jumpstarting a life with a little spark to the head

Thanks, Heritage Foundation
January 8, 2009, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Countdown to Obama’s inauguration: 12 Days
Countdown to my first ECT treatment: 11 Days

I found yet another reason to dislike the Heritage Foundation.  I can’t believe their blog entry actually compared the Obama/Biden economic stimulus package to ECT, with the comparison being that not only is the practice primitive, it’s been proven harmful.  And that ECT is kind of like Keynesian economics. Oh, and I love the photo of an electric chair they’ve decided to add to their entry.

Perhaps my qualm about Heritage Foundation’s entry seems like another rant by those people who love their political correctness.  But I don’t think that’s it at all. The comparison is simply wrong. If we use the truth about ECT as a basis of this comparison, one could argue that though their stimulus package is controversial and may have been tried in the past, there is an 80% chance that it will succeed.  Really, there was no need for the blogger to try to be so clever for his entry.  Can’t believe ‘electroshock therapy’ is actually one of his metatags.

Then again, I thank the Heritage Foundation  for allowing me to tie our political climate directly in talking about ECT. Finally, I got to talk about ECT without thinking about my mental state.


Going Public
January 8, 2009, 5:59 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

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 7, 2009, 5:44 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

On today’s skimming pile of books by my couch:
Against Depression by Peter D. Kramer
Mayo Clinic on Depression, edited by Keith Kramlinger, M.D.
Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide by Kay Redfield Jamison
Sociology of of Mental Disorder, Fifth Edition, by William C. Cockerham

Books that should arrive at my door soon:
Electroshock: Healing Mental Illness by Max Fink
Shock by Kitty Dukakis

I was glad to find the most useful amount of information, especially the type I actually need right now, to be in the book edited by Mayo Clinic, complete with a two-page seven-photo layout explaining the ECT procedure (Chapter 9, page 101-102). The Cockerham book was one of the texts I read as a college sophomore.  I found that I underlined the following in this text:
“Unfortunately, there are no controlled studies that demonstrate how EST affects the mind, and it is this lack of information that contributes most to the myths about electroshock.  All we know is that the procedure produces a significant improvement in certain patients….”

I wonder why I thought to highlight that particular portion, of all the parts that I could’ve noted.

I read Against Depression in November after it was clear that I will be having ECT. Kramer, who wrote Listening Prozac, refutes the increasing romanticized notion of melancholy and depression, and makes a case that depression must be treated like a disease that it is. Therefore, it is the scientific community’s obligation is to eradicate this disease.  Though Kramer’s references to ECT are neglible, I thought that this was a book that any person with a mood disorder should read.

“I am. I am. I am.” or so Esther said.
January 6, 2009, 4:50 am
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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.

waiting is the hardest part.
January 4, 2009, 8:01 am
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I’d like to start posting some recent articles about ECT and mental health, but not today.  I have about two weeks until the ECT sessions will first commence.  As much as the thought of electricity sent to your brain many time might case people to become a bit at unease, that’s not the case for me.  I was told by my psychiatrist in late October/early November that I should think seriously about taking the ECT option.  I was evaluated by a second psychiatrist to make sure I’m a suitable candidate for the procedure.  At the time, the doc asked me if I will keep from harming myself until the 3rd week of January.  I told him that should not be a problem. I thought, deep depression is what I’m worried about now, so a few more weeks of the horrible downs could be tolerated.

Well, that’s a lie. Though I know the treatment’s just a handfuls of days away, I feel like I’m having to keep myself from harming myself.  That temptation is really the issue.  I know there’s something for me to look forward to, but the depression simply puts a giant bag over my head making me unable to see that the goalline is in sight.  When you’re depressed, nothing wonderful ever catches your sight, and even if it did, you don’t quite capture the appropriate spirit. And yes, that spirit. You know that someone took that spirit away a long time  ago, and you’ve been told that those may come back after the little zaps.  How can I look forward to the possibility of my own spirit returning when I don’t know how to look forward to anything at all?

It’s the ECT Countdown time……
January 3, 2009, 8:20 am
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So, here it goes.  Perhaps a public bearing of my personal issues is totally unnecessary, but I need to document it, mostly for my own sake, but because it was quite hard to find a concise set of materials when I first began researching about ECT (electroconvulsive therapy/electroshock therapy) to have a chance of be able to be awakened from a life that already feels dead to me.  Okay, so this is a little project of mine to keep me occupied from doing something stupid in the next two weeks.  This ‘waiting game’ before the first jolt to my head is becoming very hard.  At any other time, my medication may have been tweaked or at least something would have been altered a bit to see if I can get out of this depression.  But because this potential ultimate ‘savior’ is coming soon, there’s almost nothing to be done, except to stay alive.  I’m trying hard not to drown, very hard.  All I have the energy to really do is shove food into my month, sleep and watch “House” marathon–and even that’s not all that interesting to me anymore.  I’ve begun to make myself go shopping for stuff at the mall even though I really don’t need to be spending the money that I’m not making.  I usually love the colors and great sales, but it’s just not that enjoyable.  Then again, it’s hard to love things when all I would love to be doing is to drop dead.  But looking for a cute cashmere hoodie and a nice bench for my window-area just might keep me from looking to die somehow.

I really can’t see my life beyond the two more weeks that I have before the ECT.  It’s even hard to think beyond a day or so.  But my choice to create a little public journal is for me to make this countdown a time for me do more than just sit and pet a cat.  I guess I can now sit, pet a cat, and write something of value.  I suppose I’m trying to live in a ‘literal’ sense even if I say that I don’t want to live at all.

It’s T minus sometime around 15th and the 19th. Happy new year, and let the countdown begin.