It’s been about a month since I finished TMS treatment for my depression and anxiety. A lot of you asked if I’d do a follow up after some time had passed so here’s a quick one.
I’m still feeling good. Not perfect, but so much better than I felt before the treatment started. Overall I think the treatment gave me a few glorious days of true remission but mostly it just pulled me out of the truly terrible depressive period I was stuck in the last year. I still have clinical depression and anxiety disorder but it feels a billion times more manageable than it did. I was hopeful that I’d be able to go off my antidepressants but I don’t think that’s a safe choice for me so I’m staying on them, although I might decrease the dose a bit if I still feel okay in a few months. I think I could lower the dose right now but I worry about the depression coming back and at this point I’m terrified to do anything that might put me back in that hole again.
My anxiety is much better than it was before treatment. My agoraphobia is almost nonexistent, which is something I couldn’t even imagine before. I’ve been slowly cutting down on my Xanax dose and as of this week I officially don’t have to take it daily…only as needed during anxiety attacks. I hesitate to share this here because I think it’s easy for people who don’t have anxiety to say “Good job on getting rid of those drugs!” because most people don’t understand that Xanax (while it has a lot of shit side-effects) is a damn life raft for anxiety. And while I’m proud of the work I did going off it (because it was hard, honestly) I know that it’s entirely possible that I will have to go back on it and if I do I want to remind myself that that is not a fault or something to be ashamed of. I’m happy and grateful that the treatment I’m on is working better than many of the things I’ve tried in the past but what I’ve learned is that I didn’t fail in responding to past treatments…those treatments failed to work for me. And that is a big difference. One we all need to keep in mind.
Because I feel better I’m able to do a lot of things to help myself stay better. These were things that felt impossible a few months ago but now seem almost as easy as the people who don’t understand mental illness always insist that they are. I walk 1-2 miles a day. I get sun and fresh air. I leave my house. I’ve started cleaning out the piles of crap of accumulated when I was too tired to work. I write. I go to sleep before 2am. I’ve stopped drinking and am training for a marathon. HAHAHAHAHA. Okay, not that last sentence. If I ever exchange vodka for running-on-purpose it’s a pretty good sign that I’m in a cult and need rescuing. But the other things are things I’m pretty proud of. Again, I don’t think I could have done any of those things in the deep depression I was in, but I’m taking advantage of the fact that right now I can do them.
I still often feel like a failure. I still have dark days. I still have to avoid my triggers. I still have massive problems with concentration and memory and motivation. I’m still broken. I’m still me. I’m still looking for a way through. But I’m glad to have found a way that helped me if for no other reason than to reaffirm that there is hope. There is always hope.
PS. A few people have asked if I was compensated in any way for writing about TMS. Fair question, but no, I wasn’t at all. Insurance paid for some of it (after a ton of denials) and I paid for the rest myself. I only share it here because I know I’m not the only one struggling with this. TMS is not for everyone and is still really in its infancy in many ways. It doesn’t always work and when it does work it could stop working at any time and no one knows why. It’s uncomfortable and time-consuming and expensive. But for me, it was so worth it. I was (and remain) very lucky.