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!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Feeling accomplished

I have to admit, it doesn't take too much for me to feel like I've accomplished something. Having lived with depression for 18+ years, I've learned there is no accomplishment too small to celebrate. When I feel like crap, getting out of bed is an accomplishment. But I'm feeling well now, and I'm feeling accomplished tonight.

It's a bit silly, actually. And for most people my accomplishment could be looked at as more of a failure. But not to me. It may have taken 7 years, but now it's done, so rather than flog myself for 7 years of procrastination, I choose to celebrate. And it's not artificial celebration, I truly am feeling accomplished tonight.

So what's the big accomplishment? I finished painting my lower level bathroom.Yup.That's it. Not a very big deal, and certainly something I could have been finished 7 years ago, but I finished it today instead. And I'm not talking about bare walls, either. Literally, I finished painting walls which have been half painted for seven years!

Of course there's a back story, and here it is. My basement flooded 12 years ago. At the time I had a partially finished basement, which included a 3/4 bathroom. I had to tear it all out. Every single piece of stinky, moldy drywall, lumber, carpet, flooring, and fixtures, I took a sledge hammer to it all. I heaved each piece out a small open window into my driveway. When that pile got too big I borrowed a truck, loaded it, and unloaded it all at the local dump. It was a ton of hot, dirty work.

At that time I had just enough money to have my basement waterproofed. That's all I could do for several years. Then I got a loan from the county, a loan for people who had property damage and planned to stay in their homes for at least 10 more years. I didn't think I was going anywhere for 10 years, and the terms were favorable. So I took it. That was about 11 years ago. I'm still here.

I'm still here, and my basement is still unfinished. Being a single woman in a community with a non-stop housing boom, I was wary of hiring somebody off the street to remodel my basement. I figured I'd get overcharged for questionable work. So I waited. Eight years ago I discovered the husband of one of my best friends used to be a contractor. He came and looked. And while he decided it was too much for him, he suggested his father-in-law, my friend's dad. Though he was officially retired, he and "his crew" still did projects like mine occasionally.

With my friend's eye for project design, we designed a remodel which included a large family room, a larger-than-before 3/4 bathroom, a utility room, a laundry room, and storage space. It took Dan and his crew over 6 months to do the work, and I eventually ran out of money. That was seven years ago.

All of the rooms had insulation and walls. The ceilings were finished, the doors were roughed in, and I had new plumbing and electrical throughout the basement. To finish it off, I needed a floor, trim, doors, and bathroom fixtures. I didn't have the expertise for any of that, but I did what I could in the meantime.

After I painted the large room and all of the ceilings, which took a very long time, I started on the bathroom walls. Those walls have had one coat of paint, which stopped just short of the ceiling, for seven years. It's silly. I'm not sure why I never finished them. I didn't have money to finish the remodel, but I have no reason as to why I didn't finish painting the bathroom walls!

Well, they're painted now, two coats all the way to the top. I finally have some extra cash to (hopefully) finish what began over 7 years ago. I found another retired, honest handyman who comes highly recommended. He quoted me a price I can afford, and I'm hoping to have a fully functional, beautiful finished basement within the next few months. That will be weird. Imagine how accomplished I'll feel then!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The beauty of boring

It's been awhile since I wrote a post on my phone, not since I was in the Himalayas, in fact, but I'm waiting for a hair cut so thought I might as well make good use of my time. The good news is I have very little news. I'm doing well.

My mood is great. In fact, my PHQ-9 score, the depression inventory test my doctor makes me take every time I see her, is the lowest it's been in years. Low is good! I'm really pleased about that.

Running is also going well. I ran 14 miles with Jet a couple of days ago. That was the end of a successful week. I survived despite the oppressive heat and humidity! That 14-miler was the first cooler, drier run of the entire week. In total, I ran 4 days and covered 35.2 miles. Nice.

I'm pleased I ran so many miles and lived to tell about it. I'm feeling the added miles a bit in my joints and Achilles tendons, but nothing major. Each run takes me a little longer to get going. I long for the days I used to be able to just bound out the door and down the street without a care! But that's no longer reality.

I've been taking care of my legs like the precious commodities I now know they are. I've been using ice as needed, compression, elevation, Glucosamine Chondroitin (figured it was worth a try), turmeric, strengthening and massage. In fact, I have my own massage tool, and I've been burning up the battery! It all appears to be helping, as I'm still running, and I couldn't be happier about that.

Work is also going well. I've been busy, and that's okay. I usually have one shorter day per week, which is nice. I get a lot more done during the day than I do in the evening. Once I get home from a full day of work, I have a difficult time doing much more than eating and preparing for the next day. It's nice to be able to cross things off my to-do list when I have shorter days, like today.

I apologize for the rather boring post. But as I've always said, sometimes boring is good. No depression symptoms (except for that sleep problem I wrote about in my last post), and no drama is a satisfying place to reside. I'll stay here as long as I'm allowed.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sleep, or lack thereof

I'm not sure what's up, but my sleep has been poor lately. I love to sleep. I need to sleep. But my no-longer-new, fancy Garmin watch tells me I'm getting less and less sleep. I'm not sure how accurate my watch is, but over the past couple of weeks, it's recorded less and less deep sleep.

My watch records time awake, and time spent in REM, light, and deep sleep. Since I bought the watch last Fall, I've averaged around 1.5 to 2 hours of deep sleep each night. When I was in Duluth over the 4th of July, I noticed my deep sleep increased to well over 2 hours three out of the four nights I was there. And I could tell!

But other than those 4 nights, my deep sleep has been on the decline. Last night, for example, I apparently only got 14 minutes of deep sleep. Again, I'm not sure how accurate my watch is, but since I'm only comparing my historical results to my current results, the trend is clear. I'm not sleeping as well.

Unfortunately, my Garmin results are backed up by my current state of being. I'm tired. Maybe I forgot how much energy training for a marathon takes. I'm in week three of my training, and it's going well, but between work and running I'm finding I have little energy for anything else. I'm hoping that will improve as I continue training. After all, it's been awhile (over two years) since I seriously trained for anything. Who knows, maybe the training is causing the poor sleep.

The fact that I slept better in Duluth makes me wonder about my mattress. I don't have a cheap mattress, and it's not even 10 years old, but I'm considering getting a new one. It seems like a big step to take with no guarantee of success, though, so I'm putting it off. I'm hoping things magically turn around.

If there's no magic, however, I can't wait too long for things to change. I don't like being tired, but more importantly, being too tired is a danger to my mental health. Like I said earlier, I need sleep. I don't function well when I'm lacking sleep. I can pull it off for a few weeks, but any longer than that and life gets dicey. Sleep is crucial to my well being.

It's odd for me to sleep poorly, and that worries me, too. Usually the only time sleep is an issue is when I'm not doing so hot. I think my mood is great right now, but is this lack of sleep an ominous sign? I don't think so, but if you have depression you know how these little things, which may not mean anything, can cause concern.

So I think I'm going to start with new pillows. In addition, I'm watching my caffeine intake, not taking naps (also unusual for me), and watching less TV right before bed. I'm hoping these changes will make a difference. If they don't I may consider that new mattress. Ugh! I need my sleep.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Training again

It's only week two, but I'm pretty excited to be officially training again. My goal is the Twin Cities Marathon, October 6, 2019. Week one of my training could not have gone much better. I ran a total of 27.8 miles, including a long run of 11.2 miles, and I hiked another 6 miles. I felt good. I explored new places. I ran in the sunshine and in a delightful downpour. It was a good week.

That downpour occurred on my way to Duluth last Thursday, July 4th. After a sunny 3.5 hour drive, I stopped at my brother's house to check out a bike trail. I had to do 4 miles at tempo pace, which is currently about 8:12 per mile. It was going to be a hard run. I figured the bike trail thru the woods would be scenic and flat. My brother lives about one mile from the trail, so it was a great excuse to visit him and get my run done before beginning my holiday weekend in earnest.

I visited with my brother and his family for a few minutes and then got ready to go. But by the time I changed into my running gear and got directions, it started to rain...hard. I waited it out. I ventured outside when it had calmed down to a sprinkle. Unfortunately, within the first 1/2 mile it began to pour again.

As long as it's warm, and it was, I don't mind running in the rain. Good thing, because it poured the entire time, almost an hour! After a one mile warm-up I began my tempo pace, but it was raining so hard I could barely see. I missed the trailhead and had to double back, meaning most of my miles were completed on the side of a busy road. No worries, there was a wide shoulder, but I must have looked a fright, as one woman even pulled over to ask if I wanted a ride! Despite missing the trail, it was actually kind of fun running hard in a downpour. I hit my pace, didn't need a shower, and once I changed into dry clothes, I was on my way.

I had another wonderful run Saturday morning. My friends, with whom I was staying, live just up the road from my beautiful alma mater, The College of St. Scholastica, in Duluth, Minnesota. I don't know what I was doing during my four years there, studying and playing volleyball, I guess, but I had no idea there was a network of wooded trails behind the school! Well, I discovered them, totally by accident, during an easy 6-miler Saturday morning. There was a cemetery where all of the nuns have been buried, several Catholic statues, and even a Stations of the Cross nature walk! Who knew? I love discovering new places! I could have run around back there all day.

Finally, I ran my long run on Sunday along a new-to-me section of The Duluth Lakewalk. It was a gorgeous morning. Lake Superior was flat calm and the sun was glinting beautifully off the surface. Many boaters were enjoying a nice morning to fish. I ran 11.2 miles while taking it all in. Afterward I iced my legs in the big lake at Brighton Beach. It was a bit warmer than the 40-ish degree water up the North Shore where I took a dip after my hike on Friday, but it was still a perfect ending to a long run.

I love running. I love discovering new places. I love exploring while cruising along in my running shoes. I'm so grateful to be training again. It's only the middle of week two, which has also gone really well, and I'm feeling hopeful. I'm feeling energized. I have no idea what will happen from here on out. I'm aware another injury could crop up anytime, but I'm doing my best to take care of myself. And so far, I'm enjoying the ride.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Perfect Weekend

If there is such a thing as a perfect weekend I think I just had it. I went to Duluth over the long July 4th weekend. I visited family, stayed and played with my good friends, watched fireworks, had 3 great training runs while exploring 3 new trails, hiked 6 beautiful miles along the Split Rock River, ate some good food, saw Trampled by Turtles in concert, and took a dip (sort of) in my favorite big lake.

Most of my time was spent with my good friends, Mary and Jim. I'm not sure if Mary realizes it, but she is my longest standing friend, and I love her. We've known each other for 33 years. Other than via Facebook, none of my high school, college, or PT school friends are currently a part of my life. I value our friendship more than she probably knows.

I especially enjoy my time with Mary because we enjoy many of the same things; nature, hiking, and everything Duluth among them. We also have similar tastes in movies, music, coffee, and food.

As you all know, I spend much of my time alone, so the opportunity to play with someone who shares my interests, and someone with whom I enjoy spending time, was invaluable. And that's why this was a perfect weekend. I got to do all the things I love to do alongside a great friend. I'm so grateful.

Here are some pictures to enjoy. I'll write more about my running later.

Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge sporting the red, white, and blue.
Fireworks over the harbor as seen from our spot up the hill. I love fireworks!

Early in our hike along the Split Rock River.
Mary, sitting in front of the "Split Rock," 2 miles into our hike.
Waterfalls all along the way. Wonderful background noise!
The view of Lake Superior about 5 miles into our hike.
Me, freaking out a bit, as Lake Superior was colder than I'd ever experienced! Around 40 degrees! Great for icing the legs after a long, hot hike, though.
Trampled by Turtles takes the stage at Bayfront Park on the shore of Lake Superior.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Less Stress

I don't have much time to write tonight, but I wanted to follow up on my last post. I am happy to report my supervisor and I had a long, face-to-face discussion yesterday, and as a result I am less stressed today. I'm grateful my supervisor was willing to listen to my concerns. I give her a lot of credit. The discussion was professional but occasionally a bit heated. It was frequently uncomfortable but also relieving. I'm so grateful, again, that my supervisor was willing to go the extra mile to work with me to resolve our issues.

There was, I think, a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions on both sides. After all was said and done, I think I understood better where her decisions were coming from, and I think she understood why I felt I was being treated unfairly. We worked it out. I'm really happy about that.

Working it out was what I had most hoped to do. I love my job. I love the building in which I primarily work. I love the nursing staff and other therapy staff with whom I share my days. We have a really great team, we do good work, and we help people. I value that. I didn't want to lose it.

I was offered another position at another company, but I'm glad I didn't have to take it. I didn't want to leave. I'm relieved, grateful, and satisfied we were able to work through our differences. It appears happier, less stressful days are on the horizon. I'm anxious to get back to work!