This morning I am finding myself thinking a lot about the week ahead and how I am feeling. If I am to be honest, I am feeling like I am really struggling. When I woke up this morning, I had not planned on taking a shower until I sat down at my computer and saw my face in the reflection of the monitor and realized that it was time. I feel better after having showered and wonder why it was such an effort to do big things like turn on the water faucets, undress, and step right in. I am reminded that depression makes even the smallest things in life feel like a herculean effort. That much said, as soon as the hot water hit, I started to feel better. As soon as I had a nice shave and and shaved my head, I felt quite a bit better.
On Wednesday I am scheduled to have Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT.) If I am to be honest, I am this close to cancelling the session because it is miserable. ECT used to be called electroshock therapy and it does work but it means being under anesthesia and then give a paralytic drug to prevent the body from convulsing. The idea is that the brain gets the benefit of a seizure without adversely impacting the body. The worst part of the sordid affair is the anesthesia because they have to give you a drug that won’t interfere with the induced seizure. The anesthetic drug burns like the fire of 1,000 red ant stings. The burn is intense but temporary and then I wake up foggy and feeling a general sense of discomfort that will last into early the next day.
This morning I am wondering why I should even have any hope at all as I am reminded of the saying that hope is for the hopeless. So what keeps me going then? To be honest, I think I keep going because I know that my struggle is very real and that I know I am not alone. If I did not have a community to share the struggle with, I would be that much worse for the wear. So maybe the community gives me the flicker of hope. I especially appreciate some of the older members of the mental illness community because they demonstrate that it is possible to live a decent, long life. It’s not easy but at least it is possible. I am also encouraged by the newest generation of psychiatric residents. They are thinking outside of the typical box in new ways and looking at mental health as a part of physical health instead of separate disciplines. The new residents are even looking at using psilocybin, LSD, and ketamine in the treatment of depression: stuff the crusty psychiatrists wrote off without even considering them.
I wonder how I am going to feel this time after I complete ECT and wonder if I will feel different than the last times because I am on a better medication regimen now. There are days when I wish that life weren’t simply managing symptoms of Bipolar Disorder but living; not feeling like survival. But survival is better than being six feet under, even if my reasons for remaining alive are for other people; being that it is at least something. A reason to live is important even if it is an external reason. I hope everybody has the best day possible.