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!

Friday, May 29, 2009

feeling better

I saw my doc yesterday morning, complained about feeling bad, tired, lethargic, blah, blah, blah... She was her usual quiet, patient self with me. I knew, as my psychologist told me the night before, it would pass with time--it always does. That's so hard to remember when you're in the middle of it, isn't it? Well, long story short, despite my worry, negative thinking, fatigue and lethargy, I made it to my appointments yesterday. Then I made it out for a run. Then I began feeling better.

I made it out for a run before work this morning, too. That was amazing! Work went okay. I tried to focus on feeling better, which I was, rather than on feeling tired, which I also was. I am feeling better. Perhaps the depression reprieve is back. I'm glad it wasn't gone too long. Sixteen miles scheduled for tomorrow...good thing I'm feeling better. Here's to all of us meeting our goals this weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

is it over yet?

To add insult to injury, my softball team got whipped last night, 20-2. It was cold and raining--a perfect ending to a miserable week. Oh, wait, it's only MID-week. It's not over yet! Damn...

It's been that kind of week. I wish it was over. I wish it had never begun. It's Thursday, and I've yet to run one mile, bike one mile, perform one minute of yoga, or do anything other than sleep and eat! I hoped softball would be the key to unlock my gate, but I'm still fenced in. Stuck, I am, behind heavily barred walls with the ceiling falling in. My space is shrinking. I'm suffocating in the absent air. Worry...panic...setting in. It's been that kind of week.

Is it over yet?
When will it end?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Dip in the Mood

Which comes first, the heavy fatigue or the sliding mood?
Am I feeling lower because my energy has plummeted?
Or has my energy plummeted because I'm feeling lower?
Which came first?

Does one cause the other?
Is the low energy responsible for the falling mood?
Is the falling mood causing the low energy?
Or are these simultaneous occurrences,
each a bit part of a much larger scene?

Is the depression back after a long reprieve?
Or did I simply over-extend?
Twenty miles...carrying bricks;
Am I simply tired?
Or were these enough to start a tailspin?

Is this a tailspin?
Perhaps it's too soon for that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sleep day

I'm having a sleep day today. This happens every once in awhile, and it has been a little while since the last one. I just can't wake up. I am sleepy, tired, and heavy. Basically, the only comfortable place is in bed, asleep. And no matter how much I sleep, I can easily sleep some more. I just got up from my third nap for crying out loud!

I guess I should have known something was up when I fell asleep at 7:00 last night. After sleeping 11 hours, I figured I was in for a good day. However, after my usual morning oatmeal, coffee, and Sportscenter, I needed a nap. I thought maybe I just overdid it yesterday. I helped some friends carry bricks and build a path. But that must not have been the problem, because the sleepiness just won't stop.

Perhaps this is what I was supposed to do today. After all, there is a Law and Order marathon on USA. It's drizzly and gray outside. The one appointment I had was cancelled. Everything lined up for a tired, sleepy day...and my body won't let me do otherwise. Whew...I think I need a nap.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

20 miles

It was an absolutely beautiful day for a marathon. I used the occasion of today's Med-City Marathon to run the affiliated 20 mile training run. Running my training run alongside racers, I was a bit concerned I would go out too fast and race rather than train. I did run a little too fast in several of the early miles, but mostly I held myself in check. The bigger goal, however, was to run around 9 minutes per mile AND feel good while doing it. Unfortunately, that goal I did not meet.

By the 8 mile mark, I knew it was going to be a long day. My legs were tired and tight--unusual for me. I don't usually tighten up, especially that early. I was able to maintain my pace, but I definitely did not feel "good." One pit stop and several walking/stretching breaks brought my overall finishing pace down to 9:20 per mile. That pace didn't bother me. It was, after all, only a training run. However, I was very concerned with how poorly I felt running that pace.

I was both physically and mentally tired today. As a dress rehearsal, this 20-miler was definitely a flop. If I want to qualify for Boston four weeks from now, I will need to run much faster than 9:20 per mile and run for 6.2 more miles than I ran today. I don't think I could have run 6.2 more miles today even if I had wanted to, and I didn't want to! The physical and mental fatigue, the difficulty of the "slow" pace, and the aching in my legs and feet were each concerning. It was a tough day.

I'm trying not to fret too much. Tough days happen. I know that. Adopting the positive spin, I was able to maintain my pace despite feeling so tough. I guess that's one good thing. It's so much nicer, however, when I can maintain my pace and feel good! I'm trying not to fret too much. Having a tough day today doesn't necessarily mean I'm not ready to run a faster marathon. Right? But I am concerned...

Friday, May 22, 2009

still tired...

It's been 3 nights of C-PAP for me, and so far I can't say I feel more rested. Maybe the sleep I'm getting is of higher quality, but I think I'm actually waking up more. That's been annoying. I'm wearing a nose mask, which is comfortable if I stay on my back, but I sleep on my side. The straps which hold the mask in place are uncomfortable when I lie on them, as I do when I lie on my side, and that discomfort awakens me. I also wake up every couple of hours--or every time I change position--because the mask shifts and causes leaking air to blow on my face. That's not a pleasant way to be awakened, and it's frustrating. I'm also disappointed I don't feel miraculously better. At this moment, I'm just annoyed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Ask me to stand in front of a room full of people and tell my story of living with depression, and I can comfortably go into great detail. I've done it bunches of times. Ask me to speak about alcoholism, however, and I'm scared to death.

Tonight, consider me scared to death. I've been asked to speak to my large home AA group in three weeks. I may spend the next three weeks in a mild panic. You see, my story is quite boring. I drank to numb my depression. Thankfully, in my short history of problem drinking, I drank alone. Fortunately, I didn't do anything outrageous, commit any crimes, or end up in the gutter. Those things happen, and they make for good comeback stories when people get sober.

I guess I have a comeback story, but there just isn't a lot to it. There's not a lot to say. I drank to numb depression. Soon, I got to a point where I couldn't stop drinking. It was my comfort, my courage, my connection, and most importantly my medication. I drank alone and watched re-runs. I drank alone and painted my living room. I drank alone and watched sports. I drank alone and ran the next morning. It was pathetic, really. But there's not much more to it than that.

So I'm scared to death. The prospect of standing in front of a large room full of people I admire and respect to tell such a boring tale...well, let the panic begin.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Second Place

I finished second.
No, I'm not talking about running this time.
My piece, Winter Waterfall, won second place in the juried art show at the local art center.
This was quite a surprise, as there was some beautiful, emotional, and intriguing art work in the show.
And the awards were voted upon by art center staff--i.e. people who should know what they're doing!
I'm shocked.
And honored.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I've put on some running and biking miles recently. I ran 15 miles today. It was cold and very windy--not at all like a May day should be, so it was a rough run. My hip, however, felt okay. Good news. It's a bit sore now, but it does feel better than I thought it might.

I rode my new bike for the first time a couple days ago. Figuring I'd fall over at stop lights, I headed out on a local trail instead. No stoplights. No cars. Very few people. I rode 27 miles. It was weird riding in that low, aerodynamic position. I couldn't get used to barely being able to see 30 feet in front of me. I kept lifting my head to get a broader view and ended up with a really sore neck. In fact, it's still sore today! I had a complete fitting, so it's not a case of the bike not fitting well. If any of you ride a tri bike, I'd love to know how you got used to it.

Back to running now; for those of you who've followed the discussion accompanying my post, Having Imprudent Running Thoughts, I've made the decision not to run the inagural Minneapolis Marathon later this month. As much as I'd like to participate, I decided not to run for a couple reasons. First, the marathon course appears to be fairly hilly. I'm not sure I want to put my legs through a hilly course only 3 weeks before my goal race at Grandma's. Secondly, I know myself too well. I don't think I could run in a race and not race. I'd certainly run too fast and spoil my chances to qualify for Boston at Grandma's. Maybe I'll run a foolish marathon a few weeks after Grandma's instead!

As for my mood...still okay. Yippee!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Uh-Oh, another labral tear?

I think I re-tore my right hip labrum. I was moving a patient at work last week when my right hip popped. Very familiar pain and aching in my groin and thigh followed. I prayed and prayed and prayed it wouldn't be true, but I'm afraid my prayers went unanswered. If torn, this would be the third time. Two surgeries had it fixed, until last week, but I'm not sure three is an option.

I'm not sure I want another surgery even if it is an option. It took about 18 months to fully recover from the last one. In fact, it's only been in the last 3-6 months that I've felt back at full strength. Unfortunately, the only way to thwart the pain is to resect the tear--i.e. surgery. So if it is an option, I'll have to take it. If it's not an option, I'll be in almost constant discomfort and sometimes pain. There is nothing positive here. Both possibilities feel ominous and unwanted.

Sitting here worrying about these potential outcomes is not helpful. It doesn't change a thing. I'd like to go back in time and change how I moved a week ago. Simply repositioning my foot would have avoided the re-injury. I know that now. I wasn't thinking about it then. There is nothing I can do to change my current reality, and that's difficult to accept. I'm frustrated and disappointed. Feeling defeated... I don't want to be sitting here in pain. I don't want to have to deal with this all over again. But I am, and I do. And I'm working on accepting it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

And so I slept, I guess.

The technician told me I slept really well. I only know that I woke up several times feeling as if I was suffocating from the C-PAP machine. Forced air rushing from the machine into my nose made exhaling very difficult. Eventually, my nose got so stuffy I was actually suffocating. I stopped the sleep study at that point, which was 5:00 AM this morning. The technician insisted I slept really well.

Perhaps she's right. After all, I'm still awake. After the first study, without the C-PAP, I came home and went to bed. I don't feel the need to go to bed now, so perhaps I did sleep better. I'm not sure about wearing a C-PAP every night, though, as my general impression was that I was uncomfortable. Then again, if C-PAP is the cure to my fatigue, the choice to use it will become quite simple.

I'm glad the testing is done, and I'm looking forward to discussing everything with my doc later this week. Nothing to do now but wait for the results. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Support a runner supporting orphans

What would it be like to live in a walled a child...without parents...or even another person who cared? That was the question one talented, fortunate, local runner faced while volunteering over Christmas break at Puericultorio Perez Aranibar (P.P.A.) orphanage in Lima, Peru. As a result of his experience, local runner Mike T. decided to do something. Being a runner, it makes sense he decided on a solitary trek across Minnesota to raise money for these children.

In his letter to potential contributors, Mike states, "My conviction to sponsor the children of P.P.A. in their college education was catalyzed by an anonymous quote read by a fellow volunteer: 'Because I have been given much, I too must give.' From this conviction, the idea for the Great Transversal of Minnesota slowly crystallized: I would apply my passion for endurance sports towards raising scholarship funds for the orphans and hence transfer some of my abundant opportunity to the underprivileged orphans of P.P.A. On June 6th, I will begin a 400-mile, 7-day trip across Minnesota. Travel from the North Shore of Lake Superior to Rochester will be solely human powered, involving kayaking, swimming, biking, rollerskiing, and running. My goal is to raise $5,000 dollars in sponsorship. All funds will be donated toward college scholarships for the orphans. ...the adventure will begin with kayaking in Lake Superior and will finish when I run the final 20 miles into Rochester, my hometown."

I can't imagine not having the freedom to run whenever and wherever I please, living within the confines of four walls, or surviving without family and friends. I salute Mike for turning his passion into an opportunity for those less fortunate. Please join me in sponsoring Mike.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Having imprudent running thoughts...

I found out about an inaugural marathon today. It's an inaugural marathon in nearby Minneapolis. Unfortunately, this inaugural marathon is scheduled for May 31st. I don't know why I'm so tempted to run this race, as it likely would be a really dumb thing to do! Perhaps one obvious reason is that it is the 'inaugural' running. It would be cool to be part of a marathon's first running, especially a marathon which has potential, based on the Twin Cities Marathon, for long-term success. Another reason may be that it will be run alongside the Mississippi River in Minneapolis--i.e. beautiful. And finally, I think I'm just getting impatient. I'm tired of running 17-18 miles, like I did today, for nothing other than training. I want to get to the marathon already!

It's a long process to get ready for a marathon, and at this point it's not all that fun. Racing would be a lot more fun! Besides, my thinking goes, I'm supposed to run 20 miles on May 31st anyway. Why not run those 20 miles in another race? Once I got to 20 miles, I could shuffle my way to the finish, collect my inaugural bling, and go home. Sounds simple enough, huh?

Of course, May 31st is only three weeks before my 'real' marathon, Grandma's. And I hope to qualify for Boston at Grandma's, a goal I will likely put in real jeopardy by running a marathon just 3 weeks prior. But then my brain thinks, "Oh, what the heck? How big a deal can three weeks make anyway? Maybe I'll qualify for Boston in Minneapolis!" I think my brain is getting too big for my head!! Perhaps I need some feedback regarding these imprudent thoughts. If I allow my brain to keep on a-runnin', I'm afraid I'll be running on May 31st! Any thoughts, anyone?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Art for Mental Health

I attended an art show associated with Mental Health Awareness Month tonight. It was at our local art center, and the art was created by people affected by mental illness. Three of the six pieces I entered made it into the show. It was humbling to see my work hanging among beautiful pieces created by others affected with mental illness.

Standing in a room filled with art created by people like me was amazing. We are a creative bunch! Some of the art was profound in it's simplicity. Other pieces were telling for their cacophony of shapes and colors. There were depictions of journeys through pain and isolation as well as healing and celebration. Our artwork was as variable as our symptoms can be. It was powerful. I hope many people will get to see it.

This is one of my pieces, called Winter Waterfall, which made it into the show.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mothers and Daughters

My mom is back in town. She and my step-dad are full-time RV'ers. Counting a couple months last summer, this is only the second time since I was 12 we've been in the same zip code. It's strange. We get along better now than we ever have, but that still isn't all that great sometimes. But it is nice to have her nearby.

It's strange to have her nearby, yet it's nice. For one thing, she's a waaaay better cook than I am. Of course, that's not difficult. Anyone who actually cooks is a better cook than I am! I do like to drop by right around dinner time. My step-dad is cool, too. He and I have a lot in common. We share the depression diagnosis, so sometimes he gets what I'm saying more clearly than my mom. That's helpful.

I don't really know what I'm trying to say here...maybe I'm just figuring out (out loud) how to live so close to my mom. For example, I want to invite her to things I'm doing, like races, art shows, and softball games. Then, just when I'm ready to invite her, I change my mind, or I feel less certain about wanting her there. It's weird. I guess that's one to present to my psychologist, huh?

So my mom is on the way over here. We're going to eat dinner. And I don't know why I just wrote all this...I guess I'll have to figure that out with my therapist, too. Have a lovely evening.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Faster than I am!

It was a gorgeous day for a race. Almost perfect conditions met us throughout our 9.3 miles, and I ran.......FAST!! In my earlier post I hoped for a 1:16 which would have meant averaging 8:10 per mile. I ended up running a 1:12! That's 7:45 per mile, and that's the first time in the last 2-3 years that I've gone under 8 minutes per mile on any course longer than 5K. Prior to 3 years ago, a 7:45 would have been slow for me, but today it was thrilling.

My time, however, was not the most thrilling aspect of the day. I felt good early, and I felt great later in the race. That was really exciting! It felt like a breakthrough race. In fact, I felt like a runner again.

Perhaps the decision not to wear my watch during the race contributed to feeling great. I think it did. It was a big decision. I always wear a watch. I always wear a watch that beeps and gives me my split time at every mile. Going without my watch is far from typical, but it just felt right today.

Without my watch I had to run on feel alone. I battled the anxiety of my naked wrist for the first couple miles. I battled worry thoughts about running too fast, running too slow, getting passed, not getting name it I worried about it until about mile three. Well those thoughts pissed me off, as I knew I was feeling good and felt I was running fast. So somewhere between miles 3 and 4 I settled into a positive mantra and pushed the worry thoughts out. That helped.

The turn-around found me smack in the middle of 5-6 men and women. We had been exchanging positions throughout. By mile 5, however, I was almost alone. I don't know what happened. I don't know how fast I was going, but I just took off. I definitely ran faster over the second half of the race. It was a bit surreal. And it was fun. I had fun. This was one of those good days that pop up every once in awhile in running. Thanks, God, I needed this one!

The second race

I'm getting prepared for my second race of the season today. Actually, it begins in just over an hour. It's a 15K. I'm not sure what to expect today. Running at least as well as I ran a couple weeks ago would be nice. So I guess I am shooting for around a 1:16. Yes, 1:16 would be nice. However, the way my running has (not) been going lately, and my general blah-ness the last few days, whatever happens will be a surprise! I'll let you know what that surprise turns out to be in a few hours...