Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.


So it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, not because I stopped wanting to blog but because I had no access to a computer.  Or my cell phone.  Or a regular phone.  Or my own bed . . .

About two-and-a-half weeks ago, the depression got bad again and I spent about five days in bed or on my couch.  The medication change that they did in the hospital in October had to be discontinued because of intolerable side effects.  I saw my psychiatrist and, considering the level of the depression and how quickly it got that bad, we decided that the best course of treatment would be to do ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy).  And to do that, at least initially, I had to go back in the hospital.

The main concern, again, was safety regarding my heart while doing this treatment, so I had to get cleared by my cardiologist and the cardiology team at the hospital and we had to talk with the makers of my ICD.  I had my first treatment on Wednesday and my second on Friday.  Everything went well and I get to do the rest of the treatments on an outpatient basis.

I had ECT a little over ten years ago, and it did help me get out of the worst of the slump I was in, although the doctor who administered the treatments then did not take me off of certain meds like he was supposed to.  And the way they are administering the treatments (bilobally rather than bitemporally) results in almost no headache or confusion or memory loss.  Both times, I remember everything right up until I fell asleep from the anesthesia and then waking up in the recovery room.  The first time I had a bad headache and jaw ache, but they adjusted my blocking medication for the second treatment and the only hint of a headache showed up around 7 pm that night.

I hesitantly say that it’s helping.  I’m afraid to jinx it by saying so this early, but my doctor said that some people feel a slight difference after only one treatment.  I’m afraid that if I say it’s working, it will stop working, however irrational that thought is.  But I do know that the fatigue and memory loss I experienced last time I had ECT is not present at all, and that is a blessing.  I haven’t had any arrhythmias during or after the treatment sessions, which is something they were concerned about.

It’s nice to be home, with peace and quiet and my cats and the freedom to drink coffee whenever I want!  The unit was a relatively loud one this time, with lots of drama, and when I’m not on my mood stabilizer (it’s a anti-seizure medication so they had to take me off of it for the duration of the treatments), my nerves tend to get raw rather quickly.  I spent a lot of time in my room reading, which is good for the book part of me but not the social part of me.

Being Bipolar sucks.  I hate that this is something I don’t have control over.  At least with the eating disorder, once I made the active choice to recover, recovery was in my control.  I chose to follow my meal plan and I chose to keep my weight up.  These were active choices I made multiple times a day until they became habit again.  But with Bipolar Disorder, I don’t choose to wake up happy or depressed.  Yes, I can choose to “act opposite” to a certain degree, but I cannot command my neurotransmitters to fire correctly and produce all the right chemicals at the right time.  A great deal of that is out of my control.  Even though I was taking my  meds as prescribed and going to work and “doing the right things,” the depression came back.  This is part of having a life-long illness.  I can manage the symptoms as best as I can, but there are going to be times in my life when I will have to make medication changes or, perhaps, have more sessions of ECT.  I don’t like this, but I know there’s no cure for this.

In the meantime, I have a great core of friends here who have helped me out and will take me to my outpatient sessions and will see me through this time.  All in all, things are good.  I could have waited until the depression returned to a suicidal level, as I did ten years ago, but I chose to take action now.  And I suppose, in some ways, that means I do have some degree of control over this.  I choose to take my medication and have ECT, which both help manage the symptoms.  So, in that respect, things are within my control, at least to some degree.  Knowing that I am doing all that I can to help myself is a comforting thought because it makes me feel less helpless.


December 13, 2009 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. […] here: Finally! « Surfacing After SilenceTags: anesthesia, are-going, life, memory-loss, symptoms, the-symptoms, the-treatments, then-waking, […]

    Pingback by Finally! « Surfacing After Silence | Memory Loss Medication - NineSixFive | December 13, 2009 | Reply

  2. welcome back! I was concerned when you dissapeared but I figured it had to do with your health. I am so glad ECT is a good course of treatment for you. Depression is tricky to fix and you know what works and what doesnt. Be well and stay in touch!

    Comment by diana | December 13, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hi There Dear

    I am so glad you are back- seriously we all count on you and the blog and well – we have all missed you and love you a lot. So happy to hear you are home and doing well took VERY proactive approach – a PRO active PRO Alexis approach!!Very proud of you taking care of yourself.

    Comment by lisa | December 13, 2009 | Reply

  4. yay! you’re back =)

    missed you and your posts immensely.

    Comment by Amanda G-M | December 13, 2009 | Reply

  5. Lex-I’m so glad to hear you are doing better. You didn’t chose to have bipolar, and it isn’t something that you can work to recover from like an eating disorder but you are so positive and that can only help. Your positive attitude and your commitment to your health (mental and physical) has been, and remains a HUGE, inspiration to me daily. And, today especially I needed to be reminded of that. xo

    Comment by Kiersten | December 16, 2009 | Reply

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