I have just returned home after a month of electro-convulsive therapy. I needed the shock therapy because I was in a mixed state – mostly depressed with some mania. I decided to go ahead with the therapy because I knew it would help, from previous experience and because I knew it would give my husband piece of mind and because my psychiatrist was suggesting it and I trust his judgement.
I feel like I am about 80% better, and although I wasn’t 100% better I couldn’t face another week of the treatment and decided instead to use medication to complete my recovery. Plus I don’t know that I can ever say I am 100% well, I am always struggling with my bipolar disorder in some shape or form.
I have struggled very badly this time with headaches after the treatment and still find myself having headaches almost a week after my last treatment. I am starting to worry that I am becoming dependant on pain medication and this is making me very anxious. I am naturally an anxious person and this added stress is leading to me relying on my valium more than normal too. I do not enjoy being overly dependant on any medication and I am determined at the moment to reduce my use of these medications as soon as possible.
I have also been struggling with the urge to self harm and have succumbed to this a number of times in the last week. This is terribly embarrassing for me and extremely difficult to resist. My best bet is to be honest with the people I trust most and lean on them for support when I am at my lowest points. I am very lucky to have a small circle of friends who I can ‘use’ in this way, they don’t judge me, they don’t criticise they simply lend support and make suggestions that are helpful in my recovery and I love them for this.
My husband is currently on night shift which means I am alone all night and basically all day – while he sleeps. I find this isolation to be a large factor in my depression and I look forward to him finishing work in a few days and I hope that my mood and my coping strategies improve and strengthen when I have his active support.
Currently I am still struggling on a daily basis to undertake basic routines, for example I struggle to get out of my dressing gown and into day clothes. I struggle to have a shower each day. I struggle to sleep normal hours and find myself napping constantly. I struggle to eat a normal meal and haven’t even been managing to have a protein shake in place of a meal. I simply have no appetite. When I do eat once every few days it is a large binge and I eat till I feel sick, which ironically puts me off eating for the next few days. I struggle to take proper care of my animals, doing just the absolute minimum – feeding them, giving them water and bringing them inside in the heat of the day. But they are not getting cuddles or treats like they usually would and this causes me great guilt. I am struggling to pay the bills on time and keep track of our accounts and correspondence and this is going to become a real problem if I can’t get on top of it in the next few days. I am not doing the grocery shopping, because I am not eating, but this of course means there’s nothing in the house for my husband either – this is somewhat ok while he is working because they provide him with meals, but when he finishes this shift I am going to have to find the strength to do the grocery shopping and start preparing meals for him. At this point I do not know where I am going to find the strength to do so. I have managed to do some housework this week, but there is still plenty that needs doing, this is not ok because tomorrow we have a house inspection and I do not have the capacity to prepare the house properly. Not to mention the fact that we only moved in here a week or so before my treatment began and we still haven’t unpacked more than half the house. You may think that my husband should take responsibility for some of this, but he works very long hours and I don’t work at all, it isn’t fair that he should have to do these things in his time off.
I am also still experiencing some symptoms of mania. I have the urge to spend money (online because I don’t like to leave the house) a few times a day and find it extremely difficult to curb this desire. I have succumbed to it on more than one occasion, it is wasteful, excessive and worst of all I find myself hiding it from my husband, until at some later point I build up the courage to tell him. This behaviour is unacceptable but I feel compelled to do it, it brings me some relief that I cannot gain any other way that I have found. It is shameful.
Currently my greatest fear is that I will not recover and will in fact go backwards, regressing and end up needing more electroconvulsive therapy. My only strategy to avoid this is to take one day at a time, to lean on my friends and to try to achieve a few things each day – small steps, realistic steps, being kind to myself despite my current feelings of hate towards myself. I will keep you posted on my progress in the coming weeks.
My husband is my greatest support, my biggest fan and my devoted partner in this bipolar life and before I went in for my most recent treatment he reminded me that nothing else matters if you don’t have your health, this has become my mantra and I remind myself of it every day. If I can get well, the rest of my life will fall into place, so the struggle is worth it.