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!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The 3 hour swim.

It took me 3 hours to swim 21 minutes and 32 seconds a couple of days ago.

Sunday was a slow day. I knew I needed to move. My brain was slow. My body ached. My soul was empty. I could find little reason to continue on. I felt like if I sat still long enough my heart just might stop beating, and that wasn't necessarily discomforting. I decided a relaxed swim was about my only option to keep moving.

I live exactly 1.5 miles from my gym. Might as well been 1.5 days, as I knew it was going to take a herculean effort to get there. To ease the transition I put my swimsuit on at home. Having to only remove my sweats would make getting from locker room to pool more likely. I figure it still took at least 1/2 hour to get out of my house. 

After the short drive it took another 30 minutes, which included a phone call to a friend for assistance, to get me out of my vehicle. Thirty minutes sitting in a parking lot because I couldn't open my car door. This is depression, my friends.
 
Inside the locker room the sweats came off easily, but I'm not sure how long I sat on that bench staring at the floor in my swimsuit. With the alacrity of a tortoise who had no place to be I eventually showered and made it into the pool. Twenty one minutes and 32 seconds later, only 16 minutes of which were actually spent swimming 2 to 4 lengths at a time, I climbed out and made my way back to the showers.

Showering and getting dressed took almost more effort than swimming, but eventually I found myself first sitting and then standing alone in the lobby. At least 2.5 hours had already passed since I donned my swimsuit at home. I'm not sure why I didn't just leave. I had no reason to stay there watching people walk by. I guess opening the door and heading to my vehicle was more than I could muster.

As I stood there blankly contemplating my next move a familiar face appeared outside. It was a young nurse I had worked closely with during my last hospitalization. She entered the door directly to my right, and we reacquainted ourselves with each other.
 
I don't remember exactly what I said, but I noted the irony of bumping into her, as I had been, and was at that moment, mightily struggling. We talked for awhile. I felt guilty keeping her from her workout, and it was obvious she wasn't really comfortable leaving me alone. Eventually I assured her I would be okay, and we parted ways.
 
It wasn't until that moment, however, that I decided I'd have to be okay, that I would make it through the rest of the day. I'd have to because I told her I would, and I don't typically lie. I would never want to betray that trust or cause someone anguish or guilt.
 
Often, I believe, things do happen for a reason. It took me 3 hours to swim 21 minutes and 32 seconds Sunday afternoon. Monday morning my doctor sent me to the hospital. Guess which nurse took me in.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Irritable in all the wrong places

"Through my writing I hope I left this world with a better understanding of depression and maybe brought solace to a few people along the way."

I wrote that sentence. It was before I fell asleep one night and apparently hoped I wouldn't wake up. I did wake up, of course. I woke up and discovered I should have wished for solace for myself and my coworkers rather than for a few random people.

Maybe it's another depression symptom--poor problem solving. Maybe it's my personality--fierce independence. But in attempting to single-handedly solve my symptoms, I made a mess of things this week.

You see, one of my values is to be dependable, whether as an employee or as a friend. It's important to me. To that end, I've been forging ahead this week, making it to work everyday no matter how difficult it's been. It's been tough, but I didn't want to increase my colleagues' workload by not showing up.

Well, I may have shown up, thinking it the admirable thing to do, but I was irritable, cranky and impatient. Despite treating my patients with care, my depression symptoms came out sideways. Rather than concealing my pain with an Oscar-winning performance, my misery landed squarely in the laps of my coworkers. A phone call with my supervisor today confirmed it. I've been an asshole (my word, not hers). I guess I thought I was a better actor than I was.

Perhaps I'm too angry and frustrated to act my way out of this one. I wanted so bad to NOT feel so bad, I thought maintaining some sort of normal routine would help. I didn't want to saddle my colleagues with more work. But continuing to work only left me feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed and isolated. I ended up alone in a crowd, which increased rather than decreased my depression symptoms. I should have known better than to trust a solution generated in the same brain which brought me this misery to begin with.

I spent a fair amount of time apologizing today. I needed to, and it helped. I hope I can return to work as my normal self soon. Acting as if I was okay didn't solve anything and made myself and those around me feel like dirt. I'm so sorry about that.

I guess I need some solace for myself. Depression makes me feel vulnerable, frustrated and alone. But telling coworkers I'm not feeling well also leaves me feeling vulnerable and isolated. I don't want to be different. I don't want to be the sickly coworker. I want to be one of the team, not the focus of the team.

Acting like Rambo didn't help me heal. It didn't allow others around me to offer compassion or assistance either. Sometimes being fiercely independent does me more harm than good. This was definitely one of those times. My eyes were opened today. Perhaps if I work on accepting where I'm at, rather than railing against it, I'll find some of that solace I seek. I doubt it, but what I'm currently doing isn't working so I might as well give it a shot.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

the ugliness of reality

This is one of those posts I hate to write. It's one of those reality check posts, where everything isn't going to turn out all sunshine and roses. This is a post about the stranglehold of depression. It's about feeling vulnerable and transparent when out in public. It's about convincing, repetitive thoughts of disappointment and failure. Letting so many people down, that's the well rehearsed message, and it's on auto-play. It's about me turning my phone off almost all weekend because it was painful to talk to anyone, and what was I going to say anyway?

"How are you doing?"
"I feel like shit."
"What do you mean?"
"I hurt. I can't breathe. My body aches. My chest is filled with the heaviest of lead. My thoughts revolve around what a useless existence I am currently living, and how it's equally useless to keep on living it. The only thing I want to do is sleep. Yet I can't sleep enough, partly because I'm exhausted, but mostly because sleep is my only reprieve. I go to sleep hoping I don't wake up. But so far, I have."
"I'm sorry you feel that way."
"Me, too."

What else is there to say or do? I can't hold up my end of any relationship right now. It's not fair to whine and complain. I'm doing my best to continue moving. But that hurts, too.

Such a silent, invisible illness, depression is. If only people really knew how difficult it is to get out of bed. How nearly impossible it feels to take a shower or get dressed. How I have to calculate my movements in order to allow for rest after each and every one. And not just physical rest. My brain is overflowing with negativity, self-doubt, and failure. To focus I must crawl through a swamp of strangling slime and screaming banshees. An intermittent coherent breath is my only hope. I may appear a little off, maybe impatient or slightly cranky. But beneath the surface there is so much more ugliness than that.

Depression is cruel and hideous. It is warring just below the surface, my surface. I only have so much fight. Depression steals that, too. I can only fight so long before depression strangles me. Bit by bit, it buries me. And then I'm gone. Currently I must be losing the fight, because "gone" sounds like relief.

Really, again?

Plagiarism, again? As if feeling like crap wasn't frustrating enough, now I have another idiot plagiarizing my blog posts. Perhaps this particular idiot hasn't been around long enough to know I always, 100% of the time, hunt down plagiarists. Look out, etta's angry. I just don't get it. It takes a special kind of lazy thief (jerk) to take another person's words and pass them off as one's own. In addition, it doesn't even make sense. My words are about my life, as a PT, and a runner, here in Minnesota. It's almost comical to find them in Indonesia or France or Alaska. Well, it would be comical if it wasn't so infuriating. Give me a break, plagiarist. Stop now. Please, read my words. Enjoy them. Relate to them. Tell others. Even copy a few here and there to make a point. But to rip off entire, or nearly entire, posts is low and pathetic. Just quit it.



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