Daily Archives: May 27, 2018

Would You Try Electroshock?

Photo by Mike T

In the course of dealing with my bipolar disorder, I had a near brush with electroshock. I managed to avoid it, but I did give it serious thought.

Now 60 Minutes has come out with a piece called “Is Shock Therapy Making a Comeback?” You can see the segment here: 60 Minutes.

ECT(electroconvulsive therapy, the modern name for the procedure), which is often done on an outpatient basis, works by inducing a brief seizure in a patient. The seizure, which lasts about a minute, releases multiple neurotransmitters in the brain, all at once. The patient is required to have someone to transport them to and from the appointment. Treatments are typically applied one or two times per week for 6-8 weeks.

In a brief article excerpted from the news show segment, Dr. Charlie Welch, of McLean Psychiatric Hospital, explains how ECT differs from how it was performed in the past: “What’s different first of all is that it’s done under general anesthesia with a muscle relaxant. So when the treatment is done, the patient is sound asleep and completely relaxed.” Call it a kinder, gentler shock treatment.

That was the procedure that my psychiatrist offered me after he had spent a number of years trying me on various medications that either didn’t work, or helped only partially.

My immediate reaction was negative. I recall thinking, “Fuck, NO! Keep away from my brain, you Nazi sadist!” After I calmed down a bit, I did some research.

ECT, my sources said, was a long way from the cruel, stigmatizing procedure portrayed in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The Internet was little help, though. The opinions and experiences of people who had undergone electroshock ranged from “It was hideous” to “It was a miracle.”

Truthfully, I was appalled by the notion of electrical jolts surging through my brain. My precious brain, which had both sustained me and betrayed me throughout my life.

Then I thought some more. So ECT sometimes causes memory loss. I already had that, thanks to some of my meds. I would be altering my brain with electricity. But hadn’t I been altering it for years with chemicals – medications that no one seemed to know how they worked?

So I went back to my doctor and said I would at least talk to the doctor who would perform the procedure. And I lined up a journalist friend to write about my experiences if her editor approved. (Note: In the 60 Minutes piece, former Massachusetts First Lady Kitty Dukakis gave permission to have her treatment filmed and broadcast.)

My psychiatrist, however, had one more medication that he wanted me to try before we took that next step. And it worked. So much for electroshock.

Now as to that side effect of memory loss – Dr. Sarah Lisanby of the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland has developed a new treatment that seems to avoid that particular consequence.

The procedure is called Magnetic Seizure Therapy (MST) and it uses magnets (duh!) to stimulate more precisely focused seizures than ECT does. These focused seizures seem to avoid the parts of the brain associated with memories. As Dr. Lisanby told the 60 Minutes reporters, “For some people, ECT may still be needed. But if Magnetic Seizure Therapy could be effective without the memory loss who wouldn’t want to try that first?”

Would I try MST if I relapsed into treatment-resistant depression? I would certainly consider it, if it were out of the testing stage by then. And I’d do that before I signed up for ECT. While I have memories I’d prefer to forget, with my luck, those would be the ones left unaffected.

The cynical side of me says that these seizure-causing therapies are becoming more popular because insurance companies like the notion of a short course of 6-8 weeks of treatment instead of years of talk-and-medication. (Although Kitty Dukakis said that she has done ECT for years now and expects to continue into the foreseeable future.)

But I could be wrong. It is possible that some kind of treatment could be short in length but longer-lasting in effectiveness. I’m not ruling it out. At this point I’m not ruling out anything that could aid in my progress and my healing.

 

Confessions Of A Mental Health Blog Snob and Why I Avoid The Beautiful People

So let’s just say growing up as bullied kid for a plethora of reasons that made me stand out in my rural population 144 town, such as too tall. grew boobs too soon, didn’t like country music, didn’t wear denim, liked spray in hair dye, wore lots of make up and jewelry, refused to cave in to conformity no matter how much they tortured me…

I will admit to my bias again those I consider ‘the beautiful people’.

For me, this isn’t merely about looks or wealth or success.

True confession- I check out every blogger who clicks like on my posts or follows me. Sometimes, their writing resonates and I instantly want to read more. And sometimes…I see people with dozens of likes and a hundred comments and honestly didn’t find their writing to be my cut of tea…so I move along, guilt free. The beautiful people don’t need lil ole me to join their fan club. But if you are one of those popular bloggers and I follow you and chime in occasionally…it means your writing is damned good and that’s an uber compliment from me.

I suppose I should feel shitty for such ‘elitist’ bullshit, allowing my old baggage to impact my adult life but ya know what? I just don’t.

I am the same with bands, comedy videos, tv shows, movies, fashions. If I don’t personally find it to resonate through a stack of amps…I move along. And people with that many likes and comments aren’t going to miss me so there’s nothoing to really feel bad about. Something speaks to your soul or it doesn’t. At least I give people the benefit of the doubt before the opt out due to overpopularity.

That will never be an issue with my blog. It says I have over 900 followers. On a good day, I get 4 likes. If people are in a good mood, that may double. And of course, my fragile creative writer soul bleeds a little any time I post something I am particularly proud of and it gets completely ignored. I’m not looking for my existence to be validated. I would just occasionally like to know that I wrote a post that was at least as scintillating as that Facebook picture someone took of their salad with a Narwhal shaped crouton on it.

Needy bitch much, Morgue? Hells yeah.

But my entire identity has always been tied to the ‘little guy’, the people like me who are overlooked, underestimated, dismissed, criticized, insulted. So I guess it’s all about ‘the little blog that could’ for me. No, having thousands of followers and likes and comments doesn’t make anyone evil. It just means they are on solid ground so my efforts to bond with others are better spent on the lesser noticed blogs like my own.

Don’t get me wrong. I am under no illusions that my blog is anything special. At best, it’s a clusterfuck to follow some posts, and at others, it’s like depression could be considered infectious.

What I take pride in is the honesty in which I display in my writing here. No filters, no sunshine spewed up your pant legs, none of this “this worked for me, I am all cured, it will work for you too!” I curse, I leave my typos, I wander topic to topic and it is confusing and irritating and ya know what?

THIS IS JUST WHO I AM. Verbally or written…I’m a hot mess of quirk, dysfunction, dark humor, proud sarcasm, and if you can’t handle me in writing…we’d definitely need a couple of Z-Whackers to battle it out in person.

And after having confess my blog bias and coming off looking all shallow and grudge holding…I won’t be shocked to lose dozens of followers (who never read my posts anyway, so whatever) and maybe even some dressing down comments on what a bitch I am.

That bitch thing, is one more facet of my personality I am crystal clear on. My best friend in high school gifted me with a “Bitch Goddess” keychain I carry to this day and taught me not to take it as an insult, but rather as a word people fling about but when women piss them off in whatever inane way. So color me bitchy cos I am always going to piss people off with inane things, with off color things, with an inability to focus or often make sense…

This is who I am.

Some days like today when my mood is low due to lack of slep and absolutely exhaustion…I’m not real fond of being me.

Other days, when my dark sarcastic humor cracks people up and they tell me how funny I am, how good my writing is, how awesome it is that I’m still fighting to just be who I am instead of deciding “oh, I’m 45 and have a kid, time to change everything about myself and conform’.

And those rare occasions when someone comments on a blog post and tells me they like the portraits my words paint, or they totally get where I am coming from and it’s helped put a smile on their face or helped them gain enough perspective to fight another day…

THAT is why I blog, why I write, why I shun the popular blogs and beautiful people.

While a Trek Fan, I’ve never gotten on board with that whole ‘needs of the many outweight the needs of the few’ thing.

I will gladly take one comment a month from someone telling me I made them laugh or my words helped paint a picture they can relate to.

Because if I had hundreds of those, I could never have the time to reply or really interact and attempt to engage and show…misanthropal tendenancies aside…I do care.

I just reserve that energy for caring for those who don’t have a village of adorers. Maybe it’s my loss but I’ve had some experiences with the popular beautiful people and frankly…Opt out.

Bad judgey snobby Morgue.

Shamelessly, unapologetically so.

Only beautiful people I wanna hear about is when the Marilyn Manson song plays.