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How Electroconvulsive Therapy Changed My Life With Bipolar Disorder for the Better

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Not too long ago, I found myself in a psychiatric hospital — yet again — for complications due to bipolar disorder. I’ve often been a model patient, so I went to groups when called for, tried to keep a healthy sleep schedule, ate meals as scheduled and more. This was my 14th hospitalization, so it was nothing new. In fact, it was all too familiar.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

The psychiatrist at the hospital offered some of the type of help I was used to (a mood stabilizer, for example). What could possibly help, though? Sure, pharmaceuticals may lengthen the time between episodes, but I was still experiencing euphoric highs and debilitating lows. Unfortunately, more of the latter.

One day, as I sat in front of the psychiatrist, I wondered what else I could possibly try in an effort to live some type of “normal” life. She tilted her head, looked at me and asked me if I’d ever considered or would consider electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). She told me I may experience a little bit of confusion and/or memory loss as a side effect, but the success-rate was outstanding. Who knew I was a good candidate for ECT? Suddenly I was.

I was transferred to another hospital, as the one where I had been staying didn’t offer ECT. I was transferred to a hospital that not only offered the treatment, but one that had a 90-something percent success rate.

My memory was a little iffy after my first treatment, but I was able to recall what mattered. I mainly forgot anything that immediately preceded or followed ECT. No big deal. It didn’t take very long for the treatments to work, and work well. At the time of this writing, I’ve had seven treatments and I feel great. My only regret is that I didn’t start ECT sooner.

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Originally published: November 14, 2017
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