Sunday, September 7, 2014

Running with Depression and How To Help

This last week was ROUGH. That actually might be an understatement. I experienced days of complete sadness. Monday I didn't even get out of bed until about noon and the rest of the day was mostly spent lying around the house. I started my memory book.... which originally I thought I'd be able to complete in one sitting. Definitely not. I did one page and it was emotionally taxing. It's going to be a long process.
Page 1
Luckily I didn't have to work on Monday, but it did make me sad that so many people were out enjoying the beautiful weather and I was stuck inside, just not feeling like doing anything.

Tuesday I had to work, but it was more of the same. I ended up reaching out to an old friend who I knew had battled depression for a long time. It was good to catch up with him and it was good to talk to someone who really understands. Experiencing it firsthand makes me sad that I wasn't there for him more.

Wednesday was probably the better of those days, though it still wasn't great. But I did have counseling so that gave me a bit of a lift since I was able to talk about some of the things that had been weighing on me. (More on that in a bit)

Thursday was a better day.... And then Friday happened... I don't know if it was because I was working a longer day (read that: No sleeping in, no slow leisurely morning like I'm used to) or what, but it was BAD. On one of my van runs I started to tear up and told myself that when I got back to work, I was going to go into the staff lounge and just cry until I felt better (I fight tears a lot and I need to stop that and just let them out). When I got in there, someone was in there working so I couldn't do that which I think frustrated me more.

I didn't sleep very well Friday night. I woke up around 1:30 and was checking facebook (because what else do we do when we can't sleep?) and that was how I found out that an old friend from college passed away. He was only 27. Cody and I were not super close. I came to know him because he came to parties that we threw at my house. I'd gone to a couple parties at his house and we had a number of mutual friends. We were friendly, but I don't think we'd ever hung out- just the two of us. The last time we spoke was about 2 years ago when my dad was going through all his chemo and have a rough go. Cody reached out to me, saying he admired my strength and knew what I was going through and if I ever wanted to talk to anyone who'd been down that road before, I could go to him. Very sweet. I can't believe he's gone. 2014 my friends.... it's a horrible year.

All week I had been debating doing a 5K on Saturday. It's one that my friends put on in memory of their daughter. Great cause, good people, and I do it every year. (2013 and 2012) But I was torn. Mostly I was scared because I wasn't sure if I had it in me to get up early, and put myself through that. Last Saturday I struggled to run 1.75 miles. And the course is HILLY (for the first half). But on the flip side, I was worried of what it would mean if I didn't go. Would my friends be disappointed? Would it mean I was losing to depression? Would I feel like a failure? So naturally... I went to Instagram. :) I got a lot of encouragement and Friday evening, I told myself to do it. I was pretty convinced that I wouldn't be running the whole thing.

I got up at 6:30 on Saturday, out the door by 7 to drive down to Highlands Ranch. Got there and registered, then sat in my car for a little bit to mentally prepare myself for it. I started to cry before the race even started, but once it did, I put my music on and ran.... short steps, slow and steady. And kept running... and kept running.... For the entire race. Was it my best time? No. But I finished. And I ran the whole thing. I DID IT. The course served as a metaphor for life. The uphill half was hard, but I kept at it and once I got through it, I got to go downhill which wasn't nearly as hard.
I picked this shirt as a reminder to myself

Once I crossed the finish line I was greeted by a friend who gave me a big hug. Then I went to the food booth. During the race, there were two sets of 2 women who I ran near. Both of them did a run/walk mix, they would pass me, I would pass them, etc. I've never seen these women in my life. As I was getting food, ALL 4 OF THEM approached me and told me how impressed they were that I ran the whole time, I did a great job and how they wished they could run an entire 5K. I was floored. Not going through depression I would have been floored, but these people knew NOTHING about what I was going through and they said pretty much exactly what I needed to hear. God works in mysterious ways, my friends.


Since the race things have actually been pretty good. Endorphins maybe? :) Then this morning happened.....

I walked into work and on my desk was a manila envelope with my name on it. I opened it up and found the following....

I was floored. Tears started to well up in my eyes. Someone came into my office to talk to me and so I didn't get those emotions out. Right after that, I went in to church where I continued to fight the tears (I know I shouldn't). I am still in shock and so touched. I have the best church family. With it being grandparents day, I meant to get my grandma a card and send it but I never got around to it. Well, I got this on grandparents day so I decided I needed to call her and tell her about it. Which I did this evening when I got home from church. We had a good talk for about 13 minutes and I told her about it. She asked for a copy of it and it turns out she has donated money to the Arbor Day Foundation for years. She told me a couple stories of people donating money to organizations in memory of my grandpa because of what a good man he was and how he touched people's lives. That was good to talk about.

A few days ago I sent an e-mail to my family asking for pictures and memories for my memory book. My grandma was the first one to respond (I would imagine she's going to have the most pictures) and so we talked about that a little bit. My next couple weekends are pretty busy, but I told her that maybe in a few weeks I can come down and we can go through pictures together. I think that could be good for me. Possibly hard, but good. And it will be good to spend time with her as well.

So I got more homework this week....
Let's talk about number 6 for a bit....
Anyone who knows me knows reaching out for help, even when not going through depression, is probably my weakest thing. I have become this super independent, I don't need help from anyone, I can take care of myself sorta girl. Which is good.... sometimes.

So many people have asked me how they can help me in this season of my life and my answer is always the same: "I don't know...."
I mentioned this to my counselor and she offered up some suggestions.... They sound easy but I honestly NEVER would have thought about them.... So for those of you who want to know how you can help... Here it is.

  • Food: I need to eat more. But I don't have an appetite or the energy to make things. Solution: People bringing food to me, coming over for dinner, going out, etc. 
  • Isolation: I need to be careful that my self care doesn't turn into isolation. So hanging out with me, coming over and sitting with me while I work on my memory book, letting me cry as I go through it. I just need to find that balance. I need to be around people. 
  • Exercise: This goes along with isolation. People to encourage me to work out and do it with me. Maybe just going for a walk, maybe helping to get me to the gym.
I hope those help for the people who have asked. I'm still really bad about asking for help. Unfortunately, I don't see that changing any time soon. :(

I am really hoping this week is better than last week was. I have a pretty busy week ahead of me, which could be good to distract me, but hopefully it doesn't exhaust me.

To better days
~Jessica

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