From transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to vagus-nerve stimulation (VNS) to deep-brain stimulation (DBS), a shocking story, Maria Luisa Tucker’s “Shock and Awe,” of a woman who is desperate in seeking for a cure of severe depression before she reaches her suicidal destination:
Kelley’s journey into the labyrinth of experimental treatments began 15 years ago, when she was officially diagnosed with major depressive disorder at age 29. She had known for years that something was wrong: In college, where she graduated magna cum laude with degrees in English literature and fine arts, she consumed espresso by the pot, alcohol by the liter, and clove cigarettes by the carton, self-medicating the unnameable thing that kept her awake all night and numb all day. After accepting that it wasn’t simply the blues, or hormones, or a dozen other ailments she was tested for, Kelley started on a pharmaceutical merry-go-round, trying out scores of antidepressants and other meds, none of which helped very much. Previously the chatty, likable life of the party, Kelley was transformed into an erratic and hostile mess. Deb, her partner of 23 years, remembers coming home to find Kelley slashing a stuffed animal with a razor blade or silently sitting in the closet.