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!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Another chance encounter

It's been about one year since I was first hospitalized for my most recent depression relapse. Turns out I would be hospitalized again within a couple weeks of the end of that first hospitalization. Things have gone pretty well since then, at least where my depression is concerned. And I'm certainly grateful for that.

It was during one of those hospitalizations that I was able to work with a new-to-me psychiatrist for a short time. She also saw me once or twice during my Ketamine trial last Fall. She was great, and I appreciated her care.

I ran into that psychiatrist the other day. I was out on my ElliptiGo, taking a water break, when she approached. She was out for a run. I couldn't remember her name, of course, but I said hello, nonetheless. It took her a minute, but after I reminded her where we met, she remembered me. I thought that was kind of cool.

Really cool, however, was when she stopped to chat. She was amazed at how I looked. Beaming, she said, "It's so nice to see you out!" I laughed, because I'm out all the time, but of course she doesn't know that. The last time she saw me, I wasn't functional. I was lethargic, hopeless, and likely barely making eye contact. She never knew me as a "normal" person, only as a desperate patient.

We talked for a few minutes about running and how things were going. She was interested in my ElliptiGo and even took me up on my offer to take it for a spin. I was impressed. I guess I don't know her as a "normal" person either, only as a buttoned up professional.

It's always fun to run into doctors, social workers, or nurses who only know me as my hospitalizable self. When I'm not deep in a depressive state, I'm obviously a much different looking and acting person. I like that. I'm happy that's the case. It reinforces I have an illness--an illness of my mind, body, and soul. It's not who I am. Actually, depression steals who I am.

I'm not depressed. I have depression.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Blip

Taking my medications is a huge piece of my recipe for successfully combating depression. Nevertheless, I always want to take the lowest number and dosages of medication. I need my medications, but I don't want to take more than I require to maintain stability. And boy have I been stable! I've been feeling well for months. It's been really nice and a total relief.

I've been feeling so well for so long I asked my doctor to decrease one of my antidepressants, which we did about a month ago. We decreased another medication a few weeks ago. I was satisfied, pleased to be feeling consistently well. Hooray for me!

Unfortunately I had a little blip in my thinking and mood this week. My brain was getting a little noisy. Too many thoughts, too little space to process them. I was more irritable and had a harder time letting go of little annoyances. I was impatient. People in public spaces, drivers, and even some of my patients irked me. The occurrence of one of these "symptoms" wouldn't concern me. That's life. But simultaneous occurrence of crappy thinking, impatience, and irritability is always concerning.

It took a few days before I realized what was happening, but once I did I got concerned. I contacted my doctor. She was concerned. My history of sliding into full blown depression faster than a speeding bullet caused both of us to take notice. Actually, I got downright scared. I don't want to go anywhere near a full blown depression relapse again! We readjusted one of my medications. Bummer.

I have to be careful not to treat the med increase as a failure, but sometimes I go there. Instead I have to remember I have an illness, and clearly my medications are very important. I'm lucky and grateful they are such an effective piece of maintaining my stability. I hope this increase will quickly stymie the noise, impatience and irritability. I enjoy feeling well. I'd like to keep it up.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Cancer

Cancer. It's not a word that's been associated with anyone in my immediate or extended family ever, which is remarkable. Never. How lucky is that?

My 19-year-old nephew has cancer. We found out yesterday. The mass behind his right eye is cancerous. He has a very rare type of cancer called Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis. It generally strikes children or young people. It is treatable. In addition to the surgery he has already endured (which they did through his right eye!), he will have to have chemotherapy and radiation. I don't know how long the process will take, but his plans, his life, as well as the lives of those around him, will dramatically change for the foreseeable future.

Prior to yesterday, we all knew cancer was the probable outcome. It was just a matter of figuring out what kind of cancer it was. Despite that knowledge, the definitive cancer diagnosis hit me like a ton of bricks. I was immediately terrified and overwhelmingly sad. I guess I was holding onto some remote hope that this would actually turn out to be nothing to worry about. Maybe that's human nature, but my reaction still surprised me.

I'm not very close to my brother, my nephew's father, but I love my brother's kids. Like his sisters, my nephew is a talented, humble, generous, loving soul. He's a division one college athlete, now faced with missing his sophomore soccer season, and an intelligent young man. He's got a full life ahead.

My brother and his family live out West, and I've never been to their home, but now I want to go visit. I want to hang out with my nephew. Love him, support him, and be there for whatever he may need. It's not necessary. He has a large, loving support system, so I'd likely be superfluous. Perhaps my need is more for me than for him... I don't know. I've never experienced any of this before.

No knowing what to do is uncomfortable. Fear is uncomfortable. I guess I'll stay home, for now, wait for tidbits of news, and hope and pray for progress. I have a feeling I'm going to be uncomfortable and scared for quite awhile, but my feelings are nothing compared to what my nephew must be feeling. If I could take away some of his uncertainty and fear, I'd do it in a heartbeat! More than anything, I wish he didn't have to go through this.

Unfortunately, I am powerless to change my nephew's course. All I can do now is pray. So that's what I'm going to do.



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