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!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cold, wet, gray and slow

It's a very gray, wet, cold day here. I spent the morning outside in the cold, gray, windy, rainy weather running on some hilly country roads. It wasn't pleasant. But at the end of the run we all took part in a pancake feed. That was pleasant. It was a fundraiser for juvenile diabetes. One of the local runners has a child with diabetes. I love pancakes, but hours later I'm still warming up from the soaking, cold run.

My mood matches the weather today. Physically and mentally I'm not feeling so hot. It's been a low energy week for me. I think the toxicity of my work environment is really sucking the life out of me. It takes so much mental fortitude to do my job in that environment. It's exhausting. The urgency to get out of there is ever-present. Until then, I'm doing my best to stay positive, or at least neutral, and I'm doing my job.

The low energy doesn't feel good. I have lots to do around my house. I'm getting none of it done. I can't even motivate to clean myself up, never mind my house! I have to work tomorrow, so the time to get the laundry, vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning done is now. Bummer. That list is overwhelming. I think I'll be happy with finishing off one or two of the items on the list. Now, it's time for a shower. Perhaps that will get me started.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Things have been tough at my job. It's hard going to work. The atmosphere there is toxic to emotional health. It's hard not to be swallowed up by the toxicity, and the toxicity comes right from the top. I'm doing my best to stay afloat. I'm keeping my head down, doing my job, and trying to stay out of the muck. But this week things have been said and done around me that I've not been able to avoid or let go. I've woken up at night thinking about the situations. I hate that! I hate bringing work crap home with me.

Bringing the muck home is not good for my mental health. I don't have enough energy for that. Likewise, I don't have enough energy to get my job done when I'm feeling smothered by the environment.The end result is I'm feeling the urgent need to get out of there. Now.

Fortunately, I have a few options at which I'm looking. I'm so grateful to work in a field which is in demand. I'm lucky. I know. But changing jobs is always stressful, too. I wish the situation was different. It's not, and I'm having to deal with it. Though I'd like to run away, I'm trying to be patient and let what may develop materialize. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Recovering Routine

I'm still getting back into life after The Boston Marathon. It always takes me a bit of time to get back into a routine after traveling. Speaking of Boston, I'm still recovering from the marathon. That fact alone tells me I didn't have enough training under my belt prior to the race. I'm still feeling fatigue and soreness in my legs almost one week later, whereas I typically recover within a few days. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Missing over 4 weeks of training had to have an impact.

I am planning on increasing the intensity of my training beginning this week. I know I had planned to take time off to let my left achilles tendonitis heal, but I just can't do it. I'll keep treating it, but I've already gotten back on the road. I had a nice, quick 12 mile run yesterday. Like I said, my legs were still a little sore, but running a quick pace, after slogging through Boston, felt refreshing.

Besides returning to my running schedule, I plan to increase the intensity of my cross-training as well. I'll continue to use swimming and walking on recovery days, but I've got to get back into the weight training and biking on the other days. I haven't been able to consistently weight train since my knee surgery last October. I felt that lack of strength training during Boston.

I finally have full range of motion of my right knee now, so returning to my cable training class, for example, should be okay. I think I returned to it too early last month, which is why I ended up re-injuring my knee. I'll test out my knee in class tomorrow morning. By returning to strength training class, I hope to regain another routine.

My mood remains good. I was prepared to fight off the inevitable drop after the excitement of traveling and the marathon, but so far so good. I haven't had the typical drop. I haven't totally gotten back into my routine, but my mood is stable. I'm on guard, waiting, but also feeling more confident every day that I'll be okay. I'm grateful for that. Now for the next marathon challenge...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Opportunity Knocking

I have an interview with a director today. The director is in New York City, and he's looking for people to cast in a video about depression success stories. Can you believe that? Me. I have a chance to do exactly what I intend to do when writing this blog, speaking publicly, or running a marathon. Educate. Educate. Educate. Depression is an illness like no other, but it is an illness, and it is possible to live life fully despite it. This is the chance of a lifetime. I couldn't be more excited!

This opportunity came about because of this blog. I received a comment from one of the people working on the project right after I returned from running The Boston Marathon on Monday. She had recently discovered my blog and thought I might be the right person for their project. I was honored by her comment and anxious to hear about the project, so I called her immediately.

The more she told me about the video, the more excited I became. She was a little disappointed I didn't live in the NYC area, as was I, because I couldn't go in for casting, which I think is taking place right now. Thankfully, she was willing to talk to her director about doing this first step over Skype. If I make it through the first cut, I'll have to fly to New York to continue forward with the process.

Like I said, this is a huge opportunity, and I couldn't be more excited! I hope I have what it takes to participate. I don't know what that is, exactly, but I hope I have it. I'd cherish the opportunity.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Long Hot Day

I'm on my way to bed after running a very long, hot Boston Marathon. This was probably the toughest marathon I've ever finished. It was in the mid-seventies at the start, and I believe it was somewhere in the high-eighties when I finished. The sun was beating down on us from above and the pavement was radiating heat up from below. By mile four I was pretty sure I wasn't going to finish. I kept making little deals with myself about running just to the next mile marker, or even half mile marker, before walking. Early on I decided to walk up every hill, in order to save my energy, and that's exactly what I did. I ran as much as I could. I ate and drank everything that was offered to me. I willed my body to go when it just didn't want to move anymore. It was tough, but I finished. It was one of my slowest marathon times, 4:13:02, but the winning times for both the men and the women were the second slowest and the slowest, respectively, in recent history, too! It was a long day out there on the road. I'm happy to have finished.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The days before the day

I'm in Boston. Sorry for the delay in updating everyone, but I'm having computer trouble out here. I just got it fixed, I hope. Anyway, my friend Kate and I have been busy little runners since our arrival on Friday. We spent Friday evening at the Boston Marathon Sports and Fitness Expo, which is beyond huge and overwhelming. Think mecca for runners, especially runners with an unlimited supply of money! We sampled runner food and energy drinks until we were a little nauseous, spent a little money on some new gear, and then went out for a fabulous dinner. Nausea or not, I can always eat!

Yesterday, we were total Boston tourists. We spent the day at historic Fanueil Hall watching street performers, eating yummy treats (I told you I can always eat!), and browsing through all the fancy stores. Then, and this is the best part, we went to historic Fenway Park and watched the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays in a very entertaining baseball game! I hadn't been to Fenway since I lived in Boston more than 15 years ago, and Kate had never been. For a baseball fan, Fenway is a must-see, and we are both baseball fans. We were beat by the time we returned home late last night.

Today, we're going to take it easy. We've been relaxing this morning, drinking coffee and playing with our computers. This afternoon we will travel to Boston's North End to sample some fine Italian cuisine for an early dinner/pre-race meal. I can't wait to eat some real Italian food again. More relaxation will follow this evening; that is, if we can control our nerves.

I am getting a little anxious. Partly I just want to get to the starting line and partly I'm worried about how things will turn out. Unfortunately, the weather is going to be dangerously hot. The current prediction is 88 degrees, and we will be running directly through the middle of the hottest part of the day. The Boston Marathon organizers have even gone so far as to allow people to defer their entry to next year. That's unheard of at tradition-rich Boston. They are also discouraging inexperienced runners from taking the starting line. There is considerable concern around here.

I'm concerned, but I've run hot marathons before, so I will still be on the road tomorrow. I ran through 86 degree heat at Grandma's Marathon just a few years ago. It will be tough, but I'm glad to know what to expect in advance. I'll be ready for it. I've been mentally preparing since Friday when I found out the predicted temps. I plan to adjust my pace down a notch, drink plenty of fluids, run under some sprinklers, and just enjoy the day as much as I can. Wish me luck! I'll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Depression 1 etta 0

I finally heard back about my prospective new job. The other applicant got it. The woman who would have been my boss explained that I was "such a strong candidate" it was difficult for her not to choose me, but she really needed someone who could work full-time. The other candidate wanted to work full-time. I only offered 30-32 hours per week. That was the deciding factor, as I was afraid it would be. Depression 1, etta 0.

I am really disappointed. The good news is they offered me a prn position, which I can add to my other two prn positions, but I really wanted this position. The facility at which I applied is one I could picture myself working at for a long time. It is a well oiled machine with a positive and respectful environment. Plus, I have a good friend and former coworker who is an OT there. I would love to work with her again. Oh well...hopefully doing prn work for them will keep me foremost on their list of potential hires in the future.

Speaking of the future, I spent the day packing for my trip to Boston. I leave tomorrow. I'm getting antsy for the marathon now. I can't wait to get there and soak in all the hoopla surrounding the big event. I've had two good, easy but speedy runs this week. I'll run a couple miles on Saturday and/or Sunday before the race on Monday. I start at 10:20AM Eastern Time. I'm cautiously looking forward to it. Thanks, in advance, for any positive vibes sent my way on Monday!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Seven Days and Counting

I am seven days away from The Boston Marathon. It's hard to believe. It's been quite a journey!

Let's start the journey with qualifying at Grandma's last June. I ran a personal best, 3:35:46, despite walking several times. It was my fifth marathon in the span of seven months, and I knew I could go faster. I had planned to run The Twin Cities Marathon in October, but in August I hurt my knee running The Eisenbahn Marathon. I dropped out at the halfway point and was unable to run again for the rest of the Fall.

On October 8th, 2011, just 6 months ago, I had surgery to repair the damaged knee. I didn't know if I'd get to Boston, as my doc thought it might take 6 months to return to running. Fortunately, I was able to get back to gentle jogging in December, but the layoff had apparently already taken it's toll on my mental health. I ended up in the hospital just before Christmas.

That was the first of two recent hospitalizations. Depression had me in its death grip. The second hospitalization knocked me out of running commission until the first week of February, 2012. Yikes! I was very far behind schedule and my mood and motivation were both lacking. I'm looking back at my training calendar right now. That first week I ran 2 miles and 4 miles, and my long run was actually a walk/run of 6.4 miles! Wow. That was just over 8 weeks ago.

Things were going great for about 3 weeks, and then struck what I thought was the final disaster. I developed sudden, debilitating knee pain. It was a floating body, probably a piece of damaged cartilage which broke free, which lodged in between the bones of the knee joint. Walking was painful, and I couldn't run a step for about 10 days. Things looked grim. Boston was only about 6 weeks away. Then, just as suddenly as it came on, the pain disappeared. Apparently, the floating body dislodged itself. I got back to work.

Since then, my abbreviated training has gone well. I've run long runs of 17, 18.5, and 20 miles. In a typical training cycle, I probably would have run each of those distances at least twice. But, as noted above, this was anything but a typical training cycle. This was a convoluted, detoured, meandering journey. And now here I am, just seven days away from the start of The Boston Marathon. It's hard to believe. I think I better savor the experience.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Relative calm

Things are going fairly smoothly. I'm still awaiting a call from a prospective new employer. I know the decision has come down to me and one other person. My inside contact overheard my prospective new boss say she wanted to make a decision by the weekend, but apparently that didn't happen. It bothers me that it's turning out to be such a difficult decision. Obviously, she likes some things about each one of us. Oh well. I'm trying to be patient. I have some other prospects on the horizon if this doesn't work out.

My current job is going okay right now. Things have calmed down around there. It's been a little (just a little) less negative and toxic. But my boss works her last day next week, and they haven't even begun orienting her replacement yet. That's pretty unbelievable since she's going to be supervising us and responsible for the entire department. I think the higher-ups are going to eat her alive. It will be interesting when I get back from Boston. I pray that things go well for all of us.

On another note, my running is going well. I had two good, fast workouts this week, and tomorrow is my last long run (only 10 miles) before Boston. That's pretty exciting. Unfortunately, my left achilles tendon is really, really sore. I'm definitely going to have to rest after Boston in order for it to heal. I'm not looking forward to that. If you've been around here for awhile, you know my mood doesn't respond well to running layoffs.

So the slide that began last week seems to have resolved. It was relatively brief. I think speaking to the students on Tuesday helped. Other than that, I just tried to stick to my routine and said my prayers. I don't know what stopped the slide, and I don't care. It stopped, and right now I'm enjoying some relative calm. Never underestimate the value of relative calm, my friends.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A good day

I had an interesting day. It was a busy day and a good day. It started with a meeting with my therapist. I talked about I've been writing about lately, my mistrust of the future, financial stress, and worry about work. As usual, my therapist calmed my fears and supported me.

After that meeting, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak about my journey with depression to a class of Health and Human Services students. A friend of mine is the instructor, and I've spoken for her several times. After telling my story, the students and I had a great discussion. I'm grateful to all the students for their interest and thoughtful questions. Speaking, educating others, is empowering for me, so I left there feeling worn out but good.

Once home, I wanted to take a nap, but I pushed myself out the door for my run instead. I was scheduled for a speed workout, 3 by 1 mile, which is exactly what I did. I have some tendonitis in my left ankle that really bothered me, but I hit my pace nonetheless.

This is where my day got really interesting. On my way home, literally half a block from my front door, I ran into an intersection full of money! That's right, I said money, silver money all over the place!

I spent about 15 minutes in the middle of the intersection, dodging a few cars and a mail truck, picking up $32.81! I figure I should go play the lottery! Since I ran through the intersection on my way out for my run, these coins were all deposited within the 51 minutes in which I was running. Ironically, it was just two years ago that I picked up over 300 pennies in this same intersection! Weird. But I'm not complaining! I can't wait to go running on Thursday!

After napping, I ended my day with a stimulating AA meeting. Now I'm watching the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship, and then I'll be off to bed. I hope tomorrow is just as good and interesting!