The Actual Electric Shock Chamber Experience-ECT for my Anxiety.
Whatever they had given me had worked like a charm and I was awoken by a different nurse telling me that it was time to get ready. Time for the Shock Doc to do his thing. Depression People like me do not sleep well so last night was a bonus. Anxiety and Depression disorder and my Depression Behaviour over the months had exhausted me. She handed two of those green hospital gowns and said that she would be back in 5 minutes. I sat up on the side of the bed and gathered my thoughts. It was now time for the real deal. ECT for my condition was common enough but I would have to put my trust in a Psychiatrist whom I hardly knew. I would be fine. I had led a colourful life with many dramatic ups and downs so this should be a walk in the park. Addiction of the mind was not going to get me any time soon.But my deepest instincts told me otherwise. I was frightened. I could my heart beating rapidly. They were going to pass electric shocks through my brain and try and bring me back to the real world. It was bizarre but true.
A lot of people had suffered terribly due to my illness and I owed it to them to go through with this. But they were not here at this very minute. Fortunately my thoughts were once again stopped by the return of the nurse. She asked me to follow her to the Annexe. We walked slowly as my legs once again felt heavy and unco-operative. I could feel her watching my every move. Was she expecting me to make a run for it and if so, why? It was before 7 o'clock but the corridors were full of people and staff going about their business. Each step was bringing me closer to my fate and I could feel my resolve weakening. Was I out of my mind? Some stupid reactions of Alcoholism and Prescription Pills and now I had to rely on a Psychiatrist to pass electricity through my brian. Crazy.
The Annexe was right at the rear of the Hospital grounds and we had to walk out in the open to reach it. It was a lovely summers day in Durban with a clear blue sky. I almost felt like one of those men in the American movies who is taking his last walk to the execution chamber. As we reached the entrance to the Annexe she opened the door for me and took me through to a sort of waiting lounge, then she disappeared. I was alone again. I sat with my head on my knees and started to pray out loud. I needed his help now more than ever. To my left was one of those flipcharts that you see at seminars. Some other demented soul had obviously tried to pour out his own demons. The words were the ramblings of another broken and sad person and only reinforced my own misgivings of this place at the end of the road.
This time I was snapped out of my spiral downwards by the sound of another nurse at the lounge entrance. "We're ready for you Mr. Butterworth." I forced myself to stand up and walked towards her. She too seemed to be watching my every move and as I reached her she took my hand and said softly, "You'll be fine." Tears flowed down my cheeks as I took a few steps right behind her as she walked down the corridor and stopped at an open door entrance. For a moment I peered into her eyes and wondered what she thought of me. Maybe sorrow. Maybe just another sick and warped mind to be fixed. She must have seen many cases of Anxiety and Depression Disorder and would have noted my own Depression Behaviour. I froze in the doorway. I had to say something. I needed to hear my own voice. I stammered out the only thing that I could think of. " Lethal injection time." She smiled and moved aside to let me pass and enter the room. A Psychiatrist wanted me here in this awful place and ECT for my Symptoms of Anxiety Depression was sometimes par for the course.
The so-called 'chamber' was smaller and darker than I expected. No bigger than a small family home bedroom. My mind was speeding as I tried to take in the sight before me. It absolutely resembled the death chamber that we've all seen in the movies. Right in the middle was a long chair, similar to what you see in a dentists surgery. The type that you can recline the backrest. I was sure that there was straps hanging down. Around the walls were small medical type machines on trolleys. There seemed to be at least 6 people standing around, both male and female. Out of the corner of my eye I recognised the Anesthetist and my kindly Shock Doc who had seen me the previous night. I was only a couple of steps away from the chair but I could not move. I could sense the occupants of the room waiting for my next move. Even I was uncertain about that. Here was my last chance to give this whole fucking scene a total miss. What right had these people to put me through this agony. I wanted to scream at the top of my voice that I was a person, just like they were. I had feelings , hopes and dreams. I was scared. More scared than I had ever been in my life. I was not suffering from depression. They were all wrong. I was just confused and needed to rest. If only they would give me a chance to explain. This was all a huge misunderstanding.
My hesitation was obviously the cue for the "Shock Team" to swing into action.
The nurse gently took my hand and led me to the chair. I had put the gowns on to cover my front and back and as I started to lie down they were twisting around my body. She helped me to straighten them. The chair was in the upright position and I leaned slightly back and made contact with the backrest. The nurse was adjusting my legs and I was aware of the Anethetist to my left taking my arm gently. It was nearly time and I was paralyzed and overwhelmed by a numbing sensation of hopelessness and fear. From my raised position I could make out what seemed to be at least three other persons, all staring intently at me. I could feel their eyes boring into me. What was passing through their minds at this moment? Somewhere deep inside of my tortured soul I pleaded for their understanding. Could they not see that I was a good man at heart, someone who had just gone wrong, someone who could not help it. A broken lifespirit crying out for help. To my left I heard the soft voice of the man getting ready to let me have some rest from this hell. " Relax Alan, it won't be long now."
The nurse appeared at my side again and smeared a strong smelling liquid on my left and right temple. It must have started to run into my eyes and instinctively my hand moved to wipe it. She beat me to it and pulled my hand away and wiped my eyes clean. "How's that?" Unable to speak I nodded and she took this as a yes and stepped back. Moments later she reappeared holding two leads with what appeared to be stickers attached to the end. These were gently pressed onto my temples and then she stepped back again. Time was now in double slow motion and through my haze of confusion I noticed all the bright flickering lights of the machines around the room. My mouth was so dry that the shock of the salty taste of my own tears brought a new wave of panic. I wanted to scream out for someone in this torture chamber to hold me and say that everything would be all right. I suddenly tried to sit upright and at that very moment my own Psychiatrist was standing at the bottom of the chair. At last somebody who knew and understood me. He stood with his arms folded behind his back. " And how are you this morning Alan?" He pronounced my name with a kind of French accent and as I paused to consider this strange action I leaned back on the chair.
I closed my eyes and the only thought that I could muster was who was going to throw the switch? I opened them again and a stillness had settled over the chamber. Peering into the eyes of my Psychiatrist and the nurse I could sense that it was time to rock n' roll. My typical Depression Behaviour probably made them nervous. How I wish that my Mary was standing beside me now. A terrible weight descended on me and I now knew that I was ready. ECT for this soul destroying illness was my last hope. The months of desperation and pain compressed into a single second and I was tired, so very tired. Symptoms of anxiety depression and Addiction of Alcohol had resulted in a broken spirit waiting for the electric shock to begin.I sensed a movement to my right and before I could respond the blackness overcame me. A Psychiatrist, a so-called Shock Doc had brought me to a place of peace.
This is the conclusion of a previous post of how A Psychiatrist saved my life.
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