A delusion is a false belief, held despite all evidence to the contrary. I’ve had my share of delusions over the years – believing others can read my thoughts, for example – but none took hold like this one: I believed I was in Hell. I say that and get. . . shall we say, indulgent looks, humoring looks, but no one understands. I’m not even sure I understand but I know one thing: without ECT I would still be there, tormented. Because of the fact that it would seem even fewer people understand my willingness to get ECT, than understand my delusion, I’ve decided to attempt to explain it. Wish me luck!
I am a Christian – and a rather devout one at that. I believe Jesus Christ died for my sins (all my sins) and my belief in Him saves me from damnation. I believe damnation is separation from God. God is all goodness, all love, so separation from God is separation from all that is good. My theology is pretty straight forward. God offers the gift of salvation. It is a gift I cannot earn. I accept it. And all becomes right with the world.
My delusion went up against my theology and my theology lost. . . dismally. I somehow came to believe I was in Hell. Separated from God. I didn’t understand where my theology went wrong. I simply believed I had done something so horrible, so unforgivable, that Jesus couldn’t save me. As the delusion progressed I came to believe I was in Hell to be tormented eternally and there was no salvation.
Think about that for a minute. No salvation. No end to the torment. As that realization hit me, I was rocked to my core. I could not kill myself to escape the pain. I was already in Hell. God could not rescue me. He had sent me there. I would have distorted visions of being tormented and I would scream, and scream, in terror. In my mind, they were not visions, it was reality. I was in HELL!
At first, I believed those around me were living their lives and it was only me in Hell. My children, my spouse, my friends, they still had hope but as the delusion spread that stopped making sense. I saw every action and reaction as a result of my being in Hell. If something bad happened – HA! Proof I was in Hell. If something good happened – just wait. It was a set up for something bad to happen because I was, you guessed it, in HELL!
This nightmare became my world. It started in the evenings. I would wake from hellish dreams that turned from bad dreams to night terrors. Then it grew into the periods before and after sleep. Hazy periods where logic didn’t penetrate. Until, finally, it took over the daytime hours and ultimately those I love. My family, my children, became enemies, tormenters.
I didn’t stand by while this was happening. I didn’t just wait for it to get better. I saw my doctor but there was nothing that he could do. We had played with medications – trying this one, trying that one. We had run out of options and so he mentioned ECT. Living a nightmare, fearing my own children, I was willing to try anything. We started with unilateral ECT but it wasn’t effective enough so we moved to bilateral ECT.
It works! I am free of the delusion and actually happy. I can smile and laugh without it being an act. Yes, there are drawbacks. I forget things, forget people, but the memories come back with prompting. For those that read my blog and think I should not have tried ECT, I understand your concern and I appreciate it. I am not an advertisement for ECT. If I could have escaped Hell without it, I would have, but I didn’t have that choice. So, instead, I endure the treatments and the memory loss and I get my life back! I go to church without feeling like an outside imposter. I hug my family without wondering what diabolical plot they’re up to. I smile, writing my description of Hell in past tense instead of a present nightmare. I’m not an advertisement for ECT but I’m grateful for it.