I lived a long time, and suffered considerably with severe depression, self-harm, attempts of suicide, many different medications, doses, and mixes, and counselling before I received the treatment that would both make a difference to my health, but present different challenges for me following treatment.
I was treated with ECT for the first time in December, 2012 after a suicide attempt, and my soul mate making considerable attempts at ensuring I get the necessary treatment to assist me in starting on the road to recovery. As a social scientist graduate I had read about ECT but did not really think it was common, and not one Doctor, or medical profession I had seen in my long history mentioned, or recommended that I undertake ECT, so when the psych ward prescribed a series of ECT sessions, I really didn’t know what to expect. Well the truth is that I was too sick to have any expectations, or response to what was happening, it was all a depressive blur.
ECT in plain language involves going under a general, a series of electrodes being placed on the right side of your skull, and electric currents being administered to the brain. The aim is that the currents stimulate the chemicals in the brain to increase serotonin, therefore improving mood. Initially a series of six ECT sessions was prescribed, one every second day.
So my experience with ECT began.
Initially there weren’t any side affects to ECT, and at the time I felt no different from receiving the six sessions. Two days after my 6th session it was Xmas eve and they released me from the psych ward because they needed the bed. I went home in a daze of medications, and deep depression. While in this daze my soul mate had organised health insurance, and in January after seeing a Psychiatrist was admitted to a private Psychiatric Hospital, and another series of ECT were administered.
Everything continued in its depression blur, I was so sick, and what was in store wasn’t in any of the literature we were given about ECT. What is written now, is what has been told to me by my soul mate, little boy, and my Psychiatrist.
As each session of ECT concluded I was unaware of how confused I was becoming, and how I could not remember, eventually I found I was unable to remember where I was, what was happening, events that had occurred in the last year, and personal details about myself. I became increasingly agitated, and was begging my Psychiatrist that I needed to go home. I eventually got to go home.
I went home to a house I couldn’t remember moving into, I didn’t remember I smoked, couldn’t remember how to drive a car, or that my little boy had visited me every second day I was in hospital, I couldn’t remember most of my friends on Facebook, or the parents of my little boys football team mates, I couldn’t remember most of the last year to three years. I was scared, confused, and severely depressed.
After a month or so after leaving hospital, and finishing my second series of ECT, and my medications started to work, my mood did start to improve. I was told because of the rare affects ECT had on me I couldn’t have any further sessions, no matter how sick with depression I got.
Despite the significant affect ECT had on my memory, and the retrograde amnesia it caused, it did improve my mood, and along with my medications, Psychiatric appointments, and group therapy, my depression slowly eased. I can’t say, yet, that my Black Dog has got lost on one of his walks, but I can say ECT went a very long way to improving my mood, and lifting some of the thick fog that surrounded my life.
I would take memory loss for happiness….