Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 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!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Choosing where to focus


Approximately one mile into my commute this morning a mid-20's, white dude, in a black SUV smashed into the back of my vehicle, also an SUV. There was little damage, but I was enraged! When I profanely confronted him, he was sitting with his phone still in his hand on his lap. He apologized and admitted he was fiddling with his phone when he hit me. I told him to pull over and call the police, and then I followed him to the curb. That's when I noticed he had a "Whiskey plate."

In Minnesota, when someone has a serious DUI history, and he's allowed to drive (often after losing his license for a time) his vehicle gets a special license plate. It's plain black and white, and the first letter is a 'W'. It allows law enforcement to pay extra close attention to the driver. As I exited my vehicle to express my dismay at the fact he would risk his license by fiddling with his phone, I thought to myself, "I should take a picture of his plate." I didn't.

After more discussion, laced with profanity, I must admit, and after he assured me he was on hold with the non-emergency police line, I went to check on Jet in the back of my vehicle. I opened my hatchback, checked in with Jet, who was quivering, and reassured him we were all right. When I looked up, the apologetic drunk, who likely didn't have insurance, and may even have been under the influence, was gone! I couldn't believe it!

I dialed 911 and gave the dispatcher all of the particulars. I remembered the first two letters of his plate, WY, and what I thought I remembered of the other four numbers, some combination of 2's, 3's and 6's. Twenty minutes later the police officer arrived. He informed me the plate number I thought I remembered came back to a gold car in another city, so I clearly didn't get the last four numbers in the correct order. By the time he finished the accident report I was barely down to a simmer from my initial boiling rage.

I still can't believe it, and I'm still angry with myself for being so stupid--should've taken a picture, should've parked in front of him, should've immediately gotten his driver's license, etc, etc, etc. Next time I'll know better.

By now you're probably wondering what's up with the photo at the top of this post? What does it have to do with a hit and run car accident? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And that's the point.

The picture shows what I came home to today. My mom, as she usually does before moving back to Florida for the Winter, spent all afternoon, a portion of the night, and much of today making me spaghetti sauce and split pea with ham soup. My freezer is full of 5 containers of each. To top it off, my kitchen was spotless, like nobody was even here! It was so nice to arrive home to such comfort.

So tonight I'm choosing to focus my energy on the love and kindness of my mother. She deserves more space in my brain, anyway. I'm so grateful to her. I have a tiny kitchen, my mom is getting older and less mobile, and yet she expended the time and energy to take care of me. I'm lucky. Plus, my mom makes awesome spaghetti sauce and split pea soup! I'll remember this part of this day every time I have a delicious, warm, home cooked meal this Winter.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Voice from the Other Side

A few years back I wrote a post which contained a letter to our friends and family members. It is a post which apparently resonated with a lot of people, as it has been viewed a lot. A few days ago I read a post which resonated with me, and I think it pairs with my friends and family post quite well. So, if you'd like, check out my post, entitled Dear Friends and Family. Then check out this very well written post. It is a voice from the other side of the fence, not a perspective often heard, and I loved it. I'd love to hear what you think as well.

Friday, September 7, 2018

May I vent?

Whew...it's been a hell of a week. First of all, I have a migraine. I've had it all day, but I worked through it, took Jet to the vet with it, and mowed my lawn despite it. I hate migraines. Mine sometimes last for days. I have to work tomorrow, and I'm going to see Hamilton (yes, I got tickets) on Sunday. I don't have the time or patience for a migraine.

Perhaps the reason I have a migraine is because I've been overwhelmed with fear this week. At least that's what my sponsor tells me. Fear of economic insecurity, fear of the unknown...fear upon fear upon fear. No wonder my head hurts and I feel anxious.

Here's the scoop. Late last week I found out my vehicle needs 4 new tires. The old ones only have 37,000 miles on them. That was frustrating news, but I've been saving my money, so I thought I could handle it.

Unfortunately, soon after the tire news, Jet injured his left elbow. If you want to see me maximally worried and anxious, watch me when my dog is sick or hurting. He was so uncomfortable I made an urgent trip to the vet last Friday. That was expensive, but worse, I didn't get a definitive answer. I've had to keep him quiet all week, which has been very, very stressful.

Like I said, the vet wasn't sure what was going on, but there was a good possibility it might be more than a sprain. My mind, of course, went to the worst scenario, which would involve surgery and potential expenditure of more than $2000! Did I mention I'm leaving for Nepal in a month?

Speaking of Nepal, early this week I discovered I need a new passport, even though mine will not expire for 3 months, in order to enter Nepal a month from now. I had to apply for an expedited passport. That wasn't money, almost $200, I was planning on spending. And the discovery, application process, and photo fetching were just a bit stressful!

After that surprise, I decided I better get busy and see what else I need for my rapidly approaching trip. I've spent hours every night on my computer. One thing seems to lead to another, and another, and another. I bought my travel insurance, which I knew I was going to need, so that wasn't a surprise, just another expenditure.

Another planned expenditure, however, did end up surprisingly. I ordered my new Garmin GPS watch, which I was supposed to get for $400, but someone I've never heard of already used my $100 gift card, so right now it's a $500 watch. How does that happen? No one seems to know. The company assures me they'll make it right, but we'll see. That was not a nice surprise.

I got a recommended equipment list from my travel company, and there were a few surprises there, too. More research and purchases on the horizon. I also researched recommended vaccines and medications. As a result, I made appointments for Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations. And I made an appointment to get prescriptions for antibiotics and altitude sickness meds. It seems the more I research, the less I want to know!

In the midst of all of this my dehumidifier quit and my toilet broke. Oh, and I'm still waiting for my new storm door to be installed. Each of these, singularly, is not a big deal. But when they all happen at once, as I'm preparing to go on a bucket list trip, well, I'm a little stressed! The timing has been impeccable! No wonder I have a migraine.

Thank you for letting me vent. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

My State Fair



I took a coworker to the Minnesota State Fair yesterday. It was her first time, so it was fun to experience it again with a rookie. We took the ride above about 10 minutes after we walked through the gates. It was awesome! It spun at 70 miles per hour, forward and backwards, while the chairs in which we sat tumbled around and around. Sometimes we were facing directly at the ground as we came around. Other times we were tumbling upside down and backwards. I sent a note to my doctor joking that I think my mood got better after this rush of a ride!


We did a bit of shopping. I especially liked this shirt. Ain't that the truth?





We joined about 1000 other people (not kidding) in the "Miracle of Life" building, where we saw baby goats (kids), piglets, calves and this newborn lamb! In fact, we were there as it happened! I've spent some time on farms in my day, but I had never seen anything give birth before. It was pretty cool!




But the main reason millions of Minnesotans attend the state fair each year is to EAT! You can buy just about anything on a stick at the fair. Really, anything! Between the two of us, my coworker and I consumed two pronto pups (basically a corn dog made with pancake batter rather than cornmeal--a Minnesota creation, I believe), fresh squeezed lemonade, fresh squeezed strawberry lemonade, double chocolate strawberry shortcake, deep fried apple pie with ice cream, and 8 dozen Sweet Martha's chocolate chip cookies! Okay, we didn't eat all 8 dozen cookies, but that's how many you get in your bucket. Take it from a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur, they are amazing! The owners of Sweet Martha's make so many millions of dollars during the Minnesota State Fair, they don't have to work the rest of the year! Nice. Looking forward to enjoying them for, hopefully, at least a couple more days.

It was a good day at the fair. We went early and left by early afternoon. There's no way to see or do it all, and there are so many people, it's hard to move around by noon. But it was fun, and I'm glad I went. And I really do think it helped my mood. Bonus!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Comments Disappeared!

I am so, so sorry to all of you who have been commenting since, apparently, sometime in March! I have not been notified of any comments, and therefore I have not posted any of them. Blogger is supposed to email me every time someone leaves a comment. That way I can read it, decide if it's not spam, and post it! I just figured people were reading less and less, but in fact, I had many, many comments awaiting moderation that I never knew of! I've now read and posted them.

I'm so sorry! And angry! Dammit! I hope I haven't offended or lost some of you because of this major snafu! Again, I apologize. Please keep commenting, and I will be more vigilant about looking for your comments. I'm so upset Blogger has failed to keep up its end of the deal! I will try to get this fixed.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

cranky

Sometimes, for whatever reason, patients feel they are the only ones in the facility requiring care at that particular time. And when that happens they tend to be not-so-nice. Today, at the end of a long week, the first two patients I encountered had this attitude and freely unloaded their displeasure upon me. In one case, I had barely entered the room to introduce myself.

This doesn't happen all that often, so it was certainly unusual to have it happen twice in a row, and before the clock hit 8:30 AM, no less! All I could do was stand and listen to the complaints. There's little use interrupting or correcting the errors in the conspiratorial assumptions. Although I did finally point out to one patient that her nurse just might be in another room assisting another patient at that time. It's frustrating to be in the position of defending myself prior to even making an introduction.

Maybe I've been on the helper side too long, but I really don't understand where patients get the idea that their nurses, or therapists, or doctors are out to get them. That the nurse is 15 minutes late with pills, for example, because she is inept, doesn't care, or doesn't like the patient. I know there are a few bad apples out there, but those of us in these helping professions generally do care about the people we are trying to help. Sheesh...

And so began my work day today. It was tough. I'm already (still) feeling a little off, a little cranky myself, and worried about my mood. I had to take a few quiet breaks, once in the chapel, to make sure I approached each patient with compassion and respect, as they deserve, despite my inner turmoil or their outward behavior. I'm glad I was able to do so successfully. And the added patient at the end of my day was quite grateful for my assistance. I felt like I made a difference. That's what it's all about, even if I do have to get through a little muck to get there.

Be nice, my friends. Be nice.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Concerned about tired

I don't have much to say tonight. I'm tired. I'm just plain tired, and I'm getting a bit concerned about that. I'm sure you don't want to read a post about how tired I am, but fatigue which doesn't seem to abate despite extra sleep concerns me. It's usually a symptom when I'm not doing so hot. And it's sometimes one of the first symptoms that shows up, even before my mood dips, hence my concern.

When I'm tired, everything feels more difficult. Work is busy, but it's not crazy, and still it seems tough to keep up. I want to stay home just about every day. Taking care of my house might be a little busier, as I just painted my shutters and front door, but again, it maybe shouldn't feel as daunting as it does. So far I'm keeping up, but the energy expenditure seems out of line with the chores. It takes more effort to get things done. Even packing tomorrow's lunch tonight felt like a really big task. I don't like that.

I'm feeling uneasy with feeling so tired. My history of rapid descents is the reason for my dis-ease. I've let my doctor know. We're keeping in touch. In the meantime I'm trying not to panic. Maybe I'm too concerned. After all, I'm just tired. Yet I don't like feeling this kind of tired. This kind of tired scares me, and I don't like being scared either. Hoping I'll feel energized soon.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Another chance encounter

It's been about one year since I was first hospitalized for my most recent depression relapse. Turns out I would be hospitalized again within a couple weeks of the end of that first hospitalization. Things have gone pretty well since then, at least where my depression is concerned. And I'm certainly grateful for that.

It was during one of those hospitalizations that I was able to work with a new-to-me psychiatrist for a short time. She also saw me once or twice during my Ketamine trial last Fall. She was great, and I appreciated her care.

I ran into that psychiatrist the other day. I was out on my ElliptiGo, taking a water break, when she approached. She was out for a run. I couldn't remember her name, of course, but I said hello, nonetheless. It took her a minute, but after I reminded her where we met, she remembered me. I thought that was kind of cool.

Really cool, however, was when she stopped to chat. She was amazed at how I looked. Beaming, she said, "It's so nice to see you out!" I laughed, because I'm out all the time, but of course she doesn't know that. The last time she saw me, I wasn't functional. I was lethargic, hopeless, and likely barely making eye contact. She never knew me as a "normal" person, only as a desperate patient.

We talked for a few minutes about running and how things were going. She was interested in my ElliptiGo and even took me up on my offer to take it for a spin. I was impressed. I guess I don't know her as a "normal" person either, only as a buttoned up professional.

It's always fun to run into doctors, social workers, or nurses who only know me as my hospitalizable self. When I'm not deep in a depressive state, I'm obviously a much different looking and acting person. I like that. I'm happy that's the case. It reinforces I have an illness--an illness of my mind, body, and soul. It's not who I am. Actually, depression steals who I am.

I'm not depressed. I have depression.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Blip

Taking my medications is a huge piece of my recipe for successfully combating depression. Nevertheless, I always want to take the lowest number and dosages of medication. I need my medications, but I don't want to take more than I require to maintain stability. And boy have I been stable! I've been feeling well for months. It's been really nice and a total relief.

I've been feeling so well for so long I asked my doctor to decrease one of my antidepressants, which we did about a month ago. We decreased another medication a few weeks ago. I was satisfied, pleased to be feeling consistently well. Hooray for me!

Unfortunately I had a little blip in my thinking and mood this week. My brain was getting a little noisy. Too many thoughts, too little space to process them. I was more irritable and had a harder time letting go of little annoyances. I was impatient. People in public spaces, drivers, and even some of my patients irked me. The occurrence of one of these "symptoms" wouldn't concern me. That's life. But simultaneous occurrence of crappy thinking, impatience, and irritability is always concerning.

It took a few days before I realized what was happening, but once I did I got concerned. I contacted my doctor. She was concerned. My history of sliding into full blown depression faster than a speeding bullet caused both of us to take notice. Actually, I got downright scared. I don't want to go anywhere near a full blown depression relapse again! We readjusted one of my medications. Bummer.

I have to be careful not to treat the med increase as a failure, but sometimes I go there. Instead I have to remember I have an illness, and clearly my medications are very important. I'm lucky and grateful they are such an effective piece of maintaining my stability. I hope this increase will quickly stymie the noise, impatience and irritability. I enjoy feeling well. I'd like to keep it up.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Cancer

Cancer. It's not a word that's been associated with anyone in my immediate or extended family ever, which is remarkable. Never. How lucky is that?

My 19-year-old nephew has cancer. We found out yesterday. The mass behind his right eye is cancerous. He has a very rare type of cancer called Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis. It generally strikes children or young people. It is treatable. In addition to the surgery he has already endured (which they did through his right eye!), he will have to have chemotherapy and radiation. I don't know how long the process will take, but his plans, his life, as well as the lives of those around him, will dramatically change for the foreseeable future.

Prior to yesterday, we all knew cancer was the probable outcome. It was just a matter of figuring out what kind of cancer it was. Despite that knowledge, the definitive cancer diagnosis hit me like a ton of bricks. I was immediately terrified and overwhelmingly sad. I guess I was holding onto some remote hope that this would actually turn out to be nothing to worry about. Maybe that's human nature, but my reaction still surprised me.

I'm not very close to my brother, my nephew's father, but I love my brother's kids. Like his sisters, my nephew is a talented, humble, generous, loving soul. He's a division one college athlete, now faced with missing his sophomore soccer season, and an intelligent young man. He's got a full life ahead.

My brother and his family live out West, and I've never been to their home, but now I want to go visit. I want to hang out with my nephew. Love him, support him, and be there for whatever he may need. It's not necessary. He has a large, loving support system, so I'd likely be superfluous. Perhaps my need is more for me than for him... I don't know. I've never experienced any of this before.

No knowing what to do is uncomfortable. Fear is uncomfortable. I guess I'll stay home, for now, wait for tidbits of news, and hope and pray for progress. I have a feeling I'm going to be uncomfortable and scared for quite awhile, but my feelings are nothing compared to what my nephew must be feeling. If I could take away some of his uncertainty and fear, I'd do it in a heartbeat! More than anything, I wish he didn't have to go through this.

Unfortunately, I am powerless to change my nephew's course. All I can do now is pray. So that's what I'm going to do.



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