As 2023 ends, I wanted to share my reflections on how Life After ECT came to be, why I’ve chosen a lighthouse to represent it, and where we are headed in the new year.
The symbolism of lighthouses has always brought me comfort.
As a teen, I loved the concept of a lighted tower guiding ships to safety amid darkness, storms, and deadly waters.
In the early 2000s, I bought a poster of a lighthouse standing strong against a violent storm; its beacon was so bright you could see the clear blue sky where it shined.
This poster became a source of peace and hope for me while I was bedridden from crippling psychiatric drug side effects and the two years of hellish withdrawals coming off of them. I would stare at that strip of blue sky, dreaming of the day this nightmare would be over.
Partway into my drug taper, my brain was damaged by electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), leaving me disabled in ways I never imagined possible.
After my last ECT treatment, I woke up to a bizarre new reality; my vision was distorted, I struggled with speech, and my memory had been decimated.
My doctors refused to believe me when I sought help for these problems, leaving me with nowhere to turn.
I tried to find answers online, but every article I read said the same things as my doctors: ECT is life-saving, it doesn’t cause brain damage, and anyone who says otherwise is mentally ill or an extremist.
The poster I stared at daily took on a new meaning; now it felt like I was lost in its storm, but there was no lighthouse to guide me to safety. I was surrounded by darkness and danger, with no clear path forward, unseen and unheard.
Denial of my injuries and the isolation from undiagnosed, untreated brain damage nearly led me to suicide. But, after discovering the potential for healing after brain damage, I decided to keep living.
I had already lost everything, so I had nothing to lose by trying to understand what had happened to me and how I might recover.
I dedicated the next sixteen years of my life to learning everything I could about my health, the brain, and rehabilitation.
I devoured books, studies, and articles on ECT, reading hundreds of pieces of content each year so I could understand the industry that misled and abandoned me after their treatment destroyed my life.
I earned my GED and spent a few semesters in college learning how to write. Between school and rehab, I studied marketing, website management, and education so that I could create all the resources I desperately wished existed when ECT disabled me in 2006.
Along the way, I’ve met extraordinary people who have helped Life After ECT become the first non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of those harmed by electroshock.
Life After ECT Inc. is the realization of that wish I made 17 years ago — to ensure no one has to navigate this darkness alone.
We invite you to join us in 2024 as we work towards a brighter future for those harmed by ECT. Learn how you can support our work.