Over the next 22 years, I suffered from depression that became so dark that it suffocated my spirit and overshadowed my accomplishments. I was treated by multiple psychiatrists, who prescribed countless combinations of prescription drugs which only provided minimal, temporary relief of my symptoms. The side-effects of these psychiatric medications included everything from constant fatigue and drastic weight gain to sexual dysfunction and various neurological symptoms.
At one point, when I was 24 years old, my body became resistant to pharmaceutical treatment. This left me with no other option than to have Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), more commonly known as shock therapy. The hope of this treatment was to reset my ailing brain much like you would reboot a malfunctioning computer. The procedure was vulgar, requiring a electric shock administered to the brain to induce seizure. I had to be placed under heavy sedation during each treatment which left me disoriented and groggy for the rest of the day. It also caused some lasting memory loss, not to mention the stigma attached to such a treatment due to it's depiction in horror movies containing scenes of insane asylums.
After my release from the hospital, I became a patient at Ocean Psychiatric Group, Dr. Schrieber's practice, in Virginia Beach, Va. It was there that I made an appointment to consult with Dr. Heatwole in order to see if I was a candidate for TMS. With that appointment, a chain of events began that impacted my life in an unimaginably, positive way. I was accepted as a candidate for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and suddenly I had hope again: hope in the idea that I could experience remission from my lifelong depression... hope that I could become functional in all aspects of my life... hope that I could be happy.