How ECT Brought My Life Back to Me

It was May of 2010, flowers were blooming and everyone was enjoying the nice weather. Unfortunately I was not one of those people. I was in a very dark, sad, alone place and life was going by but I was getting to the point of just existing, not living my life the way it used to be.

Back in January 2010, I had been hospitalized for having Serotonin Syndrome, meaning I had to come off the serotonin medications I'd been on. It was a very hard time because the serotonin medicines had worked and helped my depression. They helped me function, live a happy life with my husband and daughter, and to work full time at a hospital in Boston (before having our daughter).

I will never forget when the doctors told me I had to come off all my psychiatric medicines to allow the serotonin to get out of my system. Once they felt it was safe to start me back on psychiatric medicines, the doctors started me slowly on new medications.

After a few months I knew the medicines weren't working as effectively as before. The place I had returned to was like a place no one knew about, other then people who also suffered from depression. I tried my best to function and take care of my family and be happy but that just wasn't happening. I tried hiding how I felt but my husband could see something was not right with me.

I would see my psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Greenberg, who was following me very closely because of the emotional state I was in. It came to the point that treating my depression from home and trying to keep it under control was hard. Dr. Greenberg brought up the subject of Electroconvulsive Therapy to my husband and I. She highly recommended Dr. Kerry Bloomingdale at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

After no more than ten minutes with Dr. Bloomingdale, I immediately had faith in him because of how calm and caring he was. He listened intently to both my husband and I while we asked every question about ECT.

After our appointment, we took two days to think and discuss if ECT was the way to go to try treating my depression. On the second day, my daughter looked at me and said, "Mommy why do you look sad all the time?" That evening I left messages for Dr. Greenberg and Dr. Bloomingdale and told them we decided to go forward with the treatments. I needed to try something because my 3 year old daughter was starting to see a difference in me and I didn't want her seeing me the way I was any longer. I needed to try something because deep down I knew I wasn't getting better with the medicine I was on. Everyday I was sinking lower and lower in a deep dark hole.

On the morning of my first ECT treatment, the nurses, anesthesiologists and staff were so nice to me. They knew I was nervous but they had a very calming effect with me. Dr. Bloomingdale came to my bedside and talked with me before I had the treatment. I remember waking up and they told me it was over. The nurses were so supportive and made sure I was ok to go home.

They told me it would take up to 6 to 12 treatments to see if ECT helped my depression. After my 3rd treatment that Friday, I was home that weekend and unfortunately got ill due to other medical conditions. I was not able to continue ECT until I felt better. Within 4-5 days of feeling better from an other illnesses, I realized I was starting to enjoy those nice spring days had more energy, laughing with my daughter and husband and I could see light instead of darkness. I couldn't believe what ECT did for me. It saved my life!! I would wake up in mornings and get right up out of bed and my days were filled with happiness and I was back to doings things I hadn't done in a long time.

Having ECT treatments brought me back to me, Alyce. I felt like a miracle had happened. I was back enjoying my life and going back to having play dates with friends, enjoying being out of the house. I could see and feel the nice weather and I was not in that dark, sad, alone place I had been in for months. I was just not existing anymore, I was back to living my life!

I have had more rounds of treatments and now starting maintenance ECT. I want to thank my family and friends for all the support I receive and to my doctors, I thank you from the bottom of my heart that you believed in me and never gave up on helping me. You saved my life with ECT and gave my husband and daughter their wife and mommy back!

To people with any type of mental illness, please, never give up.

Alyce P.

Play Frank Maroney's song, "A Light in the Darkness."