My ECT Experience
This is Julaine's personal ECT experience. Julaine is a mother and suffered from severe depression and anxiety disorder.
I tell this story of my ECT experience, not out of a desire to call attention to myself, but because I want mental health consumers, family members, friends and their professionals to know there IS hope and recovery for those who experience the painful and often terrifying experience of having a mental illness.
Julaine's ECT Experience Begins with Anxiety
It started out with a simple panic attack one night. As a young mother, I had struggled for three long years, combining full-time work and caring for my family. I awoke suddenly in the middle of the night, breathless, heart pounding - feeling like I was suffocating. Pacing the floor until the attack subsided, I returned to bed mystified. The panic attack returned the next day and the next, increasing in frequency and severity.
Severe nausea then invaded my body, landing me in a hospital emergency room. Physicians there admitted me twice during the following week, treating me with intravenous feedings and medication for anxiety. Searching for intestinal problems but finding none, doctors released me and I returned home with my husband. Retreating to my bed, I began to feel worse and worse.
Severe Panic Attacks and Depression Lead to Julaine's ECT Experience
My third admittance to a hospital proved fruitless again. I returned to bed, sluggish from medications that seemed only to induce sleep. My weight plummeted to a dangerous level, along with my spirits. I could no longer function –neitherdid I have a desire to. An ominous weight pushed down on me. Powerless to escape its clutches, I began to think about dying.
One night, I awoke feeling as if someone were injecting me with toxic adrenaline. Sobbing and frantically pacing the floor, I began to think I had lost my mind. My frightened husband once again rushed me to a hospital, this time to a university medical center. There, a diagnosis was finally made. I had severe depression and anxiety disorder.
Admitted to a psychiatric in-patient center, I was heavily sedated. Weeks inched by as I endured various antidepressant medication trials and experienced ECT treatments. Many times, I felt I could not go on. The battle seemed interminable. Finally, following various treatment methods and two hospitalizations in six months, I was able to resume a normal life again.
The Results of Juliane's ECT Experience
For the next few years, I was successful battling various minor episodes of recurrent depression. It was during this time, I discovered a wonderful support group for depressives and manic depressives (DBSA/San Antonio, Texas), where my family resided. Not only did I find friends and support, but received life giving education and coping skills concerning clinical depression.
Upon relocating to Florida soon afterwards, my participation in the San Antonio DBSA Chapter aided me in establishing DBSA Mid-Orlando in 1992. When I experienced a major depressive setback soon after, a DBSA support group friend and member stayed with me day-after-day, taking care of my physical and mental needs while my husband went to work.
For months, I fought a downhill battle of medication trials and treatments, only becoming increasingly ill. My family grew exhausted from the tremendous strain I was putting on them. Time-after-time, I came close to losing my struggle with depression. Only the perseverance of my doctor, loved ones, friends, and countless prayers in my behalf, kept me fighting to overcome this illness that seemed to want to devour me.
After three years of constant battling, I finally responded to a successful medication combination. It was as if I had risen from the dead! Because of the excellent training and support provided by DBSA on a local, state and national level, I was able to resume active DBSA leadership and help train others to in the same pursuit.
Since Juliane's Recovery
I have been privileged not only to work as an Orange County, Florida guardian advocate for psychiatric inpatients but to be a team member of the first official Guardian Advocacy pilot program in the state of Florida. My great desire to help educate and support others dealing with mental illness has expanded even further.
I have also aided in National Depression Day Screenings, and participated in the following as an organizer and speaker: Orlando and Daytona, Florida's Mental Illness Awareness Week and Mental Health Association of Central Florida's Statewide Conference for Mental Health Consumers and their families. I was also privileged to be a Board Member and active volunteer for NAMI of Greater Orlando during the last 3 years I lived in Orlando, Florida.
The highlight of my victory, however, occurred just recently when I entered graduate school to become a licensed mental health counselor. Today, as a Master's student at Denver Seminary, I see clients in my counseling practicum program. I look forward to the day I can further serve others as a consumer-oriented professional in the community, churches and mental health support organizations.
Winning the 1998 Beth Johnson Scholarship from the Mental Health Association of Central Florida helped confirm my belief that mental health consumers can join the ranks of professionals, positively impacting not only clients and family members, but coworkers, as well.
The recovery and victories I have attained are largely due to the support, education and skills I received from being a DBSA member and leader.
Today, I can reach out to others in a more effective way. Truly, I have "walked the walk!"
Last Updated: 18 June 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD