ECT Follow-Up

I wrote my account of being in the hospital a couple of weeks ago, and I think it warrants a quick follow-up.

When I write about my mental health, the response always surprises me. I never mean to cause my readers anxiety, only normalize the discussions of mental illness. I hope this update will put everyone at ease. I am also writing this to give hope to my future self. I don’t want to forget how great I am feeling right now. Remembering this feeling could save my life someday.

I am fine

I am better than fine. I have never felt better. I am still taking it easy — sticking to forty hours at work and limiting my extracurriculars. I am regularly going to therapy. I am meditating daily and staying active. However, my attitude towards my daily routine changed. I no longer feel that if I miss a step my day will crumble around me.

I’ve been searching for the right metaphor for how I feel post-ECT. Here is my best go: If my brain is a computer, for the last 29 years it has been running a hard disk drive, the type that would lose all your data if accidently knocked it off your couch. Last month, it crashed. The mental health equivalent of the “Blue Screen of Death.”

Somehow, ECT is like upgrading my hard drive. After years of running an HDD, I’ve traded it in for a solid state drive.

I’m still me. It is just the thoughts that defined my days don’t bother me anymore. The relief is almost impossible to describe. Like the first time that I put on glasses and realized how blurry the world was before.

The world without the experience of ECT no longer exists. And, I am stoked, because, fuck that world.

I will probably get depressed again

That is what the statistics tell me. ECT isn’t a cure for depression; it is a treatment. Most people who get ECT will need it again at some point in their life.

Because this feeling probably isn’t permanent, writing this essay is even more important. Whether my depression returns in a month, a year or thirty years — remembering that I felt this good will be the hope I need.