Posts tagged ‘shock treatment’

March 17, 2011

ECT #37 (my 22nd maintenance treatment)

This morning was another day for ECT. Since my mother is in town, she took me to the hospital. I really can’t recall much of what went on today except that the staff all came up to ask me if my family was okay from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. When Dr. F, my ECT psychiatrist, came by, I think he did mention something about the eventual end to having ECT. Of course, it’s not quite over that soon, but at least he said something about it. He did kind of get on me about my not having seen my regular psychiatrist in months, because I had told him that I hadn’t been feeling all that up in the last week or so. He was reluctant to schedule the next one for eight weeks later instead of six weeks, but I told him I really didn’t want it any earlier. Otherwise, the anesthesiologist injected me with some anesthesia, and then I was awake and done. Not too much to recount today.

July 26, 2010

in renovation

I work at the mall. I was on break from work today when I passed by the storefront of Restoration Hardware and saw this quote on their window. Apparently, they are doing some sort of remodeling and this is how they chose to notify the customers.

I’ve been fascinated by these words by Picasso on the glass since I encountered it this afternoon. It’s an interesting quote, but what does it mean? How does it apply to me? For some reason, this quote made me think about ECT.

I don’t really know exactly why this quote has anything to do with ECT. I don’t think I see ECT as being ‘an act of destruction,” but I guess the treatment is about redoing the connections in your brain, thus deconstructing the existing neural networks.  But if that’s the case, does this mean that ECT is constructing a new me? And is that what I want?

I think that to some extent, I do want something new. I am tired of the mind that seems trapped between the walls of utter desperation. Why wouldn’t I want that to be destroyed and allowed to start over again? As much as there is a longing to be stripped of all that is ugly and painful, I also wish to get to know the real me that must be underneath all of that. I don’t want me to become completely unrecognizable to myself.

But is a complete change what Restoration Hardware had in mind when they picked such a quote to announce their renovation? Well, though they are creating something new, neither their name nor the general concept of the store going to change as a result of this renovation. They are simply hoping to become a better store. So, perhaps that’s the way to view this quote, and my reason for having ECT. I’m simply trying to become a better me, and despite going through this procedure, my name will still be the same, and what makes me the person that I am will still stand as is.

And like Restoration Hardware, I’ll still be in my process of renovation, with the next ECT coming up on Thursday.

February 20, 2009


Another sine-wave machine day is drawn; that’s thirteenth treatments. I’m not sure it went over too well. When I woke up, I was tied up, all because I apparently flailed around during the convulsion. I will therefore be going through to the fourteenth treatment. I spoke with someone after the fact, that this could be my fifteenth and final treatment….fifteenth, as in about double the number.

February 17, 2009

oh, i forget. and other innaproriate deeds

The main thing I forget is the Japanese language, in bits and pieces. It’s odd that I really don’t have a problem with English.  The hard thing is that when my mother speaks to me, I get stuck wanting to speak just English and cannot get a single sound out of Japanese. I will look at my sister and speak English. How odd is it that the one language I learned first is the first language to go??

Now that I’ve passed the 13th treatment, I’ve begun to wonder if my doctors are getting tired of caring for me for this amount of time. I hope it’s okay with them. I do wonder if my taking sleep aids cause my seizures to shorten. If that’s the case, I really need to stop taking the sleep aids so that I can finish up the seizures. I also need to figure out how many seconds the seizures lasted with the sine-wave machine. Really, I want someone to take some pictures of me having that seizure. Pictures aren’t the most appropriate pics to be getting, but I don’t plan on getting more ECTs after this time. ..

Today, I went to West Elm, the furniture store, to find some furniture pieces. It’s the first time in a long time that I actually got to go to a furniture store with my sister.  One thing is a fact: I won’t be able to drive for at least another three weeks……

January 11, 2009

Lost and Found: what will be left?

Countdown to Obama Inauguration: 9 Days
No reason to countdown to the AFC Championship game anymore. Now that the Titans are out, I’m counting on you, Eli Manning, to see a team I care about in the Super Bowl.

I watched some Saturday Night Live and found myself laughing out loud.  As I soaked in that welcome emotion, I began to wonder, if I can lose my memory about events, won’t I be losing my memory of the feelings I felt during those events?

One of the goals of ECT is for my recurrent thoughts of suicide to dissipate.  That prospect of such amazing evaporation, in a way, is tied to that main side effect of ECT: memory loss. I am well aware of the likelihood that I won’t be able to recall some events that has happened or will happen during the treatment. Even though I may not remember that the Obama Inauguration happened, I will be able to DVR it or read about it once the cloud of confusion lifts.  Things that have happened can be retold to me by others.  But what about the thoughts that I had about those moments, or those intensely personal thoughts that I never wrote down or told anyone?  It’s one thing to forget events; it’s another to forget your own insight. No one archives our deepest feelings in a catalog which could opened after ECT.

I would be okay with losing the memory of watching Obama’s acceptance speech on Election Day. But if the emotions I experienced on that day become unable to be retrieved from my head, that would be such a loss to me.

January 10, 2009

Model Deviance

In Is It Me or My Meds?, Boston College Sociology professor David Karp asks his interviewees about their relationship with their psychotropic medication.  He found that, though some begin their medication career with a bit of trepidation, most “had become wedded to a biomedical version of mental illness.” In the concluding chapters, he becomes skeptical of the growing acceptance of biological psychiatry that has led to an overmedicated society. The skepticism toward embracing a totally medical model of mental illness is, to an extent, understandable.  Karp notes that his issues are with the “confluences of forces that lead doctors to routinely medicate for life distress.” Though my own conclusion of his assessment may not be correct, I got the impression that Professor Karp was a bit wary of wholly accepting the biological model of mood disorders.

Because this book focuses solely on the illness careers of those using pharmacological treatment, obviously it would not address ECT and its patients’ view of self. I’ve come to find that it’s the case in many of the books I’ve read. They all do not discuss beyond the typical illness career that involves wrestling with medication and having to spend time in a hospital. With only about 100,000 patients per year that undergo ECT in the US, I haven’t been able to read up to see a group study of if there’s any personal emotional (or model) transition from having a ‘typical’ illness career to adding ECT to his or her journey. I tend to think that self-identity kind of changes when ECT comes into play.  With just medication and therapy, I think I have some personal ‘luxury’ of accepting or denying ‘my illness as pathology.’  In the case of ECT treatments, I’m not sure that flexibility is available anymore.  It’s a clearly physical procedure, unlike the one I have experienced through the medication buffet. The thought process about ECT, at least for me, has been very different from how I’ve felt about medication. Anyway, the point is that how can one not embrace the medical model of illness and biological psychology when one has consented him/herself to a treatment that directly affects the brain chemistry? I don’t know if I have a choice. What will be interesting to see is if I hold the same self-identity oncethe treatments are underway.

The hospital’s finally settled on my physical exam date of Tuesday, 01.13. There better not be anything that would delay my procedure. Thank goodness the next two days will be occupied by watching copious amounts of football. My little-known love of NFL and certain sports commentators just might help sustain me through the weekend.

January 8, 2009

Going Public

I keep most things to myself, including thoughts, feelings, and even diagnoses.  But apparently, I am compelled to just tell people I know that I will be going through ECT like it’s a new job announcement. I admit it seem like a display of being self-absorbed or attention-seeking. But maybe this procedure warrants notifying certain people what’s going on.  I think I’ve finally wanted some others to know about my condition and about the ECT because, quite frankly, this ECT is a HUGE event in my life that will alter me in someway that those people will notice.  The ECT is a big deal.

I also find myself bringing up my ECT in order to correct any misperceptions about shock therapy. I do want to put my ‘friendly’ face to a procedure that may sound arcane.  There is a person that changes as the weeks lead into the ECT treatment, during, and then post-treatment.  And how that person is transformed is often not what’s been published.  All people conjure is about the electrical part, and not how that part helped a suicidal patient.  I guess I want to get the truth across.  Carrie Fisher really helped out when she was asked the question about ECT.  The interviewer sounded as though she escaped from an asylum.  She bluntly stated that ECT was the best thing she ever did, and that ECT is not at all like people imagine it to be.  Despite her 4-month memory loss, she says she’d do it again.

Before I act like I’m some face for this procedure, I guess I need to get through them. Maybe I’m just talking because I’ve never met anyone who’s gone through the procedure.  I kind of want to show that people like me are in the mix.

I’ve still not let people know about this web log. Perhaps it’s time to really take it public if I want to walk the walk.

January 6, 2009

“I am. I am. I am.” or so Esther said.

I happened to have read books that contained info on ECT long before I thought I’d be in that room.  Instead of just staring at the Dolphins/Ravens game, I thought I might just flip through a couple of books with some ECT cites.  I read Martha Mannings’ memoir, Undercurrents, that chronicles her days leading up to and out of ECT. Then there’s The Bell Jar. (I’ve always been intrigued by Plath’s and Sexton’s works, but it’s so hard to look up to them when they both die the same way) They were very good reads, but I have to say that at my point in this game, their insights only that: insights.  If anything, everything that might happen during and after ECT can be put into words but what it feels can never really be captured.  I guess I will know what it feels like to be through ECT in less than two weeks, but I realized that I can’t grasp these effects.  I get that I will experience confusion and some potential loss of memory, but I don’t know what that really feels like. I read these words on the pages of Manning’s book about how she forgot that her sister had come to see her the day before, or the time she nearly gets lost in the hospital corridors, or the increasing sense of anxiety that comes as she is about to begin yet another session.  These recounts sound bad, but just how bad do these episodes feel when one’s actually experiencing them? Reading parts of their works again made me feel a little (but not too) hesitant when thinking about ECT.

Oh, so when the media does countdown to Obama’s inauguration, the numbers almost coincide with the start of my ECT.

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