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!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Little things

A couple of days ago, I found myself grinning from ear to ear and happier than could be. And then I found myself giggling, at myself, for being so giddy. You see, it was all about a hat. That's it. Just a hat.


I have several baseball hats, all different colors, with many different logos, but this hat is my favorite. I've had it for years and wear it more than any other I own. So when a snap on the adjustable strap broke a few weeks ago I was really disappointed. On Thursday, I found someone who could fix it, and he did so in 5 minutes! Hence my giddiness as I walked out his door.

I experienced a similar giddiness just a couple of weeks ago. That time it was about a chair; a 28-year-old, black, leather reclining chair with matching ottoman. It was the only chair I ever sat in. It was the chair in which I watched television, read magazines, took naps, and wrote many blog posts. I sat in it a couple of weeks ago, and it broke. I was so sad!

For days I regaled my coworkers with semi-faux trauma over the loss of my chair, and we all had a good laugh. I put the chair outside to be thrown out with the trash, and I began my search for a new one. Well, I discovered they just don't make things like they used to. Rather than real leather, steel, and a fully reclining seat, I found all sorts of junk for all kinds of money. I was disgusted.

I decided maybe I didn't have to throw away my beloved chair after all. I couldn't believe it, but I found someone to fix it. I drove the 30 minutes to her farmhouse and sheepishly presented her with my well-worn, broken chair. No problem, she said! Her husband would fix the mechanics, and she would take care of the rest. Giddiness! I should be in possession of my brand new, old and beloved, chair in just a few days!

It's the little things. I'm glad I have the capacity to appreciate little things like this. I think that's important. I also think it speaks to how well I've been feeling lately. If I wasn't feeling well I'm sure I would not have giggled with joy over a silly, fixed hat or at the prospect of reupholstering a really old chair. But I am smiling, giggling, and satisfied. Sometimes little things mean a lot.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Part time worker and runner

A few weeks ago I posted about possibly switching from part time hours to full time hours, with added benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, and a 401K. I haven't worked full time in at least 15 years, but after some contemplation, I decided to give it a try.

It was then that the area supervisor informed me my salary would be decreased since I was "going to get benefits." Okay. I get that. It would have been nice to have been informed of that when she asked me to consider full time employment, but I get it.

Strangely, the area supervisor didn't have a number for me. In fact, it took 3 weeks for my employer to get back to me with a salary offer. Fortunately, they made my decision simple. No way. The offer was so far below my current salary, I didn't have to think twice about it. I need to pay my bills. And as much as I would appreciate paid time off, paid time off doesn't pay my bills.

So I will continue to work part time, pay for my own health insurance, and hope not to require large chunks of time off secondary to sickness or injury. It's a risk I'm willing to take, as financial instability is a big trigger for me, and I'm enjoying paying my bills right now.

In other news, I just received my fourth of five Hyaluronic Acid injections into my right knee. I think they are helping, although not nearly to the level I would like. I'm continuing to run on the Alter-G treadmill, now at 68% of my body weight, without difficulty. However, running on the road, or trying to do any quad strengthening still hurts. It's tricky. I need to strengthen my quads in order to avoid further injury, but I can't strengthen my quads because my knee hurts when I try. Frustrating.

Despite my frustration, I do have some hope. After all, the injections have helped. Perhaps the fifth and final injection next week will put me over the top. I miss running so much. I can't wait to get back to it. I'm hanging onto the hope I eventually will have the opportunity to train again.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Vacation photos

I just returned from a long weekend in Duluth. It was Grandmas Marathon weekend, and though it was difficult, as I wanted to be running rather than standing on the sideline, I did enjoy watching the race on Saturday. I also spent a lot of time with my mom and step-dad, my brother, sister-in-law and nephews, and my friends, Mary and Jim. I hiked a lot, ate a lot, and generally had a really nice, relaxing four days. As usual it was tough to leave today, but it is always nice to be home, too. Enjoy the photo diary below.

This is Elisha Barno from Kenya. He raced by me so fast I was only able to capture his back! He won by well over two minutes in a time of 2:10:06, the third fastest time in race history, and his fourth Grandmas victory in a row.

This is Kellyn Taylor, a Wisconsin native, totally dialed in as she ran past me at the 23.5 mile mark. She won by over 6 minutes, shattered the course record by over two minutes, and won her first marathon in a personal best time of 2:24:28. She looked awesome!

 On Sunday Jet and I went on a 4.2 mile hike on the Superior Hiking Trail with my good friend, Mary. Here we are next to a rushing Keene Creek. Jet wasn't too thrilled with the hug. He just wanted to get going.

 This is a photo of the Aerial Lift Bridge, at the opening of the Duluth Harbor, from a ridge along our trail high above the city. The Duluth Harbor is the innermost sea port in the world. Ocean vessels travel 2342 miles (or 3700 kilometers), across the fresh water Great Lakes, from the Atlantic Ocean to pick up and deliver cargo in Duluth.

 Jet and I rambling down another section of the trail through the trees. It was a beautiful day on a beautiful and interesting trail.

This morning, Jet and I hiked around Enger Tower, which sits on another ridge high above Duluth. The land on which this tower, adjacent park, golf course, and hiking trails are located was donated to the City of Duluth by a cool dude named Bert Enger upon his death in 1931. The tower was originally built in 1939. It offers panoramic views of the city, which were particularly gorgeous on a clear blue day today.

 A view of a ship leaving the harbor from Enger Tower. The Aerial Lift Bridge is an iconic symbol of Duluth, Minnesota. The bridge span elevates 180 feet to let ships enter and leave the harbor. It is one of only two lift bridges in the world. The other one is in France. I grew up here, and I never tire of watching the ships come and go. If you'd like to see it for yourself, go to the Duluth Harbor Cam website and check it out. 

 My beautiful boy, Jet, hanging out on a bench at the top of Enger Tower. He's impossible when I try to photograph him, as he refuses to look at the camera! This is 1 of about 20 photos I took of him while he sat on this bench, and this was as close as he got to looking directly at me!

 After our hike at Enger Tower, Jet and I drove over the Aerial Lift Bridge to Park Point and took a long walk on the beach. Here's Jet running back to me after romping in the surf. I don't usually let him off leash, so he was really enjoying his freedom.
The end.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Suicide and Facebook

Last week, something very strange happened. While out walking with Jet, I found a turtle in the middle of a long, wooden bridge, 40 feet above the creek. It was hot and the turtle seemed a bit lethargic. After all three of us stared at each other for awhile, I decided to relocate the turtle to the creek's edge. He quickly dove in and was off. I posted my experience, with a couple of humorous quips, to Facebook.

Yesterday, I shared a post on Facebook, something I very rarely do. It was a post by a woman named Claudia Herrera, and it was about Kate Spade's suicide. Ms. Herrera lamented the fact that, despite owning multiple Kate Spade designed accessories, she had no idea Ms. Spade suffered from depression. She goes on to highlight all of the celebrities whose health struggles she had heard about, Swayze, Letterman, and Nixon among them. My favorite quote, "...somehow society has made it more acceptable to talk about breasts and testicles than about the mind..." Her point, very well made, is that depression is an illness, and it deserves the same compassionate treatment as other illnesses. Perhaps then, those of us who suffer will not feel the need to hide our condition until the bitter, tragic end.

My Facebook post about a turtle received multiple comments and 45 Likes. My shared post about suicide received 0 comments and 2 Likes. We've got a long way to go, Ms. Herrera, a long, long way. Rest in peace Kate Spade. Rest in peace Anthony Bourdain. I'm sorry both of you silently suffered.

***If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

No drama

I'm not a fan of drama.

No drama means I'm playing well with others--friends, family, and coworkers.
No drama means I'm taking care of my patients and performing the expected duties of my job.
No drama means I'm feeling well and staving off depression symptoms.
No drama means I'm exercising, eating what I should, and taking my medications.
No drama means I'm taking care of my home and paying my bills.
No drama means I'm generally taking care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually.
No drama means I'm staying in the moment and living one day at a time.
No drama means I'm not rehashing the past or dreading the future.
No drama means I'm controlling what I can and letting go of the rest.
No drama means I'm maintaining an attitude of gratitude, noticing the small stuff, and acknowledging others.
No drama is a very good thing.

I'm happy to report my life is drama free at the moment, and I'm enjoying every minute of it.



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