We were recently able to conduct an e-interview with author and TMS patient Mrs. Martha Rhodes. Last week we posted Part I of our interview with her and today we are please to share with you the rest of Mrs. Rhodes incredible story of how Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy changed her life for the better.
My doctor was very clear with me from the outset—TMS isn’t a quick fix. This information prepared me to be patient waiting for results. I didn’t begin to notice a difference in my mood until four weeks into the program.
Somewhere around my nineteenth session I woke up one morning without that disgusting “UGH!!” feeling—the feeling that’s a thousand times worse than the “I wish it wasn’t Monday morning and I didn’t have to go to work!” feeling. (I call this “emotional nausea”.) I had a feeling of lightness, as if a heavy winter coat had been removed from my tired shoulders. I noticed the music I listened to during my drives to and from my treatments was more upbeat and I found myself actually singing to the music! I began reaching out to friends again, to talk on the phone, meet them for lunch. My tears subsided and I heard myself laughing. The ever-present anxiety and sadness disappeared. I had increased energy although it wasn’t a manic kind of feeling. It felt more like an easy, quiet “knowing” that my life—and any problems in it—were manageable.
Having a strong support system in place to get me through the initial sessions when it seemed as if nothing was happening was important to my recovery. Taking a pill every morning is a tangible thing. You see it, you swallow it, you know it’s going into your bloodstream and will hopefully do the trick. TMS is far more discreet, almost mysterious. The fact that it is based on magnetic pulses almost lends itself to the realm of “magic”. It’s invisible and non-invasive—but it works.
How exactly did TMS help you?
TMS affects the neural pathways in the brain’s left pre-frontal cortex where emotions and mood reside. Short, MRI-strength magnetic pulses stimulated the area of my brain that wasn’t producing sufficient neurotransmitters (chemicals that activate nerve impulses). The magnetic fields produced very small electrical currents that awakened these cells within my brain so they started doing their job—which is to release the necessary neurotransmitters that alleviated my symptoms of depression. Antidepressant medications tried to induce my brain to achieve this, but in so doing, the drugs were passed through my entire body and affected other organs. TMS was applied directly to my brain so I didn’t have any of the side effects I experienced with the medications.
Has your depression returned since beginning TMS?
I’ve been without any serious depression relapses for almost three years. I did periodic, single “booster” treatments during the first two years after I began TMS that kept me symptom-free. Recently, however, I had an extended period of intense stress that caused me to relapse into a deeper depression. However, I was able to recognize the early symptoms of uncontrollable weepiness, agitation, abnormal sleep and loss of appetite, so I contacted my doctor who prescribed a series of ten treatments that immediately pulled me out of the “depression cave”. Although experiencing another bout of depression was upsetting, I was reassured that TMS is the therapy I can always rely on to maintain my mental health.
Describe your life today:
Major Depressive Disorder is a chronic, physical illness that I constantly monitor, just as I would have to attend to any chronic illness such as diabetes. I’m still coming to terms with this life-long disease. I also know that there’s no “get out of jail free card” that comes with TMS, but I’m relieved to have this dependable therapy that works for me better than any other treatment I’ve tried.
It didn’t seem possible while I was undergoing the treatment that I would ever feel normal, especially because the onset of relief that I call “The Lift” was very subtle. But once I began to notice the little things that had been missing when I was so low returning, I knew I would make it. I’m finally out of the dark cave. Not only have I recaptured my life, I’ve actually gained more than I had to begin with. My experience of life now is the difference between watching a video or movie vs. being at a live theatre performance. I feel more real and clearer now than I have ever felt before. The horrible symptoms of depression are gone. I’m functioning at a normal activity level and most important, I have a newfound value for my life–it really is worth living!
Your mantra when it comes to TMS therapy:
Trust the technology and don’t be afraid of alternative therapies for depression. Above all, have hope and “Just Proceed!”
You can check Part I of our interview and the rest of our blogs by subscribing!
If you would like to know more about TMS therapy or if you have any questions please feel free to contact us for a confidential consultation.
If Covid-19 and social isolation are heightening your symptoms of depression, Greenbrook TMS therapy may be able to help. At Greenbrook, we specialize in TMS therapy — an FDA-cleared, non-invasive treatment for treatment-resistant depression and OCD without harmful side effects. See if TMS therapy is right for you by clicking here to take a brief assessment: