4 Rounds

BY ANDREW MOODY

Yesterday I had my fourth bout of ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy) – so-called because they pass an electrical current through your brain while you are unconscious.

Where I once tried to put a positive spin on it, I am now firmly against the procedure, owing to irritability, confusion and memory loss that does not look like fading away – not to mention the supposed risk of Alzheimers and paralysis. At heart I feel the ECT is a way to control my free-spirited nature as opposed to helping me in any conceivable, therapeutic way.

According to the head psychiatrist at the hospital where I receive treatment, ECT (possibly because it’s cheap) is the only thing that can help me. I have my doubts, especially after reading a Daily Mirror exposé on ECT published this month.

Lisa Trainor wrote on the 12th of January that, “Vulnerable teens with mental health issues are routinely given controversial electric shock therapy by NHS doctors. A Sunday Mirror probe today reveals patients as young as 16 have been given ECT despite fears over its long-term effects. Studies have shown ECT can cause memory loss, disorientation and even brain damage. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that from 2016 to 2018, 5,165 patients were given shocks to the brain as high as 460 volts. The patients were aged 16 to 98. The total number of teens treated is not identified but a separate report seen by the Mirror shows one in six NHS Trusts administered ECT to under-18s.”

Barbara Keeley, the Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Social Care, has said: “The use of electroconvulsive therapy on children and young people with mental health conditions by NHS trusts is deeply concerning and warrants immediate investigation by the Government and NHS England. “Even in adults this treatment ought to be a last resort.”

I have no history of violence, but I do have a big mouth and a poison pen. Further bouts of ECT horrify me considering my brain is my most valuable asset. I still have a headache from yesterday’s ECT treatment, and I find it unlikely anyone who has had the procedure will ever be allowed to drive again.

The procedure works thus: they place Electro pads on your temples, and prick your hand with a sedative whilst placing an oxygen mask over your face. They place a bit between your teeth then once you become unconscious they zap you with up to 460 volts.

When I have come to from my four bouts, I have been woozy, unsure of where I am and find locations that were once familiar seemingly alien. I’m told the procedure takes no more than fifteen minutes, but longer for the sedative to wear off. Seizures are common in post ECT patients. I have become irritable due to the spots in my memory, but I only have one hour a day leave split into four fifteen minutes and I am always escorted by a nurse.

Even in my darkest days in these quote unquote hospitals I never thought they’d go this far without explaining why. I agreed to four. I have done four.

Society has little understanding of mental illness. To most people I’m worth nothing, really, am I? All I can do is warn parents that sectioning their children may be the biggest mistake of their lives. If I drop down dead from a seizure or develop left side paralysis, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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