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, June 30, 2011


What a bummer. I went for my 8 mile tempo run at 6:00 AM this morning. I was back home by 6:15. Three blocks from my house, when my right foot hit the ground, my right soleus muscle (lower calf) cramped and then pulled. Actually, it felt like it tore, but I'm trying to remain optimistic. I stopped immediately. I had to. And I hobbled slowly and painfully home. What a bummer!

After spewing a few choice words, I set to work. I iced. I took ibuprofen. I put on a compression sleeve. It didn't matter. I could barely walk for most of the morning. I'm definitely done running for awhile. No 8 mile tempo run today. No 17 mile long run on Saturday. And probably no runs at all for the next couple of weeks.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do to stay in aerobic shape. My health club is closing the pool for cleaning for 10 days beginning tomorrow. Really bad timing... I'm not sure if I can bike yet, but even if I can, I won't want to bike every day. I'm concerned about maintaining my fitness.

This will be a challenge for me. I haven't been injured in a very long time. Hopefully, I'll heal quicker than I'm expecting. I'll certainly pray for that. But until then, I'm a grounded sole. What a bummer.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Doing well

I worked a few extra hours today, and things are getting better there. I'm feeling a little more comfortable, but my confidence is still lacking. I don't like that, but I'm hoping it gets better as time goes on as well.

I don't usually work on Tuesday, my speed work day, so I had to get up extra early this morning to complete my workout. It was a gorgeous, cool, sunny morning; perfect weather for a fast run. I ran 7 x 800 meters at around 7:00/mile pace. Speed work is always tough, but as usual, I felt really good after finishing.
I'm a bit more motivated since running fast at Grandma's, as I now know I have the potential to go even faster. I'm grateful to feel well enough to do the work.

I spent the evening volunteering at my track club's track meet. We hold track meets every Tuesday for 6 weeks every summer. They are primarily for little kids. We must have had more than 500 kids there tonight. It was amazing. It's so fun to watch the littlest ones, 2 years old and younger, run 50 or 100 meters. I like to hand out ribbons, which are given to every participant. There was also an adult one mile event tonight. I didn't run, although I probably should have, because I had already run hard earlier today. Oh well. Next year. It was a nice, busy night.

I'm doing well. My mood continues to hold steady, despite the stress of the new job. I'm hoping to reduce, back to pre-hospitalization levels, some of my meds. My meds work wonders, but I always like to take as few as possible. Anyway, it's nice to be feeling well. It's nice to have enough energy to run and work. It's nice to be a part of the community again. I'm grateful to be doing well. Very grateful. What more can I say?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Better times

Yesterday was my second official day of work, and it went better than day number one. I treated more patients, which is always easier. Patients don't change much from job to job. It's the paperwork that's always tough to digest. I did have more paperwork yesterday, too, but it seemed to go slightly better than Wednesday. I'm still worried about stuffing all the information into my resistant brain, but I'll just have to keep cramming.

The bigger issue yesterday was my confidence, or I should say my lack of confidence. And I think that is directly related to my depression relapse. I don't feel confident that I'll learn everything. I don't feel confident that I can handle the stress of working. I don't feel confident in my PT skills. I worry I won't know how to treat my patients. I worry working will knock me flat. I worry I'll never understand all the policies and procedures. I didn't feel this lack of confidence prior to the most recent relapse. It makes for a stressful day, and I can only hope that it gets better with time. I think it will.

One area where my confidence isn't lacking, however, is my running. I returned to the road on Thursday, and I felt great! I ran a 6 mile, fast, tempo run Thursday afternoon. I was thrilled to feel so good after running a marathon just a few days before. Today, I got up early and ran a 13 mile long run. Again, I felt pretty good. My legs got tired near the end, but not bad after running a marathon only 7 days ago! I think I'm still basking in the glow of Grandma's. I think I'll hang onto that glow as long as it continues to drive me forward.

March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life's path.--Khalil Gibran

Thursday, June 23, 2011


My first day of work has come and gone, and I am scared to go back! Oh my God! I was so overwhelmed yesterday I had to hold back tears more than once. There was tons of new information being thrown at me from multiple directions, and I couldn't keep track of it all.

I couldn't seem to take it in the instructions. Instead, I felt like the information was bouncing off of me. Picture words flying through the air, pinging off my head, and falling to the floor at my feet. That's what seemed to be happening. I wanted to bend over, scoop up the words, and run home. There I could sort them out and study them in silence. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible. Besides, by the time I made it home, all I could do was sleep.

Throughout the day I reminded myself to relax. I tried to stay calm, and I think I did. I think I kept the turmoil successfully hidden inside. But I was so uncomfortable and so worried. There's so much to learn...

I have to go back tomorrow, but I don't want to. I'm worried I won't be able to handle it. I'm worried it won't be any easier. I'm just worried.

And I know it will get easier. And I know I can probably handle it. And I know I'll likely get comfortable eventually. I just wish it didn't feel so damn overwhelming in the meantime.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The new job and other details

I start my new job tomorrow. For some reason, I'm really anxious about it. I don't understand why I'm so nervous. I've worked in nursing homes before. I've cared for the geriatric population a lot. I've been a therapist for a long time. I don't get it. Why am I so anxious?

I'm recovering well from Saturday's marathon. My soreness is almost entirely gone today. I haven't gone out for a run, or done any other exercise, since the race. I guess I'm taking a little exercise vacation. I'll probably start up again tomorrow. I am going to sign up for another marathon in August. That will give me one marathon every other month, plus one extra marathon in May, for the year. Initially, I had no plans to do that, but it sort of worked out that way once I got rolling.

I saw my psychologist this morning. My mood has been really good lately. It's nice to be feeling so well. Of course I feel like I have less to share here when feeling so good, but I'm not going anywhere. I'm looking forward to continued stability, getting to know the new man in my life, and training for my next marathon. Keeping it simple...I like it like that. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A New Personal Best!


It wasn't easy, but I ran a new personal best time today. I beat my old personal best time, set in December, 2010, in Dallas, by almost 2 1/2 minutes. I had a goal of 3:35, and I was pretty sure that would be doable on a perfect day. But I really didn't expect I could achieve that time today after suffering through some sluggish training lately. Today was not a "perfect" day, but it wasn't too far off either. 

At first, it didn't appear the weather was going to cooperate. It poured rain all night long. It poured rain from the time I got up, to the time I boarded the bus to the starting line, and through the entire bus ride. However, when we stepped off the bus 40 minutes later, it magically cleared to a mere drizzle.  At around 50 degrees, it was hardly comfortable, but again, it magically stayed dry for the duration of the marathon. So it turned into almost perfect running conditions. Temps were in the 50's, clouds covered the sky, and there was a fairly steady, albeit brisk, tailwind. Personal record conditions.

Physically, things were slightly less than perfect. I started great, felt great and was running around 3:30 pace through approximately seven miles. Unfortunately, mile 7 was the start of some vicious, take-your-breath-away stomach cramps. The cramps brought me to a stand-still 3 times between miles 7 and 12. I wasted at least one minute on the sidelines trying to work out cramps I've never really experienced before. It was baffling and frustrating, and I never thought they were going to let up. They did, but they never totally went away. I did, however, regain my pace later in the race.

Other than that, I have no complaints. It was tough, but marathons are supposed to be hard. I found out, however, that when you run faster you hurt sooner. So I began walking through some water stops around mile 17, and I walked up the "Heartbreak Hill" during mile 21 (my slowest mile). I had to really push from one mile to the next during the last 6 miles, and especially through the last two. But I did it. Here are my mile splits: 8:16, 7:53, 7:55, 7:55, 7:59, 7:58, 8:33, 8:03, 8:26, 8:14, 8:13, 8:16, 8:05, 7:59, 8:09, 8:22, 8:34, 8:05, 7:57, 8:33, 8:45, 7:48, 8:37, 8:00, 8:26, 7:57, 2:49 (7:34 pace). 

Overall, I'm ecstatic. Like I said, it was hard, and I did have the thought (more than once) that I'd just like to do this "for fun" from now on, but I doubt that will hold true. I'm planning my next marathon for August. What else can I say? I'm really pleased. I'm really pleased.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The car is packed

Just a short post today, as I am just getting ready to leave for Duluth and Grandma's Marathon. The car is packed. I brought way too much stuff. Puck is on his way to Bill and Cindy's house, otherwise known as "The Doggy Spa." He gets spoiled rotten there. I'm anxious to get the show on the road.

I have no idea what Saturday will bring for me. My training has been slow and tough lately. I feel heavy and sluggish. It's not exactly an ideal way to feel approaching a marathon. I was hoping to shoot for a fast time, but I've scaled back my goals now. My new goal is "we'll see what happens." I'll probably start the race at the slightly faster pace of which I originally planned. However, I now lack the confidence that I'll be able to hold that pace over the later miles. That's the beauty of the marathon, though. You just never know how it's going to turn out. Success depends on so many different variables when tackling 26.2 miles. It's always unpredictable, but usually interesting. We'll see what happens.

And now I'm off to begin the journey. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Back home

Sorry for the delay in writing. I was busy relaxing with my parents. I just arrived home after my week away. My parents and I did a lot of fishing, without much success, but it was still nice to be out on the lakes with the loons, ducks, and eagles--all of which had babies. In fact, last night we thought we were going to see a baby eagle test its wings for the first time. The little one kept scooting to the edge of the nest while spreading his wings out wide, but he never took off. The eagle parents sat together on a branch above the nest watching intently. It was very cool. I was glad to be out there to observe it.

Now for some exciting news...I had a date! I met a man on the bike trail yesterday. I was in the trail parking lot getting my bike ready to ride when I was approached. The guy was interested in my bike and asked me some questions about it. Well, we got to talking, and talking, and talking...and pretty soon he asked me out!

D. owns a lake home in that area (5 1/2 hours from here) but lives in Milwaukee (4 hours from here). I went over to his lake home this morning, and we went kayaking. After a couple of beautiful hours on the lake, we sat and chatted over coffee. It seemed like we could have talked forever. No awkward pauses or anything. And he was a really nice guy!

We talked again about an hour ago while we drove to our respective homes. He and I have lots in common. He's a runner, biker, triathlete, golfer, and outdoors enthusiast. We had a lot to talk about. It was nice. Distance is always an issue in a relationship, but right now I'm hopeful we can get to know each other better in the very near future. I'll let you know how that goes.

Now it's time to settle back into my own nest. I'm only going to be home for two days before I leave for Grandma's Marathon on Thursday, and I've got a lot to do!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

In the Northwoods

I'm on vacation in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. I'm visiting my parents. They are residing at an RV park here for the summer. We are nestled in the trees with the mosquitoes! There are numerous lakes in this area, which is one of the reasons I'm here. Fishing! I love to fish!

I got here on Tuesday, late, after driving 5 1/2 hours. Puck was still a little dopey from his surgery, so he rode fairly quietly the whole way. We went fishing twice yesterday and got skunked (no fish) both times! Today we went out again for 3-4 hours, but we only got a couple of small bass. Nonetheless, my mom is cooking up some bass right now! Tomorrow we will try again.

I'm also in the middle of my taper for Grandma's Marathon, which is now only 9 days away. I just came in from an 8 mile tempo run. It was nice running among the trees and water. I miss that. I grew up around lakes, but the corner of Minnesota in which I now reside lacks lakes.

It's tough training when I am here with my parents. They like good food, chocolate, fishing, and lounging. It's very relaxing, but not necessarily conducive to exercising. I'm pretty proud of myself for getting out there today, especially after spending most of the day lounging with a fishing pole in my hand. I brought my bike, too, and I found a local trail through the woods today. That's where I'm headed tomorrow. My last long run, only 10 miles, is Saturday. Hopefully I have enough fortitude to stick to the schedule despite the temptations.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Waiting sucks

I can't imagine having children. My dog, Puck, had surgery today, and I thought I was going to die from the anxiety I felt. I'd been anxious about this surgery for a week. I'd had doomsday thoughts about it. I couldn't help it. I was sure he was going to die. I hardly slept last night. I was worried. Can you imagine if I'd had a child in surgery? I would have been out of my mind!

I'm not sure why this surgery was so difficult for me. He's had multiple surgeries over the years. I'd been anxious about all of them, but not to this extent. And this was the simplest procedure he'd had done by far. It was only a dental procedure. He had two fractured teeth which needed to be repaired. Simple, but they still had to put him to sleep to do it. That's what had me so worried. So worried I cried when I dropped him off, and I prayed all the way home. I was a bit of a mess.

Thankfully, my boy is fine. I haven't seen him yet, but the vet tells me he did well. He's awake and hungry. They were able to fix the fractures without pulling his teeth. That was good news. I'm so, so relieved he's okay. I hated having the doom and gloom thoughts. I hated waiting. It was tough. I love him so much, I don't know what I would do if he was suddenly gone. Thankfully, he's not.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

ECT brain

ECT brain. That's my excuse when I forget something simple which I should know, or as was the case this morning, something I've known forever but have now forgotten. I returned to work this morning. I was nervous about it. After all, it was my first day back in the working world since being hospitalized in April, and more importantly, it was my first day back since completing ECT. That's why I was nervous.

My weekend physical therapy position is a computer-laden position. We do everything on the computer. Everything. There are passwords, protocols, codes, and procedures by the dozens. Since I only work a couple of days per month, even a normal weekend can be challenging to my memory. And today was no normal weekend day. Today was post ECT day number one. So I was anxious.

I prepared as best I could for the onslaught of computer-dom. I came in last week and set up a new password, as I could not remember the old one. I reviewed some of the shorthand we use for common terms. And I played around a bit in order to get used to the feel of the place again. I was as ready as I could be, but just to make sure, I decided to arrive extra early this morning. Just in case...

As it turned out, it didn't matter that I got to my department 30 minutes early, for I forgot (go figure!) to rehearse one very important detail. That detail became quite clear as I stood at the department door. I forgot to re-learn one significant code. The department is locked on the weekend, and I forgot to re-learn the series of 5 digits which open the door! "ECT brain," I exclaimed! I've known that code for nine years. ECT brain, I repeated, and I sat down to wait.

Fortunately, my friends, that was the worst thing that happened today. I'm smiling about the silliness of it now. Sometimes, that's all you can do.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

This and That

Is it June already? Unbelievable!
I had orientation at my new job today. I liked the feel of the place. I begin working there in a couple of weeks.
Late next week I am going to visit my parents in Northeastern Wisconsin. They are staying at a campground there for the entire summer. I'm really looking forward to fishing with them!
I love fishing!
Puck has a bad tooth and needs to have surgery early next week. I hate putting him under anesthesia, but the tooth seems to be bothering him so it's got to be done.
I put Puck on a new anti-inflammatory called Metacam. He was hobbling a bit on an arthritic right wrist and dropping behind while we ran. He seems to be moving with more ease and comfort already, and it's only been 4 days.
Grandma's Marathon is only 16 days away.
I had a difficult run this morning. My legs were really dead. I think I'll take tomorrow off. I have to run 15 miles this weekend before the serious tapering begins.
A large group of local runners are going to run Grandmas together at a very sensible pace while honoring our fallen friend, Paul. I'm torn, as I've trained hard with the intent of running it fast. In memory of Paul, we are all wearing shirts with his picture as well.
I've been thinking about making myself available to speak about depression, running, and/or depression and running. I'd advertise my services on this blog. Not sure there would be any interest...just thinking for now.
The hospital and its aftermath were not kind to my waistline. I've gained back about 4 or 5 of the pounds I had lost since last fall. I'm working on losing again.
I have no idea how to end a post like this.
Thank you for reading.