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Post ECT


It’s been 9 days since my last ECT treatment. In a way, I’ve been traumatized. The pain of the IV’s, the medications, the headaches and muscle aches still haunts me. The memories of each treatment replay in my head over and over. I can still smell the gas mask that marked the onset of each treatment, the odor so distinct it’s seared into my mind. My arms still show the bruises of the IV’s. Some are faint, I see them because I know where to look. One is two inches in diameter, just starting to fade. While none are lasting scars, the fact that I can’t escape the memories leaves me feeling brutalized.

I’ve also been rescued. I think back on the night five weeks ago when I sat on the floor screaming and crying, unable to cope with the voices berating me and the depression that was swallowing me. That night led to a trip to the ER, admission into the psychiatric ward and the ECT treatments. If you’ve never battled mental illness I would imagine it would be difficult to understand. I move between sanity and insanity and it’s hard for me to understand. To have a mind that tells you white is black, there’s no escape and suicide is not only an option but a seemingly rational one is to live in a funhouse, a maze of mirrors with no way out. ECT didn’t provide a way out but it broke most of the mirrors so I’m not as confused.

The side effects have been minimal compared to what I feared. The occasional headache is an inconvenience but not debilitating. That feeling of a memory just beyond my reach is fading. I joke now that I have a built in excuse anytime I forget anything. I just have to blame the ECT. To be able to laugh rather than cry over the experience is a blessing I didn’t think I’d experience. I know I’m lucky. Not everyone endures 10 ECT treatments with a smile at the end.

Is the depression gone? According to my psychiatrist I’m not depressed, I’m grieving. I think he’s right. The sadness that comes upon me is rational. I have good reasons to feel sad. Is the psychosis gone? That’s harder to say. I’m still berated but I recognize the voice as my own rather than an external hallucination. Still, there are times I hear whispers and I wonder who is speaking to me then.

So, am I better? All better? No. Better than before? Definitely. I go through my days and there are good times. I walk my dogs. I converse with my family. I broke down this weekend and joined the rest of the country in the addiction known as “Game of Thrones”. I find enjoyment in life but, I think more importantly, I’m looking forward to the future. I have hope that life will continue to improve.

The dancing shoes are on, my friends. The storm hasn’t completely passed but it has eased. To those who shared my journey, thank you for your prayers, love and support. For those on a different journey my prayers, love and support are with you. Whether you believe in luck, fate, blessing, or hard work, whatever you do, don’t give up. Fight the insanity. Embrace any opportunity that comes your way. It may be frightening, it may be traumatic but it also may be worth it.

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