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, February 28, 2014

A long, cold long run

The weather around here continues to be so challenging, I changed my long run from Saturday morning to this morning instead. It's supposed to be frigid tomorrow with heavy, gusting winds. Today was not much better, but it was slightly warmer (-4 degrees when I started out) and less windy than tomorrow's forecasted weather. But it was still damn cold and windy for a 20 mile long run!

I began with 3 layers of high tech clothing on top and 2 layers on my legs, but after 8 miles I was so cold I had to loop back home and add another layer. I also had to change from my running mittens into my heavy snowblowing leather mitts. I think that may be more clothing than I've ever run in previously. The added layers made the wind and cold more tolerable for the rest of my run.

Despite the cold and wind, I did finish all 20 miles today. I'm happy about that. It was a challenge. My legs were tired, as I've already run quite a few miles this week, as scheduled. I ran out of gas around mile 13, but I took in a carbohydrate gel and some water, which perked me up. I finished feeling tired but fairly good.

This was my first 20-miler in preparation for The Boston Marathon in April. I've got two more 20-milers before race day. This was also my first 20-miler since last fall, prior to my most recent depression episode. I reflected on that fact after I finished. I'm so grateful to be running and training again. In October, November and December, I couldn't imagine ever running 20-milers again. It's really remarkable to be back at it.

I've come a long way over the past two and a half months. For that, I am amazed and grateful. It reminds me once again; everything is temporary. If I ever relapse into the darkness again, this will be a good fact to keep in mind.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I know I'm feeling better when I have plain old life worries bogging me down. That may sound strange, but when I'm ill my psyche has no room for plain old life worries. My only worries then are staying alive and functional. But today, already this morning, I've got worries stirring me up inside.

My worries this morning are simple things I have little control over. For starters, I have an indication that my blog may be being copied again. Plagiarism. Nothing gets my blood boiling quite as quickly as someone taking credit for work I've created. My stomach is churning with just the possibility of it. I have very little control over this one. I'm not even sure how to check it out. It does little good for me to worry about it, because I don't know how to confirm or dis-confirm my concern. Nevertheless, my gut is churning.

My second, uncontrollable yet time wasting concern this morning is my internet service. After months of frustratingly slow internet service, I made a simple upgrade to my internet speed a few days ago. I avoided it for months because I hate the amount of time it takes to do such a simple thing. It takes 15 minutes just to get to an actual human being on the phone! Unfortunately, the human being I got was apparently new. She bumbled through the entire process. After another 30 minutes of explaining exactly what I wanted, holding, re-explaining, and holding again, the order was finally completed. Or so I thought.

Last night, another 60 minutes(!) was wasted with another customer service rep. My internet didn't work as a result of the initial representative's mistakes and misinformation! Ugh! As of this morning, my internet works, but things still aren't resolved. I will need to waste more time today speaking with the CenturyLink business office in order to resolve billing issues, again as a result of the initial representative's mistakes. Longingly, I am remembering the simpler days of the rotary phone and local customer service.

On a more serious note, yesterday I had my meeting at work with my regional director. I will be going back to work, gradually, beginning next week. The meeting went very well, though I struggled when I had to be honest and reveal my total memory loss, which means I will need retraining on all of our computer documentation. He took it in stride and said it was no problem. My first day will be all about reorientation to the computers and the documentation requirements. I'll need to travel to a few out-of-town rehab facilities my first few weeks, but eventually I will be right back in town at my previous facility. I'm very grateful for that.

As I leave you this morning, I do so with the Serenity Prayer banging about in my head. God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference. It's a great prayer for me, and I have a feeling I will need to recite it several times today. Carry on, my friends.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Finally, despite the cold and wind, I had a long run I feel good about! I ran 19 miles yesterday morning. It was 6 degrees. The wind chill was well below zero with wind gusts stiff enough to almost stop me in my tracks. The conditions were challenging. But I was apparently up to the challenge, and boy did that make me happy!

Because of the conditions, I didn't want to get caught too far away from home, so I ran three loops from my house. I ran a 9 mile loop, a 7 mile loop, and then a 3 mile loop with Jet. I stopped briefly at home for carbohydrate and water replenishment between each loop.

I think breaking the run into smaller parts helped physically and mentally. I only had to focus on finishing each loop, and it made the conditions less challenging. Rather than fretting about how cold it was, I was instead able to enjoy the bright sunshine. With all of our new snow piled high and caked on every tree, it was actually quite beautiful outside.

Of course, running 19 miles is difficult, but I'm pleased with how strong I felt. I didn't have the heavy legs and debilitating fatigue of previous long runs. I didn't feel totally wasted when I finished. In fact, I was able to complete my household chores and keep two commitments I had later in the day. It was a good, productive day.

It's always beneficial when I have a good run. My mood has been good anyway, but yesterday's boost was nice. It's wonderful to be feeling well. Pursuing my goals is certainly simpler when my mood is steady.

Speaking of goals, I'm looking forward to a meeting this week with my regional director. We're going to discuss my gradual return to work. He's already made it clear they want me back, and they do have hours available for me. I may end up driving out of town, but I can deal with that. I'm not picky. I really like working for this company, so I'm very happy they want me back. I'll let you know what happens.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Snow, snow go away!

Another blizzard is on my doorstep. Yes, I am complaining! This winter's pattern of bitter cold, followed by snow, followed by bitter cold, and then more snow has been wearing. We are in the midst of the coldest February, by far, on record, and today we are expecting up to another 10 inches of snow. The sky is a drab, heavy, gray right now. It looks like it is ready to open up at any moment. I'm tired of it.

Running has been more challenging this winter than any other recent winter I can remember because of this weather. I've had to be very flexible, as I've had to make constant adjustments to my schedule. For example, I typically do my tougher workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but like this week, I've often had to do two tough workouts in a row in order to accommodate Mother Nature. I ran 9 miles Tuesday and instead of running my hill workout today, which would have been difficult in a blizzard, I ran my six, quarter mile hill repeats yesterday. I'll do a quick 4 mile recovery run in a few minutes, hopefully before the sky opens up. Tomorrow will be a rest day prior to my 19-miler on Saturday. I don't yet know what Mother Nature has in store for me then.

Despite the constant schedule juggling, I cannot complain about my running lately. Yes, the race this past weekend could have felt better, but I think I'm where I should expect to be after such a severe depression episode, weight gain, and long layoff. I've been losing the weight, and I've noticed a lighter, freer stride with each pound lost. It really has made a difference. The race, and the effort of running fast, seems to have opened something up in me, too. Since the race on Saturday, my training pace has dropped. I'm enjoying that.

Well, the sky is not looking any less foreboding right now, so I've got to get out the door. I'll take any happy, productive thoughts you may have this Saturday morning. I'm a little intimidated by 19 miles, especially after the difficulty I had with 17 miles two weeks ago. I just hope I feel okay and get it done. May we all go forward toward our goals in the days to come. Carry on, my friends.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Race recap

My first race since my most recent depression episode is now under my belt. Saturday morning was gray and cold, much colder than predicted. There was also a 10-15 mile per hour wind, which resulted in really chilly conditions. I couldn't feel the toes on my left foot until after the three mile mark!

It was a small race, and because of the cold and poor road conditions, we ran two 6.55 mile loops instead of the 13.1 mile loop we were supposed to run. It was tough, when I arrived back at the starting line half way through the race, tired and cold, to turn around and leave again. But I did.

Overall, I am pleased and displeased with the results of the race. I started a bit too fast and by mile three was already struggling. I am displeased with how difficult the race was for me. In the end, I averaged 8:11 per mile, which is good, but I really struggled to maintain my pace during the race. By the time I finished, I was absolutely wasted, chilled to the bone, and very glad to be done.

Despite the difficulty maintaining my form and pace while running, I am pleased with my overall time and pace. An 8:11 pace is good. I ran just under an 8 minute pace in my last half marathon, which was last August. I was several pounds lighter and in the middle of marathon training last August, so it makes sense I was faster then. I expected that. I'm happy I approached the pace I ran then.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you my overall half marathon time, as the course ended up being about one half mile short. My GPS read 12.48 miles at the finish line, and I ran that in 1:42:11. Doing the math, I figure that would have put me in around 1:47 if the course had been measured accurately. Again, that's only a few minutes slower than the effort last August, so I'm pleased.

I'll be happier when I'm a little more comfortable running fast, but for a first effort after my long layoff, I'm fairly satisfied. In addition, this race gave me some good information as to my current level of fitness. I've got plenty of room to grow and improve, and that motivates me to keep working hard. I'm coming into my two toughest weeks of marathon training, so the motivation couldn't have come at a more perfect time.

Friday, February 14, 2014


I'm not sure if it's a weekend hangover (no worries, I don't mean the alcohol induced kind!), or if it's medication side effects, or if it's secondary to marathon training, but I have been wiped out this week. While I've been getting my training runs accomplished, I've not had the energy for much else, and in fact have been sleeping a ton--day and night. I have not been able to keep my eyes open. It's been strange and a little concerning.

I did see my doctor yesterday, and she confirmed some of the fatigue might be due to medication side effects, but she didn't want to change anything at this time. I understand that. The decrease in the "fat med" (that is, the medication with the weight gain side effect) a few weeks ago has made a big difference. I lost more than two pounds in the last ten days. That's exciting, but now it appears we may have to deal with fatigue, too. We'll see how the weekend goes.

I actually have a race scheduled for this weekend. I will be off to run a half marathon early tomorrow morning. It's part of my marathon training schedule. I have no idea what to expect, as I have not raced since August, and I've certainly been through a lot since then! Despite my anxiety about racing, I'm also looking forward to it, as it will give me a lot of information about my current level of  fitness. I'll let you know how it goes.

In addition to my return to racing, I have another big return to report. I was given the go-ahead yesterday to begin my return to work. My doctor and I discussed a gradual return, hopefully a couple of four hour shifts per week. I'm looking forward to getting back at it. I miss my co-workers and my patients. And I miss the meaningful activity work provides. I'm looking forward to my return.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Back home settling in

I'm back from my weekend away with my boyfriend, D. It was a very nice weekend. It was too short, as usual. Being back in his arms made me realize exactly how long it had been since we last saw each other, and that I missed him more than I knew. We ate in, ate out, watched a movie, went running, visited with family, and of course, played with Jet. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go, and I'm already looking forward to seeing him again. It's difficult to live so far apart from each other.

I ran 17 miles along the Milwaukee lakefront on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, I didn't properly hydrate on Friday, stayed up too late Friday night, and felt tired before I even began running. Within the first mile, I knew it was going to be a long day. I tried to focus on the new scenery around me, but I had to do mental gymnastics to keep myself going for almost three hours. I almost completely ran out of energy with three miles to go, which forced me to take walk breaks the rest of the way. But, once again, I did it, and I'm happy about that. I'm also happy with how I recovered. D and I ran 5 miles together on Sunday, and I had no difficulty with that. So it was a mixed bag this weekend, and that was okay. I'm grateful I was able to run and able to run in new, beautiful surroundings.

I've not got much on my agenda this week. My mood remains fairly steady. I'm hoping to chat with my psychiatrist about returning to work when I see her on Thursday. I'm feeling ready to give it a shot. I think I'll be okay as long as I start slow and ease back into things. I don't actually know if I will have the opportunity to return to my previous position, but I'm lucky to be a physical therapist, as I know there are positions open elsewhere. I'll let you know how the conversation with my doc goes.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Weekend Away

Tomorrow, I'm embarking on a weekend away. I'm looking forward to a few days with my boyfriend, D., in Milwaukee. This is kind of a big deal, as we haven't seen each other since mid-October, in between my first and second hospital stays, this past fall. And since I was in the midst of ECT at that time, my memories of that weekend aren't as clear as I would like. So I'm really looking forward to seeing him this weekend.

I am also scheduled to run 17 miles this weekend. I'm actually kind of looking forward to that, too. I've already had three good runs this week, including an intimidating 40 minute tempo run today. I really didn't know what to expect, but I set the treadmill at 8 minutes per mile and let 'er rip. I not only ran the entire 40 minutes at that pace, but more importantly, I felt good while doing it! Since my doctor decreased one of my meds, the one that caused weight gain, I have physically felt better and running has gotten easier. That's why I'm kind of looking forward to my 17-miler. I'm hoping it feels good, too.

In other news, I did get my baby tooth pulled on Tuesday, and thus began the 18-22 month process of pulling the permanent tooth into position and straightening my teeth. I don't have braces yet. They are still about 6 months away. What I have is an appliance, kind of like a retainer, covering the roof of my mouth and my molars, which is supposed to gradually expand the space where the permanent tooth will fit. It's kind of a pain in the butt. I have to wear it 24 hours per day, and it makes it very difficult to talk normally or eat anything. But I know it's temporary, and I've put up with a lot worse than this in the past few months, so I think I'll be okay.

That's the news for today. My mood remains good, and I'm grateful for that. I'm looking forward to a nice weekend. Carry on, friends!

Monday, February 3, 2014


Have you ever heard of a 46 year old baby tooth? You have now. I have one in the front of my mouth. Unfortunately, it's gotten so loose over the past year it seems it could fall out at any time. But I can't complain. It has given me 46 years. I think that goes about 40 years above and beyond its tour of duty. The permanent tooth just never came in, although it is sitting there above the baby tooth, waiting. Well, my 46 year old baby tooth is now in its final moments of duty. It will be pulled tomorrow, and thus will begin an 18-22 month process of hopefully pulling the permanent tooth into place. I'm not terribly excited.

I'm not excited because the 18-22 month process includes potential oral surgery and eventually getting braces. It all starts tomorrow. Actually, it began last week when I procured the loan to cover the extensive cost of all this orthodontic work. Tomorrow the baby tooth will be pulled, and I will be fit with an appliance which will create room for the permanent tooth. It will cover the roof of my mouth, so I guess I'm going to have a lisp for a couple days. That's what the orthodontist said, anyway. After this appliance does its job, hopefully, I will then be fit with braces. Braces! Fortunately, they make clear ones now, so I won't have a totally tinseled smile. I'm hoping everything goes according to plan, and I'll be the proud wearer of a new smile within two years.

Besides anticipating braces, I've been doing well. My mood is holding steady. I saw my doctor today, and she agreed to decrease the "fat med" again. I'm very grateful for that. I also lost 1.5 pounds since last Monday, which made me very happy. I've added more strength training to my routine, and I think that's helped. My running is also going fairly well. I ran 16 miles on Saturday and 38 miles total last week. That's the most I've run since getting back to it about one month ago. It's still more difficult than I'd like, but it's getting better, so I have a lot to be grateful for today. One foot in front of the other, I'm moving forward.