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!

Friday, October 19, 2018


I'm on my bucket list trip to Everest base camp, and I am battling a fight within my brain. My anxiety, something with which I don't often struggle, is almost out of control. It's already harder to breathe up here, but I think that shortness of breath is triggering for me. It's why I can't swim, even though I'm a very good swimmer, in lakes where the water is over my head. That feeling of breathlessness (with no escape route) triggers more breathlessness! And then (now) I get in full panic mode. It's so, so uncomfortable!

So even though I climbed from 14,000 feet to 16,487 feet and back just this morning, I'm now sitting here at only 14,000 feet panicking. I can't breathe.

Don't get me wrong, I panicked on the early part of the climb, too. Even shed a few tears, but I stuck with it, took it slow, got my breathing into a rhythm, and felt great at the summit. I figured that accomplishment would quell the anxiety, but apparently it hasn't.

I do have an as needed anxiety med with me, but I worry about taking that, too. Not sure it's totally okay at high altitude. Unfortunately, I've had to take it, and fortunately it does help after awhile.

I'm frustrated to be feeling this way. I knew this trip would be physically challenging. I guess I never contemplated or expected this mental battle. It's all I can do not to turn around and go home. I'm going to keep forging ahead and hope I can overcome some of this anxiety. If not, I've got a long way to go. Any words of encouragement gladly accepted.


Pau said...

When I ran marathons I found it was as much a journey into myself as it was covering 26.2 land miles. Perhaps you can think of your anxiety in a similar way. Discovering weakness and frustration as well as perseverance and strength.

Eva said...

Anxiety is a mind game with yourself. The shortness of breath, the feeling it gives you, the thoughts it triggers. Maybe being in a foreign country a long way from home.
I overcame my anxiety by excepting it was there and saying to myself whatever happens happens. So letting go of everything that made me want to fight an attack. If I thought I was dying I would tell myself it is not likely but if it happens it happens and I'm not letting it stop me doing what I want to do.
I hope the anxiety does not stop you from enjoying your trip and if you have to take your meds to go on just take them and don't feel guilty or weak. You're not.

Wendy Love said...

oh my goodness, I am praying for you right now!

Nathalie said...

Anxiety can be such a powerful emotion. Only those who have experienced it in it’s overwelming intensity can truly understand
It’s effect. The rising panic is truly frightening. So I am glad you have taken the medication Etta. You are a courageous adventurous person and if it helps that’s all to the good. We all want you to be able to enjoy this trip on your bucket list. I intend no pressure by saying this.

BTW I love to swim and am competent and confident but I still am not good at front crawl ( I didn’t learn that at school) so I struggle when I can’t manage the breathing technique and water goes up my nose etc. Also For the first time in my 71 years I recently had bronchitis and had episodes of gasping for breath. Terrifying..

Anyway I don’t want to make this about me....just wanted to relate to what your are saying about your anxiety Etta. Thinking of you and sending you my support on your exciting adventure.....

write:yES said...

A very similar thing happened to me a few months back when I was camping in Colorado around 11k altitude (I'm from flat Minneapolis, MN). It passes and after a while you realize you're a lot stronger than your anxious self can ever realize. Stay strong!