“My Electro-Convulsive Treatment Experience” – Coping, This Is Who We Are, Entry 23

Below, we have a submission from Fishspit, on their experiences with electroshock treatment and other thoughts on life.

The people that were in the cubicles all around me; how can I put it gently? Ah hell, let’s just say it: they were fucked up man. Over the rainbow. Toodly-whooped. Deranged. Damaged. Or just plain worn out.  The last house on the block.  I watched; I listened and I thought, “Holy cats!  Am I that fucked up?  Do I look like them?”  Befuddled. Mixed up. Nobody home- can’t make friends with the brain.


Shock!  Shock!  Let’s shock ‘em back into shape!  Get rolling!  Keep them doggies moving!  Rolling!  Rolling!  Rolling!  The shock mill!  They were sizing up our situation-asking the necessary questions.  They were nice nurses; they had a lot of compassion.  One of them put her hand on my shoulder as they put the electrodes on that first time. It’s a strange thing, all so strange.  Pardon me, dear reader, if I bounce around like a ping pong ball. It’s a part of the program right now. A side effect.  Being flumdiddled!  “It’ll go away,” they say.  I don’t care if it doesn’t; I’ll be a total simpleton!  I’ll be the slobbering screwball of the century. Just get that fucking beast depression out of my soul!  Shock the shit out of it!  Zip!  Zip Zoom! Zap!  Give it to me!  Double doses!  No, hell!  Quadruple doses: make me a dingus!  Destroy my reason! I want to play again!  Shock!  Zip!  Whammo!

When you come out of it, Oh god!  The first time was a terrifying vision!  I can’t remember the details. I don’t want to. I just remember the fear. I weighed it all in the balance; do I want to experience that again?  I decided it was worth it, but what a bitch!  Misery upon misery!  Would I do it again?  I decided, “Yes!”  But why so much misery?

The second time?  It was worse. I couldn’t breathe. I was conscious. I couldn’t move!  I couldn’t speak!  It’s hard to remember details. I was shocked you know.  Most people have no memory of the whole process; this would become true of me. But this time, Jesus. I could hear them talk. Their laughter. But I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak. It’s hard to remember it all!  I’m digging deeply here for you, dear reader. I’m visiting memories I’d rather forget . . . for you!  The anesthesia, the shock. Most people have no memory of the whole process.

I did.


A dead donkey has more sense than a person coming out of the induced seizure.  That’s what they do, induce a seizure.  Crazy!

I don’t ask questions.  No, I’m beyond all that.  I don’t give a good goddamned anymore.  Just shut up!  Shock me!  Let me become a human again. I haven’t been a human for so long. A jabbering idiot?  Yes!  Yes indeed.  I’ve stumbled through somehow, ended on that table.  Table?  It’s not really, dear reader. Wicked scientists? No!  They show the utmost compassion.  It’s soft, my little table. Plenty of cushion. The machinery-high tech!  Beeps, boops, tweets, twinks; all sorts of beeps going on. No use trying to separate them out.

My anesthesiologist (hey she’s kind of cute!) gives me her routine. Yeah, yeah, I don’t care; put me to sleep baby.  If I don’t wake up, well, was a rough life.  Put me to sleep!  Shock me!  Whammo!  Zip! Zip!  I want to be normal. I want that.

After the second treatment, I had gone home and was sitting on the couch watching my dear, old cat try to play, but this little angel has got some arthritis. 19 years old!  She’s still a kitten at heart!  Yes, but those back legs, especially them.  It only lasted for, well, I’d say a half an hour.  I sat on the couch, like I told you, looking at my cat. I realized there was no depression!  Absolutely none.  I have depression on me at all times, unless I drink liquor or take drugs. But with this path, I ended up homeless, sitting on a bench with my cat, swilling Potter’s 100 proof. Catholic Family Services came down to my bench once a day and brought me a sandwich and my cat a can of food.   Those days were done, though. No more liquor, no more drugs. I was left with a constant depression. I can feel it some as I write. Sometimes it’s a mosquito, a small pestering depression, a tiny dark spot on the soul. But then!  Oh my!  It can become a gorilla!  Consuming me absolutely!  Then I become bed bound, and sometimes, even have to be fed by another by hand, one spoonful of soup at a time.  I become so consumed by darkness I cannot lift my head.  I piss in the bed!  No getting up!  They roll me over and change the sheets.  It’s a hideous thing!  Oh god!  It’s black!  But I’m losing you again.

I’ll take you back. I’m on the couch, watching my precious, and I realize the depression is gone!  Absolutely, totally gone!  I thought Holy dipshits!  This is how other people feel!  This is how normal people feel!  It was then I understood how people navigated life so easily. I felt like others must feel what it felt like to be a normal person.  I could do this life thing!  It was a breeze!  Feeling like that . . . the weight off the brain and the soul. The horrors lifted; I was like, I can do this shit.  This shit’s easy!  Man!  It blew me away!   No wonder people mortgaged their soul, buying these suburban homes.  No wonder they popped out babies to an overpopulated world.  That shit, I realized, is easy!  For normal people.  Oh man, I could kick ass in this world. I was on top of it!  Ha ha, I’d be running this place.  God, life was easy without the black dog.

It went away though. I lost it. The depression returned. The grey and the brown sunk in. I sat, bewildered.




I don’t like to tell people I get E.C.T.  It’s too much of a hassle.  For instance, I’ve started going out into society again after a long hiatus.  My pal Bob took me to a musical jamboree.  I was smoking out back and this fellow took an interest in me for some reason.  We talked for quite some time.  I finally admitted that I get electro-convulsive treatment.  He didn’t know what I was talking about, so I said: “You know, shock treatments.”  People know that term!  He said, “Shock treatments have been outlawed since One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

God, if I had a nickel for every time that movie was brought up when I mention “shock treatments!”

I told him, “No, I get them.”  He demanded his assertion was correct.  He was calling me a liar, I guess.  I told him he could contact Swedish Hospital, the ECT department, if he didn’t believe me.”  He got up and left me in disgust.

Electro-convulsive treatment was good to me in that it got me out of a suicidal depression.   I still struggle, but at least I’m able to get up and get out of bed.  I was in bed for a very long time.  Still, its wreaked havoc with my brain.  They told me that it would affect my memory.  At first this didn’t seem to be happening.  I didn’t know what the big deal was.  But then, wow, things just seemed to slip away.  I forgot the names of people I knew very well!  It became difficult to tell a story.  It wasn’t only that I forgot the words needed, no!  It was also that I forgot the concepts that made up the basics of the story.  I don’t know how to describe this!  Unless it has happened to you, I don’t think you could know just what I mean.  Then there are the strange mental blank spots.  You are not supposed to drive when getting ECT.  I understand why!  I have been driven through places I have known for years, but I will look around me and not know where I am at.

I have been told that these side effects will diminish.  I currently get ECT once a month.  Depression has become a problem again.  It became very scarce with three treatments a week.  It seems to be rearing its insidious head again.   Vincent Van Gogh said something to his brother Theo as he was dying, after shooting himself. I once knew the quote quite well, but now I not only have forgotten it. I have forgotten which notebook I wrote it in. That’s one thing to mention: I take copious notes because my memory is so poor, so many that I’m becoming overwhelmed by the amount of notes.

Vincent said something to the effect that suffering never ends.  I know exactly what he was saying.


Remember, you’re never alone,

and you’re always loved.


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Coping: This Is Who We Are dear hope