Light at the end of the funk

I’ve spent the last month or so in a sort of funk. Not really full-fledged depressed (I don’t think). Not really sad. Just sort of…detached. The semester has been eh (even though I had a great first semester evaluation). Family life has been eh (even though we’re turning corners on both Ethan and Lauren’s needs). Friends have been ignored. (Friends, I am so sorry for ignoring emails, FB messages, phone calls, etc. I love you all and appreciate you, really I do!) Anything extra in life has been nonexistent. And I’m kind of over feeling this way…starting now.

So, a few updates to hopefully kick-start me into more regular posts again. (Goodness, I feel so much better venting here, just getting stuff OUT, but I haven’t even felt like doing that lately.)

Ethan: new therapist is great. She’s actually asking about Mike and how E feels about his dad’s death and alcoholism. We’re kind of in a “things are going to get worse before they get better” kind of pattern, but improvements are starting to come. We’ve started a new discipline system at school, which has made a huge impact. In fact, several teachers stopped me on Friday while I was volunteering to tell me how well he’s doing since the new system has been in place.

Lauren: she’s being evaluated for the next phase of her speech therapy, and words and phrases are coming along more clearly every day. But, hot diggity, she’s hit the terrible twos in a BIG way. She’s also incredibly independent, to the point where it’s easy to forget she’s only two. She’s completely potty trained, picks out her own clothes and gets dressed on her own, puts herself down for bedtime (and she’ll go up to her room willingly for nap time, but actually sleeping during the afternoon is iffy), gets her own snacks.

Marathon: yeah, not happening. Combination of weather (wow, it snows here!) and my blah feelings, I just haven’t been training in any way, shape or form.

Loose ends with old job: Negotiated the amount owed to erase the relocation debt. It was still a HUGE amount, more than I’ve ever written a check for, but it’s done. Free-and-clear from old job.

I know from the online widow forums that setbacks like what I’ve been going through are common. I just need to force myself out of it. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. I went out with friends last weekend (and had a great time) and I have plans next weekend (OMG do I have plans! LOL! More to come on that…) I’ve emailed a few friends from old job about getting together for dinner. I just need to get out, focus on LIFE, and recharge so I can be a mom. Ethan and Lauren deserve that.

Depression and hairy legs

I was having such a good morning on Friday that I forgot why I was there.

It wasn’t until the nurse asked if I could be pregnant, that I suddenly remembered. My eyes started watering. “No,” I said. “I’ve been widowed for 10 months. Pregnancy would be… well, it’s not even remotely possible.”

I scheduled a physical with a new doc a few weeks ago. I’m training for the mini (which is going SLOWLY, much like my running time…) and it’s been a few years since I’ve been to a doc for anything beside than needing meds for strep throat or vertigo. Best to establish a relationship with a doctor now, before I NEED one.

When the nurse asked about pregnancy, I suddenly remembered that I wanted to talk to the doctor about depression. Then I started crying.

For months now, I’ve been crying – a lot. I’m fine when I need to be “on” like while I’m teaching or meeting with students, but otherwise I’m crying for no reason. Sitting in my office. Tears. Driving to work. Tears. Going through the Starbucks drive thru. Tears. Reading FB updates from friends. Tears.

I hold my shit together really well when I’m in public (usually) and for the most part, people probably don’t know that I’ve been depressed. I’m a ray of fucking sunshine when people are around (unless they bring up the subjects of my kids, Mike’s death, my dad’s death, blah blah blah – then… TEARS).

(I write a lot about my grief and some sad/negative things on this blog, but that’s so I can be completely functional IRL. This blog is my therapy, my relief, my outlet for the stuff I need “to get out.” In real life, I think I portray an illusion of being pretty positive, pretty happy. I get stuff out here, then I try to move on.)

These tears remind me of when Ethan was born. About four months after E was born, I was crying all the time. For no reason. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, and I was prescribed a medication, which I took for about a year. It was just enough to get me over the hump. Then I felt fine and was weaned off.

I’m feeling the same way as I did seven years ago. Same tears. Same feelings. Deja vu.

The nurse finished my health history then I waited for the doc.  After going through the normal stuff (health issues my mom and dad face/faced), I brought up the subject of depression.

“Are you seeing anyone about that?” the new doc asked.

“Like a therapist? No.”


“Because I’ve been focused on the well-being of my kids, especially my son,” I responded, eyes tearing. “That’s my priority. I have outlets – I blog, I visit an online widow forum/website-y thing, I participate in a parent grief group. But I think I need… something more.”

The doc stared at me for an uncomfortable amount of time. Then she took some notes in her computer and explained where the opening in the hospital gown should go (in the back). It wasn’t until I was stripping down that I realized I asked for a well-woman exam during this appointment.

“Shit,” I thought. “Totally forgot to shave.”

Who the hell forgets to shave her legs before a pap? That would be me. It’s not like anyone is seeing (or feeling) my legs, so I’ve been a little lax in the personal hygiene department. Damn.

I decided to play it off like there was nothing weird about quarter-inch dark stubble from my ankles to mid-thigh. I’ve found that (usually) if you act like there’s nothing going on, nothing weird, most people won’t notice what you’re trying to hide. That’s how I was going to play this off.

The exam was going fine, until the doc couldn’t find my cervix  (so “hi” to my friends who are now totally uncomfortable thinking about my inner girlie parts. Yeah… cervix. I have one, and apparently it’s shy and can hide. Who knew?) The nurse started to rub my calf to calm me down. Up, down, half way up, sudden stop…. HELLO, STUBBLE!!! A few seconds later, she quickly removed her hand from my leg. (She was probably thinking, “WHO DOESN’T SHAVE?!?!?!” Hi, that would be me…)

Cervix was finally found. Pap was finished and the overall exam was complete. The doc wrote me a prescription for an antidepressant – the same one I took when I had postpartum. I need to go back to see her in a month so she can evaluate how I’m doing.

Knowing I was going to my alma mater this weekend for a quick alumni board meeting – and with Mike’s birthday this weekend (and, thus, a few drinks for me) – I’ve put off starting the new meds until Sunday night – I don’t want to mix an antidepressant with alcohol.

Here’s hoping the meds work and I can stop buying tissues (and makeup) by the truckload.

EDITED TO ADD: While I think it’s funny that I forgot to shave, my mom was HORRIFIED when I told her the story. She’s the kind of person who dresses up to go to the doctor (think church clothes, the “good” coat, dress shoes), so forgetting to shave is close to sinning in her mind. Her reaction: “You need to go upstairs and shave RIGHT NOW. What if you get in an accident? Do you want ANOTHER doctor to see your legs?” (My reaction: hysterical laughter to her comments…)

One foot in front of the other (Alternatively: Running is hard)

Today I started training – in preparation of the real training. I’ve never run before in my life – hell, I’ve never really exercised. But years of eating and drinking basically whatever I wanted, plus two babies, plus a relatively sedentary job, it’s all taken its toll.

I’m geared up with specialty running shoes (and comfy inserts) and a ridiculous-looking sports bra (described online as designed to “encapsulate the breast… while compression limits motion…” sexy, right?!?) I dropped the kids off at school, fulfilled my school volunteer assignment (making photocopies for Ethan’s teacher), went to the grocery story, suited up to run (getting the bra on was a workout in-and-of itself…), and stretched.

I’m fortunate to live in a beautiful (and pretty flat) neighborhood with wide sidewalks, perfect for running. The weather was beautiful, about 42 degrees, slightly overcast, no wind. I had my route measured, exactly one mile from my house to the main road. My iPod was loaded with a running app to track my time and distance. How hard could it be to run (with a little walking) one mile to the road, one mile back?

It was hard. Really fucking hard.

I was feeling okay at 0.25 miles, so I thought I’d start my run. I made it another 0.1 miles before I was breathing hard, my calves starting to tighten. I slowed back to a brisk walk. At the 0.5 mile mark, I attempted another run, and I made it another 0.1 miles before walking. Then I kind of panicked. I wasn’t sure I could even get to the mile mark, but what if I did get there and then didn’t have the energy to get back…

“Just keep walking,” I willed myself.  I thought about how I was doing this for me, for my kids. In the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about my mortality. If I die, what happens to my kids? I need to get healthier. I need to set a good example for my kids. I need to live a long and healthy life FOR THEM.

I made it to 0.75 miles before turning around and starting back toward my house. I had one other brief interlude of running before going back to walking. My pace was slower than when I started. My calves were really tight and my ankles were sore.  I was breathing loudly and couldn’t silence it. I had a weird pain in my side, and I could “feel” my lungs and my heart.

I walked (with three BRIEF runs – “run-lets” I’ll call them) for a total of 1.5 miles. My time was incredibly embarrassing. But it’s a start, right?

Also, an hour (and some water and some breathing exercises) later, and I actually feel… dare I say… good. I just need to remember “one foot in front of the other.” I just need to keep going.


When I graduated with my masters degree, everyone asked what was next. After all, I just finished a three-year graduate program in a year and a half, landed a job at the top company in the industry, and spent months attending classes to convert to a new religion. Every hour of every day was filled with… something substantial.

My response when people asked: “I’m going to run a marathon.”

So…that never happened.

Soon after, I was engaged and planning a wedding. My career was booming with new opportunities (and LOTS of hours). Then there were issues with my parents health and they needed help. Then Ethan was born. Then, then, then.

There have been a lot of “thens” in the last dozen years.

Still, I never lost the “dream” of running a marathon, which is strange because I’ve never run a mile in my life – except when FORCED to run by angry, mean gym teachers in elementary, middle and high school. And then I HATED it.

I can totally picture myself running, but I’ve just never DONE it. I can see myself RUNNING a marathon, but I didn’t know where to start. I’ve even DREAMT about it. Several times through the years, I’ve researched training plans and upcoming races, but nothing.

A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with some of my mom friends (moms of Ethan’s classmates) and several of them were making plans to train to run in a half marathon in May. I told them that I always wanted to run, but I’ve never done it. (Another friend told me a few months ago that I needed to commit to a race – that was the only way I was actually going to run. This was my chance.)

Another mom quickly jumped in. If I would commit, she would to. And because this mom lives literally down the street, we could train together. She, too, has never run but is interested.

One of the moms has taken us under her wing. She’s sent us a training program to get started. Between now and mid-January, I’ve set a goal to run a certain distance so I can begin part two of my training, working up to the half-marathon in May.

This mom friend is also taking my new running partner and me shopping tomorrow for appropriate shoes and running bras and other stuff we need to do this the right way. I don’t even know what to WEAR to run! I mean, can I wear my comfy yoga pants, a tee-shirt and sweatshirt? Do I need special clothes made of space-age materials to whisk away the sweat and stuff? I just don’t know.

Training in Wisconsin during the winter will suck, but I want to do this. I feel like I NEED to do this.

I can’t just keep dreaming. I need to DO.