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!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Discouraged

One step forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back... I'm writing this from a nearly supine position, which is pretty challenging, because I've had a setback in my right hip recovery. I'm experiencing increased pinching-type pain in my right groin. Standing in a fully erect position is nearly impossible, and sitting is uncomfortable and worsens my symptoms. I'm discouraged.

I'm trying to be patient, but this development is deflating. It makes me anxious. The pain originally developed last week. My PT generously worked me into her schedule and did some uncomfortable but amazing work. I felt better for 3 days.

Today I'm feeling worse. I'm feeling more pain than I did last week. I'm supposed to be working my way off my crutches, but that's now on hold. I'm supposed to be doing increased range of motion and strengthening exercises, also now on hold. I'm frustrated and scared.

I see my PT again in a couple of days. I'm hoping she can work her magic and get me moving forward rather than back. Even if she fixes me, however, I'm still going to be worried. It's getting scary to move, scary to sit too long, scary to walk. I fear more pain, i.e. less healing, with every movement. I hate that. I feel like I should be much further along by now, but I am trying to be patient. Really, I am.

Really...

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The value of friends

How many friends do you have? And I'm not talking about Facebook. I'm talking about face-to-face, actual relationship friends. I count three. I have three close friends.

Of those 3 friends I think 2 would also list me as a close friend. The third friend has so many other friends I'm not sure I would make the top three. Nevertheless, I count her as a close friend of mine. Like the other two, my third friend is always there when I need her. We can go months without talking yet pick up right where we left off. There is a mutual respect and understanding between each of my friends and I, with no judgement and few expectations. I value each of them, and they each bring different beauty to my life.

Why am I thinking about friendship this morning? Well I just I read a very interesting interview with a scientist, a scientist who studies friendship. Who knew? The scientist and author, Lydia Denworth, just published a book detailing the results of her research. I'm feeling a sense of relief after reading about her findings because I typically feel friendship is just one more area where I fail.

Perhaps like a few of you, I have some persistent feelings of not measuring up when it comes to relationships. I often wonder if I'd have more friends if I didn't have severe and persistent depression. I'm guilty of comparing myself to others. Those comparisons invariably lead me to determine that having (only) 3 friends is a weakness. It's bad, and it's indicative of my unworthiness.

This assumption of unworthiness is further reinforced by the fact that I'm single. I'm old and single. I've been single most of my life. Would that be different if depression wasn't stalking my every move? Well you can guess my answer to that question. After all, my longest, most intimate and stable relationship ended after I was diagnosed with depression. Proof!

I don't think I'm detailing unusual thoughts and feelings here, especially among those of us with depression. Depression is certainly not a selling point when it comes to relationships. And depression clouds our thinking when it comes to our self worth. Hell, it flat out lies! So feeling less-than is routine for most of us, regardless of whether it's true or not.

Among its many lies depression convinces me I should have more friends, closer friends, friends banging down my door, blah, blah, blah... But it's not true! And now there is research to support that fact. Ms. Denworth would say I'm actually doing okay in the friendship arena. According to her research having (only) 3 close friends is, dare I say it, normal!

Per her research, "On average, people have only four very close relationships, and very few people can sustain more than six." More importantly, Ms. Denworth notes the many proven health benefits of having close friendships. There are benefits to many aspects of our physical health, not just our mental health. She has some interesting observations about social media and middle school, too. (Ugh! Middle school--wouldn't do that again for a million bucks!) I encourage you to check out her research if, like me, you think you don't measure up. Maybe, just maybe, depression is lying to you, too.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Long days

I apologize. I don't have much to say. My days are incredibly long and dull as I recover from my labral reconstruction. I'm struggling to keep my mood in check. I go to the gym almost daily even though I'm still very limited on what I am allowed to do. At least it gets me out of the house and around other people for a bit. Unfortunately, as was the case today, sometimes being around other people without ever saying a word, or having a word said to me, is more isolating than staying at home. That's tough. It's great to have (only) a couple of very close friends, but right now I wish I had just a couple more.

I did get some good news this week. After several lab tests, some x-rays, and a couple of MRIs, I met with the neurologist who told me everything looked good. There was nothing of concern in any of the studies and her hands-on evaluation revealed no issues. As she pointed out, we may never know why I had sudden onset foot drop, numbness and tingling in my right leg after my surgery, but there is no scary underlying disease or condition. That was what I expected, but it was relieving to hear it confirmed.

And that's about it. I'm off to ice my hip and binge watch yet another series about the mafia on Amazon Prime. Yes, I find the history of the mob fascinating. I've also watched almost everything available on the topics of  Mt. Everest, running, and Antarctica. If I don't get on my feet soon I may have to develop other interests! That's all for now. Carry on, my friends.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Doing well...okay

I'm continuing on my road to recovery, now just over 2 weeks post-op. My hip seems to be coming along as it should. I'm having less pain, more range of motion, tolerating my exercises better, and generally getting around better, though still quite slowly. I'm encouraged my hip is on the mend.

My mood, on the other hand, seems to be going in the opposite direction. I'm not panicking yet. Actually, I'm not even close to panicking, but I'm getting concerned. My level of concern varies from day to day. One day I'm doing well. Another day I feel not quite well, more like okay. But I've had several days now where I feel neither well or okay. Those are the concerning days.

I had one of those days yesterday. I think it began the night before. I hoped a good night's sleep would cure me, but I could barely pull myself out of bed yesterday morning. Worse, a few hours after getting up I headed back to bed. That continued throughout the day. Moving was exhausting, mentally and physically, but my bed brought little relief. I was low, tired, discouraged, and worthless. I just couldn't break through the heavy shroud weighing me down.

By mid afternoon I may have begun panicking a bit. I knew the forecast called for a large snowstorm overnight and into this morning. I knew that would lock me inside my house, so I felt an urgency to get out yesterday while I still could. I needed to get out. I needed to move. I needed to do my exercises, get to the gym, ride the bike, get some groceries. But the more urgency I felt the more impossible moving seemed to be.

I'm not sure how I did it, but I eventually did get out. I believe I got to the gym around 7:30 PM. I slowly made my way around the place. Twice I headed for the door but turned around. I ended up spending 30 minutes gently spinning on the bike and lifting a few weights. I probably spent another 30-40 minutes standing around contemplating what to do next, if anything. But I did it.

On the way home I bought a couple of grocery items, including a pint of gelato (it was on sale), which I unfortunately consumed in its entirety prior to going to bed. Oh well, two steps forward one step back. I'm still not sure how I got out of my house, but I'm glad I did. My mood might be a bit better this morning.

We did get that snowstorm. It's beautiful. Jet loves it. But I'm now stuck in my house until somebody is able to come shovel me out. I'm feeling the urgency to get out again, but now it's because I'm stuck inside. I think I may get bundled up, hop out to the backyard and lie down. I can make snow angels with one leg as Jet ecstatically leaps over and around me. Pretty sure that will help my mood.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Recovery Road

I'm now into my 10th day of right hip labral reconstruction post-op recovery, and I can say this for certain; recovery is exhausting! Damn, I'm tired. Living alone, doing everything on one leg and with extremely limited use of both hands (since they're supporting me on my crutches) is downright exhausting. Despite the fatigue I'm learning a lot, and I'm hoping I adapt and things get easier over the next few weeks.

I learned really quickly that planning and patience were the name of the game. Everything I do has to be thought out in advance and takes 2 to 4 times longer than usual, if it can be done at all. Simple things like getting the coffee creamer from refrigerator to counter or the jelly from fridge to toaster, a span of floor space only 6 feet wide, boggled my brain the first time I attempted them. Showering, getting dressed and moving about in public were other puzzles I had to solve. It's amazing what I took for granted prior to this.

Each extra step I am forced to take, each activity completed requires using my body in different ways than I've used it before. Left leg balance work, trunk range of motion and stability, and stretching way outside my base of support are now constant endeavors. I've become a bit of a contortionist, and in doing so I've developed stiffness, soreness, and discomfort in a multitude of muscles not at all associated with my repaired hip!

As for my hip, it seems to be healing. I'm having very little trouble with pain at this point, which is nice. I'm doing my prescribed basic exercises several times per day. Avoiding the hip motions and positions I'm supposed to avoid in this early stage of healing has been a bit stressful, though. Again, doing so sounded easy pre-op but in reality requires planning, patience, and constant vigilance. I really don't want to screw this up.

I'm still awaiting follow-up with neurology regarding the foot drop episode I wrote about in my last post. I did see my regular MD on Friday. She ordered a brain MRI, which thankfully came back normal, and scheduled a lumbar MRI for later this week. No answers yet regarding what actually caused the concerning symptoms, but we're likely ruling out some big scary things along the way. I'm okay with that.

Well, I've been up for a few hours now and it's already time for a nap! Like I said, this healing process has been exhausting. Nevertheless, I feel like I'm on the road to recovery. It's going to be a long road, I know, but I'm pleased with my progress thus far. One day I'll be running again. That will be a great day.



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