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!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Uncle! Uncle!

I had emergency oral surgery yesterday. You might think this is related to my last post, in which I described my oral surgery last week, but that would be too easy. No, this oral surgery was for an entirely unrelated problem, on the other side of my mouth, that cropped up late last week. I apparently fractured tooth #14, a molar on the left side of my mouth, when I bit down on something. That fracture led to a massive infection. By Thursday night, I couldn't even touch that tooth with my tongue. The pain was that severe. I had to live with that pain all weekend, as there was no way to get the tooth pulled until yesterday. And I'm not done yet. Now I'm swollen, and miserable, and in pain as a result of the surgery. I have unhealed holes where teeth are supposed to be on both sides of my mouth now. The pain pills barely help. I'm frazzled, and tired, and overwhelmed. I'm doing my best to stay strong and hang in there, but it's hard not to worry about what's coming next.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Laying low

It's been a painful couple of days here. I had oral surgery on Tuesday morning to uncover, again, an embedded canine tooth that we've been trying to pull down into position for almost one year. The permanent tooth never came in, and the 46-year old baby tooth finally had to be pulled last year. After cutting away the gum tissue over the permanent tooth on Tuesday, the oral surgeon found that the permanent tooth was re-encased in bone. The surgeon cleared away the bone, quite a violent little process, in order to loosen the tooth again in hopes that we'll be able to pull it into place.

The tooth is connected to my braces with a bracket and chain. The braces are supposed to be the anchor which pulls the tooth down. These are the braces that have already been in place as long as planned, and we're nowhere near the end of this process. In fact, the likely scenario at this point in time is that the embedded canine will not move, the surgeon was not optimistic, which means it will need to be pulled (another surgery), and an $3000+ implant will need to be placed in the open space (more surgery). If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't.

Needless to say, I've been in a bit of pain since the surgery. I've needed to do a lot of resting. Resting, combined with my disappointment with the way this process has played out has not been good for my mood. I'm trying so hard to keep my head above water mentally, but my body seems to be in revolt. It's been a tough year, and it doesn't seem to have an end of sight. Hip surgery, oral surgery, Achilles tendon, pneumonia, asthma...I'm not sure I can handle much more.

I'm hanging in there, I guess, but I'm really frustrated. And so much is yet unknown. Will the Achilles ever heal so I may run again? Will I continue to have trouble with my asthma and require more and more medication? When, at what cost, and after how many more surgeries, will I have a full set of teeth back in my mouth? I realize I'm creeping up on 50 years here, and perhaps I'm feeling sorry for myself, but c'mon. I'd really like something to break my way soon.

Don't get me wrong, I know things could be worse. I'm just getting tired of the physical battle. I'm grateful my mood has not crumbled, but I worry the continued physical stress will eventually take me down. I don't want that to happen. I'm trying to stay as positive as I can. I'm trying to quell the anxiety of the unknown by continuing to move forward. It's tough. It's a battle. I know I've got to keep fighting, but phew, this battle, I fear, is wearing me out.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A little work

Not much has changed around here since my last post. My lungs are still not quite right, but I am breathing a bit better than earlier this week. I took my last doses of Prednisone and the antibiotic today, but I'm hoping they're not done working, as I still have a way to go before I'd say I'm breathing normally.

Despite struggling for breath occasionally, I'm proud to report I continued to go to the gym this week. I took either a cycling or strengthening class each of the last four days. I took a break and went for a quick walk today. The cardio efforts were definitely tougher this week, but it felt good to get some air deep into my lungs nonetheless. I'm working on losing the 10+ pounds I gained during my depression relapse, so I'm glad I had the energy and motivation to continue exercising this week.

I'm also happy to report I had the energy and motivation to do something pretty special today. I went to work for two hours. Boy, I was anxious! But I did it. I evaluated a patient, did all the necessary paperwork, and interacted with my co-workers for the first time in two months. It went well, I think.

Two months is a long time to be away from work. Going back was, and is, a huge goal. I fumbled a bit with some new paperwork requirements, but otherwise I think I covered everything I was supposed to cover today. Even though I was anxious, and exhausted afterward, it was nice to be back among the working. I'm glad I got those first hours out of the way. I plan to continue working a few hours a few days a week until I get fully back into the swing of things.

I'm grateful my mood and energy levels have continued to stabilize. I can't say there's been huge improvement in my mood over the past week, but at least I haven't gone backwards. At this point I feel like I'm slowly inching away from the abyss. I'm cautiously optimistic I'll continue feeling better and better, but the darkness is still too near to celebrate yet.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Now what?

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this, but I have very well-controlled, fairly mild asthma. Over the past ten days, my asthma has gotten worse, and worse, and worse. Over the weekend, my heavy duty special asthma meds, the ones designed for just this situation, were only working for a few hours at a time. Basically, I couldn't breathe! I was constantly short of breath, and go figure, quite anxious. I was fortunate to get an early morning appointment with my doctor today.

My doctor checked me out, and I apparently may have a slight case of pneumonia on top of aggravated asthma. He prescribed me a steroid, Prednisone, as well as an antibiotic. I'm not a fan of taking either, but I am a fan of breathing without struggle, so I'm taking them. And they are already making a difference.

My breathing has improved, but the Prednisone makes me very jittery. It's been awhile since I took it, and I'm feeling better. However, for several hours after taking it I felt like I was crawling out of my skin, and there was nothing I could do about it. It wasn't pleasant. The dose of Prednisone decreases everyday, so I'm hoping for fewer side effects and better breathing each day.

This new medical battle makes me wonder if I'm falling apart at the seams. I'm barely emerging from the desperate lows of my depression relapse, my Achilles tendon is torn, I also just strained my hamstring, and now my lungs aren't functioning well. Oh, and I have to have repeat oral surgery next week. My friend, Wendy, jokingly calls me a "hot mess!" I can't disagree.

I'm working on my radical acceptance of the whole mess--the mess of me! As best I can, I've got to keep moving forward. I could easily mope and feel sorry for myself, but I'd rather not. Acceptance, as difficult as it is, will serve me better. I have to believe things will improve. I mean how much more can go awry? There's not much left. I'm "banged up" from my head to my heel. I'm going to try to stick to my schedule as much as possible despite the medical mess. I can't afford to let my mood be affected. I'm praying for acceptance and health. But really, God, enough already?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

It's Official

Knowing something is in the future is not the same as dealing with it. I found that out yesterday. In a moderate burst of clarity and energy I cancelled my entries into the New York City Marathon and the Houston Marathon. I cancelled the hotel reservations and my NYC flight, too. Thankfully, I had yet to purchase a plane ticket for Houston. It didn't matter, the lost money was not really on my mind. The lost opportunities were.

These events were more than just opportunities to run great marathons in wonderful cities. Several friends from the local running community are also traveling to these races, so two more opportunities to spend time with people I enjoy in energizing and positive atmospheres are also gone. There's more to marathon running than running 26.2 miles. So much more...

Shortly after making all the appropriate phone calls and pushing all the necessary buttons, my mood did take a hit. As I explained to my therapist, knowing I wasn't going didn't seem to matter. Taking the actions to actually cancel everything was difficult. Making it all official really sucked. And it really hurt.

The hurt is all tied up with apprehension and dread. At this point, I don't know if my right Achilles will heal. I don't yet know if I will ever be able to run again, much less run a marathon! I'm missing the thing I love to do the most. I'm missing everything about it. There's more to running than just running, and there's no guarantee I will ever enjoy all the joy and benefits which running has provided ever again. That's scary.

I'm trying not to be afraid. I'm trying to focus on the strides I've been making. I'm tolerating spinning classes and walks with Jet with little negative aftereffects. That's hopeful. I'm vigilantly working on my stretching and strengthening. I'm not anywhere near running, but I'm holding onto the hope this thing will eventually heal. I'm focusing my long term vision on running. I have to believe I will run again. I'll certainly do everything within my power to make that happen. I can't waste my energy on fear.

Missing out on the experiences of New York and Houston is tough. Being left behind is a reminder of how far I have yet to go. Cancelling everything made it all very real. But it is what it is, right? I'm battling. I need to continue to battle. That's my plan. Thank you for your support, my friends.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Lake Superior pictures

Friend Mary and I at Palisade Head, North Shore of Lake Superior
Path through the woods on way to tip of Park Point Peninsula in Duluth

Lighthouse and ocean liner viewed from tip of Park Point Peninsula

Driftwood on the beach at the tip of Park Point

Jet enjoying the sun on the beach

Sunday, October 4, 2015


I apologize for the delay in posting here, but I've been away. In the middle of last week, many of my treatment team members were unanimously in favor of re-hospitalization in order to keep me safe while we continue adjusting my medications. Fortunately, I was planning a trip to Duluth to see my parents and friends for the weekend, and when I met with my therapist on Thursday, she agreed the trip north would likely be very beneficial. In fact she thought it would be a much needed "band-aid" for my mood, and so I went.

I just returned home from 4 days in Duluth, Minnesota, which sits on the tip of the biggest of all the Great Lakes, Lake Superior. A few minutes around Lake Superior and serenity washes over me. It's one of my favorite places on the planet. I grew up around Duluth and Lake Superior, so I have a lot of good memories of the area. It's familiar. It's beautiful. And I have good friends and family who still live there. I really should visit more often.

As it turned out, my therapist was right on. This trip was a band-aid for me. I spent my days with good friends, family, and/or Jet. I was rarely alone. It was sunny and gorgeous everyday. The sun was healing. I could feel it warm me, and center me, from the inside out. I spent as much time as possible outside and within site of the lake, including a 4 mile hike with Jet which included a lot of Lake Superior beach. The weekend was definitely a healing reprieve from the suffering of the past several weeks.

I'm now back home and a little anxious. I'm going to work hard to keep the band-aid effect going. I'm hoping the traction gained over the weekend will jump start my motivation and energy, decrease my fatigue, and keep my mood elevated. I'm grateful for my healing reprieve, and I'm praying it continues.