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, April 24, 2018

Feeling well

Hello, my friends. I apologize in advance, as I'm without many words these days. Things are going well. I'm feeling well. Life is good right now. I'm not sure I have much to offer today, but I'll fill you in on the minutia anyway.

It's finally turning to Spring here. It's actually been warm enough to open the windows the last couple of days. There are still piles of snow here and there, but the grass and the trees are beginning to turn green. The days are long, which has been really nice for Jet and I during our early morning walks. The evenings are long, too, so I get to enjoy a little light after work as well. I'm feeling energized.

Jet and I have walked for 24 straight days, mostly as the sun comes up. I feel good about sticking with my commitment to walk. I've noticed an improvement in my leg strength already. I'm getting anxious to begin running, but I'm going to wait until the calendar turns over to May. There's nothing magical about May, but I committed to walking every day in April before making my return to running. So I'm again just sticking to that commitment.

Unfortunately, my right knee is still pretty creaky. I see my orthopedic surgeon tomorrow for a follow-up. I'm not sure what he's going to be able to offer. I think my knee is either going to get to a point of being pain free, or it's not. It's certainly better than it was, but I can definitely feel the loss of cartilage in that joint. And unless my surgeon has discovered how to regrow cartilage, I think I'm going to have to learn to work with what I've got.

I'll certainly know more about my future once I begin running next week. Hopefully my knee will allow it. Nonetheless, despite my physical worries, I'm glad to feel well. I hope all of you are the same.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Doing well

More snow here in the Northland. It's crazy. We got about 8 inches yesterday. It's certainly made my daily morning walks more interesting and challenging. But I'm continuing to walk every day, nonetheless. Unfortunately, my left foot slipped out from under me a couple of days ago, ice. I caught myself before I fell, but my right knee ended up in a flexed position with a jolt. Since then my right knee has been more sore, and I've been able to do less. Another set back. I'm hoping it's a brief one.

While my knee may not be as okay as I'd like, my mood has been good. It's nice to feel better again. Everything is so much easier when I don't have to battle my brain. Work is still crazy busy, but I'm handling it. I'm sticking to my routines, taking care of my house, and keeping up with my errands. I could be socializing more, but that's nothing new. Basically, I'm taking care of myself, like, dare I say it, a normal person. I like feeling "normal." It will be nice when the weather normalizes, too! Carry on, my friends.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sick

Last time I wrote I told you about my intermittent nausea, annoying but not tremendously interfering with my day to day life. Well, that changed a few nights ago. The nausea finally amounted to an all out sprint for the bathroom. Vomiting...not my favorite thing. That was Thursday night. I ate very little yesterday, slept a lot, and I felt better overnight. But the nausea returned this morning. Silly me, I ate some toast for breakfast. I'm not sure what's going on, but I really don't care for this new turn of events.

We do have the Rotavirus going around one of the facilities in which I work, so perhaps I picked up the bug and have been fighting it off for the last few weeks. I'm going to lay low over the weekend, as I don't want to miss any more work. I missed yesterday. We're so busy, I felt really bad, but there was no way I could have worked. I also don't get paid when I don't work, so missing time for any reason is never a good thing. And I really hate just sitting around. I'd like to feel better now.

Despite feeling under the weather, I did keep up with my commitment to walk daily over the last couple of days. By mid-day yesterday I was feeling well enough, and bored enough, to slowly mosey for 15 minutes, so that was good. I think it will be another short day today based on how I'm currently feeling, but I hope to get it done. I miss running so much, but my right knee just isn't ready yet. I'm worried it will never be ready, and I can't imagine life without running, but I'm trying not to go there. One day at a time. One day at a time.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Quiet

With the exception of being insanely busy at work, all is quiet here on the Northern front. I'm doing okay. My mood is back to nearly normal, whatever that is. I'm not low. I'm not ecstatic. I'm just moving through life one day at a time. The only blip I've been experiencing is with my physical health, but again, it's nothing major.

I've had several days of low grade headaches, body aches, and nausea. It feels like I'm about to get sick, but it never advances to that point. I actually left work early yesterday because I was sure I was about to get nailed with major illness, but after a few hours it passed. Unfortunately, it returned today. I'm just nauseated enough to be annoyed. Napping helps, but the nausea keeps coming back. It's weird, but I think I'll survive.

Work, as I mentioned, has been insanely busy. I don't know where all these patients are coming from! I'm feeling a bit stretched, and I think I let it show a bit more than I'd like a few days ago. I was a bit more impatient and felt like I needed to rush throughout my day, which I didn't like. I generally try to enjoy my patients and coworkers. I like to have fun. I don't think I was much fun on Friday. I'll do better tomorrow. I have to remember I can only do what I can do. I'm human.

I have been getting up early to walk every day. I'm proud of myself. It hasn't been easy, as we've had unseasonably cold and snowy weather, but I've stuck to my commitment. I really dislike walking. It's so slow. Also, my left foot, which still slaps when I walk as a result of continued leg weakness from my back injury, goes numb after about one mile. It's quite uncomfortable, but I'm pushing through. It would be easier to run, but my right knee isn't quite ready for that yet, either. It's frustrating.

It's hard not to give up. I feel like my body is failing me. It's been an awful long year. I'm coming up on one year since my back injury. I'm heavy, the heaviest I've ever been. I've lost muscles I never worried about before. My clothes don't fit. There are so many reasons to throw in the towel, but that won't make me happy, either. I'm determined to get back on the road. I just wish the process wasn't quite so long. Forward, I go.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

No foolin'

It may be April Fools Day, and I did get fooled once today, but all kidding aside, I'm happy to report I'm feeling better, really. My days of severe fatigue seem to have passed. I only took a one hour nap today, as opposed to the 3-4 hour naps I took most of this past week. With all that sleeping, I didn't have time or energy to exercise most of last week either. I exercised today. I took a 4 mile walk with Jet. It was a crisp, sunny day, so it was especially nice to be back out in the world. And that's what it felt like. I was out.

When I feel poorly, my world gets very small. My world isn't large to begin with, but when I don't feel well it gets tiny. For the past two weeks it's been me, my house, and my job. Besides work, I didn't go out. I didn't get to the gym. I didn't run any errands. Very small... But today, I got out. I walked, and I bought groceries, and it wasn't even painful to be in the store. It seems I've regained some of my energy and relieved some of my isolation. How nice.

During and after my walk I was pleasantly surprised to discover my knee tolerated the activity fairly well. I developed a plan to get back to running, but it's going to begin with daily walking. I'm going to attempt to walk daily, even if it's just 15 minutes, in order to begin re-strengthening my legs. I want to establish the habit and get stronger before I begin running again. The past two weeks have wreaked havoc on my exercise behavior, and I've lost a ton of fitness since my knee surgery 7 weeks ago. I need to get my running life back, but I'm so far removed from it, I need to go slow.

That's the scoop, my friends. I've got a busy work week ahead, but I'm going to try to take it one day at a time. I'm praying I'll continue to feel more and more back to normal over the next several days. If I don't, I guess I'll deal with that one moment at a time, too. But I hope I do. Life is so much easier when my mood isn't dragging me down.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Reflecting

I've been traveling a bumpy road the last several days. Every time I think I'm feeling better, my mood dives into the pit, and then I feel better again, maybe even normal, before it dives back downward. It's been frustrating, but overall I think things are looking up. My mood is better than it was last week at this time when I couldn't finish my work day. I worked more than a full day today, so things are improving. I think.

I'm feeling reflective today. It turns out, 15 years ago today I was fired from my physical therapy job. I worked in a hospital outpatient clinic. I loved my job, and I was good at what I did, but I had depression. I was in an inpatient treatment program for my illness when I was "let go."

I learned of my firing via a letter I received 15 years ago today. At the time, I had missed approximately 2 months of work, and the hospital could "no longer hold my position." I pointed out to the hospital human resources staffer that one of our doctors was, at that moment, out for more than 2 months due to illness, and her position was being held. Of course, she had cancer. Enough said.

I didn't realize it at the time, but being fired spurred me to become an open, willing advocate for people with mental illness. I fought to get my job back, and when I didn't, I sued. I won. But I never did get that job back. Instead, I took on a bigger fight.

I began publicly speaking about my illness and about the stigma surrounding it. I've spoken to several church groups, to countless college and high school students, and at many public educational forums. Over the years I've done a radio broadcast, a newspaper interview, and a feature on my local television news. I had the tremendous opportunity to do the Healthination educational videos, and of course, I began this blog. I became something I never planned to be, an advocate, of sorts. It was all done in an effort to educate, reduce stigma, and bring about change. I hope I've made a dent.

So I'm feeling reflective today, 15 years after receiving a shocking, devastating, cowardly letter. It was a letter which began a journey; a journey which is yet to conclude. It's been difficult, and surprising, and exhausting, and rewarding. And if my journey has kept at least one person, receiving treatment for mental illness, from losing their beloved job, it's been worth it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Moods and Migraines

If you've been following along, you know I've not been feeling well. Yesterday I didn't feel well, and I got a migraine. Fun times. My mood has been a little low, a little agitated, and a little impatient with a bit of distracted thrown in. I'm not sure people realize there is more to depression than just feeling low. Before my mood hits rock bottom, I actually go through a range of other emotions.

Before my mood tanks, I often feel like I'm feeling now, distracted and irritable. You can understand why I'm a bit concerned. Anger, frustration, muddled thinking, and severe fatigue are all signs I'm not doing so hot. Lack of motivation, isolation, and resentment often add to the debilitating mix. Depression is so much more than a low mood.

I've definitely been isolating lately. It's hard to go out. When I feel really poor it's actually painful to be seen. It's weird, but if you've been there, you probably know what I mean. I've been doing my best to force myself out the door, with varying degrees of success, lately.

I did make it to a meeting on Saturday, which was a huge accomplishment. I've had to work really hard to get out and exercise. Most days I've done something, though not much. My arthroscopically repaired right knee has been more, rather than less, sore, which is adding to my frustration and lack of motivation. If I were able to run right now, I think I'd be coping and feeling much better.

I am concerned about my right knee. I saw my orthopedic doctor a few days ago. He wants me to be patient, told me he had to do "a lot more in there" than we planned, and then said it could take up to three months to get back to running. So much for a simple procedure and getting back on the road quickly. That was the plan. Apparently my surgeon had to scrape more damaged cartilage than he originally anticipated in order to rid my knee of the bone spur. I'm in for a lot longer recovery, and I'm not happy about that.

Worries about not being able to run again, or run the way I'd like to run, are now crowding my brain. Like I said, I know I'd be coping with my current struggles better if I could hit the road. Maybe I wouldn't be having the struggles at all. Who knows...

One thing I do know, I'm not feeling well. But, hey, at least I don't have a migraine today. I guess that's one positive change.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

4 by 3 Metaphor

Five. That's how many times the cycle instructor had us ride for 4 very hard minutes followed by 3 minutes of recovery last night. That I made it to the class was a monumental effort. But I got there. Then I found out what Mr. Instructor had in store. You'd think I would have hopped off the bike and headed to the door, but I chose to stay. Challenged. I've been feeling so heavy and slow and low lately, what did I have to lose? Even if I just sat there and spun the peddles around, it would have been more than I had done in days.

So I stayed and peddled, and when Mr. Instructor said, "Go," I peddled really hard for 4 minutes. After the first interval I was certain I could maybe do one more, but that would be it. But during that first 3 minute recovery period, I regained my strength, and pondered the potential of finishing up to three. Each successive interval was beyond difficult. Each 3 minute recovery period less and less restorative. I had to recommit myself to start each time my 3 minutes were up. Intervals 4 and 5 stretched my legs and lungs beyond what I thought possible. I took the last interval one minute at a time. Just like I do in a marathon, I thought to myself, I can do anything for 2 more minutes, and then one more minute, and then 30 seconds, and then I finished.

I finished, wrung out and totally whipped, but totally satisfied. I could barely catch my breath, which by that point was quite audible (thank God for loud studio music), but I didn't implode. I knew I'd feel better soon. I'd recover. And recover I did. I accomplished something I doubted I could do.

Overcoming pain, discomfort, and doubt seems like an exceptional metaphor for my depression. Like every 4 minute interval, each one more challenging than the last, I'm reminded my depression symptoms are temporary, too. I don't have a nice little console counting down the minutes of each depression episode like I did on the bike, but in the past my depression symptoms have always passed.

I don't feel good right now. I'm tired, distracted, low and slow. I doubt my ability to make it through. But then again, I made it through those incredibly difficult intervals last night, so maybe, just maybe I'll be able to hang on through this.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Invisible

Perhaps this post is related to my last post. I wrote about two professional athletes who revealed their struggles with mental illness. Unlike their cases, however, all of my coworkers and friends know I have depression. I feel it's important to put my illness out there alongside other stigma-free, socially acceptable illnesses. I appreciate coworkers questions and support when depression relapses take me out of work or put me in the hospital. Unfortunately, for my occasional day to day struggles, I'm still invisible. This became painfully obvious to me over the past couple of days.

I didn't want to go to work yesterday or today. Not only did I not want to go, getting there felt nearly impossible. For 3 days, getting anywhere has been impossible. But I showed up and worked. I struggled through minute by minute. I was distracted and inefficient and distant, but I did my job. It sucked. And nobody knew.

Unlike the occasional cold, or flu, or squabble with a spouse, moments where commiseration with coworkers is expected, feeling low, distracted, or cranky due to depression doesn't feel the same. I don't think my coworkers want to know those nitty-gritty details. What's more, I don't think I want them to know how often I feel very, very off. Once a week or once a month, it's too much. And what are they supposed to say? Everyone can relate to feeling crappy due to a cold, but feeling detached due to depression...not so much.

So I guess it is my choice to remain invisible during these short, difficult stints, but that doesn't make it any easier. Besides feeling distracted and detached, which made my interactions with my patients quite challenging and paperwork nearly impossible, I felt heavy and tired and weak yesterday. I wasn't creative. I wasn't lighthearted. I wasn't patient. These are qualities on which I pride myself. The day was a slow slog which lasted forever, and I didn't feel good about my performance.

Perhaps it would have been nice if my coworkers had known I wasn't feeling well, but then again maybe I would have felt too vulnerable. It's hard to say. I guess I chose acting stoic and professional over feeling vulnerable, but that wasn't simple. It was hard. And I felt invisible. And invisible hurts.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Overwhelmingly postive

In recent weeks, two professional basketball players opened up about their struggles with mental illness. One player revealed he suffers from an anxiety disorder, one which led to a panic attack which hospitalized him in the midst of a game. The other player detailed some of the gory details of his depression, details like struggling to get out of bed and/or spending most of the day in bed without energy to face the day.

While I don't have an anxiety disorder, I certainly related to the player with depression. And like many across the sports world, I applaud these players for letting this piece of their overall health come to light. Each player, after all, stated the response he's gotten to his revelation has been overwhelmingly positive. How nice for them.

Don't get me wrong. I'm very pleased these two players have come out of the proverbial closet. Shedding any light on mental illness is extremely important, especially when the light is revealed by men of tremendous privilege, adoration, skill and wealth. Maybe these two instances will wake people up to the fact that anyone, regardless of their circumstances, can get sick.

Wouldn't it be nice if those of us without multi-million dollar contracts got the same loving, hero-worshiping treatment when we revealed our own mental struggles? Wouldn't it be great if us working stiffs also had access to on demand services, top notch medication management, and employer accommodations? Twitter feeds filled with congratulations for our bravery, rather than avoidance of our weakness, would also be welcome. Wouldn't that be nice?

One day... Maybe one day when each of us reveals we, too, have a mental illness, our revelation won't require anxious hand wringing, carefully worded downplaying of the seriousness of our condition, loss of financial security, and uncomfortable social isolation. Wouldn't that be nice? I pray the recent professional player revelations will push the door open to such "overwhelmingly positive" acceptance just a bit further. Every little bit helps.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Fear inducing thoughts

I've written about this here in the past, and I don't really want to write about it again, but it's happening so here I go. I've been having negative, scary thoughts again. This happens to me from time to time. I've asked my psychiatrist about it, and she tells me it's just one of the symptoms of my depression. That doesn't really appease me, but I guess it's one more thing I'll have to accept.

Acceptance doesn't mean I have to like them, though, does it? I don't like them at all. Random thoughts of horrible things happening to Jet (my dog), or my friends, or even my doctor? I don't understand it. They are scary, and detailed, and sometimes quite vivid. At times I am able to recognize the thought immediately and distract myself. But sometimes I find myself immersed in one before I realize what's going on. Before I can extract myself and the scary feelings the thought provokes. That's when I get a bit distressed.

What concerns me most is I'm feeling well right now. My mood is generally good. I can understand struggling with negative thoughts when my mood sucks, but that's not the case right now. So I don't get it. It doesn't make sense. Why do these thoughts crop up, and why now? They make me feel off kilter and scared. Does anyone else experience thoughts like this? If so, I'd love to hear what you think.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Be patient

I'd need more than ten fingers to count the number of times I've been told to be patient over the past week. Which means I'd need more than ten fingers to count the number of times I've expressed concern that I'm not yet able to run on my recently operated knee, too. I tried again today. No dice. My knee hurt. I'm hoping my right knee is coming along, but if it is, it's doing so at a much slower pace than I would like. I'm concerned.

I was hoping to be running again, at least a little bit, by now. I'm not. I could force it. I could probably do it if I didn't mind some patellofemoral knee pain with every step, but that defeats the purpose of having the surgery in the first place. I'm trying to be smart. I'm trying to be patient. Unfortunately when it comes to running, patience is very tough for me.

With Spring approaching I'm anxious to get outside. It's been 9 months since I was able to run as I wished. The long recovery from back surgery, interrupted now by recovery from knee surgery, is really starting to wear on me. I don't like how I look. I've gained 10 pounds since my back injury. I don't like the way I feel. I'm restless and irritable and lazy and slow. I want to run again!

Despite not being able to run or exercise as I wish, my mood is okay. Work has been very busy. I worked 36 hours last week. That's monumental for me. I'm actually surprised I've been able to handle the increased load as well as I have. Perhaps focusing on my trip to Nepal this Fall, for which I need to save more money, has helped me cope. Knowing the extra money I'm earning will be going toward a bucket list trip probably does help. (Have I mentioned Nepal yet? More on that in another post.)

So that's where I'm at today. I apologize for the long span between posts. All the extra work hours left me dead tired at home each night. I had to fight to stay awake until 8:00! I'm getting old, I guess. If my knee didn't hurt, though, I'd like to think I could have found the energy to run. Moot point. It did, so I didn't. Perhaps this week will bring improvement, and I'll be running again soon. I hope so. I don't like living without running as an option.

I know. I know. Be patient, etta. Be patient.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Slow Sundays

Two Sundays in a row, I've inexplicably suffered. I'm not sure what's going on. Last Sunday I chalked it up to my knee surgery which was just two days prior. But today, I'm feeling it again, and I don't understand why. I feel like I've fallen off a cliff with severe lethargy and fatigue. My mood is low, and it feels difficult to move.

I woke up this way, again, for the second Sunday in a row. The good news is it only lasted about 24 hours last week, so maybe there's hope for the same today. But I get scared when I feel this way. With this illness, I never know how long a (hopefully) momentary crash will actually last.

And I hate feeling this way, especially when it comes out of nowhere. I really hate feeling so heavy. It's hard to explain, but if you've been there you probably understand. It literally feels difficult to move my arms and legs. Each appendage seems to weigh 30 pounds more than it did when I went to bed last night. It's so weird, so random, and so frustrating.

My plans for the day may have to be changed. I was hoping to head outside for a long walk with Jet. I've got laundry to do and a house to clean. But to accomplish any of those plans, I'll have to force myself to move. I'm fighting to stay upright right now. I'd much rather go back to bed.

I mentioned a walk, which unfortunately may now be out of the question. I've actually been cleared to resume running. I'm only 10 days post-op, but my doc gave me the go-ahead a few days ago. He wants me to come back very, very slowly, however, so Grandma's Marathon in June is likely no longer an option. That's disappointing, but it's way more important to come back healthy, so I'll do as I'm told.

Hopefully I'll get that walk in today. At this moment, however, getting out the door seems like a long shot. Acceptance... I'll do what I can and pray this is just another 24 hour dip. Things have been going well, so I have no reason to expect any different, but suddenly falling off the cliff is scary, nonetheless.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

No words

I was going to write a post tonight about how I'm still recovering from my knee surgery, and about how I had a big scare when my mood rocketed downward Sunday, and probably something about how busy we continue to be at work. But after the shooting today in Florida, nothing I have to say seems very important. Another American high school under attack by another juvenile shooter. At least 17 dead. It makes me sick to my stomach. I can't even imagine the horror. I don't understand. Why? That's all I've got. Just why?

Friday, February 9, 2018

Doing well

I had my arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday. It was a long day of waiting, as I was the last surgery on the schedule, but everything went well. My orthopedic surgeon played the theme song from the movie Chariots of Fire as I walked into the operating room. That made everyone laugh. He's a great doctor with a great personality. I've felt confident every time he's treated me for my various ailments.

After the surgery my doctor revealed there were 2 bone spurs on my femur as well as a large fissure in the cartilage on the end of my femur. He was able to clean everything up so I should have nice smooth surfaces to work with from here on out. I'm so looking forward to running again.

I'm doing well today. I'm not having much pain, just a little discomfort. I haven't really needed my crutches. I'm taking it easy, limping around the house a bit, icing, and performing gentle range of motion and strengthening exercises as prescribed. I only wish I had picked up a few movies. I'm not finding too much of interest on television today.

Actually, most of my interest the past several days has been on Nepal. I've been planning my next adventure, which will take place late this fall. I'm going on a trek to Mount Everest Base Camp. It's a bucket list item for me. I've been getting quotes from various guides and deciding on the best trek for me. I'll be going alone. My two nieces, who were tentatively planning to join me, have decided not to go. That's okay. I've traveled alone many times before. The prospect of going alone does not deter me a bit.

Planning my adventure has kept me motivated and looking forward. I need that. I've been very busy at work, which is tiring, but I know all the dollars I'm earning will be put to good use, not just bills! My mood is holding up well. I'm grateful for that.

I can't wait to get back to running. My knee will heal. The days will get longer. I'll be able to get outside more often and begin training in earnest. That will be a glorious day. I'm still aiming for a June return to the marathon. So I've got a few things on the horizon to keep me going. And keep going I will.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

It's Arthroscopy Time

As I mentioned in a few previous posts, I've been having some discomfort and locking of my right knee, typically the day after a run. It hasn't interrupted my running. The discomfort has not been terrible, but it's been concerning, especially when my knee intermittently locked up. The locking made me believe I had a medial meniscus tear. For that reason I had an MRI earlier this week and saw my orthopedic doctor on Friday. We were both surprised my medial meniscus looked great.

The medial meniscus may have looked great, but the bone spur on my femur didn't look so good. There's not supposed to be a bone spur on the end of the femur. There's especially not supposed to be a bone spur right beneath the patella, a spur which is literally carving a matching groove in the underside of my patella. Apparently, that was the problem.

Since the bone spur is carving up my patella, it's fairly important it be removed. So I'm having arthroscopic right knee surgery this Thursday. It should be a fairly simple procedure, especially since the rest of my knee anatomy looked so good. My doc will take a burr to the spur and file it off. I'm hoping to be back at work by Monday and back to running within a few weeks. And I'm looking forward to a pain free right knee. Onward and upward, my friends!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

33 years ago

I marked an anniversary a couple of days ago. It was January 30th of my junior year of high school, and I had had enough. I had fought a losing battle with depression since the age of 15. My home life was a chaotic mess. My father, with whom I lived, had no clue as to my mental state despite many, many signs and a few direct warnings from other adults. I was miserable and ready to go.

On January 30th I decided it was time. It was a few days ahead of plan, a plan I had been working on for at least a month. I had finished all of my finals. I had played what I knew was my last basketball game. I had said goodbye to the couple of people closest to me. On January 30th I tried to end my life. Fortunately, I didn't succeed.

I can say fortunately now. I don't recall feeling that way then. I do recall, of those around me, most were shocked I had attempted suicide. Depression wasn't recognized as it is now, and I certainly didn't fit any sort of person-about-to-commit-suicide profile. I was a straight-A student, an athlete, and had many friends. But I also had severe, debilitating depression. And despite communicating my intent more than once to more than one person, people were shocked. I hope the awareness is better today.

I don't always remember this anniversary. It's not a day I mark on my calendar. For some reason, I remembered it this year. I reflected on how desperate and alone I felt, how low and pessimistic I had become. And perhaps that's exactly what I need to remember when I reflect on that day.

When I reflect on surviving a time which felt un-survivable, I'm reminded I'm resilient. I've been through the wringer, more than once, and come out the other side. And I'm fortunate. I don't feel desperate, alone, or pessimistic today. I have depression, and I don't like it, but I'm okay. Today I'm living with rather than suffering from depression. I'm grateful for that. Things could be so much worse.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Tired of Tired

I ran this morning. It was the first time I'd exercised in 3 days. I went back to bed after my run. It was 10:00 in the morning. Two days ago I fell asleep after work and went to bed at 7:30 PM. Last night I fell asleep after work and went to bed at 8:00 PM. I've been tired. I hate feeling so tired.

Despite having a wonderful weekend away with my friends last weekend, the fatigue I was beginning to feel prior to that weekend escalated over this past week. We had a major snowstorm on Monday, so I wasn't able to get to work. That meant, after shoveling out for two hours, I had to work Tuesday through Saturday. We've been very busy at work, so I had some long days in there, too. The week concluded with a very chaotic, short-staffed, long work day yesterday. It's no wonder I fell asleep shortly after getting home.

Fatigue, as I've noted here before, is one of the long standing, persistent symptoms of my depression. I never seem to be rid of it. Even when my mood is good, the fatigue persists. I'm less fatigued when my mood is good, but it never goes away. For that reason I don't tolerate successive long days of work like I used to prior to depression. And this was a long week.

I hate fatigue. It is a constant reminder of my illness, and it interferes with my life. Missing 2+ days of exercise when I'm battling to get back into shape really hurts. I know, I know. It's not the end of the world. I'm just frustrated. I don't like it when depression symptoms interfere with my goals, especially when I otherwise feel well.

Perhaps, once again, I need to work on acceptance. Accepting that I'm not able to do things like I used to prior to depression, like work 5 successive days without bonking, would probably help me feel less frustrated. Instead I feel like I'm banging my head against a wall. The wall survives, but my head hurts.

I guess fatigue is tough for me to accept. I'm tired of feeling tired. I want to feel "normal." I hope the extra sleep I allowed myself this morning will kick start my energy once again. This week is going to be another busy one at work, and I'd like to handle it better this week than I did last. I'll keep working on that acceptance thing, too.

Monday, January 22, 2018

$17,372.05

I take a small cocktail of medications to treat my depression. Today I received my year end summary from the insurance company that pays for my prescriptions. Seventeen thousand, three hundred seventy two dollars and five cents. That's how much my medications cost in 2017. While there are a couple of other pills represented in that amount, the vast majority of the total cost came from my depression meds. $17,372.05. It's a bit shocking.

Fortunately, I pay for insurance to cover the majority of that total cost, so I did not pay $17,372.05 out of pocket. My health insurance coverage, including medication coverage, is quite expensive. I pay over $600 per month, but this year end summary reminded me why I pay the hefty price. It also got me thinking. What would I do if I couldn't afford my insurance? I certainly would not be able to afford my medications, and then what would happen? It's frightening to think about.

I need my medications. Without them I would not be functional. In fact, I likely would not be alive without my meds. They are an integral piece of my overall health plan. I take care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually, and I take my medications. That's what works for me. I am grateful I can afford the coverage I have.

Having a chronic illness is expensive. I know there are people out there less fortunate than I. This year end summary made me think of them. I know some people don't even fill their prescriptions, or they are forced to use less effective medication options due to cost. Two of my meds are quite new and therefore quite expensive, but they work where others haven't. If I couldn't cover their cost, my depression would likely get the best of me. That's sad. And scary.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Just thinking out loud, I guess, and processing the cost of chronic illness. Affording my insurance coverage is constantly on my mind, especially when I miss even a few days of work. It's a stressor I have to control. It would be great if treating illness wasn't a financial burden, but I don't have any answers to this conundrum. I'll leave that to greater minds than mine.

Seventeen thousand, three hundred seventy two dollars and five cents. That's a lot of money. I pray I will continue to be able to afford my insurance coverage in 2018.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Time Away

I'm excited tonight. I just finished packing for a short weekend away from home. I'm going to be spending the weekend in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St.Paul) with some very close friends. I haven't done anything remotely resembling an outing for a long, long time, so I'm due.

It's a working weekend for my friends, but we're planning plenty of playtime, too. We'll be meeting a couple of other friends for dinner, going to an NHL game (Go Wild!), and enjoying some warmer weather for a change. I've got my running clothes packed, as I love to explore new places by going for a run. And I'll be home in time for my football team's championship game on Sunday evening. Go Vikings! I'm really looking forward to getting away.

This weekend couldn't have come at a better time. We've been in another long, deep freeze for the last week, so I've been cooped up inside too much. It's been a bit of a stressful week at work as well. I don't usually feel stressed, and I don't like it. I think spending time with friends and having fun will be the perfect antidote.

I'm looking forward to starting next week fresh and energized. I think this weekend will be a a great opportunity to reset. I'm planning on taking advantage of the opportunity. If I do, I'll go into next week with improved patience and a better attitude. Gotta keep things simple. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Time to call the Doc

One of my fears about returning to running was injury. Specifically, I was worried that my weak left leg would alter my gait, which could cause an injury somewhere else. And even though my left leg seems to have regained its strength, and even though I cannot detect a significant alteration in my gait or running form, I seemingly have an injury to my right knee. I think I may have torn my medial meniscus.

My knee has been sore off and on for about a month, worse after running, but not so sore that I can't run. In fact, it doesn't hurt when I'm running, and my running is going well. Unfortunately, there have been a few occasions, the day after a run, when my knee has painfully locked up. That's the sign of a meniscus tear. I've been able to manually mobilize my knee, free it up quickly, and go about my day each time. Good thing I'm a physical therapist.

I was hoping to nurse myself through this, or that somehow it would magically heal itself, but I guess it's time to call the doctor. If the meniscus is torn, it's a relatively simple arthroscopic procedure to fix it. I'd rather take care of it now before it gets worse or I cause myself another problem. However, as long as it doesn't hurt while running, and it doesn't feel like it is getting worse, I'm not planning to quit running. Maybe that's asking for trouble, but that's me being a runner.

I am planning to call my orthopedic doctor tomorrow. Hopefully he can take a look at me soon, and I guess we'll go from there. I'm a little frustrated, but like I said, this is hopefully a pretty minor injury which can be fixed. I'm still looking toward running a marathon again early this summer. That's my goal. I need that goal to keep moving forward. I want to make it all the way back. I need to make it all the way back. This, I hope, will only be a small bump in a long road.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

4 miles

The deep freeze finally relented yesterday. It actually hit the mid 30's yesterday and almost 40 degrees today, unheard of for Minnesota in January! Going from at least a week of many, many degrees below zero to almost 40 made it feel like July. I took advantage of the warm sunny afternoon yesterday and went for a run outside with Jet. It was a perfect opportunity.

Since I've been back running, I think I've only managed 2-3 miles on a couple of occasions, with most of my runs averaging far less than that. Since I was sick in December, I've felt sluggish and slow. On my last run prior to yesterday, I barely managed 2 x 1 mile at 10+ minute per mile pace. It felt really awful, and I was certain I was never going to run the way I wanted to again.

Well, I'm happy to report the narrative changed yesterday. Jet and I managed a 4 mile run; 3 continuous miles followed by a short walking break before I finished with another mile. It was still slow, but I didn't feel sluggish and heavy. I wasn't panting like an overweight dog. I felt like a runner again! Finally.

I know it's going to be a long, long road for me to get back to being a marathoner, but I'm so glad I finally got to feel my body working in concert again. It's a small step toward the ultimate goal. I'm not very patient when it comes to athletic endeavors, but I'm doing my best to hold onto encouragement rather than focus on what could be interpreted with discouragement instead. I ran 4 miles, 3 without stopping! This is a big deal!

The deep freeze is about to settle back into our little tropical paradise here, so I don't know when I'll get the opportunity to run outside again. And I'm never as good running on a treadmill. I hate the "dreadmill," but maybe I'll be surprised again when I next try it. One thing is for sure, I'll keep fighting. I'm not giving up. I will be a runner again.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy 2018, finally

So I was minding my business the other morning, New Year's Day morning to be exact, sipping my coffee and perusing my favorite websites, when I reached across the table and dumped my coffee onto my laptop. I've been sipping coffee while perusing the web every morning for years. More than once I've thought about the possibility of doing exactly what I did, but I never changed my behavior. Perhaps I'll change it now, as I've been without a computer for the better part of a week. So I'm wishing you all a Happy New Year just a few days late.

With my luck over the whole of 2017, I figured my laptop was ruined for sure. It was an inauspicious start to the new year. I quickly soaked up the coffee with one of my super absorbent dog towels and then took a blow dryer to the keyboard. Surprisingly, when I left for work a few minutes later, my computer was working. I thought maybe my luck had turned! Unfortunately, by the time I arrived home later in the day that was not the case. I couldn't sign in. My computer was toast.

But perhaps my luck has turned. I can in no way afford a new laptop, so I took my computer to a repair shop. Of all the possibilities, up to and including my computer being toast, the diagnosis was relatively simple. I just need a new keyboard! Cleaning up the coffee immediately and thoroughly saved the important inner workings. For once, I thought, something went my way!

I'm hoping this is a sign of bigger and better things to come. Maybe my luck will turn around this year. A coworker sent me a text just after midnight, New Year's Day. It was a picture of a sign which said, "I don't make resolutions. All I want is for 2018 to be better than 2017." She thought of me, she said. It's always nice to be thought of, and I couldn't agree more! Please, 2018, be better than 2017! That's what I'm working toward today. Happy 2018, my friends!



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