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, December 28, 2015

Ten freakin' years!

It's a big, amazing, unbelievable day today. Double digits. It's been ten years since I took my last drink of alcohol. Ten years since I lived in the self-centered, manipulative, miserable world of an active alcoholic. Today, thanks to my higher power, my adoption of the tools of my recovery program, and my work with others, I am a recovered alcoholic. One day at a time, 3,650 days, I am sober, and that truly is amazing.

I'm amazed because ten years ago I could not have imagined a life without alcohol. It was my medication, my social lubricant, my muscle relaxant, and my solution to life. But, and I must remember this, alcohol also isolated me, filled me with despondency, and left me a suicidal mess incapable of coping with life. Sobriety is a gift. It is a gift of life.

The tools I've been so freely given in my recovery have allowed me to live life on life's terms. I no longer try to control the uncontrollable--that is, the people, places, and things outside of myself. That is truly a gift. Drama has been removed from my life. I now have the internal resources to deal with that which is in front of me, whether it be a crumbling relationship, a debilitating injury, a job decision, or major depression.

Of course it's not all sunshine and roses. Life never is. I struggle. I hurt. I feel. But the gift of my life today is I don't have to get drunk over any of it. Even in the depths of my mental illness, the darkness that is depression, I know it would only get worse if I took a drink. I'm so fortunate to understand that. And I'm so grateful I do.

I have no great understanding of why I got this gift. Why me and not my fellow sufferer? I cannot explain it. I am not special or unique. I certainly did not approach sobriety with a stellar attitude. I saw no similarities between myself and my fellow sufferers, only differences. Of course I had no desire to be like any of them! Alcoholic was not a diagnosis I yearned to acquire.

Yet despite my attitude and arrogance, I got the gift anyway. I stuck around. I became willing. I kept coming back. And ten years later I'm still here, still listening, still soaking it all in. Today I live in the solution rather than the problem.

With the deck seemingly stacked against me, I got sober anyway. And I'm sober today. I'm a participant in my life, doing the best I can, and not looking back. Thank God! Ten years. More grateful, I could not be.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I'm just back from a crisp, seven mile, Christmas morning walk with my boy, Jet. We usually spend time running, or as was the case this year, walking on Christmas day. I like the quiet, practically solitary time together in the city. In our 1 hour, 44 minute walk, we only passed two other people and very few cars. We had the city to ourselves. It was very peaceful.

It's just me and Jet this Christmas, as it has been for many Christmases previously. I'm okay with that. My parents are in Florida for the winter, and my brothers all share the day with their own children and extended families. I will go to dinner at a friend's house later this afternoon, but until then I am enjoying the freedom to do what I want, without expectations, and the quiet.

After work yesterday, I spent some time with a few friends. The topic of discussion eventually turned to mental illness, and specifically depression, as several of my friends are fellow sufferers. Christmas can be a difficult time of year for those of us with mental illness for many reasons. Dysfunctional or distant families, difficult family memories, friends occupied with their own families, or time away from work and out of one's normal routine leave many feeling isolated and alone during the holidays. I get that.

I feel very grateful to be feeling well, and at peace, during this Christmas season. I like the path I am currently on, and I'm feeling hopeful for the future. I wish all of you peace and serenity today. Remember to take care of yourself first, especially if you find this season difficult or challenging. Take time for yourself, manage expectations, and find gratitude wherever possible. Create your own traditions. And most importantly have a safe, healthy, happy day. Merry Christmas, my friends!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Birthday

So today is my birthday. I was born in 1967. You do the math. I'm not thrilled with getting older, especially this old! Having had depression for 15, sometimes tumultuous, years, I don't feel like I've lived as many years as the number suggests. I feel like I've missed a lot. Career, relationship, financial status... none of it is necessarily where I'd like it to be. But it is what it is, right? All I can do is focus on making the most of the day in front of me. I certainly don't want to miss anymore.

I didn't do anything special today. I worked. Some of my co-workers remembered it was a big day, some didn't. That's okay. But can I just say I hate Facebook? I drove home feeling a little sorry for myself. The combination of coming home to an empty house and Facebook kind of had me down. Facebook! Of all things!

Here's the thing, only one Facebook friend wished me a happy birthday all day. Now I'm not a big Facebook user, but I seem to get notified everyday of some friend's birthday. Most of the time I respond to the notification with a little birthday wish on that friend's timeline. So when only one friend posted a little blurb wishing me a happy birthday today, I was, well, I'm embarrassed to say, a little sad.

Thankfully, before I got too deep into my pity pot, I got on Facebook and tried to figure out what was going on. I mean, I couldn't be that unpopular, could I? After much research and a few tutorials, as I said I'm not a regular Facebook-er, I figured out my birthday was not visible on my profile. Apparently, that meant nobody was actually notified of the big event. I changed the setting, my birthday is now visible, and I've already received a few happy birthday wishes from friends. Whew! I don't think my ego could have handled a Facebook shutout!

Now that that's settled, I'm going to spend the evening playing and snuggling with my dog. Unconditional love, there is nothing better. Earlier, I took myself out for dinner, and I'm sure my mom will call soon. I can always count on that. And there's my phone now. It's my brother. All is good in etta's world. And tomorrow will be another day, the first of another year. Life moves on. I'll keep moving on with it. Carry on, my friends!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Job news

A few weeks ago I wrote about my difficulty making a decision about a job offer. The company I'm working for as an on-call employee wants to make me a full time (30 hours per week) employee. The hourly salary is less, but I'd get all the benefits I currently lack like health insurance, retirement savings, and paid time off. And I'd have a stable, regular income.

If I don't take the position offered, someone else will be hired, and I'll have to hustle for hours at a different facility. Getting enough hours usually isn't too difficult, but it's not guaranteed. If patient census falls and facilities slow down, they may not have any need for extra help from me. That's the risk I take for the benefit of being able to control my own schedule.

My fear with having a set schedule, which will be four 8-hour days, is I won't be able to handle it. Physically and mentally I'm doing well now working about 20-25 hours per week, but I never work more than 3 days per week. I generally work 7-8 hour shifts Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I use Tuesday and Thursday for appointments, exercise, and rest. Since my depression began I've needed that time.

I haven't worked full time in 15 years. In the past I've struggled when working more than 20-25 hours per week, or when I've worked more than a couple days in a row. For those reasons, I told my employer last week I couldn't take the position. It was a decision based on worry and fear. Within 24 hours I had changed my mind.

Well, I didn't totally change my mind, and I didn't totally lose my worry and fear. But I made a decision to try. I negotiated with my boss to allow me to continue as an on-call employee while I take a stab at working 30 hours per week. She agreed.

Beginning right after Christmas, I will be working four 8-hour shifts per week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. I'll try the schedule for at least two weeks, and if it goes well I will take the position. If I find it's too much, mentally or physically, I'll remain an on-call employee, and my employer will continue looking for a permanent physical therapist.

It's a perfect solution. I get to trial the very job I've been offered without committing to the offer. I'm still apprehensive. I'm still afraid it's going to be too much. I'm still worried about being tied to a regular schedule. But I'm going to try it. And I really do hope I handle it well. It would be nice to have the income stability and benefits I've lacked for several years.

I'm also very pleased my employer knows about my depression. They know I was recently hospitalized, and they know I missed a ton of work because of it. And they still want me to work for them. For someone who has been fired in the past, because I was missing too much work while being treated for depression, that's very refreshing. It will be easy to give them my best. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Working and feeling well

It's been a good week. I just returned home from work. It was my third full day of work this week, and I'm not collapsed on the sofa yet! I'm not out running, either, but my energy has not been totally sapped. I still have a little left. Enough to sit here and write at least. I'm pleased with how things are going.

My mood has been very good and holding steady for at least a month now. I'm thrilled to have more energy. I've gradually been building up my hours at work. It's going well. I've been working 6-8 hour shifts, 3-4 days per week. We're busy, so I'm seeing one patient after another, and like I said, I haven't crashed. It's really rather remarkable. I feel so "normal."

Better yet, I've been able to keep up with some sort of exercise 5-6 days of the week. Exercise is key to my mental health. In balance with working, socializing, and my recovery, I need exercise to continue to feel well. I've lost some of the weight I gained during my depression relapse, and I feel physically stronger and healthier today than I have for months.

Unfortunately, my running comeback took a bit of a hit two weeks ago when my right Achilles acted up in the middle of a run. I was worried. I took a week off, focused on cycling and lifting instead, and I seem to be back on track. I'm now up to running for 4 minutes interspersed with 2 minutes of walking. I'm hoping to increase the running time to 5 minutes and decrease the walking time to one minute within the next week. It's slow, but it's progress.

I like progress. I'm happy with my progress. I'm hoping to continue on this trajectory. Life is so much simpler when my mood is good. And I'm very grateful for that.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

R.I.P. my friend

I've had many people come and go in my life. It's fair to say that, good or bad, I've learned something from each and every relationship. Yesterday was a particularly difficult parting. My friend, KMC, who I wrote about recently, succumbed to a brain tumor last week. Her memorial service was yesterday. It was a difficult goodbye.

KMC and I spent many, many hours together throughout the early and middle years of my sobriety. She was my sponsor and friend. She took me through the steps of our recovery program. She taught me how to live life on life's terms. She gave me the tools to live in this world without fear, anger and resentment. Instead she imparted faith, gratitude and serenity. Somehow I missed those lessons growing up, and if it wasn't for KMC, I might still be miserable, or worse, dead.

The church was filled to the rafters yesterday. Women, especially, were well represented. That made perfect sense to me, as KMC had a tremendous impact on countless women in this community. In working her program, she was a role model. She had her share of struggles, as have we all, but she eventually came through them, standing tall, and in the process gave us all more to contemplate and to emulate. The representation of grateful, sober women at KMC's service yesterday was a testament to a life well lived.

I will miss my sponsor, my mentor, my teacher, my friend. I have no doubt I wouldn't have the life I have today had KMC not spent those countless hours teaching me. I will never forget her. She is with me every time I speak up in a meeting, every time I sit down with a newly sober woman, every time I share my experience, strength and hope. She is part of my journey. In passing on her teachings, KMC will never be far from my heart. Rest in peace, my friend.

Monday, November 30, 2015

What a day

As we say here in Minnesota, "Uff da!" If I could change the outcome, I'd like to have this day over. I had a perfectly nice, productive day planned. Unfortunately, about the only thing that went as planned was my morning cup of coffee. It all blew up after that.

Shortly after finishing my coffee I arrived at the tire shop for my routine tire rotation. In and out in 45 minutes. That was the plan. That was before the nice tire guy informed me that one of my tires was so worn, and worn so unevenly, it was unsafe to put it back on my vehicle. They had to replace it with the spare. The other three tires were fine, they were only 2 years old, but since I have an all wheel drive vehicle, I needed four new tires.

Not only did I need four new tires, the nice tire guy also told me my vehicle was out of alignment, which is why one tire was worn so unevenly. My head began to spin. Dollars flying out the window flashed before my eyes. Damn. I'm just getting back on my feet! I took a deep breath to stave off the panic.

My plans for the day were shot. Appointments were cancelled. The shop I was at didn't have four new tires in stock. They were swamped with customers, as was every other tire shop in town. Apparently the snow overnight, and the predicted snow and ice this afternoon, was a signal to everyone in Rochester to get their tires checked. I know this to be true because I spent most of the rest of the day driving from one shop to the next looking for the best tires, at the best price, which could be installed ASAP.

I procured 8 estimates from five different shops for 8 different tires. The prices varied, none of them reasonable, but nobody could get me in today. In addition, half the shops didn't perform alignments, and the other half were scheduled out several days. Plus, I don't know anything about tires, so I had to do some research. Long story short, the least expensive tires received the worst consumer reviews. If I wanted to be safe driving in the snow, I needed to spend more money than I wanted to spend.

Uff da. It's been a long day. Controlling my urge to panic and pull the covers over my head, I finally made a decision late this afternoon. It was based on cost, tire reviews, who could get me in sooner rather than later, and who could also do an alignment the same day. I've made appointments for tomorrow, but the tires are not in stock and may not arrive tomorrow, so really nothing is certain yet. I dislike uncertainty.

I'm exhausted from my efforts today. My brain hurts. I'm still not sure how I'm going to pay for all of this. But I'm proud of myself for continuing to take the next right action, and the next, and the next, despite my fear and panic, in order to get this solved. Uff da. I need a nap.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

15 years

It was November, 2000, when I first noticed I wasn't feeling quite right. Having had depression as a teenager, I recognized the feeling. It had been many years, but I knew that feeling. I took action. I got a psychiatry recommendation from a friend and called to make an appointment. Unfortunately, the doctor was booked out until March, 2001. I was hospitalized before I made it to her office.

Depression, like any other illness, is no respecter of gender, socioeconomic class, or stage in life. When my depression began 15 years ago, I was happily married, owned a home, had two cars in the garage, worked full-time in a job I loved, and had money in the bank. Depression got me anyway.

Over the next several years, my treatment-resistant depression took everything from me. I lost it all, the house, the spouse, the job, and the money in the bank. It was tough. To make matters worse, I began drinking to stifle the pain. It didn't take long before I added alcoholic to my list of diagnoses. Hopelessness was my constant companion.

Fortunately, I don't live in that darkness today. In those early years, I truly suffered from my illness. Today, I live with it. I don't think there was a definitive turning point. Perhaps things started to change when I began to speak publicly. Helping others helped me. I can't say I'm grateful to have depression, but I am grateful for the lessons I've learned because of depression.

Losing people and things taught me I was stronger and more resilient than I thought. I learned I could survive with less. I learned how to ask for help and accept that which was offered. And most importantly I learned I had something to offer others. Educating and supporting others gave my life some direction. I had a purpose.

I think it was that sense of direction and purpose which led me out of the constant darkness and back into the world. I got sober. I began working again after years of disability. I started this blog. I spoke up. I attended to idle relationships. I became more willing to work with my doctor. I developed a sense of perspective and gratitude. Depression no longer controlled my life.

Living with depression is much better than suffering from it, but that doesn't mean I relish it. This has been a long, tough, educational journey. I hate the relapses into the abyss. The lasting fatigue frustrates me. I'd like to work more, have a little money put away, and perhaps be in a relationship. I'm sure my life would look much, much different today had it not been interrupted by depression. But I would have missed out on a lot of important lessons, too.

I'm satisfied with who I am today, happy even, and I believe that's in large part due to the lessons I've learned over the past 15 years. Sure depression has been challenging. Perhaps I'd be better off had I not experienced it. But then again, perhaps I wouldn't. On second thought, I know I wouldn't.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Two Minutes

I'm happy to report that I'm now up to 2 minutes of running at a time. I returned to running November 2nd by walking 5 minutes and jogging 1 minute, five times. Since then I've run 3 times per week. I've slowly increased the running time, and pace, while decreasing the walking time. Tonight I walked 3 minutes and ran 2 minutes, eight times, for a total of 16 minutes of running. The highest number of total minutes I've run so far is only 22 minutes. It's not a lot, but it's better than not running at all!

So far my right Achilles is holding up okay. It's not perfect. I can still feel some tenderness, which is a little discouraging, but I'm not having any pain, which is encouraging. I'm hopeful I'll be able to continue progressing without re-injuring it. In fact, I'm so hopeful I've already signed up for Grandmas Marathon in June, 2016. It's a long way off, so I have plenty of time to be patient and advance slowly. Patience, however, is not my best quality. I'll do my best.

In other news, work continues to go well. My brain gets a little mushy toward the end of a long day, and I'm tired when I get home, but so far I'm tolerating the schedule fairly well. Could I tolerate more? That is the current question, as my employer wants to make this a permanent gig.

I am currently an on-call employee. I control my schedule. I usually work less than 25 hours per week. I've worked on-call or part-time ever since I returned to work after getting sick 15 years ago. The primary benefit is being able to decide where, when and for how many hours I work. But I don't have any benefits. I don't get any paid time off. And when the patient census is low, and the nursing facility is slow, there is no guarantee of working at all. I don't have a set schedule or guaranteed income.

Now my employer is offering me a full-time, at least 30-hours per week, position. I'd have a set schedule and familiar patients. I'd have health insurance and paid time off and all the other benefits of full-time employment. But can I handle that? The thought of it frightens me. I'm not sure I'd be able to do it. They want me to decide within the next 2 weeks so I could start in December.

It's a lot to think about. I'd be giving up a lot of freedom, which comes in handy when I'm not doing well, but I might be gaining a lot of security and stability. I really don't know what to do. There are pros and cons to each situation. I'll have to sort it out, but right now, I'm totally unsure and undecided. It's a great opportunity. I just don't know if I should take it.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Perspective

With the events of Paris fresh in my brain, I went for my walk/run this morning. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning for Jet and I, sunny and 50 degrees, and I found myself contemplating my good fortune. As we walked and ran a 6 mile loop within my small city, I had the opportunity to run on paved, tree-lined bike paths, alongside a gently flowing river, and up and down quiet streets in peaceful neighborhoods. It was surreal in comparison to what I had just viewed, for the third straight morning, on my television screen at home. And that's all I'm going to say about that. I've got nothing else. I just felt grateful.

Another opportunity for gratitude and perspective shortly followed the end of my walk/run. My friend, Joan, and I went to visit my former sponsor/friend in a local nursing home. KM is on hospice, which means this once vibrant, intelligent, strong woman, now only in her early 50's, is very near the end of her life. She has a brain tumor. Joan and I sat with her at her bedside and then Joan fed her lunch while I held KM's hand.

I don't know if she understood who we were or even that we were there. It didn't matter. KM held my hand throughout most of my first 6-7 years of sobriety. She was my teacher and role model. I pass her teachings on to others in recovery. I guess that's the only way I can repay her. It was difficult and sad to see her today. I may not see her alive again. That's reality. Cruel reality. My life, my health, my struggles... it doesn't compare. I am very fortunate.

I'm feeling fortunate, too, to be back to regular employment. I survived my last four days, which included three, 7-9 hour work days. As I reported in my last post, I was a little anxious going into this schedule. I hadn't worked that much, or that long, for months. It went well. Worries about forgetting paperwork requirements, inefficiency, and rustiness with patients were largely unfounded. I did get fatigued, but I was able to push through and even kept up with some exercise. I'm still a little anxious about maintaining the regular schedule going forward, but I'm feeling more hopeful.

Hope is a nice feeling. It's been awhile. Hope and gratitude are with me today. Whether it's half a world away or right here in my back yard, there is much to remind me of just how fortunate I really am. I just have to look and notice. Carry on, my friends.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A little anxious

Tomorrow is the day I begin some semblance of normalcy again. I am returning to a regular work schedule, and I'm jumping right in. I am scheduled to work 8 hour shifts three of the next four days. That's more than I've worked in a week since I got sick in late July. I'm a little nervous about it, which is why I'm writing about it here. I hope getting the worry off my chest will help me navigate the next four days with skill and composure.

While I'm looking forward to getting back to work, earning some much needed money, and interacting with my patients and coworkers again, I also have fears. I fear the full days with little rest will be tough on me physically and mentally. I worry about not being able to handle whatever is thrown my way. I worry about fatigue and mental stress. I fear the ever-looming potential set back.

I am battling the fears. I'm trying not to give them too much time or space in my brain. I'm focusing instead on what I can control. I've already packed my lunch and laid out my clothes for tomorrow. Sounds silly, but the less I have to organize in the morning the better my day goes. Being organized deletes early morning stress, and that translates to more energy I can dedicate to work. I'm going to need that energy.

Having enough energy is a huge concern. I can't control whether or not I will get fatigued, but I'm expecting it. I think that's realistic. I won't be surprised, and I'm already accepting that I may not be able to do as much, like exercise, over the next several days. I'll do what I can, but I'm focusing on work now. Perhaps after a few weeks of a regular employment schedule I can refocus on fitting in my extracurricular activities.

Staying healthy is all about balance for me. I have a feeling the next several days will be slightly out of balance. I may feel more stress. I may be fatigued. I may not spend as much time exercising, taking care of the house and yard, or spending time with Jet, but it will be temporary. I have to remember that. If I continue to focus on the things I can control and quell worry about the things I can't. I think I will be okay. That's my hope anyway. I'll let you know how I do.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Inching forward

I really dislike the word jog. I am not a jogger. I am a runner. Regardless, I'm thrilled to report that I've jogged 3 times this week, including today.

It's been 6.5 months since I partially tore my Achilles, 6.5 months since I last ran. Too long. So on Monday I consulted my local physical therapist, me, and decided it was time to get going. I walked 5 minutes and ran 1 minute five times. It went well. I had no pain when I ran, um...jogged. I did have a tiny bit of soreness the next day, which was discouraging, but it resolved fairly quickly.

On Wednesday and again today I repeated the process. I ran, um...jogged, a total of 6 minutes Wednesday and 9 minutes today. So far, so good, I think. I'm anxious to see how my Achilles responds tomorrow. I'm cautiously optimistic that if I take my time and come back very, very slowly things will be okay. But I'd be lying if I said I was counting on it. We'll see.

Physically, I'm getting better. My mouth continues to heal. I can actually chew without pain on the right side now. That's a step forward. I've also been going to the gym 6 days a week for strengthening and cycling classes for the last month. I'm getting some of my strength and endurance back. Not running combined with 2+ months of depression really set me back. It's nice to feel stronger again.

It's also nice to be back among the working again. I worked several short shifts this week, and I'm scheduled for at least 16 hours per week through the end of the month. If things continue to go well I'll build up from there. Again, I'm taking it slow. I don't want to take on too much and risk a setback. Inching forward, one step at a time, that's where I'm at.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A new month

It's the first day of a new month. Thank God! October was not kind to me, but I'm done focusing on that now. It's November. It's time to let go of the challenges of the past month and move forward.

Moving forward. That's what I've been doing lately, one foot at a time, one moment at a time. I'm not necessarily enjoying it, or happy, but I'm not paralyzed, or low, or descending into the abyss either. Sometimes, living in the moment is all I can do. Whether I like or approve of the moment I'm in doesn't matter one bit. I just need to live there and keep moving forward, inch by inch, step by step, moment by moment, and day by day.

Because I've kept motivating forward, I made it to the gym 5 of the last 6 days. I feel better every time I leave the gym, even if I have to force myself to get there initially, so I'm grateful for the motivation and energy to continue working on my physical self.

I'm also working on getting back to regular work. I saw patients for 2-4 hours per day for 3 days last week. It was nice to be back among my co-workers and patients. It was nice to feel productive again. Working allowed me to get outside myself and to stop worrying about my physical health for awhile. Every minute spent helping someone else was one less minute spent focusing on my recent challenges. I needed that.

I'm happy to report my mood has remained stable despite the recent health challenges. As I stated earlier, I'm not necessarily feeling light and joyful, yet, but putting one foot in front of the other has at least kept me from sliding backward. My movements are purposeful and planned. Taking the next right action is what it's all about right now. It's not necessarily easy, but it's not as difficult as I know it will be if I don't keep focusing forward. Onward and upward, my friends.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Uncle! Uncle!

I had emergency oral surgery yesterday. You might think this is related to my last post, in which I described my oral surgery last week, but that would be too easy. No, this oral surgery was for an entirely unrelated problem, on the other side of my mouth, that cropped up late last week. I apparently fractured tooth #14, a molar on the left side of my mouth, when I bit down on something. That fracture led to a massive infection. By Thursday night, I couldn't even touch that tooth with my tongue. The pain was that severe. I had to live with that pain all weekend, as there was no way to get the tooth pulled until yesterday. And I'm not done yet. Now I'm swollen, and miserable, and in pain as a result of the surgery. I have unhealed holes where teeth are supposed to be on both sides of my mouth now. The pain pills barely help. I'm frazzled, and tired, and overwhelmed. I'm doing my best to stay strong and hang in there, but it's hard not to worry about what's coming next.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Laying low

It's been a painful couple of days here. I had oral surgery on Tuesday morning to uncover, again, an embedded canine tooth that we've been trying to pull down into position for almost one year. The permanent tooth never came in, and the 46-year old baby tooth finally had to be pulled last year. After cutting away the gum tissue over the permanent tooth on Tuesday, the oral surgeon found that the permanent tooth was re-encased in bone. The surgeon cleared away the bone, quite a violent little process, in order to loosen the tooth again in hopes that we'll be able to pull it into place.

The tooth is connected to my braces with a bracket and chain. The braces are supposed to be the anchor which pulls the tooth down. These are the braces that have already been in place as long as planned, and we're nowhere near the end of this process. In fact, the likely scenario at this point in time is that the embedded canine will not move, the surgeon was not optimistic, which means it will need to be pulled (another surgery), and an $3000+ implant will need to be placed in the open space (more surgery). If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't.

Needless to say, I've been in a bit of pain since the surgery. I've needed to do a lot of resting. Resting, combined with my disappointment with the way this process has played out has not been good for my mood. I'm trying so hard to keep my head above water mentally, but my body seems to be in revolt. It's been a tough year, and it doesn't seem to have an end of sight. Hip surgery, oral surgery, Achilles tendon, pneumonia, asthma...I'm not sure I can handle much more.

I'm hanging in there, I guess, but I'm really frustrated. And so much is yet unknown. Will the Achilles ever heal so I may run again? Will I continue to have trouble with my asthma and require more and more medication? When, at what cost, and after how many more surgeries, will I have a full set of teeth back in my mouth? I realize I'm creeping up on 50 years here, and perhaps I'm feeling sorry for myself, but c'mon. I'd really like something to break my way soon.

Don't get me wrong, I know things could be worse. I'm just getting tired of the physical battle. I'm grateful my mood has not crumbled, but I worry the continued physical stress will eventually take me down. I don't want that to happen. I'm trying to stay as positive as I can. I'm trying to quell the anxiety of the unknown by continuing to move forward. It's tough. It's a battle. I know I've got to keep fighting, but phew, this battle, I fear, is wearing me out.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A little work

Not much has changed around here since my last post. My lungs are still not quite right, but I am breathing a bit better than earlier this week. I took my last doses of Prednisone and the antibiotic today, but I'm hoping they're not done working, as I still have a way to go before I'd say I'm breathing normally.

Despite struggling for breath occasionally, I'm proud to report I continued to go to the gym this week. I took either a cycling or strengthening class each of the last four days. I took a break and went for a quick walk today. The cardio efforts were definitely tougher this week, but it felt good to get some air deep into my lungs nonetheless. I'm working on losing the 10+ pounds I gained during my depression relapse, so I'm glad I had the energy and motivation to continue exercising this week.

I'm also happy to report I had the energy and motivation to do something pretty special today. I went to work for two hours. Boy, I was anxious! But I did it. I evaluated a patient, did all the necessary paperwork, and interacted with my co-workers for the first time in two months. It went well, I think.

Two months is a long time to be away from work. Going back was, and is, a huge goal. I fumbled a bit with some new paperwork requirements, but otherwise I think I covered everything I was supposed to cover today. Even though I was anxious, and exhausted afterward, it was nice to be back among the working. I'm glad I got those first hours out of the way. I plan to continue working a few hours a few days a week until I get fully back into the swing of things.

I'm grateful my mood and energy levels have continued to stabilize. I can't say there's been huge improvement in my mood over the past week, but at least I haven't gone backwards. At this point I feel like I'm slowly inching away from the abyss. I'm cautiously optimistic I'll continue feeling better and better, but the darkness is still too near to celebrate yet.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Now what?

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this, but I have very well-controlled, fairly mild asthma. Over the past ten days, my asthma has gotten worse, and worse, and worse. Over the weekend, my heavy duty special asthma meds, the ones designed for just this situation, were only working for a few hours at a time. Basically, I couldn't breathe! I was constantly short of breath, and go figure, quite anxious. I was fortunate to get an early morning appointment with my doctor today.

My doctor checked me out, and I apparently may have a slight case of pneumonia on top of aggravated asthma. He prescribed me a steroid, Prednisone, as well as an antibiotic. I'm not a fan of taking either, but I am a fan of breathing without struggle, so I'm taking them. And they are already making a difference.

My breathing has improved, but the Prednisone makes me very jittery. It's been awhile since I took it, and I'm feeling better. However, for several hours after taking it I felt like I was crawling out of my skin, and there was nothing I could do about it. It wasn't pleasant. The dose of Prednisone decreases everyday, so I'm hoping for fewer side effects and better breathing each day.

This new medical battle makes me wonder if I'm falling apart at the seams. I'm barely emerging from the desperate lows of my depression relapse, my Achilles tendon is torn, I also just strained my hamstring, and now my lungs aren't functioning well. Oh, and I have to have repeat oral surgery next week. My friend, Wendy, jokingly calls me a "hot mess!" I can't disagree.

I'm working on my radical acceptance of the whole mess--the mess of me! As best I can, I've got to keep moving forward. I could easily mope and feel sorry for myself, but I'd rather not. Acceptance, as difficult as it is, will serve me better. I have to believe things will improve. I mean how much more can go awry? There's not much left. I'm "banged up" from my head to my heel. I'm going to try to stick to my schedule as much as possible despite the medical mess. I can't afford to let my mood be affected. I'm praying for acceptance and health. But really, God, enough already?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

It's Official

Knowing something is in the future is not the same as dealing with it. I found that out yesterday. In a moderate burst of clarity and energy I cancelled my entries into the New York City Marathon and the Houston Marathon. I cancelled the hotel reservations and my NYC flight, too. Thankfully, I had yet to purchase a plane ticket for Houston. It didn't matter, the lost money was not really on my mind. The lost opportunities were.

These events were more than just opportunities to run great marathons in wonderful cities. Several friends from the local running community are also traveling to these races, so two more opportunities to spend time with people I enjoy in energizing and positive atmospheres are also gone. There's more to marathon running than running 26.2 miles. So much more...

Shortly after making all the appropriate phone calls and pushing all the necessary buttons, my mood did take a hit. As I explained to my therapist, knowing I wasn't going didn't seem to matter. Taking the actions to actually cancel everything was difficult. Making it all official really sucked. And it really hurt.

The hurt is all tied up with apprehension and dread. At this point, I don't know if my right Achilles will heal. I don't yet know if I will ever be able to run again, much less run a marathon! I'm missing the thing I love to do the most. I'm missing everything about it. There's more to running than just running, and there's no guarantee I will ever enjoy all the joy and benefits which running has provided ever again. That's scary.

I'm trying not to be afraid. I'm trying to focus on the strides I've been making. I'm tolerating spinning classes and walks with Jet with little negative aftereffects. That's hopeful. I'm vigilantly working on my stretching and strengthening. I'm not anywhere near running, but I'm holding onto the hope this thing will eventually heal. I'm focusing my long term vision on running. I have to believe I will run again. I'll certainly do everything within my power to make that happen. I can't waste my energy on fear.

Missing out on the experiences of New York and Houston is tough. Being left behind is a reminder of how far I have yet to go. Cancelling everything made it all very real. But it is what it is, right? I'm battling. I need to continue to battle. That's my plan. Thank you for your support, my friends.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Lake Superior pictures

Friend Mary and I at Palisade Head, North Shore of Lake Superior
Path through the woods on way to tip of Park Point Peninsula in Duluth

Lighthouse and ocean liner viewed from tip of Park Point Peninsula

Driftwood on the beach at the tip of Park Point

Jet enjoying the sun on the beach

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Band-Aid

I apologize for the delay in posting here, but I've been away. In the middle of last week, many of my treatment team members were unanimously in favor of re-hospitalization in order to keep me safe while we continue adjusting my medications. Fortunately, I was planning a trip to Duluth to see my parents and friends for the weekend, and when I met with my therapist on Thursday, she agreed the trip north would likely be very beneficial. In fact she thought it would be a much needed "band-aid" for my mood, and so I went.

I just returned home from 4 days in Duluth, Minnesota, which sits on the tip of the biggest of all the Great Lakes, Lake Superior. A few minutes around Lake Superior and serenity washes over me. It's one of my favorite places on the planet. I grew up around Duluth and Lake Superior, so I have a lot of good memories of the area. It's familiar. It's beautiful. And I have good friends and family who still live there. I really should visit more often.

As it turned out, my therapist was right on. This trip was a band-aid for me. I spent my days with good friends, family, and/or Jet. I was rarely alone. It was sunny and gorgeous everyday. The sun was healing. I could feel it warm me, and center me, from the inside out. I spent as much time as possible outside and within site of the lake, including a 4 mile hike with Jet which included a lot of Lake Superior beach. The weekend was definitely a healing reprieve from the suffering of the past several weeks.

I'm now back home and a little anxious. I'm going to work hard to keep the band-aid effect going. I'm hoping the traction gained over the weekend will jump start my motivation and energy, decrease my fatigue, and keep my mood elevated. I'm grateful for my healing reprieve, and I'm praying it continues.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Expectations

Two months of pain, desperation, fatigue, isolation, low motivation, debility, low energy, and low mood; it's been two months since this depression relapse began. It's been two months since I've worked. Two months since my life was hijacked. I'd like to have my life back. I'd like to be released from this little spit of hell. Any day now...

I try not to worry about how long this relapse will last. It doesn't do me any good, and it's a waste of precious energy to think about it. But lately I have been worried about something else. As this relapse continues, I'm fretting about what kind of example I'm setting.

I write this blog to educate people about depression, but I also aspire to offer hope to fellow sufferers. That's why I voluntarily speak to the public, why I've been open to interviews for television and radio, and why I participated in the Healthination videos. I want everyone to understand major depression, and I hope to set an example of someone living well with this horrible illness. It can be done.

Unfortunately, I don't feel I've been doing life very well over the past couple months. I mean I'm doing the best I can, but the longer this relapse lasts the less well I feel I'm doing. I feel I've offered less hope and more hopelessness lately. More anger and frustration than resilience, I think. I guess I could argue that hopelessness, anger, and frustration are all part of the journey, but I worry I'm doing more harm than good by writing so vividly about it.

Perhaps my expectations are unrealistic, but I have expectations, nonetheless. I want to be an example for those of you suffering. I want to be an example of healthy living, resilience, and perseverance through the difficult times. But lately my resilience has been put to the test. This has been a rough ride.

Generally I like rides, but this one has tested my limits. I'm praying for relief soon. In the meantime I'll continue to do the best I can. I'll keep forcing myself to get out, to move, to exercise. It feels impossible, but I know I have to hang on. If not for me, than I at least must hang on for you. Carry on, my friends.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Stomping Around

The news is not good. It's not what I wanted to hear. Predictable, maybe, but nonetheless a blow to my emotional health once stated aloud. My right Achilles tendon tear is not completely healed. I knew that. The news that has me stomping around my house this morning is there really isn't much we can do about it. There are no good healing or treatment options beyond gentle stretching, even more gentle strengthening, and time. It's just a confounding, time consuming, difficult to treat injury. I can't believe it.

The New York City Marathon is out. I knew that. But I wasn't expecting the Houston Marathon in January, 2016, to be out of the question, too! It turns out, I may not even be running by January, 2016! I'm frustrated and disappointed beyond belief. Actually, disappointed is not a big enough word. Crushed might be more accurate. Yes, I am crushed.

And I'm worried. How am I going to get through this? My recent track record is not hopeful. I've spent at least 3 of the 5 months since this injury occurred in the emotional toilet. I'm worried. I'm just home from my doctor, and I'm only motivated to go directly to bed and pull the covers over my head. And scream. And scream...

I'm being dramatic. I apologize. Not usually my style. I just can't imagine another 3, 6, 10 months without running. It's part of who I am, and no, I don't want to change that. Hmmm...dramatic and stubborn. Not a great combination. I'm sorry. I do know this is not the end of the world. I think I need some time to garner a little better perspective. But for now, you'll have to excuse me. I've got more stomping to do.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Summer without a Race

There was a half marathon race in Rochester yesterday. I didn't attend. It was just another in a long list of races on which I have been unable to report this year. In fact, the last time I raced was late October, 2014. Since I began this running thing over 20 years ago, I don't think I've ever gone this long without running a race. It's weird. I realized today the entire summer racing season has come and gone. I missed it all.

And I do/did miss it. I volunteered a couple of times, but it wasn't the same as racing. I missed the buzz of race day, the nerves, and the other runners. I missed the opportunity to push my body to its limit. I missed the potential each race brought--for a new experience, a faster time, or different competition. It was a very strange summer without running or racing in my life.

I'm thinking about this today not only because of yesterday's event, but also because I went for a walk for the first time today. Jet and I have not been on a walk since I tore my Achilles in late April. It's been 5 months since I've even taken a walk! No wonder I don't feel good!

Jet and I walked slowly for about 1.5 miles along our familiar route through the local neighborhoods. I think there was still some snow on the ground the last time we took that walk! I was almost moved to tears just to be outside walking with Jet. And my Achilles did not hurt!

I'll soon have an official Achilles update. I see my orthopedic doctor later this week. I know it's not completely healed, but I am encouraged I was able to gently walk without pain. Hopefully, the doctor will have good news for me. I really miss running.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A bit of a Rant

I don't have depression as a result of a character defect. It is not because I am weak, ineffectual, or not participating appropriately in life. I don't have depression because I don't know how to manage my free time. I don't have depression because I am working too little or too much. I don't have depression because I don't know every cognitive behavioral therapy technique in the book. I don't have depression because I am not using "my skills" effectively enough to combat it. I don't have depression because I'm not attending enough meetings. It is not because I'm too smart or not smart enough. I don't have depression because I'm not attending the right therapeutic group. I can be doing all of these things "correctly" and still have depression. It is not the result of a character defect.

I have depression. Specifically, I have Major Depression, Recurrent, Severe without Psychotic Features. The ICD-9 billing code is 296.33. It is an illness of my brain. It comes and goes, varies in severity, but basically remains a chronic condition I do my best to deal with on a regular basis. Right now my depression is particularly virulent and treatment resistant. That doesn't mean I'm at fault.

Sometimes treatment simply doesn't work. This is true for many chronic conditions. Cancer patients sometimes fill their bodies with pure poison, yet the cancer persists. People with diabetes sometimes eat exactly the right food and still require insulin to maintain healthy stability. Despite rest and medications, those with MS still have days where they find it difficult to move. And my treatment resistant depression can wage battle with 20+ ECT treatments, 2 hospitalizations, and multiple medication changes yet leave me sad, depleted, and debilitated. That doesn't mean I've done something wrong, or not well enough, or that I need to attend more groups.

I'm tired. I'm tired of this illness and it's debilitating impact on my life. Of course I want to be well again! But I'm not. Not yet. And therein lies the problem. I'm especially tired of the judgments and stigma which surround me when I don't feel better as quickly as those around me think I should. I'm tired of attending groups others think I should attend simply because they have no other solution.

I'm frustrated with remedial group instruction to do this and do that, as if that's not something I've already considered or tried! For example, obviously if 20+ ECT treatments didn't work then keeping a written schedule in a day planner is certainly the solution! I don't blame the group leaders. Perhaps they're frustrated, too. They're doing the best they can with what they know, but a day planner? Really? Would you suggest the same as a cure to a cancer patient?

Would you tell a fatigued MS patient to just get up and get going? Acting opposite to your emotion is always the way to go! Maybe. I do my best forcing myself to move, but to be told to do so by a smiley-faced group leader with no clue as to what depression feels like is more than a bit invalidating. I'm tired of being invalidated. I'm tired of the dismissive messages that I'm not doing enough, not trying hard enough, not acting in a way which will cure my depression.

Don't get me wrong. I'm willing to put in the effort. I'm daily doing what I can do. But I have depression. It is an illness. I hate it. It totally fucks up my life, and I'd do anything to get rid of it. But please understand my resistance to another happy, remedial group. I'm tired of happy, remedial groups which suggest I'm just not doing enough. I'm doing enough, and I'm still sick. I'm willing to do my part. I'm willing to continue working to mitigate this damn illness. More than anything I want my life back. Forgive me if I don't agree my way back must necessarily go through your time management group.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Not feeling well

It's difficult to imagine feeling much worse. My body aches with emotional pain. Depression--thick and heavy--has a stranglehold on my soul. It takes all my energy to move within my home from one room to the next. Laundry, my task for today, will be an all day affair. It hurts to breathe.

It hurts to breathe. If I wasn't experiencing it myself, I wouldn't believe it possible. It's difficult to imagine feeling much worse. It's also hard to imagine feeling more debilitated by this illness. I am useless, hopeless, and discouraged.

I am at a loss as to what to do next. It's hard to think when expending so much energy just staying alive. I am literally living one moment to the next here. This is not how I want to live, but this is what I've got right now. I'm tired, but I'm still standing. I'll keep doing my best while praying for relief.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Home again

I'm back in my humble abode after another 12-day hospital stay. I wish I could report my mood has spectacularly improved, but I'm unable to say that. My mom is here with me helping out for a few days in order to ease the transition from inpatient to real world, but I'm still feeling overwhelmed and a bit unprepared to face the world. In fact, the first thing I did when I got home was cry. I still feel low, and feeling low after 12 days in the hospital scares and discourages me. I'm trying desperately to stay mindful of each moment, move within that moment, and try not to forecast future catastrophes. I can't waste energy focusing on where I've been, and I can't control what's coming up next, so this present moment is all I've got. I'm going to keep working to stay within it and see if that helps stabilize this pesky mood of mine.

As far as treatment goes, I had my last ECT treatment today. Again, I would have hoped for a shinier outcome, but what I've got is what I've got. My mood is somewhat improved but not back to where I would like it to be. On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being fabulous, I'm somewhere around a four. I can function at a 4/10, but it takes extra effort and energy. I'm aiming for a return to work next week, at least part-time, and I think that may help me feel more useful and productive. It would have been nice if the ECT treatments had carried me a little further along the road to recovery, but their effectiveness seems to have worn down over time. Anything I can do to help myself, like return to work, or anything I can accomplish at this point in time will be beneficial, I think. I'm focusing forward and hoping for the light to return to my days.

This is a nasty illness. I so empathize with all of you out there struggling to make it through, whether that means getting out of bed, taking a shower, going off to work, or meeting family obligations. Whatever you're doing, keep doing it. Take the steps forward. One step at a time, keep moving forward. I'm convinced that's the only way to defeat this diabolical demon we call depression--by stomping right through the middle of it. Carry on, my friends.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Unrelenting sadness

My depression is a multifaceted illness. Emotions run the gamut from hopelessness to irritation to numbness. The overriding emotion over the past 4-5 days, however, has been unrelenting, discouraging and debilitating sadness. I am just sad. I've been sad all weekend. I can't shake the sadness.

I continue to receive treatment in my local inpatient psychiatric unit. I had another ECT treatment this morning. Yet here I sit, sad as ever. The sadness permeates through me and from me. It feels like it fills my soul. Sadness makes my movements slow, my speech limited, and my processing of information stunted. It's a little unreal. The world is moving about me, but I'm existing in a weird state of suspended animation within it.

I'm praying for a lift in my mood. I'm praying for some light to pierce the darkness. I'm praying the interventions we're employing make a difference soon. I'm tired. I'm tired of feeling slow and sad. I'm tired of living in this artificial environment. I'm tired of battling this illness with little to show for the fight. Success would be a nice change of pace. Eventually, the sadness must abate. I'd like the sadness to abate.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Back inside

I'm on day three of my second admission to the local inpatient pysch unit. After my outpatient ECT treatment on Wednesday, the doctors decided to admit me. My mood simply hasn't been responding to the decreased number of outpatient ECT treatments, so I am back on a daily regimen of short-pulsed, unilateral, inpatient ECT. In addition to the ECT, my doctors thought I would benefit from the increased structure provided by the inpatient unit. I hate to agree with them, but I agree.

I hate that I'm back here. I'm doing everything in my power to give myself a break and not see this as a personal failure. It's simply depresssion rearing its ugly head and hanging on for dear life. It's not letting up. My mood remains very low. I'm getting worried. I don't like to feel so low for so long.

If the short-pulsed ECT does not work, I worry, then what's next? What else can we do to jolt me out of this relapse? That question has not been answered yet. TMS therapy has been mentioned, but there is a problem with insurance coverage. Changing meds is always an option, but that's not a certainty either. If necessary, I may be faced with going back to the traditional, bi-temporal ECT, which carries with it a lot of negative side effects. That's something I wish to avoid if at all possible. I'm choosing to think positively about the course I'm on instead.

I'm trying not to spend too much time worrying about all the possibilities. I'm working on my mindfulness and attempting to stay in the moment instead. I'm utilizing the education groups here, the support of the staff, and even riding the stationary bike as able. Worrying gets me nowhere fast, and it only adds to my misery. I'm grateful for the support of my family and friends. I'm blessed to have an understanding employer. I'm anxious to feel better, get out of here, and put my life back in order. Until then...Carry on, my friends.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Lo Mo Jo

Struggling along here, I am. I've not even been up to writing in this blog. I apologize for that. I wish things were moving along more evenly and briskly, but that's not been the case. I'm still struggling with my energy, my mood, and my motivation. All three remain quite low. And that makes getting through each day quite a challenge. I'm doing my best, but my best doesn't feel very good right now.

I'm continuing my twice-weekly ECT treatments. I'm not sure they're making a difference anymore, but I'm tolerating them very well, and the other option, which would be discontinuing ECT, isn't palatable either. I plan to continue for a few more treatments and hope for an upswing in my mood.

I'm also back at work. I worked two, 4 hour days last week. One day was a bit overwhelming, but the other day went well. I'm scheduled to work a couple of 4 hour shifts later this week, too. It's nice to be back working with patients and my co-workers have all been fabulous to return to. I miss working when I'm stuck at home. I'm looking forward to feeling better and better so I can get back to a regular employment schedule.

I'm looking forward to feeling better so I can exercise more intensely as well. I'm doing my best to eat better and ride my stationary bike. However, the ECT treatments do seem to be taking a physical toll, as I'm less tolerant of exercise than I was previously. But I can ride for 30 minutes at a time, so I've been trying to do that at least once per day regardless of how impossible it seems in the moment.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated with where I'm at. I'd like to have more energy, feel more motivated, and have a much improved mood by now. But that's not reality. When the frustration sets in I'm trying to remind myself this is a temporary situation. I try to reflect on how far I've come in just a few short weeks rather than focus on what I've yet to accomplish. It's difficult. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and I don't like feeling low. But I'll continue to push forward to the best of my ability. It may be a struggle, but I'm not giving up yet. Prayers are always appreciated.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Picking up Pieces

Metaphors describing depression are plentiful. The black dog, the black hole, and a heavy leaden cloak are just a few I've heard used. But today I'm going to describe my depression as an exploded bomb which detonated right in the middle of my life a few weeks back. In less than 4 weeks, my life has gone up in smoke as a result of this illness. Today I am here picking up the salvageable pieces left over after that violent explosion.

Four weeks ago I was working regular shifts as often as I wished. I was scheduled out through mid-September. I was financially sound and my obligations were met. Today I am getting ready to return to work. Paying my bills was put on hold as depression ripped me away from gainful employment. It will take awhile before I am able to get back to working a regular schedule and to catch up financially. I am picking up the pieces of my financial life.

Four weeks ago, despite not being able to run, I had the energy and motivation to exercise as much as I wished. I was in fine physical shape. I had muscles, fit into my clothing, and felt good about how I looked. Today I am just getting back onto my bike. I have enough energy for a gentle 20-30 minute ride. Push-ups and sit-ups are exhausting. I've gained 5 pounds and no longer fit nicely into my jeans. I'm picking up the pieces of my physical existence.

Four weeks ago I ran errands and performed my chores without contemplation. Today I debate the pros and cons of every adventure outside my front door. Do I have the energy? Does it need to be done today? Does it need to be done at all? Likewise, I am living with a rising tide of unfulfilled duties inside my house. As my mood declined so too did my standards. It will take awhile to get things back to snuff around here. I am picking up the pieces of my home life.

This depression relapse left carnage in its wake. My job now is to collect and reassemble all of the salvageable pieces. I'm hoping to rebuild my life so that it resembles what stood here before the depression bomb detonated. But that is a tall order, and I truly do not know how long it will take. I have a feeling I'll need to practice my patience, too, during this rebuilding process.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Achilles Update

When I came home from the hospital last week, I celebrated by removing my boot. After 8 weeks immobilized in my boot, my right Achilles tendon is now free. I am doing as my doctor ordered. I'm wearing heel lifts, not exercising, and only walking household distances. Unfortunately, the tendon doesn't appear to have healed. It is still swollen and sore. I cannot walk without a limp. Running, of course, is out of the question. I'm incredibly disappointed.

I don't see my orthopedic doctor until the end of the month, but in communication with him the other day, he intimated surgery may now be required. This was not good news. There is no longer any uncertainty regarding running the New York City Marathon this fall. It is definitely out of the question.

This is the third time I have entered the NYC Marathon, and I have yet to run it. It was cancelled secondary to Hurricane Sandy in 2012. I was in the hospital being treated for a depression relapse in 2013, and now this. Hopefully 2016 will be my year.

The Achilles injury certainly has not helped my mood. I'm back on my bike, but not being able to run is wearing me out. I've continued with ECT treatments this week, and I think my mood has rebounded a bit, but I am not yet where I want to be. I am looking forward to finishing the treatments this Friday, hopefully, and getting back to work next week. I think getting back to work and back into a routine will help me feel better both mentally and physically.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Home, but...

I'm home. I actually left the hospital on Wednesday, 3 days ago, but I've been struggling to do much of anything, including updating this blog, since arriving home. I expected a dip in my mood when I left the hospital. That's pretty normal. Coming home is almost always a little overwhelming. But the dip has turned into a deep ditch, and I'm lying at the bottom drowning in the muck and mud.

It's impossible to breathe amidst the muck and mud. My mood is low again. Despite continuing with outpatient ECT treatments, I have not been able to maintain that initial bump to my mood. I am now at a crossroad. I need to do something to elevate my mood, which means I need to make a decision either to continue with additional short-pulsed, unilateral ECT (which is what I've been doing), or to change to the more cognitively-impairing regular, bilateral ECT. Something has to change.

There's really little choice. I cannot fathom putting myself through regular, bilateral ECT again. The last time we tried it, it did not elevate my mood, and I suffered such severe cognitive impairment I could barely follow a conversation. I can't go there again. That means I will try additional short-pulsed, unilateral ECT treatments, which means further delay in getting back to my life.

I was supposed to be done with my ECT treatments as of yesterday and planned to return to work for a few hours on Monday. Financial stress, a big trigger for my depression, is setting in. I'm not sure how I will pay my bills this month having already missed two weeks worth of paychecks. As an on-call employee, I do not get paid if I am not physically at work. Making ends meet is a constant battle when things are going well and I am working. There's just no way to pay the bills if I don't work.

I pride myself on self-reliance and financial responsibility. To be put in this position by this damn illness really sucks. Today I am feeling resentful. I resent depression for all the challenges it forces upon me and all the changes it forces upon my plans. I know I am fortunate in so many ways, but I hate this illness and the massive upheaval which accompanies it. Eventually I will get back to work, to exercise, to errands, to socializing, and to meetings. Somehow I will figure it all out. I'm just not sure how or when yet.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Improvement

I'm up early as per usual here on the inpatient psych unit. I'm waiting for my fifth electroconvulsive therapy treatment or ECT. Last week I chose ECT as my treatment option for several reasons. ECT has worked for me in the past, although it didn't work the last time I tried it during my relapse two years ago. The ECT procedure has changed. It's now done in a way that spares one's memory and cognitive abilities, which have been major negative side effects of mine each time I've had ECT treatments. And finally, the only other option seemed to be a major medication change. I like the meds I'm taking, changing them and assessing whether new meds were working would have taken a long time. I was way too miserable. I couldn't comprehend trying anything that would potentially take a "long time." So after careful deliberation, and consultation with just about everyone I knew, I decided to give ECT another shot.

I believe I made the right decision. After just two ECT treatments, I was visibly better. My slow movements and speech pattern had both sped up. It was no longer exhausting just to breathe. After three treatments, I had multiple visitors who couldn't believe the difference in my mood and appearance. I, too, noticed a difference. I was beginning to feel lighter. And so far I'm thrilled to report I've had very little cognitive side effects. My memory seems to be holding. That's been a huge relief. The decision to proceed with ECT seems to be paying off.

As I sit here awaiting my fifth treatment, I'm feeling a glimmer of hope. I've got a long way to go to get back to being me, but this has been a good beginning. The doctors are even considering discharging me and allowing me to complete my treatments (8-10 total) as an outpatient.

Going home is an appealing, albeit worrying, thought. As well as I am taken care of here, I hate being hospitalized. I miss my house, my dog, and my work routine. But facing them all again at this point is a little scary. However, I am feeling hopeful. I'm hopeful I will continue to improve, I'll continue to gain strength, and I'll continue to gain the confidence I need to get back to my life. The cloak of gray is lifting. I pray it continues. Thank you for your prayers, my friends.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cloaked in Gratitude

Cloaked in gray, feeling unreal... Those are my words from a recent post. Unfortunately, those words still apply. The darkness is still here, surrounding me, but I feel the clouds lifting a bit. The cloak of gray is less weighty upon me.

That cloak is being replaced. I am now sampling a cloak of gratitude amidst the darkness. And you know what? The cloak of gratitude is yielding to the cloak of gray. The cloak of gratitude is slight upon my shoulders as compared to the cloak of depression.

I have had plenty of time to reflect while here in the hospital. At first my thoughts and questions were jaded with disappointment and a sense of failure. How did I get here? Why me? How did this happen so fast? Wasn't I doing what I was supposed to be doing? Sounds like a lot of self-pity to me, and it wasn't moving me forward.

Today, I'm working on a new attitude, and the change is all because of you, my readers. In the aftermath of my most recent blog post you responded with unbelievable eloquence and passionate support. I am overwhelmed. I cannot believe how fortunate I am. I felt your caring and concern from afar. I was changed by it. Thank you so much for sharing your hope with me. You give me strength.

Your hope and strength got me thinking. Yes, I have a debilitating, life-interrupting illness, but I have so much more than that. I have many fortunes for which to be grateful. The job, the house, the food on the table, Jet, and all the material comforts I have make my life simpler. But more importantly, my life is full and rich today not because of things but because of the people surrounding me.

These people, Wendy, Heidi, Vicky, Therese, Shelli, Mike, Molly, Nancy, Pam, Joan, Bruce, Janill, Dr. L, Deb and Shawn have all played a role in my life in just the past few days. They supported, transported, called, visited, educated, mowed, packed, dog-sat, fed, and basically took care of me when I couldn't care for myself. That's a lot of people! Despite this terrible illness, I've decided I am one of the luckiest women around. More grateful, I could not be. Thank you all.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

inpatient

Reality is not always kind. Reality when living with depression, I think, can at times be the least kind of all. I so appreciate all of your comments on my last post. It seems many of you could relate. Your support and understanding were very helpful. When I wrote that post, I had nothing more to say. It literally hurt to breathe. I wasn't sure it could get any worse that that.

Things did get worse. By yesterday it hurt to breathe and the mere action of taking one breath after another was exhausting. I tried my best to keep up. I even made it to work for 4 hours Thursday. But by yesterday, getting out of bed was a monumental task. I tried to sleep a couple of extra hours before going to work. But even after slumbering two extra hours things were still tough.

I tried to get to work anyway. I got up, cleaned up a bit, and even pulled on my shirt. But that's where getting ready for work stopped. I felt so guilty as I collapsed back onto the sofa. We are short-staffed. I knew I was leaving my bosses and co-workers in quite a predicament by not getting to work. But it hurt to breathe. And breathing was exhausting. I couldn't do it. I could not function anymore.

Within a few hours of collapsing on the sofa, useless, a friend arrived to take me to the emergency room. By yesterday afternoon, I was admitted. And so I am here, on my local inpatient psych unit, a place I swore I would never, ever come again...ever. But sometimes I don't always have the best foresight. This illness cares not what I have planned and couldn't give a rip about any pronouncements I've made. It is an illness, and whether I like it or not, I don't always have the final say.

I've done well for the past several years. I've weatherered several storms, rode some highs with pleasure and endured some lows with grit and integrity. But I was no match for this low. No match. It was taking me down one painful, exhausted breath at a time.

I do not yet know the inpatient treatment plan. I feel like something drastic needs to change to pull me out of this depth. I've even thought about ECT again. My brain is that far gone. But it's too soon to know what direction this treatment will take. I want to make my stay here as productive and brief as possible. I want to leave this unit breathing deeply, with strength, and without exhaustion or pain. I just want to get back to being me--normal, healthy, me. Thank you, my friends, for your continued support.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Breathe

It hurts.

It
hurts
to
breathe.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Not low...NO

It would be a relief if my motivation and mood were simply low right now. Instead, I am experiencing a lack of mood and no motivation. Have you ever heard of such a thing? It sounds silly writing it down, but it does seem to be my current reality. I can find nothing redeemable to pull me out of this funk. I can find no reason to accomplish any of what needs to be accomplished. I even missed work as a result of my non-mood and motivation. Why bother? I cannot seem to pull myself off the couch. I cannot stay awake long enough even if I could. I cannot wrap my mind around anything other than destructive thoughts. Is this depression? It started as typical depression symptoms, the gray cloak and all, but I seem to have hit a new low...or should I say a new "no." I've got nothing. I've got nothing to say. I've got nothing to offer. I've got nothing to contribute. What am I doing here? I feel like a despicable speck of dead. Move on...nothing to see (or read) here.

Friday, July 17, 2015

few words

Dark clouds descend
I am
Cloaked in gray
Feeling unreal

Colors muted
Sounds muffled
Lines blurred
Nothing is clear

Flailing for air
I cannot breathe

Unreal
Unclear
Suffocating
Sad

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Changing it up

I'm sitting in my house on a beautiful Sunday morning. I'm tired. My mood remains low and my energy lower. I've already napped for over an hour, and it's barely noon. I think I'm really missing running. More specifically, I think my brain and my body are missing running. I'm hoping to motivate out the door after writing this post. I don't have anything planned for the day, but even going out to throw the ball for Jet would probably help my mood.

Despite my low mood and motivation, I did get out of my house yesterday. I grabbed a cup of coffee, threw on my baseball hat, and drove to my AA meeting in the morning. After that, on a bit of a whim, I went to see my friend, Jodell. She cuts my hair. She's been cutting it for 20 years. While I waited for her to finish with another customer, I decided to change things up. Rather than the typical trim of my long, curly locks, I had her cut them off.

I used to wear my hair very, very short, but I've been keeping it long for several years now. (I got tired of being called sir.) Maybe the motivation yesterday was my mood, maybe it was just time to make a change, but for whatever reason, I felt the need to do something different. When I told her to cut it off, Jodell, with surprise, asked if I was sure. I wasn't, but I was willing to give it a try. So my hair is short again, and I have to admit, cutting it did jolt my mood upwards just a bit.

I needed that mood and energy jolt yesterday because I had other errands to run and chores to do prior to going out last night. Some friends and I went to dinner and a play last night. This was especially nice for me, as the star of the play was my friend, Ben, the young man I mentored while he was in high school. He played the villain in a melodrama, and he was fantastic. I felt like a proud mama sitting in the audience last night. I needed that.

Unfortunately, the mood jolt, the energy, and the pride did not make it through the night. I woke up in the dumps, mentally and physically. I'm going to have to motivate myself to do something more than I've done yet today. I've got to change things up again, or I fear I'll only slide deeper into the darkness. I don't want that. It's time to move. Carry on, my friends.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Readjusting

I'm having trouble getting readjusted to my life after my short vacation up north last weekend. It may not have been a long vacation, but apparently it had a major impact. It didn't help that my supervisor cancelled me on Monday so I had an extra day off with which to do nothing. And that's pretty much what I did. I continued my weekend of relaxation and did little of anything productive on Monday. Oh, I ran to the grocery store and rode my stationary bike for 90 minutes but not much else got done. It was a continuation of the laziness which I enjoyed over the weekend.

Unfortunately I am no longer enjoying the laziness, which also extended into yesterday. Besides an appointment in the morning, I didn't leave the house yesterday, and I didn't much care. I think my mood is low, but not so low as to be scary yet, just low enough to lack the motivation to accomplish anything. Dysthymia. I believe that's the official term. I don't like it.

Thankfully, I worked today so I had to get dressed and out of the house. It was difficult getting going. It was tough getting out of the house. Even after I arrived at my work site, I had to sit in the parking lot for awhile to build up the gumption to go inside. Once I was inside and treating my patients, I was fine. But the blahs returned as soon as I got home this afternoon.

I want to go back on vacation. I miss the lakes, my friends, and my family. It's a little strange. I've not felt this way previously, and I've been up north multiple times. I don't know what's different this time. Maybe it's my injury preventing me from running. I've got a lot more time on my hands. Maybe it's delayed grieving after my break-up with my boyfriend. It's been over a month since we split, so that seems far fetched, but who knows? Maybe it's just plain old depression. Anything is possible, I guess.

Whatever is going on, I hope I get past it soon. I'm not enjoying this longing to be elsewhere. I hate the low energy and lack of motivation, And missing my friends sucks. I feel lonely. It's hard to enjoy anything. I'm finding it tough to get anything done. Heck, I'm finding it tough to get off the couch! I know this too shall pass. I just wish it would pass soon.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Close Friends, Favorite Places

I had the opportunity to spend the long, holiday weekend with some close friends in two of my favorite places, Duluth and Ely, Minnesota. Both northeastern Minnesota cities are dominated by water. I grew up in northeastern Minnesota. My spirit is dominated by water. It brings me serenity.

Duluth is on the tip of Lake Superior, the largest of the five Great Lakes. Much of the city rests on the side of a hill overlooking the lake. And Lake Superior is spectacular. It dominates the landscape. There is nothing like it. Just the sight of the big lake sets my mind at ease and brings me peace. I can't get enough of it.

Ely is a small city at the gateway of The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The BWCAW is the largest wilderness area east of the Rockies. The Boundary Waters has more than one million acres of ancient forest and over 1,500 lakes and streams, all of which remain untouched by civilization. There are literally lakes everywhere! It is quiet, and beautiful, and wild, and serene.

My friends, who live in Duluth, have a cabin on a lake in Ely. We spent the sunny, warm long weekend doing absolutely nothing but relaxing. We talked, laughed, ate well, napped, shopped, took a sauna, listened to loons, watched eagles, and gazed at the stars. It was exactly what I needed, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to spend time with my friends in such a wondrous place.

I'm feeling rested and relaxed now. It was difficult to come home today, but I'm definitely ready to face the business of the week ahead. Long-time close friends, and old, familiar favorite places have rejuvenated my soul. Grateful, I am.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Napping Queen

If there was an award for sleeping, I'm afraid I'd be wearing a crown right now. I'm glad there isn't an award, because I'm not really crown material. Baseball hat, maybe, but not a crown. I digress. I'm tired! I was planning to write an amazing post this past weekend, but I couldn't get off my sofa long enough to do so. I promise, though, it would have been amazing!

Not only did I fail to write, I failed to clean my house, play with my dog, go to my meeting, or even watch a historical program I'd been planning to see. Activities I espoused, in my most recent post, as essential to maintaining my mental health fell by the wayside. Instead, I slept.

I'm not sure why I was so somnolent. After sleeping in, I napped three times on Saturday. I alternated between my bedroom and my sofa. Nothing, and I mean nothing, got done. It was as if I had the flu, but I didn't. I just couldn't stay awake, and even when I was awake, I was sleepy. Motivation was non-existent on Sunday, too, as the somnolence continued. At some point, and I think this actually happened early Saturday, I gave up fighting. I slept as long and as often as needed. I just let it be.

My week got off to a better start yesterday. I actually felt somewhat rested when I got out of bed. Work went well. I was busy but not overwhelmingly so. I felt productive. By the time I got home, I did need another nap, but that's pretty routine for me. After napping, I even had enough energy to exercise last night.

I actually figured out how to ride my stationary, recumbent bike with my boot. As I sat down to ride, my mom, who was visiting, exclaimed, "I thought you weren't supposed to do any activity with that leg. Isn't that going to be bad for your Achilles?" I replied, "It will be bad for me if I don't exercise." She understood exactly what I meant and let me ride.

I'm tired again today. I've been sleeping a bunch. Maybe work followed by an hour of riding last night was too much. I'd hate to think so, but who knows? For whatever reason, I've been tired. As long as the fatigue abates soon, I'm not going to let it worry me. For now, I'm going to keep letting my body be my guide. And my body is saying, sleep!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

slow descent

My mood has dropped. While I'm not shocked, it still stinks. I've noticed my mood slowly descending over the past few weeks. I'm at the point now where doing everyday chores, errands, and work is getting overwhelming and challenging. But what I notice most is that I'm going through the motions. I'm not enjoying life right now. I'm doing life, but I'm not really experiencing life. That sucks. I don't like going through the motions. It's difficult to motivate for that.

On the other hand things could be worse. I was expecting this divot, and I think that makes it easier to deal with. I know the impetus for this slow decline. It isn't coming out of the blue. I'm worried, but I'm aware. I knew wearing this boot, which makes everything more difficult, is exhausting, and prohibits me from almost all exercise, would put me at high risk for a depression relapse. Thankfully, I'm not there yet. Things could definitely be worse.

I don't want things to get worse. I have no desire to approach a full blown depression relapse. I'm going to continue doing whatever I can do to keep this dip to a divot. I'm not going to allow it to become a canyon. Not if I can help it! And I think I can help it.

With a little conscious effort, I'm hopeful I can stop this slow descent where it's at. I'm going to do that by sticking to my schedule and routine, regardless of how dull or overwhelmed I may feel. I'm going to continue to eat well, get enough sleep, take care of Jet, take my medications, exercise as best I can, go to work, keep my appointments, and make it to meetings. I'm even paying attention to things like showering and doing my dishes. I know if I let the simple things go, everything else will become more challenging. Conscious effort. That's what I need.

I need to keep the darkness at bay. I feel like it is waiting in the wings, and I've got to fight to keep it from enveloping me. It's weird. My depression today feels like a thing...a being, even. A very patient being waiting to pounce. I've got to protect myself. Simple steps, one foot in front of the other, I've got to keep moving forward. Sounds cliche, but for me it's true. It's the only way I know to combat the darkness waiting for me.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Spectator

I just returned from Grandma's Marathon weekend in Duluth, Minnesota. I have friends and family in that area, which is good, because this year I was a spectator and visitor rather than a participant for the first time in years. Despite my Achilles injury, I decided to go up for marathon weekend. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't tough. It was tough not to be a runner this year, but on the positive side, I got to spend a lot more time with family and friends than I otherwise would have. I even stayed out way past my bedtime, twice! I lead a pretty sedate life around here, so staying out past my bedtime laughing with friends was really nice. I'm glad I went.

Now that I'm home, however, I'm feeling a bit out of sorts. I'm a little overwhelmed, a bit lonely, and somewhat anxious. I'm tired. I've got a list of chores to accomplish before work tomorrow. And I'm at a loss when it comes to exercise. That's probably the biggest problem. I have not yet done any aerobic exercise since getting my boot. Other than a few push-ups and sit-ups, I haven't had the gumption to do anything.

The boot, it turns out, is not only a pain in the butt, it's exhausting! I'm about 4 inches taller on my right side than my left, and just walking around like that wipes me out. Work, especially, was exhausting last week. By the time I got home all I wanted to do was nap. My motivation was lacking then, and it's not at all improved now, I think I'm really going to have to push myself to do something, anything aerobic, this week. If I want to stay well I can't continue to be a spectator.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Boot

I finally received my boot today. My right Achilles tendon is now officially immobilized. It will remain so for the next 4-6 weeks. My right ankle is immobilized in approximately 20-25 degrees of plantarflexion (toes pointed downward, like in a high heel shoe). It's very uncomfortable to walk, so I believe I will use crutches for anything longer than household distances. I'm not sure how work is going to go because it's like I have one leg 6 inches longer than the other, which makes balance an issue. I need to be balanced when working with unsteady patients. I may need to ask for help, and I hate asking for help.

Why is asking for help so difficult for some of us? I'm going to get plenty of practice at asking over the next 4-6 weeks. For example, I can't mow my lawn safely in this boot, so I will need to ask someone at least weekly to push my lawnmower for me. Thankfully, my friend, Pam, offered this week, and I took her up on that offer tonight. But I dread the thought of asking her, or anyone else, over and over again.

It's the same issue at work. We're all busy. I don't want to bother my co-workers or ask them to do part of my job. Even though my bosses said it would be okay to get help, I feel hesitant to ask for it. I feel like I need to pull my own weight, and if I can't, I shouldn't work. Unfortunately, I can't afford not to work. I need to keep working as much as I can. I guess that means I'll be asking for help there, too. Ugh!

The challenges of wearing this boot will be many, I'm afraid. At least I'm less frustrated now that I'm in the boot, and I've begun the healing process. I'm anxious about the outcome, but I'm going to try to put that worry on the back burner. There's nothing I can do today about what will happen six weeks from now. There's no use fretting about it.

I'll be traveling to Duluth this weekend for Grandma's Marathon, this time as a spectator. It will be different standing on the sidelines of my favorite race, but I know several runners who will be participating, so I'll have plenty of cheer to give out. I'm also looking forward to being able to stay out late with friends. That will be really different. That's the silver lining, I guess. Let the healing, and the fun, begin!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Holding Pattern

It's been awhile since I last checked in. I'm sorry about that. I simply have nothing new going on in my life. I'm in a holding pattern. I'm dealing with the usual things. I've been taking care of Jet, working 3 to 4 days per week, going to my therapy group and other appointments, exercising as much as I can without stressing my Achilles tendon, and waiting. And waiting. And waiting. I'm still waiting for my boot to arrive from Europe, that is the boot which will immobilize my right Achilles tendon. I really wish I had it by now. The waiting sucks.

My mood is okay, but I'm terribly frustrated with the waiting. Each passing day postpones my healing another 24 hours. And every day that goes by is also another day of missed training. That's especially distressing. I've accepted the fact that I'm going to miss the entire summer racing season, but I still want to run the New York City Marathon on November 1st. To accomplish that, I need to be training by mid-July. With this delay in treatment, mid-July will soon be a stretch. It's frustrating.

In order to get to July as well as possible, I'm hoping to find something aerobic I can do once my right ankle is immobilized. Four weeks without cardio training worries me. I'm worried about my mood as well as my physical conditioning. I want to keep my brain and my body in the best shape possible, but I'm not sure yet how I will accomplish that. I believe my gym has a cardio machine which primarily uses arms. That should be interesting. If my boot ever arrives, I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sometimes sadness is normal

As I grieve the loss of my relationship and my summer racing season, friends, family and professionals have been going out of their way to remind me that "sadness is normal." To all of them I say, "I know." I guess they are collectively worried I will confuse sadness with an onset of depression. But if there is anyone on the planet who knows there is a difference between normal sadness and irrational depression, it is me.

I've been sad. There are definitive reasons for my sadness. First and foremost, I am grieving the loss of my 4-year relationship with my boyfriend, D. While discontinuing our relationship may have been the right thing to do, as I wasn't getting the affection I needed, it doesn't make the loss any less sad. We had many wonderful moments together. I will miss D. I will survive, but I am still sad.

I am also grieving the current and future loss of running secondary to my partially torn Achilles. Losing the ability to run leaves me very frustrated and sad. The possibility of a depression relapse exists, of course, as a result of this issue, as running is vital to my mental health. I know that. My antennae are up. But right now, I am just sad. Plain, old, normal sad...

Sadness in response to a particular event, issue, or loss is a normal feeling. I'm not worried about my sadness at this point in time. I'd be more worried if I wasn't feeling sad. I'll also be more concerned if the sadness continues for an unreasonable length of time. But right now my sadness is clearly related to my recent life events. My sadness is different than my depression.

My depression is rarely "normal." It often seems to have a will separate from what's actually occurring in my life. It has occasionally set in after some triggering event (like being injured), but often it comes and goes without regard for what's happening. For example, it all began 14+ years ago when my life was more of less fabulous. I had a job, a house, a spouse, money in the bank, and a gaggle of friends. Depression, irrationally, set in nonetheless. That is the nature of depression.

My illness, depression, is not the same as my current feeling, sadness. I realize I am always at risk for depression. The illness is with me regardless of how I'm feeling, happy, sad, loving, or lonely. Right now I am sad. I have reason to be sad. And I'm okay with being sad. In some ways, it's actually nice to feel "normal" sadness. It's a relief. I am not relapsing into the black hole of depression. I'm just feeling sad. I can deal with that. I'll be okay. Thank you for your support, my friends.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tough news

I had a rough afternoon and evening yesterday. At 4:00 PM I saw my orthopedic doctor to get my MRI results. My worst fears were realized. I have a partially torn right Achilles tendon. Unfortunately, in order for my Achilles to heal I will need to be immobilized with my toes pointing downward in a cast for four weeks. I will be able to walk with the cast, but with the toes in a downward position, it will be an awkward gait. Of course I won't be able to run while I am immobilized or for an undetermined time afterward. But I have a bigger issue. I am also restricted from doing any right lower extremity exercise. My doctor wants me to totally rest so as not to interfere with the healing at all. Ouch.

As you all know, exercise is a vital piece of my depression relapse prevention. I'm very concerned about losing it. Suffice it to say I will be doing a lot of sit-ups and push-ups over the next several weeks. My doctor knew he was asking a lot of me, but he also impressed upon me how important it is to rest and heal. I still plan to run the New York City Marathon on November 1st, so I will listen and rest. The sooner I heal the better. But I am nervous about the exercise restrictions.

The other scary issue with being in a cast is work. I'm a physical therapist. I lift and twist and balance and walk all day. I am responsible for my patients' health and safety. I cannot work with patients if I am unbalanced myself. I already know I will not be allowed to work at my hospital job. I'm waiting to hear from my skilled nursing facility. Even if the skilled facility is able to accommodate my temporary disability, and they allow me to work, I am not currently scheduled to work enough hours next month to make ends meet. Financial insecurity is a big trigger for me, so again I am worried about my mood.

Speaking of my mood, I am fairly low today. Besides the Achilles issues, I also have some tough news about my relationship. After a long discussion last evening, my boyfriend and I decided to discontinue our relationship. It was a mutual decision, and it may be the right decision, but that doesn't make it any less difficult. I am very sad. We've been dating for 4 years, and although we didn't get to see each other often, it will be strange adjusting to life without him. I really thought this relationship might lead to a lifetime commitment. We both did. I'm not sure I have the energy to begin again.

Begin again, I will, however. There is no other choice. I will keep moving forward. I am placing my faith in my doctor's recommendations and my body's ability to heal. I am praying for acceptance; to accept the things I cannot change. I am willing to take the next right action. And I am praying for the strength to handle these life challenges as they present themselves. One moment at a time. One moment at a time.



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