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!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Unpacking


The worst part of returning from a journey is unpacking. Don't you agree? I just returned from vacation. For the past week, my boyfriend, D, and I have been in Arizona. We stayed in Scottsdale at a cool, retro 60's hotel. They even played 60's music in the lobby. It was pretty neat. We enjoyed running, shopping, eating and hiking in warm sunshine. It was really nice.

The picture above is of us at the top of Camelback Mountain. Camelback is about 2,700 feet high. To get to the summit we climbed the 1.2 mile Echo trail, which at points is nearly vertical. It is difficult climbing, but the workout is great and the views are spectacular! We definitely deserved our big breakfast after we finished.

I did my best to keep up with my training while I was away. I did my long run, 17.5 miles, along a canal path through Scottsdale and Phoenix on Saturday morning. It was a gorgeous day for a long run, sunny and in the 70's, and there were many others out running, too. Unfortunately, my right Achilles tendon, which had been sore recently, got very sore over my final miles. It swelled up later, and I was unable to walk without limping. In fact, I've been unable to run since Saturday because of it.

I'm a little concerned, as I've got a half marathon with my brother scheduled for this Sunday. I've had Achilles tendon issues several times in the past, so I'm familiar with the problem. I'm betting my right hip is still a bit weak, causing slight alteration to my gait, which likely flared up the tendon. I think it is improving, so I'm hopeful I'll be able to race on Sunday. Knowing me, I'll race even if the tendon is not 100%. I'm looking forward to spending the time with my brother, and I'm anxious to see where my fitness is at currently. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Anticipation

I'm feeling a little giddy. I had a really nice, productive day, including a stellar run. I'm also getting prepared to go on vacation soon with my boyfriend, D. I'm really looking forward to seeing him. We haven't seen each other since Christmas! We're heading off to a warmer climate. I'm looking forward to some heat, as it actually snowed here today. It was very cold and blustery. Ridiculous for this time of year, but that's the great state of Minnesota for you! Regardless, I'm still feeling a little giddy.

Maybe the crazy weather is actually contributing to my giddiness, as I can't wait to get away from it. I was cursing it earlier today. I had a nine mile tempo run scheduled, and I just couldn't face the cold temperatures and high winds. The alternative, of course, was to run nine fast miles on the treadmill, which as you know, I frequently curse! But the weather pushed me to the treadmill, and I actually did my tempo run inside.

I knew running nine miles on the treadmill was going to be a significant challenge, and running at tempo pace, which is defined as comfortably hard, was going to be even tougher. I'm happy to report I survived. Not only did I survive, I actually did well. It was very tough, and I had to do a lot of mental gymnastics and bargaining with myself to get it done, but I did it. I love surprising myself by accomplishing a difficult task. I felt very satisfied when I left the gym.

Running well and accomplishing goals has helped my mood remain stable and strong. I expect some sunshine and warm temperatures will also keep me going. I will be running 19 miles one day while away, and I have a half marathon scheduled soon after I return. More goals to shoot for. More to look forward to and anticipate. Anticipation is good. Looking forward is good. It means I'm moving, not stuck, and movement is very good. Keep moving forward, my friends.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A little splurge


I ran 9 miles yesterday morning, less than 24 hours after running 6, half mile repeats at a very fast pace Wednesday afternoon, so I treated myself to a little splurge for lunch. We have a new restaurant in town, and I've discovered they make the best, juiciest burgers around. And the sweet potato fries made it all very healthy, right?

Actually, I sometimes feel the need to eat red meat when I'm training hard. That was the case yesterday. Women do need more iron when training hard, and I don't get a lot of iron from other sources. Plus, I love a good steak or hamburger every once in awhile. And this one was quite delicious.

Tomorrow I'm scheduled to run 17 miles. My 15-miler last Sunday was quite challenging, so I'm a little apprehensive right now. I find I need to mentally prepare for my long runs in much the same way as I prepare for races. I even lay out my clothing the night before, just as I do for races, so nothing gets in my way before a long run. I have few worries and no excuses that way. Tomorrow morning I'll only have to worry about getting out the door. And it's supposed to be beautiful, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Jet will join me for most of my miles tomorrow. He ran all 15 last week and then bounced around the yard afterward as if he'd been laying around all morning! He's a trooper. I love spending the time with him. He's so cute. He actually looks like he's smiling the whole time we run. If he makes it all 17 miles tomorrow, which he will if it's cool enough, perhaps he'll be the next one to enjoy a little splurge.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Building Positive Experiences

One of the symptom-busting techniques I have learned in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is to build positive experiences, and I'd say this week I did enough building to construct a house! I had a really good week. I built positive experiences working with others, helping a friend, celebrating another friend, and taking good care of myself throughout the week. I feel so fortunate.

I had a great week at work. My patients were particularly rewarding to work with this week. Sometimes that happens. I can't explain it. I just had the pleasure of treating a group of very motivated, hard working, fun and appreciative patients. It made work very enjoyable, and more importantly I felt like I made a difference. That's always nice.

I think I also made a difference helping a young man I know. It was my pleasure to assist him as he prepared for his first job interview. We went over his resume, how to write a cover letter, and every aspect of the interviewing process. From the hand shake to thanking the interviewer for his time, including practicing actual questions and answers, we covered it all. It was awesome! I mentored this young man when he was in high school. To see him now, all grown up, and to still be called upon for assistance, is absolutely one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I'm so proud of him.

It was my friend Wendy's birthday this past week. I had fun surprising her at work. I brought her some good Tollhouse cookies, a bouquet of flowers, and her favorite, Diet Pepsi. Wendy has been so kind, generous and supportive over these last 3-4 years. She's been a true friend. I try not to let an opportunity to show her how much I care for and appreciate her pass by.

I also cared for myself this week. I'm happy with my stable mood, and I'm feeling more functional than I've felt in a long time. Jet and I ran 5 days for a total of 33 miles, including a challenging, hilly 15 miler today. I feel like I'm getting back into racing form. I continued to work on my eating this week, and I ate well. I stayed away from the sweets, which I love. That's a first! I'm still not losing the weight I'd like to lose, but my clothes are fitting better, which is satisfying. Finally, I took my medications as prescribed, slept when I needed to sleep, and attended all my meetings and therapy appointments. It was a good week filled with positive experiences. I'm grateful and pleased.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Running in the Rain

Jet and I had a great run this morning. I was scheduled for an 8-miler. My busy day dictated that I run early this morning. Unfortunately, it was gray and 36 degrees with a light mist, so I wasn't too enthusiastic when I stepped outside. My enthusiasm waned even more when the sky opened, and it began to pour just as I passed one mile. It was a cold, hard rain with occasional rumbles of thunder, which Jet really didn't appreciate. Rather than turn around and go home, after all I was already wet, I decided I'd at least run a few miles and finish on the treadmill later. But the cold, hard rain slowed to a sprinkle at my turn around point, mile two, so I decided to go ahead and finish my 8 miles.

Before we hit mile three, the sky opened again. It poured and poured and poured more cold, hard rain. I was far from home, so I decided I might as well continue. It was absolutely silly, so silly I began to laugh. Jet and I were alone in the city stomping through the rain. I'm sure people driving by questioned my sanity and maybe even wanted to rescue my adorably soaked dog. But instead of feeling sorry for myself, I enjoyed myself. It was fun! We ran through the downpour for over an hour. I was energized and ready for my day by the time we got home. It turned out to be a great run.

I like when I have unexpected experiences like that. It adds a little spice to my life. The day has remained cold, wet and gray, but I'm still feeling energized. My run in the rain really set the tone for the rest of my day!

The rest of my day has been filled with appointments, errands and a speaking engagement. I told my story to a group of students at the local college. As usual, I appreciated the opportunity to share my experience with depression. I'm not sure my story is all that interesting, but at least it's a first hand account of living with this sometimes debilitating illness. I think that's helpful for anyone learning about mental illness. And as is usual after I speak, I end up feeling full of gratitude for the experience. It's been a good day.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Spring Cleaning

I'm not a big fan of cleaning. Who is? But I'm even less a fan of a dirty environment. I find my mood suffers if I let my surroundings get too messy. So I've been doing my spring cleaning. Today I went outside. It's sunny and crisp here, a perfect day to do some yard work. If you own a dog in a northern climate you know what that means. When the snow melts a full winter of potty breaks is left behind. It's not pretty. After a couple of hours I had filled more than one bag with dead grass, leaves, and Jet's doggy deposits. My yard is now clean. Jet and I are both happy.

Speaking of happy, I'm still feeling well. It's been two weeks since I asked and my doctor agreed to lower one of my medications. I think I'm well enough to be on the lower dose, and I'm pretty sure the med was keeping me from losing the extra weight I gained during my layoff from running. I'm happy to report I got on the scale this morning, and I have indeed lost one pound. One pound is not a lot, but it's a start. I've been working very hard to eat well, stay away from sweets (which I love), and running or exercising consistently. It's nice to see the work paying off.

I've been running consistently over the last couple weeks. I'm getting back on track. I'm scheduled to run long tomorrow morning. How long I go has yet to be determined. My schedule calls for 16 miles, but I'm not back up to that level yet. I ran 11.5 last weekend, so I think 13 miles might be doable. That's what I'm going to shoot for, but I'll let my body be my guide. I had dead legs during my run yesterday. They feel better today. I'm being cautiously optimistic that I'll continue to feel strong and be able to run longer tomorrow.



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