Monday, June 11, 2018

The Darkness

Perhaps you can tell by my past posts, but things are dark here in my world.
It didn't used to be this way, and I hate it.
Even during the infertility years, I was sad, I was stuck, I was angry, I was all sorts of feelings, but I didn't go to bed and stay there.
Things are dark here.
I stay in bed as much as I can.  Sleep is my escape.
Yesterday was a hard day.  I was either sleeping or crying.
The anxiety was bad.  There is no reason to be anxious.  No reason to be sad.  And yet.
Each moment is a struggle. Getting dressed seems akin to climbing a mountain (I do get dressed every day).  Showering seems like too much of an effort (I do try and most days I succeed at getting showered).
Getting the kids dressed and off to school is about all I can handle.  I do make dinner some nights, but my MIL (who stays here to help with the kids Tuesday-Friday) makes dinner the nights she is here.
This makes me feel like an absolute failure as a human being and a parent.  Which makes me even more depressed.  And the cycle continues.
While I am not actively suicidal, thoughts of death are comforting.  I cannot imagine living life feeling this way for fifty more years.
All of this while I have so much to live for, so much to be excited about.  I have three beautiful, healthy children; kids that I wanted so badly.
And now all I want to do is sleep.  Sleep away this life that has become painful to live.
I've tried counseling.  I have a psychiatrist and a counselor.  I did a six month DBT course.  I take a high dose of antidepressant.  I take an atypical antipsychotic.  I take rescue medications for the anxiety.  Too many pills when you add in the three I take for my epilepsy (which are also mood stabilizers). 
Last month, my psychiatrist recommended something different.  Something a little scary.
Something called ECT.  From the Mayo Clinic, this is ECT:

"Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure, done under general anesthesia, in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses.
ECT often works when other treatments are unsuccessful and when the full course of treatment is completed, but it may not work for everyone.
Much of the stigma attached to ECT is based on early treatments in which high doses of electricity were administered without anesthesia, leading to memory loss, fractured bones and other serious side effects.

ECT is much safer today. Although ECT still causes some side effects, it now uses electric currents given in a controlled setting to achieve the most benefit with the fewest possible risks."
My initial reaction?  NO FREAKIN WAY.  There was no way I was going to give myself seizures on purpose.  Plus one of the main side effects is short term memory loss.  My memory is already compromised from all of my seizures, the concussions from falling during a seizure, and, of course, depression causes memory loss.
But the depression this time is debilitating.  I can't live my life this way.  If there is an option, something to try, I can't justify locking myself in this cave of darkness.  Not if there is a way out.
So I started researching ECT.  And I read a book written by Kitty Dukakis, who uses the treatment regularly and feels like it has changed her life.  She and her husband, former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, have become evangelists for the procedure.  And once you start researching, a lot of people have experienced ECT.  And it works for them.  It has a 90% success rate.  90%.
I have always used this blog as a way to process what is happening to me.  I also fully believe that we don't talk enough about mental illness.  And we definitely don't do enough about it. 
After doing my research, doing my reading, and getting more depressed, I have decided to take the leap.  I am doing ECT.  And I plan to write about my experiences here in the hopes that someone else might read it and feel less alone.  And if it works, someone might read it and take the same leap.
Am I scared?  No.  Surprisingly, I am not scared.  I might get scared closer to the actual procedure, but right now? Right now, I am just READY.  I just want to feel better.  I want to be a better human, a better mother, and a happier me.
So today, I do the first step, which is having a pre-op appointment with my primary care physician.  We have to ensure that I am healthy enough to have ECT done.  I have to have an EKG, a physical, a round of bloodwork, and (ironically) a pregnancy test.
I also have to secure a letter from my neurologist, who has to okay me having the procedure done.  He also has to help me with medication changes, as I cannot take my anti-seizure medications for 24 hours prior to the procedure.
So.  I am in a pit of darkness, but I do see a pinpoint of light.  It's there, I know it. I just have to be brave and hang on.


Anonymous said...

It has been a long time since I have kept up with the blogs I once followed, but I felt compelled to check back in to see if anyone had come back to the blogging world. I am so sorry to see you have been struggling with your health for the past few years. Thinking about you and hoping this procedure changes your life for the better.

Alphabet Farm said...

Best of luck with this. And don't give up if the ECT results aren't what you hoped for. After ECT you could try ketamine treatment. There are always more options, please don't give up.

Amanda said...

I'm so sorry to hear this isn't working out for you. I hope you can get the treatment you need soon.