My first symptoms of depression engulfed me at the tender age of 8 years old. I don’t remember the circumstances of that afternoon, but I chewed up an overdose of baby aspirin. As I grew older, the symptoms of depression culminated into suicidality and the need for several psychiatric hospitalizations. Now, at the age of 43, depression still haunts me.
It’s an all encompassing illness that does not discriminate and has taken a toll on my physical health. Chronic pain in my shoulders or lower back plagued me and has added to my mood disorder. Sleep is a profound symptom and many times I was unable to get out of bed and I was unable to enjoy life.
Over the past 25 years, I’ve been prescribed 15 different antidepressant medications. Most of them have side effects that were intolerable. However, some of the medications actually gave me relief, but for just a few months. I would slowly sink back down into a fog. It’s difficult to accept having relief from depression for a short time only to wind up back down into its depths.
I’ve been absent nearly my entire marriage of 20 years. My kids knew me as cold and unapproachable. Sleep was ever necessary day or night. Images of my own self destruction occupied my mind feverishly and left no room for meaningful relationships. A few years ago, my wife had a miscarriage, but I slept that day, unable to comfort her or help her through a difficult time.
A few weeks later, an all time low in our relationship, I decided to commit to getting better. Although I had doubts that I could get better, I decided to try anything. This is when I found an article in our local paper about a treatment called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS.
I was surprised that TMS is an outpatient procedure. I could drive myself to the TMS Center, have my 45 minute treatment and drive myself home. The treatment’s magnetic coil is placed strategically on the left side of my head. The magnetic pulse feels like a woodpecker tapping my head, but is painless. More importantly, I began to see my depression lifting. I didn’t sleep as much during the day and I could take care of myself. Ever so quickly, I felt as if there was some hope.
Two years later my depression has lifted in ways I never dreamed of. I’m not absent as a husband and father. I’ve even participated in a week long fishing trip with coworkers, which is something I’ve never been able to do. I never knew life could be this good