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!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Looking Forward

It's been a crazy, busy week here. And with the oppressive heat wave we've been having, things have only seemed crazier and busier. It's been so hot and humid, it's been difficult to motivate or even move! I'm really looking forward to the upcoming holiday weekend. I can't wait to sit back and relax.

Jet and I will be off for an extended weekend at D's lake house immediately after work on Friday. We have little planned, well, little except running through the woods, spending time with friends, eating great food, lounging with good coffee, boating, water skiing, kayaking, reading, and of course, napping. Right now that last option sounds the most appealing!

Actually, the only concrete weekend plan I have is my 20-mile run through the woods early Saturday morning. Other than that, everything else is open and optional! I am really looking forward to more time with D. I've missed him since our last weekend together, and that was only two weeks ago! It will be so nice to be together in the peace, beauty and quiet of the lake.

I'm also looking forward to tomorrow. I have the day off, and I have lots of things on my to-do list, but by late afternoon it will be all about laughter and friendship. I'm spending the evening with two of my good friends. We try to get together every few weeks, but with work and family schedules, it usually ends up being more like once every couple of months. No matter, we always find time.

Life is always breezier after the three of us spend time together. Tomorrow we're going to hang out at one friend's house, chat and laugh, order pizza, jump on the trampoline, laugh some more, solve each others' problems, polish our nails, giggle, solve the world's problems, and probably laugh all the way home. It's always a fun, energizing time. I can't wait.

Right now, however, I can't wait to hit my pillow. I'm looking forward to my bed. Other than tired, Jet and I are both doing well. I've even been able to reduce one of my anti-depressants! But that's another post for another day. Until then, stay healthy, friends!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Two Halves, Seven Days

I've been a total slug today. That is, I've been a total slug since returning home around 10:00 AM after running my second half marathon in the last seven days. I raced last Saturday morning in Madison, Wisconsin. This morning, exactly 7 days since the gun went off in Madison, I toed the starting line in downtown Rochester. Wise? Probably not.

Scheduled to do a 13-15 miler today, anyway, I decided to join the crowd at my local half marathon. I began by slowly running the mile from my home to the race start as a warm-up. I planned, out loud, to do this half marathon not as a race, but as my training run, albeit a little faster than normal training pace. I thought I could probably comfortably handle 8:00 to 8:05 pace and then run a relaxed cool-down home afterward.

I actually did stick to my plan. I went through the first 3 miles at exactly 8:05 pace. We hit the highlight of the course, a long, long, constantly climbing, fairly steep hill shortly thereafter. It hurt. It hurt everyone. I actually passed many people on the way to the top, which was nice, but my legs never fully recovered for the rest of the race. And that's when I should have changed the plan. Instead, I stuck to it.

By sticking to the plan, I ended up "racing" the rest of the course. That is, even though I stuck to my plan to run around 8 minutes per mile, 8 minutes per mile was no longer a comfortable pace. It was racing pace. I really don't think I could have run any faster. So my training run turned into a race, and by the end I was wiped out! Ironically, I finished in 1:44:51, and guess what? That's an 8:01 per mile pace. Like I said, I did stick to the plan.

Sometimes the wiser course of action is to alter, rather than stick to the plan! Hopefully learning has occurred, but I doubt it! I spent the rest of today recovering. I ate a delicious, way-to-big-burger and fries after the race. And I spent the rest my time, i.e. all day, stretched out in bed, curled up on the sofa, or sitting in my recliner doing absolutely nothing. Well, I did drive 5 minutes to the grocery store about an hour ago, as I needed some ice cream and chocolate syrup! It's been a non-productive, sleepy, fattening day. So much for that damn plan!

Actually, it's not so bad. I've accepted being a sloth today. I have to work tomorrow, so I know I'll not carry my sluggishness into another day. I'll remember this lesson if and when a similar situation arises in the future, but knowing me, I may overdo it again anyway. Oh well. I do enjoy challenging myself, even if it isn't always the brightest thing to do.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

He's Recovering

Hanging out chewing his Kong, Jet's recovering nicely from his surgery. The surgery was a complete success. The surgeon found a "huge chunk of bone" floating around in Jet's right elbow joint. The bone fragment was so large, the surgeon had to break it into smaller pieces in order to extract it from the joint. This was all done arthroscopically, so the recovery "quiet" time will only last two weeks, rather than six, as I had originally been told. That was a relief!

I was also relieved the surgeon actually discovered the chunk of bone. It certainly did not show up on the x-rays, so we were just supposing it was there based on his other symptoms. Jet was likely in a fair amount of pain, despite not always showing it. He does have arthritis in the joint, which is a result of the bony fragment floating around in there. Hopefully, with supplements and a slow return to activity, it will remain mild for a long time to come.

The surgeon told me the recovery from this procedure varies widely. He thought Jet had a good chance for meaningful recovery, but he had no way of predicting if Jet will ever tolerate normal levels of activity, like running with his mama. We've got some doggy physical therapy to do over the next 4-6 weeks, and then we can begin short walks. We can't even attempt running for at least another 6 months. Of course, if he limps with walking, we won't ever attempt running.

I'm not worrying too much about running right now. I'm relieved he's home and well. I'm grateful this procedure gives him at least a chance at a full recovery. Thank you for your kind words and prayers as Jet and I have traveled through this process. He's doing well. And come to think of it, so am I.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Wonderful Weekend!

A good race, lots of great food, an improv show, some beautiful gardens, and a loving relationship; those were a few of the highlights of my weekend away with D. We spent the weekend together in Madison, Wisconsin. Our relationship continues to grow deeper and deeper. I so enjoy spending time with him, and he is so good to me. This weekend was really special.

After a nice dinner with D and his son Friday evening, all three of us toed the starting line of the Madison Half Marathon Saturday morning. D's son and I were pretty evenly matched. I finished the hilly but scenic race in 1:42:04, D's son came in around 1:43:20, and D finished just under 2 hours. We were all fairly satisfied with our times. My time was decent, especially since I didn't taper for the event, but I was most happy with my age group performance. I finished 8th out of 190 women in my age group. That was very satisfying.

D's son joined us for burgers after the race before he departed for home. D and I stayed to play. We had some restful time together after the race and before dinner and an improv comedy show Saturday evening. That was a blast! It was so fun to laugh out loud for 2 hours! Improv comedians are quite impressive! We enjoyed their talent and wit.

Sunday morning I had a beautiful run along the shore of one of Madison's three lakes. D and I then spent most of the day wandering about at The Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Oh my! Everyone raved about this place in online reviews, and they were all correct. What a treasure! I am not a gardener, and I barely know a rose from a carnation, but this place was unbelievably beautiful! We walked, gawked, and talked for hours. It was a peaceful, lovely end to a wonderful weekend.

I'm now back to reality in my living room. Work went well today, although I did have trouble staying focused. My thoughts kept flashing back to my weekend with D and forward to Jet's surgery tomorrow. Surgery will take place at a clinic about 1 hour and 15 minutes north of here. I'll drop him off at 7:30 in the morning, drive back here and attempt to work all day, and then return to pick him up tomorrow evening. That's reality.

I'm worried and sad. I wish I could explain to Jet what's going to be happening to him. He won't understand why I won't feed him tomorrow morning. He won't know why I'm leaving him in a strange, chaotic place with unfamiliar people. He'll wake up in pain. I feel so bad that he's got to go through this process. I'm saying my prayers. I appreciate any you can spare as well. Of course I'll let you know how everything goes.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Off to Race

I'm spending the weekend in Madison, Wisconsin, with D. It should be fun. We are running a half marathon together tomorrow morning and then spending the rest of the weekend bumming around Madison. As usual it will be nice to see D and spend time with him, and the race is known to be well organized and fun. D's son will be joining us this evening for dinner, and he's also running the race tomorrow morning. I'm looking forward to a nice weekend away.

I don't know what kind of performance to expect, as I didn't really taper for this race. I altered my schedule a bit. I ran 10 miles twice this week, but I didn't do any speed work, and I did skip one of my kettlebell classes. I think I'll just run by feel again and try to enjoy the event. I'd like to run fast, of course, but I'll try not to freak out if I don't. My performance is not that important. Preparing for Twin Cities Marathon is the long-term goal. This weekend is more about having fun with D.

Overall, I'm still feeling pretty good. I was physically whipped earlier this week, but I've recovered from that. I think skipping my Wednesday night kettlebell class helped me recoup some needed energy. My mood seems okay. It could be better, but it's not in the pits. Things have been busy but smooth.

The only drama I currently face is Jet's upcoming surgery. I'm feeling quite ambivalent about putting him through it. He's not limping nearly as much as he was, and I'm not sure what to think about that. He's so joyous and spirited. I hate to be responsible for bringing him pain. I hate the thought of him having to be quiet and sedate for six weeks. It's going to be a real challenge, and I question whether it is worth it.

The problem is, I can't just put it off. This surgery is only done on very young dogs. It is not successful on older dogs, but younger dogs do benefit from it. So it's an either now or never decision, and I'm struggling with it. I'm leaning toward doing it, but I'm going to discuss it more in depth with the vet today. His surgery is currently scheduled for next Tuesday, the 20th. He'll have just turned 11 months old.

I'm going to leave you with a picture of my boy. He's sitting on my back deck with about 1/4 of his collection of sticks and toys. When I mow, I pick each of these up and place them on the deck. Jet thinks this is great fun! As quickly as I can set them down, he races to put each one back in the yard. Doesn't he look proud of himself? Have a great weekend, friends!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back on my feet

Just a brief post this evening, as I am wiped out from a busy last 3 days. I am back in the swing of things. The knock down I experienced at the end of last week only kept me down for a couple of days. By late Friday evening I was feeling lighter, and I was back on course by Saturday.

In fact, I ran 20 miles Saturday morning in absolutely perfect, beautiful weather. That certainly helped begin the weekend on the right foot. I stayed busy with errands and chores the rest of Saturday, as I had to work Sunday. My mood was good, and I had the energy to get done what needed to be done.

After working 9 hours Sunday, I took an hour to put my feet up and enjoy Jet's comedic antics, and then I ran 8 miles. Those were very tough miles. My legs were tired! But I persevered and then got to bed early before another 9 hour work day today. My kettlebell and suspension training class tonight was tougher than usual. I was fatigued, but I did what I could.

Now I've got my feet are up. I'm watching my favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, and enjoying a cup of decaf, as I gather my thoughts and prepare myself for tomorrow's schedule. I've got 10 miles to run before heading off to work mid-morning. Hopefully I'll have enough energy after work to attend my evening AA meeting. I think I'm due. But I'll worry about that tomorrow.

I'm doing well. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. I'm grateful to be feeling better.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Knocked Down

I don't want to write about not feeling good. It's been so long. But for some reason, or no reason at all, yesterday was a rough day. It was weird. I awoke Thursday morning feeling like I had been hit by a truck. I couldn't seem to shake the sleep from my body. My mood was very low right off the bat.

I had an appointment early in the morning. After returning home, it was my plan to go running. I had a hill workout on my schedule. But when I got home, all I could do was go back to bed. My parents were visiting and just starting their day, but I couldn't even stay awake for them. They went about their business while I slept.

I figured I'd be refreshed and ready to run when I awoke. But two hours later, nothing had changed. The extra sleep didn't help. In fact, I laid back down shortly after I got up. And it wasn't only physical. For the first time in a long time, my mood was in the tank.

I saw my doctor mid-afternoon. At our last visit, we discussed decreasing my anti-depressant. We were going to make a decision at yesterday's appointment, but based upon how I was feeling, we decided against it. Of course that made sense, but I was so looking forward to lowering my dose.

Things continued along the same lines most of the day. I did get out with my mom for a couple hours late in the afternoon, but I never did get those hills run. We ate dinner out, and I couldn't wait to get home. I went to bed long before they retired. Fortunately, my parents understand my occasional need for lots of sleep.

Today has been slightly better. I'm still lower than I've been, but I'm not pushing the panic button yet. I did okay at work today, even though I wasn't my usual chatty, cheerful self. I'm scheduled to run 20 miles tomorrow, and with the cooperation of our current gorgeous, sunny, dry weather, I'm feeling fairly optimistic I'll get it done. I'm preparing now, and I plan for another early bed time tonight.

I'm feeling more hopeful this precipitous descent will reverse itself as quickly as it attacked. And that's what it felt like, a sneak attack. It came out of the blue on what should have been a beautiful, happy day. Thankfully, that was yesterday, and I don't have to live it again. Moving forward now, we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A decent race

For the second Saturday in a row, I ran a race. This race was 11 miles long. It's an annual event held on a paved bike trail which runs through the woods northwest of town. It's a very laid back race, and only about 50 people ran despite the perfect, sunny and cool weather conditions. I run this race every year, even though I always find myself questioning that decision somewhere around mile nine every year.

This year was no exception. I was feeling quite cooked by mile nine and cursing myself for running yet again. Despite that, I did have a decent race. I ran entirely by feel. I didn't look at my watch once. I wore one, because I like to see my mile splits after the fact, but I wanted to run without worrying about pace. Unfortunately, I had some uncomfortable GI distress, which kept my anxiety up until I finally took a quick pit-stop around mile four. After that I was able to focus all of my anxiety on the discomfort of running an out-and-back 11-mile race! (That was a joke.)

This is what I looked like about one half mile prior to the finish. I definitely look a lot better than I felt! I was totally ready to be done!

I ended up finishing second overall, and first of only two women in my age division, in a time of 1:25:21. I'm okay with that. I didn't take any easy or rest days prior to the race, and I'm in the middle weeks of my marathon training, so 1:25:21 is a decent time. I'm sure I could run faster, but I guess I'll have to wait until next year to prove that. Next year... yup, I'm sure I'll go back.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Jet's Surgical Consult

Jet and I made the trek to the orthopedic surgery veterinarian yesterday. Unfortunately, the consulting vet hadn't yet seen Jet's x-rays, as my vet neglected to mail them. I'm not sure how that happened, as he received the rest of Jet's file. Regardless, we went ahead with the consult. He read the radiologist's report, manually checked all of Jet's joints, and watched him walk and run. Without the x-rays, of course, he couldn't confirm the fragmented coronoid process diagnosis, but we discussed the options for that diagnosis anyway.

The best option for a dog Jet's age is arthroscopic surgery.  If Jet was older, in fact, surgery wouldn't be an option, so it's actually good he developed this at an early age. Go figure. The surgeon will clean out the debris in the joint and remove any free-floating bony fragments. The vet wants to see the x-rays before we schedule anything, but the sooner Jet has the surgery the better his long-term outcome will be.

Besides figuring out how to manage this financially, I'll have to try to get a loan, the most challenging aspect of this surgery will be Jet's recovery. The recovery will take at least 6 weeks, and Jet has to be still and quiet the entire time. Still and quiet are words that have never been applicable to Jet! I'm not sure who will crack first, me or Jet! It's going to be very difficult for both of us!

I feel a little better now that I've met with the surgeon. He said it's "not unheard of" for a dog Jet's age to have a complete recovery from this procedure and to regain normal function for years to come. He wouldn't even rule out Jet running with me in the future. It may be a possibility. Unfortunately, the reality is Jet does have arthritis already, and the surgeon confirmed it will only progress over time. He recommended I begin supplementing Jet's diet with fish oil immediately, which I will do, as fish oil is apparently quite good for animal joints. I'll do whatever I can.

I left the vet consult feeling a little hopeful, a little worried, and a little overwhelmed. I need to look into financing the surgery somehow. I want to be ready to go as soon as the vet calls with confirmation of the diagnosis and plan. I need to look into getting some sort of small outdoor kennel so that Jet can at least be outside while being still and quiet. He loves being outside, and I don't want to take that away from him. And I need to keep praying. I need to trust my higher power and have faith this will all work out eventually. I can only take the actions for which I have control. I need to leave the outcome to something bigger than me.