This is the most personal and vulnerable story I have ever shared with you guys. I sat down this morning and wrote for a few hours. It was not easy and I cried a lot but I am happy to open up in hopes to HELP OTHERS SUFFERING FROM DEPRESSION.
As many of you know, my grandma is not just a grandma to me. She helped my mom raise me up, has always been there for me and she is MY WORLD. Our bond is so strong that some of my friends joke around and say “I hope I find someone to love me as much as Neda loves her grandma!”
Four years ago my grandma tried to take her life three days before Christmas. It was THE BIGGEST SHOCK of my life. She has always been the most vibrant, positive, loving, kindhearted, friendly, selfless woman I know and this came out of nowhere. She was in surgery for over 9 hours and none of the doctors would tell us if she will make it. Sitting in the waiting room and reading her suicide note, I kept asking myself “WHY DID YOU DO THIS? WAS IT SOMETHING WE DID OR DIDN’T DO?” I was blaming myself even though now I know it had nothing to do with me and it was just her dark thoughts & pain that pushed her over the edge! Those were the worst hours of my entire life.
It took almost a year for her to recover after her suicide attempt but she did. That is when we got her the cutest King Charles – Rocky. They instantly became best-friends and were inseparable. We all thought this period of her life was over and she was happy once again, or so it seemed.
Fast forward few years later to November 2017, she started having suicidal thoughts again and not wanting to be in this world. She expressed that the pain she was feeling was so deep that no-one could understand. She felt like a burden to us even though she wasn’t. She thought that her state of mind was making our lives difficult and if she put an end to it, everything would be fine.
When we told her we couldn’t live without her, she would say “of course you can, you will cry for a few days and learn to accept it and continue living your lives. You will all be much happier without me.” THIS BROKE ME. I can’t even stop crying as I am sharing this because it was the most painful thing I ever experienced. Looking at someone you love SO MUCH & hearing them say this just crushes you. I felt helpless. No matter how hard I tried, I felt like I failed and couldn’t help her. It was killing her and killing me.
We tried many different treatments like talk therapy with a wonderful psychologist, natural herbal supplements, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, long walks in the park, tree hugging and of course different anti-depressants. The anti-depressants were completely messing with her brain. It felt like she kept getting worse and worse each day. Her doctor had suggested we try ECT if the anti-depressants don’t work but my family and I thought that was a bit extreme. Only because of the stigma around it but once one of my followers messaged me and told me her personal story, I decided to look into it.
ECT is one of the fastest ways to relieve depression in suicidal patients and it is used when medications fail to help. WebMD describes the process, “Prior to ECT treatment, a patient is given a muscle relaxant and is put to sleep with a general anesthesia. Electrodes are placed on the patient’s scalp and a finely controlled electric current is applied. This current causes a brief seizure in the brain.
Because the muscles are relaxed, the visible effects of the seizure will usually be limited to slight movement of the hands and feet. Patients are carefully monitored during the treatment. The patient awakens minutes later, does not remember the treatment or events surrounding it, and is often confused. The confusion typically lasts for only a short period of time. ECT is usually given up to three times a week for a total of two to four weeks.”
In my grandma’s case, she did a total of 12 ECT sessions three times a week. The doctors had suggested she do a total of 20 but after the 9th, they started seeing great improvement in her mood. They said she may continue to do 1 or 2 a month as some sort of maintenance. She did experience short term memory loss and doesn’t remember the treatments or any events around the days she did them. She doesn’t remember when she went into the hospital, the fact that I dropped her off, where we keep certain things in the house…. But to be honest, we prefer for her to lose small amounts of memory than to suffer as she did before.
THIS PROCESS WAS NOT A WALK IN THE PARK. First, we were not sure if she should be hospitalized or not. We felt horrible leaving her in a place where she knew no-one. I flew on the first flight available and decided to care for her this summer. It did not go as planned because she was so severely depressed that NOTHING AND NO ONE MATTERED. I will never forget the first day when I saw her and I hadn’t seen her in 3 months, she didn’t flinch. She just sat in bed and looked at me and finally said hi. That night I cried in the shower for what seemed like eternity. MY grandma used to greet me with the biggest smile and hug from ever since I can remember. This was heartbreaking and I knew we were losing her. After trying to stay at home and care for her, my family and the doctors decided that it was best to check her into a private hospital while she goes under the treatment. It was the BEST DECISION we made, only I didn’t know it at the time. I was balling my eyes out when I dropped her off and the guilt I had is indescribable.
Some days were so bad I would cry day and night. I would pick her up from the hospital for one night as that’s all the doctors allowed and it was as if we didn’t exist to my grandma. Rocky, our precious dog that is her WORLD made no difference to her. She would stay in bed, the blinds down with zero desire to get up. It took so much effort to convince to get up, shower and get dressed. Once she was dressed, I would find her sitting ON THE FLOOR with her back against the couch and just starring at a point in the wall! At moments like this, I didn’t see the end of the tunnel.
My mom and uncle had pretty much given up. My boyfriend and I were away and he said to me over dinner while I was crying “you can’t make someone stay baby, if they don’t want to be in this world there is not much you can do. You have gone above and beyond to help her but maybe it is time you accept the facts.” He and my mom were exactly on the same page and although I saw their point I just COULD NOT LET GO! I remember going to sleep that night and messaging one of my best friends to ask “am I being selfish for trying to keep my grandma around as much as possible even though she is hurting and doesn’t want to live?!” And she told me “NO babe! You are not selfish. This is normal. You are the strongest person I know and you should hold onto her and just be there for her.” This meant so much to me.
Once I returned from this trip and went to the hospital to see her, I saw no improvement and it made me question the treatment. At this point she was there already for at least two weeks and it seemed like it wasn’t working. I reached out to my followers on INSTAGRAM through instastory & I am so thankful I did. I got 100s of messages that day with people sharing their own ECT stories and others who just gave me WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT. THIS KEPT ME GOING. I CANNOT THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING THERE FOR ME WHEN I WAS AT MY LOWEST POINT AND ON THE VERGE OF GIVING UP.
Thanks to all of you, I did not give up. I stayed strong and prayed daily. A week later my grandma showed small signs of improvement. I tried to take her away for the weekend but the doctors did not allow it. They said she wasn’t ready so I waited.
10 days after this, they called to tell me she is doing so much better and is ready to go home. I was crying from happiness and each time I called to hear her voice and hear her laugh, it made me thank God for not giving up on her.
I truly believe ECT saved my grandma’s life. I am sharing this personal story with you because I knew nothing about depression nor how many people were affected by this cruel disease. Mental illness is REAL & more people need to address the issue. I hope I can reach as many people as possible and spread awareness on the topic. PLEASE DON’T EVER HESITATE TO REACH OUT OR EMAIL ME. I am happy to answer ANY questions you have because I was there once and I know the feeling.
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
In ending, I hope this will be the end of my grandma’s suffering but I know there could be set backs and we have to be prepared for it. That is why we must ENJOY EVERY MOMENT WITH OUR LOVED ONES AND NEVER TAKE THEM FOR GRANTED!
“A grandmother is a remarkable woman.
She’s a wonderful combination of warmth and kindness, laughter and love.
She overlooks our faults, encourages our dreams, and praises our every success.
A grandma has the wisdom of a teacher, the sincerity of a true friend, and the tenderness of a mother. She is someone we admire, respect and love very much.
A grandma will always have a cherished place in our memories and in our hearts. She’s someone for whom we want every happiness in return for the joy she always brings.
A grandma is all the dear and precious things in life… when she’s a GRANDMA LIKE YOU!”
All my love,