Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure, done under general anesthesia, in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses. – The Mayo Clinic
One of my closest friends, who is struggling with depression and extreme anxiety, is currently preparing to undergo ECT treatments. She asked me if I could write a post about it and I told her that I would be pleased to do so.
Whenever a loved one is experiencing a health problem, I do research on it so that I can try to fully empathize with him/her. I like to know what’s going on and how I can help in any way possible.
I especially understand depression and anxiety, two soul-crushing bastards. Although I was lucky enough to finally find the proper medications to alleviate my symptoms, my friend hasn’t been as blessed to find that elusive chemical cocktail. Her therapist and psych doctor recommended ECT as an alternative option.
Like most people would react, she was obviously hesitant and scared shitless. She wanted to know my opinion off the top of my head and I told her that I would do it if nothing else worked, because living with depression/anxiety is like hell on earth.
To me, the pros outweigh the cons. As we like to joke, zap me doc.
She’s had to take numerous tests to make sure that she’s healthy enough otherwise, wean herself from anxiety meds for her safety during treatments and take an extended leave from work. She also lives 400 miles away from a hospital that performs the procedure, so she’ll have to stay in a hotel nearby for patients during the course of her ECT, which at this point is 3 days a week. She has a husband and two children, who just want her back as healthy and happy as humanly possible.
If I had the money, I would go stay with her. But I can’t, so I am backing her up from afar.
ECT has a bad rep from decades of horror stories, which is why she is so afraid to tell people she’s going for it. Personally, I think that’s she’s one of the bravest people that I know. All she wants is to finally feel like herself again, to eradicate this fucking albatross that is depression/anxiety. If she needs to let a doctor shock her brain to do so, she is willing to take the chance of memory loss and a myriad of other possible side effects.
Antidepressants also have side effects. I learned that firsthand many years ago when I had a manic episode while taking Wellbutrin and just two years ago on a newer med called Brintellix, which made me take action on my suicidal thoughts.
We all react differently, so what’s right for one person can be devastating to another.
My friend really needs some support right now and I know that I can count on you guys to give her some.
And babe? I love you, girl. I’m here, always.