Depression Marathon Blog

My photo
Diagnosed with depression 16 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

More on the sleep study

The initial sleep study I had a couple weeks ago apparently showed some apnea, as I am scheduled for a follow-up study. The second study is to titrate the C-PAP machine. In other words, I will go to bed with a C-PAP on, and then the tech will gradually increase the air pressure throughout the night. The goal is to find the pressure point at which my airway will remain open. It sounds like a loooong night to me.

As I said before, I'm torn about this whole business. With all the fatigue and sleepiness I've had these past two weeks, there is a part of me that is thrilled with the possibility I have apnea. Maybe this is the key which will unlock my energy again. Maybe this fatigue has been about more than depression all along!

Of course, there is a larger part of me that doesn't wish to add another diagnosis to the litany I already have. The necessity of sleeping with a machine for the rest of my days is also not appealing! That's not appealing at all. And...what if I have apnea, go on the C-PAP, yet still battle with this fatigue? Ugh...now I'm thinking too much!

I gotta stop thinking and just wait. I need to wait and see what the test shows and then wait and see if the fatigue abates. However, if there is anyone out there who has experience with fatigue, and apnea, and C-PAP, I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Burying my friend

We finally had the opportunity to bury my friend, Stan, yesterday. He died several states away a few months ago, the victim of alcoholism. It was a nice service performed in the very church in which he was baptized. After the service, his ashes were buried in the family plot right across the street. I finally got to say goodbye.

The church was filled to the rafters with fellow alcoholics, which made communion interesting! (Don't worry, Stan would have loved that observation.) Stan had an impact on everyone he met. He had a kind heart, a great sense of humor, and a generous soul. If only he could have stayed sober. Burying him yesterday made his death real and reignited my sadness. He's really gone. I miss him. I miss him a lot.

Rest in peace, Stan.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

dealing with a drunk

I was going to write about how I came back from my long, low day and ran 10 x 800 meters. They weren't the fastest repeats I had ever run, nor did they feel the easiest, but the point was I did them. It was going to be a really good post about all the correlations to life, moment to moment living, etc...

I thought I might write about friends and their importance in our lives, especially when we are struggling. I planned to tell you about my weekly get-together to watch Lost and share a meal with two close friends. It would have been a nice, upbeat post.

Instead, I find myself writing about a drunk. It's not going to be nice, upbeat, nor inspiring. But here goes...

I spent the better part of the last couple days dealing with a very drunk young woman. She was 6+ months sober when she made the decision to start drinking last week. Four days in detox and multiple phone calls between us led me to believe it was an isolated incident. But when she failed to phone for 3 days post discharge, I knew the isolated incident was actually an unfulfilled fantasy. With trepidation and frustration, I went to check on her. More than four hours in the ER was finally followed by another trip to detox, which is where she remains today.

This is one problem with alcoholism. We drunks have an amazing capacity to throw nails under our own tires. We don't just screw things up, we blow them up. We don't just decide to drink, we decide to die. If this young woman doesn't "get it" soon, she will quickly die, and I need to get in the way of that.

I need to stop the death. It's not a position I want to be in. It's not a role I relish. In truth, her recent self-destruction really pisses me off--and I understand it! After 6+ months of construction, she's blown-up her foundation, burned her structure down, and smoked her landlord, boss, family and friends. There is nothing and nobody left--except me. I pray I can help her put out the flames.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Proof?

Maybe I am living one day at a time. Maybe I'm actually accomplishing that goal. I talk the talk. My intent is to walk the walk. But how do I really know? Is there proof?

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was feeling better. My friend indicated she was pleased. Then she noted that this most recent downturn didn't seem to last as long as some previous episodes. "What was it, maybe 2-3 weeks," she asked?

Two to three weeks?! I was astonished. I thought it had been 2-3 days! "Was it that long? It wasn't that long, was it," I asked incredulously? It was. I checked my blog. It was about 2-3 weeks. So what does it mean that I thought it was only 2-3 days? Hmmmm...

The fact that it was 2-3 weeks and not 2-3 days may mean a lot of things. It might mean I'm not very observant. Maybe it indicates my forgetter works really well, but my memory sucks. Perhaps it's a sign of how low I got this time around. All are interesting, viable theories.

If I look at it more positively, though, it could mean I'm actually experiencing life one day at a time--forgetting the past and not worrying about the future. I think I'll look at it like that. After all, when I feel like crap, one moment at a time is quite enough!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Equanimity

Equanimity, it was a word with which I was unfamiliar. Baron Baptiste, in his book 40 Days to a Personal Revolution, defined equanimity as the art of meeting life as it meets you--calmly, without drama or fuss. I loved that! Calmly and without drama or fuss...

One of the things I've learned throughout the last 8 years of illness, and especially during the past 3-plus years of sobriety, is apparently equanimity. It took me awhile, but through CBT, DBT, and The Big Book, I eventually learned to meet life where life met me. Attempting to change or control life, or those in it, is akin to banging my head against the wall. I'm not always perfect at this lesson, but life is definitely less painful if I'm not banging my head against a wall.

Baptiste goes on to quote the infamous serenity prayer, which is used daily (hopefully) by those of us in recovery. He states, "When we become centered enough, we have the ability to accept the things we cannot change, and are able to instantly and humbly admit that our willpower and ego are ultimately powerless over most of the realities in our lives." I don't know about the "instantly" part of this statement. It took me a few bloody noggin episodes before I got it. But I digress...

One of the things I cannot change is my diagnosis. I have depression. It's a reality that became a lot easier to accept once I stopped trying to exert control over it. Once I stopped playing with, changing or discontinuing my medications; once I stopped self-medicating with alcohol; once I stopped ignoring my symptoms, or worse, actively fighting against them; once I stopped trying to figure out why I felt so bad; once I stopped trying to be in control and instead accepted my mood, my fatigue, and my thinking; my life with depression got easier. It's not fun. I don't enjoy it, but I don't have a bloody forehead either.

As Baptiste points out, fighting only leads to more struggle. "You don't get to the light by fighting or wrestling for control." With my sometimes irrational illness, it is in surrendering that I find peace. It is waiting, as in waiting out the bad times, that allows me to cope. "We change by finding equanimity and learning to relax right in the middle of conflict-filled moments," Baptiste says. "Equanimity releases us from unrealistic expectations about what life should be and allows us to stay centered amid the inevitable highs and lows."

How many of us with mental illness have railed against our inevitable highs and lows? How many of us have thought, or even said, "This is not what my life should be like! This is not what I planned!" If you are like me, you didn't plan to lose your job to illness. You didn't plan to lose your spouse to illness. You didn't plan to lose your financial security or friends to illness. If you are like me, you've spent a lot of time struggling against symptoms you ultimately couldn't control. This is not equanimity. This is drama and fuss.

Baptiste's discussion of equanimity reinforces acceptance as the answer. I'm not talking about lying down and playing victim, but rather accepting my life, and illness, right where they are--calmly, without drama or fuss. I pray for acceptance of the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. It's not necessarily simple, but in my experience, it makes my life simpler.



.