My ECT Journey: Part 2
So today I had the first ECT appointment, where I can interviewed by the on staff psychiatrist and the entry team. It went as well as I could have hoped. I am scheduled for my first treatment tomorrow morning, with treatments every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next 4 weeks or so. It was really nice, my mother and I were able to ask the doctor all the questions that we had for the treatment. Such as, what are the major side effects, dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and short term memory loss. Pretty typical for induced seizures I would say. Next being how they would “rate” my progress on the treatment plan, whether there were any tests they could perform to see if the ECT was effective. Unfortunately, the only test they can administer is a simple Depression Questionnaire, which would be solely based on my feelings of, or without (hopefully), depression. They said that it could take up to 6 treatments to begin to feel the effects of the ECT, in a way that would affect my day to day depression. I am supposed to stay on my current medication regimen as well, as they want to take out all the variables that they can. They don’t want me to stop my meds, suddenly feel worse, and think that the ECT isn’t working. The other thing that they want me to stop, which is a big one for me, is drinking alcohol. I can already hear you saying, “Alan, if you’re on psych meds, you shouldn’t be drinking to begin with!” and you’re right, absolutely right. Yet, the problem I face, which has led me to drink since I was 18 (I’m 24 now), is my racing thoughts. The fact that my head never calms down, and is always going a mile a minute is very stressful. This usually plays into my general anxiety and the two feed off of eachother pretty much all the time. The only thing that I have found that relieves the stress and anxiety is a good hard drink, and not just a few, like 18 beers in a single sitting. Of course as we all know, Alcohol is a depressant, and while it may make the stress and anxiety melt away, it amps up the depression for the next few days. I’ve always known this fact, and have tried to hide behind the excuse that drinking makes me happy, so it obviously has no depressive effect on me. It is time that I finally face the truth. Drinking, while fun and very pleasurable, has done nothing good for me. Sure it has helped me make friends, and get girls, and have fun, but my college days are over. It is time that I grow up and realize that binge drinking is entirely detrimental for me, no ifs ands or buts. So, starting today, I will be sober until further notice. I mean personally, I am hoping that the ECT allows me to start smoking marijuana again, because as of late I’ve only had near deadly panic attacks while using. But that is neither here nor there. The next step in my treatment is to show up tomorrow morning, go through a brief pre-ECT physical, and then begin treatment, which included general anesthesia and a muscle relaxant. I am excited yet worried, because this will be a major event in my life. I mean I might even be depression FREE when all is said and done. Who knows where my life could go if that happens. Of course, I’ll still have to manage my social phobia and general anxiety with my psychiatrist and therapist, but I’ll actually have the energy and motivation to do the things that I want. I really cannot wait to see how this treatment goes. I almost left out the fact that, along with most hospitals, my treatment location will not allow me to leave after the treatment without a supervisory companion. What do I mean by that? Well, when put under general anesthesia, most places will require that you have a ride home, and will also bar ridesharing services and taxis. The main reason is because for the few hours following the treatment, there will be a very dense fog in the mind, you can easily get lost, and forget the way home. You can see why they don’t want you operating a motor vehicle while in this state. So basically, they want someone trustworthy to be able to take the patient home and make sure that the major side effects can pass without much trouble. So, to wrap things up, I will be now making a blog post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (so long as I can remember to do so) chronicling my experience (and my hopeful success) with ECT, for the entirety of my treatment. So that I can give everyone out there a little glimpse into what they could expect if ECT is a treatment that they wish to pursue. Hopefully, in the next coming weeks, there will be good news that I can share with you all.
Wish me luck!