Fingers Crossed That I Won’t Need ECT

fingers crossedI had an appointment with my psychiatrist today, which couldn’t come soon enough, even though it’s only been 4 weeks since my last appointment. I’ve been going through a severe depression for the past 3 weeks, right after the short hypomanic episode triggered by my misuse of my light box (I was supposed to start using it for 30 minutes, but I skipped right to an hour). Because of the hypomanic symptoms, and under doctor’s orders, I went a week or so without using it.

My mood slid smoothly from one pole to the other (hypomania to depression), so with my doctor’s permission, I began using the light box again for 30 minutes max per day. It hasn’t helped, but today we agreed that I’d start using it for up to 90 minutes a day. Still, I think I’ll work my way up from 30 minutes to 90.

The depression has been so severe that if I want to change out of my pajamas and into sweats and a t-shirt, my husband has to help me. I haven’t showered in a week (and for 2 weeks before that), and I can barely brush my teeth. Once, when I couldn’t stand the way my hair felt, my husband had to wash it for me in the sink because I couldn’t do it myself.

I’ve also had terrible insomnia, so not only do I have my depression lethargy, I’m even more tired from lack of sleep. At least I’ve kept up my meditation practice and blogging daily.

I have no desire to go anywhere, but I did go to a hockey game, saw a friend’s acoustic show, and went to a coffee shop with my husband maybe twice, in the past month. A hat is good camouflage!

I’ve also made it to my weekly therapy and salon appointments (self-care, you know? 😉 ). I don’t particularly care about my appearance right now, but it’s nice to be pampered. Other than that, I haven’t left my house, not even to walk Rudy.

And that’s another thing. I’m experiencing hip pain, so it hurts to fu@king walk! I’ve been on 2 different anti-inflammatories that haven’t helped, and had an x-ray that looked normal except for a touch of tendinitis. I see my primary care physician for a follow-up in 2 days. It’s very painful to walk, even in my own home, so that hasn’t helped my depression.

So I described all of this to my psychiatrist, and after thinking for a few short moments, he was the conveyer of news I didn’t want to hear: he thinks the best course of treatment for my current episode is ECT. I was hoping not to have to go through that this winter, like I have for the past 4 years.

I’m taking high doses of 6 different medications for bipolar and anxiety, and he was hesitant to increase any. The good news is, there was one medication that he felt he could adjust, and that’s the Prozac. So starting tomorrow, I’ll be taking 40 mg instead of 20 mg. I’m hoping this will help.

He said we’d see how I feel in a week, and if my depression doesn’t improve, then it’s ECT for me. It’s my choice, of course, but if even my meds aren’t helping, and ECT is the only thing that helps (based on my history of ECT treatments), then I guess I’ll do it. (If you’d like to read what the procedure is like for me, check out this post.)

I don’t really want to do it, mainly because I hate going to the hospital so early in the morning; getting a nurse who may not be good with inserting needles — I’m a “hard stick” — very few discernible veins; the anesthesia. But I can’t stand living the way I have this past month. Fingers crossed that the Prozac helps.

Have you ever had ECT? Would you be willing to share your experience? You can always use the Contact form if you want to discuss it confidentially.

Post inspired by Daily Prompt: Conveyor

Photo credit: Pamela Machado on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

28 thoughts on “Fingers Crossed That I Won’t Need ECT

  1. Dear Barb! I wish Chicago wasn’t so far away from Louisiana so I could give you a hug. I know exactly how you are feeling and the fact that nothing lessens the pain of it all, saddens me. I wasn’t aware that you have done ECT the past 4 winter’s. Is that standard longevity? I assumed the results would have a longer effect. I personally have never had it. I was on a high dose of prozac and I loved it. I’m curious as to why he won’t go any higher than 40mg, must be due to the reaction with your other medications. Have you ever tried VRYLAR? It is a mood stabilizer and of course if you’d rather not answer that, I respect your decision. That is what I am currently taken and it has done wonders for me. It targets bipolar symptoms immediately rather than weeks. I noticed a difference in myself within 3 days and a complete change within a week. That is added to my Celexa. I’m aware medication works differently for each of us, I just hate you are dealing with the severity that you are. *huge Hug*

    1. (((hugs))) I don’t think there’s a standard longevity — but my depression is worst in the winter. There’s what’s called maintenance ECT, which is having just one treatment every 4 weeks, then every 6 weeks, and they keep increasing the time in between, but I opted out of that, at least in 2017. It does help, but the long-term memory loss that comes with it is a bummer. Still, I’d rather be making new memories than being a slug.

      I’ve never had Vrylar. I’ve been on Tegretol for years now, and it’s helped keep the hypomania away, at least. It works pretty well for me, it’s just that winter affects my depression so much.

      1. I can relate to that, somewhat. Louisiana doesn’t really have winter. It has been colder this year for longer than it has in year’s and that has effected me. I couldn’t fathom Chicago

        1. It also has to do with it getting dark sooner, and not being able to get as much sun. Here in Chicago, we’re actually having a mild winter — today it’s in the 40s! Usually at this time of year, it’s like -40 with the wind chill! Lol!

          1. My mother has always been effected from the longer nights. She says she sees the signs of it effecting me with the older I get. Have you ever thought of moving?

            1. We can’t move, not for the foreseeable future, anyway. My husband has a really good job here, and we’re actually in the process of buying a condo!

              1. Congrats on the condo. When I move out of my mom’s, you’ll have a place to visit in Louisiana any time you’d like!!

                1. Thank you! I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans!!! Unfortunately, we don’t have guest accommodations in our place (we’re actually renting it now, so once the purchase is made, we won’t have to move yay!) But if you’re ever in Chicago, we definitely have to meet up!

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about your depression. I’ve heard of ECT but I don’t know anything about it.
    Have you ever tried Abilify? I’m on that for my bipolar and it seems to be working well. Of course, not all meds work the same for different people. I was on Lithium at one point but the side effects were too much for me. Plus it seemed to make my moods extremely worse!
    I’m on Celexa for the depression and it works wonders!
    *hugs* Hope you start feeling better soon!

    1. Thank you so much <3 I'm currently on Abilify. I took lithium at one point, but they've since switched it to Tegretol. I can't remember why, but probably because it wasn't working for me. I'm glad to hear the Celexa is helping you 🙂

      1. Have you had issues with weight gain with taking the Abilify? I’ve noticed it with me. I’m also on Lyrica for fibromyalgia and that causes weight gain as well but they both do their job and help me so I’m just having to combat the weight gain harder than usual, I guess. LOL

        1. I don’t think so. I lost 50 lbs. on it, but that was because I was working hard to lose it. Also, the weight gain happened after my gall bladder was removed, because that’s what processes fat intake.

  3. Hope the Prozac helps. I’ve had several rounds as an inpatient and found it helpful. A few years back I tried it as an outpatient, and it was such a pain in the butt that I called it quits after only a few treatments. I guess it’s still nice to have it there as a fall-back option if nothing else helps. Good luck!

  4. ECT sounds scary to me! I think your brave for doing it! I couldnt, well I say that now, but if it came to it and nothing else worked, and i was desperate i probably would! xox

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    1. The first time was definitely scary because I didn’t know what to expect. After a while, it’s just a pain in the butt! lol

  5. I hope that things get better with the meds and you don’t need the ECT. However, it is good to know it is there if it comes to it, though I can understand why it would be such a pain to organise to get it as an out-patient

    1. Thank you. I hope the meds help, too! But yes, it’s good to have a back-up plan that is known to work.

  6. I amsorry to hear you are feeling so bad. I have not had treatments like that. If it. Helpsthough and you need them…. hip pain is awful, try voltaren gel. I know everyone has an idea of whatto do. I can’t walk far, I’ve had bursitis for 15 years, first time ever last week my husband brought home voltaren cream. It is way different than a535 deep heat. Use as directed though, you are not suppose to apply more than once every 12 hours. Thatis the extra strength. I would not have believed it.

  7. Oh, Barb… So sorry the hypomania hasn’t eased up. Hey, I understand that one completely. My episode finally snapped after 10 long weeks. I was miserable, and didn’t know what to do about it.
    I just kept as busy as I could, and worked around the house, and wrote. I still take my normal nap not to burn out though, and that has helped.
    I certainly hope you are feeling better real soon. God Bless you Sweetie. 🙂

  8. I have not this kind of experience like you write. I have hard anxiety etc etc.. several mental diagnosis and been on and off meds half my life . And the high and low periods are so exhausting. I really hope you will get better and can start living again❤️ best of luck and hugs

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