President of Kivler Communications,
Founder and President of Courageous Recovery, Inc.

Living with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder

After being diagnosed with medication-resistant depression, Carol found a “silver bullet” in electroconvulsive therapy. Now, over 18 years into recovery, she is a passionate speaker, author, and advocate for mental health.

Carol’s Story

When were you first aware of your condition? How did it manifest?

In 1990, I went through the first of four terrifying acute depressive episodes. My symptoms included insomnia, nervousness, major anxiety, loss of appetite, muscle spasms, perpetual headaches, shooting pains, lack of concentration and confidence and feelings of inferiority. My first depression was the worst one, as I had no warning. The diagnosis was like a bitter pill. I was caught up in the stigma like the majority of the world, that depression is a sign of weakness or that it belongs to someone who wallows in negativity.

What help or strategies helped you to recover and stay healthy?

I was persuaded to try Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT or Shock Treatment) as I was left with no other treatment option. ECT became the “silver bullet” that saved my life and brought me back to the world of the living – in my case, the world of the thriving. I have had over 50 ECT treatments over a 10-year period that included four hospitalizations.

I also began experimenting with a variety of strategies that seemed to make a difference. I now include many non-medical approaches to help sustain my recovery. This would include medication, a healthy diet, enough sleep, exercise, journaling, prayer, gratitude, friendships, sharing my recovery story, and helping others find their way to recovery as well.

What does success look like for you?

When I was first discharged from the hospital, success was getting my kids to school, making their breakfast, and packing their lunches. Success was learning to live in sustained recovery. Success was finding a wellness routine that has kept me in that recovery for 18 years. Today, success is sharing my story with others and helping them believe that they, too, could recover.

What words of encouragement would you give to someone struggling with a condition similar to yours?

Recovery is possible. It takes personal accountability to reach and sustain recovery; the doctors, medication, and different therapies can only help them so much. No one other than you can do the work. Once you accept your illness, it may be necessary to share your circumstance. Today, I notice the executives I coach are disclosing their illnesses and needs much more readily than I did. I believe we are in a better place in the world to disclose our illnesses.