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!

Sunday, November 15, 2015


With the events of Paris fresh in my brain, I went for my walk/run this morning. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning for Jet and I, sunny and 50 degrees, and I found myself contemplating my good fortune. As we walked and ran a 6 mile loop within my small city, I had the opportunity to run on paved, tree-lined bike paths, alongside a gently flowing river, and up and down quiet streets in peaceful neighborhoods. It was surreal in comparison to what I had just viewed, for the third straight morning, on my television screen at home. And that's all I'm going to say about that. I've got nothing else. I just felt grateful.

Another opportunity for gratitude and perspective shortly followed the end of my walk/run. My friend, Joan, and I went to visit my former sponsor/friend in a local nursing home. KM is on hospice, which means this once vibrant, intelligent, strong woman, now only in her early 50's, is very near the end of her life. She has a brain tumor. Joan and I sat with her at her bedside and then Joan fed her lunch while I held KM's hand.

I don't know if she understood who we were or even that we were there. It didn't matter. KM held my hand throughout most of my first 6-7 years of sobriety. She was my teacher and role model. I pass her teachings on to others in recovery. I guess that's the only way I can repay her. It was difficult and sad to see her today. I may not see her alive again. That's reality. Cruel reality. My life, my health, my struggles... it doesn't compare. I am very fortunate.

I'm feeling fortunate, too, to be back to regular employment. I survived my last four days, which included three, 7-9 hour work days. As I reported in my last post, I was a little anxious going into this schedule. I hadn't worked that much, or that long, for months. It went well. Worries about forgetting paperwork requirements, inefficiency, and rustiness with patients were largely unfounded. I did get fatigued, but I was able to push through and even kept up with some exercise. I'm still a little anxious about maintaining the regular schedule going forward, but I'm feeling more hopeful.

Hope is a nice feeling. It's been awhile. Hope and gratitude are with me today. Whether it's half a world away or right here in my back yard, there is much to remind me of just how fortunate I really am. I just have to look and notice. Carry on, my friends.


Anonymous said...

Nice to hear, Etta.

Nathalie Webb said...

So glad to hear of your progress Etta

Mary L. said...

Dear Etta, Thank you so much for your blog. I have my first ECT treatment tomorrow. I really appreciate all you've generously shared about your life. I've come to the US for treatment, leaving my job overseas; my cognitive impairment was so bad that I'm afraid I won't be able to work a full-time schedule again. I fortunately got sent for treatment to where my family lives. They are happy that I'm home, but they don't get it, since I look normal. Since making the trip here my energy has strangely increased (I would usually sleep 16 hours a day if I'm able even when I'm not depressed), maybe due to anxiety, maybe because I haven't worked in about a month now. I worked really hard to enter this career, but now I can't keep up at all. Please keep sharing -- you've really helped me.

SomeTruth said...

How many ECt treatments have you had in total? How many were bilateral and how many were unilateral? Did you have permanent effects on your memory and cognitive function? Do you feel they were helpful and would you have them again?

etta said...

@ SomeTruth: I've had a series of ECT treatments multiple times over the past 15 years. I do not know how many exactly. Each series consists of 6-12 treatments. I've had both bilateral and unilateral. I prefer unilateral, as it has fewer cognitive side effects, but it doesn't always work as effectively as bilateral. I've been helped by ECT when nothing else has worked, but I've also had series that were not helpful and the cognitive side effects were alarming. No, I don't think I've had any permanent damage or side effects. I also have memory problems when my depression is bad as well, just from the depression. I decide whether or not to try ECT on a case by case basis. If I get to the point where I'm considering it, it usually means I'll try it, as it's better than the state I'm in and certainly better than suicide.