until after I run the Chicago Marathon this October. Dr. Palmer has given me the okay to continue training. Running won't make anything worse. I'm waiting until after Chicago because while I'll be able to walk immediately after surgery, I will not be allowed to run, jump, or squat for three months following the procedure. That means no training until mid to late January, 2015. That puts Boston, 2015, in question, but I've done Boston three times. I've never run Chicago. My training is going very well, and I'm really looking forward to experiencing all that the Chicago Marathon has to offer.

I'm feeling very hopeful that this surgery, guided by the incredible 3D CT scan, will finally take care of what's been an on and off injury for close to 20 years now. While it hasn't really affected my running, it's no fun to be in pain. I'm looking forward to no longer having to endure that familiar, lingering ache in my right groin, and it will be really great to be able to sit without discomfort. Prayers are, of course, appreciated.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Negativity is exhausting

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend several days in close contact with someone with whom I rarely spend time. For this person the glass is always half empty. You know the type? Regardless of what is going on, this person sees the negative side of it. Anything legitimately negative is always the result of some conspiracy, and this person is always on the short end of the stick. The world, in a nutshell, is against this person. What a waste. I wish I had the days I spent with that person back.

That person, unfortunately, was quite vocal in expressing all opinions and displeasure. It wore me out! I couldn't handle it. I can't handle negativity in general. I don't listen to political news or political talk shows because of all the negative speech and name calling. I don't watch reality television. I don't listen to cranky radio personalities. I don't need that negative energy. I'd much rather surround myself with something positive.

As a result of working the steps of my recovery program, I attempt to maintain a positive attitude. I no longer feel the world is out to get me. There are no conspiracies. I'm not that important. I try to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. Given the opportunity, I look for hope in difficult situations. Don't get me wrong. I'm not always happy, joyous and free, and I'm no Pollyanna. But I now realize how much energy negativity saps from me. It's not worth it. My energy is too valuable to waste.

I'll never get those days spent with vocal negative person back, but they weren't entirely wasted. The time spent actually reinforced my desire to stay positive. Spending that time also reminded me of how I used to be. I no longer have to live that way. I feel sorry for vocal negative person. That person is completely unaware of how much simpler and pleasant life can be. I am grateful today to live simply.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Back home

I apologize for the lack of posts while away on my vacation with D, but time flew by. I'm now back home. D and I had a very nice time. We spent time on and in the water, time playing with Jet, time cooking wonderful meals, time running together, and time relaxing quietly in the house. It was difficult to leave today. It seems to be getting harder and harder to separate after spending time together. Life sure would be simpler if we lived near each other.

We made time for running while we were together. A couple of days ago we ran a beautiful 13-miler on a bike trail through the woods. In fact, it was the very trail on which we met four years ago. I always enjoy running and biking on that trail. As we did a couple days ago, D and I usually end up reminiscing about our chance meeting when we're on the trail. It's really quite amazing we met there, in the woods, five and a half hours from my house and four hours from his. Perhaps it was meant to be.

Work resumes tomorrow. Things continue to go well there. I'm actually looking forward to checking in with my patients. I'm anxious to see how much they've improved (hopefully) while I was gone. It will be good to get back to life. Maybe jumping back into things will help me miss D less. I hope so, because right now I'm missing him a bunch.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Packing up

I don't have much to report tonight. My mood has improved over the past few days. My thinking didn't keep me awake last night, either. That was quite a relief. I've been really busy lately. Work, Jet, running, keeping up with my house, and packing for the weekend have kept me occupied.

I'm getting ready to go see D for the holiday. We're spending time together at his lake home in northern Wisconsin. In fact, we'll be together for several days, as I'm not returning until next week. I'm really looking forward to spending some quality time together. I'm also really looking forward to just getting away. I need some relaxation time. I feel like I've been running steady since getting back from Grandma's Marathon 10 days ago. I'm ready to stop and sit awhile. I can't wait.

To my American readers, have a safe and happy 4th of July holiday. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Vampires in the night

As I have the past several nights, I spent much of last night awake. I think my mood has recovered a little bit, but part of my brain is apparently unaware. It's on overdrive. Worry thoughts, negative thoughts, future concerns; they are all crowded in there and wanting to be heard. Unfortunately, they've recently chosen the middle of the night or very early morning as the time to clamor out. Don't you hate that? It's not like there's anything I can do about anything, no matter how much the thoughts clamor, in the middle of the night. Yet clamor on they do.

Last night was no different. Thought after thought took its turn, each one making a racket, one louder than the last. I covered my head with the pillow. I rolled from side to side and flipped from front to back. I turned on the television. I turned off the television. Bathroom trips were routine. But sleep was elusive, and it didn't last. Daylight was the only thing which successfully sent the thoughts away. But I know they're still there. Like vampires they're hidden now in the dark recesses of my mind, waiting, it seems, for the moon to shine before making their boisterous rounds again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Post Marathon Dip

I'm having a little dip in my mood. I think it has to do with the marathon I just completed. I've experienced this kind of low before, after a marathon, but it's been a rare occurrence. Of course, I'm getting anxious about it. I'm anxious about the fact I don't find anything intriguing or interesting. Anxious about feeling lethargic. Anxious about feeling easily distracted and stressed. Anxious about feeling low. I'm anxious, and a little scared, that this little slide could lead to an avalanche.

Since returning from the race, I've gone to work, but I haven't been out of the house much otherwise. I skipped a social event last night, but at least I went for a walk instead. Other than that walk, I haven't done anything active. No weight lifting, no running, no swimming and no biking. About the only thing I have done a lot of is sleep. I'm not so much tired as I am bored and lethargic. Sleeping is the easiest thing to do. It's not the best, though, and I know that.

I'm going to try to do something better today. I'm planning to go for a nice, slow run this afternoon. Right now that goal feels far away, but I know I can do it. I'll at least take a walk. No matter how difficult it is to get started, I know I'll feel better after I go. I've got to go. It's beautiful outside. If I don't move, my slide may eventually turn into an avalanche. I cannot take that risk.

This too shall pass. Like the rough patches during the marathon, I have to remember that. They passed. This too shall pass.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Happy 3:43

Yesterday dawned drizzly, cold and gray. It was a perfect day for a long run. Rather than worry about overheating, as was the case in my last two marathons, there was actually a risk of hypothermia at Grandmas Marathon yesterday. The fog was so heavy and thick, it was hard to see the mile markers (huge, tethered, yellow balloons) as we approached each of them. And I don't think the temperature ever rose beyond the mid-50's. Like I said, it was a perfect day for a long run.

I took advantage of the conditions. Wearing shorts, two shirts, a hat, and a pair of gloves, I raced my way to a 3:43:59 Boston-Qualifying time. I definitely run better in cooler weather!

I actually surprised myself yesterday. Despite the cool conditions, I didn't feel all that great for quite awhile. I ran the first three miles with my friend, Therese, but then I asked her to go ahead without me. I could tell I needed to slow down, or I was going to crash later, and I certainly didn't want that. She went ahead, and I slowed my pace just a bit. Still things were iffy. I wasn't at all confident. It wasn't until after a pit stop at mile eight, which cost me 40 seconds, that I began to improve mentally and physically.

Concerned about the lost 40 seconds, which I know is silly, I picked up the pace and surprisingly felt okay. I went from running 8:30's per mile to running 8:20's for most of the middle miles. Rather than thinking too far ahead, I focused on each successive mile. I thought only of making it to the next mile marker, literally running one mile at a time, rather than worrying about what was going to happen miles down the road. I also smiled a lot.

The smiling started, innocently, around mile 12 or 13 when I began to gain confidence. With each successful mile completed, I got more and more confident that I was going to finish, and perhaps even finish well. The smiling seemed to help my running, so then I began smiling on purpose, especially during rough patches. It worked. Each time I felt tired or worn out, I smiled, and each rough patch eventually passed. And that led to more smiling!

Before I knew it, I was at mile 22, then 23 and 24. I knew I was going to finish. I let it go. I couldn't wait to cross that line. Miles 24 and 25 were the two fastest miles I ran in the entire race. I slowed again during mile 26, as my legs tightened up, but I crossed the finish line tall and proud.

Unlike the recent Boston and Med-City Marathons, there was no walking yesterday. I ran the entire distance, and I was proud of that. I also ran a negative split, meaning I ran the second half of the race faster than the first, and I was proud of that. For the most part, I didn't even think about my overall time. I was at mile 25 before I noted I was likely going to finish well under the Boston Qualifying standard. And I did. I qualified by more than 10 minutes.

Qualifying was a bonus, however. I'm really happy to have run well and to have felt well while doing it. I'm really proud I didn't let myself down. I didn't let negativity creep in. Instead I felt almost giddy at times. I had fun. Even though I initially didn't feel great, I kept going until I felt better. The training, which hadn't had me feeling very confident lately, did pay off. I challenged myself, and I met the challenge. It was a good day.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dear Kathy

I don't know if you remember me, but I certainly haven't forgotten you. I tend not to forget people who have made a huge, positive impact on my life. You were one of the first. You tended to my psychological needs for years, from the time we first met, which was after my first suicide attempt landed me in the your inpatient, adolescent, mental health unit, through the end of my college years, when I picked up and moved away. Even after that time, I returned when I could and stopped in to say hello. I always wanted you to know, needed you to know, I was doing well.

Kathy, you were such a big part of my earliest healing from this nasty illness of depression. When I needed a steady, loving presence, you were there. You were patient, and kind, and caring. You were generous with your time and spirit. As I grew, and the depression resolved, I kept in touch because I wanted to show you what all your work had done for me. Despite my challenges throughout childhood and adolescence, I was well. Depression hadn't beaten me, and much of the credit for that goes to you.

Thirteen years ago, the depression returned, and I lost touch. My journey changed direction more than once. Life got complicated. For awhile, I got lost in a bottle. Job loss, hospitalizations, financial strain...mental illness reigned supreme. I struggled, alternating periods of wellness with stretches of devastation. I love rollercoasters, but this one was no fun.

During those difficult years, I'd return to Duluth, wander past your hospital or drive by your home and think, "I should stop in," but I didn't. For some reason, I didn't want you to know things were tough. I can't explain why. But I missed keeping in touch. I never forgot your impact on my life. I continue to want to thank you, over and over again.

And it's been too long, Kathy, since I've checked in, and I hope it's not too late. With great trepidation, I tried to call, but a thirteen year old number only rang without end. I was almost relieved. After all, what would I say? Too many years have passed. You may not even know who I am.

Yet I want you to know, Kathy, that when I'm here in Duluth, as I am practically every year at marathon time, I always think of you. And I think of you with tremendous gratitude in my heart, for you saved me when I wanted to jump. Again and again and again, you were there. Today I am sober and living with, rather than suffering from, depression. Many impactful people have passed through my life, and my gratitude extends to all of them. But I wouldn't be here today without you, Kathy. Thank you.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tapering yet Tired

I had my last long run prior to next Saturday's Grandmas Marathon this morning. It was only 8 miles, but you could have fooled me! I had totally dead legs. Every step was work, and I just wanted to quit. I didn't, of course, but I didn't have any fun despite almost ideal running weather. I'm really concerned now. Grandmas is only one week away, and I can't seem to shake this fatigue. I don't want to have another difficult race. I like Grandmas, and I want to enjoy it.

I almost always have some level of fatigue, but this feels different. I feel heavy. My muscles are sore. And my legs just don't seem to be responding to training. Despite tapering for the marathon, running many fewer miles than usual, and running them with less intensity, I'm tired. Running is difficult. And that's not fun.

As I mentioned here previously, I've decided to take a couple of weeks off and get away from training after Grandmas. I'll run less and only for fun. Maybe I won't even wear my watch! That would be an amazing development for me. I'm hoping to run some shorter races later this summer. I'd like to mix it up a bit. My next marathon isn't until the Chicago Marathon in October, so I have some time to play before I have to get back to serious training. At this point I need the mental break as much as the physical one.

I'm taking a break this weekend, too. Besides an easy (I hope) 4-miler tomorrow, I don't have anything planned for the rest of the weekend. I took advantage of the rainy afternoon and napped today. Tonight and tomorrow I will just be puttering around the house, relaxing, and getting a few chores done. With the exception of running, I don't even need to leave the house. And I may not.

Before long, I'll be in Duluth, Minnesota, preparing to run Grandmas. Until then, I'm going to try to take one day at a time and not spend too much time worrying about the race. Whatever happens will be okay. I need to keep reminding myself of that. It's the journey, not the destination. Right?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Feeling Apologetic

I must confess. I feel bad. I feel like I need to apologize to my regular readers. I'm sorry I haven't been writing here as frequently as usual. Things have been going so well lately, I feel like I have little to say. I don't think another report about my past few days is all that interesting.

That being said, I'm somewhat grateful I have little to say. Things have been pretty simple and straight forward lately. There is no drama, and I'm so, so thankful for that. Work is going well, running is running, and Jet still makes me laugh out loud every day. What else is there to say?

So I apologize. I don't have much to say. Day by day, my life is moving forward. I've been putting one foot in front of the other, meeting my responsibilities, tapering for Grandmas Marathon, loving Jet, getting out with friends once in awhile, and taking care of my physical and mental being. It may sound boring, but sometimes boring is good.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

10 Mile Trail Race

I ran another race this morning. It was a 10 mile trail race at a local park. Most of the race was in the woods. The footing was tricky and the trail had many, many hills, as most trails do. My legs were already tired from my 5 AM weight lifting class yesterday, and as expected the hills really challenged those tired muscles. But I held my own, I'm happy to say.

I've done this race several times, and I always wonder what the hell I'm doing in the middle of it. It is as mentally challenging as it is physically. There are hills interspersed throughout, some very steep, including one just before mile five, at the top of which I couldn't imagine running another one while realizing I still had five more miles to go. Before long I dreaded running down the steep descents as much as the ascents because my thighs were jelly by mile eight. It takes a lot of muscle control to run downhill. I'm happy I didn't fall on my face.

I didn't stick around for the final results, so I don't know if I received an age group award, but I finished just under 1:27:00. That's about an 8 minute, 40 second average per mile. It's not the 8:15 average I ran a couple years ago, but I was quite happy with it.

Based on my last two slow performances at the Boston and Med-City Marathons, I had no idea what to expect of myself today. To run 8:40 pace on this difficult trail was a pleasant surprise. My legs held up better than I thought they would. That gives me a bit of confidence going into Grandmas Marathon, which is now just two weeks from today.

I start tapering for Grandmas in earnest now. I've decided I'm going to take a short break from training after Grandmas. I'll still run, but I won't train. I'll just run some short distances a few days per week, for fun, for a couple of weeks. I think I need the break, mentally and physically, and I'm looking forward to running for the pure joy of it for a bit. After all, I do enjoy and appreciate running, and I don't want it to ever become a chore. While not a chore, today was hard work, but I'm glad I made the effort. It was a good race.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hello June!

I thought summer would never arrive, and I'm welcoming the warm weather and sunshine with open arms. I ran 8 miles in the middle of the day today and just soaked it all in. I was sweating up a storm but enjoyed every minute.

I spent this past weekend with D. He came to visit from Milwaukee. We ran together, spent a day with my brother, had a nice dinner out, and had brunch with my best friend, Wendy. D hasn't met any of my brothers, so it was nice for him to meet at least one of them. They seemed to enjoy each other. We spent the day walking around, eating, and shopping in my brother's historic small town. The weather was gorgeous. My brother was funny, as usual. And we had a really fine day.

Wendy also had not met D. She's been teasing me, saying he's just a figment of my imagination. Well they finally got to meet when we had brunch together on Sunday. We had a great time and laughed a lot. Wendy gave D her seal of approval afterward. It's always good when your friends like your boyfriend. It was a very nice weekend.

D left Sunday afternoon, and as usual I was exhausted. I think I slept for two hours after he left. I love when he's here, but I always feel tired after he's gone. I think it's just the result of being out of my routine. I'm busier than when I'm alone on the weekends, and I don't get to nap.

I don't think I've yet recovered from the weekend because my parents arrived yesterday right after work. They spent the night and left this morning. So again, no nap yesterday. I worked 6 hours, went for my run, and then spent the evening with my parents. They helped me pick out a new lawn mower, and we went out to eat. By the time we got home, put the lawn mower together and tested it out, it was time for bed.

Thankfully, I didn't work today. I napped after my parents left, ran, and mowed my lawn. I got back into my routine, but I am still tired! I'll be back at work for another 6 hours tomorrow. It's frustrating to be so tired. I feel like I should be able to handle the slight uptick in activity without so much fatigue, but apparently I can't. And I guess there is no use to be frustrated by it. It is what it is. I'll hopefully sleep well tonight and catch up. I'm looking forward to that.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Disability?

I'm doing well at my new job. I'm getting used to the documentation requirements and the layout of the different buildings. My patients, of course, are wonderful. Primarily I work in little towns surrounding my city. They are all farming communities, so most of my patients are farmers. They're used to working hard and are generally willing to do what I suggest. I'm working with some lovely women with wonderful personalities right now. It's fun.

My coworkers have also been great so far. Maybe physical and occupational therapists are just cool people! It's always nice when I enjoy the people with whom I work. I've worked three, four hour days the past two weeks. It doesn't sound like much, but it's worn me out, nonetheless. I hope and expect that will get better soon. Next week I'm bumping up to three, six hour days.

As a new employee, I've had to fill out tons of paperwork. That's typical, so I was prepared for it. However, one of the forms I had to fill out led to this post. The questionnaire asked, point-blank, if I had a disability. I could answer "Yes," "No," or "Prefer Not to Answer." The question stopped me in my tracks.

On the one hand, I do have a disability. On the other hand, disability questions typically refer to something other than mental illness. I was uncomfortable with the question. I don't feel comfortable revealing my mental illness unless it gets in the way of my job duties. If I don't have a relapse, my illness doesn't get in the way. So should I say yes or no? What would you say?

I ended up picking, "Prefer not to answer," as my option. I felt like I'd be lying if I said no. But I didn't want the probing follow-up questions a yes answer would likely have initiated. And really, I'm not sure it's any of their business unless I can't perform my duties. But then again, maybe telling them up front would make things easier if I do need accommodations down the road. I just don't know. And doesn't preferring not to answer say something, too? Like I've got something to hide...

I'd be interested to hear what many of you think. Have any of you had to answer this question? What did you say? And if you haven't had to answer it, how do you think you would? Why? I didn't necessarily like my answer, but it was the best choice, I thought, of the three options I had. So that's what I picked. How about you?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Another tough one

I had another disappointing day running today. If the race had only been 15 miles, it would have been a great day. Unfortunately, marathons are 26.2 miles long, and it was those last 11.2 miles that really got me. I felt really good through the half marathon mark. I was running strong, averaging 8 minutes, 35 seconds per mile. Then, out of the blue, the wheels started coming off. And they came off quickly. By 15 miles, I was walking. I could not have been more frustrated.

The rest of the race was tough. I seriously considered dropping out, as I had planned, around 20 miles, but my brother was here cheering for me, which was great, so I kept going. The weather may have had something to do with my quick drop off. The temperatures were in the mid to high 70's, and there was not a cloud in the sky. I stripped out of my shirt, running in only my shorts and a sports bra, but it still got pretty warm out there.

I ended up finishing in 4:04:25. So that's two 4+ hour marathons in a row. I'm now a little worried about Grandmas coming up in June. Marathoning is a lot more fun when I feel relatively good throughout, or even if I feel good until later in the race, but these early descents into fatigue make for really long, not so joyful days. I'd like to get back to having a little more fun, and of course, I'd love to re-qualify for Boston in the process.

The only difference between the last two marathons and Grandmas last year, when I ran a personal best 3:34:58, is weight training. I consistently weight trained last winter and spring. But this year, after my depression relapse, and my return to running in January, I've spent most of my time on the road and little time in the weight room. Over the past few weeks, I've started to remedy that, but I obviously need to do more. I don't think I'll be able to fix the problem in the next month, but hopefully by the Chicago Marathon in October, I'll have stronger, more resilient legs. That's the plan.

It's always nice to run this marathon, as I hear my name cheered from the sidelines and run with familiar faces throughout. In that respect, this year was no exception. And as I stated, it was great to have my younger brother here cheering. He was a great support and an active spectator. I think he saw me 5 or 6 times. That was really nice.

I'm glad I'm coming out of this race with an action plan. I function much better with a plan. And it helps me be more okay with today. It was hot. My legs aren't in their best shape. With a little work, and perhaps, hopefully, with a cooler day, I know I can do better. I'm looking forward to the opportunity.



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