My Experience with ECT

I think as a blogger it’s important to touch upon a lot of different topics. It’s also important to know the audience you’re writing for, and I’m finding this topic of ECT being discussed a lot within the mental health community online groups. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure in which 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. 

I know ECT is a very controversial topic among the mental health community. Some doctors push for it, while other doctors shy away from having anything to do with it. 

I find it ironic as I’m sitting here at my desk preparing my words to  share my personal experience with ECT, I’m having a tough time remembering details . One of the biggest issues with Electric shock therapy is the possibility of severe memory loss, and I’m one of those who dealt with that. I still have traces of it from time to time.

If someone were to ask me what are my thoughts on ECT, am I for it or against it. I would have to say I’m on the fence and I will explain what I mean. So let me take you back, back to when my bipolar was at its worst and my doctors were trying to figure out the next course of treatment for me.

I had been on just about every medication that’s out there. At the time I had 9 hospitalizations, I felt like a guinea pig trying to find the best med combo that would work for me. My therapist and psychiatrist at the time were concerned the meds had stopped working, like they once were, my body had just adapted to them. I was considered a severe case. I was up to 24 pills a day. I was like a walking zombie or I was lost in my symptoms.

I was unable to care for myself or function on a normal capacity. My doctors agreed doing the ECT would be the next best course of action, they laid out the pros and cons and the success and failures. He reminded me that everyone is different and it effects everyone differently. So after much discussion, prayer and research we chose to take this avenue and pray for the best outcome.

I had it once every other week, for 8 weeks. It was like having a small procedure, because I was out under anesthesia and then awake in recovery and be there in the recovery room for about 1 or 2 hours. It’s not something I like to reflect on because this was such a difficult time in my journey. I was hanging on by a thread, this was my last hope of treatment at this point.

After the first few times I didn’t want to complete it, but my doctor convinced me to follow through with it and give it some time, so I did. I completed the 8 weeks and I felt amazing afterwards… but that was short lived, which I was told was a possibility. I was also told my short-term memory loss would only last a few weeks to a few months. That wasn’t the case, it lasted much longer.  Is there a part of me that regrets taking this road? Maybe a little, because I couldn’t get back the memories I lost. But on the other hand it saved me at a crucial point in my journey.

Sadly, that was not the end of the worst. I relapsed 2 years later and was hospitalized after my mother in law passed. But shortly after that light returned. I became stable and I’ve been stable ever since. I’ve gone back to therapy, but to help me deal with other issues. My health mentally is good, I’m happy to say it was not because of the ECT, but because I learned to deal with my illness, how to cope and I learned to accept what was and to love myself again.

Electric shock therapy has to be a personal choice. That is really what it comes down to. Would I ever consider doing it again, if I needed it? No. However, I will not tell someone else not to. They have to come to their own conclusion, through research and time. Remember that ECT is not the first course of action, it’s usually the very last resort. 

I felt it was important to get my story out there. There is always hope and recovery is possible for anyone. That is going to look differently for each individual.

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