I’d like to welcome you to my website and share my TMS experience with you.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has played a miraculous role in saving my life and the lives of over 12,000 people suffering with Major Depressive Disorder.
My story may seem implausible, but it’s frighteningly true.
Although a nagging sadness clouded even the happiest days of my life, I’ve managed to pull off a successful career as a senior-level executive in some of the largest NY City advertising agencies. I have a loving 37-year marriage and have raised two amazing children. That’s the good news.
Here’s the bad news: With what appeared to be a perfect life, no one could have been more surprised than I was to end up in a hospital emergency room due to a self-inflicted drug and alcohol overdose.
I took antidepressants back in the 1990s when I was first diagnosed with what was then called Clinical Depression, but after many years of taking medications, I was unaware that they had stopped working. I couldn’t understand why I wanted to die when I had so much going for me.
After my suicide attempt I tried a variety of drugs for several months and nothing helped. I actually felt worse than when I started them, trying to find the one, or combination of pills, that would work. Either they were flat out ineffective or the side effects were intolerable. I was scared, frustrated and hopeless.
My motto up until that time had been to suck it up, hide my sadness, and “Just proceed!” I had a masterful “game face” that I relied on. My successful career was proof of this. Unfortunately my game face faded as the depression increased. My brain just couldn’t produce enough chemicals for my mental health.
I lived in a world where there was no escape from the daily worry of self-harm and persistent sadness.
I lived in a world where I had to manufacture a false smile when I could burst into tears, pretending to be happy so I wouldn’t worry my husband who knew of my depression and who felt helpless to do anything about it.
I lived in a world where I felt constant guilt that I simply didn’t have the ability to embrace his love because my brain refused to operate in a way that made it possible, constantly afraid I would once again lose my will to live.
Then a miracle happened. I discovered a magazine ad for TMS with the headline: “Treat Depression Without Medications”. I made an appointment with a psychiatrist to learn more and to see if I was a likely candidate for TMS. The verdict was “yes”.
Initially I was cautious about such a new technology, but after some research, I was comfortable with the results of the clinical studies I read. I felt reassured because TMS was FDA-cleared and the response rate was very favorable.
And I was surprised to discover how uncomplicated a TMS treatment session was. I relaxed in a comfortable reclining spa chair with music or TV available. A small device was placed against the left side of my head and produced magnetic pulses that tapped for four seconds, then rested for twenty-six seconds, then on for another four seconds—on and off, on and off—in that sequence for thirty-seven minutes for a total of 3,000 pulses per session.
Initially I went for treatments five days a week for six weeks. Now I go once a month for maintenance treatments and I don’t take any antidepressant medications.
But the best part about TMS is this—there are no side effects for me. No headache, no tummy upset, no disoriented feeling at all. There is no sedative or anesthesia so I don’t feel sleepy afterwards. I drive myself to and from my appointments that last less than 45 minutes. A manicure/pedicure takes just as long, if not longer!
In the beginning I found myself struggling with a nagging doubt that TMS would work. I asked myself, “How the heck is a magnetic tapping on the outside of my head going to take all this sadness and misery away?!”
Taking a pill every morning is a tangible thing. You see it, you swallow it, you know it’s going into your bloodstream and it will hopefully do the trick. TMS is far more discreet, almost mysterious. It may be invisible and non-invasive—but science and my personal experience prove it works!
Somewhere around my 20th session I woke up one morning and that disgusting “UGH!!” feeling was gone—the feeling that’s a thousand times worse than the “I wish it wasn’t Monday morning and I didn’t have to go to work!” feeling. (I call it “emotional nausea”.) A gentle lightness came over me as if I was lifted out of a dark hole. I noticed the music I listened to during my drives to and from my treatments was more upbeat and I found myself actually singing to the music! I began reaching out to friends again, to talk on the phone, go out to dinner—and I actually caught myself laughing. My energy increased and life felt amazingly manageable.
I’m relieved and thankful there’s an effective, non-drug treatment that’s applied directly to my brain and doesn’t affect the rest of my body. Not only have I recaptured my life, I’ve actually gained more than I had to begin with. I feel more real and clearer now than I have ever felt before. And most important, I have a newfound value for my life–it really is worth living!
© 2013 by Martha Rhodes. All Rights Reserved, Cover Photography by Paul McGuirk and Megan Lane.
The events described in this memoir are true. Some names have been replaced by pseudonyms in order to protect privacy, particularly those of medical personnel. This book is intended to reflect the life experiences of the author and in no way should it be considered to be medical advice, recommendations for treatment, or a replacement for medical care given by physicians or trained medical personnel. The author refers to and thereby endorses NeuroStar TMS Therapy® in this book because it was the only FDA-cleared transcranial magnetic therapy device available at the time of treatment and is an integral part of her story. This is by no means a promotional or advertising vehicle for NeuroStar TMS Therapy® nor does the author have any financial ties to Neuronetics, Inc.