K. J. Bagnall

Writer. Editor. Illustrator. Mental Health Activist. Christian.

TMS Treatment for Depression

Mum goes back into hospital today. It’s just a top-up of treatment, so nothing too terrible. In fact, it’s a lot better than some of the treatments she’s tried in the past; at least this time she won’t be to catatonic that she can’t drive and as to be signed in and out every time she wants to leave.

Mum’s getting TMS treatment for her severe depression, since the years of trying different pills have resulted in more side-effects than useful effects. TMS is an electro-magnetic treatment they do to stimulate part of the brain.

I’ve never actually seen it done (this time is only her third lot of treatment), but she’s told me that she sits back on a chair, they measure her brain and stick some wires to a particular point. Then, for the next hour or so she sits, with it tapping really quickly for ten seconds or so, then stopping for thirty seconds, then repeating. Apparently the tapping pattern is different for each patient.

The whole thing is pretty easy-going, except mum says she feels like she’s just come out of an exam afterwards. But after the three weeks of treatment, she comes home and her brain actually works! For those unfamiliar with depression, it’s got nothing to do with feeling sad or crummy all the time. It’s a bit more like feeling intensely┬álethargic, but worse. Horrible worse. But the TMS really helps with the “lethargic” side of it all, which in turn helps her think clearly and make healthy decisions. And decisions in general.

Unfortunately, the treatment goes for three weeks every six months (it’s done as an out-patient in some places like America, but as an in-patient for Australia). The hospital is also at the compete opposite end of the city. So I only get to see her if we both happen to meet in the middle (i.e. the city centre), or she drives all the way out for a few hours on a weekend, or we go to her on a weekend.

I’m going to miss her crazy. Last time was really hard because I also had all these assignments due on top of picking up her household chores and doing a hundred other things and being a mess. This time will be during the holidays, which will be less stressful, but I have to learn to actually enjoy myself when she’s not around.

Mum and I are really close. We’re best friends. And while I have other best friends and love them all, none are as close to me as mum. Plus, I’m used to seeing her every day. When she’s gone for a few days I feel unbalanced. Like I’ve lost a limb or something. A few weeks is really hard.

But my own psychologist and I have worked out a game-plan sort of list to help me get through. It completely fell apart last time when I was so busy with studies that I didn’t have time to be anything but stressed. This time, though, I’m keeping the list close and praying.

Mum and Dad's wedding photoThis morning was sweet. Dad cooked her favourite, Eggs Benedict, for breakfast. It’s also their 26th wedding anniversary today. He stayed home from work yesterday because his stomach felt odd. He’s better today, but stayed home anyway, which is adorable.

I’ve thought about seeing if there’s a “Dad of the year” award, because he’s literally amazing with supporting mum and pretty much being a single parent (plus a carer of a very severely mentally ill patient) the first several months after her breakdown. But “Dad of the year” doesn’t seem to cut it. He’s committed to so much more than a year.



  1. Love the whole look of the blog. Well done. And appreciated reading your first post – vulnerable, honest and encouraging.

  2. Pingback: Recap and Release: Striding Into A New Year - K. J. Bagnall