Depression Marathon Blog

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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!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Post-marathon Dip

I'm not sure it's directly related, but it feels like I've sunk into a bit of a dip since my marathon on Sunday. I've experienced post marathon dips in my mood in the past, so I'm always watchful for changes. But I've been feeling so well lately, I'm a little surprised by this tumble.

I don't think the dip has anything to do with my performance. It wasn't that important. Perhaps it has more to do with extending myself physically and mentally. I don't know. But I've been sad, tearful, overwhelmed, anxious and fatigued for the past two days. Something is going on.

I've contacted my doctor. I'm getting extra rest. I'm going to work, exercising, and seeing friends. Well, I'm seeing some friends. I did skip a meeting, and work has been particularly challenging. But I'm doing what I can and fighting the urge to isolate. The last thing I want is for this dip to become a drop. I liked the way things were going. I want to get back to feeling fabulous as soon as possible.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Maddening Marathon. Lessons Learned.

As we say here in Minnesota, "Uff-da!" It was another tough day out there on the roads. As predicted, the weather was not conducive to running a good marathon yesterday. The temp at the start was reasonable, but the sun came out from behind the clouds just as the starter fired his pistol. The temperature began its precipitous climb. By the time I finished, the temperature was nearing 90 degrees. In addition, winds averaging 15-20+ miles per hour throughout the race made for a tough, tough day.

I began the day with what I thought was a reasonable goal. I wanted to run somewhere around a 3:45 (3 hours, 45 minutes). To do that, I needed to average 8 minutes and 35 seconds per mile. Fortunately, there was a 3:45 pace group, so I jumped in with them at the start. Unfortunately, 4 of my first 5 miles were well below 8:35 pace. The pacer, it seemed, went out way too fast. And rather than trusting my watch, not to mention how I felt, I went with him. Dumb. Going out too fast... It is the cardinal sin of marathoning. I know better.

Despite knowing better, my ego got the best of me. I somehow convinced myself I could handle the early pace. On a day when I should have started extra slow, I huffed and puffed up and down the hills over the first seven miles. I hoped I could handle it, but in the back of my mind I knew I was likely going to pay. I felt a little emboldened when the course flattened out around mile eight, and we (the pace group and I) ran a nice steady 8:35-8:40 pace for the next several miles.

I saw my mom and friends at mile 12. I told them I started too fast. They told me I looked great. I hung with the ever-shrinking pace group as long as I could, hoping at least to make it to 16 miles with them. But I faded fast, and at mile 13.2 I screeched to a halt and began to walk. It happened that fast, and it lasted the rest of the race. I walked a little, ran a little, walked a little more, ran a little less. It was hot. It was windy. And I started too fast. No matter what I put into my body, and I put in a lot, it wasn't enough to refuel me. It was a classic crash!

So it was a long day. I focused on finishing. I focused on taking just one more step. I thought about you readers cheering me on. I thought about what I'd write in this post, what lessons could I impart from such a frustrating day. And the lessons are these. Trust your instincts. Know you know what you know, and stick to your plan. Finally, when you make a mistake, it's not the end of the world and by no means is it a reason to quit. By putting one foot in front of the other--sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly--I did finish in 4:05ish. And I am wiser because of it. Hopefully, I won't repeat the same mistakes again.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A new honor

If you are a regular here, you may have noticed the new badge atop this blog. Apparently, Healthline.com has named me to their list of the 18 Best Depression Blogs of 2012. I'm very honored and grateful for the recognition. I hope the link above works. Unfortunately, there seems to be some glitch with my computer, and I haven't been able to read the article yet!

It's always nice to be recognized. I've been working on this blog for 4+ years now. Reducing the stigma surrounding depression and other mental illnesses has always been my goal. Recognition by sites like this will help get my voice out there, and that's more valuable to me than any badge will ever be. A big thank you to Healthline.com, and a bigger thank you and to all of my readers. You're the reason I'm here, and my efforts would be futile without all of you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rolling along

Go figure. Since I announced I was leaving my current job, the previously crabby, self-absorbed, negative management team has been nothing but kind and cooperative. In fact, yesterday, the owner even complimented me on my evaluation skills and thorough documentation. He's never said a kind word about my performance in the past! He's never said a negative word either. I had no idea he was paying any attention whatsoever. It's all very weird. I'll still be happy to get out of there, but it does make me question why now? I didn't think they had it in them to be kind or cooperative. At least their new found behavior will make my last two weeks there slightly more tolerable.

Perhaps not coincidentally, my mood has been good. This is in spite of lowering one of my meds a couple weeks ago, and despite lots of new activity in my life. I do have a lot going on right now - dating, a new job, an upcoming marathon. I'm happy to be handling the extra stress, albeit good stress, without a major dip. Life is rolling right along, and I'm happy to be on the ride.

I'm looking forward to my marathon on Sunday. I ran an easy 4 miles today. My normal route took me onto part of the marathon course. Miles 22 and 23 were already marked on the path. I took the opportunity to visualize and mentally rehearse feeling good during those miles. It was pretty cool. I hope I feel on Sunday as good as I felt today when passing those mile markers.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast for Sunday is anything but cool. The last I looked, the projected temperature was 88 degrees with a 15 mile per hour south wind! It may be Boston all over again. I'm praying as hard as I can pray that the forecast will be incorrect. Please, God, not again! Like so many other things in this universe, weather is out of my control, but I'm going to keep praying anyway. Join me, won't you?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tapering

I'm enjoying my first cup of coffee, as I sit here in my living room one hour prior to my final long run, only 10 miles, before next Sunday's marathon. It's taper time. I had a very good week of training. I feel good. I think I'm as ready as I'll ever be.

Tapering is sometimes fun, sometimes stressful. It's nice to decrease mileage and intensity after training hard for so long. But it's also a time full of worries. Have I done enough? Did I do too much? Am I getting enough rest? These and other questions push me to tweak my training at the last minute, a useless proposition. Tapering requires trust in the process and faith in that I've done what I could.

Interestingly, I'm tapering at work right now, too. On Monday I'll begin my second to last week at my current position. And guess what? I'm finding tapering at work to be a nice, yet stressful time. As I tell my patients I'm leaving, I'm receiving more than my fair share of love, respect, and compliments. I have a lot of sweet patients on my caseload right now, and I'll miss them. But out of that love and respect arise more questions in my brain. Am I doing the right thing? Should I be staying where I'm at? What if the new position is more stressful than I can handle? These and other questions leave me wondering.

The reality is I don't know what will happen in either situation. Whether it's an upcoming marathon or an impending employment change, I have no control over the future. In both cases my only job is to prepare as best I can. And that's where I need to keep my focus today. Preparation. If I can stay focused on preparation, I can enjoy more and worry less about these tapers. Everything will work out. I have faith in that.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dating Again

A few weeks ago, I had a wacky thought and joined an online dating site. I don't know what I was thinking. I was quickly overwhelmed and left the site within a few days. But just before I left, I met someone. We had our first date last week. He took me to lunch at one of the finer restaurants in town. As usual, I was worried. When do I tell him about being in recovery? How do I introduce the fact that I have depression? What if he discovers my blog? These and many other questions were racing through my head as I prepared to meet him for the first time.

Fortunately for me, I met a rather enlightened individual. We had a nice time together, and when we parted, it was with the intent of seeing each other again. Despite my wishes to the contrary, after spending more than three hours together, he knew almost everything there is to know about me. He asked many, many questions, and I answered him honestly each time. All of my history came out. He even knew about this blog, but only that it was about depression and running.  I wasn't prepared for what happened later.

Early that evening I received an e-mail from him. He had read my blog! I was stunned! I'd never dated anyone who read my blog. Most of my family don't know about my blog, and the ones who do have agreed not to read it. The information here is very personal, and I don't feel comfortable having family members read it. I didn't quite know what to think about my date reading it, but I knew it made me feel vulnerable. I was worried.

I was certain my tales of hopelessness would send him running in the opposite direction. After messaging him my concern, he phoned to tell me everything was okay. Not only was he not scared off by my blog, he actually felt it helped him to know me better. He complimented me for surviving this journey I've been traveling. Again, I was stunned. Who was this man?

Since that conversation, we've seen each other again. It went really well. We've been in daily contact. Every time I receive a message from him I smile. I like that. But I'm not jumping in with both feet yet. Online dating can be so temporary. I'm living in the moment. Right now I'm having fun. I look forward to seeing him again, but I'm not planning too far ahead. I like him, and if it's meant to be it will work out as it should. It'll happen one day at a time.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Got it and Took it

The potential new job is now my job. It took a couple of days to negotiate my salary package, but in the end we got it worked out. I am taking a bit of a pay cut to take this position, but as my readers pointed out, the old job was going nowhere whereas the new job has tons of potential upside. And like everything else in life, the new job will be as temporary as I choose it to be.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hesitant to take the new position. I was. Fear almost got the best of me. But again, your comments made a difference. Several of you talked about unhappily taking the easy way out, rather than facing your fear. Staying in my current position would have been the easy way out. I'm already unhappy and stressed there, so I had to face my fear. Not doing so wouldn't have made any sense.

Now it's time to really hit the books and bone up on my outpatient skills. Doing so will certainly help decrease my discomfort and fear. Currently, I'm afraid of the reaction I'll get when I give my owner my resignation notice on Monday. I'm not expecting it to be a pleasant experience. I'm sure I'll at least receive a hefty guilt trip. But that's his problem, not mine. I'm giving three weeks notice. I'll begin my new position on June 4th. Thank you all for your help as I traveled through this decision making process.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A maze of discomfort and fear

One of the tenets of my program of recovery is, "Do not make decisions based on fear." My friends have been reminding me of this lately. Well, as I wrote here a few days ago, I am fearful. I am in the middle of salary negotiations for a job I'm not certain I want because I am afraid I no longer possess the skills necessary to perform it well. Yet I know I can't stay at my current job, as the environment there is just too negative and unsupportive. So I'm stuck, and I need to make a decision.

If I decide not to take the new position, I would definitely be going against the basic tenet. My decision not to take the job would be totally based on fear. The major reason not to take the new position is because I am afraid I can't do it. Other than that, it's really a no-brainer.

My fears, in reality, are likely unfounded. I know eventually my discomfort would abate, my fear would subside, and I would settle into my new role. So what am I afraid of? Well, I've discovered I'm actually afraid of being afraid!

I don't like to be uncomfortable. I don't like to feel afraid. I'd like to avoid both discomfort and fear at all costs. So I'm actually afraid of feeling uncomfortable and afraid! New jobs are always scary and uncomfortable. And I do have some legitimate concerns about my forgotten skills. But if I'm really honest, I am most afraid of, and I most want to avoid being scared.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately (because it forces me to face my fear), staying at my current job is also quite uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable for very different reasons, but it's uncomfortable nonetheless. Yet choosing to stay in my current situation would be easier, and in a way more comfortable, than leaving for this new position. Weird! It's confusing. It's sticky. It all makes this a very difficult decision to make. No wonder I feel stuck!

Stuck or not, I'm leaning strongly toward leaving. If we can work out the salary details, which I could have accomplished tonight had I called the regional manager back, I think I will take the new position. In a way, I feel like I need to take it in order to challenge myself, in order to work through this fear.

In doing so, I have to remember another crucial component of my program, faith. I can only make my best decision, and I must leave the rest to God. It will work out as it should. I must, regardless of the decision I make, have faith in that.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cancelled.

I awoke at 3:50 AM, as planned, to a flash of lightning outside my window. Uh-Oh. Today's weather forecast called for a 90% chance of thunderstorms. Well, I thought, maybe it's better in LaCrosse. By the time my friend arrived at 4:30 AM, it was thundering, lightning, and absolutely pouring buckets of rain. This should be interesting, I thought. We began our drive east, but the weather not only did not improve, it got much, much worse. The rain was coming down so hard it was difficult to drive. One hour into our journey, about 10 miles from LaCrosse, it began to hail. We pulled under an overpass, checked the race website, but still no word regarding the status of the race. The hail stopped. We pushed on. Ten minutes later, they called it. The marathon was cancelled.

Disappointed, we turned around. As my friend drove away in her car, I wondered what the hell I was going to do. After all, I totally carbo-loaded yesterday. I had to exercise! But I was so disappointed and discombobulated, I just wanted to lie down. Ten minutes later, on my way to lying on the floor with Puck, I called my friend, Maureen, back. She had just arrived at her home in the country. Rather than lie down, as I really wanted to do, I got back into my car, drove to her house, and we ran 16 miles together. I feel better now. Now I can lie down!

What a weird morning. We were all geared up to run 26.2 miles. Then all the air was sucked from our sails. Then there we were, running down the road anyway. I'm glad I called Maureen back, and I'm really glad I ran long rather than lying down. I know I'd feel really crappy right now if I would have given in to the disappointment and just slept. Instead, I feel satisfied. I'm still disappointed, but I'm satisfied. Running saved me once again.

Instead of dwelling on this missed opportunity, Maureen and I decided to sign up for the local marathon, which will be run here in three weeks on May 27th. We laughed as we made this decision because we both did Boston in the heat, and today we got cancelled because of lightning and hail, so we figure we're due for some really pristine weather at our next event! Let's hope it is so.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

To learn or not to learn

After a nice, marathon-prep, easy run on Tuesday, I got my bike out for a group ride last night. It was my first ride of the season, and I've never ridden in a big group before. Remember, I'm supposed to be tapering for my Sunday marathon. I was hoping the group ride, also the first of the season, would be a shorter, easier one. It was fairly low on mileage, 20 miles, but it was hardly easy. We rode up and over several long, steep hills very early in the ride, which wiped out my quads. It was also very windy, as there was a storm blowing in. And because there was a storm blowing in, I rode fairly hard in order to beat it. When will I learn? I woke up today with dead legs! So much for tapering. I just hope I didn't do too much potential damage to Sunday's effort.

Speaking of learning, I found out a little more about my potential new job today. I interviewed this morning for another position in a different skilled nursing facility (nursing home). But I found out the position involves treating mostly outpatients of all ages and diagnoses. I haven't treated outpatients for ten years! That scares me.

Outpatient physical therapy requires many skills, most of which I haven't used for ten years. I'm not sure if I want to dust the rust off or not. I like my skilled nursing facility patients, and I thought that's what I was applying for in this case. In order to take this position, I'd have to get out the old textbooks and re-learn lots of long forgotten techniques. I'm not sure what to do if I should be offered the opportunity. I want this position to be a good fit.

I have to think about the fit over the next 24+ hours, as I'll find out more on Saturday. That's when the interviewer plans to call me back. I can barely stand staying where I am now, but I don't want to put myself in another stressful position either. There is something to be said for the devil I know vs. the devil I don't know. Any thoughts? I sure could use some assistance on this one.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My next marathon

Surprise, surprise! Despite my vow to rest after Boston and hopefully heal my left achilles tendonitis, I've decided to run another marathon. In fact, my next marathon will be in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, this Sunday! Yep, I'm going to run another marathon just 20 days after Boston.

I actually decided, tentatively, to run this race soon after finishing Boston. After all the training leading up to Boston, I just wasn't satisfied with the run-walk-slog necessitated by Boston's heat. I feel the need to have a better effort under my belt. And that effort will hopefully take place this Sunday, May 6th, beginning at 7:00 AM.

Of course, this could totally backfire and be another slog to the finish line, but if that's the case, so be it. This is a new race. I believe it is only in its third year. It's supposed to be flat and fast, and it doesn't require an overnight stay in a hotel. It will be a small affair, I believe, but I have convinced one of my friends--she also ran Boston--to join me. So I'm going with the intent to run and have fun.

I actually just came in from an easy run. I was supposed to have a job interview today, but it got rescheduled. I'll go on Thursday instead. I was close to quitting my job yesterday, but I didn't. I wouldn't have walked out immediately. That's not my style, nor do I think it is professional behavior. I would have given them 4 weeks notice. I just want my time there to end, but I don't want to shoot myself in the foot either. Since I don't have another steady job lined up, I decided to keep my mouth shut and keep working. It may be just a few more days before I can legitimately (i.e. I have another position waiting) serve notice. I'll try to be patient.



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