Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Shocking, but there's Even Something I'm Reluctant to Talk About: ECT

When I was in the hospital last week, I went in with three goals.  The first was to stay safe; the second was to get my meds regulated; the third was to have a consultation about Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).  The last time I was in an outpatient appointment with my psychiatrist, we talked about the possibility of ECT, and she scheduled a consultation with the doctor at the Lindner Center (where I was hospitalized) who does the ECT therapy.  She couldn't get me in to see him until the 27th of December, but if I was an inpatient, I knew I could see him much quicker.

In case you're wondering, yes, ECT is that treatment -- formerly known as Electroshock Therapy.   When people think of ECT, the first thing that usually comes to mind is that famous (and disturbing) scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest where Jack Nicholson's character undergoes ECT as a form of punishment (link goes to YouTube clip).  In fact, that although ECT's popularity as a form of therapy was already on the wane by the time the movie was released in 1975, public opinion plummeted so because of the depiction that ECT became a therapy of last resort, indicated only for chronic, treatment-resistant depression and catatonic depression (from

In the last 30+ years, however, ECT has gained more popularity as a safe, effective treatment for severe depression, bipolar depression and mania, and other forms of mental illness.  So here we are, and here I am.

Today I had my second ECT treatment; the first was on Monday.  Over the next week and a half, I'll have four more.  They're not particularly fun, and I'm left sore, a little groggy, and with a major headache, but the doctor says those side effects should get better the more I'll do. 

In the next week or two, I'm going to write more about the history of ECT, how it works, and personal testimonies.  Today, though, I just wanted to "break the ice," so to speak, and come out and say that I'm actually now undergoing ECT treatments.

And I feel weird, and a little embarrassed, saying it.

I guess because most people still think of ECT as a barbaric, radical treatment, something that only really "far-gone" people do, something that most people would never even consider, I feel like it's something I should hide -- or at least keep to myself as much as possible.  That I should only tell a certain few people who know me, whose opinions wouldn't be affected by my decision.

But what's the point of keeping a blog, of putting everything else out there, if I'm not going to talk about this, too?  I've spoken about being hospitalized, and I know people have certain stigmas about that.  I know that people I've known for a long time look at me a little differently since the first time I was hospitalized, so I may as well add one more log to the fire.

I decided to go ahead and go with ECT therapy because I'm so tired of feeling like crap, and of taking medication after medication and having none of them work, while their side effects diminish my quality of life even further.  I want my old self back, and from talking to the doctors and from my own research, I think ECT is at least worth a try. 

And, as always, I'll be keeping you in the loop.

1 comment:

  1. Best of luck to you, Amy. Thanks for being to "go there." My illness is (thankfully) not severe enough to warrant ECT, but I hope I would have the courage to do it if I needed to.