Tag: ECT

Entry #16: Sophie’s Choice

I know it’s have been awhile since I write anything here. I’ve been really really depressed for few months now, and after some times, your energy getting drain. For more than a week, getting out of bed is a challenge. There are some days I didn’t even remember to take my shower as I spend most of my time on my bed. It feels like you have been beat down repeatedly until you have no will power to get up anymore. However, I still force myself to get up. Now, even a short shower, I’m proud of what I have achived. People without this condition would not understand this, but I know, plenty of people with this disorder do.

The reason I feel like writing something today is because I had appointment with my psychiatrist this morning. I have seen a lot of psychiatrists over the years, and he’s my favourite. Before this, I requested that I want to use the Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) machine that is only available at another hospital at my city. Since he never had any experience with TMS, he said he need to do some research on it first. At the same time, I do some reading. It turns out, although TMS doesn’t cause memory loss, it also cause damage to brain’s cells. And to compare with ECT, ECT have higher success rate than TMS. A crappy ECT have higher chances to get better than TMS? Then TMS not so great then.

So, my doctor asked me if I still want to try TMS, but I said I don’t know since what I read wasn’t that great. He said he will make the arrangement if I want to use the machine, however the machine isn’t at the hospital, but at my old university. WTH the TMS machine doing at a university? I’m guessing it’s for some research purposes. In that case, sorry, I would have to say no. I want to get better, not to be a lab rat.

So, now I’m down with medications or ECT. He was quite suprised that I’m considering ECT again as he knows I’m against it. He asked me what makes me considering ECT again. I told him I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. Its been months of major depression and I’m running out of energy to keep on fighting. I’m starting to tearing up. I told him I don’t know what to do. If I go for more ECTs, I will suffer more memory loss and cognitive impairment. I maybe end up cannot continue my PhD study. If my memory won’t recover, there goes my career. All my dreams and my future will be shattered. On the other hand, I can continue experimenting with medications, which what I’ve been doing for the past few years. However, I’m having suicidal urges everyday. And I have almost no energy to keep on fighting. I’m too tired to go on. I may end up committing suicide.

These two choices are so ridiculous and unfair! I’m seriously tired of everything. I don’t think anything about this is fair. Some people may say “it’s a test from God”. Well, what will you do if you are in my shoes? Would you live a long unhappy life with regrets and shattered dreams (which may lead to suicide also), or a short life but doom to hell. Is all these fair to you? Plenty of people who want to live a long life but die at a young age, but I want to die now but I can’t. Is it fair? When someone lose a battle of physical illness, they will be prayed upon and everyone will say good things about them. However, if someone lose a battle of a mental illness, they are doom to hell and everyone will say bad things about them. No. It is not fair! We never asked for this illness. We never want to be this way. We are sick! And we are not faking it to get your intention.

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Entry #10: ¬†ECT’s Adverse Effects

It’s been weeks since I did ECT and I’m still regretting it. I’m still having difficulties in memory, disorientation and still suicidal. After some advice from my nephew’s paediatrician, I went to see a neurologist to seek some advice just to make sure there is nothing wrong with my brain. Mostly, to comfort my family, who’s really worried about me.

The neurologist was a very nice and polite person. He did asked about my mental illness, my medical history and my medications that I’m currently on. He then did some physical testes. I think he noticed my disorientation. Then he did a memory test on me. It’s a standardised memory test I guess.

I managed to aced few questions (although he did gave me few hints, I still count that as a success). I can’t remember my own birthday, which is a huge blow for me. I always remember the birthdays of my family members and friends. Then he asked me whether I’m OK in math. Proudly I said, I’m good in applied math and I’m currently doing my PhD is in Mechanical Engineering. Then he asked me some simple arithmetic questions. I didn’t remember the exact questions but it’s something like 7 plus 6 and 100 minus 9. I was stunned. My tears started to fall. I can’t believe I dont know the answers. I used to able do multiplication or division a number up to 5-7 digits to a few digits number mentally. And yet, I can’t do arithmetic. I can’t stop crying. I’m broken. Math is my pride and joy. I love math more than I love myself. But, I have failed!!!

Only God knows what I felt at that moment. The doctor tried to console me. After the session, he said the memory will come back, but he doesn’t know when exactly. I need to rest more and do more enjoyable things so my brain will heal faster and I won’t be too depressed. If not, I may need another round of ECTs. 

I may take a longer leave of absent from my studies, but my supervisor will leave this country end of this year. I don’t have the luxury of time at this moment. I did express my concern to my supervisor last week, but he was extremely supportive. He said take as much time to heal as needed as health comes first. Once I’m OK, then my dream to be successful will come true. I’m blessed to have them as my PhD supervisor. And I’m blessed to have my family and friends. Only God can repay what they have done for me. If any of you are reading this, thank you!

Entry #5: Hospitalizations and ECTs (Part 2)

Well, it’s a tough week for me. Been hospitalized at a mental institution for several times for the past a week and plus, and received ElectroConvulsive Therapy (ECT) for 4 times. This is where your psychiatrist will put you on general anesthesia  then “electrocude” your brain that will cause seizures for less than a minute.

It sound cruel and painful, but it is indeed painful (after you woke up from anesthesia) but it is not cruel. Studies shows that ECT is effective to treat depression and bipolar disorder. I’ve been on depression episode for more than 2 months now, and it’s hell!

My last ECT was this morning. Yesterday I was really depressed on spend most of my time on my bed, crying. This morning, I checked in to the hospital for another ECT. I thought it was not working as I still feel pretty depressed. After the ECT, my mum picked me up and I went to see my main psychiatrist for a discharge. You know what, he said, I look more cheerful than before I had ECTs. I was quite suprised by that comment.

When I got home, I texted my sister regarding that, and she does agree with my doctor. I do look better than before I had ECTs. Yes, if you look at the videos on internet, ECT seems cruel and unhumane. But trust me, I do believe it works. After each ECTs, I will have memory loss and massive headache, but at least I’m not as depressed as last week.

I have 2 more ECTs, then I’ll back on Lithium, psychotherapy and Neurofeedback therapy, but I’m hopeful this time around. I’m sure that I will back to school in no time and continue my research as a PhD candidate.

I can do it. And you can also do it. Stop suffering in silence and get some help before it too late. For the rest of you out there, stop stigma on ECT and mental illness. You just not helping and maybe people you love suffer from mental illness too. They need your supports, not your irrelevant opinions.

Entry #4: Second ECT

This morning, I had my second ECT. This time, the recovery takes longer than the first ECT. 10 hours after the ECT, I’m still can’t remember things clearly and the massive headache are still there. I took a long nap, but it seems like the headache are here to stay.

Now, I’m tempted to stop this treatment. I have at least 4 more treatments to go, but I dont feel like it. Despite that, reading some comments on my Facebook’s post does make me feel better. I never met these people in person, but it’s like we know each other for a long time. If any of you reading this, THANK YOU!

I am thankful that my family and most of my friends support me throughout these tough process. To my friends from Swimburne University of Technology (Sarawak Campus), THANK YOU! Your prayers means a lot to me.

I have so many people to thanks. My supervisor, Prof Alexander Gorin, you are the best. To my psychiatrists, psychologist and counsellor, your help means a lot to me. I owe you my life.

To whom I forgot to mentioned here, THANK YOU! There are too many people to thank. You guys are the best!

I’m hoping to get better soon so I can get back to my normal life as a PhD candidate and make a contribution in scientific world. I hope so.

Entry #3: Hospitalization & Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Due to my suicide attempt, my psychiatrist decided that I should consider hospitalization and ECT. I was hesitated, then he increased my Lithium dosage. However, I had a terrible side effects. My family started to concern about me. Then, that time I’ve stared to consider my psychiatrist’s suggestions.

Since my family having doubt about ECT, I brought them to talk to my psychiatrist. After talking to him, my family agreed for me to have ECT. I was admitted to the mental hospital straight away. The hospital ward was horrible. It’s a huge depressing hall cramped with beds. Don’t get me started with the food. For dinner, they served us with rice, hard boiled egg, and chopped vegetables soup. That’s it. Just when I finish having my lunch, my family came to visit. My parent burst into tears seeing the conditions there. I couldn’t help it but cry as I dont want to be there.

I was really bored at the ward as nothing to do. Luckily I asked my parent to bring a book to read. So I spend my time reading the book (Stephen Hawking’s A brief time of history). Hard to focus on what I was reading, but at least I have something to kill my time. Then I went to bed early as I have nothing to do.

As I woke up the next morning, I starting to realized that the time for ECT have come. Had my shower and waiting my turn. The ECT room was next to my bed. So, I see people in and out from the room. It was scary to see when the left the room with a empty stares. It looks like they just lost their mind. I’m staring to get anxious. Then my turn came. I was asked to lay down on a bed in a room full of people. They starting to put some stuff on my head and chest, then I went unconscious.

Then some one woke me up. I had a massive headache. I couldn’t remember who I was and where I am. They tried to explain to me what just happened, but non of it make sense to me. I started to cry uncontrollably and the escorted me to my bed. Seeing my stuff, it seems familiar. Then my dad came. In my mind, I know this person. He’s someone important to me. Then it hit me that he’s my father.

He then started to explained a bit to me what happened, and then my mom came. I can’t stop crying. I’m still figuring out what exactly happen. I said I want to go home, and my parent informed the staffs. The panel of doctors called me to see my condition. Some of the faces are familiar but I couldn’t recalled. They agreed to let me go as long as I agree to come back for 3-5 more ECT sessions.

I have no idea what happen for the past few weeks. When my mom handed me my phone, I was puzzled by the messages and Facebook notifications. Slowly, memory started to restore itself. I feel less depressed than before. Although the massive headache still here at this very moment, but I do glad that I went through ECT. I hope I can go back to school and continue my PhD. After 2 months without hope, self worth, smile and laughter, I am finally getting better. Maybe not 100%, but at least there is some progress.