A Honest Look into Life with Mental Illness and the Light at the End of the Tunnel
“I started to laugh again… I’m not constantly struggling to concentrate at work… I don’t cry in the car – well maybe occasionally…”
Depression is not always easy to identify when you’re the one living with it. It can take a long time to realize that what you’re feeling might be a long-term battle. Looking at options and trying different treatments can be exhausting, especially when your body is telling you to give up. Pam start TMS therapy in the winter of 2018. Like so many, depression was an illness she lived with for years before finding the right form of treatment. For Pam, much of her motivation to stay in the fight came from her son and so she managed her symptoms by practicing self care; staying active, eating well, and even reconnecting with her sister more often. Unfortunately, coping mechanisms aren’t always as effective as we wish they were. Just under a year ago, Pam found TMS and things began to look up. She gained the courage to make a big choice in her personal life and began looking forward to what life had to offer.
Pam’s story is unique because it’s her own but her struggles are far from uncommon. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that Major Depressive Disorder affects over 16 million adults in the U.S. in any given year (Facts & Statistics, n.d.). There is hope for those who feel like they have tried everything. Read Pam’s interview below to see how TMS helped her get back to feeling like herself again.
- Please tell me about the time you realized you were suffering from depression – in other words, when you realized that it was an ongoing issue.
I’ve had depression on and off for years. When I first noticed, it was about 15 years ago. It came on as overwhelming crying jags. It got more manageable and even went away at times. I few years later I realized that it was going to remain a problem, [it would] not just be a one time thing. [My depression] had pretty much gone away a few years ago. Then I tried getting off of my meds. It came back undeniably Spring 2017 and by July 2017, I was hospitalized.
- What do you remember most about your depression before TMS?
I felt heavy and tired most of the time. I couldn’t make decisions on what to wear never mind anything bigger. It sapped my will to live. I mostly hung on because I didn’t want to leave my son without a mother.
I had a hard time filling up my free time. And if I didn’t have anything to do I’d often sit on the bed and stare at the wall and weep.
- How did you cope with your depression?
I was treated (and still am) with three medications. I kept up with self care: avoided alcohol, regularly exercised, ate well. I went to counseling. I learned to connect with my sister weekly rather than just wait for an event of some sort. I learned some ways to deal with panic.
- How did you learn about TMS and what lead you to learn more?
I heard about TMS a few years before as a possible treatment through a couples therapist. When the medication wasn’t working for me and the wish to end it all was always there in the background, I knew I had to do something. Since I was more or less functioning at work, I didn’t believe [the depression] was bad enough to deserve this expensive treatment.
- What were your initial thoughts about the process once you started treatments?
I was afraid to be hopeful because if I was one of those [people] it didn’t work for, I didn’t know what I’d do. It was a lot of effort to add this to my day given how I struggled to do the things I had to do.
- Overall, how well did the therapy work for you? (downsides/ successes)
The TMS did wonders. After a month I started to feel like me again. At first I felt lighter, now I just feel ‘normal.’ I started to laugh again. Started to look forward to some things.
There are some residual things left from the depression that I may not get rid of. Six months after starting treatment I had a couple of depressive incidents (a few hours of feeling back down the hole) that scared the crap out of me. But they stopped and things have been good for over a month now.
- What was your life like after completing the treatment, were there any big changes?
Well, I finally asked for the divorce that I’d been unable to decide about for the previous year. I can’t say it was good, but it wasn’t bad either. Going through the worst of my depression was worse than going through this divorce.
- Please tell me a little bit about your life with/without depression today.
I’m more comfortable in social situations and have moved forward in making a few friends. I’m not constantly struggling to concentrate at work. I feel more myself while going about my daily errands. I don’t cry in the car – well maybe occasionally, there is a divorce to get through after all.
- Is TMS treatment something you would recommend to others?
Yes, definitely, and I have. Although, the person has declined to try it so far.
- If there is anything else you want others to know about TMS, depression, coping, our practice, etc. please share that here.
It is worth trying TMS. You don’t have to wait to get hospitalized or completely non-functional to try this. There are few if any side effects.
Facts & Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
If you think you may be a good candidate for TMS therapy, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can also check out the TMS page on our website to learn more information about the process and qualifications.