This was written by our follower Elaine. She wanted to share her experience with Electro Convulsive Therapy or ECT. Her hope was to shed light on this highly controversial topic.
I’ll start off with a little bit about myself. I’m a 25 year old female. I have been through many different diagnoses since I was in 7th grade. I hear a voice in my head; I used to hear dozens. I’ll admit, the only things I knew of ECT (Electroconvulsion Therapy) were what I’ve seen in the movie One Flew Over the Coo-Coo’s Nest. Just so you know, it’s nothing like that. I was being treated with many different anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. Nothing seemed to be helping me. I was thinking about suicide frequently. I looked up ECT on the Internet and it seemed promising. I asked my doctor if he thinks it would help me. He sent me to a doctor across town to see if I was a good candidate for ECT. After meeting with the nurse, we scheduled my first session.
ECT is started usually three times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I wasn’t nervous to start; I was actually excited to try a new, promising treatment. I couldn’t eat the night before because they put you under general anesthesia. They asked me when I last took my medication, when I last ate, and asked me to rate my symptoms. Then we got started with the prep.
They started an IV and gave me a medication to dry out my mouth. They attached stickers to monitor my heart rate and the doctor stuck the patches on my head that release the electricity. They started to count back from 10, and I quickly fell asleep. I woke up soon afterwards and was quickly put to the small recovery room. They offered me a snack and something to drink. The only side effect I experience is a headache. (In my opinion, the trade-off of battling crippling depression or having a headache and some body aches for a day was worth it!)
I’m on my 19th treatment. I’m now doing it once every three weeks. One family member of a fellow patient I spoke to told me his wife’s smile returned after the first treatment. I find myself no longer thinking of suicide, I laugh a lot more, and my anxiety has improved greatly! I have to warn you – it causes significant memory problems. I’m still having trouble remembering conversations I’ve had or basic facts. That side effect goes away with time. I’m so glad I’ve undergone ECT. I hope my story can help someone out there who is suffering and feels helpless. Please know that suffering is temporary.