This is my TMS journey. October 2017 through December 2018 was the worst period of my life. I feel fortunate to have survived TMS and the side effects it caused. I wish I had walked away the first day in September 2017, when I screamed as they turned the machine on. I was desperate to feel better and trusted my doctor’s guidance. It was so painful, I cried through every treatment. I was told it was normal for the treatment to be painful. The literature I was given stated TMS was relatively painless. In the introductory DVD I was given, the patient said she slept through her sessions. I had the opposite experience. First, it was migraines that went on for weeks at a time. The pain was so bad I went to the ER. I believe it was from the TBIs that were occurring in my sessions. The first few days of treatment, the techs from the TMS device manufacturer were training the staff and I was told pain was normal and safe. They put the settings very low and ramped up even though I was crying (often sobbing) throughout the whole session. I was told if I didn’t ramp up high enough there would be no benefit. I did have a bump in mood after a couple of weeks which hooked me to keep going, but of course, that was temporary. Soon after my depression changed and became deeper. I wasn’t suicidal but I didn’t care if I lived or died. The best way I can describe it was I devoid of any joy or any feeling other than sadness and occasionally rage. I cried all the time and started having panic attacks. I began to feel my brain in a new way like it was extra sensitive to everything. I could even feel my brain pushing against my skull. Despite feeling like my brain was swollen, an MRI showed no damage. I also had two, public panic attacks during the treatment. I experienced rage attacks that felt very dangerous to me and the people around me. This was very unlike my normal temperament. I was over stimulated and couldn’t regulate my emotions. When I wasn’t raging or crying I felt like the walking dead, numb to everything. The guilt and shame I felt for putting myself through TMS made my recovery all the harder. I couldn’t even escape through one of my favorite activities, reading. I’m a voracious reader and was unable to read one book in 2018 due to my inability to concentrate. I’d read over 100 books the previous year. I was heartbroken to have that hobby taken away from me. Another cruel blow from TMS. Soon after finishing treatment, I began to experience pain in my upper back teeth, closest to where the machine sat on my head. I could also feel all of the other teeth in my mouth. It felt like I had pebbles in my mouth. After having an unnecessary root canal and extraction, the area can still flair up under stress. I had expensive digital imaging done to find out the reason for my continued pain, but the results were inconclusive. Some of my other side effects included intense tinnitus, electrical jolts down my calves, rapid heart rate, and restless legs syndrome throughout my entire body. My doctors told me all of these side effects were unrelated to TMS. I was prescribed more anti-anxiety and depression meds. I was always sensitive to meds but even more so after TMS. I couldn’t tolerate the side effects, the meds made me feel like I was jumping out of my skin. My body felt electrified. The doctors had no idea how to help me. It was up to me to heal myself.
In December 2019 I decided to make a big change in my life and completely overhauled my diet following “The Candida Cure” by Ann Boroch. I learned that the majority of our serotonin is made in the gut, not the brain. I set out to heal my gut and various health issues, including my mental health. I quickly felt much better. In 2022 I started using a TENS unit twice a day on the vagus nerve. That is what has helped reduce the anxiety, rapid heart rate, panic, and rage attacks the most. My concentration is still affected but I’m able to read again, feel joy, and experience life in a way I haven’t in a very long time.
My wish for all of us is recovery from TMS and depression.