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!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Off to work

Sitting under my artificial sun light, eating oatmeal, drinking coffee, and watching ESPN, I'm already dressed in my scrubs and ready to go to work. It's Monday, after all, and work is what I do on Monday. I made it through the long holiday weekend. It wasn't necessarily pretty, and it certainly wasn't easy, but I did not let depression totally knock me down.

At times it was hard to move. Depression weighed heavy on my limbs. But I took Puck for his walks and made it to an appointment for him. As is typical, he made me smile.

At times it was difficult to reach out. Depression weighed heavy on my soul. But I finally called my friends, and they kindly took me in. We shared a few meals and hung out. They even made me laugh.

At times it was almost impossible to handle the distress. Depression wreaked havoc on my thinking. But I practiced some of the skills I'd been taught. Cognitively, despite how I felt, I knew this would eventually pass. It's always passed in the past, and despite how miserable I felt in the moment, I had to focus on that. I did the best I could, and here I am. It's Monday.

I'm ready for work. I don't know what this day will hold. I can't afford to worry about that. I'll do my best to take it as it comes. I have a few hiding spots at work where I can stop and take a breath when and if that's needed. I'm a competent physical therapist no matter the turmoil raging inside. I look forward to seeing my patients and letting them pull me outside myself for awhile. It will be a relief to focus on them rather then misery. I'm ready. Today, I will not let depression totally knock me down.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


trouble, trouble, trouble
I'm in trouble
feeling out of control
feeling so low
depression has me in its grip
I'm not sure what to do
don't know where to go
I'm in trouble
making the effort
taking the steps
the mood doesn't care
getting harder to make the effort
difficult to take the steps
so low

worse than low
unfeeling, unemotional
listless, impassive, indifferent
worse than low

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A difficult day?

Everyone knows holidays may be emotionally difficult, especially for those of us with mental illness. Maybe we are no longer close to family or friends. Maybe we don't tolerate large gatherings of people. Maybe we can't get off our couch and out the door to partake in the holiday cheer. Whatever the reason, holidays may be emotionally difficult for a wide variety of people in a wide variety in situations.

Today, a day typically devoted to compiling my gratitude list, has already begun with my mood in the toilet. It's been a long couple of days of misery. My mood has me feeling isolated and alone. My energy has been extremely low, and my fatigue unusually high. I had hoped today would dawn a little brighter, but so far the cheer of the season has not rubbed off on me.

Despite my mood, I've pushed on through the darkness. I've made it to work. I've treated my patients well. I've done my best to move my body. Even if it's only been taking Puck for a walk, I've moved a bit each day. I've done my best to reach out, but I confess, this I've not done all that well. Misery, it turns out, does not always love company. I'm doing the best I can and waiting for "this too shall pass."

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends and gratitude. I'd rather not do any of the aforementioned today, but I will. I will compile my gratitude list. Even in my darkened state, I know I have a ton of people and things for which to be grateful. It will serve me well to acknowledge them all.

I have been invited to the home of friends for dinner, and I'd rather not go, but I will. It will serve me well to participate. I may not stay all day. I may leave after an hour, but I will almost certainly feel better there than if I stay home alone. I'll also call my mom, even though I don't like to talk to her when I feel so sad. She'll appreciate the contact, and hopefully it will momentarily get me out of myself.

And I will move today. I will take Puck for a walk. Of all the things I have to be grateful for, he is number one. We are quite the team, and I don't know what I'd do without him. Today is a day for me to take the actions in hopes that the mood will follow. Please mood...follow!

Certainly, I'd rather feel better today, but the reality is I don't. I'll put one foot in front of the other and do the best I can. I'm grateful to be able to share a little of my story with all of you here. I appreciate my readers, commenters, and cyberspace friends. Thank you all for keeping me moving even when the moving isn't easy. I appreciate your support. Here's to a day filled with friends and family and gratitude for all of us. Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Eleven Years

It's time to change the description on my blog again. When I first began this blog, it read, "Diagnosed with depression 8 years ago, I lost the life I once knew..." And then it was 9 years. And then, until today, the number was ten. It's now been 11 years since my journey with depression ensued. Around Thanksgiving, 2000, I first noticed I wasn't feeling quite right. Eleven years ago...

Not quite right was exactly how I described it at the time. I knew something was off. I knew I wasn't myself.  Having had depression as a teenager, the symptoms soon became all too familiar. Within a short period of time, I knew it was depression. And it took me quickly. It was only a few more months before my first hospitalization in the spring of 2001. If only I knew then what I know now.

At that time I thought a short hospital stay and initiating medication would get me back to normal. I was hopeful. I had no idea the journey that lay ahead. I had no idea of the losses I would incur, or the depths to which this illness would drag me. I never imagined losing my job and living on disability. I never dreamed I'd require ECT in order to function. I never thought my spouse would leave, nor that I'd be alone. Those were not pictures I had of my life. My life today looks nothing like the life I had 11 years ago.

I look nothing like I looked 11 years ago either, and I don't mean physically. In losing so much, I've also gained. I've gathered some wonderful people, friends and professionals, around me. Depression forced me into relationships. These are people I likely would have never known nor thought I needed. Today I trust them with my intimate details and count on them when I need assistance. They keep me safe, and I am forever grateful.

In 11 years I lost the person I used to be, but that turned out to be okay. Chronic, debilitating depression gave me a new perspective. It's true what they say. Illness makes a person see things differently. I notice more and worry less. I discovered living one day at a time, even though I don't always practice it, and gained the gift of gratitude. I'm less concerned about mistakes and less judgemental. I'm more honest, trusting and empathic. I'm a kinder, gentler, nicer person than I used to be. That's not so bad.

Still, it's been 11 years, and I'd be lying if I said I was celebrating. This is a time of reflection for me. Some reflections bring sadness and grief, others produce satisfaction and even joy. I'm proud of my resilience. I appreciate my acceptance of change. I'm pleased with this blog. I've accomplished some things despite this dreadful illness.

Depression is a dreadful, debilitating illness. It has, without my consent, irreparably altered my life. For 11 years, at its whim, depression has dragged me into the darkness, stolen my soul, and left me for dead. But I'm still trudging along. I'm still fighting. I'm still living. I'm especially proud of that.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Riding the coaster

Going up? Maybe. It's hard to say. I've given up trying to figure it out. Instead I'm focused on staying on the ride. I'm strapped in. My butt is firmly planted in the seat. It's a temporary ride, as one of my readers reminded me, and I just need to hang on. Hanging on tight, I am.

I've been doing what I need to do. Work has been extremely busy lately, which is good, although my low mood made it a bit more challenging. Fortunately, work also provided a distraction from the darkness. I may not have been quite as efficient over the past couple days, but I saw to the needs of all of my patients nonetheless. I've got some really neat people on my caseload, and they certainly help me keep life in perspective.

With my mood being so off, I've let a lot of things slide away from work. My house, for example, needs some assistance. It's a mess. Cleaning, laundry, vacuuming, and dusting all await my response. My front yard needs to be raked--still. I'm lucky it hasn't snowed. And Puck is a constant reminder that I need to keep moving. If not for my sake, for his. Perhaps today will allow me to address at least one of these concerns.

One thing at a time, one day at a time. That's where I'm focused. I'm riding the rollercoaster. I'm strapped in and hanging on tight. Soon, I expect the bumps will smooth and the coaster will slowly roll to a nice, quiet stop. I'm looking forward to that.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No good

I'm so tired of writing this. Things aren't good. My mood, which rebounded for my visit with D over the weekend, tanked again by Monday evening. Things have only worsened from there. Tuesday, a longer day than I thought possible, left me in tears. Wednesday's long, busy day at work temporarily distracted and then exhausted me. And this morning, I've awoken heavy and sad. Mornings are usually my best time. Feeling like this so early in the day is quite foreboding. I don't know what to do. I can barely move.

I'm so tired of writing this shit! The rollercoaster of good, bad, good, bad makes me nuts. I never know what to expect. It's disheartening, exhausting, and soul crushing every time I fall. And it's not just a fall, it's a free fall--so fast. It doesn't make any sense. It is, I guess, my illness at this moment rearing its ugly head.

I'm so tired of writing this that I'm going to stop writing now. In a few days, if the rollercoaster continues to race, I may be telling you how wonderful I feel. Stay with my on the ride, my friends.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Home again

I'm home from my weekend away with D. We had a really nice time, which made up for the stressful drive there and back. My vehicle was acting up a bit, and it made for a tense drive. Every time I thought I had the problem licked, it would crop up again. I guess a trip to the mechanic is now on my to-do list.

Anyway, the weekend was really good. Yesterday we went to The Harley Davidson Museum. As a former motorcyclist, I really enjoyed that. Last night D took me out to a nice Italian restaurant in a a very hip section of the city. We had a fabulous dinner and then walked the streets and talked. I hadn't been treated to a romantic dinner in quite a few years, so that was also really nice.

The physical distance between us was a topic of conversation a couple of times during the weekend. We both acknowledged it was difficult. We have such a nice time when we're together, but building the relationship in fits and starts is not ideal. Unfortunately, that's the way it is right now. Fortunately, it is changeable. We ended up agreeing it was best to take things as they come, one day at a time. After all, fretting about how far apart we live won't do either of us, or our relationship, any good.

My mood remains good. I'm sure being doted on over the weekend was helpful. Puck and I are now settling back into our home and routine. He's already asleep on his bed, and that's exactly where I'm headed--bed. Sweet dreams.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Still moving forward

I'm tired tonight. But that's a good thing. I'm tired because I put in a full day of work, came home and took Puck for a walk, made supper, and am now in the middle of my third load of laundry. I'm moving.

I'm feeling a little brighter. The darkness has abated a bit. Connecting with members of my treatment team has helped. I've also spent more time lately with friends, Bill and Cindy, and that's always helpful. But mostly, I've focused on moving--one foot in front of the other--moving.

Speaking of moving, I'm preparing for a weekend away with my boyfriend, D. It's weird to use the term boyfriend at my age (and his age), but that's what he is, I guess. I'm not looking forward to the Friday evening four hour drive in the dark, but D's going to have dinner waiting for me at the other end. It's been three weeks since we last saw each other. I'm really looking forward to reconnecting.

I'm glad to be feeling better in advance of the weekend. I wasn't sure how I was going to handle feeling so down around D. He's not seen that side of me yet. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about it. I'm grateful to be feeling better.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Upward trend

Things are moving. I'm feeling a little better. I've been forcing myself to take the next right action, to keep moving forward despite the urge to sit still, and I think it's made a difference. My mood is slightly better, and I think it's because I've forced myself out the door.

Yesterday, I made it to an AA meeting. I picked up a friend along the way, which forced me to go and stay for the entire meeting. Afterwards, I went out to breakfast with a couple of other friends. They know I've been struggling, and they were kind to suggest the outing. After returning home I crashed on my sofa, as that was a lot of activity for my fogged brain. But I survived.

Surviving is the extent of what I've been doing over the past few days. Work has been especially difficult. I've been in a state of gray, suspended animation. I've been such a fake. I could see myself from the outside looking in, as I performed with one patient after another. A performance, that's what it was. I acted as if, and wondered who I was the entire time. But again, I survived. I did what was required, and in the end, despite feeling like crap in the moment, maybe it helped in the long run. Who knows?

Today, as I start my day, the sky is clear, and the sun is about to rise. I doubt I would have noticed that even yesterday. So things are maybe, cautiously, looking up. I will continue to move as much as I can. I'll fake it if I have to, but hopefully I won't have to do that for much longer. I wish you all a day of sunshine and serenity. Keep moving.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A realization

I realized something this morning. I put a lot of pressure on myself. Regarding this blog, I've been feeling bad about feeling bad. I feel like I've established this positive vibe regarding my blog/my story, and I need to keep that up for all of you. Yet in the past, when I've felt good, I've felt bad about feeling too good, afraid that I'd alienate some of you. Isn't that something? I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. And the damnation is all thanks to my own thoughts!

I'm not sure why I place this pressure on myself. It's one of the unhealthy things I do, I guess. Perhaps I'm trying to please everyone. I know that's impossible, yet here I am trying to accomplish it. I'm going to make an effort to stop worrying about how you will perceive what I write. What I write is authentic, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't smooth out the rough edges. That's silly. I feel what I feel. It is what it is. Worrying about whether I'm doing too well or not well enough is not helpful. I'm going to have to remove that pressure.

Right now, I'm in a dip. A dip is one of the many annoying aspects of this illness. It comes and goes. My psychologist reminded me, "You've been here before. You know it will pass." I know it will pass, and it still feels like shit to be in the middle of it! That's where I'm at.

Depression sucks. It fills me with worry and foreboding. My brain feels not my own. My thoughts are dark and brooding. My energy is low. Yet I am going to keep moving forward. Not because I am some kind of hero, but because I am a veteran of depression. My experience reminds me, forward is the only direction which may provide relief. On this day, I will relax and move forward. Rather than worry, I just need to do.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I need to write.

I need to write.
I need to let you know,
I am still here.

I need to write.
I don't want you to worry.
I'm still moving.

I need to write.
Times may be tough, but
I've not given up.

I need to write.
I feel obligated
to stay on track.

I need to write.
Though I have not much to say,
I am still here.