NeuroStim TMS Bellingham
Register Your Interest Today!*
If you are suffering from depression, OCD, anxiety or similar disorders, and have not had satisfactory results from pharmaceutical medications or other treatments, NeuroStim TMS may be able to help through NeuroStim TMS Therapy.
Please fill out this short form and register your interest for NeuroStim TMS in Bellingham.
*NeuroStim TMS Bellingham is scheduled to open its doors in January 2023. We’ll register your interest and get in touch with you prior to our launch. We appreciate your patience!
I have been suffering with mental illnesses for nearly two decades. I have Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), Major Depression Disorder, and anxiety. But things got unbearable after I gave birth to my daughter seven years ago. In fact, early on, things were so severe that I considered suicide a couple of times. I lost jobs, put my marriage under strain, had difficulty being a mom, and added on weight, to name a few negative impacts. My positive, goofy, and hardworking spirit was nearly extinguished. I was a shell of a person.
Of course, I had enough sense to seek treatment right away. I was blessed to have found THE best psychologist (Cary Hamilton, Olympia Therapy) and have had tremendous growth. But even with all the great insights, healing, and tools I gained, my depression never eased up. The root of my issues was clearly physically driven. So, I got a psychiatrist who put me on all sorts of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. They helped initially but I kept having to increase doses and add on more things. Last year, I was so heavily medicated that I felt like a zombie and I had enough. I went off everything (with approval from my doctors) to see if my body would reset itself naturally. Things were good for about two months, then I was back in the thick of it all.
I was fed up with wasting my precious time, energy, and relationships. I was determined to take a different and more aggressive treatment route. So, I started researching things I had not tried before. Then, by the grace of God, I suddenly started hearing radio spots and seeing advertisements on Facebook about TMS. I had no idea what it was all about, but I was game. Little did I know that things were going to finally get better.
I began my journey with NeuroStim Olympia the beginning of October. I first spoke with office coordinator Becca to explore if I was eligible for TMS. I shared story and she checked whether my insurance (Regence) would cover expenses. Things checked out, so she immediately set me up with a video appointment to be assessed by their psychiatric nurse practitioner Boyd. He asked me lots of questions about my history and I did not hold back any information or emotions! By the end of our conversation, he confirmed that I was a good candidate for the treatment.
I got back in contact with Becca to setup my intake and treatment appointments and to discuss payment. I learned that while my insurance would cover a good portion of the expenses, I was still expected to pay a large amount out of pocket because TMS is very expensive. I was devastated when I heard this news because my family had eaten through most of our savings since I had been unable to work. There was no way I could make the payment she initially quoted.
However, Becca compassionately listened to my financial predicament and re-assured me she would help find a way for me to get the treatment there. She said that NeuroStim offered a handful of grants every year to patients who qualify. She said based on my situation, I had a good shot at being given one. I applied right away and was given the grant! The grant covered 50% of my expenses and she set me up with a manageable payment plan for the rest.
My first day of TMS was extremely overwhelming. I was in the middle of a depressive episode and had put a lot of pressure on what the treatment could do for me. I cried the whole time while my skull was being measured and tested for magnetic strength requirements. I was so weary from my mental struggles, yet the treatment gave me a glimmer of hope, which I hadn’t felt for a long time. I needed it to work so I could be who I was supposed to be. I came in with an open heart.
But on the other hand, I was also very hesitant and skeptical. Every time I explained what I was doing to someone, they looked at me like I was describing some sort of odd crystal/energy cleansing thing. I tried my best to explain the science behind TMS but I always had to chuckle in agreement with them that it sounded really weird.
HOW IT FELT
When I got into the treatment chair, my technician Maddie adjusted the back and leg rests in a position that I preferred. She put an inflatable support cushion around my neck so I would remain still. Then I had to wear the “fashionable” measurement cotton cap created during my intake appointment. The cap ensures the powerful magnet is positioned in the correct spots.
Then, with a count of 1, 2, 3, it was go-time. I had the choice to start either on the hard/left or easy/right side of my brain. At this clinic, the magnetic pulses are done differently for each hemisphere of the brain. The right side is done with a lighter magnetic strength and is administered once per second for approximately 15 minutes. It felt like someone was whacking me hard with the tip of a pencil, which was quite annoying. However, the left side is set at a significantly higher strength and administered faster for about 3 minutes. For this side, though there is no electricity involved, my forehead and eye contracted like I was getting shocked. Even though the strength and length were different on each side, it was explained to me that my overall brain was still getting the same amount of treatment.
At first, TMS was unpleasant and the time crept slowly, making it feel a bit torturous. But after about two weeks, I got used to the sensations (even when they periodically upped my strength) and it was no longer of concern.
Also, one of the great things about the treatment is my technician distracted me with meaningful conversation. And if I had a headache that day, which can happen with TMS, she temporarily adjusted the strength, cut the time short, and/or eased me into full strength so I would be more comfortable.
Every Thursday, I had to complete a short survey describing my general disposition for the past two weeks. I did not particularly like these because I believe each day should be measured individually as there is always context and other factors behind our moods that should be considered. Specific data, to me, is more valuable. But the survey had its place in the process and does give an indicator of what progress is being made. To satisfy my own needs, however, I downloaded an app (Daylio) to capture and analyze my own data.
While the treatment is straightforward and quick, the catch is it must be done solid for approximately 6 weeks, EVERY DAY except weekends and holidays. Then you ease off of it for a couple of weeks. Going in every day gets very old, very quick. I went from mid-October to mid-December. Aside from the benefits I received from TMS, the thing that made it worthwhile was I was forcing myself to get dressed and outside, which is difficult to do when you are depressed. Though the technicians are not psychologists, getting to talk to someone neutral about anything outside of family and friends was also very nice.
The first three weeks, I did not notice anything different with my mental health. Then I had my first really good week. I was deeply connecting and being playful with my daughter and tackling house projects I had avoided for years. I perplexed myself by cooking every day and even lost weight. I will admit, I had mixed feelings about this period. I was excited to see progress, but I also didn’t trust it or necessarily attribute it to TMS. I felt like the world was teasing me, that there must be other fluke reasons, and that things would be horrible like before. But then I had another good week and another and another. I was feeling more stable and awake, like I was seeing things and thinking more clearly. My husband said it felt like he “had me back.”
Yet, my depression hadn’t gone away, rather its severity and longevity had changed. I still feel down but only for a few days, not weeks. I can better push through my inner turmoil. I can get out of bed and get things done and fully support the people around me. I feel capable and dependable and motivated again.
I honestly thought my best qualities had died because of my illness. I thought my brain was beyond repair. But this treatment worked! TMS gave me back my life! I no longer feel worthless or like a burden. I am truly participating in and contributing to the world again. Time will tell if the treatment lasts but I am optimistic. I feel so blessed and relieved and excited for my future!
WHY I LOVE THIS OFFICE
I cannot give enough accolades to all the staff of NeuroStim Olympia. They are all genuinely warm, compassionate, and smart individuals. It is imperative that all professionals in the mental health field have a good bed-side-manner and skill, no matter how much or little their work touches patients. People, like me, who are on their last rope, are beyond frustrated, broken, traumatized, barely functioning, and exhausted having to deal with the weight and consequences of our ailments. To say the least, it is more challenging for us to “be” and we need to be treated gentle and with expertise by those we go to for assistance. The staff always made me feel welcome, heard, and valued. I trusted them with my wellbeing completely.
They received feedback well. When I had an issue with a particular area of service, my comments were acknowledged and treated seriously. They were swift to implement improvements, even though it was late in the game for me. It mattered to them because it mattered to me. And I was told I will be completing an evaluation on my last day (next week). During one of my visits, the CEO even had popped in to check on the clinic. NeuroStim clearly strives to be its best and stay in-tune with its workers and the community it serves.
I am a very curious person and had many questions about TMS along the way. The staff always took their time providing answers and ensuring my comprehension. If they did not know something, they were sure to follow-up with me later or direct me to who might be able to help.
The ambiance of this clinic is also noteworthy. The furniture and decorations are modern, yet, not cold. It looks like a celebrity home designer pulled it together but I learned one of the staff did it with a friend. They put a lot of thought into creating such a tranquil space. There are details everywhere designed to calm and encourage visitors, like the flat screen TVs that constantly display beautiful nature scenery and inspirational signs. I am surprised there was not essential oils but am glad not because people can be sensitive to smells. They even provide refreshments, though I never indulged.
Finally, the other thing I really appreciated was how the clinic is family friendly. The competing company downtown explicitly stated in their policies that children could not accompany patients during treatment because they would be distracting to the technicians. Well, I am a stay-at-home mom and cannot always arrange care for my daughter, so I had no choice but to bring her along from time to time. My husband even came with me once and he was embraced as well. Not once did my technician lose focus on her job when they were there.
If you are considering TMS, I encourage you to do research about how it works. The treatment has been around since the 1980s and there are amazing statistics about its success rates. It seems like such a simple idea but it has the possibility of huge lifesaving benefits.
And if you decide to do it and live in the Thurston County area, I recommend the NeuroStim Olympia office. You will receive the highest standard of care by the fine folks there.
I can only hope when I return to work soon, I can do something just as meaningful and impactful as they have done for me. 💜