The story I want to tell you today is one that you don’t hear very often.
Actually you might rarely stumble on a story like mine. Most stories of this type are taboo and people usually struggle with talking about this topic. Today I want to talk to you about electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and my experience with it.
ECT is still a practice used in the 21st century but it’s nothing like what you’ve seen in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or other movies of the like. It’s a procedure done under general anesthetic and it’s very short. A small amount of current passes through your brain and rewires it. Nowadays ECT is used in situations where doctors tried every other method for improving the patient’s condition but none of them worked. This was my case. I’ve experienced two severe depressive episodes and nothing else seemed to work. For me ECT was the way out of my severe depression. However, no matter how much the doctors reassured me about the safety of this procedure, I was terrified. I was most terrified the second time it happened because I remember how I was after the first time I had it. My short term memory got affected so I couldn’t accurately remember things that happened in the weeks before I had ECT. This is mostly because of the actual ECT but also due to the fact that severe depression affects your memory too. I wasn’t able to focus properly after this treatment. I couldn’t read long pieces of writing but had no issue reading Tweet-length texts. I had to learn to have a lot of patience with and compassion for myself in this process of recovering after ECT. I needed to understand that things wouldn’t get back to normal in the blink of an eye. I was better at being kinder to myself the second time I had ECT.
Both times, in around two months, I felt like I was entirely recovered. My person was returned to me. Depression takes away parts of the person I am and sometimes it takes away a lot of me. I consider myself a depression survivor and I believe that I will not be dependent on antidepressants for the next five years. I share my story with you because I believe that popular culture offers a limited and distorted understanding of ECT in the 21st century. It’s not a barbaric practice and it can save lives; I hope that telling you my story will make you see that.
I also hope that. in the future, we will be able to talk more openly about this. There are days when I find myself wanting to talk to people who have been through the same thing. I learned a lot about myself and mental health in general in my journey with depression and I hope that this piece offered you a fresh perspective on depression and ECT.
Remember to be kind to and take care of yourself!