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!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

re-birth-day reprise


Twenty six years ago

It was the end,
and I was so, so relieved.

I can still feel


Twenty six years ago

I didn't end,
and yet, I was relieved.

I can still feel


...if you consider suicide and option
I get it.
please, call someone.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lazy day

I'm feeling quite lazy today, and I'm okay with that. Although I started the day as usual with my morning meeting and a tempo run, I'm whipped right now. I'm just up from my nap but still not awake. Nothing a little coffee can't fix, I'm sure. I hope. Overall, I'm continuing to feel less sad, although I'm not going to go to church tomorrow. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I don't want to chance it. I'll go back again, but not tomorrow. I'm enjoying feeling better, and I want to keep it that way.

Tonight will be another test of the sadness-after-leaving-an-event issue. I'll be attending the track club banquet tonight. I think I'm actually getting an award. I believe another runner and I tied for our age group grand prix award. It's given to the top point getter (first place=10 points, second=9 points, etc...) in a series of races run throughout the year. It's kind of neat to finish in the top three, although I am by far NOT the best runner in my age group! By far... I'll be on guard for the sadness afterwards.

I'm three weeks away from the Austin Marathon now. No wonder I'm feeling lazy. I just finished three weeks of heavy training. Dah! I'm looking forward to a lightening load of training from now until race day. I can't believe I'll soon be running my second marathon in three months, and then I have Boston just two months after that. I think the training has really helped me get through these dark days of winter. I function so much better when I have a goal.

Okay, my coffee is done. I'm going to try to wake up and take Puck for a walk. He's not a fan of my laziness. But you know, sometimes it's nice just to lounge. After all the financial stress I've been through lately, it feels really comforting to me today. I hope all of you are being as productive or as non-productive as you wish today. Take care!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lifting the blues

I'm sending a huge thanks to all of you who took the time to comment on my last post. Your shared experience really helped. Instead of isolated and alone, I felt normal. I appreciated your thoughts, suggestions, and words of encouragement. I swear I have the best readers on the planet! Thank you so much.

Some of Sunday's sadness has passed. I had therapy yesterday, and that certainly helped a lot. It's so nice to have a psychologist I respect and trust. After leaving her office, I felt a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. And I don't even think I mentioned Sunday's sadness! I had a lot to talk about.

Besides therapy, exercise has also helped cure my blues. I'm in the middle of one of my most difficult weeks of training. The Austin Marathon is coming up fast. Yesterday I ran a wicked speed workout, 6 x 1200 meters. It was tough, and I felt great when I finished. Tomorrow I'm scheduled to do a tempo workout, but I'll probably do my 20 mile long run instead. The 20-miler is scheduled for Saturday, but it's going to be really warm tomorrow (that's a temperature in the 20-30 degree range around here). So I'll likely run the 20 tomorrow. It will be nice to have my last 20-miler done. The taper toward race day follows!

Work, playing with friends, and AA have all been conducive to healing as well. My sponsor celebrated 21 years of sobriety last night. Wow! I've been sober 5 years, and that feels like an eternity! I can't imagine being sober for 21 years. There's another person I respect and trust, my sponsor. I'm also sponsoring again. So I've been spending time getting out of myself and helping my new sponsee. Focusing on others is always good for my mental health. Spending time with a newly recovering person reminds me of where I've been and of how far I've come. I'm so grateful for that.

Thank you again, readers. If you only knew how much your comments matter. Once again, I feel you help me more than I help you. But that's okay. After all, we're all in this together.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why so sad?

I'm going to have to stop going to church. This morning, as has happened several times, I got really sad upon leaving church. Really sad... And for the life of me, I can't figure out exactly why. It's a heavy sadness. It washes over me and settles like a leaden cloak upon my back. It weighs me down. It makes me tearful and tired. It negatively effects the rest of my day. If this continues, I'm going to have to stop going to church.

I don't understand the sadness, nor why it happens upon leaving church. It may be connected to loneliness, but I hate to admit that. That sounds so pathetic. But loneliness is the only thing that even remotely makes sense. I go to church alone, and there are lots of families and couples there together. Maybe those reminders are just a little too much? I don't know.

I'm curious to know if anyone else ever experiences this. And by this, I mean sadness upon leaving a group, or an event, or anything which shouldn't evoke sadness. It bothers me. I don't like feeling sad, especially when the reason is not clear. Does this make sense to anyone else? I'm curious, and confused, and, well, sad.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Better days

I may be a little light in the wallet (furnace, truck, health insurance), and I may feel like I got smacked in the face (root canal), but the past few days have been better days. I'm functioning and moving forward. My mood has taken a bit of a hit with all the stress I've recently encountered, but right now I'm riding it out okay.

I feel a little low and a lot lazy. I did run my 15 miles today, but now I can barely move. It's part muscle fatigue but larger part inertia. I just want to lie in bed and sleep now. Puck won't allow more sleep, though. He figured a two hour nap was plenty, thank you very much! I needed that nap. Now I don't know what else to do. I've got plenty I could be doing, but inertia sort of gets in the way of that.

Life moves on whether we participate or not, and right now I'm counting on that. I think I need the structure of work to cure my inertia. Until then, I've really got no plans. This little lull will pass. I'm not panicking. I'm not worried. I sort of expected a crash after all of the recent stressors. And this is hardly a crash. It's more like a slow motion thud. I'll let you know when I get moving again. Carry on, friends.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Every day can't be a great day

Every day can't be a great day. That's what the song said. I turned up the radio, laughed ironically, and continued my afternoon drive home. Today was certainly not a great day. It was an overwhelming and stressful day, but it was definitely not a great day.

Actually, it's been a tough 36 hours. It started with the big truck repair yesterday--a repair so big it lasted until this afternoon. Then last night, my furnace shut off again. I had no heat despite paying $350 for a repair just five days ago! That made today, a day when I got a new patient, quite rushed, as I needed to make time to pick up my truck and to wait at home for the furnace repairman. Starting a patient can take up to 5 hours. All of a sudden I felt like I needed to be in three places at once.

So I rushed. I rushed as professionally as possible through my patients. I left my paperwork undone until I got home, and I did it while I waited for the repairman. I freaked out when the repairman informed me I likely needed another $350 part in order to fix the furnace. I don't have $350 extra dollars, so I told him I'd wait to see what happened. Perhaps, miraculously, it won't break down again. (Is that another ironic laugh I hear?)

After the repairman left I rushed off to the mechanic--a 30 minute drive each way--in order to pick up my truck before they closed. That's where I received my first bit of good news. I didn't need new brakes after all. So instead of a $700 repair, I only had to spend $500! (Insert another ironic laugh here.) Spending all of this money, money I don't feel I have to spend, makes me very anxious.

Tomorrow is my root canal repair surgery. I'm anxious about that, too. I have tomorrow's visit paid for, but I'm worried I may need more than one visit. I have an infection in the root of the tooth, and if the infection is too severe, the endodontist won't be able to repair it in one visit. More pain, more time, more money...

Today was one of those days. It didn't begin favorably, and it didn't improve much throughout the day. To make matters worse, I've been eating crap for three days. I think I crave crap when I'm stressed. COOKIES!! Eating cookies, and cake, and ice cream does nothing to improve my anxiety state. It only makes things worse mentally and physically. And making myself feel worse is really the last thing I need!

So I've got to turn this thing around. It's getting harder and harder for me to believe it will all work out, but I have to get back my faith. It will all work out. I may not like it. (I don't.) It may not be easy. (It isn't.) But eventually it will all work out. I have to believe that. I have to believe that, or life will only get more difficult. Right now, life's overwhelming and stressful, and I don't like it very much. But hey, every day can't be a great day. And tomorrow's got to be better.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recovering from the weekend

Whew! I'm not used to going out for the weekend. I'm still trying to recover two days later! I feel so old!

I had a great time with my friends this weekend. They had a room at one of the local casinos, so the place was quite plush and hoppin'! After a late dinner, we went to an improv comedy show Saturday night. It was really fun! It's so enjoyable to laugh until your stomach hurts, and that's exactly what we did.

The comedy show didn't start until 10:30 PM. That's really late for me. I'm usually asleep for a couple of hours by that time! I have no idea what time we got back to the hotel, but I do know we chatted, ate some more, gambled a little, and stayed awake until after 3:00 AM! Yikes! My friends, both of whom are several years older than I, really gave me grief about my usual routine. It was all fun.

On Sunday, we went out for a business brunch with some associates of my friends. These associates happen to represent a large shoe company--Brooks. (My friends own a shoe store.) After the Brooks reps found out I was a runner, we talked a little about my running "career." And guess what? They want me to run on one of their running teams! How cool is that? They'll supply me with free racing clothes and shoes, which I will then wear in races. I'm incredibly honored. I'll do anything they want me to do in exchange for free gear!

So I had a really great weekend. Puck got spoiled by my friends, Bill and Cindy, while I got spoiled by my friends, Mary and Jim. The only problem is I'm still wiped out! And it's nap time...again.

Friday, January 14, 2011

trudging along

Well, the money continues to fly out of my wallet this month. First the root canal repair, then the truck repair, and yesterday it was the furnace. After a few hours freezing my buns off, the furnace man showed up yesterday around 10 AM. He was here for a grand total of 15 minutes, and it cost me $350! But at least I have heat, and I'm quite grateful for that.

My mother offered to loan me the money to pay for the furnace, but I said no. It really would make things easier if I accepted it, especially since I received a quarterly bill for my health insurance yesterday (another large chunk of money). But I have such a hard time borrowing money from anyone, especially my mother. I guess it's a pride thing. I don't know. I thought a lot about it today, but I just feel like I need to figure this out on my own. I have other options, and even though it would be easier to let my mother help, I think I'll pursue the other options first.

In other news, I completed my 20 mile run yesterday. It was tough as usual, but it was also quite pretty. It snowed for over half of the run. The flakes were light and fluffy and lasted for a couple of hours. After it snowed, the sun came out for the rest of my run. Lovely. I think I may have even gotten a little tan! It was a good run.

I ran yesterday instead of my usual Saturday because I'm going to be busy this weekend. Two old friends are going to be nearby, and they invited me to spend the entire weekend with them--their treat! We're going to go out to some shows, maybe do a comedy club, perhaps hit a spa, spend the night in a hotel, and then do brunch on Sunday. It's been an awful long time since I've done anything fun like this, so I'm really looking forward to it! It will be great to spend time with them, and it was incredibly kind of them to offer such an opportunity. I'll let you know how it goes.

And now it's time to pack...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's cold inside!

From the When-it-Rains-it-Pours-Department: My first words this morning were, "Uh-oh." As soon as I threw off my bed covers I felt it. Cold! I quickly checked the thermostat and my worst fear was realized. No heat. After throwing on multiple layers of clothing, clamoring to the basement, and fiddling with a piece of machinery of which I know nothing, I made the dreaded call.

Now here I sit, typing with gloved fingers, waiting for the furnace experts to arrive. I can only imagine how much this will cost me! With every ounce of my being I want to scream, "Why?!! Why me? Why now? Didn't you notice that previous post, the one about financial stress? Why?" But screaming those thoughts would be futile. So here I sit, with gloved fingers, waiting for the experts to arrive.

This bothers me on so many levels. I hate being cold, and I've been cold a lot this winter. I've been turning my heat up lately. I hate being incapable, and I am incapable of fixing this. I hate having to rely on others, especially others who can take advantage of the situation and charge you an arm and a leg just to show up!
I hate having to wait. The expert may show up in five minutes or five hours. And most of all, I hate being stressed about money!  Like I said, this situation is a multi-faceted pain in the ass!

Life. Ain't it grand? And did I mention I'm running 20 miles today? Outside? In the cold? UGH!!! This is not how I wanted to start my day!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A drinking party

It's so interesting being sober at a drinking party. I went to a good old fashioned drinking party last night. I don't know what else to call it. I mean jello-shots were involved. It was a little strange. I haven't been to a party like that--where much of the focus is on getting drunk--for many, many years. I know I haven't been to one since getting sober. It was fun. It was interesting.

The party was at the home of one of my co-workers, and it was mostly co-workers in attendance. It was fun to see them outside of work. I work with some very cool people. We played stupid games, people got loud, and we laughed a lot. I was the only one who wasn't drinking, and I was perfectly okay with that. I was just as silly and loud as many of the drunks. That surprised me a bit. I was expecting to feel more reserved without the loosening effect of the alcohol. I wasn't reserved, and I had fun.

So what's my point? Well, I was pleasantly surprised at how okay I felt. To me, it means I'm doing well. It means I'm feeling spiritually fit at this moment, and my program of recovery is working in my life. There have been times in my sobriety where I couldn't have participated like I did last night. The thoughts about joining in the "fun" would have been too great--the cravings difficult to ignore. But last night, I had fun. I was a participant. And that's what recovery is about, participating in life, one day at a time. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Financial Stress

I called my sponsor this evening and asked, "So what's God's message in this BS?" The BS of which I was speaking was the recent piling on of unexpected, emergent, financial stressors. First, I found out I have an infection in a previously performed root canal. I don't have dental insurance. I had to go see a specialist on Tuesday. She described the procedure and detailed her financial policies. The up front, cash cost will be over 1300 dollars, and that's if everything goes perfectly. That was Tuesday.

Today I took my truck in to have some free work done on it, as Toyota had recalled a part. Unfortunately, the mechanics later informed me that my water pump, timing belt and rear brakes need to be replaced very soon. The grand total for these repairs? Around 800 dollars...! I felt my anxiety climb on the spot.

Financial stress is more stressful, anxiety producing, and worrisome than any other type of stress for me. I can hardly tolerate it. I was already trying to figure out how I would pay for my root canal repair. When told about my truck, my mind immediately began to race. Oh my God, I thought, how am I going to do this? If I pay for these things, which I have to do, I won't be able to make my house payment. If I can't make my house payment I'll get late fees. If I get late fees... It didn't take too many more thoughts such as these before I had thought myself into homelessness! It's called catastrophizing, and I drove myself crazy doing it all afternoon.

Finally, I called my sponsor. I explained what was happening. I told her how scared, overwhelmed and frustrated I was. I detailed my worries. I inquired, "What's the meaning behind this? What is God trying to tell me?" "Oh Honey," she said, "this isn't God testing you. This is life. And sometimes life sucks!" Strangely, I felt better.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lightening up

Well, the precipitous plunge was fast and severe, but it didn't last long. I've already lightened up. In fact, I began feeling more energetic and less hopeless yesterday. Just like the plunge, I seemed to lighten up overnight. Weird. On Monday night I could barely move. Yesterday I was able to do my speed workout without too much difficulty. And today I was able to work, run some errands, and take Puck for a walk. So it seems things are already getting back to normal.

I appreciated all of your comments on my previous post. It was nice to know some of you could relate. I'm still amazed at how fast I fell so low. It was strange. And it was so scary once I dropped. I didn't know how long it would last. I didn't know how low I would go. This time it was short-lived, but next time who knows? It's hard not to think of the worst when the worst is so bad. You know what I mean?

I'm grateful to be feeling better and more energized already. A little blip on the radar--that's all this turned out to be. Here's hoping the radar trends upwards from here on out.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Precipitous Plunge

This illness never ceases to amaze me. Things have been going well. I've been feeling well. My mood has been stable. It's been good. Until today. Today I awoke deep in the pit. Just like that.

There's no reason for the plunge. It's just part of the illness, I guess. I know that. But it still never ceases to amaze me how fast things can switch.

I awoke feeling low. Not sad, not angry, not frustrated...just low. And hopeless...that's how I knew it was my depression acting up. The hopelessness was the clue. My energy level matched my mood. I felt like a wet dish rag with nothing to offer anyone.

I tried to go about my day. I had set my alarm early in order to make it to the gym before work, but I couldn't get out of bed. After getting up I dragged myself around my house, worked a few hours, and then hit the gym at lunch. Once again, I just couldn't go. My 45 minute bike ride ended after only 25 minutes, and my effort was poor at best. I made it to a dental appointment before dragging home and climbing into bed. My day, as far as I was concerned, was done.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), Puck doesn't understand depression. He woke me up for dinner by wagging his tail against my bed. Depression or not, my boy still needed to eat! So here I sit. My head hurts. My body aches. My energy remains low. I plan to finish my bike ride even though the thought of it is overwhelming. If nothing else, I'll take Puck for a slow walk. I don't want to, but he needs care despite how I feel.

I feel like I need to attack this with whatever energy I can muster. I'm scared of it lasting beyond a day. I know it may last longer, but I also know it will pass. It will pass. I can't tell you how many times I repeated those three words today. It will pass. Damn, I wish it had never arrived.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I started the New Year right--getting my 5 year medallion at my home meeting. I'm so grateful to be sober today, especially today! No hangover, no regrets, no worries... That's pretty remarkable considering it's New Years Day. The scenario was likely quite different five years ago. I hope you all had a safe, happy, and joyous New Year! Here's hoping 2011 brings more joy than sorrow for all of us.

It's a below freezing, windy day here. I mention that because I had a 13 mile long run scheduled, and I did it! I just couldn't face the treadmill for 13 miles, so I bundled up and headed outside. It was doubly-difficult because we had a small ice storm last night, so none of the usual paths were available to me. I ended up running my entire run in about a 16-20 square block area. Up and down my neighborhood streets I went. I'm sure I was quite a sight, all bundled up with frosty, frozen eye lashes running back and forth in front of the neighborhood homes. It was quite the run, but I got it done.

Now I'm clean, dry and bundled in my sweats. My recliner is calling, and football is on the agenda. I have no special plans for the day, and tomorrow I'm back to work. I've maintained my stable mood despite the holidays, and despite spending most of it alone. Perhaps that's my Christmas miracle this year. I'm grateful for it.

Now it's on to January, which can be quite a challenging month around here. It's long, dark and cold. I'll have to take it one day at a time and remember that it, too, will eventually pass. Happy New Year, everyone!