Tuesday, December 9, 2008

ECT Redux

I got a letter from someone who asked me my views on ECT, regarding my posts on Ray Sanford.

It's simple. If you are an adult, and you want it, fine. Have it. If you don't you shouldn't have it, nor should you be forced into it.

My thoughts on it were first posted here, and on this blog, here. The piece was originally written at the request of Philip Dawdy, who wanted a companion piece to this piece he wrote on ECT a few days before.

Again, like I said in the piece, if you want it, fine. If you don't - it shouldn't be forced on you. My own experience is simply this. i was semi if not totally catatonic, when I was admitted to a mental hospital. I don't want to name the hospital, but it is the same one where Godel died. I was brought in by work with an ultimatum- I had almost suicided the previous day, and I went into work the next day wearing pancake makeup and a turtleneck. I thought I was a good actress, but I was called down by HR shortly and told if I was not admitted "voluntarily" to the emergency room for valuation within the next 24 hours, I would be sacked.

I did not want to be sacked! So I went the next day with my mother to the emergency room, after dropping the cat at the kennel. And spent 30 days there, the entire time on suicide watch- one on one.

I was extremely suicidal, yes, that is true. The meds were being put it me at high does, and I was getting more and more suicidal, alternating between wanting to die, and catatonic episodes. 20 days into the hospitalization, the doctors decided that the only thing would make me better was ECT and they did a very good PR job explaining it to my parents and convincing them I needed this. I was too out of it to have an opinion. I remember calling my ex, and asking him what i should do.

I had 6 rounds of ECT. The first one had complications- I felt every muscle in my body for about 48 hours after the first treatment, but no problems with my memory. After the second treatment I had to get a PIC line put in because the nurse could not find a vein on the second try. I started loosing memory from the second treatment on. By the end of the sixth, I signed off on the procedure. I had a treatment on Christmas Eve morning and Boxing Day. My next scheduled procedure was supposed to be on Dec 30. The doctor, who was voted the best psychiatrist by NJ Magazine, a year later- was adamant I should not stop- and if I did, he would not be responsible if I suicided. I told him as someone who has read Philosophy- and Existentialism, it was my right if i want to die by my own hand, and he should respect that.

So there it is in a nutshell. Mindfreedom is behind Mr. Stanford, as I am, because no one should have this forced on them if they don't want it. But if you want it, it's your right. And I support you on that. Just keep in mind, for every positive experience I have heard on this procedure I have also heard a negative. And a 50/50 shot on any medical procedure, I don't want to take that risk.


Ana said...

You forgot to mention that you only had 10 days to stay on this hospital and they explained it to you parents.
They had to find a quick-fix.
Susan, were you suicidal thoughts yours or drug-induced?
I think you must be proud of yourself to take the responsibility for your actions.
Love, love, love.....

Anonymous said...

I would estimate I have heard 90% bad experiences to 10% good experiences and of the "good" experiences 2 went on to commit suicide. So I would say the odds are a lot worse. I wish we had reputable, non industry funded studies on ECT outcomes.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Hymes on this. I have never had ECT myself but have heard such frightening firsthand experiences and so many reassuring claims from health practitioners. I don't know what to think.

Love to you Susan.


Anonymous said...

Hi there, I'm not quite sure what ECT is but it sounds like quite an agressive procedure, were you happy to undergo this at the time?

Anonymous said...

I have never met anyone who actually choose to have ECT, rather they were in hospital and out of it already when they received it. While I understand that ECT is questionable as a treatment for suicidal depression I have to wonder if I wouldn't agree to it remembering how despairing I have at times felt. I think I would do almost anything to avoid feeling that way again.

I am sorry that you had to go through that experience.

kw said...

Dearest Susan,

I think it was my third stay at F_____ Hospital that I agrees to Electro-Shock-"Therapy". I was severely suicidal and the doctors impressed on me that it was my only hope.

I found out recently that they had told my best friend Cricket that I was a "hopeless" case. That it was just a matter of time before I killed myself.

Cricket, my boyfriend Grant and other long-term friends tried to talk me out of it, knowing my "normal" views on it, to no avail.

After twenty-two shocks, which I returned to for reasons I written about in my blog, I stopped. I was still opening my veins, still depressed, but I was lost mentally. I couldn't remember that I was no longer working.

I cannot recall the first three years of this century and had to work had to rebuild my linear and non-linear thinking, as well as rebuilding my short-term memory and seeking long-term that I'd lost.

To VIVIENNE, absolutely no one is "happy to undergo" ECT. We are desperately ill patients, who are not in our sound mind. I tell you this, because after a while, I went just to enjoy the oblivion of the anesthesia they gave me. For a short time, I was knocked out of my awful world.

How tragic that I am still feeling the effects today. One example of how powerful the memory loss is:

I cannot recall 9/11, although I watched it unfold on TV that day. You may think that is a blessing. It is most assuredly not.

Andy Alt said...

I would say this article and segment (Electroconvulsive Therapy Can Treat Depression) from a MN CBS affiliate (WCCO) out of Minneapolis, MN was timed to prevent too much uprising against Ray Sandford's forced ECT (http://feeds.publicradio.org/~r/MPR_MostE-mailedStories/~3/487054177/). Or a "response" to it. No mention of Ray Sandford of course.

Electroconvulsive Therapy Can Treat Depression

It's a very one-sided article.

Now what, oh what, to do about it.

If anybody wants to write a post about WCCO's blatant disregard for humanity, I'll duplicate it on my site.

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