- I have battled depression for more than 20 years. I was diagnosed at age 19, though I suspect I was depressed in utero and it wasn’t until I started contemplating suicide that I was actually diagnosed. (Good thing I recognized it for what it was.) I was put on an SSRI (a very expensive one, I recall) and within a few weeks I felt fantastic. I woke up one morning and said to myself, “Wow, my life doesn’t suck!” I had a good life, and I loved it. I was cured. Life could go on.9 years later the drug stopped working. Life started to suck again. Over the next 10 years, a revolving door of doctors switched me from one medication to the next, then tried combinations of multiple medications, all of which made me more depressed.After quitting meds in frustration, I ended up in the hospital for observation because I was contemplating suicide. Back on the meds I went. Instead of pushing my luck I decided to pick one drug that didn’t make me irritable/paranoid/suicidal and didn’t interrupt my sleep too bad. After all, when life sucks the least one can hope for is a fairly uninterrupted bout of sleep.I was beginning to resign myself to this feeling of not-quite-on-the-verge of utter despair. Medication kept me from being a suicidal nutbag, but I certainly had no zest for life.Over the past 3 years, my mood and personality had devolved into a single dimension that my boyfriend and I jokingly refer to as “meh.” Get a promotion at work? Meh. Boyfriend does something completely extraordinary by cooking dinner, doing the laundry, changing the cat box AND buying flowers? Meh. Win a million dollars in the lottery? Meh.Nothing I experienced changed my mood. I didn’t care about anything. I wasn’t sad, I felt no joy, sometimes I felt despair. I hated myself for feeling that way, but my brain left me so distracted that I could never concentrate long enough to do anything to change it. Or to care. Meh, indeed.On top of that, I felt like my latest drug was beginning to betray me. I couldn’t think logically or rationally anymore. I couldn’t multi-task. My memory was shot. I poured all of my energy into my job, but I was faltering there, too. I would come home and ignore the state of my existence–I was physically/mentally/emotionally incapable of doing laundry, feeding my pets, vacuuming my carpet or generally taking care of myself. I was becoming a shut-in. I slept a lot. Or not at all. I gained 30 pounds. I stopped doing all the things I loved–walking, running, cooking, reading. Living.And all of this “meh” jeopardized my relationship with my boyfriend, who is my best friend and has been my partner for over 6 years. If I didn’t do something I was going to lose everything. But what hope did I have? Over the years I’ve tried more than a dozen different medications and combinations of meds and they simply don’t make me feel better. I am avoiding confronting head-on the notion that “meh” might be as good as it gets.And then, a miracle.I saw Dr Jennings in August 2011 for my semi-annual state of “meh” evaluation. Nothing was “really” wrong, really. But certainly nothing was right. He told me about a new treatment called TMS. I’m sure the look on my face was one he’d seen before.”Let me get this straight,” the expression on my face was saying. “You’re going to point a magnet at my head for 6 weeks, and I’m going to feel better?” He briefly talked about the studies, the science, how the treatment works. I was skeptical, but felt a glimmer of hope. I started to cry. Too implausible. No way. I schedule a free consultation anyway. I grow more hopeful. I go home and read up on TMS, review other patient testimonials, and still can’t believe it.
Today I’m almost finished with my TMS treatments and will be transitioning to maintenance treatments in the next 30 days. Never in my entire life have I felt as fantastic as I feel today, and I owe these feelings to TMS. I am a multi-dimensional human being again! I am experiencing true feelings and real emotion like everybody does, but I’m feeling them for the very first time, unfettered and uninfluenced by emotion-numbing medications.
Like a wandering traveler in a foreign land who experiences tastes, touches, smells and sounds that are alien and wondrous and marvelous, I’m rediscovering who I am and who are the people around me. I’m alive! And I love it.
If I could give one bit of advice to other people enduring a lifelong battle with depression, it’s this: You owe it to yourself to explore TMS as a treatment option. It’s expensive, yes. But so is a lifetime on anti-depressants. Consider it an investment in your happiness.
And while you go through the treatment, be patient with yourself. You won’t feel a difference in your mood for weeks, and then one day you’ll wake up and realize that everything has changed. “Hey!” you’ll shout, overjoyed. “Life doesn’t suck!”
- “In the eight months before I started TMS therapy, I’d been on varying combinations of six different medications, and none of them were helping my depression at all. I just kept feeling worse and worse. Life felt entirely unmanageable. Taking a shower or fixing a glass of ice water seemed like so much effort that just the thought would reduce me to tears. The depression was so severe that I couldn’t even feel hopeful when I first saw Dr. Jennings and he recommended TMS therapy as a very promising alternative to medications. My family strongly encouraged me to invest in the chance of recovery, though, and I started a 6-week series of daily TMS treatments. The process was slow, but by the end of my daily treatments, life had changed drastically. I was able to stop taking the medications that had been causing so many side effects. I could deal with everyday tasks and activities again. Instead of crying because I needed to pour myself a glass of water, I could cook dinner, or even bake cookies just for fun. Today, life feels manageable again. TMS has made a significant, measurable difference for me. It’s been worth the investment to have my life back.” (Name/Initials withheld per patient request)
- From my Heart.
This morning I woke up thinking this is going to be the best day ever. It just takes a little bit of fire to make you treasure every day God gives you. In Dec. 2011 we were hit from behind. I couldn’t believe it, because we’ve flown all over the Arctic and drove in Alaska forever. Then we come down to Tennessee and someone hits us in the rear. I immediately start shaking uncontrollably. Yep, I have whip lash. I begin having anxiety attacks & my neck starts killing me. In February 2012 Ronnie has a wreck, I go to the hospital quoting scripture to myself when I see a police man shaking his head and I assumed Ronnie was dead. The bottom fell out of my heart and I had a breakdown. Praise the Lord. Ronnie survived with a broken back, stroke, a fib and pneumonia. My sweetheart made it. But by now I am a wreck. It takes a year and half for me to pull through my emotional wreck and about a year for Ronnie to fully recover. I felt so guilty because I couldn’t shake it & Ronnie was the one who almost died. It was like I was in a deep well of darkness and only isolation made it still. One consolation I carried in my heart was that God makes no mistakes even when it hurts and He knew exactly what he was doing. It didn’t matter whether I understood or not. Through His leading I met Dr. Jennings that said sometimes when you have trauma your synapse, receptors, and neurons in your brain are damaged and they are unable to catch the serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, etc.so maybe TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) will work. The stimulation is supposed to enable your receptors, synapse and neurons to do their job. After the first week of one hour a day treatments I began to not feel so panicky and went to the store with Ronnie without having anxiety. Next, I washed my daughter’s dishes having a little bit of energy. Next thing you know I am cooking a meal. By the end of six weeks I am getting dressed and singing “Oh how I love Jesus”. Ronnie comes running into the room and says you’re singing. I stopped and realized I am actually singing from my heart. We both start singing with our arms raised praising God. That was six months ago. Now as I close my eyes at night I say this has been the BEST DAY EVER as I hug my sweetheart and snuggle him close with thanksgiving that he is ALIVE and I have return back to myself. JOY IS watching God bring you out of a deep dark well and being thankful that God is the LORD of our lives.
Please, when you go through a very sorrowful time don’t blame God or get mad at the only ONE who can see you through for He is good no matter what happens in our lives. Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. Ronnie is 70 and I am 67 and we pray our last days will be our best days in our service to The Lord. Never say I give up, just keep on marching and watch what Jesus will Do.