“What are you writing your thesis on?” asks Jamie, as four sociology grad students drink beer and eat some dinner at a local restaurant. “I’m writing mine on electroconvulsive therapy,” I answer with a slight bit of hesitation. “Oh,” says Jamie. “I didn’t know they still did that.” Oh, yes, they do, I thought to myself as I try to gather my thoughts to answer her. But I couldn’t. She goes on to put ECT in the same sentence as lobotomies, but I leave the conversation there.
At this point in my life, I could almost recite the details of electroconvulsive therapy. I could go on about how it’s not like what you imagine from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” or practically anything that depicts ECT—not even the Broadway show “Next to Normal” gives a fair portrayal. I could tell Jamie about how I’ve had over 30 treatments of ECT and have helped me survive. I could say all of this but I didn’t.
It sometimes reminds me how a part of me is still, well, ashamed of having this procedure. And it’s not just the ECT that I’m afraid to tell people; it’s the fact that the reason I’m having ECT is obviously going to be connected to my depression, my bipolar disorder. What will people think?, I still wonder, even as I display myself on this journal as some kind of vocal advocate for mental health issues. I don’t think I need everyone in the world to know about this, because it’s not necessary information for people to know about me. But when asked directly about it–and with whom I consider as ‘safe’ company, I shouldn’t feel so hesitant to say something about it.
I guess I still feel guilty about all of this.