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, January 31, 2013

Holding pattern

Ugh...I'm still under the weather, and the sub-zero temperatures outside certainly are not helping! At least the sun is coming out. That's helping brighten my mood a bit. If it was warmer, I think I might at least be able to manage a walk. But there's no way with the wind and cold we have today.

Not much has changed since my last post. My chest is still stuffed with congestion. I'm still tired with little energy or motivation to do more than sit. Whatever this thing is, it is really hanging on, and on, and on. I fear I am losing the last remnants of any fitness I may have had.

Jet is still as cute as ever. He's right now playing with multiple toys at once. I think he's potty trained, as he comes to get me to go outside now, and he hasn't had any accidents in the house for at least one week. I'm thrilled that process wasn't as difficult as I had feared it would be. I've taken him to work at least four times, including into a new building yesterday, and he's doing great. It's really wonderful. Perhaps I will look into making him an official therapy dog.

On this day, I typically write a post about an anniversary of sorts. It was 28 years ago today, as far as I recall, that I nearly took my life. Fortunately, I was unsuccessful. The attempt began my foray into the mental health system. I got help, and until 12 years ago, I got well. I don't know why I didn't devote an entire post to the subject today. I thought about it. It would likely be more interesting than this one. But I just didn't feel the need to more than mention it. I am glad I'm not in that dark place today.

Well, Jet's finally worn himself out, and I'm worn out from simply being upright. I guess it must be nap time. I'm really hoping I'm able to step back into life soon. Right now I feel like I'm on the outside looking in. Eventually, I've got to rejoin the ranks of the living. I'm looking forward to that.

Monday, January 28, 2013


I'm still sick. In fact, my cold got worse over the weekend. My chest is so congested, I'm gurgling! I've had pneumonia before, and this doesn't feel like a repeat episode, but it's no fun, nonetheless. I'm feeling better today. Work went well until I talked a lot or laughed. Either of those things set off a coughing fit. But at least I'm not so achy today.

The combination of illness and full-time puppy training have left me totally unmotivated to do much else. With the exception of two days, I have not run since returning from Mexico. And since I didn't run in Mexico, it's been a long, long time since I've done any training! I'm feeling a little guilty, a little disgusted, and at the same time, a little apathetic. I've got to get back on the horse soon, or I know my mood is going to suffer.

My home is already suffering. I'd like it to be cleaned, but I've not been able to bring myself to do it. Well, I did pick up a tiny bit yesterday, and I took the vacuum out of the closet, but that's as far as I got. I do feel better in a clean house, so I know I need to get to it soon. Hmm... that sounds familiar.

Eating is another thing I can't bring myself to care about. Oh, I'm eating, but it's not all that great. I have no desire to cook anything! Even the microwave has been impossible lately. Instead, I've eaten a lot of toast and cereal. I went to a local Mexican place last night and again tonight for identical take out orders. That's how uninspired I am. I couldn't even bring myself to order something different.

Despite this abundance of lethargy, my mood seems to be okay. It's not good. It's not terrible. It's just okay. But I'm worried the lethargy and lack of inspiration may indicate the beginning of something more sinister. That's why I need to get back at it. I need to do more than go to work and train a puppy, even though doing more seems beyond me at this point in time. Oh well, at least I know what I need to do.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Squeak, Squeak, Cough, Cough

As I sit here, my new puppy, Jet, is racing around in circles, attacking his toys and batting his balls around the room. He is adorable, as he squeaks his toys and bounces the balls off the walls! He is very good at rambunctiously humoring himself. Sometimes he plays for 5-10 minutes non-stop. I actually videotaped him the other night. If I can figure it out, I'll post it here.

As you might expect, I've been very busy since picking up Jet last Saturday. I'm not getting anything done around my house! I'm potty training Jet, and he's doing very well, but it means he has to be under my watchful eye at all times. It's a bit exhausting. 

Unfortunately, I've come down with a nasty respiratory illness over the past couple days, which only makes things more difficult. Today, all I wanted to do was come home and sleep after work. My muscles were aching. My chest was full. My head was stuffy. But Jet had been in his kennel all day, and I needed to tire him out before I could put him back in the kennel in order to nap. I did, and we both got a nap in later.

I've had a little bit of difficulty readjusting to life since getting back from Mexico. Not only am I missing naps and getting little done around my house, my mood has taken a hit. I'm having an awful time motivating myself to do anything. Exercise, cooking, cleaning, and socializing have all taken a back seat, and it's not all Jet's fault. I've made it to work, but it's been tough to put my full energy into it. I'm having trouble caring, not about my patients, but about doing anything worthwhile or healthy.

That being said, I am hanging in there. Jet is forcing me to do that. If he wasn't in the house right now, I'd likely be sleeping a whole lot more! My mood is lower than I'd like. My motivation is nil. But I'm hanging in there. I know this is temporary. It feels like a bump in the road. It's not gotten too big yet. I'm trying to ride it out and keep my worries to a minimum. That's about all I can motivate to do for now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Say Hello to Jet

I'm a little overwhelmed. And busy... I picked up my new puppy, 4 month old black lab mix, Jet, on Saturday. He is incredibly cute, and he is all puppy! He's not totally house-trained yet, plus he has a bladder infection, which makes training a little more difficult. When he drinks water, he literally has to go out approximately every 10 minutes, or less, for about an hour afterward. And his need to go out is immediate! He's only had two accidents so far, and both times were when I let him out of my site for just a few seconds! My fault. Considering the infection, and the limited supervision he had in his foster home, he's actually doing quite well.

Jet is extremely playful, which is quite fun, but exhausting. Fortunately, he is kennel-trained, and he can stay alone in his kennel for at least 8 hours without difficulty. He also sleeps in his kennel, through the night, as long as I pick up his water a few hours before bedtime. And he travels silently in the car in his kennel, also very nice! We just finished over an hour of playing, and he's apparently finally tired out, which is why I have this moment to write.

Unfortunately, he has had little to no socialization up to this point. He's fine with a single dog, such as Bill and Cindy's golden retriever, after a bit of warming up, but he viciously growls and barks at every dog at first. He's kind of scary. He also barks just as viciously at strangers at first. He's timid. I think that's where the aggression comes from. It worries me. I took him to work at the nursing home on Monday in order to expose him to many people and even another dog. It worked out okay. I think I'll take him again tomorrow. I absolutely do not want an aggressive, or even aggressive sounding, dog!

We're working on sits and downs. We're working on staying off the furniture. We're playing fetch. As I said, it's fun, it's a little overwhelming, and I'm very busy. I'll keep you updated on the saga!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

More photos from Mexico

Iguanas were everywhere in the sun.

More beach. The waves were large and fun.

D and I on the beach--day one. No tan yet!

The incredibly large pool.

Lying in the cabana on the beach at night.

Smiling monkey on the beach for photo ops.

Walking along the beach.

Me on the beach at night.

D on the beach at night.

Me and D on the beach at night.

Aforementioned monkey with aforementioned photo op.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Back Home

I'm home. It's sunny and 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside. D and I left Mexico Tuesday afternoon. It was sunny and 80 degrees then. The change is remarkable but not at all unexpected, of course. At least it is sunny here, too. The forecast calls for 20 below zero in just a couple days! I'd rather not have come home to that!

Needless to say, Mexico was amazing! It was incredibly beautiful, tropical, friendly, and exotic! I am so fortunate to have had this wonderful experience! I am so grateful to D for the opportunity to spend five glorious days with him. I would have been happy to spend five days with him anywhere, but to spend it in such a beautiful place was extra special!

We stayed at an all inclusive, adults only, gorgeous resort. This place was enormous yet felt almost private. We were treated like royalty at all times. We walked quietly alone among the grounds and on the beach most of the time. We ate at 4 of the 7 five-star restaurants on the grounds. We went snorkeling, read books on the beach, played games, frolicked in the ocean waves, held hands, and talked. It was so, so nice.

The one thing we didn't do while there, although we both had every intention of doing so, was go running. In fact, I wore every article of clothing I brought at least once with the exception of my running gear! We both laughed about that on the plane ride home. We had literally miles of grounds on which to run, too, but we chose playing in the waves, walking miles on the beach, and snorkeling as our exercise instead.

Coming home has been a little difficult. One of my special patients died unexpectedly over the weekend. I attended his wake last night. His family, 11 children, have been so wonderful; respectful and appreciative of our efforts with both of their parents (their mom is also a patient), it was a tough loss.

It was also difficult to return to a quiet house once again. This is the first vacation I've taken in 13+ years in which I didn't have Puck to return home to. I cried hard on my drive home. I miss him so much.

Missing Puck makes me anxious about bringing Jet, my new puppy, home on Saturday. I'm worried about bonding with a new dog while I'm still grieving for Puck. I want to honor Puck. I want to honor Jet. I don't know if I'll be able to do both, but I've got no choice now but to try. I'm worried about that.

Life is funny. Great experiences. Great grief. Great anxiety. It's all part of the puzzle, I guess. As usual, I'm trying to focus on my gratitude for all the pieces of the puzzle. I'm grateful for my time in Mexico. I'm grateful for my relationship with D. I'm filled with gratitude for my life with Puck. I'm grateful for the special people and families with whom I work. And I'm grateful for the opportunity of a new relationship with Jet. My life is full today. I'm happy to be home.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

And we're off!

I am writing from D's house in Milwaukee. I just arrived here after a full day of work. We are off to Mexico first thing tomorrow morning. I am so excited! I can't wait to spend 5 full days with D. I think that will count as the longest streak of consecutive days spent together in our entire relationship! I am looking forward to warm sun, warm sand, and warm ocean water in which to relax. I don't really care if we do anything else once we get there. I'm just looking forward to being there together. Of course, I did bring my running shoes, but so did he, so we will even be able to do that together. I will try to update my blog while there, but if you don't hear from me, have no fear. I will fill you in as soon as I get back! Take care, my friends!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Attending to business

Did I mention I'm going to Mexico this Thursday? D is graciously taking me to Mexico for 5 days. We fly in and out of Milwaukee, so I'll leave Wednesday right after work in order to be prepared for our early morning flight on Thursday. We are staying at an all-inclusive, adults only resort right on the ocean in southern Mexico. This place is so fancy! It may be out of my league. I tend to be more of a cabin-in-the-woods kind of gal. Nonetheless, I have to admit I am looking forward to being pampered for a few days. The warm sun will feel really nice in the middle of our long winter. I can't wait.

I've been hustling and bustling around here lately. Work has been a bit busier, which is good. Outside of my primary job, I've been busy with meetings, track club responsibilities, running, working at my second job, preparing for vacation, and lastly, and most significantly, I've been going through the adoption process.

I spotted a rescued black lab puppy online, and he spoke to me. The process of adopting him is quite thorough, and in order to get him, I have to complete everything by the time I leave for Mexico, even though he will stay with his foster family until I return.

I had no plans to adopt another dog so soon after Puck's death. After all, it's only been a bit over 3 weeks since he died. I knew I'd probably eventually get another dog, but I really had no intent yet. While perusing an online adoption site, Virgil's adorable little face popped up. He was rescued from a "kill shelter" (an oxymoron if I've ever heard one!) in the southern US. He's somewhere between 3 and 4 months old. He's a lab mixed with some other type of dog, but nobody is sure exactly what type yet.

Unfortunately, he's in a foster home 2 hours from my home, and one of the pre-adoption criteria was that I meet Virgil prior to adopting him. So, after working 7 hours today, I went for a quick run, and then made the 4 hour round trip. I spent about 30 minutes with the little guy. Despite his rough start to life, he's a happy, energetic, playful puppy. He's already kennel trained and is mostly potty trained as well. He knows how to sit and to come when he's called. He was pretty sweet.

Tomorrow someone from the rescue organization is coming to my house to make sure I will be an appropriate home for Virgil. After that I have to complete some more paperwork and, of course, pay for him. As I mentioned, his foster family is happy to continue housing him while I'm in Mexico, and I will go pick him up when I get back.

I confess I've been feeling a little guilty as this adoption process has progressed. I've been more sad about Puck's death, too. I'm not sure what's going on. I think the possibility of getting a new dog brings the sadness surrounding Puck's death to the surface. I even cried myself to sleep last night!

I also wonder if I'm not honoring Puck by getting another pup so soon. I'm worrying that loving a new dog will somehow diminish the love I had for Puck. I know it's silly, but I'm having the worry thoughts, nonetheless. I'm praying for no more worry thoughts. I'm praying that God will see to it that both Virgil and I make this transition gracefully. As usual, your thoughts, and/or prayers are always appreciated.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


It was a bittersweet day today. I had the day off, and I was very productive. I went for a chilly, but sunny, good seven mile run this morning. I ran a bunch of errands and got some stuff done around the house. Then, in the early afternoon, I travelled to the vet clinic and picked up Puck's ashes.

Dawn, one of the veterinary assistants retrieved Puck's ashes for me. She also gave me a blanket. It was the blanket I had Puck wrapped in before he died. I left it wrapped around him after he was gone. I didn't really care if I ever saw it again, but now that I have it back, it's kind of nice. I left the clinic with Puck's ashes and his blanket and drove home.

At home I opened the wooden box in which Puck's ashes were contained. It was odd. I've seen ashes before, so I knew what to expect, but the site of Puck's ashes made me cry. I took the plastic bag filled with his ashes out of the box and hugged it to my chest. I cried. I talked to my boy. I cried some more. It was really hard to pull the ashes away from my chest and put them back in the box.

Eventually I returned his ashes to the box, closed the box, and placed it on the shelf in front of Puck's photo. I set Puck's paw print on top of the box. Once I put everything back together on the shelf, I felt at peace. I laid down on the sofa, hugged Puck's blanket to my chest and fell asleep. It's so nice to have Puck home. I feel better now that we're back together again.