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!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Wake up call

The illness situation at work intensified yesterday. Our medical staff closed and quarantined the entire facility. Nobody, no outpatients, no visitors, nobody was allowed inside. We have several patients with pneumonia and at least half the staff appeared ill yesterday. The staff who were able, including all of the therapy staff, were doing our best while wearing facemasks and toting gallons of hand sanitizer around the building. I left work yesterday afternoon feeling well and relieved.

Unfortunately, I'm not at work as scheduled this morning, and that's because I began getting ill last night. I upped my use of my zinc-based, cold-preventative product, which has always staved off illness for me in the past, but overnight I knew I was in trouble. By this morning I was aching, coughing, and feeling generally terrible. I hate calling in sick to work on a Saturday, because staffing is always an issue, but I knew I wouldn't be helping myself or my patients by going to work.

As I slumped over my toast and coffee this morning, feeling horrible, I began composing this blog post in my head. It was all about my bad luck. Eight days out from my first marathon in nearly 3 years, eight days away from the culmination of 4+ months of dedicated training, eight days from what I hoped would be a glorious return to the distance I love, I'm sick. Poor me. Poor me. Poor me.

I went back to bed after my toast, but the composition continued as soon as I woke up, still feeling horrible. Poor me. More poor me as I drove to Walmart. Poor me right up until I parked next to a very dirty, broken-down looking Audi in the Walmart parking lot. So sad. Poor me.

The Audi was filthy inside and out. There was a huge oil slick slowly expanding under the engine. Shaking my head as I walked past, it was then that I noticed there were two people inside the vehicle. It quickly became apparent they were living in their car. An Audi...

I thought about those two young people as I filled my cart with oranges, chicken noodle soup, orange juice, more zinc, a couple of cold/flu medicines and some tea. Somewhere in the middle of Walmart I realized how lucky I actually am. I am sick, yes, but I woke up in a warm bed. I drove to the store in a fully functional automobile. Everything I bought to combat my illness I paid for with ease. Yet I was feeling sorry for myself because I might not be able to run a marathon.

In my recovery program we call this a "high class problem." The composition of this post began to change. Cart full and paid for, I walked across the parking lot to my vehicle. The Audi was still there, but the occupants were gone. I couldn't imagine having to live as they were living. I began to feel thankful for my good fortune rather than sorry for my minor inconvenience of an illness.

I think God wanted to make sure I got the message, though, because as I slid into my seat I noticed another car, facing me, in the opposite row. It, too, was filthy. There were 3 people and a lot of stuff, including at least one pillow, inside. As I pondered their situation, the woman in the backseat pulled a toothbrush and toothpaste out of her bag. Got it, God. Thanks.

I don't necessarily believe in coincidences, and the fact that I saw yet another, similar vehicle as I exited the parking lot really hammered home the point; I'm lucky. I don't think seeing 3 examples of  real people with real problems in a tiny portion of the Walmart parking lot on this Saturday morning was a coincidence. I think I needed the wake up call.

Driving home from Walmart I began focusing on the solution rather than the problem. Suddenly, I remembered there were several other nearby marathons scheduled over the next 4 weeks. Funny, that thought hadn't crossed my mind before my Walmart wake up call! I have options, high class options, which I may choose in order to deal with the ramifications of this very temporary illness.

I'm not happy I'm sick, but possibly altering my marathon plans, or even missing the race altogether, is a high class problem to have. I'm grateful it's the only "problem" I have to worry about today. I will treat myself with care, do what I can to encourage healing, and then see what next Sunday brings. My attitude shift has been dramatic. I feel lighter and more content. Living in gratitude beats living in self pity any day of the week. I'm glad I got the message.


Paul said...

I don't suppose you left a bag of oranges or a box of crackers on that Audi . . .

I understand the point of this post, and I respect the epiphany you had about having high class options, but it's still fair that you would be disappointed that you might (will?) miss that marathon.

etta said...

@ Paul: Disappointment? Yes. End of the world? No.

And I'm embarrassed to say I didn't leave anything on the Audi. Hopefully they'll find their way to our excellent food shelf, which is my favorite local non-profit organization.

Camille said...

What a great post! I think we all tend to get focused on ourselves from time to time. With depression, I feel like I miss out on a lot sometimes and get frustrated with life situations I know are minor in the scheme of things. Lately, I've been struggling wanting to stay in negative thoughts. Proud of you for being able to change your perspective so quickly. Hope you feel better soon so you can get out there and kick butt at that marathon ;)