In recognition of National Doctors’ Day on March 30, Rebecca Wood, a retired nurse and grandmother, shares how the compassionate care provided by Menninger psychiatrist and brain stimulation specialist Neil Puri, MD, helped her get her life back.
I had been living a very active life. As a nurse, I loved making people smile and laugh and helping them be comfortable when they were at their worst. Then, when I was 55, I started taking hormone therapy — it’s supposed to make you feel young again — and I felt great. I had energy to spare.
But about four years ago, it was like something flipped in me. I became depressed and started having delusions. My family didn’t know what to do.
I saw a psychologist, was put on medication and was even hospitalized, but I didn’t get better.
One of my therapists suggested that I go to The Menninger Clinic to figure out what was going on and so I could get back to being myself.
I remember pacing at home for three days straight before going into the hospital, thinking my thoughts were not rational, but having them anyway. It was frightening.
Once I arrived at Menninger, the assessment team looked at everything that could be physically wrong with me. They discovered that I had sleep apnea, in addition to having renal stenosis and being on three or four different blood pressure medications.
The assessment team also suggested that the high dosage of hormones I was taking might be contributing to my delusions. After my symptoms were stabilized, I was admitted to Menninger’s Hope Program to begin treatment.
Because medications and therapy hadn’t worked for me in the past, I had a consultation with Neil Puri, MD, who told me I was a good candidate for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
He explained that ECT was a safe medical procedure that uses a small amount of electrical energy to stimulate parts of the brain while a patient is under anesthesia. In my case, ECT would help to “reset” my brain. I decided to go through with it.
It was not a scary procedure at all.
I was sitting in a chair in a clinical office setting during my ECT treatment and it was amazingly painless. Afterwards, I didn’t feel like my body had been through anything.
I had more rounds of ECT after I was discharged to outpatient care. I was also weaned off all my medications, including antipsychotics and antidepressants, as well as medications to help me sleep.
I feel like I have had a full recovery. I don’t think I would have figured out these health problems that led to the demise of my mental health had I not gone to Menninger.
I feel fortunate to have had Dr. Puri as part of my treatment team. Dr. Puri is a holistic psychiatrist. He looked at my environment and every part of my being, family, home life and professional life — he treated the whole person.
I can’t say enough about how personable he was. I felt I was talking to someone who cared about me, not just my mind. He didn’t only treat my symptoms. He treated me.
Dr. Puri and his team looked through my delusions and saw that there was a contributing person in there who was very sick. I got to come back from that hell.
Having a tortured mind is probably the worst thing that can happen to someone. You can’t get away from it. There is no relief.
I got to make a full recovery and come back much better than I was before. Now my life is so rich and normal, it is almost hard for me to believe!