Miss Murder Starts TMS Therapy: An Introduction

TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, and it’s a technique used for medication-resistant depression.

Hello. I’m Mercedes and I have clinical depression. I’m a wife, a mother, a writer, and a friend. I love pets and I dance in the rain and I struggle with suicidal ideation nearly every single day of my life. It’s a bit of a juxtaposition.

Admitting I had depression was a Big, Terrifying Thing, and admitting it publicly was even scarier. I thought it meant I wasn’t trying hard enough to exercise or pray or smile the sadness away. After all, as people continue to tell me (as recently as last Sunday), I have a family and a roof over my head. I don’t have any reason to be depressed and I’m therefore ungrateful.

Depression has nothing to do with ingratitude, but we’ll discuss that later. For now I’ll say that I have hit the rock bottom and I’ve been here for about two years now. Something has to change or I’ll lose my ever-loving mind. Since I’m new to TMS, I thought I’d share the experience with you in case it’s something you want to look into.

TMS uses magnetic fields to stimulate certain areas in your brain that tend to be, well, depressed when you are. Here’s a quick writeup on it from the Mayo Clinic. Better living through magnets sounds a bit woo-woo or scammy, so I did some pretty thorough research before starting. You sit in a chair and the psychiatrist puts a magnetic coil close to (but not touching) your head. It’s a repetitive treatment that takes about 20 minutes a day, and you do it five days a week for 6-8 weeks. It’s a time commitment. You can’t simply skip it. Many insurances cover it (mine did! Yay!) because it’s about $13,000 without insurance. TMS isn’t your first line of defense when you’re dealing with depression. It’s a last resort. They want you to try talk therapy and usually at least two different medications first. The doctor will ask several questions and give you the standard PHQ-9 depression questionnaire in order to find a less nebulous way to measure your depression. Curious? You can take that yourself here. I scored a 23. Ouch.

I’m fortunate that my family is so supportive. While I definitely keep things at an age-appropriate level, my kiddos know about my depression because it, unfortunately, affects them. It’s unfair to hide it and force ourselves to navigate the situation blindfolded. They know there are days when Mom needs them to do their chores without her asking again, or maybe she needs a nap. They know sometimes she gets sad and it never, ever has anything to do with them. They are my joy and we constantly reenforce that. I have a very strong family history of depression and chances are that my children will experience it, too. It’s important to show them that we can do this.

Anyway, I’ll post about TMS weekly to explain the process and how I feel. I know it’s an uncomfortable subject, so I’ll mark the subject line very clearly in order to give you, dear friends, the chance to avoid the post completely if you’d prefer. It’s all about doing what is best for you! <3

10 Comments on “Miss Murder Starts TMS Therapy: An Introduction”

  1. Thank you! I suffer too. I can count the nondepressed days I’ve had in my life on both my hands.
    It’s a battle. It’s work to hang on. I am always raw. Meds make a dent but not enough. I will be following your journey. And you have my support. Hugs.

    1. I’m so sorry you struggle with it, too. It really isn’t fair. It’s cruel that some have to battle with it every day and others have the luxury of not.

  2. I ask the PHQ-9 questions to patients at work everyday, but I’ve never asked myself what my answers would be. I just took the test and I scored 22. So believe me, you are not alone. I really hope the TMS works spectacularly for you.

    1. Thank you! So far it’s only been five treatments and I’m already seeing a difference!

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