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!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What to do?

I've been feeling a little conflicted about my blog lately. I began this blog in the throes of depression, feeling like I needed to help others who were struggling like me. I wasn't working, as I had been disabled by my illness for several years. I knew nothing about blogging. I learned as I went along. I was early in recovery, and knew very little about living a sober life. I had time to write, the creativity of someone in pain, and lots to say.

In those early days, I wrote and wrote and wrote. I had little support. Those around me thought it strange writing a blog about feeling bad and running. Whoever heard of such a thing? What did I hope to accomplish? Nevertheless, I poured out descriptive posts and even a few poems. My goal was to educate, support, and share. But no one knew I was there, and I was happy when I got ten readers in a month. It didn't matter. The writing made me feel better.

Now, it turns out, I've got readers, and followers, and recognition among my peers. Based on comments I've received, it seems the writing makes you feel better, too. But I'm feeling conflicted. As I gathered readers, and comments, and recognition, something in me began to shift. I had fewer and fewer days in the black hole of which I once so passionately wrote. I got better.

Over the course of this blog, you've seen me go from disabled to work. There was a time not that long ago when I didn't think I'd ever work in my chosen field again. You've read along as I've taken this illness from my bed to competitive racing in the streets. The illness which didn't allow me out of my bed now allows me energy to train for a triathlon. I think largely because of my connection with all of you, I've been healing.

Unfortunately, healing leaves me conflicted. I have less time and creativity now. Posts which used to flow like water rushing down the mountain side now thunk like cold peanut butter on soft bread. I find less to be proud of in my words. Creativity has given way to utility. Whereas I used to write nearly every day, I now find time, hopefully, only 2-3 times per week. This blog which used to be about mental illness, with a little running on the side, now seems to be more about running (and swimming, and biking) with a little mental illness on the side. I began this blog to educate others about depression. Am I still accomplishing that goal?

Am I still accomplishing what I set out to do? Am I still a voice for those with mental illness? Do they find solace or comfort or support in my posts? I don't know. But if they don't, if I'm no longer a voice for those with whom I hope to connect, is it time to say I'm done? I don't know.

It's weird. I feel a little guilty for feeling better. I feel a little bad about not feeling so bad. Can a person in "remission" still connect with those who aren't? I hope that my feeling better offers some hope, but I don't know if it does. Does it?


Gail said...

I am a new reader to your BLOG. It is your journey in distancing yourself from depression that captures me. I want to know there is a way out. I need to know I can rebuild 'myself' and go on living and accepting this recreated person. I found your BLOG at a time I was losing my grip and my hope that I could find my way up and out of the whole. I was feeling stuck. My friends gaged my progress by my level of physical activity. I would be asked if I was running, swimming, biking, training for any races. If I was active friends knew I was healing. I love that connection that has been so much a part of your journey. So, if you continue to Blog I will enjoy following your life course. If you choose to sign off I will see that the balance has shifted and you are living your transformed life with new hope. How uplifting could that be for your readers. Always do what is best for you. This is your story!

Camille said...

My husband's best friend has paranoid Schizophrenia - and yet has managed over the years to accomplish an amazing amount (even for a sane person). At some point he realized that the very fact that he was able to stay controlled was hope for others, and it gave him a new purpose to give it back to those still struggling. Because he knows that roads are never straight, and will continue to change direction he has used those good stretches to prepare for what was to come.

So yes, I do believe there is a point to spreading the occasional peanut butter on bread.

Raine @ Mama Rants said...

Whatever the focus, I hope you to continue to blog when you can. I have struggled with depression since my teens, and anxiety and PTSD for most of the past 10 years, and it helps me seeing/reading other people who have been through it and gotten their lives back. I also really enjoy the posts about running & things, not only because I'm training for my first triathlon right now, but because it shows that you are living and doing things a lot of people only wish they could or had, rather than just trudging through life like so many people do.

Jennifer, aka beautiful mind, complex life said...

Maybe it's selfish, but I hope you continue to blog, at least once in a while. It's obviously up to you, and if you feel this part of your life needs to come to a close, so be it. Go and do what you want to do with your time; you only get to live once. But I do feel that blogs like yours, and hopefully even mine, show people recovery is possible, life can be worth living even with a mental illness, and there is a reason to hold onto hope like a candle burning through the darkness.

I go through periods where I don't blog, even a couple of years I didn't do it much at all. I always seem to come back to it, however, because I feel like there are things I want to say to the world, and I like the satisfaction of having said them. I hope, really, that my blog educates people about Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder, and also helps people whose lives have been affected by those disorders. Since those disorders are usually life-long, unlike depression (most of the time, anyway; I know there are people who have depression all their lives), perhaps it's a bit different. But I do feel that I am making a difference in some small way, and that gives me more satisfaction right now than many other things I do in life. It doesn't really matter if there are only a couple of readers.

But, that said, I don't blog every day or even every week. I do it when I feel like it. I think that's the way to go. You don't need to feel that you are expected or forced to write when you don't feel like writing. Write just what you want, when you want. If it's all about running, then, so what? You are living proof that someone can recover from depression and also other illnesses, and get their health back. That says a lot in and of itself.

Divas said...

Never feel bad for feeling better. You're LIVING! It's wonderful to be able to live what you could only write about before.
And go with the writing flow . . .

Stacy said...

This is interesting. I find that I don't blog as much on days when I feeling better. I figure it's a good thing for me to be more productive in my "real life", so I don't worry about it.
Your situation brings to mind when I was in day treatment and people would be in varying degrees of treatment but all together in the same group. And people would be leaving and others coming in. Maybe this is a point in your life when you feel you're ready to move on from this. If you feel you can do more with your life without putting the time into blogging then you should feel burdened or held back by it. But it if you find it rewarding and enhancing to your life then keep it up.
I've found your blog posts helpful. At first, a couple months ago, when I first started blogging I ready your blog and didn't know what to think. At first I wondered if you were a compulsive exerciser. Now I don't think so. It's just, at that time that's about all there was in your blog, but I read back a bit and saw that you'd gone through many things I have so I've continued to follow. Posts like this one really help me relate.
Ultimatly on you can know what's best for you.

Anonymous said...

September 2004. A Long and lonely road at times but perserverance has made you sober; stronger, smarter; more resilient; believer. Do not doubt yourself for the ability to create the same for others through your writing and sharing. Depression and sobriety are not easy things and they will always be a part of you and the person you are today. The power of network and the peace it can bring to you and vice versa are far to valuable to stop. I say write when you can and say what you will. Continue to move forward and keep on keepin on..always my best to you! smm

Anonymous said...

If you didn't blog because you were feeling better, then you would be leaving out a whole chapter or semester of education!


etta said...

Thank you all for your comments. You've collectively given me much to ponder. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts, and I am humbled by your words.

Mohican said...

I'm not surprised to see this post. You've been frenetically busy lately. This blog is about you and right now you are about running around and being ridiculously occupied training and working a new job. I agree with the others, blog when you want and about what you want. Remember: a blog is not a competition or a race.

Laura said...

You should do whatever is best and healthiest for you. As someone who has suffered from depression and is also doing much better lately, I feel our stories give hope- everyone who is in the midst of suffering wants to know that there is a better place. It's just an evolution and it's normal, natural, and wonderful....I would say, congratulations on feeling better! You have learned how to take care of yourself and that is huge.

Anonymous said...

I too would like you to keep blogging. I've only been reading your blog a short while, but it has been so refreshing for me to read about someone who seems to have 'won' or at least can keep on top of this battle.
Your experiences and attitude demonstrate that others have been in bad places and yet can lead happy and successful lives.

Like everyone else who has replied I encourage you to do what is right for you. Each of us change over time with different coping mechanisms, interests and each new experience changes and shapes us. And if this blog has run its course and you need to move on and do other things I wish you all the best.

And back to pure selfishness, I would like you to continue to write, and maybe even include some training and motivation tips? Some of your readers are also (nascent) runners and love to hear about that too!