Feeling Worse Before Feeling Better

During my last two visits with my psychiatrist we concluded to move forward with the idea of pursuing electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as the next treatment option for my treatment-resistant bipolar symptoms.

While saying, “let’s do it!” has set a series of actions in motion (mostly on his side), I have yet to see any of the fruits of that action. At this point he is trying to get me a consultation with the staff at one of the two hospitals in the area that perform ECT, but the situation is tricky. Of the two hospitals, the closest one severely gives me the creeps, and the other involves a commute through a busy area (and we don’t have a car). Naturally I’m assuming that after urging my brain into a state of convulsion, I probably shouldn’t be riding the bus, so figuring out a system to even get to the hospital for these treatments is another thing to work on.

Having said that, after some research it appears that there will probably be a significant wait time (no surprise there) to even see these leading doctors to have a consultation. I am not expecting any of this to happen any time soon, but I am a little thankful to have some time to allow my head to wrap itself around the idea of taking such a step in such a (scary?) direction. I know my fear probably isn’t overwhelmingly warranted, seeing as I was just as nervous about the idea of taking lithium and now, even after having overdosed on it, I find it no more terrifying (and possibly even less so) than any other drug I’ve tried thus far.

In the meantime my depression is significant. In the month of June I experienced eight days of “stability”, and in July I experienced three. Keep in mind, “stability” is simply a word here that means the majority of the day was spent feeling well, which can mean an entire day -but more often for me means something like experiencing 8 hours of feeling well and 5 hours of total chaos. Even when it doesn’t account for the entire day, a significant mood swing lasting even 1/4 of the day is enough to cause major issues with my plans and ability to get things done.

The most frustrating part of seeing these numbers is knowing that it is summer, and that this is the time of year I typically the best. That means even though I am feeling my “best”, I am still experiencing episodes lasting between 3/4 of the month to the entire month.

For that reason my psychiatrist has opted to allow me to try an antidepressant again while we wait for a word on the ECT situation. Wellbutrin/Bupropion has been the only medication that has ever (presumably) had a positive effect on me, however I took it over ten years ago and the psychiatrist I was seeing was definitely… sub-par. At this point I can’t say if it truly did anything for me, but it appears that in conjunction with whatever else I was taking, it didn’t cause psychotic mania (the way other antidepressants have for me).

In order to even allow me to try wellbutrin/bupropion again, my doctor is requiring me to go up to 50 mg of seroquel/quetiapine. I increased my dosage from 37.5 mg to 50 mg on Sunday night, and the last 52 hours I have been a mess. I’ve had hot flashes and profuse sweating, overwhelming nausea, constant upset stomach and stomach pain, lethargy, lack of appetite, etc. Not a fun time, but this morning I can already tell is a slight leg up after yesterday, so hopefully I can get over this hump soon to test out wellbutrin again.

So there’s an update, this is really the best I can muster in my given state. What I can say is that I am actively doing everything in my power to try to guide (or wrench, whatever works) myself into a better place… even if that means feeling significantly worse because of side effects before I can feel better.

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6 responses to “Feeling Worse Before Feeling Better

  1. I have done ECT in Seattle and had a pretty good experience at Northwest Hospital who is ramping up their outpatient ECT program (its not really publicized) and they do take Apple Health (I don’t think the Swedish ECT docs do–I had ECT there as well.) The problem is you have to arrive at 6 am. But I think Hopelink provides free transportation (at least another patient on my same ‘rotation’ arrived via Hopelink.) Let me know if you want Northwest’s ECT number. ECT didn’t end up being as scary as I thought it would be…I know that is such a brave decision!

    • Thanks for the information! I think my psychiatrist was wanting to rule Northwest out because their wait time right now is considerably longer than Harborview and Overlake… but it’s location is considerably better for me so I might put that one back on the table. Thanks!

  2. Wow your dosage of seroquel seems miniscule compared to my 400mg twice a day. And my dosage is very stabilising…for me.Antidepressants also triggered mania in me so they are a no go. Before seroquel, when I was on antidepressants I thought about ECT but seroquel has taken away any of those thoughts and the need for it. I was not treatment resistant on antidepressants, they were merely the wrong medication. Once BiPolar was diagnosed and the dosage increased, everything improved. I do have slight blues in the morning but these last only a couple of hours and they are not severe, just a little flat. Good luck with it all.

    • Very often I am only able to tolerate very small dosages of medication at a time, and can only increase it very slowly. If I don’t I have completely incapacitating side effects… even just going from 37.5 to 50 mg left me glued to the couch and wildly ill for almost three days straight. Usually anything faster and my body will reject it, which (as you can imagine) has made treatment rather difficult. Thanks!

  3. I wish you well with ECT, it didn’t work for me and in hindsight I should have researched it more but I was so damn depressed I didn’t know which way was up. Just use caution as it’s worked for many people. All the best.

  4. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a difficult time! I hope you’ll go from strength to strength, and it’s surely positive to hear the side-effects from the seroquel are improving slightly. Best wishes!

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