I didn't fully understand this until someone relayed this message to me when I was 19 years old. I have carried it close to me since. Over the past five weeks, I have garnered two psychiatric hospitalizations and about a dozen ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) treatments. What's funny is that at first glance, I look "normal," just like everyone else. Truthfully, I could not even define "normal."
The past five weeks have been emotionally exhausting. My depression reached a point of no return, and although I can swallow a lot and put on a great act, I was done. I could not muster the strength to put on an act any longer. Options were put on the table for me, and I went with ECT. If you have never been depressed, you simply cannot comprehend the depths of sadness and agony you feel. I think of it as a scab that is picked at constantly and it never stops bleeding. It feels as ugly as it looks.
No one ever said it was going to be easy. Life is not easy... there are trials, there are tribulations. I have been depressed for the past nine months or so. I cannot pick an exact date when it started but it came as a result of a year of fertility treatments that did not result in the second baby my husband and I wanted so badly. Too many hormones flying around, too many hopes and dreams built up then brought down. I have been in a bad space for months. Being hospitalized twice is no picnic, but add an incredibly scary treatment involving anesthesia and we are not talking about "easy." I already knew going in to the hospital that it was not going to be easy. My level of fear was compounded by how alone I felt. The numerous phone calls made to my outpatient psychiatrist was probably over the top due to my level of fear, particularly after I decided to try the ECT.
Imagine being walked into a hospital unit that has locked doors, staff has to search your belongings, string has to be removed from your clothing and your cell phone is taken from you due to privacy laws. Yes, that's right, you cannot have your phone with you. I felt as if I were giving over my heart, as the hundreds of pictures of my daughter were saved in my phone. After that the tears felt endless. I was so scared, angry, sad and relieved all at the same time. I knew I needed to be in the hospital but that knowledge did not make the experience any easier.
The treatment that was decided on, ECT, had been mentioned to me before. I never thought I would be in the position of needing this treatment, but when I learned more about how humane it is and how quickly it can pull one out of a depression, I knew this was the only choice to make. I was at bottom. That scab that was being picked at constantly needed a band aid, once and for all and ECT was the way to go.
No one ever said it was going to be easy. When I was wheeled into the ECT treatment area, the level of fear I felt was unlike anything I had ever experienced prior. When I went into labor a week before my scheduled C-section, sure I was scared, but nothing could compare to the sheer terror I felt at that moment before my first ECT. What helped combat this fear? Human kindness. The staff of nurses and doctors was top notch. They treated me and the other patients with such decency and compassion.
No one ever said it was going to be easy. With each subsequent ECT treatment, I have been shown a constant state of care. I am nervous before every treatment and that fear is never minimized or questioned. It is only shown care and concern. I am never made to feel less than for any reason.
Life is full of surprises, both good and bad, and truthfully, when things were easy in my life, I never learned anything. During the past five weeks, I learned that love comes in various forms and is not always wrapped the way you expect it. I have also learned that trusting medical professionals does not have to be as scary as it initially feels. I put my faith and trust in an entire group of medical professionals and I continue to hold them accountable. What is nice is that they are working with me... we are fighting to pull me out of this depression together. I am not alone anymore. I have an entire group of professionals pulling the rope that I am hanging on to for dear life.
Help can come in various forms: medication, ECT, talk therapy and it is important to recognize that people don't always have an ulterior motive. I feel that my team, which covers two states, is working toward the same goal of pulling me out of this depression as safely and as quickly as possible. None of this is easy, and the past five weeks have been anything but easy, but a very wise person once told me, "No one ever said it was going to be easy."
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Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.