Updated 4-24-17: Holy crap, y’all. I love you. Not only did you listen but you gave me honest advice and reminded me how incredibly difficult but also how worthwhile it is to keep looking for the unique treatment that works for each person. You also reminded me that I’m not alone in continuing to search for tools that will make my mental illness more manageable, and sometimes it’s enough to know that so many of us are fighting this battle together, even if it seems we’re doing it alone. Here is my plan as of today: I saw my doctor and this afternoon I had many vials of blood taken to rule out hormonal issues, deficiencies, etc. If nothing physical turns up then I’ll try to get my insurance to cover TMS and see if it works. From what I can see the overall verdict is that it depends on the person and that it’s either incredibly helpful when it works, or it doesn’t work at all, or sometimes it works for a while but not forever, which is sort of the exact same verdict I’ve had with every other medication and therapy I’ve ever tried, so I suppose I should be used to it at this point. Nevertheless, thank you. I will always feel broken but you continue to remind me that I am so not alone. I’ll keep you posted.
This is a dangerous post to write, mostly because I’m opening myself up to something that every person who deals with mental illness dreads…well-meaning advice from others. But this is specific and I’d really like to hear from you. Not about how I should “just cheer up” or “stop eating anything but air” or similar. What I want to know is this…have you ever had Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and if so, did it work for you? My doctor has been recommending that I do it for years but I’ve always been worried about the side-effects. It’s supposed to be a good option for people like me with major depressive disorder who have tried multiple antidepressants but still have long periods of depression.
I’m lucky because, as a writer, I can often work around the schedule my depression sets for me…sometimes working long days and nights full of inspiration and sometimes just surviving weeks where my mind is a fog and I can’t get out of bed. I have a support system of family and of strangers-who-are-like-family around the world. I could probably continue to live like this for the rest of my life, and I’m prepared to. Although depression can be hell and I know that it lies and I could continue to live through the bad weeks waiting for the good to inevitably come back.
But what if TMS works? It’s not as invasive as electroconvulsive therapy. Some people my shrink has treated with it have been able to get completely off their meds, which is something I can’t even imagine. I’ve been on so many different medications, regimens, vitamins, compounds, injections, therapies, etc. and some were helpful and some weren’t and some were until they weren’t. Some saved my life and others made it miserable. That’s the thing about treating chronic illness…different things work for different people and the exhausting process of finding a cure for your symptoms usually never completely goes away. So after this latest bout of depression I’ve been thinking more about trying TMS. Victor is not a fan but he respects that it’s my decision ultimately. I still need to research more and to make sure my insurance will cover at least some of it but I thought maybe one of my first steps should be to ask here. Have you had it? Did it work? Was it worth it?
And if you haven’t and you just want to share something that actually did work in treating your mental illness feel free to. I know that just medication and therapy aren’t enough. Music, meditation, exercise, sun, vitamins, sleep…they all can make a difference. If something in particular makes a difference for you, share. (But if you tell me to stop taking meds and take up jogging I will find you and punch you in the junk with a cactus. Just saying.)
PS. Turnabout is fair play, so here’s a small tool that I use when I’m feeling anxious. It’s just a gif. But whatever works, right?