Personal Progress (well, maybe not exactly) on the ECT Front

After a series of uncomfortable phone calls and leaving voicemails for everyone in Seattle capable of administering ECT, bits of useful information started to trickle in. The information was useful because it let me know that my options are extremely limited (many hospitals here that provide ECT have apparently moved away from treating patients with medicaid) but I was able to set up a consultation with one of the leading psychiatrists at Northwest Hospital’s ECT unit.

While I’ve been interested in ECT for a while now, previously my mood swings were not in a position (predominantly depressive or manic, more ultradian cycling and mixed) to lend themselves to the immediate requirement of electroconvulsive therapy. Having my symptoms take a much more noticeable downward turn into depression lately made this seem like the perfect time to look into it again.

Beyond that, though, I wasn’t sure if I would be a good candidate for ECT right now. After all, I have just undergone some pretty significant physical health problems and two surgeries, one being relatively major. Ultimately, the consultation was to learn if I could even undergo the treatment right now in addition to finding out if it might help me.

I tried my best to explain this to the receptionist who tried to schedule me for ECT the following week before my consultation had even began.

The consultation itself was… uneventful. I’d already gone through one of these before at another hospital, but I wasn’t really expecting this psychiatrist to have a significantly less optimistic view on how ECT would probably go for me. While he said he wouldn’t tell me absolutely not to try it, it seemed unlikely the treatment would help my symptoms (based on the point I have reached trying almost every medication available with no improvement). He said that each medication I have tried and been resistant to has made the next subsequent medication more likely to fail. I don’t know if that is true or not, but that is the word on the street.

He also told me that he would suggest I (here’s the baton) seek treatment through DBT (and the handoff) first before trying ECT. Unfortunately this proves to be a program even more difficult to get into than ECT in Seattle as it requires a lengthy wait on a waitlist (I’ve actually already been on the waitlist for two months before last weeks consultation) or about $5000 and a somewhat shorter wait on a waitlist.

I left the facility feeling surprisingly optimistic despite the news. I guess it was just nice to have someone tell me that even if they don’t know if what they have to offer will help me they could suggest something else. Normally people just tell me I’m screwed and do I “have any questions?”

For a while now I’ve kind of felt like “all roads lead to DBT” -at least, given my symptoms and everyday problems with human interaction, working, mood swings, etc. This time I am hoping that seeking out a case manager might be a better option than trying to do all the footwork myself. People don’t respond well to my… aggressive tone on the phone, and I don’t respond well to dickheads on the phone either.

At any rate, I will be shifting focus to moving toward DBT. The hospital said they would keep my file open and get all the necessary paperwork ready in case I changed my mind about doing ECT in the next month or two if I can’t get in to DBT.

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4 responses to “Personal Progress (well, maybe not exactly) on the ECT Front

  1. Good luck. Hopefully you can get fast-tracked!

  2. I found DBT to be very helpful. Best wishes to you

  3. I have done DBT programs and ECT (I am bipolar II) as well as run the gambit of drugs. If you have any questions, let me know…about any of it. Might not be able to answer it, but maybe I could try.

  4. I also am familiar with both CBT and DBT. I have had a series of TMS, returning next week for 6 maintenance treatments. I also had 21 treatments of ECT over a 6 month period in 2015. My BP2 is managed by my own self care, tms, talk therapy and a cocktail of drugs. I will not consent to ECT. I isolate and am empty and tired. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and info with us Sarah.
    Chris

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