Overall, the TMS treatments through Queensland Health have been far more bearable than past ECT treatments. After a drama with making sure I was on the same medication each day, I became stable enough to start TMS treatment. I think the magnetic resistance level I started out at was “65.” I’m not sure what this means, but it felt as though someone was hammering a thumb tack into the left side of hairline pretty quickly for about 5 seconds straight followed for a rest of about 45 seconds. I do not feel it as intensely as I did before and actually find TMS to be the best part of my day. The pain has become a good pain, and the 45 minutes of treatment distracts me from my otherwise dismal existence. I imagine it is what getting a tattoo removed might feel like, but I don’t have any tattoos so don’t quote me on that.
I can tell that my mood is improving over the past 7 days (it was a 0, it’s now a 4 out of 10). My energy levels have increased from about a 2 to a 5 out of 10. After a week of treatment, I can feel some motivation again and look somewhat towards the future (ie, I can see myself planning ahead for the next 2 hours). This was non-existent a few days ago. My belief at this point is that TMS is working, but there are a lot of environmental consistencies that I need to see in my personal life to be able to say that the change is going to last and that TMS is the answer. My guess right now is that it is part of the answer. It seems to be giving me the lift I need to sort out the other shit in my life that has me going off the rails.
What has helped most in this entire process has been having well-intentioned (although painful) family members around that are TRYING to do their best. I’m learning to let A LOT of things slide about their imperfect involvement and them not really getting it. I’m learning to communicate what I can since communication is difficult during my depressed days and to try to ignore what I can. I have a few people texting me daily just checking in on me.
I bought a 52-week journal that prompts you to jot down things that you accomplished for the week or or grateful for. My accomplishments list for this week were bleak since it’s hard to be like a super-cheerleader when your biggest accomplishment was a shower, but hopefully either I will be around in 52 weeks to see how far I have come or someone that finds this book will know how much I have truly been suffering. Either way, I see that as a way to leave a bit of a legacy to help others or myself make sense of this pain that I find so hard to escape from.
Writing this blog helps when I’m well enough to string a sentence together, but it’s hard knowing that very few (if any) people read it. Much of the time, I’m not well enough to write. I know millions of people with mental health stuff have blogs, and I try to make mine less about me and more about what I see in the system, what seems to be working and how things could be improved. Maybe one day they will have a way to capture and catalog all these bloggers lived experiences to have some hard data that will change the possibilities in mental health treatment. Maybe it’s a body of research I could even do as I improve. Optimism folks. That’s the word on the street that I hear works the most. *My gag reflex sometimes reacts when someone says, “Just think positively,” but there is a glimmer of truth in that idea. I think it triggers me because I do think positively then a wave of bipolar and treatment-resistant depression pushes me over again. It is hard to pick yourself up over and over knowing that you will be mercilessly and cruelly pushed over and with little notice again. But anyway, I’m learning those signs that the bad waves are coming and trying to stay optimistic that they will not come for too long or strong. xo