Becca is a student mental health nurse and shares her own experience of electroconvulsive therapy ...
I was admitted to an acute ward when I was seventeen, due to my suicidality, and the fact that my depression had become increasingly severe over the months I had been seeing the child and adolescent mental health team.
While on that ward, my self-harm and suicide attempts spiralled out of control and I was nursed on 2:1 observations for months. Due to this, I was then transferred to a secure unit.
I turned eighteen on the secure ward, and while I was there my depression became so bad that I stopped eating, was struggling to speak, and could hardly walk or manage to move.
This is when it was discussed between the team, my family, and myself, that I would have ECT.
Nothing is scarier than being depressed
I jumped at the chance – no matter how scary ECT sounds, NOTHING is scarier than being that depressed in my opinion, and I was willing to try literally anything.
A lot of nursing and medical staff attended my first ECT treatment with me, partly for support, and partly I think, because it was so unusual for a patient on a children’s ward to be having ECT.
I remember one doctor spending the time we spent in the waiting room telling me all the stories she could remember about people who benefitted from ECT and recovered from their depression. This lifted my spirits.
The staff on the ECT suite were exceptionally friendly and reassuring. They continued to ask for my consent, and explained the procedure in detail. They were experienced at their job and I trusted them. The anaesthetist told me to count down from ten and I would be asleep.
I woke up surrounded by maybe ten people who asked me some questions to check that I was okay.
I struggled to remember where I was or who the prime minister was, but my cognitive function went quickly back to normal.
They gave me a cup of tea and some toast before I could go back to my ward.
I had seventeen ECT treatments in all. They unequivocally saved my life, and I was discharged from the hospital about six months later.
I still struggle with my mental health, and I always will do, but I am able to live in the community, attend university, and be a normal 25-year old for the most part.
I have to add that I have had no long term side effects from the ECT, and if I ever became that unwell again, I would most certainly accept more treatments.
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