05/02/2018 14:19 EDT | Updated 05/03/2018 10:13 EDT

I'm Going Into Uncharted Medical Territory To Try To Beat Depression

This possible new treatment gives me a tiny spark of hope that there's going to be a time in my life where I don't hate myself, and feel valuable.

What is it like to have depression?

I can't speak for anyone else, but for me, it's an extreme level of sadness. It's so difficult to get out of bed, and almost impossible to manage day-to-day functioning. It's constant despair.

It wasn't always like this, but in 2011, I went through a traumatic experience that completely changed my life. It's left me struggling with treatment-resistant major depression. This means none of the various treatments out there have worked for me. It's frustrating because there's no magic to make this better. No one wants this.

Every aspect of my life is affected. Depression makes it difficult for me to navigate friendships and family dynamics. It also takes a huge toll on self-care. Things like hygiene, diet and sleep all suffer because of depression. It decimates my self-worth. Depression fuels hopelessness.

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
The author.

Treatments for depression

I've done so many different types of therapy and treatments. Whether it's cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectic behavioural therapy, talk therapy, medication, therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, none of it seems to work.

I've even tried repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, or rTMS, which uses a magnetic field to alter brain activity, but there was no change. The depression remained.

After multiple treatments, medications, group therapy and other programs, I feel like I've tried everything I can. Through the constant struggle, I've given a lot of effort and feel like I've exhausted my options.

Scalpel-free brain surgery

I'm taking part in a study where I'll be one of the first patients in a North American clinical trial to be treated with focused ultrasound (FUS) for depression. It's still very early, and this trial is investigating the safety of FUS. There's no guarantee this is going to work, and I understand the risks involved. But this possible new treatment gives me a tiny spark of hope that there's going to be a time in my life where I don't hate myself, and feel valuable.

I have a son at home. He means the world to me. He's the only reason I'm still alive. I take care of him, and am fortunate to have supportive family and friends who help me make sure he has everything he needs. It's easier for me to be on autopilot and make sure that I live my life for him because he deserves that. But, at what point do I say, "Wait a second, I need to live my life for me?" Maybe,this surgery is a way for me to say to myself, "Now is a chance for you to be better."

I have no idea. The one thing I do know is, nothing so far has lifted the blanket of depression that weighs on every aspect of my life. I really have nothing to lose.

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To me, the potential to be even a little bit "OK" is huge. If it does work, then I could go back to work, and be more active in society. I'm trying to hold out hope that it's going to make a difference for me, and life won't be so bleak.

This blog is by Sky Zazlov, one of the first participants in a Sunnybrook research trial, which is investigating the safety and effectiveness of MRI-guided focused ultrasound for treatment-resistant major depression.