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, February 26, 2017

Home, but...

Warning: this post contains whining and complaint. I returned home from the hospital yesterday. I had plenty to do. We had a huge snow storm while I was an inpatient. It took me almost 2 hours to snow blow the 12-16 inches of snow out of my driveway and off my sidewalks. All the while Jet had a blast exploring his new, deeply filled yard. He's always good for a chuckle. Unfortunately, that was about the full extent of my chuckling for the day.

I've kept busy since returning home, but I'm struggling. I was feeling incredibly cooped up and restless in the hospital. I had to get out of there, and truthfully I felt ready to come home. After snow blowing, I attempted a run with Jet. That was a lesson in frustration. It always amazes me how quickly I lose fitness. Despite doing some walking, yoga, sit ups, push ups, and biking while in the hospital, I felt as if I hadn't run for months. It was discouraging, as I was really hitting my stride, running hard and fast, prior to hospitalization.

Things got worse last night. This damn illness has me over a barrel. Life, it seems, has been sucked from within. I'm tired. I'm tired of the struggle. I'm tired of the fight. I'm in that empty, painful place those of you with depression will recognize instantly. Like a leaden cloak this amorphous, nebulous illness confines and oppresses me. There is no clear way out.

Shifting and heavy and impossible to shake, I am cloaked in deplorable darkness. It is a darkness pulling at me, willing me to quit. It is despicable and dense. I am trapped without fight. I have no pithy, positive spin today. I am hurting, and tired, and feel like giving up. And that's all I've got.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

ECT Update

I'm encouraged today. After only two ECT treatments, my mood and thinking have both improved. I have another treatment scheduled for tomorrow, and I'm hoping to discharge home Saturday. I'm already really antsy to get out of here. I miss Jet. I miss running. I miss my living room. After returning home, I'll likely have 2-3 outpatient ECT treatments next week, which will put me back at work the following Monday.

I'm anxious to get back to work as well. With no time off benefits, I'm not sure how I'm going to pay my bills in a couple of weeks, as there is absolutely no money coming in right now. As I was explaining to one of the nurses last night; I don't receive any employment benefits because I don't work full time, and I don't work full time because my depression worsens every time I increase my hours, and I need to work full time in order to receive benefits for the times when my depression worsens and takes me out of work. It's a vicious cycle I've been stuck in for years.

That cycle is not going to change in the next couple of days, however, so I'm trying to have faith things will work out as they should. What else can I do? I'm grateful and relieved to be feeling a little better. I'm glad to be nearing the end of my stay here. This is a healing place, but I miss my home.

Monday, February 20, 2017

An odyssey

Long story short, I'm in the hospital. Unfortunately, it wasn't that simple. Getting here was quite an odyssey. By Friday evening it became apparent things weren't getting better, only worse. I had just missed my third day in a row of work. I tried to run but failed miserably, and my thoughts were dark, dark, dark. After some convincing a close friend brought me to my local emergency room. The ER docs wanted to admit me to the hospital, but all of the psych beds were occupied. I spent the night in the emergency room while the doctors decided the best course of action.

The course of action which was recommended, and which I found completely unappealing, was a transfer via ambulance to another pysch unit 40 minutes away. The doctor assured me I would spend the night there and transfer back to my local facility as soon as a bed became available the following day. So I went.

Perhaps I'm spoiled. My local psych unit is a healing place with very caring nursing staff and humane, not punitive, rules. It is a place where effective treatment occurs. The unit I was transferred to felt more like a prison, and I was one of the prisoners.

After my unnecessary ambulance ride I arrived at the small, unfamiliar facility Saturday afternoon. Upon arrival I was asked to remove all of my clothing and was given green scrubs to wear instead. It turns out all of the patients are required to wear green scrubs in this unit. For what possible reason I still cannot fathom. Feeling like a prisoner had begun.

The feeling was not short lived. After being shown to my room, a nurse came in with my empty backpack and purse in one hand and piles of my belongings in the other. I couldn't believe the staff had gone through all of my clothing, money, and belongings in my absence! Again, maybe I've been spoiled, but my local facility wouldn't think of checking through my belongings without me present, especially my wallet, money and credit cards! I was horrified.

I was too tired and low to put up a fuss. I spent the rest of Saturday crying and sleeping. I couldn't wait to see the doctor Sunday morning in order to initiate the transfer back to my local facility. Unfortunately, the doctor who visited with me Sunday morning claimed to know nothing of such a plan. It wasn't in any of the notes or orders, she said, and besides my local psych unit was full. She seemed a little too pleased to inform me I would be staying with them for at least the next several days. I was angry, and disconsolate, and powerless to do anything about it.

I don't know what happened but a few hours later the same doctor returned and said she "found" my local doctor's note, but I was still going to have to stay because there were at least 3 other patients waiting for beds ahead of me. Again, I'm not sure what changed, but just a few hours later, I was transferred, via ambulance, from my little prison back to my local facility.

This morning I began ECT. It was a tough day, as the treatment left me with a wicked headache, but I'm now feeling better and settling in. I'm grateful to have access to such professional, compassionate care here. I'll certainly never take it for granted again.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tired of talking

I don't want to talk about it anymore. Talking is becoming more harmful than good.

I sent a note to my psychiatrist yesterday, a note which included the deplorable thoughts running through my fucked up brain. It scared her. And now I feel bad. I didn't mean to scare her. That was not at all my intent! But I guess my thoughts are scary. I guess living with these deplorable thoughts desensitizes me to how despicable and abnormal they actually are. Rereading what I wrote today, it makes sense to me that she may have been alarmed, but I didn't mean to alarm her. I am not a fan of crying wolf. That's not my style. I was just trying to get the thoughts out of my head. She's read and heard many of my violent, deplorable thoughts before. I'm embarrassed to say it never crossed my mind these particular thoughts would alarm her so. But they did. And now I feel so bad. So sorry. And so worried I will lose this safe haven for my monstrous thoughts. Monstrous thoughts in my head are infinitely more powerful than monstrous thoughts written and read.

Phone calls and text messages this morning are annoying me. Am I okay? No. I'm not. But I don't want to talk about it anymore. I don't want to scare you, alarm you, or force you to run the other way. I don't want the police summoned. I don't need an ambulance. I need something, yes, but I don't want any of it right now. I want to scream, "Leave me alone!" But I also know alone is no good either. Now I'm afraid. But I'm less afraid of the thoughts with which my brain is bombarding me than I am of communicating those thoughts aloud to you.

Where does that leave me?
Annoyed. Scared. And tired of talking. That's where.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Outside vs Inside

I worked yesterday. It was a good day. And that's why it was strange from the moment I walked through the door. I watched with fascination as I interacted cheerfully and effortlessly with my coworkers. I marveled at how professionally I treated my patients, all the while smiling and joking. I was efficient and completed all my tasks despite my exhaustion during my 8 1/2 hour day. Who was that physical therapist? Certainly that couldn't have been me. But it was.

One day later, as I struggle with intrusive thoughts and low mood, I continue to be confused by yesterday's performance. The dichotomy between how I looked on the outside and how I felt on the inside was striking. Amazing, really. And it doesn't make sense. It didn't make sense to me in the moment yesterday, and it still doesn't make sense today. I don't get it.

I guess I'm glad I was able to pull it off. My convincing performance allowed me to perform my duties, earn money, and be a contributing member of our team. But here's the really strange part. I wasn't faking. I didn't feel like I was working hard to put on a "good face." The good face just was. I felt empty and low internally, but there was no sign of it externally. How is that possible?

When I got home after work my mood plummeted quickly. It wasn't until that point when my outside matched my inside. It was a long night. And it's been a long day. I can't stop wondering about the weirdness of yesterday. Like I said, I'm glad I was able to work, but I don't feel good about how strikingly my outside appearance differed from how I felt internally. It's disconcerting, confusing and weird. I guess I wish I felt the way I appeared. But I don't.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

just words

hopeless.
that's too easy.

purposeless
pointless
meaningless and
futile.
maybe better descriptors.
maybe.

despairing
dispirited
demoralized and
disconsolate.

heavy
mechanical and
burdened.

just words
lots of words,
but none worthy
of the experience.

depression.
it's more than words.

words don't work.
i wish they did.

depression.
so cliche,
but if you've not been
you cannot know.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Irony

I believe this is what they call irony. In my last post I reflected on my good mood despite some intrusive thoughts. Just prior to that I wrote about gratitude, specifically my gratitude for a very long streak of feeling well. After all, I'm coming up on two years since my last significant depression relapse. Until...

Last week's annoying, intrusive thoughts made way for more frequent and more scary intrusive thoughts. By Thursday the thoughts were interfering with my functioning. By Saturday they were paralyzing, and they dragged my mood into the gutter. Today I find myself marveling at the speed with which things can change. What happened?

For two days, I did little to nothing at all. Sleep was the only thing that relieved my misery. Yesterday, I asked a friend to sit with me for a bit, and her visit helped get me out the door for a run. It was an ugly, painful slog, but at least I was outside. This morning a friend met me at the gym for a 45 minute class. I took the class, and I'm thankful I did, but since then more sleep.

I'm hurting right now. Everything looks dark and bleak, but I know that's the depression having its way. I feel rudderless, purposeless, robotic, and hopeless. It's amazing how quickly things changed. This illness continues to surprise me. I'm hoping and praying this is a short blip in my long streak of feeling well. And I'm praying this is as low as I go.



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