2 EXPERIENCES WITH ECT~ HOW IT CAN BE DIFFERENT FOR SOME WHEN IT SHOULDN’T BE

I’m going to do this in two parts to hopefully make it easier.

ECT PATIENT 1

Patient 1 suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder and severe Depression. She was in and out of Inpatient Units, unable to work, sleeping most of the time and self-harmed.

It was at her lowest moment that one of her doctors suggested ECT or Electroconvulsive Therapy. She researched it and talked it over with her family. The success rate is actually as high as 60 to 90% Nationwide. She decided to give it a try.

When she arrived at the Hospital she found that there was a whole floor just for ECT.

“You go in, get settled in bed, they ask how you’ve been feeling, physically, emotionally, mentally. They get an IV ready and take your blood pressure, then they wheel you into the room where they actually do the ECT. I then have to state my name and birthday right before they put me to sleep”.  After waking up she finds a nurse or Doctor by her side.

“They already have me out of the room with a little oxygen mask and one of the doctors or nurses sitting next to me. Then we go into the other room where we get to snack and wait to get picked up”.

“It’s really, really helped with the depression. I mean I’m more afraid of the depression than the ECT, it’s saved my life.”

ECT PATIENT 2 (ME)

I had also researched ECT and talked it over with my Dad and sister. I had reached a point where there was nothing else to do. I was getting worse by the day. The depression part of my Bipolar Disorder had me thinking suicidal thoughts and my Conversion Disorder was out of control.

My doctor suggested that I go to the Hospital where he works during the day and tell them how I was feeling so they would admit me as soon as possible. Then I was to tell them he was my doctor and that we were planning to do ECT. This is what I did.

I was under the impression that I wouldn’t be in the Hospital for long but this was not the case. Even though my doctor worked there and they had access to my files they still had me wait for 3 days before scheduling the ECT.

During those 3 days they didn’t have one of my medications because it was too new. They also didn’t give me medication to sleep. Instead they use Benadryl. Most hospitals do, you just don’t know it.

The day of the procedure they got me prepared and gave me a light sedative first while they hooked up the heart monitors. The next thing I knew everything was called off because there was a “blip” on my EKG. They told me they would have to send me to another Hospital to have the ECT done because they did not have the “emergency equipment needed” if something went wrong with my heart during the ECT.

I was frustrated that a Hospital wouldn’t have the basic equipment needed if a patient went into Cardiac Arrest. They didn’t have a defibrillator? So I was sent to the nearest Hospital. I was there for another 3 days.

This Hospital had a doctor that didn’t believe in Klonopin so he refused to give it to me even though I had been on it for some time. They also didn’t have the same medication that was new to the market I had been on. So I went without my medications the entire time I was there. A nurse who happened to live near me told me not to disagree with this doctor because he had a habit of keeping patients longer than necessary if they did. Too late I had already had words with him.

No one explained what was going to happen. In fact no one talked to me at all before doing the ECT. When I woke up, I woke up alone and frightened. There was no doctor or nurse by my side.

Unfortunately because they did a Bilateral ECT and because of my Conversion Disorder I woke up thinking I was about 5 years old and I was waiting for my mommy. My head felt like it had been split in two. The pain was horrendous and my eyes wouldn’t stop tearing. I regret that they allowed my sister to see me like that. I know it scared her.

It took over 8 hours for me to slowly remember where I was, how old I was, and that my mom had passed away. The doctor kept me there another 3 days for no reason. My sister was pissed to say the least. I had not support from the staff at all and was forced to attend AA Meetings where AA members came to the Hospital and spoke. I wasn’t there for that, he wasn’t my doctor, I had been sober for years already, I screamed inside the entire time I was there.

When the ink was dry on my release form I told him exactly what I thought of him in front of 10 of his colleagues and got the hell out of there.

The actual ECT did work and my depression was gone for almost a year. The only down side is that it had sent me into a Manic Episode for about a month.

Would I do it again? Yes. But only if it was done the way I wanted it done. The “blip” was nothing but a “blip”. There was no reason to send me somewhere else. Patient 1 lives in the State next to me. I find it strange how the quality of care can be so different.

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My Experience With ECT

My experience with ECT is probably not the usual one. I don’t remember if I had been diagnosed with Conversion Disorder yet or not. As with many other people I was at a point of desperation. I should have waited and planned an Outpatient ECT Program with my Psychiatrist. I wasn’t thinking clearly at the time and admitted myself to the hospital he worked at. They were set to do the ECT until a blip showed up on my EKG. They were worried about not having the emergency equipment on hand if something happened. The doctors agreed I needed it done and transported me to a nearby Hospital that did it. This is where things started to go downhill.

The Psychiatrist in charge did not believe in the use of Klonopin. They also didn’t carry the medication I was on because it was too new. No one knew that when you have Conversion Disorder with Bipolar Disorder that it can make things difficult when you wake up. The staff was unprepared.

Anesthesia and Conversion Disorder can sometimes be a bad combination too. When I woke up I wasn’t expecting to feel like a spike was being driven through my skull with a sledgehammer. My eyes were constantly leaking tears. I had regressed to the age of a 5 year old. I kept asking when my mommy was coming. She was deceased so that wasn’t happening. The staff played along and kept telling me she was on her way. I don’t know if this was helpful or not.

I didn’t know if you were supposed to slowly remember on your own. It took about 6 hours for the memory of my mother’s death to play back in my mind. It wasn’t pleasant. The doctor was not compassionate or sympathetic. They didn’t give me any of my meds or anything for the extreme pain in my head.

My ECT was bilateral. When I finally got home and a few days went by I noticed a huge difference in how I felt. I was happier, I did things on my own and left the house more. This lasted for about 6 to 8 months.

If there was a guarantee that I could have it done in the correct setting with the right doctors I would do it again.

Now my physical health is too bad to have it done, my medications are not working to their full extent. I have gone downhill so much in the last year. Everyday is a challenge. My family is so annoyed and sick of hearing about my illness. I try not to talk about it.

Today was extremely bad and I had no one. My sister finally calls me back. Her answer was for me to “get my shit together”.

It’s overwhelming. From now on I’m not discussing it with anyone in my family.