My care team suggested the partial hospitalization plan (PHP), so I did an intake there.  Essentially a hospitalization but we were allowed to go home overnight because we had safe, supportive environments.   It was full days all week for three weeks, with group therapy, regular psychiatry consults, and education about mental health issues and some cognitive behavioral therapy.  Because of the program, I was horribly sad to miss the family trip to the East Coast to see my new niece, but Wife and Daughter made it.  When I was discharged I was a bit better, but still in the major depressive episode.  The transition from fulltime program to part time began immediately after. It is a similar program to the PHP, but only three days a week, for just the afternoons.  It’s also really helpful.  I also began going back to work for three hours a day, three times a week.  I was away from work for 6(?) weeks and the plan was to work half days through the end of the year unless I feel up to increasing earlier.  

Despite the raft of medications I was on and the programs and therapy, the major depression continued.  The suicidal issues continued, which is hard on everyone, but I scheduled an intake interview with a doctor for Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and begin those treatments in the coming weeks.  I have a large care team consisting of program therapists and nurses, psychiatrist, psychologist and even my primary doctor has been involved.  I’m also attending an evening support group for men called Face-It (https://www.faceitfoundation.org/) that looks like it’ll be a great long term support group.

Work has been wonderfully supportive.  They have been so patient, understanding, and helpful.  I think this is where working for a Scandinavian company is really nice, as they have such a supportive culture and a leave of absence like this is taken with sincerity and no issues.  My boss here in town has been wonderful as well, and is working with me to get me back up on the horse, but in a way that’s healthy and good for everyone.  They may feel a bit guilty, as I was doing the job of two people while also building and managing a team.  In fact one of the founders just called to offer his support and stress that I shouldn’t push myself or overdo it and to take the time I need to get back up to a good speed.  We’ve also hired a few new members of the team, and that will help.

Wife and the kids have been extraordinarily supportive and patient.  I’m very lucky to have them, and to be honest they’re the reason I’m alive today.  Having Son around this summer was wonderful, and it was tough to send him back to school but we keep in touch well and he’s doing so great there that he’s quite happy.  Dean’s list last year and so far straight A’s!  His absence this fall has actually helped Daughter and I become closer and that’s been awesome.  Sadly, she now has not only her competitions and practices, but her own car and a job, so we see less and less of her.  Working on the empty nest.  Wife’s been so helpful, and I couldn’t do this without her.
This is truly the hardest thing I’ve ever done/been through.  But everyone’s support helps and reminds me that I’m loved.  I’m very grateful for my whole family and my friends.

Part of my diagnosis is “Treatment Resistant Depression” which is what that sounds like.  Meds weren’t making any sizeable improvement — although the abilify leveled me out a bit — so we’re moving to the next step.

On the 28th of October I begin ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy, not at the Mayo, but that’s a good info link) three days a week for 2-4 weeks.  Currently scheduled out for 3 weeks.  It’s a quick procedure, and I’ll be under general anesthesia each time.  Side effects vary, but there’s likely some short term memory loss, confusion, and maybe even cognitive issues.  But that all typically resets itself and there should be no long term side effects — except that the outlook for helping with the depression is super high.  Like 70 to 90 percent of patients.  So that’s a good thing.  But it’s scary, to be sure.

I won’t be able to drive or work during the treatment period, and my day program at Abbott has rearranged my days to accommodate.  Wife will be working from home to monitor me and we have a complicated schedule to get me from place to place.   But it’s only a few weeks, so we’ll survive. 

I’m actually hopeful about this even though I can still feel the depression, and my anxiety is a bit up, but that’s to be expected I guess.  I’m starting a blog to journal my experience here, but also to be able to look back and remember — it’s likely I won’t have many memories of the next three weeks or so.  My Psychologist says my memory of this whole summer will be pretty sketchy, as we tend to lose a lot of the memory of a major depressive episode.  Which is a little conflicting for me, because I’ve had some really good memories this summer.  Going to see my sister (twice!) and seeing everyone and just some of the family fun we’ve had — I’m hoping those memories are strong enough to stick.  🙂   Also, I’m going to work on recording my repertoire of concertina songs to see if I get any worse (or better!) through my “charging up.”   

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