"I'm confused," Angela said at the outset of our conversation last evening at 7:56 p.m. "Really confused."
She sounded groggy and sluggish. I hadn't heard quite this sound before. Her affect wasn't flat. She did not sound in the least depressed, but she didn't have the bounce in her voice I have come to expect lately.
Angela had her third bilateral electroconvulsive therapy treatment 12 hours earlier – her 15th over the last eight weeks. Her first 12 were unilateral. This coming Monday, she will begin the final stretch of her 12-week treatment course.
"I COULDN'T REMEMBER WHY I WAS HAVING ECT"
"I came out of the anesthesia this morning and I couldn't remember why I was having ECT and I'm still foggy," she said. "I had to do some stuff on the computer and I couldn't remember how. Eventually it came back though..."
"I bought a motorcycle today," she announced, voice sounding a little more cheery. She had been looking at one for over a week. Last summer, her motorcycle was stolen and she's wanted to replace it ever since, but she hasn't been able to move on that decision until now.
She informed me that she did not have her customary afternoon post-ECT nap yesterday, either.
Instead, she spent the whole day "doing things I had to accomplish," which included spending $16,000 on this new 2009 motorcycle.
"I spent money I don't entirely have," she said. "My mother is lending me $5,000, but when I talked to her about it earlier today, I couldn't really have a conversation with her, I was so confused. This evening, we talked again and I was feeling a little better."
I cut our conversation short. Clearly, she needed sleep. I sensed it and we discussed it. She admitted she was tired and going to bed right after she hung up the phone.
THIS MORNING SHE SOUNDED REFRESHED
At 10:42 a.m. this morning, she sounded like a different person when she answered the phone – refreshed, alert and bright as the day. It's sunny and will reach 18 degrees Celsius.
"I'm much less confused, though some things are not back yet," she admitted. "I've only been up for about an hour and a half."
We talked about how she learned an important lesson, yesterday, about her need for a nap after her ECT that seems to "scramble my brain." Sleeps seems to unscramble it.
SLEEP UNSCRAMBLES HER BRAIN AFTER ECTSleep heals. We chatted about it and she admitted that having a nap when she can fall asleep on the afternoons after her ECT treatments "may be an answer."
She was giggling and laughing a lot during our talk. She reported that she was feeling "not too bad" – generally "normal" about her mood and life in general, with "not a lot of plans for the day."
Usually, Angela sees her psychiatrist on Friday mornings, but today, her psychiatrist is attending a conference.
"I'm not nearly as confused as I was last night, not by a long shot," she said. "I'm feeling much better and my memories are coming back. It just takes a little time, which can be frustrating."
* * * * *
HONOURING THE MEMORIES OF PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS PAST
About four weeks ago, Geoffrey Reaume sent me a note about an upcoming, intriguing and creative-sounding artistic initiative called "Words on the Wall" ~ a fundraiser for plaques for the 19th Century Patient-Built Wall.
Geoff and I go back quite a few years. I've interviewed him several times on a variety of topics related to the history of psychiatric treatment of "inmates" at the former Provincial Lunatic Asylum, now the site of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) at 1001 Queen Street West.
He is not only a "psychiatric consumer survivor" himself – and flourishing in his recovery, I might add – but also he is the author of Remembrance of Patients Past: Patient Life at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane, 1870-1940.
This is fascinating and at times alarming history. Geoff is a dedicated and passionate advocate of honouring the memories of the patients who built this wall. He is the driving force of The Psychiatric Survivor Archives who freely and quite regularly shares his expertise and the stories behind the bricks for for people who wish to tour the wall with him.
BUILD A BRICK WORK OF ART AND HELP PUT "WORDS ON THE WALL"
Now that I've given you Geoffrey's history, here's why he contacted me.
You can take part. The Psychiatric Survivor Archives of Toronto is giving out bricks to serve as the basis for a work of art – possibly yours. Artists and groups, anyone, really, can use a medium of their choice to decorate or create an original brick-based work of art that will be sold by silent auction that night. The evening will raise funds for historic plaques to commemorate the history of the patient-built wall.
That evening, Geoff will also lead one of his engaging tours of "the wall," followed by a relaunch of the 2nd edition of his book, Remembrance of Patients Past. This evening will wind up with the silent auction.
The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, April 7 and to request a brick or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 416-661-9975 or 416-809-1013.
WE MUST KEEP CHALLENGING DISCRIMINATION THOUGH EDUCATION
This is a universally significant event, I think, because we must never forget where we've come from, how important and vital our history is and how much work needs to be done to publicly educate everyone, young and old, about psychiatric issues past and present.
Without emotional health and well-being, we have nothing.
We must challenge and keep challenging discrimination – through education.
We are the best experts. We all can raise our voices. We need to be heard.