The Pressure of the “Wait and See” period post ECT

It has been over a week now since my final electroconvulsive therapy session.  Now I am living in the “Wait and See” time, where I and everyone around me takes special notice of my mood in an effort to give me the “All Clear” so that I can go home to Chinchilla with my husband.  This “Wait and See” period places pressure on me (non-intentionally) and it is this pressure that I write about today.  It is linked closely to my social anxiety (that I will write about another time) but it is different, it is an additional pressure on top of that.

This “Wait and See” time frame involves me shifting from (in this case) a major depressive episode back into a balanced mood state.  Being careful that I don’t swing too far into a manic phase or swing back into the depths of depression, I plan every day carefully to push myself enough to show progress but not too much to cause an ‘over-swing’ (I just made that descriptive term up but I think you get what I mean).

At the same time as all of this is happening, I am in Brisbane, my hometown and consequently I have friends and family nearby that I can visit with while I have the opportunity.  These social visits are a great way to start stretching my legs and testing my ability to cope with everyday scenarios.  But with them comes this added pressure, pressure to make sure everyone can see that I am getting back to my old self and each time I visit someone I can feel them assessing me, this may be real (in some cases the judgements are said out-loud) or imagined, but in either case it FEELS real to me and (in the beginning at least) the pressure is unbearable.

It feels so real to me that I get quite anxious on my way to visit anyone.  There are some people that I feel more relaxed around and others that I am unsure around and others still who I avoid all together (these are the ones who can’t see when it is time to listen rather than preach).   I literally have to steel myself just to muster the courage to engage socially in the beginning, and then over time as I am getting more and more confident this anxiety fades away and it is then I know that I am truly ‘almost’ better.  When I can engage with anyone, even the preachers, and be confident in myself and in the choices I am making regarding my mental, physical and spiritual health.  All of which need to be on track for my bipolar disorder to truly be in check.

The amount of pressure and anxiety I feel are a gauge that measures how well I am and I report back to my husband.  It also tells him how far he can encourage me to go that day, whether to push the boundaries or try again tomorrow.  Each time we visit someone, or go somewhere or do something, I let him know how much pressure I am feeling, and he keeps a track of this to in turn report back to my psychiatrist.  Eventually, when the pressure and anxiety are within normal bounds, every day for a long number of days in a row, we can officially close the “Wait and See” window and start looking forward to an “All Clear”.  When my psychiatrist announces the “All Clear” (which is based on many factors include my pressure/anxiety levels), I can feel quite confident that I am ready to face the world again, and then we head home, and the real test begins, but I’ll write more about that later.

4 thoughts on “The Pressure of the “Wait and See” period post ECT

  1. bethtimms March 20, 2015 / 10:03 pm

    I hope you’re well! Everything you said resounds with me. I’m going through a really bad patch ATM….I wish I had someone who cares. I had the worst anxiety/panic attacks/melt downs I’ve ever had in my life in the last 24 hours…I want to sleep…need sleep…maybe a book but can’t focus on my books…cook?….paint?…draw? Read??? Food is a problem….I’m hungry but no desire to eat…actually makes me feel sick….doesn’t make sense at all does it??? No way I could eat anything…however I’m obsessed with collecting Recipies!! Thanks again for your honest post & G’night…

    • emilyjtelfer March 21, 2015 / 11:44 am

      I can relate to everything you’re saying too! I care, don’t hesitate to write me. Do you have a psychiatrist looking after you helping you with the anxiety? Are you medicated for it? Sleep is bliss when you can manage it, I struggle too when I am unwell with sleep and it can be very dangerous, perhaps speak with your psych about that too? Inability to focus and a shifting mind, jumping from one thought to the next, I am experiencing that at the moment myself. It is extremely frustrating. I just keep trying to slow myself down, breathe and really focus on just one thing at a time, easier said than done. I myself haven’t eaten hardly a bite of solid food for well over a week. I drink sustagen hospital formula with milk to try to keep myself going. I have issues with my blood sugar so I have to be careful, my body tells me when it needs something and I have to listen or I get very sick. So a sustagen shake it is when I just can’t face food. You can read more about that in the article My Bipolar Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Fallback Diet/Meal Replacement Plan which you can find on my blog. So your hunger paired with a lack of desire to eat makes perfect sense to me! And collecting recipes is great! Start challenging yourself to make one per day, that requires you to buy the items you need and then make it and (hopefully) eat it! Might be a good way to trick yourself into eating. So we definitely can relate to one another! Write me again some time. Kind regards, EmJ

  2. Charmaine March 21, 2015 / 8:16 am

    Hi once you have the all clear, what are you going to do with your self, I’m at that stage to & don’t know what to do with myself & my partner says I need to push myself, still having fortnightly ects, just doing my house work & trying to get out for walks at the moment x

    • emilyjtelfer March 21, 2015 / 11:34 am

      My plans aren’t dissimilar, do my exercise, stick to my diet, look after my animals, my husband and my house. I will also do some music therapy with myself and speak to my psychiatrist on Skype regularly. I think the idea is to try to keep it simple, manageable and a little bit fun wherever possible. Keep me in the loop, let me know how you are travelling. Hopefully both of us will do well and be well for a long time to come.

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