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!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

No words

I was going to write a post tonight about how I'm still recovering from my knee surgery, and about how I had a big scare when my mood rocketed downward Sunday, and probably something about how busy we continue to be at work. But after the shooting today in Florida, nothing I have to say seems very important. Another American high school under attack by another juvenile shooter. At least 17 dead. It makes me sick to my stomach. I can't even imagine the horror. I don't understand. Why? That's all I've got. Just why?

Friday, February 9, 2018

Doing well

I had my arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday. It was a long day of waiting, as I was the last surgery on the schedule, but everything went well. My orthopedic surgeon played the theme song from the movie Chariots of Fire as I walked into the operating room. That made everyone laugh. He's a great doctor with a great personality. I've felt confident every time he's treated me for my various ailments.

After the surgery my doctor revealed there were 2 bone spurs on my femur as well as a large fissure in the cartilage on the end of my femur. He was able to clean everything up so I should have nice smooth surfaces to work with from here on out. I'm so looking forward to running again.

I'm doing well today. I'm not having much pain, just a little discomfort. I haven't really needed my crutches. I'm taking it easy, limping around the house a bit, icing, and performing gentle range of motion and strengthening exercises as prescribed. I only wish I had picked up a few movies. I'm not finding too much of interest on television today.

Actually, most of my interest the past several days has been on Nepal. I've been planning my next adventure, which will take place late this fall. I'm going on a trek to Mount Everest Base Camp. It's a bucket list item for me. I've been getting quotes from various guides and deciding on the best trek for me. I'll be going alone. My two nieces, who were tentatively planning to join me, have decided not to go. That's okay. I've traveled alone many times before. The prospect of going alone does not deter me a bit.

Planning my adventure has kept me motivated and looking forward. I need that. I've been very busy at work, which is tiring, but I know all the dollars I'm earning will be put to good use, not just bills! My mood is holding up well. I'm grateful for that.

I can't wait to get back to running. My knee will heal. The days will get longer. I'll be able to get outside more often and begin training in earnest. That will be a glorious day. I'm still aiming for a June return to the marathon. So I've got a few things on the horizon to keep me going. And keep going I will.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

It's Arthroscopy Time

As I mentioned in a few previous posts, I've been having some discomfort and locking of my right knee, typically the day after a run. It hasn't interrupted my running. The discomfort has not been terrible, but it's been concerning, especially when my knee intermittently locked up. The locking made me believe I had a medial meniscus tear. For that reason I had an MRI earlier this week and saw my orthopedic doctor on Friday. We were both surprised my medial meniscus looked great.

The medial meniscus may have looked great, but the bone spur on my femur didn't look so good. There's not supposed to be a bone spur on the end of the femur. There's especially not supposed to be a bone spur right beneath the patella, a spur which is literally carving a matching groove in the underside of my patella. Apparently, that was the problem.

Since the bone spur is carving up my patella, it's fairly important it be removed. So I'm having arthroscopic right knee surgery this Thursday. It should be a fairly simple procedure, especially since the rest of my knee anatomy looked so good. My doc will take a burr to the spur and file it off. I'm hoping to be back at work by Monday and back to running within a few weeks. And I'm looking forward to a pain free right knee. Onward and upward, my friends!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

33 years ago

I marked an anniversary a couple of days ago. It was January 30th of my junior year of high school, and I had had enough. I had fought a losing battle with depression since the age of 15. My home life was a chaotic mess. My father, with whom I lived, had no clue as to my mental state despite many, many signs and a few direct warnings from other adults. I was miserable and ready to go.

On January 30th I decided it was time. It was a few days ahead of plan, a plan I had been working on for at least a month. I had finished all of my finals. I had played what I knew was my last basketball game. I had said goodbye to the couple of people closest to me. On January 30th I tried to end my life. Fortunately, I didn't succeed.

I can say fortunately now. I don't recall feeling that way then. I do recall, of those around me, most were shocked I had attempted suicide. Depression wasn't recognized as it is now, and I certainly didn't fit any sort of person-about-to-commit-suicide profile. I was a straight-A student, an athlete, and had many friends. But I also had severe, debilitating depression. And despite communicating my intent more than once to more than one person, people were shocked. I hope the awareness is better today.

I don't always remember this anniversary. It's not a day I mark on my calendar. For some reason, I remembered it this year. I reflected on how desperate and alone I felt, how low and pessimistic I had become. And perhaps that's exactly what I need to remember when I reflect on that day.

When I reflect on surviving a time which felt un-survivable, I'm reminded I'm resilient. I've been through the wringer, more than once, and come out the other side. And I'm fortunate. I don't feel desperate, alone, or pessimistic today. I have depression, and I don't like it, but I'm okay. Today I'm living with rather than suffering from depression. I'm grateful for that. Things could be so much worse.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Tired of Tired

I ran this morning. It was the first time I'd exercised in 3 days. I went back to bed after my run. It was 10:00 in the morning. Two days ago I fell asleep after work and went to bed at 7:30 PM. Last night I fell asleep after work and went to bed at 8:00 PM. I've been tired. I hate feeling so tired.

Despite having a wonderful weekend away with my friends last weekend, the fatigue I was beginning to feel prior to that weekend escalated over this past week. We had a major snowstorm on Monday, so I wasn't able to get to work. That meant, after shoveling out for two hours, I had to work Tuesday through Saturday. We've been very busy at work, so I had some long days in there, too. The week concluded with a very chaotic, short-staffed, long work day yesterday. It's no wonder I fell asleep shortly after getting home.

Fatigue, as I've noted here before, is one of the long standing, persistent symptoms of my depression. I never seem to be rid of it. Even when my mood is good, the fatigue persists. I'm less fatigued when my mood is good, but it never goes away. For that reason I don't tolerate successive long days of work like I used to prior to depression. And this was a long week.

I hate fatigue. It is a constant reminder of my illness, and it interferes with my life. Missing 2+ days of exercise when I'm battling to get back into shape really hurts. I know, I know. It's not the end of the world. I'm just frustrated. I don't like it when depression symptoms interfere with my goals, especially when I otherwise feel well.

Perhaps, once again, I need to work on acceptance. Accepting that I'm not able to do things like I used to prior to depression, like work 5 successive days without bonking, would probably help me feel less frustrated. Instead I feel like I'm banging my head against a wall. The wall survives, but my head hurts.

I guess fatigue is tough for me to accept. I'm tired of feeling tired. I want to feel "normal." I hope the extra sleep I allowed myself this morning will kick start my energy once again. This week is going to be another busy one at work, and I'd like to handle it better this week than I did last. I'll keep working on that acceptance thing, too.

Monday, January 22, 2018

$17,372.05

I take a small cocktail of medications to treat my depression. Today I received my year end summary from the insurance company that pays for my prescriptions. Seventeen thousand, three hundred seventy two dollars and five cents. That's how much my medications cost in 2017. While there are a couple of other pills represented in that amount, the vast majority of the total cost came from my depression meds. $17,372.05. It's a bit shocking.

Fortunately, I pay for insurance to cover the majority of that total cost, so I did not pay $17,372.05 out of pocket. My health insurance coverage, including medication coverage, is quite expensive. I pay over $600 per month, but this year end summary reminded me why I pay the hefty price. It also got me thinking. What would I do if I couldn't afford my insurance? I certainly would not be able to afford my medications, and then what would happen? It's frightening to think about.

I need my medications. Without them I would not be functional. In fact, I likely would not be alive without my meds. They are an integral piece of my overall health plan. I take care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually, and I take my medications. That's what works for me. I am grateful I can afford the coverage I have.

Having a chronic illness is expensive. I know there are people out there less fortunate than I. This year end summary made me think of them. I know some people don't even fill their prescriptions, or they are forced to use less effective medication options due to cost. Two of my meds are quite new and therefore quite expensive, but they work where others haven't. If I couldn't cover their cost, my depression would likely get the best of me. That's sad. And scary.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Just thinking out loud, I guess, and processing the cost of chronic illness. Affording my insurance coverage is constantly on my mind, especially when I miss even a few days of work. It's a stressor I have to control. It would be great if treating illness wasn't a financial burden, but I don't have any answers to this conundrum. I'll leave that to greater minds than mine.

Seventeen thousand, three hundred seventy two dollars and five cents. That's a lot of money. I pray I will continue to be able to afford my insurance coverage in 2018.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Time Away

I'm excited tonight. I just finished packing for a short weekend away from home. I'm going to be spending the weekend in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St.Paul) with some very close friends. I haven't done anything remotely resembling an outing for a long, long time, so I'm due.

It's a working weekend for my friends, but we're planning plenty of playtime, too. We'll be meeting a couple of other friends for dinner, going to an NHL game (Go Wild!), and enjoying some warmer weather for a change. I've got my running clothes packed, as I love to explore new places by going for a run. And I'll be home in time for my football team's championship game on Sunday evening. Go Vikings! I'm really looking forward to getting away.

This weekend couldn't have come at a better time. We've been in another long, deep freeze for the last week, so I've been cooped up inside too much. It's been a bit of a stressful week at work as well. I don't usually feel stressed, and I don't like it. I think spending time with friends and having fun will be the perfect antidote.

I'm looking forward to starting next week fresh and energized. I think this weekend will be a a great opportunity to reset. I'm planning on taking advantage of the opportunity. If I do, I'll go into next week with improved patience and a better attitude. Gotta keep things simple. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Time to call the Doc

One of my fears about returning to running was injury. Specifically, I was worried that my weak left leg would alter my gait, which could cause an injury somewhere else. And even though my left leg seems to have regained its strength, and even though I cannot detect a significant alteration in my gait or running form, I seemingly have an injury to my right knee. I think I may have torn my medial meniscus.

My knee has been sore off and on for about a month, worse after running, but not so sore that I can't run. In fact, it doesn't hurt when I'm running, and my running is going well. Unfortunately, there have been a few occasions, the day after a run, when my knee has painfully locked up. That's the sign of a meniscus tear. I've been able to manually mobilize my knee, free it up quickly, and go about my day each time. Good thing I'm a physical therapist.

I was hoping to nurse myself through this, or that somehow it would magically heal itself, but I guess it's time to call the doctor. If the meniscus is torn, it's a relatively simple arthroscopic procedure to fix it. I'd rather take care of it now before it gets worse or I cause myself another problem. However, as long as it doesn't hurt while running, and it doesn't feel like it is getting worse, I'm not planning to quit running. Maybe that's asking for trouble, but that's me being a runner.

I am planning to call my orthopedic doctor tomorrow. Hopefully he can take a look at me soon, and I guess we'll go from there. I'm a little frustrated, but like I said, this is hopefully a pretty minor injury which can be fixed. I'm still looking toward running a marathon again early this summer. That's my goal. I need that goal to keep moving forward. I want to make it all the way back. I need to make it all the way back. This, I hope, will only be a small bump in a long road.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

4 miles

The deep freeze finally relented yesterday. It actually hit the mid 30's yesterday and almost 40 degrees today, unheard of for Minnesota in January! Going from at least a week of many, many degrees below zero to almost 40 made it feel like July. I took advantage of the warm sunny afternoon yesterday and went for a run outside with Jet. It was a perfect opportunity.

Since I've been back running, I think I've only managed 2-3 miles on a couple of occasions, with most of my runs averaging far less than that. Since I was sick in December, I've felt sluggish and slow. On my last run prior to yesterday, I barely managed 2 x 1 mile at 10+ minute per mile pace. It felt really awful, and I was certain I was never going to run the way I wanted to again.

Well, I'm happy to report the narrative changed yesterday. Jet and I managed a 4 mile run; 3 continuous miles followed by a short walking break before I finished with another mile. It was still slow, but I didn't feel sluggish and heavy. I wasn't panting like an overweight dog. I felt like a runner again! Finally.

I know it's going to be a long, long road for me to get back to being a marathoner, but I'm so glad I finally got to feel my body working in concert again. It's a small step toward the ultimate goal. I'm not very patient when it comes to athletic endeavors, but I'm doing my best to hold onto encouragement rather than focus on what could be interpreted with discouragement instead. I ran 4 miles, 3 without stopping! This is a big deal!

The deep freeze is about to settle back into our little tropical paradise here, so I don't know when I'll get the opportunity to run outside again. And I'm never as good running on a treadmill. I hate the "dreadmill," but maybe I'll be surprised again when I next try it. One thing is for sure, I'll keep fighting. I'm not giving up. I will be a runner again.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy 2018, finally

So I was minding my business the other morning, New Year's Day morning to be exact, sipping my coffee and perusing my favorite websites, when I reached across the table and dumped my coffee onto my laptop. I've been sipping coffee while perusing the web every morning for years. More than once I've thought about the possibility of doing exactly what I did, but I never changed my behavior. Perhaps I'll change it now, as I've been without a computer for the better part of a week. So I'm wishing you all a Happy New Year just a few days late.

With my luck over the whole of 2017, I figured my laptop was ruined for sure. It was an inauspicious start to the new year. I quickly soaked up the coffee with one of my super absorbent dog towels and then took a blow dryer to the keyboard. Surprisingly, when I left for work a few minutes later, my computer was working. I thought maybe my luck had turned! Unfortunately, by the time I arrived home later in the day that was not the case. I couldn't sign in. My computer was toast.

But perhaps my luck has turned. I can in no way afford a new laptop, so I took my computer to a repair shop. Of all the possibilities, up to and including my computer being toast, the diagnosis was relatively simple. I just need a new keyboard! Cleaning up the coffee immediately and thoroughly saved the important inner workings. For once, I thought, something went my way!

I'm hoping this is a sign of bigger and better things to come. Maybe my luck will turn around this year. A coworker sent me a text just after midnight, New Year's Day. It was a picture of a sign which said, "I don't make resolutions. All I want is for 2018 to be better than 2017." She thought of me, she said. It's always nice to be thought of, and I couldn't agree more! Please, 2018, be better than 2017! That's what I'm working toward today. Happy 2018, my friends!



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