Culture, Depression, News

‘Today Show’ Takes On sTMS

today showThis project was supposed to be done by now. Depression Time was intended to chronicle my final assault on my illness, either built up into book form or abandoned completely after a successful recovery. A last dance. A final goddamned go-round.

This was definitely not supposed to be just another mile marker on my (seemingly now interminable) journey into obsolescence. And yet here I am: still sick, still struggling to get good health care, and thrashing about desperately for a job and career, for this thing called “wellness.”

In fact, I’ve been so sucked into my admittedly marginalized social corner that I had forgotten all about the DT blog. Then Wordpress rang, alerting me to a surge in traffic on the site. Obviously some news outlet somewhere was writing about synchronized transcranial magnetic stimulation (sTMS), I thought, as the treatment I received in a double-blind clinical trial more than a year ago is known.

Sure enough, the culprit was NBC’s Today show, which reported a few days ago on the case of a female pastor and depression sufferer who got six months of relief from participation in the same trial I went through.

My sTMS deliverance was considerably shorter-lived — though no less welcome.

The segment does several things well. It exposes the stigma eloquently. (“There was definitely a sense of, ‘If you just read your Bible more, if you pray a little harder … you’re going to be just fine,'” Pastor Lee offers on her futile attempts to share her suffering with fellow evangelicals. “I was not fine.”)

It also drives home the point about depression being a physical illness. (Consider the lack of blood flowing in the image at right below. That’s my brain.)

blood flow brain

What it does not do is explain what sTMS is. For that, you’ll have to send your spiders to scrape this blog, starting with the most obvious page, “STMS & RTMS,” at top.

I thought at first the non-event that was this blog’s brief discovery by hundreds of clinically depressed Today Show viewers begged an update from me. It doesn’t. I will say only that I have — to the best of my ability — continued to seek relief from my condition. ( Anyone familiar with the state of our mental-health landscape can guess how well that’s gone.)

What requires an update is the FDA review process. The agency, the Today Show reports, is supposedly now mulling NewSynch’s device. My hope is that it is cleared quickly.

Knowing what I know about how it works (at least for me), I’d sell all my plasma and then some for a working device fastened to my headboard — for another stabilizing glimpse of the person I have always believed I had the potential to be.

And as one of many tens of thousands of chronically depressed persons, I know I’m not alone in my either my frustrations with the help I’ve received or my increasingly well-worn hopes for the future.

When approval does come, I hope NeoSynch’s team will endeavor to make treatments available to all at a price real people can afford, not force folks to take out loans for another gamble at wellness, a la rTMS. After all, why else would someone get into the field if it isn’t to bring healing to all of those who need it?


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