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!

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.



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