Speak Out Against Shock (ECT)

Without Restraint
Spring 2000

I spent 25 years in a state of confusion and despair. My brother died and I turned to alcohol. I had 108 admissions, and approximately 80 ECT treatments. They were treating me for an addiction; they did this with ECT treatments; the doctors kept giving me more and more medication (every drug under the sun), up to 17 different pills per day. As a result of the shock treatments, I am missing large portions of my memory and suffer chronic severe back pain from not enough relaxants. My children suffered from the effects of a loss of a parent. My friends didn't know how to respond to my behaviour, the hallucinations and delusions. They (Psychiatrists) would shock me, get me all medicated up and send me home where I would drive a taxi. Finally after 25 years of this hell, I ended up in a bad car crash. I was charged and convicted of impaired driving. It was the best thing that could have happened to me ... It was the beginning of the end. I stopped taking all the meds, refused any more shock, and then a year later - quit drinking. I have not been in a hospital since, except to visit. Still, today when I walk down the halls of Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital (LPH), patients come up to me and say "Hi", they know me, but I have no idea of who they are. They don't even look familiar. They say I spent a lot of time with them, but I have no memory. Part of me is missing forever. They treat us like guinea pigs, trying anything on us with no concern about the damage they do. Why do we give them this power? Why is it that medical doctors, whom are not experts on mental health, can prescribe any psycho tropic agents, even against a psychiatrist's advice? Why aren't they required to learn more about mental illnesses before they go around diagnosing and drugging us? I am not saying there aren't competent professionals, or that you shouldn't listen to your doctor. What I'm saying is that you should make sure you are making an informed decision, and ensure that the communication is there between your psychiatrist and GP. During my 25 years in the mental health system, some "professionals" recommended that I be taken off all the drugs, given no- more shock and receive proper counseling. My GP chose to ignore this advice without even informing me of their recommendations. This is unacceptable. What has personally helped me is counseling and the peer support I receive from the self-help group that I am actively involved with. I am dead against ECT under any circumstances. Even with the people it helps, the results are short-lived and the side effects long term. Why would delivering electricity through a brain be anything less than destructive and damaging?

If you would like to contact me, please e-mail me at seps@voyageur.ca or fax me at 807-468-2220.

Or write me at:

Wayne Lax
Comp. 4, Site 297, RR#2
Kenora, Ontario
P9N 3W8