So the last time we talked, I was getting in the groove of doing TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), a non-medication based treatment for anxiety and depression. I got everyone interested in it, and excited to hear about how it was going and whether or not it was going to help, and then I promptly disappeared for several months. I know several of you are interested, so I wanted post a brief update and checkin.
TMS, ultimately, helped me a lot. I made it through my whole treatment for both anxiety and depression, and almost immediately my anxiety was muted. It was as though I had been living for decades with Five Finger Death Punch playing on a loop in my head, but then within a couple of days of treatments it suddenly switched to Eva Cassidy. I never knew life without crippling anxiety and it felt surreal to be able to go weeks at a time without irrational fear of grocery stores and silence and meat, or having to stay home because driving was terrifying, or second guessing everything I’ve ever said to everyone. Currently I am having some anxiety pop back up due to stressful life events, but even so it is just a fraction of what I used to deal with before TMS.
The depression part of the treatment was a little more complicated. The treatments went fine for the first couple weeks, even though I couldn’t really see much of a change in my depression. Then suddenly, after a tweak in medications and a tweak in tMS settings, I crashed into severe depression and became suicidal. Like, full government shutdown. So the dr opted to pause treatment and get my medications adjusted to get me off the cliff’s edge. It was scary. I did not have to go to the hospital again during this time, but I did deal with some self harm and destructive thoughts. Finally we found a successful medication dose, and I was eventually able to resume treatment.
The goal of TMS is to get you into depression and anxiety remission, which is a thought so appealing and impossible that I don’t let myself think about it. I am definitely not in remission. But I am improved, and I don’t live with daily suicidal thoughts, inability to function for days or weeks at a time, or hating and hurting myself. It feels amazing to have some of the depression weight lifted. I know that it can and will come back at times, but that’s life with bipolar – nothing ever stays the same. The TMS treatments can also be repeated or “boosted” as needed. (At least as long as insurance is being agreeable.)
When I hit the skids with the depression again, and even when I was back on the treatments and improving, I unplugged myself from almost everything and everyone for the sake of healing and self preservation. Having a conversation, or even answering a question was more than I could handle. I shut down social media. I stopped responding to texts and messages. I didn’t shower much. Any tiny amount of energy I had went directly to my family, and that was it for me. I hoped that my relationships with friends would survive when I reached the other side of this episode, but I knew not all of them would.
I am improving now, though I am dealing with some returning depression and anxiety due to some stressful stuff going on in my life. I am coping well, though. I have the best therapist in the world who doesn’t let me pout and doesn’t let me get away with shit. I have a very stable and structured day to day at home, and I have a boyfriend who loves me even though I’m a giant pain in the ass and I make too much noise when we’re watching hockey games together. I also have family close by and across the country that I’m getting to rebuild relationships with. There are still days when I don’t have the energy to shower or answer text messages or leave the house, and the medication side effects have turned my brain into pudding, but even on my worst day (so far) I still feel hope. Or at least I don’t feel like giving up. For now, I’ll take it.