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, October 30, 2014


Driving down the road, I lifted my right knee in order to move my foot from the gas to the brake. POP!! I heard an audible pop in my right groin area followed by immediate pain. The pain was so intense I became nauseous. When I got home, I had to lift my leg out of my vehicle, and my right groin area had begun to bruise. That was last Friday evening.

I knew immediately something significant had happened. I performed some diagnostic tests on myself (I am a physical therapist, after all) and determined that the source of the problem was likely muscular. Based on the popping sound, the area of pain and bruising, and the inability to flex my hip beyond approximately 95 degrees, I figured I had possibly ruptured a hip flexor tendon. This was not good news.

I was scared and discouraged. Over the weekend I rested, and iced, and took anti-inflammatories. I left a message for my surgeon Monday, and when we spoke on Tuesday he confirmed I had likely ruptured one of the two origins/heads of the rectus femoris muscle (part of the quads). I still have use of my quadriceps, but my hip flexion may, or may not, remain weak long term. There is no way to know at this time. This injury may take up to 5 weeks to heal, so I just have to wait and see.

The surgeon noted the muscle fibers were likely weakened during the surgical procedure. I think he said he had to go through part of the muscle in order to shave the bone. I figure the fibers must have been compromised, as the tendon ruptured with only a slight motion of my hip. I wasn't even doing anything stupid (i.e. aggressive). It has been a discouraging week.

Over the past few days, the pain has diminished a bit, but I still have to lift my leg with my hands if I want to change positions. I'm hopeful it will heal well. The surgeon thinks I will regain my strength eventually, and I sure hope he's right. Weak hip flexion is not conducive to strong or fast running. And of course, that's what I'm most concerned about at this time.

My level of overall fear and concern is decreasing. I was really, really scared and discouraged a few days ago, but since then I've tried to stay in today rather than projecting out into the future. I can't control how this will heal, so worrying about it does me no good whatsoever. I have to practice patience right now. I have to do what I can to get better. That's the only thing of which I have any control. So I'm resting, and icing, and gently exercising. I'm following my restrictions and avoiding pain at all costs. One moment at a time. One day at a time. That's all I can do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


These are the flowers my boyfriend, D, sent me last Wednesday wishing me a quick recovery from hip surgery. They're still looking good and still making me smile today. Grateful.

Friday, October 24, 2014


Surgery, so far, has been a success. Of course it's hard to tell exactly, as I'm still in the initial stages of recovery. I had my right hip arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday. The surgeon did a CAM and Pincer resection, for those of you wanting the specifics, which is exactly what was planned. Basically, he resected bone from the hip socket and the head of the femur in order to stop the impingement (pinching) which was causing my pain.

Fortunately, I am able to put as much weight as I tolerate on my right leg. In fact, once I awoke from the procedure, I was able to walk out of the building. It hurt, but it was nice to be able to put weight on my leg immediately. Since Tuesday, things have improved. I've already been able to discontinue my pain meds, and my limping has gotten less and less pronounced. I'm hoping to be able to walk Jet by this weekend and to get on my stationary bike by early next week.

I'm hopeful this procedure, my third, will take care of my pain permanently. It is going to be quite difficult to lay low and not run for three months. Of course, the weather has been absolutely perfect for running since Tuesday. God has a strange sense of humor. In two weeks, after my incisions fully heal, I'll be able to get in the pool. I dislike getting into a cold pool, and swimming bores me, but I'm committed to maintaining as much of my fitness as possible. My mental health depends on it.

In other news, my parents, who have been very helpful over the past couple days, have left to go south for the winter. I won't see them again until May, 2015. My mood always takes a bit of a hit when they leave, and today is no exception. I enjoy my parents. We have been making up for lost time over the past few years, and we've gotten closer and closer during that time. I miss them when they are gone for so long, but I'm happy they have found a lifestyle which suits them and keeps them active.

And that's today's news. I'm off to run some errands and lift some weights (arms only) at the gym. The quest to stay fit starts today.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Last Race of 2014

I had a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth from the Chicago Marathon last Sunday, so yesterday I signed up to run another half I ran the Mankato Half Marathon, which was about 90 minutes from my home, this morning. I wanted to run one more time before my hip surgery, Tuesday, sidelines me for the next three months. And I wanted to run well, up to my potential, which I failed to do in Chicago.

My goals this morning were similar to Chicago, run the entire race and finish feeling strong. I started conservatively, following my friend Therese, who was pacing the 1:50 crowd (8:23/mile). I had to combat negative thinking through those early miles, as usual, as we traversed some rolling hills and ran into a significant headwind. But by mile five, the pace felt too relaxed and I soon found myself passing Therese and heading off on my own. I still wasn't sure what to expect, but before long I found myself at mile ten feeling fairly good. I knew with only 5K left I would definitely finish, and I picked up the pace. The last three miles were tough. I was pushing hard, racing, and it felt good. I do love to race. Within the last two miles, I dropped three women I had been dueling with for several miles. That was fun. I finished audibly huffing, but strong, around 1:47:30 (8:12/mile).

It was fun to race. I was happy to meet both of my goals. It makes going into surgery in two days a bit more palatable, though I'm still dreading not being able to run for three months. Actually, I'm a little worried about the next three months. Running is so much a part of my life. It keeps me balanced and mentally healthy. I am really going to have to work hard to maintain my physical fitness while I'm recovering, otherwise my mental health will be in jeopardy. I hope I can stay motivated to swim and bike for the next three months.

My other concern with surgery is, of course, financial. Besides running, I am not allowed to jump or squat for three months either. Jumping shouldn't be an issue, but as a physical therapist I repeatedly squat all day long at work. At this point I'm not sure how I'm going to work effectively without squatting. And since I don't have any vacation benefits, the missed work is going to hurt. I'm hoping to figure out how to work without squatting, but I'll likely still miss many days. Paying the bills will be a challenge. Things have a way of working out sometimes, and I'm praying this is one of those times. I'll have to trust in my higher power on this one.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


The Chicago Marathon has come and gone. It was a great event. I enjoyed it, and I'd definitely do it again. I had a decent performance. It wasn't my best. It wasn't my worst. But I admit, I am a little disappointed. I made a couple of mistakes which cost me time in the end. That's one of the reasons I'd like to do it again, to correct those mistakes. Nevertheless, I had a good race on a perfectly gorgeous day.

My first mistake came early, but it wasn't entirely avoidable. I didn't want to start too fast, probably the most common mistake marathoners make. Unfortunately, within the first two miles, we ran underneath a couple of very wide freeway overpasses. My Garmin GPS watch couldn't get a signal, as we were essentially underground for an extended period of time, so I couldn't see how fast I was going. I did my best to run conservatively, but instead of the 9 minute pace I was shooting for, I learned afterward that I actually ran an 8 minute pace those first two miles! Way too fast!

Despite the fast start, I felt good and ran really well through mile 17.5. I was on a fairly steady 8:30 pace. Unfortunately, my second mistake, which came between miles 10 and 15, caught up to me by mile 18. For a variety of reasons, one of which was to just enjoy the experience, I stopped looking at my watch after mile 10. For 5 miles, I just ran. It was nice, but eventually I had the inkling that I was going too fast, and I began looking at my pace again. I should have kept track all along, as I ran mile 13 at a blistering (for me) 7:40 pace! Way, way too fast.

I was enjoying myself, but my day got a little longer after 17.5 miles. By mile 18, I had to slow to a walk for the first time. My legs left me. My mile pace gradually slowed. I ran and walked the rest of the way to the finish. Between miles 21 and 25, four out of the five miles took over 10 minutes. On pace to run around 3:42-3:45 most of the race, I ended up finishing in 3:55:41. I know I was in shape to run faster, and I have no doubt those fast miles came back to bite me. I was very happy to see and cross the finish line.

D was there waiting for me at the end of the finishing chute. That was nice. He gave me a big hug. Overall, the Chicago Marathon was a good experience. The race, which catered to 50,000 runners this year, was very well organized. Everything went smoothly. I was satisfied with my result, but like I said, I know I could have done better. That's the beauty of the marathon. This was my 26th finish, and I still haven't got it figured out! I guess I'll just have to keep trying.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I'm busy preparing for Chicago. I just had a really great run, so I'm feeling more confident about running well in Chicago on Sunday. I only have a couple of 2 mile runs left, tomorrow and Saturday, before the big event. I've been mentally preparing by picturing myself running confidently and comfortably past various mile markers and across the finish line. Marathon day is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one, so I think it helps to do some visualization beforehand. I'm really looking forward to a good race.

Speaking of mental, I'm still doing well. My mood has been good. I've had enough energy to work and run and take care of my pre-travel business. Of course, most days do include a 45-60 minute nap, but that's always been a part of my routine. I need a lot of sleep. I'm grateful to be doing well.

I'm looking forward to seeing D in just a couple of days. We are going to Chicago together. He ran his marathon this past Sunday, so he'll be my cheerleader in Chicago. We haven't seen each other since mid-August, so I'm just as anxious to see him as I am to run.

I'll try to post an update or two when I'm in Chicago. As is typical, I'm sure there will be a lengthy dissection of my race at some point. You may suffer through it if you so choose. Until then, carry on, my friends.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

One year

I'm in the midst of an anniversary of sorts. It was one year ago this week that I entered the hospital for the first time. At that moment I had no idea I was about to embark on what would end up being the worst depression relapse I'd ever have. I ended up surviving through five hospitalizations between October and mid-December. I went through unsuccessful ECT treatments that left my memory so impaired I could barely remember my friends' names. My mother had to fly up from her winter home in the southern US to take care of me because I was barely able to move, much less take care of myself or Jet. When my mom wasn't here, my friend Wendy opened her home to Jet and I. She and her family provided us safe shelter, companionship, food, and assistance. I was then, and remain today, forever grateful.

Depression sucks. My depression has been unpredictable, debilitating, and life threatening. This past  year was a particularly tough one. I'm grateful today to be battling and surviving. I'm doing well right now, although I still feel like I'm on shaky ground. But I'll take shaky ground over underground any day. Today I'm continuing to move ahead rather than look behind. I'm looking forward to spending time with D and running the Chicago Marathon in a little over a week. I'm taking care of business at home, working, running, keeping my house, and being a mom to Jet. I'm doing life on life's terms, and that's the best I can do, illness or not.