Tuesday, February 15, 2011


This post will not be eloquent, or elegant. I seem to have lost my ability to write. That is why I have not been posting. I have lost my voice. I cannot seem to "create" anymore, whether it be painting, drawing or writing, my creative self, my artistic spirit seems quite literally to have disappeared.

I am not sure why. I am still severely depressed (and getting worse...again), so I know that affects me, but even when severely depressed I usually am at least a bit creative. Since I had ECT last year, and/or since I began taking Lithium I have lost both my creativity, and have been having great difficulty with my memory.

Anyways, I was just thinking about what to talk about in therapy. It seems like I get to therapy and I have no idea what to say...sort of like not writing here, or not being able to create. I feel like I can't express myself the way I need to. So I was just thinking about what is most important for me to deal with and I made a list.

1. For the last year I have had extreme memory problems. I get lost in my own city, confused when trying to navigate, even in places I am extremely familiar with. I forget appointments, stand up friends, can't remember what I just read, have huge holes in my long term and short term memory and feel so frustrated and stupid I want to scream. Dr. X tells me it is "pseudo-dementia", that if it were real I would not know I was having these difficulties. This idea enrages me. This "fake" dementia...is adding to the already huge ruins of my life.

I feel angry, because my memory problems are REAL. This problem is severely affecting my life. It is also making me feel even more depressed and anxious, I feel stupid and slow. People look at me strangely, judge me, and are annoyed I can't remember things. It is getting worse.

2. My constant negative thoughts, racing and going around and around and around incessantly all day. It is to the point that the only thing I look forward to is taking my sleeping medication so I can stop the thoughts.

3. I am angry with myself for loosing track and control of my life. I Intellectually i think I understand I have a mental illness, but on some, deeper, more important level I think I am in denial that an illness has made me this way. I feel like I did this to myself for some reason. I let myself get off track. If I really tried harder I could get better. If I really wanted it I could change.

4. I am so sick of feeling sick all the time. So tired of how fatigued I feel every single day. I feel so fatigued that I don't want to do anything. I literally have to FORCE myself to do the smallest of tasks. I am so sick of it being so much of an effort to do simple things.

5. "Compartmentalizing"...I feel like I am not a consistent person/being. I feel like I change to be whoever I think people need me to be. It is exhausting. I have no idea WHO I am.

6. I want to die...This seems to be the only consistent thought I have. I know I have talked about having suicidal thoughts before, but I feel intensely uncomfortable discussing the details and the depths to which these thoughts engulf me. I feel like the thoughts (an therefore myself) will be seen as childish, or attention seeking, or that they will be dismissed. I feel ashamed for having the thoughts, but I need someone to tell them to.

7. "I feel hollow", Sylvia path said this in the movie "Sylvia", then went on to explain she felt like she was a shell and there was a huge emptiness within. I feel exactly like that, It is even worse since ECT/and or Lithium. My creative spirit, my desire, my abilities, my being has disappeared.

It feels like dying is the only way all these problems will disappear. I see no way out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Five Long Years

Mom, I miss you more than you can imagine. I wish it could have been me.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

ECT I: Making the Decision

One thing I have really wanted to post about is my experiences, both positive and negative, with the electroconvulsive therapy treatments (ECT) I received in December and January. I want to write about my experiences with ECT, but I do not want what I write to negatively impact someone else's decision to consider ECT if they are in need of help.

If you are trying to make the decision to have, or not have ECT, please know that my story is just one of many. On top of that, despite some of my negative experiences, I would do it again, because something about the ECT helped me on some level. (I will try to explain that later in another post)

As a person who has had to make the decision, my advice about deciding on whether to have ECT or not, would be to approach a medical professional, a psychiatrist if possible, who you trust and ask them to help you wade through the information and make an informed choice.

For me, choosing to have ECT was one of the most difficult decisions I ever had to make. It is my brain, and even though I hate my depression and anxiety, it's the only brain I have...and if I was to feel better I wanted to know it would be intact after the treatments.

My choice was made even more difficult by how little information I could find that felt like a trustworthy and balanced perspective about the treatments, and potential gains or losses, and/or side effects.

At the hospital, all the information I was given felt like propaganda. The benefits were highlighted over and over again, but the potential side effects were glossed over, diminished, and when I asked about them, pretty much dismissed. Even after I had the treatments, I felt like my side effects were constantly dismissed.

(Note: My own pdoc expressed that I was having the side effect difficulties I was expressing to the other Drs) It was incredibly important that I knew he could see what was happening, because I already felt like I was losing my mind. I did not need the psychiatrists insinuating that I was imagining my ECT side effects. I found the dismissal of my experiences intensely frustrating.

Before I had ECT I met with the Psychiatrist who was to oversee/perform my treatments. We talked. I asked her about potential side effects, commenting that I had read several accounts of ECT and many people had stated they had longterm, and sometimes severe memory problems. The Dr looked at me and suggested that(paraphrase "...the information I read was biased...look at who is writing these articles".

Inside my head I thought...but I am one of those people; a person with a mental illness. I recognize that our psychiatric illnesses can sometimes interfere with our perception of reality, but I am pretty certain my opinions and experiences cannot all be tossed aside as though they were the rantings of a lunatic.

I do have some valid opinions of my experiences, and I do believe I am capable of writing a opinion piece that tells my truth about an experience. I also understand that my truth is not always generalizable to other people. Likewise other people's experiences are not always generalizable to me. The fact remains though, just because someone is ill, does not mean they have no important information to share.

To tell you the truth, a big part of me distrusts pharmaceutical companies, and research organizations, more than I distrust the accounts of people who have actually been through the experiences. There is so little really known about the human brain, so much money involved in drug and treatment research, and so many reasons for an organization to find a positive outcome, that I am not sure how unbiased any medication or treatment research is.

I am not saying I would blindly follow medical advice from someone writing on the internet, but I do read what others have to say, and I would take that information to a medical doctor I trusted and ask them to help me make an informed decision.

In the end, with regards to my ECT treatments I found as much out as I could about the procedure and then I asked my psychiatrist, Dr. X, to share his opinion and information about ECT. I trust him completely. With his help, I made the best decision I could, based on the information available at the time.

Honestly, even though I had, and continue to have, some difficulties due to my ECT treatments, I would have ECT again. I was going to kill myself when I went in for the treaments. I have never been that close to acting on my thoughts. I think the ECT lifted my mood enough for me to work my way out of that hell and into some state of purgatory. So yes, I would do it again.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Learning to Read

I just finished reading a book. You might think, "so what". However, to me it was one of my most important achievements. I have not been able to read a book for years.

I do not know what happened to cause me to lose my ability to read a book. It may be that I was so sick I could not read. Whatever the case, I went from someone who had 5 or 6 books going at a time, to someone who could not follow a storyline. After trying many, many times and failing I simply gave up.

A few months ago, a friend of mine recently rediscovered her love of reading. I marvelled at all she read and what she was reading. I felt an intense longing to read again. It was like a fire was lit beneath me. I saw possibility.

Then a couple weeks ago my boyfriend and I were talking about my difficulty reading and he said, "Just start to read and keep reading even if you aren't following what is happening. Read the same sentence over and over if you have to, but keep going. Get into the habit of reading"

So I chose a simple book, a kids book, and I started to read. At first it was such a struggle. Even once I got going I kept mixing up the characters and the plot lines. I would suddenly be reminded of a character I had forgotten all about, or become confused by why something was happening the way it was.

Despite a bit of frustration at how much trouble I was having, I kept trying. Eventually I started to remember, to follow...to enjoy, what I was reading.

I think a few things were key to my succeeding this time:

  • My depression is not as bad as it has been and my medication has slowed the constant barrage of bad thoughts so I have room left in my brain to focus and think about something else,
  • I purposefully chose a very simple book. In fact, I choose a book geared towards adolescents,
  • I choose a book with a subject that interested me,
  • I made reading a priority, so it trumped my housework, or other duties in terms of importance,
  • I ensured I set time up to read right before I went to bed,
  • The times I started procrastinating I told myself to just go pick up the book and read for 5 minutes. Usually I would intend to read for 5 and still be reading 1/2 hr later.

I feel so encouraged by my ability to read this book. I feel like it is possible to read books again. Honestly, I was so discouraged before that I thought I would never be able to read books again.

Next, I am going to read my favorite book from when I was in grade 3 or 4 next. I figure it will be manageable, and it will bring back some good memories...and we all need more of those.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


Over the past few weeks my mood does not seem as bad as it has been. The cacophony of thoughts in my head has slowed markedly. Maybe a bit too slow, too flat, too apathetic. I am completely uninspired and unmotivated. I feel so much fatigue I feel physically sick.

It is like my being, especially my creative being, has simply shut itself down. I have even tried to go to the studio a couple times, but there is no art inside my brain; no ideas, no creativity, and no desire to create anything.

I am grateful that the awful thoughts, repetitive music, all the thoughts and plans for suicide have left me, but it feels like when the bad thoughts disintegrated they left my brain empty.

The past couple weeks I have been trying to reassure myself that my creative being will return. I keep telling myself this emptiness is like a new canvas, the painting will come when I am ready.

My body does not believe this and I have been having really bad anxiety attacks everyday. I do not know why as there is nothing obvious triggering me. The only thing I can think of is that I am afraid of my new way of being. Or maybe I am scared OF being? Sometimes I feel like it would be so much better if all this would just end.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

There is No Hope

I feel physically sick. I am so fatigued I feel nauseous. I have no energy. No motivation. No ability to get myself to do anything. All I want to do is sleep. I am so depressed I can't even do that.

So I stare at the ceiling thinking I can't take this anymore. I can't live like this anymore. I cannot survive this depression anymore. The life I have is not worth all this pain.

I have to go visit my family in a few days. I am dreading it. They all want me to be happy. I want to be happy, but the energy it takes to be who they need me to be completely overwhelms me.

I wish I would die. Finally this would all be over.

What do you do if nothing helps your depression? How do you keep going? How do you survive?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why Can't I Get Motivated

I want to go kayaking; slip through the ocean quietly and peacefully. I want to go camping. Pitch a tent, build a big fire, stare at the stars and listen to nature's peacefulness. I want to go for a bike ride. I want to go for a hike. I want to paint three paintings. I see them in my mind. I need to get them out of me.

I sit and stare at the wall. I want o change. Really I do. I want to be different. I want to DO things. I want to be active. I want to be busy.

The dishes pile up, and up and up. The laundry pile gets bigger and bigger and bigger. I feel completely overwhelmed by just the ordinary responsibilities of life. I feel overwhelmed even though I barely do anything.

I get up out of bed. I walk the dog. These are the two consistent things I manage to do.

Mostly, I feel suffocated by my existence. I feel ashamed for how little effort I put into helping myself get better. I feel like I waste Dr. X's time, because I know what I need to do. I need to DO. I need to get active. I need to participate in life. I need to work, to contribute.

Why then, do I just sit there staring at the wall for hours on end wishing my life would change?