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!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Weight loss

Whoopee! I saw my doc today and got weighed. I was shocked! I've lost 8.3 pounds! I haven't weighed what I weigh now since December, 2006! I love Weight Watchers Online! I'm telling you, this program is amazing! I can't believe how easy this has been. And I've not been hungry, which was my biggest fear. Geez, I could be a Weight Watchers spokesperson!

By using the WW points system I've learned to eat mindfully, and that's been the most positive thing that could have happened. I eat whatever I want, but I pay much closer attention to what I'm putting in my mouth. I think about what I'm having and plan for later meals when making food decisions. I never did that before. I just ate. When I crave something, I think about whether I need it before I speed through the drive-thru. Sometimes, I decide I do need it. Usually, I can satisfy my craving with something worth fewer points. I've really changed the way I eat.

I haven't given up anything either. (Last week, I had a Brownie Batter Blizzard at Dairy Queen!) But I'm certainly eating fewer treats than I used to, and when I do have them, there's more thought behind them. I've had fewer fancy coffees, french fries, and desserts. I can now eat one cookie rather than three or four. That's amazing! Sometimes my eating felt out of my control before. Now it feels totally within my control. I think that's been a pretty big deal.

I think I've been more motivated to exercise, too. Exercising earns extra points, which means extra pasta, burgers, or ice cream. Again, I'm more aware of the energy I'm putting out and the nutrition I'm putting into my bod. Cool.

These results were all totally unexpected. It all adds up to me feeling better about me. My clothes fit much better, and I look better in them. Running is easier because I'm carrying around fewer pounds, and that motivates me to run more. And I feel good about successfully sticking with this program. It's all good. I'm happy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Feeling groovy

Not much to report today, and that's a good thing. It was a gray day, but I had a list of things to do, and I accomplished them all. I love crossing things off a list. It makes me feel so productive.

Unfortunately, my first order of business was battling with a health care company about a $600 bill, which they had no business sending me! I do not owe them $600, yet there I sat with the bill. I've battled with this company before. They can't seem to figure anything out. It's frustrating. I said my piece, stomped around the house for a few minutes, and then tried to let it go. I hate having to deal with this kind of shit, especially before finishing my morning coffee!

Things got better from there. I finished my coffee while taking care of some business over the phone. I ordered refills of my meds. I took Puck for his 1.5 mile run, which served as my warm-up. After dropping Puck at home, I completed a daunting speed workout. I ran 10 x 400 meters at 7 minute per mile pace. I thought it would be way more difficult than it was. I actually ran them all around 6:45 pace, and I felt great afterward--not overly tired or drained. I love it when my running feels like that!

After my shower, I did some more painting. I'm getting close to finishing. One more coat and I'll be done. Finally. Then it was time for a luxurious 2 hour nap. I do take a lot of naps, but I rarely have the time nor the inclination to just let go and sleep. I had nothing pressing to take care of afterward, so I just relaxed. It was lovely.

In the evening, I did a little shopping for some new lights. The old lights look really bad now that I've spiffed up the place. Then I attended my usual AA meeting before going out to dinner with my parents. We had the never-ending pasta at The Olive Garden. I'm stuffed! My mom and step dad are leaving town tomorrow. I'm still sad about that, but that's life. I'll survive. It was nice to have dinner with them.

It was a good day. Things are going well. There is life with depression, and life is what I've been doing lately. Pretty normal stuff... Pleasantly non-dramatic. I'll take it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A very productive weekend

I ran.
I biked.
I painted.
I cleaned.
I laundered.

14 miles.
60 minutes.
Three walls and a hallway.
My whole house.
An awful lot of clothes!

Boy I had a productive weekend! My fourteen mile run went really great yesterday. Don't get me wrong, I was glad to be done. But I maintained my 9 minute per mile average throughout, and I was really happy with that! It was a beautiful day for a run.

Today I began the day by cleaning my house. Oh my, it was a mess! I really love a clean house, but I hate cleaning. Perhaps that's why I let it go so long before cleaning it. I wish I wouldn't do that. I hopped on my bike after that. It was another beautiful day, but I nearly froze my ass off on my 60 minute ride. It was beautiful, but the air was much, much cooler than I anticipated! It took me two hours to warm up once I got home.

After rewarding myself with some yummy ice cream, I watched my Vikings win...finally! Unfortunately, my Twins lost...bummer. (That's okay, they've already secured the Central Division Championship!) And then I painted my basement while doing many loads of laundry. Eventually, I'll be finished painting down there. Right now it seems never ending, though.

Now my house is cleaned, my laundry is cleaned, and even my bod is cleaned (I just got out of the shower). It was a good weekend. No worries about my mood. Felt good about my training. And was productive around my house. How normal is that?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Water, water and more water!

As we say up north, Uff-Da, we've been getting dumped on. It's been raining for at least 24 hours, I think, and there are no signs of it stopping. Basements are filling up. Rivers are swollen beyond their banks. Major highways are closed due to flooding. There is water everywhere!

Fortunately, my basement is DRY! That 6K I spent on the waterproofing system apparently was well spent. This has definitely been the biggest test my basement has had since I fixed it after it flooded 3 years ago. So far, so good. I'm so relieved. It's so dry down there, I even spent time painting it today! I would have been devastated if it had flooded again!

The weather forced me indoors for my run today. Yuck! I hate running on treadmills. Treadmills feel so much harder than running outdoors. I know some people find them easier, but not me. I always feel more tired on a treadmill. Nevertheless, it was raining so hard and so consistently, I couldn't stand the thought of doing 7 miles outdoors. I ran my tempo run on the treadmill instead.

The good thing about the treadmill was I didn't have to worry about maintaining tempo pace (8:30/mile). I set the treadmill speed, after a 1/2 mile warm-up, and took off. I did have to bargain with myself all the way through the run, though. Feeling tired, I told myself I could stop after 4 miles, and then 5 miles, and then 6... I made the entire 7 on pace. Whew! I was pooped.
But of course I felt good--physically and mentally--after I finished. That's the beauty of exercise for me. Even if I don't enjoy it in the moment, I know I'll feel better when I'm done.

I felt so energized after my run that I began painting again. Now I'm sitting here waiting for the paint to dry so I can continue on my basement renovation journey. It's still raining. It's gloomy outside. But it was another good day, and life moves on...

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?" --William A. Ward

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Another suicide in the news

This time it was an athlete. Denver Broncos wide receiver, Kenny McKinley, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. This young man was only in his second year in the NFL. He played in 8 games last year, his first as a pro, and is the all-time leading receiver at his Alma mater, South Carolina. Obviously, Kenny McKinley was a talented young man with seemingly everything going for him, and yet he took his life.

Suicide, like mental illness, knows no boundaries. Black, white, rich, poor, educated or not, nobody is immune. I don't know if Mr. McKinley suffered from untreated depression--the most common cause of suicide--but one has to wonder. Regardless, it's tragic.

This is the second time in the last few days I've been reminded of suicide's pervasiveness. As I ran my twelve-miler on Saturday, I ran smack into the middle of the Out of the Darkness walk. For two of my twelve miles, I ran side-by-side with walkers raising awareness.

The families and friends of suicide victims were obvious, with their coordinated memorial t-shirts, and they were everywhere. The path was lined with numerous memorial placards--photo montages of those no longer here. Among the pictures, all ages were represented from very young to very old. There were students, nurses, bartenders, and more. There were pictures of graduations, weddings, beaches, and friends. There was loss everywhere. It was a powerful event.

It was odd, being a survivor of a suicide attempt, to be among the families of those who've been lost. Suicide's lasting effect on those left behind was palpable. It was good I was there. It was good for me to feel that effect. As I ran, I quietly thanked God for the reminder, and I said a prayer for each survivor I passed. Perhaps it was no accident I happened upon that scene. I won't soon forget it.

Suicide is permanent. Its effects are devastating. If you are considering suicide--I get it. But please, if you are contemplating suicide, call someone, tell someone now.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Psychiatry for Abused Toys??

Have you heard about Parapluesch? They are a German toy company currently marketing stuffed "cuddlytoys" with mental illnesses. Huh? I just heard about them, so I checked out their website. It is very strange. There is a selection of small stuffed animals who are apparently supposed to represent different mental illnesses. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out which one portrayed which illness. One of the toys is a sheep. Do sheep have mental illness? How about a crocodile with a pillow? What do you suppose that represents? I have no idea. It is a very strange website.

The toys are odd. The concept is odd. But the game on their website is offensive. It's called The Asylum--Psychiatric Clinic for Abused Cuddlytoys. What the...? Okay, so all of us with mental illness have been abused? If you were abused you will certainly have a mental illness? All victims of abuse require psychiatry? I don't get it.

I tried the game. It was also very odd. If you are old enough to remember the game Myst, I think this "game" is somewhat like that. I think you have to find your way from somewhere to somewhere by going through therapy with various animals. Or maybe curing them and getting them out of the clinic? It's hard to say. There are no instructions. No directions. No clues as to the premise of the game. On second thought, maybe this isn't offensive at all. Maybe it's just plain stupid.

Can anyone explain this to me?

Friday, September 17, 2010

An online recommendation

I got a note today from someone at informing me that they featured my blog in an article about depression blogs. It's always surprising when my little blog gets recognized like this, and I am very honored. I appreciate support, and I am glad they are doing their part in getting the word out about this illness.

In other news... I ran a race last night. It was a 5K cross country race at a nearby golf course. I thought long and hard about running it because I really don't care for it. This race hurts. There is a very vertical hill about 400 yards into the race, which is where the pain begins. There are 3 or 4 short, steep hills and 3 or 4 long, gradual hills interspersed throughout the course, so the hurting doesn't end until the finish. It's a bit brutal.

Knowing that I wasn't in the best shape, and keeping in mind the difficulty of the course, I decided I wouldn't race all out. It didn't matter. It still hurt. And I think I ended up going as fast as I could anyway. I was disappointed with my time, which averaged just over 8 minutes per mile, but I shouldn't have been. I knew I wasn't in racing shape. I should have just patted myself on the back for getting out there at all. But alas, my perfectionism struck again!

Perfectionism is a dangerous trait for someone with depression. Sometimes, I think, perfectionism has kept me in my low spots longer, because I expected so much from myself--even though I felt like crap! I've worked hard to keep those perfectionistic thoughts at bay when I've felt low, and I think I've been fairly successful. I've learned to allow myself space and accept where I'm at where my depression is concerned. If only I could allow myself space and accept where I'm at where my running is concerned! Like I said in my last post, I'm a work in progress.

Tomorrow during my long run, perhaps I'll keep Henry van Dyke's words in mind: Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. Carry on, my friends!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Saying I love you.

Between running speedy workouts and painting for hours on end, I am sore. My legs hurt from my speed workout. I'm not used to running that fast anymore, but that's what my training plan called for, so I did it. Of course standing and painting my basement for hours probably contributed to the sore legs, and I know it's the reason for my aching shoulders! I need an ice pack!

I needed some sustenance after my long day of painting and running, so I went out to eat with my mom and step-dad. They are full-time RV'ers, and they will only be in town another two weeks. I'm bummed about that. They were supposed to stay until the end of October, but their plans changed. They're leaving at the end of September instead. Worse yet, they won't be coming back next summer. They've been here three summers in a row, and it's been really nice having my mom around. She left when I was twelve, and I had spent very little time with her until they began coming here for the summers 3 years ago. I've enjoyed spending time with her. Of course, the fact that she cooks for me is nice, too. I'll miss that. I'll miss them.

I'm sure my mom would be surprised to read that last sentence. We don't exactly have a touchy-feely relationship. I'm still fairly guarded around her. I don't know why. It's just the way it is. I've gotten a lot better over the past several years. I think just being around her more has helped. It also helps that I've learned to live life through the AA program. I've learned to be more honest, grateful, and real. And that has helped me be a little more open with my mom. I still don't know if I'll be able to tell her I'll miss her though. Isn't that dumb?

I envy people who have easy relationships with their parents. I envy families that express their feelings for each other. There's a lot of trash in our past in my family. We also weren't raised to say things like, "I love you." Strange? I don't know. That's just how it was/is. But like I said, I've gotten better with my mom, and I'm a work in progress, so I'll keep working on it.

I'd love to hear how things were in your families. Is my situation weird, or is it more normal than I think? Do you tell your parents you love them? Do you have kids who say that without a thought? Or is it rare to hear those words in your family, as it is in mine? Just curious...

And on that note, I'm off to rest my weary bones in bed. Good night.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A good week

Just finished my first week of being back in training. I'm tired and my muscles are sore, but I feel better having a direction. I knew I would. This past week I ran three times, including 10 miles yesterday, and swam, biked, and strength trained once each. It feels really good to work my muscles again.

I've also done some work on my house this week. Today, after biking, I painted the primer on all the walls in my basement--over 3 hours of work. My shoulders are sore. I'll hopefully complete the priming process by Tuesday. Then I can paint. I haven't picked out the color yet, but I've got it narrowed down to a few different shades. Since it's a basement, it's going to be a boring shade of bright white or beige. I'll be glad when the painting is done.

Work also went well this week. I learned a new skill. I admitted a couple of new patients, and my schedule was almost full. Tomorrow will be a very busy, full day. Busy and full are good things. We're a new company in town, so we are still in the process of getting our name out there and our reputation established. It appears we are successfully doing so, and that's pretty exciting.

I'm relaxing now in front of a boring football game. My dog is asleep at my feet, awaiting his exercise I think. It was a beautiful day here in Minnesota, and it's turning into a beautiful evening. So I think I'll shut off the TV, put away the computer, grab the leash, and be on my way. It was a good week. I'm grateful for that. Take care!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A life lost

Yesterday, a former sponsee killed herself.
She was maybe 22 years old.
We worked through the Big Book of AA together.
She graduated from her halfway house with pride.
She got her apartment.
She held down a job.
She was sober.
And then she got drunk.
And disappeared.
And now, one year later, she's dead.
She hung herself in detox.
Clearly she was still struggling with her disease.

Why couldn't she get it?
Why did she go back out there again and again?
Why did she struggle so much?
Why her and not me?

I'm so grateful to be sober today.
So grateful.

Rest in peace, Maria.
Rest in peace.

Monday, September 6, 2010


I should know better. I should know better than to open their discussions and follow their threads. Their rantings are always the same, and they are based on nothing more than their own perceived experience. Yet they present themselves as authorities on the subject. I should know better than to get involved, but today I apparently didn't.

I found a psychology discussion board on Craig's List today. Didn't know they has such a thing, so I opened it up and took a look. Against my better judgement, I opened a thread about psych meds. Bad idea. Rant, rant, rant, rant, rant... If I were to believe any of the crap I read, I should be a.) dead, b.) in tremendous pain, c.)just as crazy as ever, perhaps even more so, or d.) all of the above! Hmmm... I wonder how I've survived these many years?

The rantings were led by a writer who claimed to still be "recovering" from taking psych meds 18 years ago! She complained over and over again about how much pain she's been in ever since taking these meds. Fine. That's her experience, and for her own reasons, she connects her pain to psych meds. Unfortunately, she didn't stop there. She went on with wild claims, presented as fact, about how psych meds effect the body and brain, and why they cause pain and suffering to "anyone" who dares to take them. If it wasn't so irritating, it would have been comical.

Unfortunately, it's not comical because people with these extreme, unsupported views perpetuate the stigma and myths surrounding mental illness. Rantings such as these may keep people from seeking the treatment they need and deserve. They spread fear. It's too bad.

I've said it here before, and now I'll say it again. I would NOT be alive today if I were not taking my meds. My psych meds are no different than my asthma drugs. I probably wouldn't be alive if I weren't taking the asthma drugs either! Pain? Suffering? Craziness? Yup. I've got all of those in spades when I don't take my medication! I'm not going to tell you to take meds. There are a lot of ways to treat mental illness. But for some of us, these meds--instruments of torture if I were to believe the ranters--are an essential piece of healing.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Is it September?

I can't believe we are already into September! What happened to the summer? It seems like only yesterday I was blabbering on about my upcoming triathlon and swimming dilemma. That's already more than two months ago! Then there was my dip into the darkness in July. Thankfully that didn't last too long. August saw me take three solid weeks off from any kind of training. Not great, because I'm having a really difficult time getting started again! And now it's September. Wow. Time flies.

Like I said, I'm having a lot of trouble getting back into any kind of exercise routine. I'm proving, once again, that I can't just run, bike or swim for the heck of it. I need a goal. I need to be training for something. That's just the way I'm wired, I guess.

So I'm looking for a goal. It will soon be too cold to bike or swim outside, therefore a triathlon is not a great option. Training for a marathon is the better choice. Of course, any late fall or winter marathon will have to be out of state, as the Minnesota racing season pretty much ends at Halloween. Earlier this summer, I had a plan to run with a whole group of Minnesotans in North Carolina in early November. I let go of that plan when my basement renovation became way more expensive than anticipated. But I do need a goal...

I figure I might have some money again by December, so I searched online for December marathons. There are a few good ones out there. I focused on the ones which would be easy (and therefore less expensive) to travel to. That left me with Dallas and a few others. I've heard good things about the Dallas marathon, so I'm tentatively making that my goal. Tentatively... Tomorrow, I'm going to sit down and make a training schedule. I'll evaluate how I'm doing at the end of September before I make a more definitive decision.

I really hope I can get off my butt and get out the door once I have a goal and a schedule in front of me. Of course, you'll be the first to know if I'm succeeding or failing. Wish me luck.