Read the experience of our patient Liz Armstrong, who had treatment for depression and anxiety using rTMS – repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy.

rTMS is a clinically proven medication-free and effective treatment for mental health conditions.

Liz had daily treatment sessions for four weeks. Results are not instant, but her depression starts to lift at day 8. The difference after a month is remarkable, but this is an honest account of the lows and Liz’s fears that it was not working – as well as the eventual recovery.

Read Liz’s treatment diary to find out more about her TMS treatment experience.

Day 1

I am so ready for this and I am not aware of being nervous or anxious at all as I have been very well briefed and experienced an extremely high standard of care for the outset of first contacting the company. I just want to get better and I’ve heard this works.

My technician is called April, and she explains everything she is going to do, which includes measuring my head and making marks of a cap I wear for the treatment and giving me some questionnaires to do. It is done very competently, so I am happy to just let April get on with what she needs to do. She is very thorough.

I am treated with great care, after tests have been done to work out the maximum level the pulses can be put at.  This is rather odd, only as I have done nothing like this before, and I feel as though I shouldn’t look or move my head for some reason. I think it might be because I am afraid, but I don’t register it as fear.

The first treatment is for anxiety. It feels extremely strange.  My brain feels a bit sensitive. There is no pain, it’s just a sensitivity, but the level is kept low and it doesn’t last long.

The depression treatment goes on for much longer.  It is unlike anything I have ever felt before. My brain is sensitive to it, something is definitely being done to it.  This is not scary, as I perceive it as an amazing way of teaching the brain to work.  I feel immensely grateful for a moment for all the people who have made this possible.

I don’t feel anything much afterwards and go home.

Day 2

Felt very bad all day, really bad mind; my brain is almost unbearable to be with.  Could not do anything without thinking of another thousand things to do.  No ability to focus.

Went out which was good, forced myself to go. Drank alcohol which I haven’t done for months but just could not stand my mind.  It was just so busy jumping from one thought to the next stopping me from achieving anything.

I think this will be really relatable for a lot of people – It’s something I hear a lot, that their thoughts aren’t in any order and that it’s exhausting.

Day 3

Felt tired all day – really bad headache.

The treatment was fine, but I wondered if my headache made it worse. I took some paracetamol, but I have had headaches in the past that these painkillers just do not touch.  I think it was from the alcohol, not that I drank much, but I just don’t really drink now at all.

Day 4

Got up to the full levels on both – the anxiety hit felt so much like an ice cream headache Love this way of explaining it – I agree, but that did not last and it soon became almost gentle.

The depression treatment felt like a hair on my nose.  It hammers away and it feels like it goes on for a long time.  I feel well looked after. April is very sensitive and seems to know when I feel chatty and when I just want to stay quiet.  I like to ask her about how other people have experienced the treatment, and although I am depressed she is confident in the treatment which helps because there are times when I am just trying not to think about whether or not it will work.

It is hot today, I feel positive, made a job application and off to an event and out this evening.  When I woke up I felt tired as though I had not slept very well.

Went to bed really early. Had bad things – wrong name on job application, and poor communication with a friend.  Felt angry about the name and a bit afraid of my feelings about how I had buggered up my job application after trying so hard not to.  I don’t feel as bad as I could do about this, I am not beating myself up about it, I just feel low level down.  It seems very familiar low level mild hopelessness.

Asleep by 9pm – very tired.

Day 5

Depressed. Woke up really early around 5.30am.  Found I had misunderstood friends comms. Had seen it last night but didn’t reply.  What is wrong with me? Woke up early feeling tired and fed up.  Also plans for Saturday cancelled. Feel once again that it doesn’t matter what I do, I don’t have the ability to change things or make things better for myself. Depressed.

Weekend 1

Exhausted and depressed over the weekend.

Not much done.  No treatment.

Day 8

Not depressed.

Arrived at clinic and asked April to bump both treatments up to max. Anxiety felt almost ticklish. Depression treatment was fine, no longer feeling like Keith Moon practicing on my cranium. This really made me chuckle. I agree that’s how it feels!

Day was busy – and I felt calm and able to listen.

Felt bad by end of day and very tired. I don’t think this has much to do with anything, just feeling tired and fed up by the end of the day.

Day 9

Depressed. Feel its hopeless I can’t create what I need in my life.

Treatment – full volume both feel easily bearable.

Go to biz meeting, get very anxious and aware that I do not have what it takes. Feel very scared.

Got home and got into bed and watched Morse episodes.

Day 10

Waking up depressed and overwhelmed by the normal challenges of life and main worry is that I can’t trust myself and I am all alone.

Had a double treatment which went fine, nothing noticeably different.  No more tired than usual, but just feeling glum and dispirited.

Day 11

Woke up depressed. Usual same thoughts going round in my head, all very painful.  Unable to stop them.  Double session at the clinic.  Treatment now feeling really bearable, almost ticklish, though it can be strong when it first starts.

Job interview today.

It is very odd how there is a part of me that can kick in and go to a job interview.  It helps that I know I can do the job and I am looking forward to meeting the people who run the business.  I also know from the past that I can do things that need to be done.

Wondering if I am feeling very slightly better now I have got home, around midday.  Went out, came home, went to bed, feeling better.

Day 12

Woke up early feeling calm.  Not depressed.  Got the job so that might account for it, but it just feels that it will be a good job.

Two treatments – both feel very easy and gentle – unlike the start when it did feel a bit sensitive. Was very chatty and it was nice to share my good news with April. I told her about the interview and the things I had said and what I thought about the company. It was a nice way to share this and although the treatment can be a bit noisy it doesn’t stop having a chat.

Went swimming. For the last year or so I have thought about going swimming nearly everyday, The pool is very near and it doesn’t cost much as I am unemployed.  I know how good it is for me but I just haven’t been able to go for about a year.  Oddly it’s no great battle and I just swim up and down gently letting my mind wander.  It makes a difference from lying on my bed watching Inspector Morse videos.

Weekend 2

No treatments over the weekend.  It was a nice weekend – I had a lovely dinner on Saturday with good friends, very relaxed, felt ok and it turned out to be such a nice social occasion.  Saw a friend on Sunday evening too.

Overall feeling just better, nothing amazing, but not the bleakness.  I am thinking a lot about the emotional things I did not get growing up, and quite painful memories from my childhood.  Not sure if this is just another go at putting them back in their correct place and letting them go.

Have been thinking about starting the new role, and actually feeling excited about it.  It is very badly paid, but I really like what the company is doing and I think I could help it grow.  I can start doing something that is not going to really stress me, and take it from there.  I just saw the advert by chance really, and thought this could be a lovely job.  The last two jobs I have had have not suited me at all.  I think the main thing is that I am confident in my abilities to do the job they need done. I sometimes think I may even enjoy it.

Day 15

Two treatments this morning.  Both feel very comfortable in as much as comfortable is the way to describe strange tapping on the head, but there is no sensitivity now.

I was walking home wondering if the left side of my brain is now busier wondering whether it feels a bit stronger.  As though something is happening.  I don’t know if its my imagination, but it’s a nice thought, as though a part of my brain did not develop and can now start developing.

Rest of the day very unproductive other than going swimming.  Not feeling terrible, just flat.

Day 16

Slept well.

One session today. Another day of not getting much done, and poor concentration. Trying to learn a skill online and finding it very hard.

The treatment is very bearable now. Did go swimming though, so need to focus on the good stuff.

Day 17

3 Treatments. My head was a bit sensitive for all of them, nothing much, it’s just they weren’t ticklish as I have experienced.  Didn’t want to talk much, just let it do its work.

The day was busy, lunch with a friend, swimming, then back out again for a meeting.  Talking about things I want to do and moving forward.

Can’t believe I’m exercising every day.  I have thought about doing it for a long time.

Day 18

Woke up feeling almost interested in being alive.

Another three sessions, all went well. More sensitive than I have been at other times, but not pain or discomfort to worry about.

Had feelings that I am able to feel positive without it feeling frightening and trying to damp it down.  Really hoping this is going to make a big difference to me.

Day 19

4 sessions – no problem with this – although the third anxiety treatment started off being very sensitive.

Weekend 3

Depressed in the morning, but spoke to a friend.  I have started to think of my own role in all of this, and how I am committed.

Day 22

How to stubbornly refuse to make yourself miserable about anything. An interest in using my thinking differently and a big sense of responsibility.  But really struggling.

Day 23

Two sessions.  Feeling low.  Two session are fine.  Not very talkative on the second one, but fearful that TMS won’t really make any difference. Thinking of going back onto medication.

Day 24

Very low depressed, and feeling no hope that my life will become better.

Day 25

Last sessions for anxiety and depression. Had a headache for two days and been feeling very low, no love for life.  Two sessions went well, very sleepy and tired, lovely chat to Isabel.

As always felt very safe, and well cared for.  Disappointed that TMS has not seemingly made much difference.

1 week later

Feeling happy, contented and alive and excited by what life might be.

Also feeling increasingly comfortable being inside my skin.

1 month later

Feeling very steady, work is very hard, but I am feeling ok.

I have also found I have a lot more energy.  For years I have had no stamina.  The last week I have woken at 5.30 – got to work by 8, worked till 4 and gone out in the evening.  I have never been able to do this before. It is also the case that I have stopped eating sugar and grains, but I am beginning to feel a lot more confident that I can commit to being places when in the past I would be hoping I would have the energy to do something.

I have started journaling and gratitude exercises to start turning round how I present myself.  All of these things I knew about etc, but I seem now to be finding the will and commitment to carry through.