Tuesday, May 15, 2012
I was discharged from from the psychiatric clinic this morning. Thirty-two days of continuous, intense treatment – including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), mood stabilising drugs and various types of psycho-therapy – are at an end. Has it made any difference? Yes. For a time, I didn't think it had. I had only glimpses of sanity that quickly receded. Then, during the last week, there was a consistent mood, a stability, that I eventually recognised as 'being well'. It's a state I've not known since my teens. The huge dark void within me has filled. I'm no longer overwhelmed with sadness. My experience of the world isn't filtered through anger and self-loathing. When I look in the mirror I see the reflection of a woman, not a damaged monster. I don't hear ugly voices in my head. I am cheerful and pleasant. To me, this is profound. And no, I am not simply numbed by medication. I still experience a range of emotions. I am not yet at ease with the new ways I've learned to handle them but I feel much more in control. If I am upset, the feeling dissipates. It doesn't fester within me. If I am not quite 'well', I feel confident that I can be. I am tired from the drugs and the TMS treatment and I am still adjusting to a different way of seeing the world and myself. I'm cautious about how my mind processes experiences but everything looks and feels slightly different now – familiar, yet unfamiliar, like a William Gibson-esque 'mirror-world'. I recognise that my sanity is new-found and tenuous. It makes me nervous. Madness might return. I keep expecting it – like a player of Russian Roullette always expects the bullet. My psychiatrist tells me this is reasonable but he predicts that my residual anxiety will disappear within a few weeks. If it doesn't, the symptom will be noted in my treatment plan. This plan is designed to flag and treat any symptoms as soon as they begin to appear – instead of after they've ground my life to a halt or created a trail of wreckage. Every day, I fill in a mood chart. Every week I will show it to my psychiatrist. If I am travelling, my appointment with him will be via Skype instead of in person. I'll see a psychologist as well, so I continue to learn more coping skills. If (or, rather, when) depression returns, I will return to hospital for a short, 'maintenance' course of TMS. With luck, this time I might cling to sanity. Even in the worst moments. I'm determined it won't get away from me.