Explanatory preface: Last winter/spring, I had 29 ECT’s, most of which were bilateral brief pulse, the highest “dose” they can give you. I don’t regret doing it, as it did help for a while, but now I have cognitive and memory damage that may well be permanent.
Pseudo-Therapist was back today from her time off, so I had a meeting with her. Most of it was just useless conversation, but somehow we got on the topic of my memory loss, and she asked me how I could tell what was from dissociation and what was from ECT. It’s not always easy to tell, particularly for lost time/episodic memories.
Being from Alabama, I told her that it was like tornadoes and hurricanes. Both do a lot of damage, but they do it in ways that look different.
ECT is a hurricane. You see it coming, and you know it’s going to do damage, though you don’t know how much. But because you know it’s coming, you can prepare and make sure you survive it with necessities intact. The damage it does is wide and consistent–it destroys everything in its past. With ECT, I lost most of the previous 5-6 years. Like a city, some of it I can rebuild, with the help of old journals and memories shared by other people. But neither the city nor my mind will ever be the same.
Dissociation is a tornado. It can do incredible amounts of damage, but the damage is not consistent. One house (or memory) will be completely destroyed, but the one next door will be fine. You can’t anticipate tornadoes. Sure, you can learn what systems of barometric pressure and air temperatures might spawn them, and you learn to recognize that unsettling gray-green quality of the light just before they hit, but you can’t predict the severity or where they’ll hit. The best you can do is huddle in the basement when the sirens go off and hope that the wind or the triggers don’t demolish you.