JH's TMS & Dr Cochran Testimonial

Depression.  Shhhh, don’t let anyone know you are depressed.  Depressed.  If you are depressed you are mentally ill.  Why is it okay to be physically ill but not mentally ill?  In today’s society it is acceptable to say you are an alcoholic, drug addict or even a sex addict but NOT depressed.  This is hogwash.  My name is Jamie Hulet and I was depressed.


Hopefully by telling my story I can help other depressed people.  For years I thought I just had low self-esteem and little self-confidence.  Therapists reinforced those ideas.  Now, after going through TMS therapy and evaluating the last 44 years of my life I realize I have suffered from depression since a very young age.  Suffer being the key word.

I am single female with a good job, pretty good looks, decent IQ and wonderful family.  When I would mention to people that I was depressed the response was always the same.  “You can’t be depressed.  Why would someone like you be depressed?  You have no reason to be depressed.  You are just going through a bad spot.”  Well it was one hell of a bad spot.  Depression has hindered my career and cost me numerous friendships and romantic relationships.  When people ask why I have never married I really want to say, “because I have been depressed most of my life.”  

The first suggestion that I suffered from depression was in 1996 when I was living in Houston, Texas.  I was dating a great guy…actually he should have been the one.  I would have huge pity parties for myself and cry and tell him I didn’t deserve him.  Adding to this was a job I was miserable in.  At one point he suggested I go to my doctor and see if he could help.  Doc gave me a prescription for Zoloft.  No explanation of side effects or what to expect just here you go, take one a day.  After the first day the heartburn was so terrible I stopped taking them.  Fast forward a couple years.  Relationship over and different job.  I was in counseling or my “low self-esteem” when one night I planned my suicide.  All I remember about it was thinking about who would find me.  It would probably be my boss at the time and I would not want him to see me like that.  Dead.  At the next therapist appointment I told her about my plan and she immediately referred me to a psychiatrist who promptly put me back on Zoloft…but with some education about the drug.

For the next few years life was good.  I relocated to be closer to family.  I was feeling so good that I stopped taking my medicine.  Mistake.  My inability to deal with obstacles personally and professionally was devastating.  If something happened bad at work I would just quit.  If a friend did or said something that hurt my feelings I would go off on them.  After a breakup I crumbled again.  On my way home from his house I called a friend and left a message asking her to please make sure someone would take care of my cat.  Two hours later the police showed up at my door!  She was so worried about me she called the cops.  This was the first time I told my sister about my illness.  She was supportive but didn’t really know how to handle it.  And back on the medicine I went.  This time Lexapro and a little Ritalin to get me going in the morning.  This doc would have given me anything I asked for.  Good thing I didn’t know what to ask for.

Life was moving along but I hated my job.  Shocker.  My sister and her husband offered an opportunity to move to California and I jumped on it.  Packed my bags and cat and off we went.  And off my medicine I went.  During this time I was able to make a career transition into something I had always wanted to do.  Things were going well then there was a change in management.  My boss and I didn’t see eye to eye…so I found a new job and quit.  Didn’t like that job and quit.  Found another job and my depression basically shut me down and that was over.

As you are reading this you are probably saying “she wasn’t depressed she was just a quitter.”  I was in a sense.  My depression was so severe I had no coping abilities.  It hindered my abilities to process information and deal with challenging situations rationally.  You see, crying, sitting at home by oneself, sleeping all of the time, etc. aren’t the only implications of depression.  It impedes the ability to function on all levels.  Most people don’t get it if they have never experienced it.  Take my sister for example.  I think she always thought I was a whiney brat.  Her famous words “just pull yourself up by your boot straps” used to piss me off to no end.  I didn’t have the energy or desire to even find my boot straps.

It is now 2005 and I relocated to Middle Tennessee to start over.  This is when I hit rock bottom.  I had a job that of course I didn’t like.  I found every excuse in the book not to go to work.  One morning my sister called and I told her I wasn’t going to work.  At that point she immediately got on an airplane and came to Tennessee.  After several calls she found a psychiatrist who would see me.  Finding a doctor who can see you sooner than later is another story.  The doctor put me back on meds and I bounced back.  A year later started talk therapy along with the meds.  I had highs and lows but all was better than it had been.  In 2010 Nashville suffered a major flood and it destroyed my office and my work place.  I went into a severe depression at that point.  Worse than I had experienced before.  Laying on the couch crying.  Not getting out of bed.  It was terrible.  I went to my doctor and she put me on more meds.  This time she added Abilify to my daily regimen of Presitqe and Wellbuterin.  The side effects were terrible.  Uncontrollably shaking and a lot of weight gain.  It helped though.

Fast forward to 2012.  I had been on and off the Abilfy for a couple years and finally had come to a point where I couldn’t take it any longer.  The depression wrapped it’s arms around me and began constricting.  I stopped working out which had always been my escape.  Had no desire to exercise whatsoever.  I stopped going out with friends.  When I was invited somewhere I would say yes then make up reasons why I couldn’t go.  I did this for family events, too.  Weekends were terrible.  Rarely did I leave the house or even shower.  Saturday and Sunday were spent sleeping.  Precious sleep.  The only time I could escape.  Going to work was a tremendous challenge.  Functioning at work was even worse.  During this time I am begging my doctor to help me.  Her answer was to throw more pills at me.  Pills developed for migraines but that have been known to help depression.  Pills for this.  Pills for that all in an effort to make me feel better.  I refused to take any more than my current four pills per day.  I finally got the energy to call my EAP and go see a counselor. 

As I sat in her office answering her boring questions about my history the anger grew and grew and grew until finally I asked her if we were going to talk or if she was just going to ask these questions.  That shocked her and she finished up quickly.  As we began to talk the tears began to flow.  I explained how I had no hope.  There was no light at the end of the tunnel.  My life was not worth living.  About ten minutes in she asked me if I had heard of TMS.  I said no.  She invited her practice administrator in to discuss the procedure with me.  He gave me a brief overview and encouraged me to meet with Dr. Michelle Cochran.  He said I was the perfect candidate for the procedure.  As soon as I returned to work I devoured Dr. Cochran’s website and scoured the internet for information about TMS.  I filled out the inquiry form on the doctor’s website not expecting to hear anything for weeks.  About an hour later Em emailed me back!  Whoa!  This is new.  She was great.  Gave me basic information and answered questions as fast as I could ask them.

In order to see if I was a candidate Dr. Cochran required a special “interview” session.  I was hesitant so asked if I could just come in and see the machine and meet Em.  Not a problem at all.  I was shown the TMS machine and Em and I talked a little bit.  At that point I decided to move ahead with the session with Dr. Cochran and also asked if any past patients would be willing to talk with me about their experience.  I knew I would get clinical information from Dr. Cochran and her staff but I wanted the answer to the million dollar question…is it worth the money?  TMS is not cheap and my insurance company does not cover it.  The first woman I spoke with had basically the same story as mine and she thought TMS was amazing.  I never actually spoke with the second person but he did leave me a voicemail.  All he said was “TMS changed my life.”  That was pretty powerful.

A couple weeks later I go for my appointment with Dr. Cochran.  My sister came with me as the doctor encouraged family or loved ones to be a part of the process.  The doctor took a thorough background of my health history, prescription history, family history and asked me what I wanted to achieve.  Then my sister came in.  The doctor asked her a few questions about me and what she wanted for me.  At that point the doctor said she thought I was a great candidate.  The normal protocol is for 37 minutes of treatment five days a week for six weeks.  Yowza.  She went on to say my case was a little more severe than normal, of course I wouldn’t expect anything else, and she recommended seven weeks of treatment.  She explained how TMS works and the statistics to support its success… 

I went home and thought and thought and thought.  I went through my finances over and over.  Finally my sister said, “If this was cancer you wouldn’t think twice about doing it.  It’s not cancer but depression could still take your life.  You have to do it.”  That was all it took.  I was in!  Chuck and I worked out a plan and with the help of my sister I wrote a big ole check and started TMS.

Thursday, April 11, at 2:00 pm I started TMS therapy.

During the first session the TMS machine was “fit” to me and Dr. Cochran talked about things I could do to enhance the TMS.  She was so realistic about what I could achieve.  She asked for fifteen minutes of exercise a day.  Just fifteen minutes.  And to eat at least one fruit or vegetable per day.  This was going to be a challenge because the only fruits or veggies I was eating were on a sub sandwich.  She also encouraged me to take a multi-vitamin.  It was so nice to have a doctor understand that going out and exercising and hour, four days a week was not realistic.  My experience with doctors had always been they expected you to make major changes immediately.  Not Dr. C.  She gets it.  She is so kind and understanding she really made me want to do these things just to make her proud not necessarily for my own improvement.  Each week she asked for a little more.

Filling out the survey things each week was a pain at first.  I was like whatever.  My responses were always fours or fives.  However, within about two weeks I noticed I wasn’t circling as many fours and fives.  There were actually some twos and threes.  Ding, ding, ding.  I started feeling a sense of the dark cloud lifting.  Laughter was easier.  Smiling was easier.  I actually wanted to be nice to people.  What the hell was happening to me.  My desire to go to the gym was returning.  I looked forward to going out with people.  My first big realization came about three weeks in when I only took one short nap during the weekend.  I had the desire to get fixed up and go out and about.  That was a milestone.  As treatments continued I continued to feel better and better.  I would do something out of the norm and my friends would ask where Jamie was.  At that point I started to get scared.  What if this was only temporary?  What if when the treatments stop I go right back to where I was?  I started to really get scared and Dr. C said just to roll with it…don’t think too much about it. 

After four weeks or so we began tapering treatments, going fewer and fewer times.  What? I thought.  I don’t want to tapper.  I have to go see Em every morning but the tapering continued until I was finished with my prescribed treatments.  For the next few weeks I still went to see Dr. C once a week for follow up.  I am still on my meds but with a goal of tapering off those, too. 

My life has completely turned around.  I can I am happier than I can ever remember being.   I am not afraid to stand up for myself.  I talk to complete strangers at Walmart about cat food…would have NEVER done that before.  TMS has changed my life for the better.  If you suffer from depression please know there is help out there.