Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 18 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!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Dear Doc

Dear Doc,

You must get so weary, maybe even frustrated, with my I-don't-want-to-live-like-this moments; moments like now. It must be difficult for you. You've heard all of my complaints, processed every fear. You've heard it all again and again and again over the last 18+ years. You've seen me at my lowest and at my best and everywhere in between. But it must be difficult when I'm low, because you know this will pass.

You know I'll get through this. We'll get through it. You know it. You've seen it multiple times. But in the midst of despair, I can't embrace that. You remind me, and I know it, but it's apparently impossible to believe when I feel low like this.

Feeling low brings out the desperation in me. You're so patient, but inside you must be screaming. We've been here before. We've worked through this a hundred times, yet I'm unable to find comfort in that. I try, but I can't. Every time feels lower than the last. Every time feels impossible to survive. Every time feels like I'll never be who I want to be again. Yet my track record is 100 percent. I've come out the other side 100% of the time. Why is it so impossible for me to believe this time will be no different, that I'll survive.

I'm sorry, Doc. I can't believe it. Despite my track record, to you I bring only despair. Despite your expert guidance, medical interventions and reassurance, healing feels impossible when I feel so low. Yet it is as a direct result of your expert guidance, medical interventions and reassurance that I heal every time. I know that. You must get so tired of my pessimism and worry. But I don't want to live like this, Doc. I don't.

I don't want to go through the motions. I can, but that makes me weary. I don't want to simply survive. I want to thrive. I want to feel light. I want to feel energetic. I want to feel strong. I want to feel sharp. Depression steals the light. It weighs me down. Depression saps my energy. It makes me feel weak. I can't think. Depression absconds with my clarity. Colors are muted, and my world is hazy and gray. But you know all of that, Doc. From me, you've heard it so many times before.

Unfortunately, you're hearing it again. I know it's your job, but the repetition has to be disheartening. You never let on. You never let my hopelessness, angst and doubt weigh you down. I appreciate that. And you never give up on me. I count on that. Thanks, Doc. I hope you can bear with me one more time.

Your grateful patient,
etta

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Fulfilling the Dream


I say if you're going to dream, dream big! I do. But I think it's just as important to act on my dreams. Otherwise they're just, well, dreams. Sometimes a dream, or a goal, is the only thing which keeps me moving forward, especially when I'm not feeling well. On this date, just one year ago, I fulfilled my dream (number one on my bucket list) of standing in the shadow of Mount Everest in Everest Base Camp. I cried tears of joy and amazement.

Entering Everest Base Camp was a magical moment. I was proud of myself for taking on my dream; for doing the research, saving the money, enduring the travel, and confronting the challenge of 20 days in the Himalayas, most of the time above 14,000 feet. I was proud, and grateful, and awestruck.

The following day, I hiked up to 18,425 feet, to the summit of Mount Kalapatar, which offered unobstructed, unbelievable views of the entire Everest Range. The photos do not nearly convey the overwhelming beauty of Mother Nature, but the memories are crystal clear. Over the last several days I've been reliving the moments, each one more magical than the last, and enjoying memories of my month in Nepal.

Take on your dreams, my friends! You won't regret it. 

Incredible waterfall, day 2 of my trek.
The highest of the many suspension bridges I crossed. Felt like it was at least 1/4 mile above the river below. I loved it!
First view of Mount Everest, left, approximately 26 miles up the trail.
Everest Base Camp, 17,650 feet. Happy hiker. Really happy.
That's my wrist, on top of Mt. Kalapatar.
View of Mount Everest, 29,029 feet, on left, and Lohtse Mountain, 27,605 feet, on right, from the top of Mt. Kalapatar.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Struggling on

I'm not a fan of the word struggle when it comes to depression. I hear many people say they "struggle with" depression when identifying themselves as a person with depression. If you've been reading for awhile, you know I say I "have" depression. I have an illness. I live with it. Much of the time, most actually, it is not a "struggle." Most of the time I live a fairly ordinary life despite having depression.

When my depression symptoms rear their ugliness the struggle I have is with life! Depression makes life a struggle! And unfortunately life is exactly what I've been struggling with over the last couple of weeks. Life... let's see, where to begin.

For starters, I've barely removed my buttocks from the sofa since I got that nasty respiratory illness two weeks ago. I still haven't fully recovered from it. Energy has been at a minimum. Exercise has been impossible. Showering, cooking, cleaning, running errands... all nearly impossible and exhausting. Even if I could've gotten out of my house, I wouldn't have been presentable much of the time. I made it to work, but until today it had been an absolute suffer-fest. I did some decent acting while working, but that didn't feel good either. Life has been challenging.

Today was a better day. I don't know what's changed, but I feel a bit lighter. It was still tough getting going and getting to work this morning, but as the day went along I felt less of the stifling heaviness which has been weighing me down. I was able to think a little more clearly, regained some of my patience, and actually laughed a bit. I'm hoping as my physical health improves, if that ever happens(!), the depression symptoms will recede. I'm hopeful, not confident, but hopeful.

Feeling hope is actually a new development. If you read my last post, that's probably quite obvious! Hope is better than the depression lies which have been crowding my head. Life hasn't been easy. The struggle has been (and still is) tough, but I hope I'm moving in the right direction.

Friday, October 11, 2019

depression lies

depression lies. unapologetically lies.
worthless. hopeless. loser.
incompetent. unsuccessful. fake.
depression lies.
inconsequential. expendable.
no matter evidence otherwise. doesn't matter. doesn't make a dent.
depression is beyond persuasive.
helpless. incapable. burdensome.
unlovable. insignificant.
only hear the lies.
only believe the lies.
forget they are, in fact, lies.
unlovable. isolated. alone.
nobody cares.
nobody feels like you.
depression lies.
stupid. dope.
malcontent.
what's wrong with you?
something's very wrong with you.
depression lies. convincingly.
defective. useless. plain.
gutless. weak.
toughen up!
smile. cope. get over it.
it's life.
handle it.
everybody else does. why can't you?
failure.
depression lies.
this is it. it will never end. there is no relief.
why bother?
this is your life.
forget it. it's just not worth it.

depression is loud.
depression is cruel.

truth is indiscernible.

depression lies.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Not tough enough

I wish I could say I handled yesterday with grace. After all, as I said, there will be other marathons, so missing the Twin Cities Marathon, in the grand scheme of things, was not the end of the world. But it sucked. Truthfully, I was crushed. I'm sure feeling physically unwell, to the point where I no longer even have a voice, did not help my cause. But I wish I was tougher.

I'm still feeling crushed today. I still don't feel well physically. I've lost motivation to do just about anything. Beyond lying on my sofa in hopes a few hours of sleep will block out the world for more than a few hours, I've been pretty much sedentary. My attention span has shrunk and nothing interests me anyway, which makes for some awfully long days. And on top of that I can't even talk, which makes for extreme isolation. Things are not good.

I feel I'm letting this setback overwhelm me too much, but I'm having a very difficult time doing anything different. Yesterday I did ride my ElliptiGo for over an hour, but that was the extent of my day. I slept long and hard after that. Today I went to work, which was painful on so many levels. Physically, I got exhausted quickly. My throat hurt from trying to talk. And nobody could hear me, anyway, which made every interaction challenging and demoralizing. I like to have fun at work. Today was not fun.

I wish I could sleep for a few days and wake up in a different physical and mental state. That's purely wishful thinking, of course. I know I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if every step is uncomfortable and exhausting. I wish I was tougher. If I was tougher, maybe this wouldn't be so difficult. But it is difficult. So I wish I was tougher.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Mood taking a hit

I'm sorry to say that my illness has progressed into what feels like pneumonia. I'm totally wiped out. With the exception of yesterday, I've not been able to work. I'm seeing my doctor tomorrow. It seems every time I get one of these upper respiratory illnesses I end up on a steroid medication. With underlying asthma, my lungs just don't seem able to battle these respiratory hits. My chest is so tight I have one of the best smoker's coughs I've ever heard! Dry, screechy and wheezy, it's no fun.

Besides the respiratory hit, my mood has taken a hit, too. It's almost a certainty I will not be able to run the Twin Cities Marathon this Sunday, which is incredibly disappointing. But I have to admit I've been feeling a bit off for a few weeks; long before this illness and subsequent disappointment occurred.

Other than to my doctor, I haven't mentioned feeling a bit off. I've been trying to forge ahead and wait for it to pass. That happens a lot. I feel off for a while, but it doesn't advance beyond that. So I haven't been focusing on it. And had I not had this major disappointment, and this illness, I think I would have been okay. But now my mood has taken almost as big of a hit as my lungs.

I'm concerned, but I'm still hopeful. I think when I feel better physically, my mood will improve as well. That's why I didn't wait to get into my doctor. I want to stop this illness as soon as possible. If I don't, I fear my declining mood will rapidly take me down. My fight to get well has taken on a new urgency, and it has nothing to do with running a marathon.



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