I’m pretty sure I’m relapsing in my depression. At first I thought maybe I was just overwhelmed with marathon training, but I’m still not feeling like myself even after taking a few days off from running. I’ve tried to force myself to incorporate the many tools I learned during my time in therapy, but the truth is… I just don’t care.

When exercise fails to help me feel better, I’m pretty confident that there’s a problem. Exercise is supposed to give you happy endorphins, but my brain seems to be blocking them and instead focuses on how horribly I performed, how everyone left me behind in their dust, how I ended up alone despite trying to be part of a group. There is no happy.

The closer the Pittsburgh Marathon gets, the more I am truly dreading the experience. A marathon is something to be anxious about, for sure, but it should be an excited anxiety. Instead, I am imaging a severe struggle to complete the event. I imagine myself lost in a field of runners, not seeing anyone I know. I can feel the stress and anxiety of logistics, and the sadness of being alone. I can see the spectators cheering me on, and not being able to focus on the positivity of their words. I will instead turn their kindness into demeaning, because that’s what I’ve been slipping into lately.

I thought that maybe this would be over once I’ve completed the marathon, but lately I highly doubt that. This isn’t just a funk that will magically subside once I have a medal and a space blanket. It might, temporarily, but then I will be facing the post-race blues on top of what I believe is a major depressive episode.

I’ve been starting my days feeling more positive, despite the craptastic sleep I got that night. I get myself ready and to work, and it just goes downhill from there. I have to try to keep on a normal face and hide the misery I feel, responding to small talk with coworkers when all I want is to be alone. By the time I’m ready to leave, I’m either resolved to get things done when I get home, or I’m planning my food/wine/AdvilPM/Netflix bender. If I am resolved, it always disappears about 20 minutes into my 60 minute commute. And it repeats, over and over, on a perpetual loop.

I’m gaining weight because I’m eating my feelings and not keeping to my training schedule. The weight gain therefore makes running that much harder, and I get disappointed in my performance, and it’s just a vicious cycle. I’m enjoying the taste of the sorrow-drowning food for the first few minutes, at which time the shame and self-loathing takes over.

I’m losing interest in pretty much everything that isn’t my couch. I’m exhausted all the time. I catch my reflection and it’s obvious I can’t even hide my sadness anymore. The other day, a guy at the grocery store walked up to me and said “You look lost.” It was all I could do to not burst into tears right there in the frozen food section. I’m like a shell of myself, and others are noticing. Complete strangers, even.

I tried to get an appointment with my former therapist, whom I really admire and feel I can trust. He’s obviously very good, because unfortunately he’s so busy right now that he can’t accept new patients. I’m waiting on a recommendation, but I’m generally feeling very negative about the whole thing. I can’t seem to get myself to care enough about the therapy tools I learned from him, which makes me think I might need medication.

I had been successful in battling depression in the past without the use of medication by exercising, after I had tried five different antidepressants – all of which had negative side effects that didn’t outweigh the benefits. I’m wondering if maybe I need a mixed cocktail, instead of just one kind of medication. My ADD medication doesn’t seem to be cutting it anymore, either.

This post is a mess much like its author. I know it’s only a matter of time before this episode changes who I am. In my fleeting moments of clarity, I remember that I have too much to lose for this to happen again. I wish I could hold onto those moments, but the light is getting dimmer and dimmer.

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7 Responses to Relapse

  1. elizabeth says:

    I can’t believe there aren’t any other commenters on this post…

    I can’t say that I know what you’re going through exactly, but I do know what it’s like to feel like you’re on a roll–kickin’ the crap out of life–and then BAM! you’re like a turtle knocked on your back. I don’t know you personally but I do enjoy reading your blog and “sharing” all your victories with you! I appreciate your realism and frankness and I’d hate to think that you are in a huge slump and not feeling like all your hard work is paying off/ not seeing ALL the awesomeness that you are achieving! Running, clearly, can’t solve all life’s problems but I think that if you can go out and run like 30 miles, you’re at least proving to yourself and everyone else that you’re a fighter! Depression, no doubt, sucks giant balls but it’s not the end of your future happiness AND I, for one, hope it’s not the end of your running/ blogging. I think you rock.

    • loratastic says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Elizabeth! I’m feeling a little bit better, and I’m starting to get excited about the marathon instead of just dread. I’m hoping that the post-race glory and the less intense training schedule will help, too. Thanks for reading.

  2. pensgirl10 says:

    I’m glad you’re feeling a little better. I have never experienced depression but I do know that nothing I can say about the marathon is going to make you feel better if there is something deeper than race anxiety going on.

    Get through the race and then get to a doctor. Maybe you’re like those people who stop taking their medication when they start feeling better. Maybe you should be checking in with a therapist even during the good times so you have an established relationship if something like this hits again.

    I’ve been seeing your pic since way back when you first posted on the J.C. Stone FB page. Feel like I’d recognize you by now. :) So I’ll keep an eye out for you at the expo and the race. Good luck!

    • loratastic says:

      I have been feeling a bit better, but the anxiety of having another appointment to go to after work has kept me from trying to schedule. Right now I’m going to the chiropractor 3 days a week after working all day, plus trying to run 3 weekdays per week. It’s just all becoming too much, and I feel overwhelmed. After the race, my training will stop, so I’ll have more free time to relax.

      I never had much luck on antidepressants, so we’ll see if they can come up with another type of medication (or cocktail of medications) that would be helpful. I wish my former therapist was taking new patients – he was really easy to talk with and I had a great level of trust with him. Starting over with someone new is intimidating.

      I’m going to the expo today, probably about 11:30, so if you see me, say hello! I’m not even sure what your name is (I didn’t see it in any of your comments). Don’t be a stranger! =)

      • pensgirl10 says:

        Jan. Good to meet you. :) I am an almost-50-year-old blonde…in other words, I will look like half the people you see at the expo. Just look for the shortest person there. :) I am just about ready to leave, need to get in and out and to my daughter’s track meet. Really wishing the expo had started earlier!

  3. pensgirl10 says:

    Oh…I guess you can see what I look like….lol.

  4. pensgirl10 says:

    Good luck tomorrow! I know we’re supposed to trust in the process and blah blah blah but I am starting to feel like I have not trained well enough. Yikes! Too late to do anything about it now!

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