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!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

More stress

I know I wrote recently about a stressful situation at work. I wrote about trying to accept the situation even though I didn't like it. Well, I just got my yearly performance review, and it brought the whole issue up once again. My supervisor, the very person who has decided to cut my hours without my consent, nicks me for my recent "struggle" with my new schedule and my not-so-positive attitude. I admit, I had a couple of episodes of not-the-most-positive attitude, but I find myself angry and resentful at this being raised as an issue.

I had two episodes over the past 4-6 weeks where I didn't display the best attitude. I admit that. It was in the midst of all of the schedule changes, which I thought were unfairly being forced upon me, but that's no excuse. I didn't say anything I shouldn't have said, it didn't affect my patient care at all, but it was clear to the staff person who wrote up this performance review that I was unhappy. I regret that I let my unhappiness show in that way. But that happened twice.

In the grand scheme of things, my attitude at work is beyond positive. I engage cheerfully with my coworkers and other staff within the facility. I'm interested in being a part of the entire facility team, not just a member of the therapy staff. With this goal in mind, I began a "Question of the Day" white board a few months ago. It hangs just outside the entrance to our therapy office. I post thoughtful or humorous questions, and the staff, visitors and patients post their answers. As I suspected, the staff love it. Visitors love it. And even some of the patients participate. The conversations the questions initiate strengthen the relationships between the therapy staff and nursing staff. It was a simple thing to do. I enjoy it. They enjoy it. It creates discussion, lighthearted debate, and humor among all of us. This is not mentioned on my review.

In addition to my yearly review, there is another reason my schedule issue has once again come to the forefront. Throughout the process of my schedule changing and me losing hours, I had been told it was a temporary change. I now know that is not true. But I don't know it from the person who should have communicated it to me. I learned of it secondhand. It's exactly what I suspected all along, but I feel like being lied to and stringing me along with "it's just temporary" has caused me a lot of undo stress. I'm honest and direct with my supervisors. I guess I expect honesty and directness in return.

Of course, I wouldn't have been happy if the decision to change my schedule had been delivered honestly and directly, but at least I could have processed it and moved forward. Since it wasn't communicated honestly, since I was told things which weren't true, I had added stress every time one of those untruths was contradicted by my supervisor's actions. I'd feel betrayed and disrespected. I'd point out the contradictory action, raise the issue again, and end up in another stressful conversation with my supervisor. It is clear to me now that she was only saying things to appease me all along. I would much rather have been told the truth from the get go. If I had, there would no longer be an issue. And I wouldn't be sitting here writing about it, again, months later.

I'm frustrated. I feel disrespected, betrayed, and lied to. I'm not used to interpersonal work stress. I'm really not. I'm accustomed to working well with others and having respectful relationships with my supervisors. I feel like I've held up my end of the bargain on this one, but I don't feel I've been treated with equal respect from the other party involved.

I guess the lesson is I can't control the actions of others. That's a sucky lesson in this case, but it's the lesson, nonetheless. No matter what I say or do, how professional or unprofessional I am, she's going to do and say what she chooses. And I have no control over that. It sucks. I no longer trust anything she says, and I don't like that either. I wish she had communicated with me honestly, but wishing it won't make it so. Now it's up to me to decide what actions I need to take to ease my stress. I can't fix her, but I can fix me. And that's what I'm going to (attempt to) do.

Monday, June 24, 2019


Well, that was fun! I ran the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon on Saturday. It's the half marathon run in conjunction with Grandmas Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. I figured I'd run it a bit more like a race, as compared to the Med City Half Marathon, which I ran on May 26th, and which I used as a gauge of how my training was going. I figured it was time to see if I could run a bit faster, so I gave it a shot.

Just as with Med City, I was very pleasantly surprised on Saturday at Grandmas. I started out too fast, or so I thought, but after 3 miles of unsuccessfully trying to slow my pace I decided to just go with it. I figured I'd blow up eventually, but I took the risk. I didn't blow up! In fact, I again ran a negative split, and my fastest miles were my last miles. I love it when that happens!

I ended up clocking a 1:52:19, which is an average of 8:35 per mile. It's still nowhere near where I used to be prior to almost 3 consecutive years of injuries, but it's a full half minute per mile faster than I ran just 4 weeks ago. I was thrilled when I crossed the finish line. I was even more thrilled that I still had something left in the tank. I think I could have run even faster! That was a great feeling.

I'm feeling encouraged now. I'm thinking about being a runner again, a competitive runner--um, age group competitive, that is. I'm already looking ahead in my calendar, looking for the next good race. I'm also thinking about the marathon. With two good, not too tough, half marathons under my belt, maybe it's time to up my training and think about my next marathon.

Oh, who am I kidding? As soon as I crossed the finish line I began thinking about getting back to running marathons! In fact, I've already decided to up my training. I'm aiming for the Twin Cities Marathon in October. You know me, I need a goal. I love the Twin Cities Marathon almost as much as Grandmas, so it would be great to make my marathon return in that race.

So that's the plan. I'm going to begin training for the Twin Cities Marathon, which will be run on October 6, 2019. I have no idea how my body will respond to the increased time and mileage training for a marathon will require. I have no idea if I still have it in me to commit to what needs to be done. But if I don't try, I'll never know. And I love running marathons, so it's time to try. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Hiking again

I'm in Colorado for my niece's wedding. I've never been to this area of Colorado previously, and it is gorgeous! Silverthorne, we're staying above 9500 feet, is surrounded by high peaks, multiple ski resorts, and seemingly unlimited hiking trails. It's not only beautiful, it's an outdoor lover's paradise. I could easily live here.
To take advantage of this local paradise, my brother (the father of the bride) and I went for a 6.5 hour, 14 mile hike to the top of Ptarmigan Peak yesterday. We topped out at 12,405 feet with a 360 degree view of the surrounding peaks. It was amazing!

I'm out here with my mom and step father, but all of my brothers and their families are here, too. It's been a long time since we've all been in the same place at the same time. I haven't seen some of my nieces and nephews for a very long time. It's nice. 
I'm glad I'm here. I wish I was staying a bit longer to enjoy more time with my family in this outdoor paradise, but I've got to get back home, as I'm traveling again in a few days. Nevertheless, being here has been a really nice diversion from the stress I wrote about in my previous post. I'm grateful for this time. 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

My fragile brain

Sometimes I wonder if mental illness has made my brain "fragile." It seems I'm unable to handle stress like I used to. Or perhaps I get stressed with less provocation than previously. My brain has been feeling fragile for a couple of weeks, and it's getting exhausting.

Here's the scoop: I've got a couple of things going on right now. One is political. If you've been reading for awhile, you know I don't say a lot about political crap. I used to be very active politically. I grew up in a very politically active family. I then lived in Boston where politics seems to be front and center all of the time. And I was okay with that. I've also been to Washington D.C. to march for more than one cause over the years.

But those years are long past. As I've dealt with this illness, politics (which basically feels like arguing these days) just exhaust me. I still have feelings about things which are important to me. I still vote regularly, but I just don't have the inclination to debate or participate anymore. That is, until now.

The City of Rochester's Park Board has decided, with little to no input from anyone in the community, to destroy the one and only public running track in the city. In its place they are going to create a short, paved oval. The track they are destroying is a 90 year old cinder track which is in a park dedicated to soldiers. It is used daily by countless numbers of people from various walks of life. The reason for the asphalt oval (not regulation track size) is to allow food trucks a place to park for the one festival (7 days long) which takes place in the park every summer. It is ridiculous.

The local running community, of which I am a part, organized an effort to stop the paving of this track. We were encouraged to show up en masse to the park board meeting last Tuesday. I knew I probably shouldn't go, because I feared it would be too much for me, but I went anyway. It was too much for me.

Maddening, frustrating, infuriating; I left the meeting early. I had to. But I haven't been able to let it go. I feel so strongly about this issue, so angry, yet so hopeless to do anything. I've tried and tried to move forward, to allow the feelings to pass, or at least to reduce from a boil to a simmer, but I just can't. And it's driving me crazy. I'm so glad we have people in this community taking the lead on this fight. I don't know how they do it. I've had to pull back, but I wish I could let it go.

So that's going on... Meanwhile, I'm still dealing with post operative complications from my most recent oral surgery. It's coming up on 3 weeks since that horrible experience, and I still have an open sore in my mouth and pain. In fact, on Thursday night I realized the pain had actually localized to one tooth, and that sent my stress level through the roof.

The painful tooth is the last molar on the bottom left. Actually, it's the second to last, but I'm already missing the last molar. That's important, because the painful tooth is a crowned tooth. I had a root canal on that molar 4 or 5 years ago. That's important because it means there's no way to repair the tooth if, as I suspect, the root canal has cracked (as a result of that violent surgical procedure 3 weeks ago). I'm pretty sure I'm about to lose another tooth! And if I do, I'll be unable to chew on the left side of my mouth, as I won't have any molars!

Again, I'm so frustrated and angry! I've called the surgical office at Mayo Clinic multiple times to express my concerns about the open sore and the amount of pain I've continued to have. I've been brushed off each time, reassured that "nothing was wrong." Finally, on Friday morning, after being put off by Mayo once again, I called my dentist. She put me on antibiotics, in the hope that it's just an infection. But after almost 3 days of Penicillin, I'm pretty sure it's a broken crown or root. Unfortunately, I've been through this before, so I'm familiar with the feeling.

I have an appointment with my dentist tomorrow afternoon. And even though I think I know what's going to happen; the tooth will need to be pulled which will set in motion yet another lengthy, expensive and painful implant procedure, I can't seem to quell my feelings of frustration, anger and fear.

These intense emotions, to situations I think I should be able to handle better, make me feel as if my brain is fragile. I don't know if that's the case, and I don't know how to explain what I mean any better than that. Just fragile.

I think it's okay to have intense emotions. But I also think it's healthy to be able to move past the intensity, especially when I take healthy steps (like signing petitions, talking to others, writing) to move forward. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, my brain seems to be stuck on boil. Boiling is exhausting. I'd really like to reduce the intensity to a simmer. Know what I mean?

Monday, June 3, 2019

Living my values

News flash: In the past I could be a jerk. When I was drinking and depression ruled my life, I wasn't always nice. I was self-centered. I was a victim. I was a know-it-all. Sometimes I was an ass. Looking back it makes me cringe. But that was my reality for a few too many years.

Thankfully, I don't act that way anymore. I've done a lot of work, opened my ears and shut my mouth, and learned from people around me; people who have what I want, people I admire for their ability to live life on life's terms. I'm talking about people who are nice when being nice is hard. I'm talking about people who feel empathy for others even when they're dealing with their own shit. I'm talking about people who not only have values but those who act according to the values they profess.

That's the kind of person I strive to be these days. Of course, I'm a work in progress, but I'm definitely not an asshole anymore. Thank God for that! But here's the thing I'm thinking about today. It's easy to be nice, grateful, humorous, empathetic, and professional when things are going well. But do I live up to those values when faced with a challenge?

At this moment of reflection, I confess I fell off the beam recently. I don't feel I handled a stressful situation at work very well. In a nutshell: I had something I value taken away from me, without my consent, and feel I was treated less than honestly and less than fairly by at least one superior. The question of fairness is a tough one for me. In my past life playing the victim was something at which I was well practiced. Unfortunately, I think the it's-not-fair-trigger got the best of me over the past couple of weeks.

I'm not happy with how much angst, consternation, and bitterness this situation engendered. I'm especially not happy I allowed that bitterness and anger to come out sideways. While I didn't say anything inappropriate, I didn't necessarily act nice or professional either. I didn't stomp my feet pound my fists and yell, "it's not fair, it's not fair," but I really wanted to! And that bothered me.

It's been a couple of weeks, and I am still angry, but I'm also now at the point of practicing acceptance. After all, I said what I needed to say, politely and professionally to the appropriate person, but nothing changed. I acted pissed off and less than friendly, and nothing changed. I could keep pushing to the point of being an ass, but the only person that will hurt is me. It's not worth it. I've worked too hard to become the person I'm proud to be. I don't want to throw that away.

I like being the funny coworker, the professional, skilled coworker, the kind coworker. I'm proud of the fact my coworkers like to work with me. That wasn't always the case. Acceptance, therefore, is the only reasonable route to take.

I may not like the situation. I may not think it's fair. But if I can accept it, let go of that which I have no control, and take actions over which I have control, then I won't turn into an asshole. Being an asshole takes a ton of energy! It's simply not worth it. To quote from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, "acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today." Acceptance and living my values are the only things which will bring me the peace and serenity I seek.