Sometimes, you just have to disclose stuff you weren’t planning on disclosing.
Last night was another session of the class, Mental Health and Aging. Yesterday’s lecture was about assessments and treatments. One of the topics that came up during class was about electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and how it’s picked up in use lately, especially among older people. I wasn’t planning on saying anything, but someone happened to ask the professor just how often a person has ECT. When the professor didn’t know the answer, I figured I’d just raise my hand and contribute the answer (three times a week for 2-4 weeks, or 5 weeks, in my case). I at first did not hint as to why I would know an answer to such a question, but when other people asked questions about ECT, I eventually just said out loud, “The reason why I know something about ECT is because I have them.” And I then proceeded to answer random questions, like how people are tied down during the treatment, etc (we’re not really tied down; we have a ‘vest’ on).
The interesting part about this disclosure was that one of the students didn’t really understand at first that I had been a patient and thought instead that I had been a part of “pulling the switch” or giving ECT to others. He seemed a bit startled when I finally got through to him that I have had ECT more than 30 times. He asked me why I’ve had ECT, so I told him about the suicidal depression. He then proceeded to tell me how he’s been suicidal as well. I realized that I was being rather matter-of-fact when I was talking to this person. In fact, I really wasn’t all that nervous when I made my initial disclosure. A sense of embarrassment or shame didn’t really come over me. Maybe I’m becoming a little more comfortable about talking about this part of my life.