I Don’t Need Google

My brother called me last night from the hospital where he is getting electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to treat his severe bipolar brain disease. ECT is not a cure, but it can significantly improve his depression.

I can hear the fatigue, fear and hunger in his voice. Today he is getting his second round of treatment, which felt like a car wreck the first time, like whiplash and body trauma…head to toe. Next time they’ll use a stronger dosage of muscle relaxers.

It’s what used to be called shock therapy and it’s been around for a long time. I could Google it and know more, but the truth is that right now I don’t want to know more. It is enough to know that my brother is somewhere faraway getting his brain electrocuted. I’m sure it’s not as barbaric as it sounds.

I don’t need Google to tell me how uncertain he feels, how tired and uncomfortable he is in this early stage of treatment. There are therapeutic support groups available in the hospital, but for an extra charge. He can’t afford to get the emotional support, so instead he sits in his hospital room alone.

I don’t need Google to tell me that the mental health care system seems broken and in need of shock therapy itself. How can people fully recover from mental illness if the very methods of treatment are out of reach, whether financially or physically? It seems cruel to have a patient like my brother endure ECT without full support in-between the daily sessions of treatment.

So as is my custom with my family and mental illness, I pray and I write and I worry and I wonder. And I invite whoever will listen to do these things with me.

How can we do this better?

What does hope look like for my brother and millions like him?

Why does the path towards healing involve suffering?

Published by Sarah Griffith Lund

Leader, preacher and author of *Blessed are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Church and Family*

2 thoughts on “I Don’t Need Google

  1. ECT is less horrible than it used to be. Then there also used to be other drug therapies too like insulin overdoeses. Me, I’ll take my meds and ritalin and go about my life. I just wish to heavens that the stigma would be set by the side, and we deal with it fairly

  2. Such a painful story, but I identify with the pain. It reminds me of my first time seeing my brother so lost in the world of mental illness. He was 17, in the psychiatric hospital naked in a white padded room the only furniture was a three inch mattress locked in place on the floor. (they gave him a pair of underwear while we visited.) I was 19. My mom brought him a submarine to eat. He scarfed it down, then threw it up and proceeded to eat that. 34 years later I can still recall every detail. Nothing about mental illness is fair or kind. It pulls at a place inside us that yearns to bring help and hope to those who suffer. Yet, at the same time, it is so overwhelming and so uncomfortable it makes us want to run as far away as possible. I love what you share Sarah, I love the honesty, and I love your bravery to speak about such a painful illness. Most of all I love how careful you are to point out in every post that this is an illness.

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