Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Almost two weeks post-discharge, and Electrogirl is still feeling pretty good. That makes two weeks without any suicidal rumination, two weeks without obsessing over self-injury. Two weeks of mood stability. I am suspiciously optimistic.

Of course, this past week (since my ECT on Friday) has not been without its anxieties. There were a few bumps in the past ECT session which were fairly traumatizing. My vein blew which caused the anesthetic to seep into muscle instead of vein, which in turn, meant I was conscious but unable to move much more than my eyeballs which, in turn, flitted back and forth as fast as possible in an attempt to signal to the powers that be THAT I WAS NOT UNDER AND STILL AWAKE SO PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT START. Thankfully, my doctor was attentive and halted the procedure. But still. Complete loss of control. A small hint at what all those impending amputations, sans anesthesia, must have felt like for those injured civil war soldiers. What anticipation of pain feels like coupled with the inability to do anything about it.

I maintained the stiff –upper lip and didn’t let on that I was completely terrified and wanted to bolt from the OR, even handed over my other arm for a second try at the IV and anesthesia and ECT. Of course, I didn’t cry and insisted I was fine. I even laughed, or forced myself to laugh because I am not someone who admits fear or shows weakness.

There are consequences to that bravado. All weekend long I relived those few minutes in the OR, panicking each night in bed, unable to breathe, crying even, because I would have to do it all over again this Friday. It’s not the actual electro-convulsing that is scary. It’s the relinquishing of control, the muting of speech that is threatening. Lying immobile on the gurney, a passive body, unable to shout out STOP, having to trust that others know what they’re doing. With anesthesia, with electricity, with my brain?

It’s an analogous test, isn’t it? The part of me that doesn’t believe in coincidence, that doesn’t believe that life is merely a series of random chance happenings says, “Well, my biggest obstacle in recovery has been my inability to give up control. It’s what feeds the Eating Disorder. It’s what underlies the hours-long rumination at night. It’s what keeps me on the treadmill for miles and miles. Like a belligerent teenager, IT says, ‘No one can tell me what to do.’ Not Christopher, not Dr. B., not anyone who might be able to see a way clear for me from IT. The only voice that consequently gets heard is ITs voice. Now, the ECT procedure demands that I give up control and trust the doctors, trust their knowledge and expertise, trust that they will take care of me. If I can do this, if I can yield to this, then ITs voice might recede, too.”

Don’t get me wrong. My fear is not without basis so I’ll be certain to air my grievances before the ECT procedure on Friday, namely that they make sure I’m out, completely out before getting ready to zap me. But I’ll go through with it because ECT is holding out its hopeful hand, pulling me up through the sludge and the muck of depression. It’s giving me the chance to be grateful that I am alive.

Last night, my son lay sleeping in my bed, the king-size mattress ready to swallow him whole. How vulnerable he looked. I crawled in beside him, spooned his small body against mine. Breathed him in, kissed the top of his head, placed a hand over his beating heart. Gratitude, I realized, is not enough. I also need to be here, in body and mind, for my children. So even though going through ECT might scare the shit out of me, it is doing what it's supposed to do which means that I get to be Momma without the madness.