Watch it as it happened HERE!
Depression Marathon Blog
- 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!
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Sunday, September 25, 2016
October 19, 2014, was the last time I lined up at the starting line. Twenty three months and seven days ago was the last time I ran and finished a race. Until today. Today I ran a race. I crossed the starting line at 8:01 AM. One hour and forty eight minutes later, after 13.1 wet miles (it rained lightly throughout), I crossed the finish line of the 2016 Med City Fall Half Marathon. My friend, Heidi, took a picture of me at the finish line. I am smiling a huge, joyful, relieved smile. I'm still smiling right now. I am so, so happy and grateful. I'm back. And it feels really good to be back!
|Mile 13 Happiness|
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Just a short post to say thank you to all who commented on my previous post. Your feedback helped. After reading what you had to say, I no longer felt so alone. I realized my experience was not unique. That helped. It really helped. My psychiatrist and I also made some changes to my medications last week, and I think those changes have been helpful, too. I am feeling better. My mood has lifted a bit. It's not stellar. It's not anywhere I'd like it to be yet, but I have some hope I'm on the mend. I'm still isolating. I'm still having some trouble sleeping. But my energy, thinking and mood are all improved. I'm so grateful for that. I hope that last post gave some of you the same comfort your comments ended up giving me. Carry on, my friends. We are not alone.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
I've been doing this awhile. Since my depression began in November, 2000, I've been through the whole gamut of symptoms and treatments, medications and therapies, and as you know, multiple hospitalizations. I've been through dips, and lulls, and catastrophic crashes in my mood. I've lost time, friends, jobs, and financial stability. Yet I've gained perspective, humility, trusted relationships, and educational opportunities. It's been quite a ride. And while it's not what I envisioned, it is my reality, and I try my best to live through it all with honesty, compassion and integrity.
Despite all these experiences, and especially despite all the depression relapses I've endured, I find myself amazed at the sense of desperation I feel. This is not a new feeling. It's very familiar. I don't always recognize it, but I'm pretty sure it almost always accompanies an extended drop in my mood. I'm noting it today because it's been quite prevalent over the past several days. I don't know any other way to describe it. It's a sense of desperation.
You'd think, with years of this illness under my belt, I'd be better able to ride out the intermittent storms without the sense of panic and doom I currently feel. After all, I've made it this far. History reveals that even my most severe depression episodes have passed 100% of the time. One hundred percent of the time! I've felt hopeless and suicidal. I've been isolated and incapacitated. I've been knocked so low, nobody would have blinked if I hadn't managed to get back up. But I've always gotten back up. So why do I feel so desperate?
I feel scared, alarmed, and surprised by my current symptoms, even though my current symptoms are nowhere near the worst I've ever experienced. I am questioning my ability to function and persevere. I feel hopeless, alone, and lonely, yet I find it impossible to reach out. It's physically painful to be out in public, something I've experienced many times before, but today it's freaking me out. And worst of all, despite all evidence to the contrary, I find myself convinced this episode is not going to pass.
It will pass. It will. I do know that. As uncomfortable as it is in the moment, I know it won't last forever. So why do I feel so desperate? Does anyone else experience this?
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
It's been a tough week. My mood continues to decline. Monster fatigue has set in. Everything I do is more difficult. Everything. Big things, obvious things, like work, take more energy, mental fortitude, and patience than I have right now. Running is also more difficult. I'm so tired I need to nap before I go for a run. My legs feel like lead during my run so even a slow pace feels like a sprint. And then I'm exhausted afterward and practically fall asleep standing up. So my 4 mile run tonight, in total, took 3 hours rather then 36 minutes. Everything requires more time and effort when my mood is low.
But it's not just the big, obvious things which are more challenging. Small, less obvious things are difficult, too, when I don't feel well. I have routines which make my life more simple. When I feel low, I get out of those routines. For example, last night I didn't set out my breakfast food, or make my lunch, or even pick out which clothes I was going to wear today. I do each of those things nightly in order to make my mornings go more smoothly and simply. Well, guess what? This morning was more difficult. It wasn't simple. And it wasn't simple because I was unable to find the energy last night to do what I typically do. Seems like a little thing, but it's another example of how everything gets more difficult when my mood is low.
Depression manifests in so many ways. Making life more difficult is the manifestation I'm noticing today. Despite the heaviness, the brain fog, and the fatigue, I at least made it to work and continued to run this week. But that's about it. Meetings, socializing, errands, and chores...not in the cards right now. I know getting out, socializing, and getting stuff done would probably help my mood, but I just can't right now. I can only do what I can do, and I'm at that limit. I'm hoping for a reprieve soon.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
As I laid awake, exhausted but awake, in bed last night, I had a revelation of sorts. Lying awake for 3 hours lends itself to lots of frivolous brain activity. I wondered how it was this illness, depression, could cause such dichotomous symptoms? For example, my depression often causes me to feel sleepy, unable to keep my eyes open, yet in the next moment, within the same day sometimes, depression might cause me to feel wired and unable to sleep. Isn't that strange?
I thought of more examples. For instance, last night I was sad and tearful, which actually rarely happens. Most of the time, my depression symptoms leave me feeling detached and unable to cry. Yet both instances indicate depression is upon me, my depression.
My depression symptoms may include lethargy and restlessness, carbohydrate cravings and loss of appetite, a need to stay close to home and a need to escape. Sometimes I can't concentrate on anything, but sometimes my ability to concentrate is unaffected. One day I might feel better after socializing, while just being seen in public may be painful the very next day. No wonder this illness is so confounding to so many.
Sometimes my depression doesn't even feel like depression, initially, at least not what most people think of as depression. Several times I've had depressive episodes which began with or were preceded by disorganized, scary, or intrusive thoughts. When I start obsessing about bad things happening to people (or animals) I love, it usually means my mood is on the decline. I've learned this, unfortunately, through experience.
This is a strange illness. There is wide variability of symptoms between individuals, and I think that's one of the things that makes diagnosis difficult and uncertain. What signals clinical depression for one person may mean little to another. But as I understood last night, there's also wide variation in my own symptoms, both between depressive episodes and even within a single episode.
Fortunately(?), 15 years of experience with this illness has taught me a lot. I've learned when I need to be concerned and when I don't. If I recognize symptoms early, sometimes I can make changes, medication, behavioral, or otherwise, and cut off an impending decline. Sometimes the decline happens anyway, but at least I'm not caught off guard. Perhaps knowledge gives me a greater sense of control over this difficult illness.
And maybe that's the point of this post. More knowledge. My symptoms, as dichotomous as they can be, have been charging to the fore lately. I'm still doing what I need to do, but day to day activities have gotten more and more difficult. But I'm still moving forward. I'm dealing as best I can with each symptom as it presents itself, trying to keep them from stacking up and weighing me down. I made it through the day despite very little sleep last night, but hopefully I won't have any more 3-hour-long, middle of the night revelations tonight.
Saturday, September 3, 2016
I'm surprised it's been nearly a week since I last wrote. Maybe it's because my last post is still relevant today. I've had a decent week. At least there have been no big dramas with regards to work, or my teeth, or running this week. It's been a decent week. I'm plugging along.
As happened last week, some things have gone okay, some things not so much. My mood has been in the latter category. I barely got out of my house at least a couple of mornings this week. I so, so wanted to call in sick, but I wasn't sick. I was heavy, and empty, and hopeless, but I wasn't sick. I didn't want to go, but I knew if I stayed home I would only feel worse. Letting depression control my actions always has that effect, and I didn't want to allow that. Besides, patients and co-workers were counting on me to show up, and that's important to me. So I went to work.
I knew getting to work would likely help me feel better, and it did. Work went well despite my mood. I may have been a little less patient, and was probably a little irritable at times, but I always felt better at the end of the day than I did when I arrived. Working with others, helping others, forced me to shift my focus outside myself. If I had stayed home, I would have had my focus all to myself. That certainly wouldn't have helped. I'm glad I made it to work.
I'm also glad I was able to run this week, again despite my mood. I had to take a nap before every run in order to summon the energy to go, but go I did. I ran Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. And then today, I ran long. In fact, Jet and I ran 15.7 miles today. I was really tired when I finished, but I'm so glad I was able to get it done.
I did have a scare in my 13th mile, as my right Achilles began to hurt. It happened suddenly. I took a step, and it hurt. Concerned, well scared, I slowed down to a walk immediately. I prayed, out loud, to God. "Please give me a break!" I was 3 miles from home, so after a minute I began slowly jogging again. It hurt for another minute or so, and then it stopped. I was okay for the rest of my run. I've iced it and rested it, and it's still okay. I'm so grateful. I'll be back on the ElliptiGo tomorrow.
Or maybe I'll be back in the woods tomorrow. I feel like I may need to do something different, like maybe that will help my mood, so I may go for a long hike in the woods tomorrow rather than ride my ElliptiGo. It's supposed to be a beautiful day. Maybe I'll go to a nearby state park and explore some of the trails Jet and I didn't get to on our last hike. The woods usually help my mood, and spending time with Jet is always good.
After that, and a good nap, I'll keep plugging along into next week. I wish I was feeling better, but I'm grateful my mood hasn't gotten worse. Despite feeling low, very low at times, I've been able to get done what I've needed to get done. I'm also grateful for that. Depression has beaten me down a bit this week, but I'm still standing. I take some comfort in and strength from that. Carry on, my friends.