My Journey with Depression: How TMS Therapy Changed My Life for the Better

By on August 28, 2016
My Journey With Depression

By Barbara Brunner—

It seems hard to believe, especially for me, that I’ve just celebrated my 70th birthday. Looking back on my life, I can’t help but think about all the jobs and experiences I’ve had as I arrive at this milestone. I remember how terrified I was over many, many years of telling anyone I suffered from depression. I was convinced, and rightly so I think, that if anyone knew I was severely depressed or had been told by my physician I would always be on medication, my career would suffer.

It is only with insight and hindsight about the aging process as I grew older that I found the courage to open up. About five years ago, I started to write my book, The Face of Depression, A Journey from Hell to Healthy, which led me to mention that I had suffered from depression when I would tell someone about the topic I was working on. No one seemed to react to that admission with anything other than compassion. Furthermore, no one was more surprised than I that that was their response. So I mentioned it again in a talk I gave on communication. In fact, I began to mention it in passing each time I spoke in front of a group. And each time it became easier.

So when I heard a psychiatrist speak at a breakfast club meeting two years ago about a new treatment called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), I didn’t hesitate to go up to him after his talk. Instead of hiding as I might have done in the past, I openly asked him in front of other members if I could make an appointment to talk about the treatment.

It was the beginning of a journey that has changed my life. My psychiatrist and the doctor who had made the presentation soon discussed a personalized plan for me with my permission and quickly agreed that I was a good candidate for NeuroStar TMS Therapy®. I thought to myself, “OK, maybe I can finally get off of the drugs I’ve taken for so many years.”

I found myself sitting in this doctor’s office realizing I could get started on the new treatment immediately. I was scared. We were discussing a treatment that would actually change my brain. I did realize that the treatment was not systemic or invasive, but still I had my reservations.

I have always lived life by my instincts and not by analysis, and this decision was no different.  I decided to move forward with TMS therapy, and made the appointment for the following Monday based on my confidence in the doctor I now thought of as my primary psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist measured me to find the precise point on my scalp where the magnetic pulses would be most effective based on my motor responses to the headband fitted to me that delivered the magnetic pulses. During each day of treatment, I would sit in a very comfortable “dentist’s chair” wearing the headband which was attached to a computer. The magnetic pulses would tap on my scalp intermittently for 37-minutes as music played in the treatment room. I can recall being so relaxed. It was an unusual sensation but not a painful one. Over the next few days the pulses became more intense until I was at the correct intensity that had been entered into the computer for me. A nurse kept me company each day, repeatedly asking me if I needed anything and if I was comfortable.

I went through that process every day, five days a week for six weeks before being weaned off the treatments over the following two weeks.

That was it. And after the first week of treatments, I felt great. I felt normal. It was breathtaking. It was as if someone had turned the lights on in a somewhat dingy room.

What was especially rewarding was that I continued to feel better and better over the next few months. I now go to my doctor’s office once a month for a single treatment before going about my day. There are never any side effects, unless you think feeling normal and good about your world is a side effect.  

I’ve been telling everyone I meet about this treatment since I took the leap to take care of myself and I’m grateful for it every day. It isn’t magic, but it is a therapy that has let me continue to reduce my medications and go about my life in an entirely new frame of mind.  

 

Barbara “Schatzie” Brunner spent nearly a decade at CNN, where she produced features and programs, was a talent coordinator for Larry King Live, and served as a news anchor. She navigated this high-powered, high-profile career during some of her worst years of debilitating depression. In her new memoir, The Face of Depression, A Journey from Hell to Healthy, Schatzie shares her story of hope and healing so that others can also move past the hard grip of depression to a liberated life.

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  1. Pingback: How did TMS change this patient’s life for the better? Read the article to find out how! – Houston West TMS

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My Journey with Depression: How TMS Therapy Changed My Life for the Better