Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 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, November 28, 2013

Some days are hard

Isn't that title a glorious understatement? Some days are hard. With depression, especially my current episode, which I believe is now entering its eighth week, a lot of days are hard. I've been out of the hospital for almost seven days now, and I'd say five of the seven days have been extremely difficult. Today is no exception. Depression sucks. And I am so tired of it!

It's been almost one week since I stepped to the other side of those inpatient doors with an energetic step, a smile on my face, and hope in my heart. Instead, I've been battling the battle of illness all over again. I am so tired of depression. My brain is so broken. I thought it was fixed, but that temporary repair appears to have failed quite quickly. I've been following the plan. Now what do I do?

I've been attending all of my appointments. I'm participating in a daily, afternoon, outpatient transitional program. I'm taking my medications as prescribed. I'm talking with my treatment team members on an almost daily basis. I'm exercising when my tired body allows it. Today, for example, I was able to run 5 miles. Amazing. Yet my brain seems not to notice, or care, or positively adjust. Broken, it remains.

My broken brain... It seems to be back in control. I am pervasively sad. I feel discouraged, dejected and hopeless. Random, negative, violent thoughts bound about inside my skull. Changing clothes is a chore. Grooming hardly seems worth it. Performing household chores is virtually impossible. Eating? Thank God for yogurt and cold cereal. I am once again debilitated by depression. I'm so tired. I fear this illness will never let me go.

Today was a decent day, yet the sadness, lethargy, and scary thoughts never left. This mental and physical fatigue wears me down. I am not celebrating Thanksgiving with others today. I do have plenty for which to be grateful, but I do not have the energy to smile, chit chat, and mingle. I fear the energy required to do so would set me back for days. Instead, I ran today. That was a huge success. And that will have to be enough. After all, I'd like to be able to get out of bed tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. With depression, some days are hard. My prayer for you is that today is not one of them. I hope you all have happy, energetic, easy days!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Home Alone with Feelings

I left the hospital mid-day Friday. My mother picked me up. I ended up getting the blessing of my psychiatrist, especially after she became aware my mother would be with me most of the weekend. My mom and I did spend most of the past couple of days together, which was intermittently wonderful and irritating. I really appreciate quiet, and my mom was a bit chatty. But I shouldn't complain. It was very nice to have her here. I wouldn't have felt comfortable coming home to an empty house on Friday.

My mom was actually incredible. I'm so grateful she was here for me. She was so supportive. She took 18 days out of her life to live at my house, take care of my dog, spend her own money on and worry about me. For the last 48 hours, I thanked her every chance I got. And despite typically not saying so, I had no trouble telling her I loved her when I dropped her off at the airport today. She smiled, told me she loved me, too, and we parted ways.

I have to say I am a little sad being home alone. I battled familiar, negative, dark thoughts this afternoon shortly after returning home. That was discouraging. I felt so low at one point I sobbed. Jet, my dog, didn't care for that. He immediately arrived at my side and licked the tears from my face. Such a good boy, he really did comfort me.

The rest of the afternoon has been tough as well. I've struggled with sadness, hopelessness, and despair. It is discouraging to feel the familiar, sometimes frightening feelings I thought were behind me. I'm attempting to let them pass through me without weighing me down. And I'm trying to remember healing is not always a linear process. But I want to feel better. I don't want to fail. I want so badly to just be okay. I'm praying for less struggle and more harmony from this point forward.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Still improving, but...

I'm happy to report I am still improving and feeling better. In fact, we are currently in the process of deciding if I should go home from the hospital tomorrow. I really want to go, and I think I can handle it. My mom is in town until Sunday, so it would be nice to go home and spend a couple of days with her. Not to mention the fact that it would be nice to go home to a house that is not empty. I feel like I am ready.

I feel ready, but of course I am nervous and a little unsure. I mean this is my fourth hospital admission in the past 6 or 7 weeks. I don't want to come back in again, and I certainly don't want my mood to decline at all!

I'm actually a little more anxious about leaving this evening than I was just a few hours ago when it was almost a certainty I was going. I just learned two of my regular outpatient treatment team members, including my psychiatrist, are concerned about me leaving. They are especially concerned that I will be going on a Friday because there are few, if any, supportive services over the weekend. So they are concerned.

I don't exactly know why that increases my level of anxiety, but it does. I'm now near tears wondering what I should do. I want to go home so badly, but I don't want something to happen and end up disappointing anyone. I value and respect the opinions of my treatment team members. I'd hate to disappoint them. Yet I want to go home, and I think I'll be okay, but there is always a possibility I won't. I do have my weekend days generally planned in order to decrease the risk of getting overwhelmed, scared, or anxious. But this is an illness, after all. I only have so much control.

I'm happy to report I am still improving and feeling better. I'm discouraged to report I may not return home tomorrow, despite really, really wanting to go. At this moment, I'm not sure what I will do. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Guess What?

I am so fortunate to have so many people pulling for me, cheering me on, visiting me, and supporting me in many, many ways. I am filled with gratitude tonight for all of you. Thank you. And guess what? I'm feeling better!

My mood has lightened slightly. I have more energy. I'm sarcastic again, which is always a good sign, and sometimes the first sign that I'm feeling better. In the past two days I've been told by my treatment team, nurses, friends, and family that I'm looking and acting more like the etta they all know. Apparently, and of course I have no memory of this, I was almost catatonic all the way up through last week. I had no idea!

Since the last day of September I was apparently a blank, slumped, slow slate. I've been told I made little to no eye contact, had no opinions about anything, moved very, very slowly, expressed my limited thoughts very slowly, and showed no emotion of any kind on my face. Now I'm making eye contact, having and expressing opinions and humor, and moving and speaking at a more normal speed. I feel lighter.

It's weird and frustrating having no concept of what people are telling me about my very recent history. I wish I had a picture or a videotape, because I just can't imagine it. Regardless, I am relieved to be feeling somewhat improved. I'm certainly not out of the woods, but I think I may have at least found the trail. Thank you all again for your continued support. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What more can I say?

As of Thursday evening, I once again became a hospital inpatient. I was admitted after I became aware of an increase in my suicidality. I hate to write that, because I know many of you come here looking for hope and life. But my reality right now contains little hope. Unfortunately, my reality is filled with scary thoughts, which I no longer find scary (and that is alarming), regarding hopelessness and suicide. My mood is low. My concentration and memory make simple daily tasks challenging. My energy has been lost. Things are tough. I'm in the right place.

I'm not sure how much more I have to say. Posting here requires brain power and energy, both of which are currently in short supply. One more thing I can say, however, is despite this monstrous and debilitating illness, I am fortunate. I am fortunate to be in a therapeutic place with expert and compassionate staff. I am fortunate to have supportive friends and family. My mother changed her flight home so that she will remain here for at least one more week in order to assist me. My friends, Wendy and Tiffany, visited yesterday morning and we laughed out loud together for the better part of two hours. That is the first, and only time I've laughed, I think, in more weeks than I can count. So there are a few things worth my gratitude. In these moments of despair, I am working to remember I still have fortune mingling among the pain. And I pray the pain subsides sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Sick One

I'm getting tired of pleading for help and support. That may seem like a strange thing to say, and maybe it is, but I'm tired of begging for help and support. I'm tired of needing other people in order to perform basic daily functions. I'm tired of being sick. I'm tired of having sick thoughts, lower than low moods, and a crippling lack of energy. I want to function again. I want to regain my energy, motivation and independence. I don't want to be ill any longer.

I'm so tired of being the sick one among my friends and colleagues. I worry I will wear others down. In no time at all I could be alone in the crowd. And who could blame any of them? I'm wiped out from living in this body and struggling with my brain. It's got to be exhausting for those around me, those forced to deal with my sick brain. My distorted thoughts, my inability to take meaningful action, my confusion and memory loss, my lethargy and fatigue; at some point, even my closest friends have got to throw in the towel. And I won't blame them. I'm expecting it. It's just a matter of when.

I'm tired of being the sick one; the one who can't work and risks losing her beloved job, the one who can't decipher her finances or settle her debts without motherly oversight, the one losing fitness and adding pounds as a result of lethargy and indifference, the one whose life has gradually become unrecognizable and difficult to navigate with any sort of grace. I'm tired of being the sick one.

And I'm tired of complaining, which is all I've done with this post, so it's time to end it now. I pray for relief. I pray for friends and colleagues with incredible stamina. I pray for the tolerance to accept and deal with whatever comes my way, to no longer identify as the sick one. And I pray for the strength and resilience to conquer this illness, to crush it, to free myself from that which binds, and to come through unfettered and healthier on the other side. Thank you for praying with me. Someday, the sick one I will no longer be.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Road is Rough

I apologize for the delay in posting this week. The road has been rough. I've been overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness, saddled with dark, disturbing thoughts, handicapped by the energy of a sloth, and stupefied with delayed mentation. I've been evaluated and reevaluated on a daily basis by multiple professionals, all of whom expressed concern over the level of my despair. Things have been almost unbelievably difficult, yet here I am. Life goes on.

At the request of a couple professionals, my mother flew in to stay with me after I was released from the hospital last week. She is here to help out and to keep me safe. She is assisting me with reintegrating into life, as my brain is severely disabled in the aftermath of ECT treatments, and possibly simply as a complication of the depression. I literally could not be more stupid! I cannot remember anything!

I feel like I've been dropped into my world without the benefit of any historical perspective. I cannot remember when or how many times I've been hospitalized over the past 4 weeks (3 times). I could not remember the fact that Jet had surgery on his elbow approximately two months ago. I can't remember race results which have previously been second nature. Heck, I can't even remember running most of the races I ran this past summer! I'm clueless, and it sucks! I have to ask my mom or my friends for every detail of my recent past, and even after they inform me, the details often remain totally unfamiliar. It is frustrating, unsettling, and bewildering. I hate it.

I do not wish this level of depression on anyone. Someone asked me the other day if I wanted to die. I've determined that I don't care anymore, but I won't take my life, as I care enough about the others around me that I would not want to bring them such hurt. My thinking, however, pulls me in that direction. I am using what little energy I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and move in the direction of life instead.

I appreciate your time here, dear readers. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers. Your recent comments are so appreciated. I am humbled by your words. Thank you all so much. You all help me more than you can or will ever know. Thank you. I only hope I am able to impart a tiny bit of wisdom somewhere within this pain. At least then there might be some purpose. I can only hope. Until next time, my friends, I'll keep on keeping on as best I can. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Suffering

I am in an unusual space. Depression has tunneled me to depths previously unimaginable, to the point where I am having trouble identifiying any point to continuing. I don't usually write things like this. I try to maintain a little more optimism, even in the face of pain, but this has been one hell of a brutal ride. I'm getting tired, and I want to step off now.

I'm doing my best to hang on. I'm talking to the professionals and to my friends. I'm in pain, and I'm letting everyone know it. But it sucks! I'm not sure what else I can do at this point in time. I've had the will to run stripped from me. I haven't run in weeks. That in and of itself is quite strange. I'm not working. My doctor has taken me off work, but I'm hoping to get back there soon. I miss my co-workers and my patients. It would be nice to get back to my old routine.

I'm home but feeling out of sorts and a little lost within my own home environment. That's the after effects of the ECT treatments. My own environment is unfamiliar. Previously, I had routines for everything. Making my breakfast oatmeal, for example, was a routine. This morning I couldn't remember what went in the bowl and what didn't. Likewise, my house bills are waiting to be addressed, but I can't remember how to address them! For someone as organized as me, this is all quite disconcerting. I feel like an idiot!

I am fortunate to have one friend, Wendy, who has been willing to sit with me a lot over these past couple weeks. She's been willing to witness the suffering, yet keep me safe, without attempting to fix everything. I appreciate her presence. Sometimes it's nice to just have someone to witness the pain. She doesn't talk. She doesn't offer rememdies. She just sits with me. I am so grateful for her presence.

And now I am going to attempt to move through my pain. I may even attempt a walk outside with my dog, Jet. We'll see. That sounds like quite an undertaking. I've called my mom. She's down south for the winter, but she may fly up to stay with me for a bit. I could use her assistance and guidance, at least until I get some space between me and depression's ugliness. And this may be the ugliest episode I have ever experienced. Relief cannot come soon enough.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Home Alone

I escaped the inpatient unit yesterday. Last night was my first night home alone with my dog, Jet. It's strange being home. Because ECT destroyed my memory, I feel lost in my own home. Nothing looks familiar. Nothing feels familiar. I can't remember why I'm doing certain things. It's very disconcerting. I feel like a stranger in my own home, and it sucks! Tomorrow I'm hoping to get outside and walk a little bit. I need to get back to running. I'm actually missing The New York City Marathon, which is tomorrow. I have many friends out in New York who will be running tomorrow. I got my plane ticket, hotel room reservation, and was planning to be there, too, but it was not meant to be. Hopefully, I'll make the journey next year instead. I'll focus my energy on getting myself back onto the road tomorrow. If I can accomplish that, tomorrow will be a very successful day. Besides running, I'll also hope to putz around my house a little tomorrow. After being away for so many days, I feel the need to be present and accounted for around here.



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