Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 20 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, June 20, 2021

Serenity and Expectations don't mix

My serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. That's not a new thought. It's an axiom, frequently quoted in the recovery community, from page 431 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous. I've heard it hundreds of times in my 15+ years of sobriety. Thankfully, the concept was forefront in my mind last night. I needed it.

Last evening I expected to connect with two different groups of friends. They were tentative plans. I expected to hear from a particular friend in each group early in the evening to solidify the when and where. Dinner and hanging out in the boisterous aftermath of Grandmas Marathon were to be on the docket. I was looking forward to it.

Without going into the details suffice it to say my expectations were not met. Instead, fully dressed for an evening out on the town, I spent the afternoon and evening in my house watching the Olympic Track Trials. 

Don't get me wrong, I loved watching the trials, but I would have been much more comfy in my typical in-house attire of sweats and a t-shirt. And that shower was totally unnecessary! Oh well...

This morning I can say, "Oh, well." But in the moment I was disappointed and hurt. I expected my friends to follow through on their promises. They didn't, and in that moment I had two options. I could fume, stomp my feet, feel sorry for myself, call them names, yell, send nasty text messages, cry, eat a pint of ice cream, blame myself...the possibilities were endless. Or I could accept the situation for what it was--imperfect people behaving imperfectly.

I'm not going to lie. I did spend some time feeling sorry for myself. I also cycled through feeling resentful, sad, confused and angry. The potential was there for me to work myself into a self-flagellating frenzy for sure. 

I was on my way to digging myself into a deep hole of self-pity, from which nothing productive can emerge, when I remembered, "My serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations of...other people...the lower is my serenity. I can watch my serenity level rise when I discard my expectations. ...I have to discard my 'rights' as well as my expectations by asking myself, 'How important is it really?' How important is it compared to my serenity, my emotional sobriety? And when I place more value on my serenity and sobriety than anything else, I can maintain them at a higher level--at least for the time being." 

"Acceptance is the key...I must keep my magic magnifying mind on my acceptance and off my expectations, for my serenity is directly proportional to my level of acceptance." (from Alcoholics Anonymous, page 431)

I'm not perfect. Being "left out" still stings this morning, but it won't ruin my day. This morning I know it's not all about me. It may not have been about me at all! My friends were here with groups of people, managing lots of schedules and personalities, busy with their own situations. Stuff happens. I can't change what happened. I can't control the actions of others. 

The one and only thing I can control is my response to others' actions. And that's what I'm choosing to do today. I can be disappointed and accepting at the same time. It's okay for me to have real feelings about real situations, but it's not okay to dwell, and project, and drown. Acceptance is the key. I prefer serenity so I'm choosing acceptance, and in so doing I'm choosing to start my day well. Have a good day, my friends!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Waiting for that beautiful moment

I so badly want to be a runner again, and I'm trying, but my body is not cooperating as well as I would like. I'm sore. Everywhere. All the time. 

Soreness sucks, but I've been dealing with it. I'm ever hopeful that it will eventually get better. Hopeful that it's not the new reality, a side effect of being 53 years old. My hip, on the other hand, has been more difficult to handle. Ever since I stepped awkwardly off a skateboard, which I obviously shouldn't have been on, one month ago, my hip has not been good.

I just returned from a fairly uncomfortable dry needling session with my amazing physical therapist. She's done everything in her power to get me back to where I was, which was feeling healed, prior to the skateboard incident, but every time I run I end up aching miserably. The reconstructed labrum has been out of whack to say the least.

Every time I see my PT she helps me. My range of motion improves, and my pain lessens, but it doesn't last. Overall I'm better than I was one month ago, but I'm nowhere near where I want to be. I want to be able to drive without my hip aching. I want to be able to sleep without twinges of pain each time I change positions. I want to be able to move about without fear of further damaging my hip. And I want to run.

I want to run. The 45th running of Grandmas Marathon is just a few days away. One of the biggest advantages of moving back to Duluth was going to be my easy access to one of my favorite, and most enjoyable to run, marathons. But instead, for the 5th consecutive year, I will be a non-participant. For some reason that fact seems particularly disheartening this year.

I want to be a runner again. I am running a bit, but I want to be a runner. Specifically, I want to be a marathon runner again. My last marathon was December 17th, 2016. For someone who was used to running 2-4 marathons a year it's been a long, long break. I'm ready for it to be over. 

To that end, my PT and I decided to inquire about getting my right hip injected again. I had it injected last year, and it was a resounding success. My surgeon agreed with the plan. I'm hopeful this injection will be just as successful and allow me to become a runner again. That will be a beautiful moment!

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Hard being a (dog) mom

My boy is hurting. He's nearly blind now, a fact which has been made clear on every hike or run through the woods. Even on well-maintained trails he stumbles, steps off the side of narrow bridges and/or bumps into things. Several weeks ago he ran right into a small tree branch and I thought, "He's going to injure an eye out here." Well, apparently he did.

Apparently Jet scratched his left eye, and instead of healing nicely in 3-5 days as should have happened he developed an ulcer. His eye has been weepy and crusty for several weeks, but with moving and finding a new vet, today was the first chance I had to get him seen. That's when I learned about something called an "indolent ulcer." A simple infection would have been much better news.

The scratch on his cornea didn't heal, developed into this ulcer instead, and as a result the vet had to scrape his eyeball of dead, useless tissue today. He had to make the ulcer even bigger in order to (hopefully) get it to heal. Now my dog is in pain. He can barely open his eye and keeps rubbing it incessantly. He's clearly uncomfortable.

I hate to see my boy so uncomfortable. I hate that he's almost blind. I hate when he looks at me with that questioning gaze, as if to say, "What's happening here? Why can't you make this better?" And then I make it worse by applying the antibiotic ointment the vet prescribed! Mean Mom.

Perhaps this is a silly post. It has nothing to do with depression or running, although Jet and I did have a nice run this morning prior to his vet appointment. Nonetheless, I'm feeling sad and helpless. The being I love more than anything in the world is hurting, and I can't make it better. That sucks. 

Sometimes it's hard being a mom.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

No news is good news

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately for you, my readers, I have little to write about today. I'm doing well. My mood has been holding steady. I've been very slowly organizing my house, though truthfully, I've done little since I last wrote. I've been trying to spend more energy working on my physical health, and that's left less time to organize stuff. Getting back to being a healthy athletic woman is more important right now.

I had a scare with a re-injury to my surgically reconstructed right labrum/hip during my move, so I had to return to physical therapy and am now working more diligently on my hip exercises. I was very concerned I had re-torn my labrum, but thankfully my PT has been able to improve the pain and function significantly. She's amazing. I'm doing my best to stick to my rehab routine in order to keep the pain and instability at bay. 

I've also been continuing to work on my return to running. It's slow, slow, slow, but I'm still going. I'm still doing the run/walk thing, which makes me feel so old and out of shape, but at least I'm running. That's what I'm trying to keep in focus. I'm pleased I've been seeing small improvements in the amount of time and distance run. It's slow, but I'm still going. Someday, I pray, I will be a runner again.

Jet and I continue to explore on my non-running days. We hike on my off days, and we've not yet had to repeat a trail. I've also been riding my ElliptiGo again. It's so fun to ride! And it's the best running-related piece of workout equipment on the planet! I love riding it. I get a much better, more challenging workout on my ElliptiGo than I do from running right now. So grateful I have it as an option, as I believe it's allowed me to be more patient with my running return.

That's about it, my friends. Boring? Maybe. But remember, boring can be good. I'll take it. I'm grateful to be moving forward and feeling well.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Exploring

Forgive my infrequent posting. I've been exploring my new area. There are many, many trails within a few blocks to a few miles of my front door. I grew up in this area, but the trail system has developed immensely since I lived here 30 years ago. (30? Am I really that old? Sadly, yes.)

Jet and I just came in from a 5-mile hike on a few nearby trails, including portions of the Superior Hiking Trail. We were out for 2+ hours, just steps from the backyards of many Duluthians, not to mention the local zoo, yet we didn't see a single soul throughout our entire hike. 

We had the entire wooded hillside to ourselves. We traversed two rivers, hiked along cascading waterfalls, enjoyed the silence among the leafy trees and took in the sights from hidden scenic overlooks. It was lovely. And I'm tired.

I'm tired because the hike today came on the heels of a 22-mile ElliptiGo ride yesterday. I'm just a few miles from the northern terminus of the Munger Trail. It is a paved 70-mile trail which runs along an old rail line. It's a bit challenging to ride it south, as it is one continuous climb upward from Duluth for at least 20 miles. It may travel upward for all 70 miles. I don't know, as I've not ridden that far yet! Anyway, it's always fun to turn around and head home. (10-12 mph going out yesterday, 18-20 mph coming home...Weeee!)

It's been fun exploring my new area. I'm glad, also, to have gotten some decent exercise this week. Besides the ElliptiGo ride and today's hike, Jet and I also went for a couple of run/walks and hiked a short route in another nearby park this week. That park had a cliff-top trail with beautiful views. It was quite a find, just about 1.5 miles away--another hidden gem in the woods just steps from a residential area. Looking forward to finding more gems in the weeks to come.

I'm doing well. I haven't done a lot of unpacking since I last wrote, but I'm prioritizing getting outside and exploring. If you've been reading awhile, you know exploring is one of my favorite things to do, and it's way better for my mental health than staying inside unpacking boxes! 

I'll get unpacked. I'm doing a bit at a time, taking it as it comes, doing what I can when I have the inkling to do so. I'm trying to find the balance between settling into my home and continuing to live my life--doing things I enjoy so I don't get overwhelmed with how much settling I still have to do. I'm feeling okay with where I'm at right now, and that's a nice place to be.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Progressing Patiently

Getting back to work made a difference. After 10 days of nothing but the business of moving and all of its seemingly obligatory messy emotions, it was nice to think of nothing but my patients. I worked Wednesday through Friday, and even with a couple of long days in there, it was a relief to be away from home. It was a relief to be away from unpacking, and contemplating, and deciding. It was a pleasure to think about somebody other than myself for 3 days. I needed that.

Those 3 days away, combined with a long run/walk/dip into Lake Superior with Jet yesterday, gave me the energy to unpack nearly my entire basement today. I've still got a lot to do, but things are starting to take shape. My bedroom is almost completely put together. My bathroom and kitchen are done. I've still got boxes in the living room, dining room and the other 2 bedrooms, but I'm getting there.

Tomorrow I'm heading south to Mayo Clinic for a ketamine infusion. I'm pleased it's not an urgent need at this time, just a regular maintenance dose. Returning to work, getting some exercise, and progressing with my unpacking have each helped stabilize my mood. I'm no longer daily wiping tears from my eyes. In fact, I haven't cried for several days. That, in and of itself, is quite a feat!

I'm taking my time with unpacking. I'm doing my best to remain patient. Taking the next right action and maintaining my attitude of gratitude are my focus now. It's still hard, but it's not impossible. Settling into my new home, new routine, and new city will take time. I'm keeping that fact forefront in my mind. I can do this. But I can't do it all today, nor do I have to. Patiently, I'll get it done. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

How about a little gratitude

As I laid awake into the wee hours of the morning, crying (again), I got a little pissed off. Things are not all gloom and doom, even though they are hard. I'm okay, even though I'm struggling. Daily, there is more to celebrate and less to fret over. And fretting doesn't preclude me from celebrating. I can do both.

I can feel overwhelmed and scared and hopeful and optimistic. I'm human. I am capable of feeling such dichotomous emotions, and I do. I think it's time I start focusing on the good in the midst of this difficult change.

There is good. And I'm grateful.

This morning I watched my dog joyfully roll on his back in our new yard. He was thoroughly enjoying the sunshine and breezes. That made me smile. I'm grateful for Jet and his increasing comfort in our new space. This would likely be much more difficult if he weren't by my side.

I'm grateful for the money in my bank account, as a result of the sale of my previous home, which will allow me to make several changes to my current home in order to make it my own.

I'm grateful for the possibility of Antarctica, my next bucket list trip. Some of that extra money will likely move stepping-foot-on-Antarctica from dream to reality. I couldn't be more excited!

I'm grateful for Duluth's beautiful parks, and trails, and rivers, and lakes--each merely a few short blocks from my new front door. No longer will I need to drive 60 minutes to immerse myself in the midst of a canopy of trees. Jet and I explored one of those trails yesterday. It was quiet and lovely and exactly what I needed. 

I'm grateful for the possibilities in front of me; new restaurants, new friends, new work, new neighborhoods. Who knows what the future may hold. I'm grateful I'm healthy and have the opportunity to find out. 

Thank you for supporting me, my friends. I'm okay. I have much for which to be hopeful, and optimistic, and grateful.

And I am.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Day 3 and struggling

It's my third day. I'm in my favorite chair but with a whole different view. I had hoped to write before now--God knows I needed to--but with moving it seems things rarely work out as planned. After working out the kinks with my internet install last night, I'm finally able to write this morning. It's a beautiful, sunny, warm Duluth day; the kind of day for which people decide to move to Duluth. I should be thrilled.

For the first time in 3 days, I've got my feet up and a cup of coffee in my hand. "It is Well," sung by Kristene Dimarco, just began playing on my Pandora station. It's the song which saved my life in the Spring of 2019 and which still brings me immense peace. I should be peaceful. Instead I have tears in my eyes.

I'm sad. I miss my house. Leaving was almost traumatic. I bawled for miles.

I'm overwhelmed. The amount of work which needs to be done in my new house, in order to make it my own, is way more than I expected. I want to give it back.

I'm tired, out of shape and heavier than I've ever been, but I have little energy to do anything about it. Looking around at what needs to be done, I can't imagine having enough energy to exercise again. That's demoralizing.

I'm still feeling alone. I'm afraid to lean too hard on the 2 friends I have up here for fear of pushing them away. The reality is I'm in this on my own. And it's hard. It's hard to do alone. I'm weary of my solo company. 

I'm also weary of complaining. Somewhere in the back reaches of my brain I know I'll be okay. I've been through great difficulties in the past and made my way through. I've done the hard work before. I've struggled and survived. I've battled and thrived. Somewhere I know that. 

Change is difficult. Change is scary. I'm in the midst of difficult and scary right now. It's not permanent. Right? I need to continue to take the next right action. Act my way into thinking. Act my way into feeling and being. I can do it. I've done it before. One foot, another foot... step by step, forward is the only way to go. 

It will get better. I know that. Somewhere within...I know that. Thanks for listening, my friends.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Alone

I'm not immune to feeling sorry for myself. It's not my favorite emotion and one I usually don't allow to take hold, but I think I'm feeling sorry for myself right now.

I'm alone. I've been packing for two days by myself. My phone hasn't even interrupted my solitary pursuit. I have a colonoscopy tomorrow, and rather than a friend or family member, my dog-sitter is driving me to and from the happy procedure. Cue the self-pity.

I'm a pretty independent woman. I'm not afraid of being alone. In fact, I prefer it most of the time. It would be nice, however, to have some regular company right now. Packing up my life is fraught with often overwhelming emotions. I can't imagine it wouldn't be easier if shared with another. 

Likewise, preparing for an unpleasant procedure would be less worrisome shared. The logistics, the fears about the prep and procedure, the post-op recovery; I'd certainly feel more confident with a bit of support. But I'm going it alone.

I'll survive, of course. I do most everything alone. And as I mentioned, alone is often my preferred state. But today, perhaps due to the multiple and big changes I'm currently confronting, alone feels lonely. I don't like feeling lonely.

Lonely makes me feel vulnerable. Asking for help leads me to feeling needy. I'm not any more a fan of feeling vulnerable and needy than I am of feeling lonely. What a conundrum! 

What to do? What to do to extricate myself from my conundrum? Self pity will thrive on my inaction, of that I am sure. I guess I either have to accept my alone-ness or call someone and ask for help. At this point, I'm not sure which I will choose. I'll get back to you on that. 

Right now I have a rather unpleasant procedure for which to prepare.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Last trip

I'm sitting in my cluttered house. There are boxes everywhere. There are empty shelves and empty walls. My suitcase is packed. Jet's looking at me nervously. I'm about to head to Duluth for the last time as a Rochester homeowner. 

After working tomorrow through Friday in Duluth, I will head back here for my final few days prior to the final move. My house will become Cory's house on May 13th. Another single woman with a dog will carry forward at this address. I'm happy for her. And I'm sad.

I think it's fitting she bought my house. From what I know, she's relatively new to this community, works in healthcare, has a dog, and this will be her first house. It's so similar to my story of 18 years ago, selling my house to her felt right.

I'm looking forward to putting this week and next behind me. Each day is crowded with more things to do than time to do them. I'm taking each day as it comes, getting things done, but I'm wishing it was all over at the same time. I don't want to leave, yet I'm tired of hanging on. 

Next Friday I will walk through the doors of my new home in Duluth. I wish I felt more excited, but I don't. I expect I'll feel the excitement once I'm there, but there's no doubt this move has been more emotionally difficult than I was expecting. I can't predict how I'll feel next Friday. I'll experience what I experience. Until then, I've got to just keep on keeping on.

That's all. It's time to go. 



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