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, May 18, 2020

Little annoyances

Something is going on with me. I'm annoyed. I'm irritated. Little things, seemingly one after another, keep getting under my skin. I'm irritable and irritated. It's uncomfortable, and I don't like it.

  • The company that hasn't sent my product 8 weeks (and 12 mostly ignored e-mails) after I ordered it. 
  • The mysterious neighbor who again put their trash can so close to my driveway I can barely squeak by without scratching my vehicle.
  • The work e-mail I can't ever seem to access from home without a lengthy call to the help desk.
  • The state office from which I require assistance whose phone line is still busy after 68 redials.  
  • The freshly painted doors, which became freshly unpainted around the knobs and hinges after I removed the painter's tape from them. 
  • The hot flashes... Oh, the hot flashes!
  • The scam calls warning me about my lapsed vehicle warranty (which I never had) or offering to improve my prescription drug coverage (which I do have), but only if I provide them with all of my vital stats first.
  • The Amazon Prime video stream which fails, and fails, and fails again in the middle of my WWII movie.

I could go on, and that's the point; I could go on. I'm hoping writing down all of these stupid things will decrease, or better yet stop, my irritability. Looking at them one at a time, these are all things I usually deal with as annoyances. They don't usually leave me cussing and kicking garbage cans. Yes, I'm embarrassed to say, I did that. That's not the person I typically choose to be.

Irritation is a choice. I'm not sure why I'm choosing it now. It certainly isn't doing me any good. As I look back over my list I see only one item over which I have absolutely no control. Yup, the damn hot flashes. For every other item on the list I can choose to take an action to mitigate the annoyance. I can then decide to let go of the results. After all, I can't control what happens on the other side of the street. I may or may not get what I want, but once I've taken the action it does me no good whatsoever to stew over the unfairness and injustice of it all. (That last part is best read while yelling and raising a fist in the air.)

Life isn't fair. Sometimes people are assholes. Sometimes companies are fraudulent. Sometimes helpers are busy helping others. Sometimes equipment doesn't work. I can't change any of that. I need to get back to taking appropriate actions, accepting outcomes, and letting go of the emotional garbage I've attached to these small, insignificant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things annoyances.

Phew... Thanks. I needed that.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The return

I returned to work today. When I had my hip surgery in January I expected I'd be out of work for 6-8 weeks at most. Instead, it was today, almost 4 months post op that I actually returned. It was so strange. I felt like I was starting a new job rather than returning to one I've held for 6 years. It was strange, but I was glad to be back.

A lot has changed since I last worked prior to my surgery. For starters the front door is locked! To get past the front door I had to disinfect my shoes, sanitize my hands, get my temperature taken, answer questions, put on a face mask and finally don a Darth Vader-like eye shield. That got me in the door.

The facility now has multiple rules in place secondary to COVID-19 so the inside of the building felt a bit foreign, too. There were very few residents out and about. Residents who were out of their rooms wore masks. Cleaning supplies were everywhere. Anything I used with a patient had to be immediately cleaned. It was a whole new world. Nevertheless, I'm proud to say my facility has not had one case of COVID-19, so the aggressive precautions have made a difference.

As for me, I did okay. I worked 3 hours and saw 3 patients. I spent time figuring out the new documentation system which was instituted while I was gone. My hip got sore, which was discouraging, but after icing it at home it felt better. Despite my fears overnight, I didn't forget how to be a physical therapist. Seriously, I couldn't sleep last night! I was anxious. You would have thought I was starting a new job.

All in all it was a good day. It was such a pleasure to work with patients again. It was a joy to see some of the long term residents. I missed them. It was great to be side by side with my PT assistant again, too. We work well together, and I really appreciate her. It was also nice to see the rest of the staff. They were very kind in welcoming me back. I'm thankful I work with so many professional, compassionate people. Together we do good work. I'm glad to be back with the team.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Regaining life

I'm trying to return to some semblance of normalcy. Between post op hip recovery, depression relapse and recovery, and COVID-19 my life has not resembled the life I knew prior to mid-January. I haven't worked or exercised or even functioned near normal. But today I'm seeing, potentially, some light at the end of the tunnel.

First of all, I decided to attempt a return to work next week. I haven't worked since January 22nd. That's a really long time ago, and that length of time was not at all what I had planned. I thought I'd be out 8 weeks, at the most, but I'm now approaching 16 weeks! My supervisor and I discussed having me return for a couple of very short days, likely Tuesday and Thursday. I'm relieved but anxious.

There's plenty to be anxious about. I'll have to adjust to wearing the COVID-19 personal protective equipment and to the restrictions on patient movement within the facility. I have to learn a new documentation system, just to make things a bit more challenging. And of course I will have to adjust to and determine the limits of my repaired right hip. Despite the anxiety I'm really looking forward to getting to see my patients and coworkers again. I'm looking forward to being a productive member of a team again. It's been way too long.

Speaking of my hip. I saw my surgeon today to address the ongoing pain in my anterior right hip. We went over the results of my most recent MRI which showed mild bursitis in the area of my pain but was otherwise fairly benign. That was good news in that the surgical repair appeared to be intact and healing, but it didn't explain the origin of my ongoing pain.

After examining me, the surgeon suggested a cortisone injection into the hip joint. If the pain resolved after the injection, great, but if the pain continued, that would at least indicate the source of my pain was not coming from the joint or the labral repair. In other words, if the pain continued after the injection it would actually be good news.

So far the pain hasn't resolved, but it might be too soon to tell. In a few weeks, if I'm continuing to have the same pain, we'll inject the bursa. It's acting like bursitis pain, so I'm hopeful that's all it is. Bursitis can be difficult to resolve, but it would be better than potentially having to perform another arthroscopic procedure.

Lastly, my mood continues to improve or at least hold fairly steady. I did notice a bit of a dip by the end of last week and over the weekend, which concerned me. I had my fifth ketamine infusion on Monday. I've been doing well since. I have a couple more infusions in this "acute series," and then I will begin a "maintenance series," which basically means there will be increased time between infusions until we find I need them at lesser defined intervals or don't need them at all.

Thinking back to how desperately low I was just a few weeks ago, I feel incredibly lucky, amazed and grateful to be feeling so much lighter today. I think returning to work may challenge my mental health as much as my physical health. I'm feeling hopeful but guarded about my prognosis; not quite ready to believe the recent relapse is totally resolved and not quite confident the increased stress of returning to work won't challenge my shaky stability. I won't know until I try. And it's time. I'm ready to try.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Facebook thinks Depression Marathon is Abusive??

Try to share one of my posts on Facebook and this is what you get.
Imagine my surprise when I attempted to Facebook message a friend one of my recent posts. Instead of messaging it to her and going along my merry way, I got the above pop-up window from Facebook. In case you can't read the fine print it states: Your message couldn't be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive. WTF??

The particular post I attempted to send was filled with hope and gratitude. Yup, sounds abusive to me. I attempted to send other posts just to see what would happen. I got the same message every time. Apparently my blog has been black-balled by Facebook...because it's abusive! This is so ridiculous! I have never, ever posted anything abusive on this blog. I've posted about difficult subjects like, um...depression, hopelessness and suicide, but abusive?? Never! Not once!

Being a pissed off blog author, I went to Facebook to try to figure out how to remedy this situation. First I read through their incredibly long list of "community standards" to see if my subject content might be to blame. Nope. Nothing there. There are no rules against writing about depression, hopelessness, suicide, running, gratitude, medication, hospitals, family, Mt. Everest, stigma, labral tears, fatigue, goals, disability, ketamine, my dog Jet, discrimination, or employment. Nothing. It's all okay.

There are very specific rules against hate speech, threatening speech, fake news, pictures of dismembered animals, bullying, and pictures of dead people, but nothing remotely related to depression, hopelessness, suicide, running, gratitude... Nothing related to anything I've ever authored on this blog. So how did I get black-balled by Facebook? And if someone complained, don't I have a right to know? Apparently not.

Here's the fun part. After hours of research over the course of two days, I found dozens of links to "report abuse," but not one bit of information on how to remove an erroneous ban on content. Not one! I read through hundreds of frequently asked questions, clicked on dozens of links, and searched endlessly for terms I thought might bring me to a helpful page. Nothing.

Finally, I resorted to clicking on the "Something went wrong" link and sent an email detailing my issue with an included screen shot. That was several days ago. Again, nothing. There is no sign Facebook even received the message I sent, much less read it, researched it, or took any action to resolve it. I'm beyond frustrated and just a bit (okay more than a bit) annoyed.

I'm wondering how long this ban on my content has been in force. I rarely share anything I've written on Facebook. If I want someone to read something, I usually just refer them to my blog. But I wonder if any of you have tried to share any of my posts on Facebook? If so, were you able to share? Please let me know. Or, if you're so inclined, let Facebook know this blog is not abusive and request they remove the ban on sharing its content. I'd provide you with a link as to where to complain, but like I said, I couldn't find one!

I'm pretty fired up about this. I'm angry. I'm also offended, and I feel totally powerless to change the situation. I write this blog to help others. If a reader finds a post they think might help a friend, and they're not allowed to share it? That's a nightmare! That's literally a life that could be saved, education that could help a family cope, or soothing reassurance that an isolated sufferer is not alone. It's a nightmare to think the purpose of my blog has been silenced because of a ridiculously inaccurate ban on content.

How, Facebook, did you determine to ban me? If there was one person who complained about something I wrote is that enough evidence to ban the sharing of all my content? Especially since I have never, ever posted anything abusive about or toward anyone! And again, why wasn't I at least notified and given a chance to respond? If the ban is due to some Facebook algorithm, is it because I write about depression and suicide? And if so, why or how is that abusive? Making a pretty big, uneducated leap there, Facebook! I'll say it again, WTF Facebook? (Wait, is that abusive?)

Any help any of you may provide to remedy this situation would be greatly appreciated. I don't know what else I can do.