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!

Friday, June 29, 2012


It's the end of another week in my life. I feel like I've missed most of it. This pnemonia has kept me down. I've spent most of my free time, and I've had a lot of that, lying low or sleeping. I haven't run in over a week. I haven't done anything except walk Puck. I tried a bit longer walk yesterday, about 2 miles, and it totally wiped me out! That was disappointing. I had hoped to get my running shoes on tomorrow, but now I'm not so sure.

That being said, I am feeling a little better. I still have a very nasty cough, but no fever or joint aches (except after my long walk). Today was my last day on antibiotics, and they did make a difference. I guess I might need to be a bit more patient about getting back on the road. I'm not too good at patient.

This week has been a little more challenging for my mood. As I said before, I'm not used to being physically down for so long. I discussed feeling a little low with my doctor yesterday. We decided I'll likely feel mentally better once my physical self heals. Again, patience...

Without exercise, I've had extra time in my life to focus on work. Things are improving there. I'm getting into the swing of things. I know what forms are in which drawers now. I figured out how to put a patient on my schedule. And today I mastered faxing orders to a doctor. Whoo, hoo! I'm still struggling to control my fear every time I get a referral for a new outpatient, but I figure that's got to improve eventually. Patience is king.

I'm laughing. Here I am writing about patience while internally I'm screaming, "Hurry up!" Oh well, I never claimed I was perfect. I'll keep working at it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Grandma's Photo

So much gloominess in my blog lately, I thought I'd add at least one smiling photo from Grandma's Marathon 2012. This was taken by my brother around mile 16, I think. My two nephews (ages 6 and 3) made me smile with their homemade signs that said, "Go Auntie! Faster, Faster!!" I saw them 5 more times over the course of the race. It was great having their support. They were definitely the bright spot of an otherwise disappointing day.

Monday, June 25, 2012

got pneumonia? I do.

I found out this afternoon why I've been feeling like crap for 8 days. I've got pneumonia. It makes sense. I've had this before. I have to admit, when I went for that nice run last Thursday only to have my health decline over the next several days, I began to worry. That's exactly what happened the last time I had pneumonia. I felt well enough to go for a run but then felt worse afterward. Oh well. It is what it is. I have pneumonia. Actually, it's almost a relief to have a diagnosable condition. Now I don't feel so guilty about stepping out of work early yesterday and today. And I'll certainly give myself more permission to nap as needed from now on. Of course, I'm hoping to get over this as quickly as possible. I worry a little about my mood. And I do want to get back to the roads and the gym as soon as I can. But for now, I'm going back to bed.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Under the Weather

I don't know about you, but being sick challenges my mood stability. I am still battling some sort of virus. My throat soreness didn't stop until yesterday, but today everything seems to have moved south into my chest. I've got a nasty bark of a cough. I'm worn out. I just got up from a 2 hour nap, and I haven't done a damn thing to warrant such fatigue. This is when my mood starts to slip. I don't like convalescing so. I can tolerate it for a couple days. Sometimes it's even a nice little break. But we're going on a week now, and I'm getting a little tired of this.

So far my mood has held up, but being sick, especially for this long, certainly challenges it. I'm keeping close tabs on it. Paying attention, that's about all I can do for now. I don't want the darkness sneaking up on me. I certainly hope I start feeling physically better soon.

Since I've been sick, I have little else to report. I did feel well enough on Thursday to go for a short, easy run. It was so gorgeous outside, I was just itching to go, and I felt good while out there. But maybe that was a mistake, because I seem to have felt physically worse since then.

Work has been slowly getting a little less stressful. I still feel overwhelmed every time I get a new patient, but I've been working my way through it. I had a 5-hour training class yesterday, which will help me feel a little less stressed with the techniques I learned. I expect things will continue to improve. I just wish the whole process would proceed a bit more quickly.

Proceeding more quickly; that seems to be the theme of this post. I want to feel physically better sooner rather than later. I want to feel less overwhelmed at work as soon as possible. I'm apparently not thrilled with God's time frame right now. I guess that means I need to work on acceptance. Pushing back against God's time won't get me anywhere. I know that. So I guess I'll be convalescing a bit longer and continuing to walk through the newness of my job as best I can. And I'll keep working on my acceptance.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sickly and thinking

I seem to have come down with something post marathon. Sunday evening, one day after the race, my throat began getting sore. It's only gotten worse, though not terrible, since then. It feels like a lingering, low-grade cold or flu. I'm glad it's not worse than it is, but it's still no fun. I haven't done a lick of exercise since the marathon, which is actually okay. I needed a break. I have made it to work both days this week, but I spent my off day yesterday down and out.

I'm hoping to wake up tomorrow feeling better. My parents are in town for one week, and I'd really like to spend some quality time with them. Hmmm...that's the second thing I've written that I never would have written prior to my growth and change, which has been a direct result of sobriety and surviving this illness. Prior to this illness and prior to getting sober, I would have stayed home from work for a stubbed toe! Likewise, I doubt I ever would have expressed an interest in spending "quality time" with my parents. But I've grown up over the last 12 years.

Dealing with depression has changed my life. I've lost a lot. This illness is relentless in its consumption. It's been no picnic. My life looks nothing like it used to. Yet, I am a better person because of it. It sounds so cliche, but in my case it actually is true. I am a kinder, gentler, more forgiving, more responsible, grateful soul. Go figure. Something positive has come out of the darkness. I'm grateful for that.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

More frustration in the marathon

It was another long day of running and walking today. Despite feeling prepared and optimistic, despite starting out at a reasonable pace, despite sleeping and eating well, despite my familiarity with the course, despite knocking out knock-out training runs, and despite nearly perfect weather, I ran another 4+ hour marathon today. Remember, just one year ago, I ran 3:35 on this very course. Today, I struggled, and I mean struggled to a 4:09:32 official time. It was long, frustrating, and a bit demoralizing out there today.

Now I realize running and walking to a 4:09 marathon is not the end of the world. So don't fret. I'm not going to go jump in the big, beautiful lake I just ran alongside for 26.2 miles. I am, in fact, pleased (maybe too strong a term at this moment, but I'll go with it) for sticking it out. I almost walked off the course around mile 14, but again, I thought, what would I write in my blog? That I quit? What kind of example is that? I don't quit. But it was tempting.

The fun was removed quite early in the race when I began suffering stomach cramps around mile three. Despite my internal protestations, I was first slowed to a walk, and twice to a dead stop, somewhere between miles eight and nine. My official results tell the rest of the story. My pace between mile markers dropped from 8:51 at half-way (13.1 miles) to 10:51 at the finish. It was a long, slow progression down hill.

Similar to my last marathon, which granted was 88 degrees, my body just didn't want to go. The stomach cramps that began so early never went away. I didn't know what else to do to get rid of them. I tried stopping. I tried stretching, I tried eating and drinking as much as I could. I tried not eating and drinking. Nothing worked. Finally, I gave up and and just kept moving forward, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, and I ate and drank at will in an attempt to find even an ounce of extra energy. That also didn't work.

It was just a tough day. No need to beat a dead horse. It was what it was. Some time during those 4+ hours, I even questioned what I was doing out there, again, after so many recent slow, difficult marathons. And that tells me something. It tells me it's time to take a break from the marathon. I had thought I'd sign up for one more potential Boston-qualifier, if today didn't go well, prior to Boston registration in mid-September, but now I think not. There will be no Boston for me next year. And that's okay.

My next marathon is scheduled for October. Between now and then, I obviously need to tweak my training a bit. I need to get back in the weight room. That is the primary difference from last year to this. I have not really lifted weights since my knee surgery last October. I guess it's time. I think I'll also focus on some shorter races over the summer. They are fast and sometimes painful, but they are also over really quick! That prospect sounds particularly appealing at this moment. And I'll continue to be grateful for the opportunity and ability to run at all.

Running is a big part of my therapy. It keeps me balanced. It keeps my mood strong and outlook healthy. It gives me structure. Like a med no longer working its best, it's time to tweak it and change it up a bit. So that's what I'll do. Once again, running taught me something today. Once again, the lesson has been learned.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Have you ever felt like a fraud? Have you ever felt like you're fooling everyone around you into believing you really know what you're doing when you're certain you don't? It's not a comfortable feeling. Do you know what I'm talking about?

I'm feeling like a fraud at my new job. It's not a new feeling. I've had it before, but it's been awhile. I hate feeling like a fraud. It means I'm scared, self-conscious, and insecure. Those are not enjoyable feelings either. I feel like I'm fooling my boss, colleagues and patients; tricking them into believing I'm a good physical therapist. And I'm just waiting for all of them to figure me out.

Worrying about when they're going to discover my ignorance puts me on pins and needles. As a result of my self-imposed anxiety, I can barely think. I really feel dumb. Somewhere in the back of my mind I know I'm not dumb, and sometimes I even think of myself as a decent physical therapist. But those thoughts are few and far between. Mostly I feel like a complete fraud.

From experience, I know this feeling will likely pass. Yes, I've been here before. I'm uncomfortable and anxious. I'm dreading returning to work tomorrow. Yesterday I could barely breathe. It's going to take too long, I believe, but I think the feeling will eventually pass.

I've talked to my sponsor, Joan, and my friend, Cindy. Both suggested I pray. Pray to do the best job I am able and leave the rest to God. Phew! That requires a fair amount of faith. But I'm at a loss, so I guess that's what I'm going to do. Tonight, tomorrow... I'm going to pray. I hope they are right. I want to be relieved of feeling like a fraud.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Gratitude on the Run

During my ten mile run this morning I was feeling grateful. I was feeling grateful for my recent run of feeling well, feeling great even, which made another decrease in my meds possible. I always love it when I can decrease my medication and still feel well. I was feeling grateful for my psychiatrist and thinking I really needed to let her know again how much I appreciate her. I was feeling grateful for the friends I had just run 8 of my 10 miles with, friends I only knew through running and only socialized with around running, but friends I otherwise would not have met. I was feeling grateful for the ability to run and for the opportunity to run marathons in many cities across many states. I may not have the nicest house or the fanciest car, but I've been able to travel and run, and I'm grateful for that. I was feeling grateful for feeling alive, remembering just a few months ago when my whole being, especially my soul, felt nothing. I was walking dead. I marveled at that fact for a bit. This illness continues to amaze me. I may not be the luckiest person, in that I suffer with it, but this morning I felt very lucky. Despite this debilitating illness, right now, today, I feel productive, active and alive. I'm grateful.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The job report

I survived my first day of work yesterday. It was stressful and overwhelming, but I was expecting that. I think it helped to expect it. I certainly wasn't surprised, but I wasn't comfortable either. It's going to take me awhile to get into the swing of things.

I spent much of the day trying to absorb all of the new documentation. The documentation is almost all computerized, which is nice, but they don't use any programs I've previously used. It's going to take a bit to familiarize myself with all of it. Fortunately, I got to do one patient evaluation, so I was able to play around with the documentation at the end of the day. That helped ease my stress slightly. I learn best by getting my hands dirty.

Tomorrow I'll only be there for half the day. I have to attend the human resources orientation at another location in the afternoon. I'm glad it's going to be a shorter day. I can only handle so much of being overwhelmed before my head begins to ache.

Despite the stress of beginning a new position, I am hopeful that this will be a good fit. My colleagues were all pleasant and fun to associate with. The facility's environment, cleanliness, and surroundings are all a step above the facility I just left. And most hopeful of all, everyone I met was polite, welcoming, and supportive. That will certainly be a nice change!

In other news, I am just over one week away from my next marathon challenge. I've had a good week of running thus far, so I'm feeling hopeful about my prospect for success next Saturday. I had a very good 8 mile tempo run today on another gorgeous Minnesota day. If the weather will cooperate on marathon day, I think I should do okay.

Of course, that is the beauty of the marathon. You can only control so much, and you just never know what will happen. All I can do is prepare to the best of my ability and pray for the best outcome. In that respect, it's not much different than embarking on a new job, is it?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Anxiously preparing

In less than 12 hours I will be starting my new job. I'm anxious. I have no idea what to expect. I don't know if I'm going to be orienting tomorrow, or treating patients, or a little of both. I'm way more nervous than I expected I would be. I'm especially concerned about treating outpatients. So I'm hoping tomorrow is more focused on the nursing home crowd, but like I said, I have no idea what's in store.

I've been preparing for this new position by going through some of my old textbooks, and that's led me to some major organizing behavior. In the process of digging through boxes of physical therapy textbooks, I threw away two full boxes of old psychology textbooks (from my first career). I didn't stop there, however. I began going through much of my stored stuff. I now have two and a half large boxes of stuff to go to The Salvation Army, and I've only just begun.

I've been wanting to rid myself of extra stuff for some time, but I've been too overwhelmed by the prospect of it to even start the project. Now I'm committed. I began the process at one end of my upper floor, where all my junk is stored. I'm planning to work my way across the room. I had a huge garage sale a couple summers ago. I felt like I rid myself of extra stuff at that time, but now I realize I have much more to purge.

I'm not sure where this urge to purge is coming from, but I like it. I feel burdened by the extra stuff. It's weighing my down somehow. I want to have as little as possible. I figure if I haven't thought about it, looked at it, or needed it in the last two years, it's time for it to go! And I don't want to sell it. I just want it gone. If it has value to someone at the Salvation Army Store, that's great! I feel relieved to have finally started the purging process.

I don't know if this need to purge is related to the new job. For some reason, I think it is, but I have no idea how it's related or why it would be. It just feels like it is. I guess I'll have to take that one up with my therapist. Unless you all have some ideas...

Now I've got to finish preparing for the dreaded first day. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

What a difference...

What a difference a few days make. First of all, I'm feeling better. The post-marathon dip seems to have been thwarted. I began feeling better yesterday, and so far today all is well. I've been busy and productive today. I ran a race this morning, mowed my yard, went grocery shopping, and took Puck for a long walk. It's been a gorgeous, good day.

Yesterday I worked my last day at my current job. It was a busy day full of paperwork, but my co-workers surprised me with a cake, a thank you card, and a gift card for the local coffee shop. I wasn't expecting all of that. It was very kind of them to do. Regardless, I am happy to be out of there. I'm looking forward to working in a more positive, supportive environment (I hope).

As I said, this morning I ran a race. It was a difficult, hilly, 10-mile trail race. I was shooting to finish in 90 minutes. Instead I finished in 82! And despite the difficult terrain, I felt great the whole way! It was nothing like my experience in the marathon just 6 days ago. I even ran up all the hills, and I hate hills! It sure was nice to cross the finish line feeling fast and strong.

I'm running my next marathon in just two weeks. It's one of my favorites, Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. I hope I feel then as well as I felt today. The race today certainly helped my confidence. If the weather cooperates, I feel more hopeful that this next marathon experience will be better!

Tomorrow I work at my occasional weekend physical therapy position. I then have two days off to prepare for my new position. I start next Wednesday. I'm anxious, scared, expectant and hopeful. That's a lot to manage, but I'm going to do my best over the next few days. The textbooks are out. Now I just have to open them! Wish me luck.