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ECT – a miracle cure or a controversy?

In June last year, I was failing to deal with my birthing trauma. I was up at 3 o’clock every morning, running 30 kilometres a week, breastfeeding, and dealing with a brand new infant. When I would go for a run, it felt like the shadows were falling around beside me.

One night, I was Googling furiously when my partner asked me what was wrong.

“I think I need to be hospitalised. I think I’m having a psychosis.”

“No. What if they take Soren from us?”

It was a sobering thought but I was too far gone to realise it would never happen.

I was up most nights chatting to a friend who had me convinced I was narcissistic, that my disorder was malignant, and I would never connect with my son. I started believing that I was passing mental illness to him through my breastmilk.

Scared, I saw my GP. I asked for a referral to a psychiatrist.

“No, you can see your psychologist. You just need to deal with your birthing trauma.”

I went to the doctor down the road for a second opinion. He told me to kick the cat when I felt traumatised and to see my psychologist.

I went home, defeated. Later that afternoon, I formed the belief that the police were after me, there was a conspiracy, drugs had been planted in my house, and I was going to jail. I believed that a former friend had planted the drugs the last time she visited me. I deactivated my Facebook account and begged my wife to hospitalise me.

She did.

That was when I ended up in Belmont’s Postnatal Clinic. Fortunately, I got the best psychiatrist, Dr. Lyndall White, who stabilised my medication, gave me sleeping tablets, and suggested Electroconvulsive Therapy.

I swallowed.

“Are you sure? Isn’t that shock treatment, like the old days?”

“Yes, but it’s come a long way. It’s nothing like it used to be. It is performed under general anaesthetic, so you won’t be awake for it. It’s highly effective and considering your graphic night terrors and intrusive thoughts, it is likely to be very helpful.”

I agreed to six treatments and the next day, I was wheeled into theatre.

In the treatment, they put electrodes on my head, and gave me a needle to put me to sleep.

I woke up about ten minutes later, groggy, but okay. Because I was an inpatient and Soren was in the hospital with me, I was able to rest until the afternoon.

Since treatment, I have had no night terrors and I feel generally well. Although this is a treatment shrouded in controversy, it has certainly worked for me.

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