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!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Getting back to it

I'm thinking about running a marathon Memorial Day weekend. It's my local race, so it's easy logistically to manage. I've been tentatively planning on running the race for months now, but my struggles in Boston made me think twice. I haven't yet signed up, but there are still slots remaining so that shouldn't be an issue. I just have to make up my mind.

Whether I run Memorial Day or not, I still need to get right back to training, because I am also signed up to run Grandmas Marathon in June. So I spent the weekend getting back to it. I ran 12 miles on some very tired legs Saturday. My legs were hungover from a 45-minute weight lifting class I took at the gym on Friday. I'm glad I made the effort, though, because by Sunday I felt a lot better. I kicked out a pretty good 6-miler in some pretty crappy weather yesterday afternoon. It felt good to feel good while running again.

Other than running, my life is pretty boring right now. I'm not getting many shifts at work, so I'm spending a lot of time alone at home. I'd rather be working. I wish I were working. I even put in an application at another company today. If they hire me, I'll be working on-call for three different organizations. But at least this third company is looking to fill some hours right now.

My mood has been fairly stable since returning from Boston. I'm always concerned about a dip occurring after a marathon, but I think I've escaped the dip this time. I expect my mood will continue to be good if I could just get some regular hours at work and get back on a regular schedule. I function much better with a regular schedule. Don't you? Carry on, friends!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Boston Photos

Here are a few pics from my six days in Boston.

 D and I at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkington, Massachusetts
 
 Me sitting on the starting line the day before the race
 
 More starting line fun
 
 The finish line of the Boston Marathon on a very busy Boylston Street
 
 Site of the second bombing on Boylston Street
 
Fenway Park. The Red Sox won!

 The Old North Church where Paul Revere looked for the lanterns--One if by land, two if by sea
 
 Friend, Mikki, and that is how they say Water in Massachusetts
 
 D and I on the deck of the U.S.S. Constitution
 
D and I in front of the Massachusetts State House
 

 Daffodils. They were everywhere in Boston this year

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I gave it my best

I'm back home and settled in after five wonderful days in Boston with my boyfriend, D. We had a great time. We enjoyed each other. We enjoyed the city. And, of course, we enjoyed race day. The atmosphere in Boston was electric the entire time we were there, but on race day it was amazing. It was hard to leave and fly home separately, but now that I'm home, it's good to be here, too.

As far as my race, well, it just wasn't my day. It was Boston's day! That's for sure! I was grateful and proud to be participating. The spectator support, all one million of them, was humbling and incredible. There were very few quiet spots along the entire 26.2 mile route.

Unfortunately, all the spectator support in the world couldn't keep me from walking at least a portion of each mile after the race's halfway point. I did my best, but my legs were dead and would not respond. I ended up standing for nearly 90 minutes prior to the gun going off, and by mile two I knew it was going to be a longer day than I had hoped.

Fortunately, it was a beautiful, sunny day, but the temperature rose a bit beyond predictions. The heat may have had an impact on me. GI issues, which forced a pit stop at mile four, and lightheadedness also delayed my finish. But I did finish. I'm proud to have persevered!

After realizing at mile two that my legs were tired and not responsive, I focused on running for as long as I could. I first focused on making it to mile ten. When I ran through ten, I focused on mile 13.1. I made that goal, too, so I set my sights on mile fourteen. But it wasn't to be. Before I made it to 13.5 miles I had slowed to a walk.

From that point on I walked at least a portion of each mile and up every hill. I tried to take in as much fuel as I could, but I was simply out of gas. I figured I was in for at least a five hour day. If it had been any other marathon, at any other time, I would have contemplated dropping out. But it was Boston, 2014. It was the marathon of hope and recovery. I not only wanted to help take back the Boston Marathon, I wanted to take back a large piece of me.

I thought a lot during those long Boston miles. I thought about what I had been through recently. I thought about five hospitalizations between October and December, 2013. I thought about January, 2014, when I began reclaiming my brain, my body, and my running from the ravages of depression. I thought about my friends, my family, and the professionals who supported me along the way, many of whom were following my marathon progress from afar. I knew I wouldn't stop. I couldn't stop. I kept moving forward.

In the end, I averaged a little over nine minutes per mile and crossed the finish line in a respectable 4:06:19. I was surprised. I must have walked fairly fast! I had tears in my eyes down the final stretch and was crying by the time I put my fist in the air on the line. I did it.

Despite my body's unwillingness to fully cooperate, I did persevere. I did the best I could do on that particular day. I'm proud I finished what I started just a few months ago. Now it's time to look forward, move ahead, and keep the pace. And that's exactly what I plan to do.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Self Talk

Irrational Mind (IM): I feel a little heavy.
Rational Mind (RM): That's normal. You're tapering.

IM: My legs feel heavy and tired.
RM: Your legs always feel heavy and tired during your taper. It's normal.

IM: I think I've gained 2 pounds.
RM: It's normal to gain a little bit of weight, even a few pounds, during a taper for a marathon.

IM: I'm afraid it's going to make me slower.
RM: We've been through this 22 times. You'll be fine, just as you've been every other time.

IM: My knees feel sore.
RM: That's happened to you before. Aches and pains, and worries about aches and pains, are normal while tapering.

IM: What if I don't finish?
RM: Worse things have happened. The world will not end. Besides, you've finished 22 times before!

IM: I feel worried and anxious.
RM: You always feel worried and anxious just before a marathon. It's normal.

IM: I'm worried my mood will be affected.
RM: You always feel worried and anxious before a marathon. It's normal. It doesn't mean you're mood is faltering.

IM: Are you sure?
RM: 22 times!!

IM: I'm worried about Jet. I hate leaving him.
RM: You always hate leaving him. He's resilient. He'll survive. So will you.

IM: What if something happens?
RM: Your dog sitter is very capable. You've used her before, and nothing has happened. Why would this time be any different?

IM: I don't think I did a very good job speaking to that class yesterday.
RM: Where did that thought come from? I thought we were talking marathon!

IM: Oh, right... I feel a little heavy.
RM: Ugh. Here we go again...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

One year anniversary

It has been 365 days since one of the oldest, most prestigious running events in the world was shattered by two bombs. Senseless tragedy ensued. There were 3 deaths and over 260 injured survivors, 16 of whom had to have one or both limbs amputated. Another death occurred in the following days when one of the bombers ambushed an M.I.T. police officer. Stupid, senseless, vicious... Why?

I wore my Boston Marathon jacket today and immediately noticed I was standing a little taller. There was a sense of pride, of solidarity with all those runners who were there last year. I was lucky. I wasn't there. I'm not sure I could go back this year if I had been. I'm so impressed with all the survivors who have carried on with their lives despite their injuries. Some of them are even running this year. I congratulate them. I'm in awe of them.

I spent part of the day today watching The Tribute--the city of Boston's ceremony honoring the bombing victims, although they prefer to be called survivors. It was beautiful, powerful, and honorable. Boston Strong was front and center today. I was impressed.

As I prepare to go to Boston, and as I think about running next Monday, I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude to be a runner, to have the opportunity to run marathons and the honor of running Boston. Life can change in an instant. I've had my share of struggles, this illness being the central struggle, but I can still run. It is part of my identity. I don't know what I'd do if I lost it. Thankfully, I haven't had to find out.

In six days I will join 36,000 other like-minded souls in a 26.2 mile journey from Hopkington to Boston. I expect it will be an emotional journey, maybe even a goosebump experience. I expect that last half mile down Boylston Street, the site of the bombings, will be humbling and amazing. I am honored to be participating this year. I am honored be a part of taking back our streets. I will be Boston Strong.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Working better

I had the opportunity to work this week. I worked three, four hour shifts. The good news is I'm doing okay despite the stress of working. In fact, it didn't feel so stressful this week. That's a change for the better. I was pretty anxious prior to the first shift I worked on Wednesday, but my anxiety subsided soon after my shift began, and I was able to focus on working. It helps that I work with wonderful people who were happy to see me back. I'm lucky.

In general, I've been doing well. I'm feeling good. My mood has remained stable. I've been taking care of what needs to be taken care of lately. Running my errands, completing my housework (not all at once), tapering for Boston, and going to meetings. It's so nice when life is easy, when the grip of depression is loose and there is light in my world. I'm grateful.

I continue to be humbled and honored by you, my readers. Your comments surprise and satisfy me. I am so happy to hear my simple writings make a difference in your lives. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Getting ready to go

I am less than two weeks away from running the Boston Marathon. I'm really looking forward to going now. From a running standpoint, I feel ready. That's really great. I never thought I'd be able to say that in January when running was so slow and tough, and I was feeling so heavy.I'm still in the process of losing the depression weight. I've lost at least 7 pounds since January, and that's made a big difference in my running. It's gotten easier and easier to run faster and faster over the months of training. I'm anxious to see what my body will do on marathon day, April 21st.

I'm also anxious to see my boyfriend, D. We haven't seen each other in at least 6 weeks! Too long. He's coming to Boston to watch me run. We're flying separately from our respective states and meeting at the hotel in Boston. I can't wait! I've been missing him a lot lately. We're staying for a few days after the race, too. I lived in Boston for five years, so I'm excited to show him the sites while we spend time together. I'm afraid it might be hard to leave.

Hopefully, when I do come home, I'll have more work options. I'm still trying to get some shifts scheduled so I can get back to my pre-depression-episode life. I will be working tomorrow for the first time in two weeks. I'm worried my improved mood over the past two weeks has simply been the result of not working, which would mean my struggles prior to that were likely the result of going back to work. I hope that was not the case. I'd prefer if it was more of a coincidence. Until I get some consistent shifts again, I guess I won't know for sure. It will be nice to work while feeling better.

And finally, thank you all for your comments on my previous post. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and appreciated your kind words of support. As so often happens when I write here, I now know I am not at all alone. I hope the comments of others were helpful to the rest of you, too. I'll keep writing in hopes that we all continue moving forward despite our personal battles with this dreadful illness. Carry on, friends.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Defective

I said something the other day, a bit in jest, but realized later that it had some truth to it, actually more truth than I'd like admit. But admit it is what I am about to do. I've become aware that I approach relationships from a position of defect. That is, I feel I am defective. I feel I am a defective person, because of my illness, in comparison to you. And to you, and you, and you... Internally, I feel less than pretty much every person I meet and with whom I interact. Ouch.

That wasn't an easy paragraph to write. I am not proud of this fact. This has been a hard realization at which to arrive. But I wonder if I am alone. I wonder if others can relate. And if you can relate, what have you done about it? This is not an attitude or feeling I want to continue. I'd much rather approach others feeling as if I were an equal.

As I've noted, this is a fresh observation of an underlying belief. I don't think it is obvious to those around me. I think others would be surprised to learn I feel this way. I don't think I act as if I feel less than my friends or coworkers, but feel that way I do. I don't totally understand it myself. I'm not even sure how it impacts my life exactly, but it probably does, right? It's something I'll have to work on, I guess.

Feel free to discuss.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

No work

I'm struggling with what to write here today. I don't have anything new or interesting to report. Life is slowly moving forward. I say slowly because I've been bored thus far this week. I have not worked since last Wednesday, and that was only for a couple of hours. And I'm not scheduled to work the rest of the week either. Things are slow at the rehab facility and at the hospital, so there has been no need for extra help. While working did make me anxious, it was better than sitting home when I'm feeling well enough to be working. I'd much rather be dealing with my anxiety today.

That being said, I have been running as scheduled, going to meetings, and catching up on a bit more housework. My energy has been better, which is another reason I've been frustrated by not working. I've had plenty of time to nap, but I haven't needed to nap! Go figure. I'm not complaining. It is what it is, and like everything else, it's temporary. I'm grateful my mood and energy have been better than they were. Wouldn't it be nice if that were permanent? I can hope.



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