Depression Marathon Blog

My photo
Diagnosed with depression 17 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!

Friday, February 29, 2008

normal

working wipes me out! wait, let me start again.

I am really enjoying, and grateful for the renewed (i.e. normal) energy I've had lately. however, working wipes me out! just 4 hours yesterday required an immediate 90 minute nap. today, my 60 minute nap didn't even dent the exhaustion following a 6 hour work-day. it's hard to imagine that I used to work 40+ hours per week and run 30-40+ miles! now, exercise is totally out of the question on work days, and 6 hours slams against my upper limits of functionality. I wouldn't be surprised if I turned into a pumpkin, or something equally useless, at hour 6:01. it's weird. it's frustrating. another reminder that I am not "normal" anymore. another cue to redefine "normal" so it more accurately reflects my life today. how convenient... unfortunately, redefining the word does not erase the memories of my previously "normal" life.

did I mention how grateful I am for the renewed energy I've experienced lately?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Blatant IDIOT File

Note: With the exception of Tom Cruise, the source for and further information on today's Blatant Idiots can be found here: http://mediamatters.org/items/200802270010

1. Lawrence Kudlow, CNBC Host--

Kudlow's February 25 National Review Online blog post, headlined "Hillary's Mental Roller Coaster":
Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed Hillary's erratic, roller-coaster, mood swings these past few weeks?
She's all over the map. Irritable and angry. Manic. Pessimistic and sad. One minute she's shedding tears, the next minute she's shouting and attacking, then she's sarcastically ripping on Obama, and on and on it goes.
So, is Hillary depressed?
Now I'm no psychiatrist, far from it, but I think a simple answer is that Senator Clinton could be depressed. She seems deflated. Down in the dumps.
Look, depression is a serious problem. It's also a multibillion-dollar business. Three of the more popular drugs in the market today to treat it are Pfizer's Zoloft, Eli Lilly's Prozac, and GlaxoSmithKline's Paxil. Maybe Hillary's taking meds, but they're just not working for her? Could that be why she's always attacking Big Pharma?


2. Maureen Dowd, New York Times Columnist--

From Dowd's February 27 New York Times column:
After saying she found her "voice" in New Hampshire, she has turned into Sybil. We've had Experienced Hillary, Soft Hillary, Hard Hillary, Misty Hillary, Sarcastic Hillary, Joined-at-the-Hip-to-Bill Hillary, Her-Own-Person-Who-Just-Happens-to-Be-Married-to-a-Former-President Hillary, It's-My-Turn Hillary, Cuddly Hillary, Let's-Get-Down-in-the-Dirt-and-Fight-Like-Dogs Hillary.
Just as in the White House, when her cascading images and hairstyles became dizzying and unsettling, suggesting that the first lady woke up every day struggling to create a persona, now she seems to think there is a political solution to her problem. If she can only change this or that about her persona, or tear down this or that about Obama's. But the whirlwind of changes and charges gets wearing.


3. Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator--

From the February 26 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
CAFFERTY: Hillary Clinton has her work cut out for her when it comes to that debate tonight in Cleveland, Ohio. If she has any hope of closing the gap on front-runner Barack Obama next Tuesday in Texas and Ohio, Clinton's got to deliver a big night tonight, a really big night.
The question is, which Hillary Clinton's going to show up? In the last few days, we've just about seen it all. At Thursday's debate in Austin, Texas, Clinton showed a softer side, saying that she was honored to be there with Barack Obama. A couple of days later, she morphed into a scolding mother, talking down to a child, waving her finger and saying, "Shame on you, Barack Obama." She called him out, demanding that he meet her in Ohio for a debate on his tactics and behavior in the campaign.
She wasn't finished. Resembling someone with multiple personality disorder, last Sunday, Clinton mocked Obama, derided his calls for unity. She made fun of him, as though his 11 straight victories in the primaries meant nothing.


4. Chris Matthews, MSNBC Host--

From the February 25 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: Let me, Chrystia, to start with this, and then I want to go to Jill and then Susan [Page, USA Today Washington bureau chief]. What is Senator Clinton's endgame here that seems to have started on Saturday? Telling Barack Obama because of some literature he's put out in Ohio that he ought to be ashamed of himself. Very strong language. What is up?
CHRYSTIA FREELAND (Financial Times managing editor): Well, we did see a really interesting change over the weekend. You know, and if you think about the Texas debates, where she was almost valedictorian, quite gentle, quite elegiac in how she treated Senator Obama, and then over the weekend, we saw two new tones.
MATTHEWS: Let's take a look at this two tone here, both the one on Thursday, then the one on Saturday.
CLINTON [video clip]: And, you know, no matter what happens in this contest -- and I am honored -- I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored. [video break] Shame on you, Barack Obama. It is time you ran a campaign consistent with your messages in public.
MATTHEWS: Jill, what do we make of that? I mean, most people have
mood swings and attitude swings, which, I have to say in my case, change radically time to time, but to go from basically applauding him as a human being to saying he ought to be ashamed of himself is a wicked turn of tone, I think. But you say what you think.
ZUCKMAN: It comes across as a little schizophrenic. I think that the Clinton campaign is trying everything they can possibly try to stop his momentum. And I think the other thing is, he is going on offense against Senator Clinton when it comes to NAFTA. In Ohio, a state that's been so badly hurt by the loss of manufacturing jobs, NAFTA's a four-letter word, and if you let that concept take hold, that you're for that, then you're in deep trouble.
I mean, she's only up at this point by about 11 points, compared to 20 points maybe a week ago. So, she's got to do everything she can to hold on to that.


5. Tom Cruise--Lifetime member.

Crisis Intervention Team

Speaking in front of a room full of police officers can be a bit daunting. Nevertheless, for the second year in a row, I stood up and told them my story yesterday, and I relished every moment of it. Education. What other reason could there be for my seven years of ache, loss, debility and strife? At some point I realized I needed to use this illness for a gainful purpose rather than continuing to let it deconstruct and demoralize me. Perhaps that point came when I was fired from my job--a situation that certainly would not have occurred if I had a "Hallmark" illness rather than a stigma-laden one.
(Speaking of Hallmark: I think I have been hospitalized 6-8 times in the past 7 years, maybe more. Including outpatient programs, ECT treatment, or times my illness was so severe I couldn't care for myself, the Hallmark opportunities have been numerous. Yet, the total number of cards I have received during my hospitalizations and illness is less than 10. I know, because I've kept them all. That's how meaningful they were to receive. This is not a complaint. It is but an observation. Take from it what you wish.)
Perhaps the point came after one psychiatrist, upon seeing me return to his inpatient unit, entered my room with psychiatry residents in tow and stated, "What are you doing here again? What do you think we are going to do for you?" I guess he wasn't happy to see me? Did he also think I was a hopeless case? Unfortunately, it wasn't the first, nor the last time I was treated with open disdain by mental health "professionals" who thought I should have already "healed."
Maybe the decision point arrived after one too many of my "friends" cheerfully advised me that when they were "depressed" all they did was...think happier thoughts, or smile more, or get out more, or eat better, or...anything but seek medical assistance or take medication! Maybe it was then when I realized how little we, as a society, understood about the experience of having mental illness. Short of praying for all people to get sick, I figured it was time to take my experience and do something positive with it. That's how I ended up telling my story to a room full of police officers yesterday afternoon. It was a tremendous opportunity, and another of the many gifts I have received as a result of this horrible condition.
Depression bringing gifts...never thought I'd be saying that. Go figure...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Cookie-Dough Factor

If you've been paying attention, you may recall me mentioning, a few dozen times, that I've gained some weight over the past year-and-a-half. This has been particularly distressing because (a) I've always been one of those annoying people who could eat whatever I wanted without worrying about weight-gain, (b) I'm a runner, and extra pounds equal extra pounding on my joints and extra minutes on my finishing times, and (c) I cannot NOT eat chocolate, ice cream, or cookie dough! Yup, cookie dough. Although I've blamed this weight-gain on everything I can think of related to my depression, medication, age, etc., there is one probable contributing culprit I have repeatedly and subconsciously (of course!) denied--The Cookie-Dough Factor!

Let me explain.
I love chocolate chip cookies. Toll House happen to be the best, just like grandma used to make. But baking is such a bother. First, I've got to open the oven. Then I must empty the oven, because of course all of my large pots, pans, cookie sheets, and baking dishes are stored in there, oh, and sometimes bread, too. Since all the junk is in the oven, I'll need to rearrange the oven racks before preheating. Finally, after spooning the dough onto the cookie sheets, I'll be forced to watch in agony as my mercurial oven blackens the cookie bottoms before so much as browning the tops. I'll be stressed and exhausted after only 12 burned cookies! Like I said, baking is such a bother!
But, no worries, right? Because I like chocolate chip cookie dough just as much as chocolate chip cookies, and Toll House is still the best! So, I won't bother with the bothersome baking! Unfortunately, mixing is twice the bother of baking! There are all of those ingredients I only use twice a year hiding in the dark, inner recesses of my kitchen cabinets. What is the shelf-life of baking powder anyway? I purchased mine in 1986--still good, you think? Fortunately, I no longer need to answer that question. My baking powder may continue aging, for Toll House rescued me from the mixing woes. Now I can just buy my cookie dough.
And therein lies the problem.
Toll House sells its perfect cookie dough in perfectly chilled, plastic-encased cylinders at my local grocery stores. When I have a craving, I no longer have to play Marco Polo with decrepit, musty raw materials throughout my kitchen. I no longer have to go spelunking for the "big bowl" and the mixer. I no longer need to relocate my pots, pans, cookie sheets, and baking dishes to my bathtub! NO! Today, when I get a hankering for some perfect chocolate chip cookie dough (because I told you baking was a bother), I can have it in my hands within 10 minutes! Doesn't matter if I turn east or west. In 10 minutes, I'll be peeling back that plastic like a banana peel. Like a banana peel...
Ahhhh...cookie dough.

And that, my friends, is The Cookie-Dough Factor.

Monday, February 25, 2008

a half marathon??

Signed up for a half marathon yesterday. Silly, I know. After all the struggles with running over the past year and I sign up for a half marathon? I guess I hope having a running goal will result in the same success as did having a swimming goal. But I am also worried. Might this be the last straw? I have that icky, dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I haven't consistently run 2-3 days per week for months, and the first week of my training plan calls for 26 miles over 7 days of running! I haven't run 7 days in a row in my life! Even at my most competitive, I've always needed one or two days off. It's probably not a good sign that I will be altering the training plan already in the first week!! Well, I have one week to work up to 26 miles!! HA! There are sixteen weeks until the race.
Despite my fears, the race is a good goal. Although I will wait a bit to see what my exact race goal will be. I know, I'll make a goal to make a goal by the beginning of May. Certainly, I should know by then how my training is going. Hopefully, I will find peace with however it's going.
That, actually, is a good goal...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Only A Game

I heard a very telling story this morning on one of my favorite NPR radio programs...very telling, very sickening, and very sad. Use the following link to hear a story about Tommy Blake, a top NFL prospect until sidelined by mental illness. It is an excellent piece about his diagnosis, treatment, and subsequent comeback attempt, but be prepared to hear a sickening comment by a "top NFL scout" highlighting the ugly pervasiveness of stigma.

http://www.onlyagame.org/shows/2008/02/20080223.asp

Tommy-
Stand tall, run fast, and hit hard!
And if you get a chance, pummel that "top NFL scout," for all of us!
Good luck.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Conversation with my Brain

Today I learned more than I wanted or needed to know about the female menstrual cycle. "What does that have to do with you," you ask? I'm getting to that. It seems you and at least one female Hormone share a particular affinity for a crucial neurotransmitter.

You know the Hormone family, don't you? Sure you do! They're okay one-on-one or even in small groups, but once a month they invite all of those loud relatives from god-knows-where and party like there's no tomorrow! Yes, see, I knew you'd heard them before! In fact, didn't they just leave a few days ago? My God! Seems like they were on an extended stay this month, didn't it? They really wear me out with all that revelry!

So much activity stresses me out, you know. I get headaches, and backaches, and downright irritable. Hard to be a good neighbor with all that going on. Anyway, what was I saying, Brain? Oh yes, you and that female Hormone...

Well, I know how much you value your serotonin, Brain. But it's actually my serotonin, remember? You're just supposed to be caring for it. Yes, yes, I know you care for it! But...you know how they say if you love something you should set it free? Yup, you're supposed to let it go! That's what the saying means. Setting it free is part of caring for it.

If you care, you'll set my serotonin free, Brain. No, I am not implying you are selfish! Yes, I realize you are working on letting go, and I appreciate that. I know you've even let go of a smidgen extra serotonin recently, and that's just great! But we've got to get to a point of regular letting go, routine letting go. Remember, sharing is caring!

I know. I know. You're worried. If you let it go, serotonin may be up-and-taken from you. But don't you realize how sad I feel when you hang on so tight? In fact, when you hoard my serotonin, sometimes I feel just like I did last week when the Hormones were in town--irritable, sad, heavy, and slow. I feel just like I did...

WAIT A MINUTE! That's it!
Of course! That makes perfect sense!!

What?

Oh, sorry, Brain. I was having one of those light-bulb moments. (Hey, aren't you supposed to be in on those?)

As I was saying, Brain, you and this Hormone-chick seem to share a particular affinity for my serotonin! So it makes perfect sense, when she's here rockin' out with the rest of her clan, I feel like crap! And it makes perfect sense, when you selfishly "care for" my serotonin, I also feel like crap! AND here's the kicker, if Progesterone Hormone (that's her name, I guess) happens to be visiting at the same time as you happen to be hoarding my serotonin, I feel like DOUBLE-TRIPLE-CRAP!! So what do you think of that, le Brain? Well?

What am I going to do about it? No, you're right, I really can't expect the Progesterone bunch won't come. I could ask, but I'm sure they'll show up anyway. It's gotten to the point where I can almost feel them coming. Once a month, just like clockwork, Miss Progesterone and her entire rowdy clan roll in! And I heard they arrive even more pronounced in their middle years, although maybe with less regularity. Hmmm... Doesn't seem right. They shouldn't be allowed to interfere with my life so much! They must get old and tired sometime, don't you think? Perhaps then they'll stay home.

But what about you, Brain? You've got to shape up! Let my serotonin go! I'm not going to put up with your BS. Yes, I did call you selfish. I'm sorry about that, but if the shoe fits... It's time for you to grow up, to see the bigger picture. It's not all about you!

What about me, Brain? Don't you see? When you hang onto my serotonin, I feel sad and tired. But if you let go, I feel better. And if I feel better, I can stimulate you with a lot more interesting stuff! See? It's a win-win situation! So, whadaya say? Will you let my serotonin go? Please, Brain, let my serotonin go.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

a good day

I swam.
I worked for 3 hours on one of my projects.
I napped.
I worked again.
I played with my dog. (Boy, can he run down that frisbee!)
And now I am going to visit friends.
A productive day.
Able to beat back the thoughts--depression thoughts.
A good day.
Nice.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

failure

Feeling failure.
Reeling from failure.
Depression twists facts
into fiction.
Failure first.
Sometimes only failure.
No accomplishments
allowed
in.

No satisfaction in a job well done.
Failure first.
No job ever well done
enough.

Expectations
don't change automatically.
Only constant vigilence
beats the failure
back.

Constant,
wearying vigilence
just
to allow
satisfaction
in.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

3-way conversation with two

Me: (sad, slow) Doc, I feel worse.
Shrink: Things aren't getting better?
Depression: (taunting) Better? No way! That ain't happening!

Me: My energy is still low.
Depression: (taunting) You're never gonna get better. You're never gonna get better!
Shrink: Did you stop taking Medication X? You were on a low dose, but it still could be causing some of the fatigue.
Depression: (incredulous) Even a low dose is going to effect YOU! If there's a side effect, you're gonna get it!

Me: Yes, but I haven't noticed a difference yet. I didn't sleep well last night, and now I've lost my appetite, too.
Depression: (sarcastic) Good, maybe now you can lose some of that extra girth you've been sporting!
Me: I know there's nothing you can do, but I just thought I'd let you know.
Depression: (irritated) Of course there is nothing she can do! She can't. You can't. It's hopeless. Nothing's going to change.

Shrink: Are you sitting under your light?
Me: Yes.
Shrink: Are you hearing any voices?
Me: (surprised) Well no, I guess that's good, huh?
Depression: (incredulous) Good?! That's not good! You've gotten so tired, so bad, that even your brain has shut down!!

Me: (hopeful) You know my thinking isn't so scattered like last week either.
Depression: (really incredulous) Again, you think this is good? This is like not being able to cry...it's worse, not better! You can't even bother with thinking! What's the point?
Shrink: Let's just take it one day at a time. Call me if you need anything, and I will see you Friday.
Me: Okay.
Depression: LOSER! Why'd you even bother calling her? She can't help you! Nobody can help you. This is it! This is how you are going to be the rest of your life! Hopeless... (fades away)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Irony

Seems irony has been a common theme for me the past few days. Yesterday, ironically, almost immediately after writing my sob-story post about becoming a non-runner, I went for a run. Not such a big deal except that I actually felt pretty damn okay! It was snowing and sunny with an intermittent brisk wind. (Haven't seen the sun around here much lately, and the temp rose above 10 degrees, I think!) I kept the pace slow, stopped to walk a few times, but actually ran faster toward the end of my run than at the beginning. That is almost always a good sign, as it was yesterday. Yes, my heart-rate monitor was still screaming at me because my heart-rate was too high, but I didn't feel like I was going to die this time. And apparently, I didn't die, because here I am.
I went for a run yesterday.
I finally allowed myself to contemplate becoming a "non-runner" and then immediately proceeded to have a pretty damn okay run!
Freud would love this!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

on becoming a non-runner...

on becoming a non-runner...what an awful, disheartening title.

for the first time in my competitive running life...
over the last couple weeks...
for the first time...
I have allowed contemplation of that title up there...
on becoming a non-runner...

it is more than the fatigue...
it is more than the frustrating weight gain...
it is more than the right hip that just won't get quite right...
it is more than the lack of motivation...
it is more than the depression...

it could be all of those things...
but it isn't...
it is something...else...
something's wrong.
I've never been able to even contemplate this before...
it wasn't allowed...
there was always hope.

there's been fatigue, and weight, and sore hips, and low motivation
before.
constantly, there's been depression...
I actually became most competitive in the midst of
depression.
running has saved me from depression...
running has saved my life...from me...
running has saved my character, my soul, my personality...
running has occasionally been me...
identity.

running has forced relationships...
running has moved an immovable me...
running has cemented the only meaningful connection I can always count on,
no matter the desperation, ugliness, and pain circulating in my soul...
if not for his four feet, perfectly trained heart, and reliance on me to survive,
there would likely be no me.
no reason to walk, or run, or unfortunately at times
to live...
the line got that thin...
it's only because of him...

and now the guilt of not taking him far out-weighs
my frustration with not taking me
for a run...
but even that enormous guilt is no longer enough...
to push me beyond...

now, running hurts.
my heart doesn't like it...
my body just won't go...
my brain can't push past it...

there used to be satisfaction
once I pushed myself out the door on a difficult day...
now only indifference awaits.
there used to be exhileration after a tough workout
or painful race...
now only spiritual exhaustion awaits.
the ease, joy, fluidity and freedom slowly, but completely,
faded away.

adapting to my new limits seemed reasonable...
until no adjustment seemed to take...
fewer miles...
fewer days...
less time...
less speed...
it all ended the same...
spiritual exhaustion...spiritual ache...

I love running.
I love being a runner.
I do not want it to become punishment...
a daily reminder of another thing lost
to this fucking illness,
or age,
or life...
but lost just the same.

if I let it go now, maybe it will come back?
or is that just setting me up...
for future frustration,
and loss,
and ache...

and how do I let go anyway?
what does that look like?
I do not want to close this door...
I want to be a runner...

perhaps this is just one step in a journey of letting go...
of becoming a non-runner...

I don't know...
I don't know...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Positive feedback

It's always nice when others recognize the changes we've made, especially if those changes were positive and intentional. Tonight, I unexpectedly received such recognition. I am very grateful. It was a thoughtful gift in my otherwise desolate recent existence.
Ironically, this feedback occurred quite publicly from a man I know only in passing. We were at a large meeting. He was speaking about his experience during 24 years in our program of sobriety. To the crowd of approximately 150 people, he relayed his joy at watching one member grow over the past "couple years." He stated when this person arrived he/she "never lifted their head and couldn't even look anyone in the eye. Then," he continued, "they came to meetings and got involved in service, and today you wouldn't even recognize 'em as the same person." He was quite careful to remain gender-neutral, but I assumed he was referring to a man. I immediately scanned the room for a pride-filled face.
I also scanned forward to the bright face of a slight woman a few seats from me. I had immediately noticed her when I'd entered the room. Ironically, I'd attended to her for the exact reason J., the speaker, was describing now from the stage. This woman originally came around just a few months ago. She looked sad, timid, battered, weak, and tearful. Now, she was glowing. I thought, "I need to tell her she looks great! I need to let her know she's changed--beautifully!" She was looking up, talking, and meeting the eyes of all around her. She looked like a totally different person, and I wanted to congratulate her. I wanted her to know someone had noticed.
After J. finished, and our meeting wrapped up, I was moving toward this woman to say hello. Before I reached her, J. tapped me on the shoulder. He cheerfully informed me that I was the transformed person to whom he had earlier referred! Me. I was absolutely stunned!
I wasn't quite sure how to respond. Fortunately, before I could over-think it, my face broke out in a huge grin. I sort of felt like I should cry--you know, the I'm-so-touched-cry. But I was really, really happy! I think I said, "REALLY?" in my best junior-high, "Bobby-really-likes-me(?)" voice. And then, a bit startled by my helium-tinged vocalization, I simply thanked him. Over, and over, and over, I thanked him.
I thanked him for noticing the change, but more importantly, for telling me he noticed the change. We so rarely get positive feedback. To get positive feedback about this--the state of my being, my character, and the work I've done to develop this character--WOW!! This was BIG feedback!

Yet, ironically, it is feedback I have not received from my closest friends.
My friends can't seem to let me out of the hole in which I used to fit. Rather than see positive change, their response has been to freeze me in the past, and to see me less and less presently. As I grow, we grow apart. That's ironic.
Their loss hurts less today than it did a few years ago, but only because I continue to grow. And as I grow, I get more and more okay with letting go. I don't need to stay in that ill-fitting hole just to cling to old friends. J. would be proud. In the past, that person-who-couldn't-look-anyone-in-the-eye would have desperately contorted to make herself fit the hole. Thankfully, I don't have to do that today. Instead, I can stand tall and step out of that hole. Apparently, I've been doing that, and at least one person has taken notice.

Thanks, J.
Thanks for the positive feedback.
Thanks for the gift. I'll be sure to pass it on.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The symptom of thinking

No resolution yet to this most recent mind-numbing, purposeless rut. But maybe a reprieve... Yesterday, I swam. Today, I ran. Two consecutive days of exercise, and yet I still feel bad. That's the mind-numbing part. Even when I take positive steps to take care of myself, the satisfaction which would normally follow is stolen quickly away. I'm left in a blank stare thinking, "and what was the purpose of that?"
Depression is a clever demon. It steals the meaning from the meaningful. Strips the purpose from the purposeful. Life becomes a slow series of steps, literal steps, one foot in front of the other, with no reason for the journey nor reward at the end. So I ask again, "What's the point?"
Intellectually, I know exactly the point. My brain knows there is purpose even where I feel none. My mind is numb, but my brain knows. My brain, as if detached and looking in on the scene, answers the question as I methodically remove my sweaty running gear. "This is helpful," it says, "even though your body won't let you know. You have to keep moving forward. You'll only feel worse if you stop." That's been one of the few times my brain has been able to squeeze a word in lately...
Depression is clever and consuming. It normally boxes out those rational thoughts. I assume, after swimming, or running, or cleaning that I will feel the satisfaction of my accomplishment. A sliver of pride, maybe? Not so when depression is running the show. No matter how positive the steps I take, depression bombards me with unrelenting disparaging, derogatory, and demoralizing thoughts. There is no room for rationality nor emotion when depression's thoughts consume me.
It took me a long time to learn and trust that these horrible, put-down thoughts are actually a symptom of this illness. Sneaky depression! The thoughts are mine, aren't they? If we listen to most people, depression is the result of our negative thinking--our own character defect. (Hence, the popular fallacy that we can cure depression by smiling and thinking happy thoughts!) But it's not true! Finally, after 6+ years of illness, millions of hours of therapy, multiple hospitalizations, and countless treatment regimens, I learned that these all-consuming, horrid thoughts are a symptom not a personality flaw.
A symptom, not a personality flaw...now that's a thought!

Monday, February 11, 2008

rebound

Waiting worked.
Shortly after writing the other day, I was able to get to my training and made it through most of the weekend. Energy is still so low. Exercise has just about dropped off the radar. Hope to swim tomorrow, but running seems so far away.
Waiting again for another rebound.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

LIFE interrupted

Today, this illness is interrupting my life. I guess I have not yet directly addressed this issue--depression interrupting my life. I've alluded to it multiple times. It is implied in several previous posts. In fact, now that I think about it, I've made it pretty damn obvious. But today, depression is blatantly interrupting my life.

Right now I am sitting in a very expensive, metropolitan hotel room next door to a very expensive, weekend training seminar which started three hours ago. Are you starting to see the problem? This is depression. This is depression screwing up my plans, cutting into my potential, and interrupting my life.

My illness does not care that I have spent this time and money in an effort to better my situation. This illness mocks goal-setting and planning. While I endeavor to remove myself from disability, depression slips silently alongside me, barely holding back a sneer, as it endeavors to break my stride. Then as if on some predetermined cue, out it comes to block my way. Today, my depression is not so silent. It is loud. It is clear. It is directly in my way.

Today, depression is blatantly interrupting my life.
And I hate it.



But!
I hate it, but seven years of my sneaky depression's dance have forced me to cope. I have learned some sneakiness, too. In years past, when depression jumped in my way, we fought. I punched, cut, kicked, screamed, slapped, scratched, and poured chemicals down my throat. Depression loved this! It highlighted its sneakiness! It allowed me to feel I was winning, momentarily, only to hit me harder after I'd knocked myself a notch further down. In the end, I was bruised, battered, and suicidal while depression had gained free residency in my soul.

Today, I will wait.
Wait.

My depression is not so fond of this technique, but it works--sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Unfortunately, I cannot control the timeline, but perhaps waiting bores my combative depression into pulling up stakes sooner rather than later. The one thing I do know is by waiting I will not end up more bruised than I already am. As hard as it is, I cannot afford to panic. I cannot afford to think of the money and time I am "wasting". I cannot afford to feed my depression, as hard as that currently is.
So, here I am. I am waiting in a very expensive, metropolitan hotel room next door to a very expensive, weekend training seminar that started three hours ago. My depression has lept into my path today. It is blocking my way and interrupting my life--temporarily.

Friday, February 8, 2008

complaining?

it is neither my goal nor my intention to use this blog as a platform of complaint. rather, my premise is education, conversation, and hopefully support. over the last several days, my desperation, frustration, and sadness certainly could be characterized as complaining. certainly. however, in the midst of ever-increasing debility and ever-decreasing energy, the reality of depression while sounding like "poor-me" complaints is actually just reality. unfortunately, it's just reality. and with this illness, sometimes (not all the time, as my fabulous therapist reminded me yesterday--i count on her to do that) reality sucks.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

hard to cry with goggles on.

I learned something new this morning. The Speedo goggles keeping the saltwater pool at bay worked just as effectively holding my salty tears inside their silicon gaskets. Guess what? Salt stings. Internally released or externally exposed, salt stings my eyes. It's hard to cry with goggles on...

It's been another 24 hours of my slow-motion rollercoaster ride. I hate when it gets like this. "This" is when my brain feels other than my own, and sometimes my thoughts race or randomly skip about. "This" is when senseless tears well at the back of my throat and sometimes surface in my eyes, but more often they stop and stalk, as if waiting for a moment only they know will never arrive. "This" is when I can feel my heart heavy in my chest; an added burden to lumber around. "This" is when my legs get stiff, my shoulders sore, and my will weak. "This" is when I can neither sleep enough nor wake-up enough. "This" makes me question my character, my motivation, my will, my fight. "This" steals my sunshine and gratitude, replaces patience with irritability, and batters my worthiness to share anyone's life.
This is depression. It can be cyclical, or not; predictable, or not; stable, or not; subtle, or not; physically painful, or not; psychotic, or not; responsive to treatment, or not. My depression has, at one time or another, been all of those things, some of those things, and none of those things! I am back on my slow-motion rollercoaster, but no matter how many times I repeat the ride, it seems the track my ride takes never repeats. Why?

"This" is me, today, on this ride, feeling this desperation,
yet appearing exactly as I do on any other "normal" day.

as long as I don't remove my goggles...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

again...

I am so fucking tired of writing about how fucking tired I am! I am so fucking tired of being so fucking tired. Tired.
What is tired, anyway? Such a boring, non-descript, little word. It seems much too tame and unidimensional to describe the mental and physical morass in which I am presently engulfed.
tired
adjective
1. exhausted, as by exertion; fatigued or sleepy: a tired runner.
2. weary or bored (usually fol. by of): tired of the same food every day.
3. hackneyed; stale, as a joke, phrase, or sermon.

Too easy.
Too nice.
Let's try the synonyms:
1. enervated. Tired, exhausted, fatigued, wearied, weary suggest a condition in which a large part of one's energy and vitality has been consumed. One who is tired has used up a considerable part of his or her bodily or mental resources: to feel tired at the end of the day. One who is exhausted is completely drained of energy and vitality, usually because of arduous or long-sustained effort: exhausted after a hard run. One who is fatigued has consumed energy to a point where rest and sleep are demanded: feeling rather pleasantly fatigued. One who is wearied has been under protracted exertion or strain that has gradually worn out his or her strength: wearied by a long vigil. Weary suggests a more permanent condition than wearied: weary of struggling against misfortunes.

There it is. Apparently, I am weary--a more permanent condition...

Tired, exhausted, fatigued, wearied, weary...clusters of letters creating a group of words which each mean essentially the same thing, yet NOT ONE accurately details the paralyzing pain depression reigns.

I'm so fucking tired. I'm so fucking tired of being fucking tired.
Someone needs to come up with a better word. Until then, I guess I'll just keep using fuck to emphasize my distaste with my present state.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

So F#!%ing Tired!

The stealth attacks of violent, crushing, debilitating fatigue brought on by this illness never cease to amaze me. Out of the blue they arise. In an instant they strike. The attacks are so random and so quick they always baffle my mind. My mind tries to comprehend...and then...
POUND. Pound, pound, pound--like meat under the tenderizer--I am hammered, and hammered, and hammered. The energy runs out like blood on the board, and the once tough steak remains but a shredded, lifeless, shadow of its former self. It's over. Just like that.
Just like that.

Monday, February 4, 2008

How to overcome depression

Over the past few days, I have learned that there are, within any 24-hour period, several hundred thousand people searching for the following:

how to overcome depression
depression - how to overcome it
how to defeat depression
how to beat depression
how to get over depression
how to survive depression
depression - how to get over it
depression - how to find out you have it
how to know if you have depression
a short quiz to know you have depression
how to find tests for depression
free online tests for depression
how to live with depression
how to live with a teenager with depression
how to live with a spouse with depression
how to help someone with depression ...
and finally, there are thousands of others looking for online chat rooms for depression and anxiety.

Wow! Does anyone see a theme here?

Just as interesting, I found there are an abundance of web-sites purporting to answer these questions. Or is it really just one question in multiple forms? My question is, do they? Do the 30-40,000 sites already available answer the above questions? Can people be helped, and helped appropriately, through online searches? Obviously, I hope so.

Besides their common theme, another thing about these searches grabbed my attention. The terms people used. The search terminology used actually disturbs me quite a bit. Why are people going to the internet to "find out" if they have depression, and how to "get over" it? Did you notice nobody was looking for a cure? Here we have a biological, treatable condition that people want to "get over." I wonder if there are any searches being done on "how to get over cancer?" I wonder if anyone is marketing a "short quiz" to cancer patients? Can you imagine? Why is it okay to seek expert MD diagnosis for possible cancer, but self-analysis through an online "short-quiz" is preferred for probable depression? Stigma. And what do you do once your short quiz reveals the terrible truth? It is depression. Now what? Does the short quiz direct you to a short MD for a short cure? Stigma.

Because of stigma, 50 percent of all mental illnesses go undiagnosed, and undiagnosed depression is the number one cause of suicide. Stigma allows health insurance companies to limit coverage for mental illnesses, so even the diagnosed go untreated. Mentally ill individuals are fired from their jobs because of stigma. And it is stigma that leads suffering individuals to search for diagnosis and treatment online rather than in a doctor's office.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

dating

Being a recovering alcoholic and person with depression, I don't find the bar-scene too inviting. So, I am meeting some new people online and expect to be dating one of them, officially, soon. Here's the problem, the question, the conundrum...When do I drop the "D-bomb" on the guy? He thinks I'm swell; smart, funny, charming, sexy, blah, blah, blah... But just how sweet, charming and sexy will I be when I add depression to my list of attributes? How about chronic, debilitating, treatment-resistant, don't-have-enough-energy-to-brush-my-teeth depression? Charming? Sexy? Sweet? I don't think so!
This is such an anxiety-producing dilemma for me. I feel like these guys are getting to know me minus "the catch." I don't feel like I am being honest nor totally dishonest. In fact, this whole process is painfully bittersweet. I see these guys getting to know the person I used to be. I can still be that person, but only occasionally and for short periods of time. It's also a whole lot easier via e-mail than in person to play the role. In reality, I no longer am that person, and it is just an old, familiar role.
It takes a lot of energy to play the role. Weird, huh? It takes energy for me to play the role of ME--the me I used to be. Me minus depression. If I act the part for for too long it absolutely wipes me out. That is the point I'm getting to with this guy. I like him. He likes me. Will he also like me--the me with depression? It's ridiculous, really! Obviously, if he can't handle it he's not a person I want to be associated with. But if not him, who? Major depression is not a selling point!
It's one more thing that is wrong with me.
And when I start thinking like that, the demon depression is winning, and I still don't know when to drop the "D-bomb."



.