November 2, 2016
Southern California TMS Center
15233 Ventura Boulevard, Suite #310
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.” – Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind Of A Funny Story
To anyone who can relate to the quotation above, my heart is with you. I have battled depression and anxiety since early adolescence (I’m age 33 as I sit here now) and I know the nightmare they truly are.
Over the years, I’ve tried to treat my mental illness with more medications than I can remember; I’ve spent countless hours (and thousands of dollars) sitting on various psychotherapists’ and psychiatrists’ couches; I’ve read numerous self-help books; I’ve stayed sober 15 years and worked the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous; and I attended a week-long workshop on codependence and childhood trauma. While all the treatments and modalities above have helped me at different times and to different extents, none of them treated my depression as profoundly as rTMS has.
Earlier this year, my depression took me to the darkest and most hopeless state of mind I’ve ever experienced. After a few “nervous breakdowns” (i.e. several days in a row in bed, in the fetal position, barely eating or communicating to my family, and not wanting to die but not wanting to be alive either), my psychiatrist leveled with me and told me that I was running out of medical treatment options. He said that because I’d already tried and failed almost every antidepressant on the market, if I didn’t take a more aggressive approach (stronger/older meds with more side effects, in-patient treatment, ECT, etc.) that my next severe depressive episode had the potential to be my last given my increasing suicidal ideation and inability to cope with day-to-day life.
Luckily, my psychiatrist knew about the potential benefits of rTMS and recommended I investigate it before we try any of the more aggressive treatments. He recommended I seek the treatment at UCLA (as that was the only treatment center he was aware of at the time), but the idea of having to drive to UCLA 5 days a week from North Hollywood and then deal with the bureaucracy of a giant hospital like that nearly sounded worse than the depression itself. So, with a quick Google search, I found the SoCal TMS website and discovered that they have a location in Sherman Oaks (much closer than UCLA) and that I wouldn’t have to deal with any of the hassle of a hospital environment. Within a few minutes I was on the phone with Joann and we set a time to meet for an initial consultation.
From the moment the consultation began, I knew I’d made the right choice. Joann made me feel comfortable with the process and put my mind at ease. Her optimism and hope were infectious and I couldn’t wait to get started with my treatments. I was a bit nervous about how the treatment would feel, but, in my experience, it wasn’t painful at all. It feels bizarre, that’s for sure; but it was never painful in any way for me.
Dr. Debnath, the psychiatrist who oversaw my treatment, is an excellent doctor. He is very thorough in his evaluations and it is obvious that he cares deeply about his patients’ wellbeing. He was always excited when my depression inventory scores went down and when I reported that I was feeling better. Thank you, Dr. Debnath, for your excellent care and for going above and beyond!
And then there’s Tracy Lynn, my rTMS technician/spiritual advisor. I will never know how to properly thank her for all she did for me. Her compassion is endless, her sense of humor is priceless, her optimism is inspiring, and her intuition, experience, and wisdom helped guide me through the most difficult period of my life. Tracy – thank you from the bottom of my heart. You truly helped save my life.
After 50 rTMS treatments, I can attest to the awesome power of this treatment. If you’re looking for a treatment that will make you want to skip down the street and maybe throw in some cartwheels, let me know if you find it! But, if you want to feel like you can face the world again without having to retreat to your bed in the fetal position, if you want the resilience to deal with some of the legitimate life problems you may have that would be challenging to any human being but incapacitating to someone who’s depressed, or if you want to regain the ability to slow down for a second and realize that everything is okay and that it’s alright to have some fun and feel some joy, then rTMS may be the answer for you.
My sincere hope is that if you are suffering from the relentless pain of depression that you can find the help and treatment you need, be it rTMS or otherwise. If you would like to know more about my treatment or about my experience with mental illness in general, I’d be happy to share my experience at any time with anyone.
Again, to everyone at SoCal TMS – thank you for my life.
(Please contact Joann at 424-333-5644 if you would like to connect with Brett.)