Recently, someone I know asked if I’d recommend ECT. The past couple weeks the sustained memory loss has seemed to become more evident. I’m so tired of saying “no, I don’t remember that.” It’s been ten months, according to the professionals, all memories should have returned by now. I’ve divided my life to Before January and After January. That’s what I ask now when my memories don’t match someone else’s “Was that before or after January?” I started to say I have a Swiss cheese brain, and now others are saying it as well. I suppose that one’s my fault for perpetuating it. I thought it was funny at first, but now that the people I care about are saying it, I have to admit it hurts a little. I feel defective.
I can finally get around to familiar places without my GPS, but as I bring out my winter clothes I’m surprised sometimes by what I have. It’s kind of like having a new wardrobe, except I don’t really like the person’s taste who picked out those things…and I can’t find my damn gloves! It’s hard to look at it with humor anymore because it’s been going on for so long, its’ just not funny or ‘quirky’ anymore.
So would I recommend it? I don’t know how to answer that one. I wish I’d never done it, and I don’t think it did any good for me, but I do know it’s been a lifesaver to others. I’d hate to think that someone based such a life-altering experience on my advice. It’s a tricky question, one which can only be answered by doing research. I didn’t do enough, I just listened to my almighty psychiatrist. “Here take this pill, zap your brain, don’t do this, don’t do that, do only what I say.” Well, no more, Dr. Holier-than-thou. I’ll think for myself now, thank-you-very-much. With what little brain I have left, I’ll make my own decisions about my mental health care now, and I strongly suggest that others do the same. Do research, ask a lot of questions, and for your mental health’s sake, if you don’t feel comfortable about something ask more questions or find another psych.
I want my brain back. Yes, I know, it’s a defective brain but ever since I’ve had ECT, it’s been worse than usual. According to my therapist and my psychiatrist, I’m better than I was before (my depression was not responding to medication and I was feeling suicidal). But afterwards I still felt depressed and the frustration of memory loss just added to it. It’s not just short-term memory like I was told to expect. I was told that the only memory loss would be of the time immediately around the treatments. I couldn’t remember how old my grandsons are, was confused the first time I went to the grocery store, couldn’t remember how to get to Greg’s (my boyfriend) house, didn’t remember my daughter drove to Georgia in September, and so much more.
When I first got home from the hospital, I looked in my closet and was surprised by all the clothes I had. I had no idea what to wear and ended up wearing the the same few sweaters over and over again. I couldn’t remember when I had been in the hospital or how many treatments I’d had. Rachel (my 20-year-old daughter) told me that it was mid-January, and I had 6 treatments-3 in the hospital and 3 outpatient. Taking me to the outpatient treatments was very stressful for her. I’ve read that some people have had about 12 or more. I can’t imagine going through it that many times, but I suppose it’s a life saver for many people. I don’t remember anything about the treatments except that I just wanted to sleep the rest of the day.
When I first got home, I had absolutely no interest in doing anything that I used to enjoy doing, nor did I want to talk to any of my friends. I just wanted to isolate. A little bit of my memory is coming back, but really nothing significant. I’ve also been responding to a great anti-depressant, Nardil, and my depression has finally abated.
When I’ve read over my past blog posts about the severity of my depression, I have to wonder…do I really want my old brain back? Maybe I just need to learn to accept the loss of memories and start building new ones; and be grateful that I’m not as bad as I was before.