Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 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, June 30, 2008

Hello from 8350 feet

Today I climbed to the top of a large mass of rocks protruding almost straight up from the earth. It was a beautiful, blue sky day in northern Colorado. We scrambled, hiked, and even crawled our way to the summit where the view was clear and uninterrupted for miles. I had flashbacks to happier, younger days; days spent exploring the shores of Lake Superior--scrambling, hiking, and crawling over very similar rocks. It felt great to test my balance, strength and agility in that old familiar way. I was free. Freedom and exhilaration, sweat and scrapes, smiles and laughter, and it all culminated with a push-up on the top. Don't ask me why. I just had an urge.

Climbing is so satisfying. My journey to the summit bears no resemblance to my journey with mental illness. For example, when I climbed today there was a defined beginning, middle and end. The end was exhilerating, mostly because I knew when I was there. My reward was tangible, visible, beautiful; which reinforced every step I took to reach it. But along the way, each step was also its own precious reward, and not one of them was pre-determined. I was free to step, hop, jump, or crawl wherever I chose. There were no hoops to jump through, no papers to fill out, no one to judge if I chose the right path. I was free. I was free.

I'm pleasantly exhausted now. My lungs are filled with crisp, cool air. And best of all, my brain is refreshingly vacant! What a treat!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

going to the mountains

I am leaving for Colorado today. I've never been there before, believe it or not! I am fortunate to have friends who own two family cabins in Northern Colorado, and who like me enough to invite me to their annual family gathering! We are driving out, which will also be really nice. I love road trips, especially if I don't have to drive! I am packed and ready to go.

Of course, I must admit my ridiculous worries about going...that they'll hate me after spending an entire week with me. There is some precedence, I am sad to say, for this fear; but I have to remind myself I am all growed up now! I am a different person than I used to be, and my friends are also long in recovery, so should be a healthier trip all the way around. But those old fears still creep in...I hate that!

I hate when those old fears crop up despite all of the work I've done throughout the past several years. I have to diligently guard myself from those old, destructive thoughts. I picture the thoughts like annoying gnats buzzing around my head. When I hear them buzz, I squish them flat with my gnat-crushing fly-swatter. Feels good to give 'em a good wallop. If I'm really into it, I can even hear them pathetically screaming just before their final whack! Dead, sad, no-longer-destructive gnats!

I'm tucking that swatter in my pack, but hopefully the air, food, fishing and company will stifle those gnats before they're able to take flight.
Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, June 27, 2008


I can't imagine why this hilarious Seinfeld episode suddenly popped into my head at the end of this long week! Ha! ENJOY!

Senate Screws Mentally Ill Medicare Beneficiaries--Again

Well, they've done it again! We thought this might be the year when common sense would gain a foot-hold and our government would finally recognize that mental illnesses are, well, ILLNESSES! But our fat cats in the US Senate, securely protected by a generous healthcare plan which I believe they themselves create, foiled any possibility of common sense and declined to even bring the following Medicare bill up for a vote.

After you read the following press release from, pleases help me understand this:
How in the world can they fail to bring this legislation up for a vote when the House of Representatives OVERWHELMINGLY and BIPARTISAN-LY approved the very same bill?!!

Senate Falls Short on Medicare Package
June 27, 2008
On June 26, the Senate fell just one vote short of moving forward to pass a package of reforms to the Medicare program, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (HR 6331). The vote was 58-40, 2 votes short of the 60 needed close off debate.
Click here to see how your Senators voted.
The House had cleared HR 6331 by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 355-59 on June 24 – thanks to your advocacy contacting House members.
HR 6331 includes a number of critical provisions for Medicare beneficiaries living with serious mental illness, including:

  • Parity for cost sharing for outpatient mental health services under Part B, gradually moving the current discriminatory 50% requirement down to 20% between 2010 and 2014,
  • Statutory authority under the Part D drug benefit for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to ensure broad coverage on prescription drug plan formularies for antipsychotics, antidepressants and anticonvulsants,
  • Removal of the current ban on Part D plans offering coverage for benzodiazepines (a critical tool in treatment for acute mania in bipolar disorder and severe anxiety disorders),
  • Changes to eligibility for the Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) program (also known as “Extra Help”) – These reforms include an increase the amount of allowable resources, elimination of barriers to enrollment and the current late enrollment penalty and new exemptions for the value of a life insurance policy and in-kind support and maintenance.
  • Eligibility for the LIS significantly lowers premiums and cost sharing for drug coverage and exempts beneficiaries from the “doughnut hole” coverage gap.

Congress must revisit this Medicare legislation in July. As of July 1, payments to physicians under Medicare Part B will be cut by an average of 10% as the physician payment update (known as SGR) expires.
How can these senators ethically FAIL to support a bill which aims to cover all illnesses equally?

Apparently, our senators feel they have the right to decide which U.S. citizens are worthy of care and which should fend for themselves--a draconian survival of the fittest where your wealth and diagnosis determine if you live or die! PATHETIC! I am absolutely DISGUSTED!

What's next for this self-appointed moral majority? Quadriplegics require hundreds of thousands of dollars of lifelong care! What about smokers? I mean, they bring their shit on themselves! Why should my tax dollars support their oxygen tanks?

Crass? Ridiculous? You bet!

But look out America--tomorrow your diagnosis may be politically incorrect. What will you do when this group of short-sighted, self-serving, non-medical hacks deletes you from their Hallmark list?

Think it can't happen? It just happened, again, to MILLIONS of your friends, family and neighbors--people who won't even reveal to you their struggles because our own government righteously legislates prejudice and stigma against them. Like my colleague, your initial awareness may occur when your loved one ends up on the street or dead.

Think it can't happen to you? Think again! And pay off that mortgage before you buy your next pack of smokes.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

cancer, suicide, and my trivial thoughts...

You know, I'm 40 years old, and this is the first time in my life I have been this close to cancer. I guess I've been lucky. I've had friends with parents, siblings, or others in their lives who have had cancer. Every time I work I treat patients with often debilitating cancer or long histories of living with cancer. And I've known plenty of people who have had pre-cancerous or cancerous skin lesions removed, but I've not ever had a friend or family member diagnosed. I never thought about this before today. Never had reason to think about it until learning that my friend will die from her cancer--maybe months, hopefully years--but it will take her nonetheless. I've been lucky not to have been this close before.

I had the unfortunate opportunity to think about another irony today. An hour prior to learning of my friend's cancer, I learned that a colleague's nephew killed himself yesterday afternoon. Despite my family history of mental illness, my former career in mental health, and my own battle with depression; I have not had to directly endure the trauma of suicide. A former college professor and counselor of mine did commit suicide, but I had long since graduated and knew nothing of her plight until many months after she had died. I was spared the horror my co-worker is presently experiencing. Again I've been fortunate, and I'm grateful for that.
Side note: Now that I am thinking about it, my former professor's battle with depression apparently began after she had surgery for brain cancer.

My thoughts in comparison to these two events are trivial, and I am a bit embarrassed to even write them down. I did not want this post to be about me. The last thing either of my stricken friends would care about tonight are my ironies. Nonetheless, today I was struck by the shock of these coinciding events and by my unfamiliarity with each of them. I wish I was doing a better job of explaining my feelings, trivial though they may be. I guess that's why I started to write this come to some understanding of what it is I am feeling. Shocked. Sad. Unsure.
I am feeling shocked, sad, and unsure.
Okay. Now what do I do?

I think I'll start with a prayer.
Thanks for listening.
Good night.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I have nothing to complain about...
I thought I did, but tonight I learned otherwise.
Please keep my friend, Jeannie, in your prayers.
Thank you.


STOP THE WORLD! I want to get OFF!

Everything feels like it is happening too fast!
Or it is supposed to be happening too soon!
I don't feel like I have time to prepare for anything!
Yet, that may not be reality!
But it doesn't matter if it is reality or not, does it?
Because it still IS!

Stop the world! I want to get off!
I need a break!
And yet, didn't I just have a break? why wasn't that enough?
How much of a break do I need?
And does it make any sense that one of my main stressors today is that I've been offered another break?
A week in Colorado, in the mountains, at a family cabin, with people I love...
And I'm complaining?
How pathetic is that?
How can this opportunity cause more stress?

Why do I feel so overwhelmed, rushed, and inadequate?
Why must another opportunity cause so much stress that I'm actually thinking I may not go!
Every chance I get raises more questions I can't adequately answer, prioritize, or ignore!
So much to do. So much to do.
It feels like too much to do. Too many decisions to make...
And I can't seem to slow it down.
My brain can't keep track of it all, and I don't know which end is up!

What do I do first?
Is this more important than that?
What about the other thing?
When will that fit in?
If I do this, and that, and that; will I have time to do the other?
Or will I just end up with more on my list?

That's what seems to happen. One thing sprouts into many more things.
Instead of being finished, I've only opened another can of worms.
And my list grows.
And my brain can't keep up.
And I can't figure out what's important and what's not?
And I'm afraid of this, and I'm afraid of that.
And I'm afraid to say no because I feel I should be able to handle it.
And I'm afraid to ask for time away because I feel I'm already not doing as much as "normal" people anyway.
And I can't seem to get anything done even when the time appears, which has to be one of the most frustrating things of all!!
What is wrong with me?

Stop the world! I want to get off!
Of course, then what would I do?
I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that either...

Please help.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hooray for sports bras! HUH?

Check out this story which I copied from It seems this brilliant woman saved her own life by using her sports bra to signal rescuers! But that's not all! Read on to find out how she used it. It's quite ingenious! I will tell you that she removed her bra with a dislocated shoulder!! Now, men, I can't think of an analogous situation you might relate to, but us women know how difficult it is to get in and out of one of those things with two good shoulders! I can't imagine how she did it with a non-functioning, painful one! But then again, she is a marathon runner, and we are a bit impervious to pain--HA!

BERLIN - An American hiker stranded in the Bavarian Alps for nearly three days was rescued after using her sports bra as a signal, police in southern Germany said Monday. Berchtesgaden police officer Lorenz Rasp said that he helped lift 24-year-old Jessica Bruinsma of Colorado to safety by helicopter on Thursday after she attracted the attention of lumberjacks by attaching her sports bra to a cable used to move timber down the mountain."She's a very smart girl, and she acted very resourcefully," said Rasp. "She kept her shirt and jacket for warmth, but thought the sports bra could work as a signal."

An Alpine rescue team, including five helicopters and 80 emergency workers, had been searching for Bruinsma since she went missing June 16 after losing her way in bad weather while hiking with a friend near the Austrian border.

She fell about 15 feet to a rocky overhang, where she spent the next 70 hours on the narrow ledge, sustained by water that she found by breaking into a supply box on the ledge.
She badly bruised a leg and dislocated a shoulder in the fall, and the cliff was too isolated for her to climb free, Rasp said.

Rasp said the cable was only within reach because the timber transport system was out of service. When a repairman restored the line on Thursday, the cable car started moving up the mountain and Bruinsma's bra reached the worker at the base. He knew of the missing hiker and immediately called police.

Rasp said his team followed the cable line up the cliffside in a helicopter and found Bruinsma standing on the ledge, waving with her good arm. After circling once, they lowered a winch to Bruinsma and lifted her aboard.

"She did so well because she is in very good shape," Rasp said. "She has been training for a marathon — her goal is to finish in 3 hours and 10 minutes."

Bruinsma told Rasp that she has scrapped plans to stay in Berchtesgaden to learn German and plans to return home to Colorado Springs with her parents. He said she still plans to run the marathon, if she recovers in time to keep training. (of course she does!--etta)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

THE Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

It's done. I did it. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful run! I am so grateful for the opportunity to run, my ability to run, and for all the support you guys have given me over the past 15 weeks. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Here's how it went:

It was an incredible day today in one of my favorite places on earth. Made it a bit easier to awaken at 4:25 AM to catch the bus to the start of my favorite half marathon--The Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon (run in conjunction with Grandma's Marathon today). Fifteen weeks of training culminated in one extended moment--this goal race. Like I said, it was an incredible day.

I had a goal today. I had a time I wanted to meet--a time that would assure a better starting position in the BIG goal race--The Twin Cities Marathon, October 5, 2008. That's important to me for two reasons--pride (I know, I know) and qualifying. The Twin Cities Marathon will hopefully launch me into the BIGGEST goal race--The Boston Marathon, April, 2009. So my goal today was just the first step of a 3-step plan--qualify for and run Boston, 2009.

Today's first step could have gone a bit better. I didn't meet my goal. Instead, I had a lot of time to practice patience like when they ran out of buses to take me and several hundred other runners to the starting line. We made it there, after a 10-15 minute wait while more buses were summoned, which meant I got to practice acceptance while sitting in the port-o-potty as the National Anthem was played! (For the non-runners out there, like any other sporting event, the anthem is played just minutes before the starter's gun goes off!) I had just enough time to tighten my shoe laces before we departed--more acceptance practice, as my usual starting line routine was severely shortened and discombobulated! Gratitude and joy quickly took over, as we ran along beautiful Lake Superior in the early morning sun. I had my plan and despite the rough start, I felt comfortable and was running well.

But just as I started to envision realizing my goal, the interrupted starting line routine came back to bite me in the ass (pun intended), as I spent over a minute and a half waiting for the port-o-potty at mile six. I knew NOT panicking and racing too fast after this delay was going to require the full depth of my acceptance and patience. I knew that. Yet I jumped back onto the course and took off--ZOOM--way too fast. I spent the rest of the miles chastising myself for my conscious "mistake." It looked like my goal today was out of reach.

Soon an old skill in which I am quite well rehearsed took over--rationalization. If only we had gotten to the starting line on time... If only I had been less fatigued and done more training over the past few weeks... If only I had arrived at the bus pick-up location earlier and made it onto one of the first buses... If only I wasn't 40-years-old!!! I had to beat the thoughts back with my metaphorical stick for several miles!

Despite the intrusive thinking, I hung onto my goal. There must be a good recovery skill in doing that, huh? Perseverance? Anyone? At mile ten, I looked at the clock. I had about 24 minutes to get to the finish line if I wanted to reach my goal. "I can run a 5K under 24 minutes," I thought, as I simultaneously walloped the "yes, but not after running 10 miles first," realistic thought connected to it. Who needs reality at a time like that anyway! I made one last desperate push for the end. "Only 3.1 miles," I told myself. And then, "I can do anything for two miles--just two more miles." I ran as fast and as hard as I could, but by mile 12 the ending had been written. Unless I could sprint that last mile in 5 minutes (I wish!), my goal today would not be.

I didn't meet my goal. Even without the pit stop, it would have been very close. I was (and am) disappointed, but it's not going to ruin a minute of my day. I ran as hard as I could, especially at the end, but today it wasn't meant to be. I have things I can improve upon during this next phase of training. Many things...and that's what is occupying my mind now. I am already looking ahead. Another goal awaits.

It is still a beautiful day. I had the opportunity to run one of the most popular half marathon races in the country in one of my favorite places on earth. I am so grateful for that. I accept my result as the best I could do today, and I am grateful for that, too. It's a beautiful day.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

emptying the pot...

things are improved today. I'm emptying out that pity pot. it's stuffed full from yesterday's dive, but I'm extricating myself from the muck nonetheless. my hip is better, though still not right. my worst fear may be true. I may have re-torn the labrum for a third time, but I know there is nothing I can do about that now. less pain today. I'll try a couple miles tomorrow after arriving in duluth. heck, if I determine it'd be too dangerous to run (yah, RIGHT!!), I can help my friends sell running shoes at the expo again! they own a shoe store, and I helped them hawk running shoes last year--my dream job! I love high tech shoes! I had a blast! I'm sure I'll run...and I'm feeling better about that today.

I'm home alone tonight, which I hate. my parents are watching Puck. it's so quiet in the house without him. but he loves them, and they love him, so I'm sure he's quite content. wish my mood was a bit better going into this race, but such is the nature of this illness, huh? another reality over which I have little control. on my way to bed now. long drive in the morning, and an unexpected road closing in duluth could make for a very interesting journey for thousands of runners and fans. hope to avoid the mess by getting an early start.

I'm rambling now. I guess that's exactly how I feel. not up, nor down...happy, nor sad...excited, nor apprehensive... I just am. I just am. I guess that's okay...

good night.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

a pitiful pot

This morning I was up to my eyeballs in self-pity. My right hip hurt. That was the beginning. I dove into the pot. The thing about self-pity is once it starts, the end-point is limitless. Like compound interest on your high-rate credit card, the pitiful possibilities are exponentially vast. The pity was blinding me in no time at all.

My hip hurt. Therefore I re-tore my labrum--the hip injury which has already twice been surgically repaired. Therefore I will not be able to run this Saturday. Therefore I will have failed to attain a goal for which I prepared with 15 weeks of committed work. In addition, my hip can't be repaired again. Therefore I am facing the end of my running career. Therefore I will lose a huge piece of my identity and joy. Therefore life will lose meaning and purpose. Therefore I will get fat and lazy. Therefore I will lose my running community friends. Therefore I will be isolated and lonely. Therefore my depression will get worse. Therefore I will drink again. Therefore I will end up a sad, lonely, pathetic woman without a purpose to live!

WHEW! And I only gave you the shortened version of one of my scenarios. Pretty impressive, huh? Each poor-me scenario began at the same place--my hip hurt, the only reality contained within each imagined path. I had scenarios tracing backward, literally years into my past--a self-pity connect-the-dots starting and ending with my hip hurting today. And I had scenes projecting forward, like the one above, which moved me from a sore hip to the gutter in no time at all. What can I say, left unchecked I have a very active brain!

Sitting here now, after performing some PT techniques on myself and then swimming a mile, it amazes me how hyper-defeated my self-pity thinking can be. I have the knowledge and skills to get myself out of that icky pity pot, but today there I sat, soaking in the mire and the muck. While sopping up those mucky thoughts, I was aware I was there. I knew it was a dark, dirty place for my brain to be, but I floundered there anyway. Despite myself, I was no match for the pity pot.

Poor me. Poor me.

photo courtesy Daphne Barnett

Monday, June 16, 2008

where have I been?

I got knocked flat
by memories
Memories I didn't want
to recall

Tearful feelings
kept me down
Feelings I didn't want
to feel

Familiar voices
in my head

Voices I didn't want
to return

Thoughts. Thoughts.
I should have...
If only I...
She could have...

Questions. Questions.
What if...
Why not...
How come...


Grief. Grief.

Week Fourteen Round-Up

Wow...hard to believe it's here, the beginning of my last week of training. The race is on Saturday, June 21. I just finished a pretty good week, so it's big-time taper time. I actually finished my week with a 5K race. I like to run a short race the week before a marathon or half-marathon to speed up my legs after all that long slow training. It also gives me an idea where I'm at, which was particularly crucial this week after my last two weeks of fatigue and stress. It went well. Averaged 7:15 per mile, and I think I may have had a little too much left at the end. I could tell I had missed some mileage and tempo runs, though. I've also been having some hip pain--the hip I've had surgery on twice--which is a bit disconcerting, so I may have to swim rather than run this week. But overall I'm feeling pretty good about my preparation, and I'm looking forward to the race. Here's the rest of the summary for Week Fourteen of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon Training Program.

Week 14: June 9-15, 2008
Ran: 5 days
Miles: 29.0
Long Run: 8.7
Speedwork: 3.1 mile race (22:33)
Swam: 25 minutes
Found Money: $0.38

Have a good week everyone!
Think fast thoughts for me on Saturday!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

You didn't say why.

I don't understand. After 7, or 8, or however many years it was, you left without explanation. Dissolved the vows. Moved out and then out some more. Gone. And I was never told why. I asked. I asked. But I still don't know why.

And then, today, here you are. On my blog... Donating to my dog... He was our dog once. "How did you find my blog," I asked? Why would she be reading my blog, I wondered? And your response further baffled rather than explained. I don't understand.

You "wonder how I'm doing every so often," and you look me up online, "to see if you've run any races or such," you said. But...if you cared, and I know you do, why did you leave like that? I care too, just so you know. I care, too.

But I've not looked you up except once, and that was only in hopes of finding a phone number where I might contact you. I had reason to contact you. That's why I looked you up. But by the time you left, your disdain for me was readily apparent. You were so aloof, and so, "fuck you this is what I need to do," and...selfish...I had never seen you selfish. And I was lost and confused. Very confused. And soon, I just wanted it to be over. I just wanted you to go, too.

I came home to an empty house the day before my birthday. Surreal. Why did you leave me wondering? Speculating is not enjoyable and can lead down paths you may never have thought of, but you left me no choice. I still don't know. I still don't understand. And I am baffled that you've thought enough of me to look me up--an action reminiscent of the person I married, but not the person who left.

I am also not the person you left. I am proud of where I've been, and what I've done. The friends I have now would not recognize the woman I was before this illness ravaged my life. I am so much better now--not the illness, but me. I've worked hard, and here I am.

Yet, hearing from you sinks me back to a place I don't want to be, not because I don't want to know you're okay, too, but because the confusion and hurt come again to the fore. The "if only's" crackle sharply in my brain. The silent grief of what could have been awakens from within.

I am not crying victim. I did many things wrong. And perhaps if you had stayed, I never would have become the me I currently am--the better me. Yet, I would have liked the chance. I thought we had agreed to that. I thought we made that commitment when we shared those vows so many years before.

That was the root of my confusion. I couldn't make you explain how you arrived at the decision you did. You needed to do what you needed to do. But can you understand how I felt--how I still feel? It's seven years later, and I still can't answer the what-happened-question.

You left as if I was an enemy whose cruel oppression you'd endured for years. More than the dissolution of our relationship, that is what hurt. That is what still hurts. I didn't know...I don't know what I did. And I didn't have the opportunity to fix it. You were gone on the wings of what felt to me like hate. I wanted to apologize for whatever made you feel about me that way. Instead, I was left to question the reality of an entire chapter of my life.

Yet, there you were today. You said, "Despite what you might think, I wish you only happiness and success." I don't know what you think I might be thinking, but it seems you're assuming anger and condemnation. If so, you're not even close. I'm still hurt and confused. Hurt and confused. And I wish you happiness and success, too.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

blah, blah, blah...

I'm still tired.
blah, blah, blah.
I'm sure you're all bored with hearing about it by now.
blah, blah, blah.
I'm still tired.
blah, blah, blah.
Wish I had something better to write about.
blah, blah, blah.
Napping doesn't help.
My brain doesn't work.
My body is heavy.
My speech is slow.
blah, blah, blah.
I'm so tired.
blah, blah, blah.
Sorry for the crappy post.
blah, blah, blah.
Should yank me right to the top of Google.
blah, blah, blah.
I guess my sarcasm still works.

Ain't depression grand?!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

to Relapse or not?

If you're a drunk, check out my new post over at The Second Road. I'd be curious to hear your opinion. Oh heck, even if you're not a drunk you can read it and let me know what you think!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Week Thirteen Round-Up

A better week than last week, but still frustrated with fatigue. I did get both of my speed workouts done, but both way more difficult than I felt they should have been. And only two pennies on the ground all week...People are definitely picking up their pennies these days! Getting in the pool on Saturday helped my legs lose some of their heaviness. I hope I feel a little lighter and energetic this week. Here is the summary of Week Thirteen of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon Training Program.

Week 13: June 2-8, 2008
Ran: 4 days
Miles: 26.6
Long Run: 8.1 miles
Speedwork: 10 x 3 mins. hard with 1 min. recovery & 4 mi. tempo
Swam: 3/4 mile +
Found Money: $0.02

Low miles, but higher quality miles than last week. Only 13 days until race day!
Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, June 8, 2008


If this doesn't bring tears to your eyes, please check your pulse. As a former high school and college basketball player, I can't imagine a season, a moment, a life-lesson more amazing than this.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Unlearning and Learning

Selfish, self-centered, and egotistical are terms often used to describe alcoholics. But these terms almost arrested my early recovery in its tracks. These are derogatory, ill-fitting, nausea-producing terms...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Battling fatigue

I'm staring at my Christmas cactus, which is drooping its shriveled segmented leaves over the side of its pot, and thinking, "Yup, that's exactly how I feel dude." Unfortunately, a glass of H2O won't bring me back to life. Trust me, I've tried that already.

I don't know what's going on. I am sleepy tired. As I told my doc today, if I don't get things done before 1:00 PM, it is unlikely they will get done at all. After 1:00 PM, it takes every ounce of energy just to stay awake! And I'm not just tired. I'm nonfunctional! Nothing works. My body is tired. My brain is tired. I can't think. I can't make decisions. I don't want to eat anything except chocolate and ice cream. I don't care about anything (very dangerous for me!) like goals or commitments. Everything is just too much work! It sucks! It's like an acute attack of depression. Weird.

We thought the fatigue was my usual menstrual cycle crap, but if that was the cause, it would have lifted by now. My psychiatrist cut back one of my meds, although I've been on it for a year so it's also unlikely the cause. I feel low on fuel, but it is very unlikely I am anemic. I've frequently been checked during episodes like this in the past, and my hemoglobin has never even been close to low. Plus, I take a multi-vitamin, eat pretty well, and have been increasing my protein intake to accommodate for the increased running. Tonight, I had a steak. I'll have another tomorrow. Red meat (iron) has always helped boost me when I've been fatigued from training in the past, but even steak hasn't been a reliable cure this time. The fatigue just won't let go.

Since it won't let go, I am once again forced to accept the unacceptable. I have no choice but to acquiesce to this debilitated state, but I don't like it. I don't like it at all. I used to fight, but what good would that do? Puttin' up my dukes would only squander more precious energy. In the end, I'd still be flat on my back pissin' and moanin', and I'd have accomplished even less. Instead, I'm trying to accept. I'm trying to do when I can, and stop when I can't do any more. I'm nowhere near perfect at this acceptance thing, but (un)fortunately I've been getting extra practice time recently.

Maybe I should have titled this post Battling Acceptance...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thank you

It's been one week since Puck went under the knife. He is doing well. He did tear out four of his staples within the first couple days earning him a return trip to the vet and a super-size lampshade collar. Poor guy can barely lift his head now! But I warned him...
He is finished with his narcotic pain med, and I am grateful for that! I think too little pain is a BAD thing for my too active dog. He is putting about 40-50 percent of his weight on his leg now, but if he gets excited, he does forget that it hurts--not a good thing! One more week of strict rest.
We move to the next phase of rehab the following week. We are lucky in that there is a new equine and canine rehabilitation facility nearby with underwater treadmills and doggy physical therapists. We will check them out when he is cleared to begin rehab. Being a "human's" PT, that should be very interesting for me! I've always wanted to train him to run on my treadmill! It would come in really handy when my depression doesn't allow me out of the house! I'll take pictures!
Speaking of pictures, I am still waiting for the vet clinic to find their digital camera cable. As soon as they do, I will post pictures of Puck's surgery for your perusal! I am so glad I observed. It was really interesting, and I know it helped me stay more calm than sitting in the waiting room would have.
Lastly, I want to thank all of you for your ongoing support. For those of you who donated, a special thanks to you. Someone asked that I update the financial progress, so here goes. Puck's surgery was right around $1,700.00. I do not know yet what the rehabilitation will cost. I received 6 donations totaling 205 dollars. Thank you all, again! This has been an incredibly stressful time, and I appreciate everyone's thoughts, prayers, and encouragement. You're kindness has meant more than I can appropriately express. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Punishment Should MATCH the Crime

This horrifying picture is of an apparently obscenely drunk 28-year-old male killing one athlete and injuring 10 others as he drove head-on into a bicycle race just south of the US-Texas border Sunday. The man, who reports he is a US citizen from Brownsville, TX, stated, "I must have fallen asleep."
I have an idea how to punish this man, but I try to maintain a civilized blog, so I'll keep it to myself (for now)...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Week Twelve Round-Up

Warning: This is going to be UGLY! With the exception of my running spiritual experience on Thursday prior to Puck's surgery, this was a brutal, hopeless week. The combination of stresses from Puck, my greedy menstrual cycle hormones, and a house under constant renovation (it seems) absolutely wiped me out. And then being wiped out caused me more stress!! I threw in the towel last night. I'm hoping Puck's slow recovery and the end of my frickin' period will release some much needed energy this week. Here's the ugliness that was Week Twelve of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon Training Program:

Week 12: May 26 - June 1, 2008
Ran: 3 days (Ouch! That was hard to type!)
Miles: 27.9
Long Run: 11.3 miles
Speedwork: None.
Found Money: $0.13

Only 3 weeks until race day. Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

and so I ran...

and so I ran into the woods despite the water streaming from the sky. it was bright, and green, and shimmering in the rain. only the missing lab and the bouncing cell on my hip were unusual. slow at first and then too fast, as I got anxious about being out too far when they called. over the second covered bridge, past the cows, through the canopy of wet, green leaves, I ran. "he'll be okay. he'll be okay," I repeated, each time I missed his sprite, wet, happiness racing ahead. "he'll be okay."

"is he ready for surgery yet," I asked, as I made a brief stop at my car? instead, another 90 minutes to explore my former home. the 5K-loop was the natural next choice. it used to be my usual route, just steps out my front door. running it again for the first time in two years, it felt exactly the same. that slight Jefferson hill caused the same frustrating windedness, closely followed by the same thought that such a small hill shouldn't feel this tough, which was followed by the thought that I always have the same thought every time I run up this tiny hill!

and so I ran. around the corner, I approached my former backyard and began my usual examination of what had changed. I still couldn't understand why they built that big shed right in the middle of the yard. the home above came into view. it was still yellow, but the white shutters were a nice addition. looked like somebody was living upstairs, too. they must have finished remodeling it. I wondered what it looked like inside.

and so I ran. the predicatable stiff wind hit my face, as I headed past the house and down the hill. I was flooded with memories and emotions my former home triggered. I loved that house. I loved this little town. the number of memories was so intense I wondered if I had made a stupid decision running this route just one hour before my dog underwent major surgery. I reached the bottom of the hill and turned left. the memory ticker tape whirred.

and so I ran, spending a moment with each memory as it ticked into consciousness. the anxiety of the buying process, bidding on a home we desperately wanted but weren't sure we could afford, settled in my stomach. the elation of winning the bid, and the moment walking through the door--it was our first home--buzzed in my head. I recalled the pride of possessing a home only owned once before. The original owners, both deceased, built and lived in that home for 45 years, and their pride revealed itself in every door knob, window, and floor board.

behind the school I ran, ticking through moments, happy and sad, bitter and sweet, as the rain continued clearing my path. first home together became first home alone when my spouse walked out the door. I was suddenly as aware of that pain, disappointment, and confusion as I was the puddles beneath my feet. joy, heartache and gratitude flushed quickly into my gut when I recalled our beloved German Shepard, her slow decline, and the final moments of her life. we were able to lovingly and comfortably end her life in our backyard because our small-town vet willingly came to the house.

I ran past the post-office. difficult memories, pain, and regret swooped in. the resentment caused by depression which stole my spouse, my job, my finances, and my joy at home stung my soul. loneliness and pain knifed through me when I flashed back to drinking alone. I was sad and pathetic sitting with my bottles in the living room I had once so proudly created. suicide... and then, in an instant, warmth and respect replaced the stinging. the raindrops became warm tears of grace, gratitude and dignity. that home and this community carried me when I could not carry myself, when I could not care less.

and so I ran, over the covered bridge and back into the park. my heart swelled, as I splashed and remembered the local police who became familiar with my illness, yet never regarded me with shame or disrespect. my neighbor, a Mayo MD no less, he anonymously remodeled my front entryway after the ambulance crew smashed through the old, oak, triple-locked door and splintered the door jam. if I hadn't been told weeks later, his act would have remained selflessly unknown. the pharmacist, and I smiled when I thought of him, today reminds me that homes are for sale in town and wonders when I plan to move back. I missed that sense of belonging. despite myself, I was part of this community. the warmth of belonging enveloped me, and I smiled shyly as I slowed to a walk.

and so I stopped running. I arrived at my car and looked at my watch. it was time. anxiety stirred in the pit of my stomach just a bit. but it was okay. I trusted it was going to be okay. I was eerily, strangely, warmly calm. the past 10 years of life had just ticked by. I spent moments with feelings I didn't like. I had memories I regretted. I had loss, after loss, after loss tumble past. Yet, here I was, trusting everything was going to be alright. here I was, soaking wet but feeling warm, embraced, and peaceful. it was as if the rain had flushed me from the inside out. I was splattered with mud, but inside I was cleaned. I was clean. he was going to be okay. I was going to be okay. I could love this town again. everything was going to be alright.

thanks, god.

I needed that.