ECT Lessons-I’ve-Learned #3: Look pretty for the occasion

This sounds downright silly, but this is something that mattered to me.

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Though the hospital’s ECT guideline said otherwise, the staff allowed me to wear toenail polish. Only thing I can do to make my feet look decent is by painting on some bright color on those toes. I wanted them to look like my legs were prepared for sandal season. So, I picked a lovely deep-red color named “London Bridge is Falling Down.” (I already had this polish in my stash so didn’t bother buying some new color). But if you’re so inclined, you could pick a color name that is appropriate to this moment in your life. It’ll be like an expression of emotions on your nails!

Also, make-up is totally allowed! So, keep up with your daily skin regimen and look your best, because your face will be seen by  all those medical students that line up and stare at you as you’re being put to sleep. A little concealer goes a long way in covering up the little bumps you get if your skin reacts to the gel they put by your hairline. Blush or a touch of shimmer just might add a healthy glow to your face.

* * * * *
Obviously, I’m joking a bit here and all of this seems totally trivial, but I needed something about myself that I liked during those five weeks, even if it was just the color of my toenails. Feeling pretty wasn’t the objective in getting a little dolled up. Putting on make-up before the ECT just allowed me to keep the same morning routine. A part of me was able to emotionally distance myself for a minute just before the reality that I’m about to have my head shocked. I also wanted to have just the same face on that I have when I go out of the house, including when I’m out for some electroconvulsive therapy. (One could argue that a bare face would show the doctors the ‘real’ you that they need to see.) Sure, call it a mask to hide the fact that my face isn’t really glowing from happiness, but surely, the doctors can’t be fooled by some bare minerals.

Small privileges sometimes mean a whole lot, so if a little eyeliner and gloss can contribute to a perceived sense of  near-normalcy, there’s no harm done.

read other “lessons”


3 Responses to “ECT Lessons-I’ve-Learned #3: Look pretty for the occasion”

  1. I’m way behind in my reading so I’m just catching up. Just last week I ran across some old photos—they were of my knee surgery in 1997. I have various photos of the inside of my knee and its torn cartilage and of my freshly painted red toenails! (Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the polish color.) I knew the surgeon well, and I wanted my toes to look nice during and after surgery. The doctor thought it was funny and took the picture of my toes. Later, Joan

  2. Your comment hit the nail on the head. (Ahem.) Yesterday was my very first ECT treatment. I sought ECT for worsening depression, including not caring about bathing or clean clothes any more. However, the night before the fist treatment I forced myself to shave my legs and pits, and paint my toenails. Color: Electric Blue.


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