Friday, October 31, 2014

In Another Time

I'm watching this show that is set back in the early 60's and it's depicting these horrible images of ECT and transorbital lobotomies and I am thinking how lucky I am, if I must have a mental illness, to live today, not 60 years ago. ECT is still used today, but it's done in a much more humane way.  I've had ECT.  Not sure I'd recommend it, I wouldn't do it again myself, but it's not like you see in the movies. And transorbital lobotomies, fortunately, have not been done in a very long time. It's scary to think of where I might be and what might have happened if I'd simply had the misfortune to be me in another time.


  1. Have you shared your experience with ECT before? I'd like to know how it is done, and why you don't recommend it.

    1. I'm not sure I've written much about it here. I had it done on an outpatient basis, because I was fortunate enough that my psychiatrist agreed I did not need to be hospitalized and I was fortunate enough that my partner at the time was working from home so he could drive me to the hospital three times a week for ECT. The hospital where I had it done was a little over an hour from my house. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for several weeks, I had to be there at 9 am. I was done by lunch time. They start an IV and they sedate you with something fast-acting so you are asleep for the actual procedure. You wake up very soon afterward. It was not painful at all and, after I'd had it done a couple times and knew what to expect, it was not scary.

      I said I wasn't sure I'd recommend it, but I'm not sure I'd recommend against it, either. Statistically, it is highly effective for the treatment of depression, for most people. I did not have the results I'd hoped for, though. Very minor improvement. Which I guess was still good, since I was in a very, very bad place when I had it done, but not nearly as good as I'd hoped for and expected.

      I experienced really severe memory loss from the procedure. Memory loss is a known side effect. It's short term memory that suffers, generally. There are many things I don't remember from during that time in my life and from the period shortly before the ECT. For instance, shortly before I had ECT, my cat Cayenne was treated for cancer. I forgot about that until quite some time after the ECT when my sister mentioned it and I had no idea what she was talking about. I also forgot things like how to get to places that I was quite familiar with. For instance, I'd been seeing my psychiatrist for several years before I had ECT in the same office, just a few minutes from my home. I forgot how to get there. Weird stuff like that. The memory loss was pretty debilitating and it really disturbed me.