Thursday, July 7, 2016

The New Normal

A couple years ago I was at a cross road in my mental health and was struggling deeply. So, I underwent a controversial treatment for severe depression. I had the treatment in 2013 and in 2014. The first round of treatment worked wonders- my head was clear and I was feeling on top of the world. I felt so confident with life that I set off  and flew to Toronto for a few days for a training course all on my own- something I normally would never take on. During my trip I was outgoing, everyone was drawn to my energy and several wanted to take me home with them because I was so passionate about mental health. I truly felt that the treatment I had was a miracle treatment. That was until I had to return for another set of treatments in the following year.

The next set of treatments did not have the same outtake as they did before. These treatments seem to do nothing other then cause irreparable memory loss which not only spanned during the time frame of treatments but much further in the past as well as in the future. The first set of treatments had memory loss however it was no where as near as severe as the second set. Two years later and I still experience gaps in my life both past and present.... gaps that I cannot get back no matter how hard I try. I have to write down each day what I do so when I look back in my day planner I can keep track of where the blanks may be. Some days are harder then others when it comes to carrying out a conversation. I have even noted a block in my thinking which has affected my quality and desire to be creative through writing in a journal, a blog post or art. Most people in my every day life no nothing about the treatments that I had or how it affects me. I am sure some may think I just have a bad memory when I cannot remember things that they have told me in the past. For the longest time, losing huge gaps in my memory really bothered me but as time goes on, I am more accepting of this fact- getting use to my new normal so to speak. I try hard to try to remember day to day things- sometimes they stick while other times I think they fall out of my ears along the way. It was normal for a period of time for me to run into people who recognized me during the period around my treatments and I had no sweet clue who they were.

What is this treatment that caused memory damage you ask? I underwent a total of 32 Electro Convulsive Therapy treatments, commonly known simply as ECT treatments over the course of about a year. If the second course of treatment was successful, I would not have minded the side effects that went along with it. I would be glad to exchange my memories for feeling the black cloud being lifted from my inner being. The first set worked so well that I wanted and advocated for the second set to be done once the depression returned. I would have done anything to have the treatment again, so it was really devastating when it was not successful and to top it off that the side effects were really hard on cope with.

Would I try ECT again if the health care professionals suggested it? I would think twice about the memory issues but I would consider it because of the wonderful feeling I felt after the first set of treatments. But, the memory issues and the loss of creativity certainly are rough and hard to compare. But I know for one thing, if you experienced severe depression for as long and as deep as what I do sometimes, you would be desperate to try almost anything for relief as well. ECT treatments I swore I would never try however if you are barely hanging on at the end of your rope- any glimmer of hope looks good. I would have done anything to change the daily grey skies I experienced and make them blue again.

My last treatment was roughly two years ago and I am still trying to get use to my new normal. I am learning to cope and live with my memory and creativity loss and function as best as possible. This is not the normal that I would have wanted but we learn to cope with what is dealt. Some activists believe ECT causes brain damage and I would not argue with that. However, the doctors that preform these treatments usually use this option as the last case option where the benefits outweigh the side effects.

So, although I am not as active as I use to be on my blog, I am yearning for my motivation to return. It is not my choice to be inactive- but I am trying to work within my new normal not only on my creativity but in life in general. I think with any illness- mental or physical- a there is a period one needs to use to get use to their new way of life, their new normal- trying to figure things out kinda deal. It sometimes takes people no time where as others it is a pick up your cross daily so to speak. What matters is that you do the best you can with what you have been dealing with and never give up. This is guaranteed success- keep trying and getting up when you have been knocked down. The sun will shine- if not today then someday.  Never lose hope.

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