I’m trying to do things that cause my anxiety to sky rocket, so today I bought tickets to see Neil Hilborn’s show in December. It’s a big deal for someone like me who doesn’t go to shows or concerts or…out at all, really. But I figure if anyone would understand me freaking out loudly and running from the venue, it would be Neil Hilborn, so I’m probably safe there.
I have my final ECT treatment coming up on Wednesday week. I’m looking forward to it being the last of my treatments, as it will mean the last time my memory is wiped clean. I might finally be able to hold on to memories and create new ones without them disappearing under general anesthetic, because that’s what’s been happening the last month or so. After one treatment, I actually lost two entire days of memories. I remember coming home Friday after ECT and the next time I had any awareness was when I woke up Sunday morning. I have no idea where Saturday went, but my mum tells me I ordered pizza and generally walked around like a zombie. So it’s safe to say, I’m anticipating next Wednesday’s treatment being the last I’ll have until I require maintenance, which is a few months down the track.
I really can’t tell you if I feel it’s helped me, as ECT also coincided with my being prescribed Lithium, so any changes in my mood could quite as easily be attributed to that. I’m told by the people around me that I seem to be in a better mood. That I seem lighter and happier. Personally I can’t tell as my memory of how I was feeling has been wiped from my mind. I honestly can’t remember how I felt before I started treatment. I think I feel about the same. I’m certainly not overwhelmed with happiness or glee. I still feel depressed and my OCD is a devastating curse. Maybe I’m not quite as depressed, but truthfully, I don’t know. Perhaps that’s what ECT is predicated on, losing a memory of feeling depressed and skewering your capacity to judge any improvements in mood.
I went to email someone before, but when I looked at a history of our last interactions we’d actually fought and I just had no memory of it. I don’t recall exchanging words with this person at all, but apparently according to our correspondence, we had. It’s really quite scary to have no memory of that exchange at all. I certainly won’t miss the mind fog that comes with ECT. It’s robbed me of all manner of memories. Some insignificant, others more important. I’ve been told they may come back, but all the same, it’s really kind of scary in the meantime.
I’m looking forward to ECT being over and done with, at least for a while. On top of the memory loss, the anesthetist is the worst at getting a vein in my arm and there’s the whole potential for peeing myself again. I’m gonna take a spare pair of pants next time, just in case! I’ve made it all sound so glamorous, haven’t I? I’ve just tried to be honest about my experience with ECT, the way I’d hoped to find someone else write about their experiences. If you’re in a situation where you’re thinking about proceeding with ECT, feel free to get in touch. I’m always happy to answer any questions you might have.
So I thought yesterday was my last ECT session but it turns out I have another in 2 weeks time. Yesterday’s was mortifying. I peed my pants during ECT. I don’t know if it was the anesthetic or the ECT itself that caused it but either way, I was incredibly embarrassed. The nurse offered me a pair of scrub pants but I thought the only thing more embarrassing than peeing my pants would be not fitting into the emergency scrubs. They looked small so I didn’t wanna take the chance of trying them on. Having them not fit would have been all I needed to cap off the day. Instead, she gave me a blanket to sit on until I went home. You can’t imagine the embarrassment I felt. The Nurse told me it’s common for people to pee themselves during ECT but I didn’t think it would happen to me. The next time the nurse asks if I need to pee before ECT, I’m going to to take her up on the offer just in case, regardless of whether I feel like I need to go or not. Why am I telling you this? Well I committed myself to telling the truth about the good and bad of my journey, and it would be remiss of me to leave it out.
I saw my Shrink after the procedure. He wants me to increase my Lithium in the hopes that it will help ward off the OCD that’s been looming of late. Some days, it takes up all of my focus and attention. I wish there was just an off switch for it. You’d think 7 or so ECT sessions I’ve had might have made it better but it’s not. On top of the OCD, my brain isn’t functioning as well as I’d like. ECT quite often just makes me incredibly confused and I ask the same questions over and over of people, which I’m sure is a pain in the ass if you’re the person I’m questioning. The other day, after ECT when I saw the Shrink he gave me 2 scripts and a pathology request for a blood test. For the life of me, I can’t remember where I put them. ECT brain strikes again. I’ll have to go out to the car in the morning to search for them. I’ll be fucked if they’re not there because my Shrink is going on holiday and won’t be contactable.
Anyway, I’m feeling under the weather so an early night is in order.
Last night was a rough one, OCD wise. I found myself bombarded with thoughts of contamination and anxiety that I was diseased or might somehow become diseased. It’s difficult to articulate how overwhelming these thoughts can be. Last night, I found myself checking over and over again. It’s so fucking exhausting to be stuck in a loop of checking then freaking out then checking again. Sometimes I feel like I’m never going to be well again. I don’t know what I have to do to get control over this. I take a shitload of medication, I’ve put myself through ECT, I’ve done 4 stays at the Psych Hospital in the last 18 months…what more do I need to do to get better? Am I not doing enough?
The more I check, the more depressed I get because it feels like a cycle I’ll never escape.
I suspect it’s flaring up now because I have a potential first date coming up which brings up the prospect of physical intimacy in the near future, and that just terrifies me.
How in the hell am I ever going to find someone to share my life with when the prospect of being intimate with someone paralyzes me with anxiety and fear. I know my fears are completely irrational but it doesn’t stop them from coming. To be honest, knowing how irrational they are just makes me feel worse because on top of anxiety, I feel stupidity. Sometimes I feel like it’d be better if I was never physically intimate with anyone ever again. But even then, I’m still faced with non sexual moments like I was in hospital where someone bought an ice cream cake and everyone just took a spoon and dug in. That filled me with terrible anxiety, but I tried my best to cope. I only used my spoon in places that other people hadn’t. And even then, my anxiety was a 8 out of 10. When I got back to my room I rinsed my mouth with mouthwash like I could somehow combat contamination that way. I know how foolish that sounds. Fuck, I know how stupid the whole thing sounds. I know that if a potential partner gets tested for STI’s, then it’s highly unlikely I would contract anything from them. And in cases like the herp, that they don’t test for, it’s manageable and really nothing more than an inconvenience. I know all this rationally. I know lots of people live with herpes and it’s really not a big deal, but for some reason, it’s the one disease that my mind won’t let go of. I fear getting it all over my face and being a target for ridicule and disgust. I think it’s tied to an idea of being repulsive to other people. To being a complete pariah, unworthy of love or acceptance.
I know it seems insane to other people, but when I break it down to it’s base elements of acceptance and being desired and wanted it probably starts to make a bit more sense. It’s taken me a long time to realize that it’s those feelings behind my obsessive compulsive behaviour and avoidance. I don’t know what more I can do to combat these feelings that overwhelm me. I know in most cases, exposure and response prevention is the key to getting over an obsession. But I don’t know how to do that with my obsession. My old Shrink thought that getting a mannequin (sex doll) from Club X would be a good idea to practice on. I dumped him after that suggestion because it was so ridiculous. It truly was a ‘What the Fuck?!’ moment when he suggested it. How the hell does a rubber sex doll replicate the real life contamination scenario? Sometimes I think it would be easier to just be diagnosed with it and then I could stop living in fear, take the medication and just get the fuck on with it like every person I know with Herpes. I hate that my mind has chosen to become obsessed with that particular disease because I know people who are HSV 2 positive. It doesn’t affect them nearly as much as my obsession with the disease affects me, and I don’t even have it. They all still have great sex lives and people still want and desire them. I feel a huge amount of guilt that I’ve stigmatized this particular disease, when I know rationally one in four women have it and my GP tells me the statistics are probably even higher than that. And anyone who knew me during my twenties could attest to the fact that I slept with my fair share of people and then some, so the likelihood of having been exposed to it is pretty high. Fuck, I just wish my brain would work like other peoples, see it is an assumed risk that comes with being a sexually active adult and just accept it and deal with it. God, when I read that back, it sounds so simple. It shouldn’t be something that takes over my entire life. I had really hoped ECT would help with some of the symptoms of OCD, but it would seem it hasn’t done anything to ease it. I just want to be normal, for fucks sake.
I met this great guy M in hospital who’s my age and feels like a brother from another mother. He’s really easy to talk to and he even called me today to make sure I wasn’t just hibernating in the house like I told him I’m inclined to do. Luckily, I’d actually left the house today, only to run a few errands, but I’d left my cocoon, that’s the main thing. I really appreciated him checking on me, especially when he has his own stuff to tend to. To be honest, all the friends I’ve made through hospital admissions are thoughtful like that. None of them need a day like yesterday’s R U OK day to be prompted to check on one another. We just do it instinctively. Even if it’s just a quick message via Facebook asking how each other is or a comment via Instagram. I’m so lucky to have made such kind, easy going friends through Hospital. And just like M checked on me, I in turn checked on 2 other friends to see how they were doing. It’s a nice little chain gang of caring. I encourage you not to wait around for days like R U OK day to check in on your friends. Ask regularly. It’s always appreciated. Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them vent, or a shoulder to cry on. If at any point, you find yourself needing someone to talk to, and you know don’t know where to turn, you can always contact me through the contact page on my site. I’m always happy to lend an ear or to help find you someone professional for you to talk to. All you have to do is reach out and I’ll be more than happy to help. Take care of yourselves.
I had ECT this morning. I’m feeling fine now except for my wrist where the anesthetist put the cannula in hurts like a motherfucker. I think he blew out the vein there coz it hurt like hell when he did it and since I’ve got home the pain has just gotten worse. I made the mistake of leaving before my doctor had come to see me today which panicked the hospital. I felt like a little kid in trouble with the Principal the way the Nurse scolded me on the phone. Eventually my Doctor called and apologised for not coming to see me before I left which put me at ease a bit. I have my last ECT session next Wednesday. I can’t wait til it’s done. I’m over general anaesthetics and having to be at the hospital at 7am and feeling scrambled. I keep asking the same stuff of people all the time. My memory is shot, but apparently it will return. I’m glad I went ahead with it though. It hasn’t cured me or anything, but it has made me feel a little bit better, and I’m willing to take that. I did run into a few people this morning that I know so it was nice to catch up. I’ve been trying to remain mindful of keeping in touch with friends from hospital. I’m bad at just falling off the grid and letting friendships slide and I don’t want to let that happen because I’ve met some really awesome people through hospital this year and last. It’s awesome having friends who have similar mental health problems because they understand that it’s not personal if I don’t feel like talking. I’ve always had to explain myself in the past, and assure people it’s not personal, I just don’t feel good some days. These folks all get it. And these are people who have seen me at my worst when I’ve been hospitalized, no make up, wearing my PJ’s and no bra yet still want to be my friend. And what’s cool is that it’s not just one particular type of person I’ve made friends with. I have new friends that are my Dad’s age, girls in their 20’s, people my age, women in their fifties, people older than my grandparents… it’s been awesome to be exposed to so many different types of people all united by one shared trait, mental illness. We all just get one another in spite of how different we all are. I feel so lucky to have these people in my life now. It helps to make me feel less alone, which is a pretty common feeling when you live with mental illness. Sometimes you feel like nobody could ever understand. It’s nice to surround yourself with people who really *do* get it. If you ever feel alone, know that I’m here for you, just drop me a line.
So I think I’ve had about six or seven ECT sessions, each one leaves me more confused than the next. I’m not sure if it’s making an impact on me the way I’d hoped, but my Shrink seems to be happy with it. Friday’s completely wiped me out. I think it’s more the general anesthetic that puts me on my arse than the actual ECT itself, but I have trouble after ECT remembering things I should. Like, I’m sure we spoke about when my next treatment would be but I can’t remember when we arranged it for. The hospital called me today and I missed it, so I’ll have to give them a buzz back tomorrow to find out.
I went and got my hair cut over the weekend, and my nails done. This whole treating yourself thing is kinda nice. I like having my nails done. It stops me from biting them, which is a habit I’ve had since childhood. Plus, there’s a cute guy on the horizon so I want to feel pretty and keep my nails looking nice. I met him online before I went to hospital and he msg’d nearly every day while I was an inpatient. I like that he didn’t let the fact I was going to the Psych Hospital put him off knowing me. I know it would give most others pause for thought. So he’s scored points already, just overlooking the nuthouse thing. We skyped tonight and I think it went well. I’ll be sure to tell you if anything comes of it. It’s late so I’m going to turn in. Bea, my kitty, is sitting here just staring at me, longing for us to turn in. She loves her bed time cuddles.
Today’s ECT really knocked me around. When I was waking up from the anesthetic I was finding it hard to breathe properly. When I was finally awake enough to be moved out of the recovery room, I was so confused about where I was and what came next. I couldn’t remember what usually happened after ECT as an outpatient. When I looked in my phone to call my Dad to come and pick me up, I scrolled past peoples names that looked familiar but who I couldn’t really remember who they were. I really had to rely on the nurses to help me figure out what the hell was happening this morning. This is the first time I’ve felt like that post ECT. Normally I’m pretty aware and awake after treatment. The bit where I was tachycardic and having trouble breathing was really scary. I just wanted it to all be over and to be home again. I have to go back next Friday for one more treatment before my Shrink goes away on leave. The new medication seems to be working, or at least it’s not hurting, so that’s a positive.
I didn’t go get my hair done the other day because I couldn’t leave the house (was having a bad day), even to go somewhere I’m really familiar with. I’m going to try and go tomorrow, have my fringe fixed up and hair washed. I’m gonna get my nails done too. I’m feeling this purple glitter colour I’m rocking at the moment. I’m going on a first date soon so I wanna try and feel good about myself in preparation for it.
I just realised I forgot to ask my Shrink for some Panadeine Forte for my jaw pain post ECT. It hurts really badly after your teeth clench together during the seizure. I’m going to sit at the doctors at about 4.30 and wait and see if someone can see me for five minutes just to write me a script. In the meantime, I’m going to snuggle with Bea kitty and try and stay warm.