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!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Momentous?

If I do nothing else today, and I just may not based on how I'm feeling right now, I've already had what I hope will be a momentous day. I ran this morning. Yes, that's right, I ran.

It's been just over 15 months since I originally suffered a partial tear to my right Achilles tendon. I haven't raced in nearly 2 years. If you had told me after the Mankato Half Marathon in mid-October, 2014, that I wouldn't race again until, hopefully, the Fall of 2016, I'd have told you to shut up. I knew when I tore my Achilles in April, 2015, that I was in for a long recovery, but I never expected this. Fifteen months is a long, long time.

And yet here I am, alive and fairly well, despite not being able to run for over a year. That's why my 51 minute run this morning was a momentous occasion. I was more than a little nervous when I stepped outside. I was scared. What if I couldn't do it? What if I suddenly felt pain again? I knew I'd be totally demoralized if that happened. Thankfully, it didn't.

Jet and I walked for a block and then slowly picked up the pace. I was so worried. I had run for 25 minutes at 100% of my body weight on the Alter-G Treadmill, at 7:45 pace, on Thursday, and it went well, but I knew running on the street would be different. It was. I felt very heavy and very slow initially. I looked down at my watch after a few blocks. I was running around 10:30 pace, and I could barely breathe! I decided not to look at my watch again.

After a few miles, I was still breathing heavily, but I was more relaxed and moving quicker than I had initially, and most importantly, I wasn't having any pain. I was hyper-vigilantly monitoring every right foot landing and propulsion. I stayed close to home in case I needed to stop suddenly, but I reveled in the sunshine and warmth. I smiled and said hello to every runner I passed, and I cherished being among them. I loved the feeling of running again.

I'm now sitting here satisfied and grateful, but I'm still a little nervous. What if I have pain later? What if it just doesn't hurt yet? I'm trying to push these thoughts out, however, and have faith that all will be okay. I've already iced my ankle, and I'll foam roll my calves later. I have to keep my focus on the actions I can control while leaving the results to God.

I ended up running over 5 miles at 9 minute pace. I actually stopped more out of concern for my dog, Jet, than for my Achilles. He was looking hot and tired, but he was smiling, too. It's been a long time for both of us. A momentous day? I certainly hope so. Carry on, my friends.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cooped up

I think I need to get away. I'm feeling cooped up and restless. Before major depression cleaned out my bank accounts and limited my future earning potential, I used to travel whenever I could. I enjoyed getting away.

I love to travel. Nothing extravagant, I actually prefer to wander off the beaten path. Even if I find myself in a major tourist destination, I like to learn from the locals and see the things they find interesting or important. I like to eat at local diners rather than tourist-filled restaurants. I don't think I've ever hailed a cab. If I don't rent my own vehicle, I prefer to walk or use public transportation. Again, it brings me closer to the local daily life. I like to learn.

Maybe that's the problem. Maybe I need to learn something new. I don't know though. Suddenly, that sounds overwhelming. I think I just need to get away, to see something new and different, to do something new and different. I've been focused on daily tasks lately. Since I'm feeling like my mood may be on shaky ground, I've been concentrating on taking the next right action, and then the next, and the next. I've been staying on top of things and getting things done.

I'm getting through my days, but I'm flat. I'm working when I need to work. I'm exercising when I need to exercise. I'm completing chores when they need to be done. I'm even socializing more than usual. But I'm restless. I'm lacking excitement. I'm usually totally happy with my pleasantly boring life, but today I guess I need a bit more.

I better start making some plans. I've been spending a lot of time online researching some pretty fantastic far away places, but those, out of necessity, are long range tentative plans. I think I need to find something more immediate than that. Maybe Jet and I should go for a hike this weekend. I'm sure I can find a Minnesota State Park I have yet to visit. Will that be enough? I don't know, but it's worth a shot. At least I'll be away.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Another Achilles Update

My official 16-week New York City Marathon training schedule began Monday, July 18th. I'm not yet back on the road, but I'm getting closer. Today I ran on the Alter-G Treadmill for 37 minutes at 85-90% of my body weight. I ran at 85% of my body weight for 10 minutes and then increased the percentage to 90 for the final 27 minutes. It was the first time I ran at 90%. And it went well.

I saw my orthopedic doctor right after my run, and he's pleased with my progress. More importantly, I'm pleased with my progress. My Achilles responded well to the increased demand. I have a couple more 90% treadmill runs scheduled. If things continue to go okay, I'm hoping to be back on the road for my first run by late next week.

My first run... As I wrote that sentence, the anxiety rose up within me. I'm cautiously optimistic I will be back to running soon, but I'm also worried. Actually, I'm scared. I've come so far. I've got so much emotional baggage attached to this now 15-month injury/healing process. Fifteen months. Whew... It's been a long, long road.

I'm hoping the road is about to come to an end. I have faith I will handle whatever next comes my way, whether I like it or not. Of course, I really hope I like what's on the horizon.

The thing is, at this point it really is out of my hands. As my doctor said today, we did the best we could in our treatment and rehabilitation. There is nothing else we could have done to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. I've taken it slow. I've followed recommendations. I've patiently worked toward what comes next, a return to my running life. But it's no longer about me. It's up to something bigger than me now. I pray my Higher Power will take good care of me in the weeks to come.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Feeling punky

According to something called The Urban Dictionary, punky means feeling run down, tired, worn out, dragging... I guess that's somewhat accurate. But it's more than that. My brain is also feeling run down, tired, worn out, and dragging. My mood is feeling run down, tired, worn out...well, you get the idea. I'm feeling punky.

It's been a long week. My motivation is still lacking, and my mood is, well, a bit off. I don't think I'm low. I don't feel my usual depression symptoms, necessarily. I'm just a bit off. I'm feeling restless, irritable, and discontented. Spiritually unfit is the phrase I used earlier this week. Things I usually brush off are getting under my skin. Resentments are cropping up. Frustration is common. And because of that, it's been a long week.

It's been a long week in this world of ours, too. I think that's also weighing on me. There's so much hate, and divisiveness, and pain in our world right now. It's hard to feel safe. It's difficult to even have a conversation sometimes. It seems everybody thinks they're right. Discourse seems impossible. Name calling, bad behavior, and murder have apparently become the only option to deal with our disagreements and discontent. That bothers and discourages me.

I'm paying attention to my own discontent. I'm talking to friends. I'm keeping my treatment team up to date. We're all on guard. It's been just about one year since the beginning of my last, and possibly most severe, depression relapse. So I'm paying attention. I have no desire to go there again.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Regret?

It's the day after the weekend of my 30th high school reunion. I didn't go. From the looks of it, via Facebook, I missed a lot of fun. Does Facebook ever make anyone feel good? Anyway, today I am feeling a bit of regret.

To go or not to go was a really tough decision. It was complicated. As I wrote in an earlier post, I was worried about all of my lost memories from those days. That worry was confirmed when I didn't recognize 90% of the people in the photos on Facebook. Yes, part of the reason was everyone looked different at age 48 than they did at 18, but I didn't recognize most of the names either! I figured at least their names would be familiar, but most of them weren't. That was strange and disconcerting.

My other consideration regarding going or not going was the fact that I actually didn't graduate with my class. After my suicide attempt 3/4 of the way into my junior year, I went to live in a foster home in another town. I missed my senior year with the classmates I had been with since junior high school. And although I was included in the class reunion Facebook group, I wasn't sure how I'd be accepted. Seems silly to be worried about fitting in 30 years later, but it was a factor in my decision not to attend.

Another factor which I weighed heavily was what I perceived to be a large focus on alcohol. In the lead up to the weekend, many Facebook posts focused on drinking, partying, and getting drunk. I'm sober, but my concern was not at all that I'd be tempted to drink. I was, however, concerned I might be bored, uncomfortable, or just not have much fun.

Since getting sober, I haven't found attending parties where people are doing a lot of celebratory drinking very interesting for very long. I'm not a prude, but sometimes it is challenging to be the only one not uninhibited in a room full of uninhibited people. I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. It's just not interesting or even fun after awhile.

Despite all these reservations, I was still contemplating attending right up until last Friday, which was the first day of the reunion. I considered driving up late Friday night or early Saturday morning in order to attend the Saturday activities, of which there were many. And perhaps if the reunion hadn't been at least 4 hours away, I would have gone. In the end, I decided the time and effort of getting there and back, on a congested, construction-zone-riddled highway, in combination with all my other reservations about attending; it just wasn't worth it.

Of course I then spent the last three days looking at continually updated Facebook posts. Their pictures conveyed loads of fun and a fair amount of alcohol. Their words confirmed they not only had a blast, they were grateful for the time together. The words of my classmates, more than their pictures, made me think twice about the decision I made not to attend.

I'll never know if I would have had fun and felt included, or if I would have been disinterested and felt uncomfortable. The right decision? Who knows... But I am feeling a bit of regret.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Motivation lacking

I'm in a weird space. My mood is fine, but I don't feel like doing anything. Nothing. And this has been going on for 4-5 days now. In fact, I'd been planning to write in this blog for 3 straight days, and I've got several ideas swirling about my head, but each time I sat down to write, I quickly quit. No mojo. Just didn't feel like it.

This feeling of not wanting to do anything has begun each day at sun up and lasted until sun down. I've had tremendous difficulty getting out of bed for the last 4 days. I've had trouble waking up. That's not typical. I even contemplated calling in late to work once or twice just so I could stay in bed. That's not like me.

I've worked my scheduled shifts, but even there, I've wanted to cut corners. I haven't cut corners, but it concerns me that I wanted to. Unusual. I've forced myself to exercise most days, but I totally skipped it a couple of days ago. Didn't feel like it. I knew I should go, but I couldn't overcome the inertia, so I didn't go.

I skipped one of my regular meetings earlier this week. Didn't want to bother. Instead, I snoozed in my chair. I never fall asleep sitting up! Weird. And don't get me started on all of the chores I'm letting slide. My neighbors may call the authorities if I don't mow my yard soon. Oh well.

I'm not used to feeling so consistently unmotivated. Not when I'm otherwise feeling well, that is. It's fairly normal to have low motivation when my mood is suffering, but it's not typical when I'm feeling okay. I'm not sure what's going on. I'm not thrilled with it either. I don't like feeling unproductive. I don't like leaving things for tomorrow, and tomorrow, and then tomorrow again. It's frustrating and strange.

I don't know why I'm feeling like this, but I also know I don't need to figure it out. Thank God, because I don't have the motivation to do that either! This too shall pass, I hope.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Temper, temper

I blew up the other day. It was short and sweet, but for one brief moment, I lost my temper.

This was news because I don't remember the last time I even raised my voice. I live alone. I keep things simple in my life and my relationships. I try my hardest to live according to the principals of my recovery program, which is basically live and let live. And I attempt to live a life in which I don't have to apologize, especially for my behavior. I don't generally get into situations where raising my voice in anger is at all appropriate.

They say mothers know how to push our buttons because they installed them. Well, a couple of days ago, my mom pushed my buttons. Then she pushed them again, and again, and again. Finally, I felt myself blow. Like I said, I don't remember the last time I felt such strong anger rise up within me. Fortunately, I didn't say or do anything inappropriate, but I definitely raised my voice. Boy, I was angry!

Long story short, my mom and I have since patched things up, but that anger really messed me up for awhile. I found myself surprised by the intensity of the emotion, and I worried. Almost immediately I questioned myself. I got down on myself for getting angry. "What's wrong with me, I wondered?" "Oh no, I must not be working a good recovery program!" "I must not be spiritually fit, I thought." In a nutshell, I questioned my integrity and worth as a human being. Just because I got angry!

Fortunately, I have people to talk to. I quickly consulted another recovering alcoholic. She assured me I was okay but warned me to let go, of my anger and my negative thinking, so as not to annihilate my serenity. I tried, but it took a good 24 hours to accomplish that. In the meantime, I tortured myself.

I also consulted a very close friend. After she listened to my story and to the events leading up to my eruption, she validated my anger. Then she said exactly what I needed to hear. "It's okay," She told me it was okay to have felt angry. What a revelation!

Actually, I knew that. But when I was all jumbled up in my emotional mind, I forgot. Anger is just a feeling. It's a normal human emotion. It's not good or bad. It's just a feeling. It only became bad when I attached all of my worries and judgments to it. And did that help me at all? Nope. It only made me feel worse. It kept me all jumbled up and emotional. It made an entire day much more difficult than it needed to be.

The good news is I'm un-jumbled now. I feel better. ( And I am trying hard not to get down on myself for getting down on myself!) It was an uncomfortable situation, with uncomfortable emotions, which complicated my life for 24 hours, but I've come out the other side unscathed. I am constantly learning how to live this life on life's terms. I'm not real fond of this latest lesson, but I learned from it, nonetheless.



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