It's My Fisher Wallace-versary and the Anniversary of Getting My Depression Under Control

Selfie-ing it up with the Fisher Wallace Stimulator. I tend to use a sweatband with it instead of the included Velcro headband; it just has always worked way better for me.

Selfie-ing it up with the Fisher Wallace Stimulator. I tend to use a sweatband with it instead of the included Velcro headband; it just has always worked way better for me.

A year ago today, I received my Fisher Wallace Stimulator in the mail and used it for the first time. My depression was REALLY bad then, despite being on two anti-depressants already, and I was desperate to find something that worked. The Stimulator had great reviews and a 30-day return period so I thought - why not?

Within a few days of use, it kicked in. And since then, my clinical depression has been more consistently under control and my brain has been more stable and happy than ever previously. I still do have some issues at times, but usually those relate to - me not using my Stimulator enough or me going through a particularly stressful experience. I am consistently happier, calmer, and more focused in my life. I don’t snap at my husband as much and we can talk about tough topics now without me getting overly sensitive.

And once I made space in my brain for something besides just trying to survive emotionally, I rediscovered my love for writing and started really pursuing a career in it. Since then, I’ve had numerous stories published, self published one short story myself as an experiment, and have made a ton of writing friends on twitter and in person. My writing life makes me so so happy and I am utterly delighted that the Stimulator helped me get that life.

I’ve written about my experience with the Stimulator more in depth in the past here, so I won’t repeat it all now. But I just wanted to mark this day for the important, life changing event it was. I am so so thankful that this technology exists. ❤️

FYI: you do need a prescription to purchase it. It isn’t covered by insurance and usually costs $799, but they have a sale going right now (only for TODAY, it looks like) where you can get it for $399. I highly suggest it! It doesn’t work for everyone (i mean, does any medical treatment work for anyone?), but there’s a 30-day return period where you can get your money back if it doesn’t help you.

As always, if anyone out there had questions about the Fisher Wallace Stimulator, depression, ADHD, chronic pain, or any other of my pet topics, please feel free to reach out to me here, on twitter (@rachaeldickzen), or on Facebook ( :)

Inexpensive Sponge Replacements for the Fisher-Wallace Stimulator

I wrote recently about my experience with the Fisher-Wallace Stimulator; in that post, I mentioned a cheaper source for the sponges for the electrodes. Here’s how that works!

The Fisher-Wallace Stimulator has significantly improved my life, but it’s not exactly cheap. For me, it’s totally been worth it, but I wanted to find a way to continue using it without spending a ton of money. The sponges in the electrodes have to be changed every week or two or they lose their effectiveness (believe me, I know. I’ve tracked this and my depression symptoms definitely get worse if my sponges are old). However, the sponges they sell on the FW website are…hideously expensive. Like $1 a sponge. No.

Sponge detritus, the sponges cut out to size (they’re thin and compact before they get wet), and the finished product in the electrode for the Fisher-Wallace Stimulator.

Sponge detritus, the sponges cut out to size (they’re thin and compact before they get wet), and the finished product in the electrode for the Fisher-Wallace Stimulator.

So I set out looking for replacement sponges that were cheaper. I couldn’t find ones that were exactly made to fit the stimulator, but I found these on Amazon for $19, coming out to under 40 cents apiece. They’re intended for cosmetic use, but they work great with the stimulator! You do have to cut them down to size to fit, but I’m totally willing to spend 10 minutes cutting down sponges to save so much money!

Here’s the price breakdown - if I used the FW sponges for a year and replaced them weekly like you’re supposed to, I’d be spending $104 just on sponges. However, with these, I end up spending under $40 per year on sponges, and I can spend that extra money on pretty much anything else. 😁😁😁


My Experience with the Fisher Wallace Stimulator for Treating My Depression

You can buy the Fisher Wallace Stimulator here (after you get a prescription for it; you can get a script online if you’re ADD like me and can’t get your shit together enough to go to a doctor for one).

*Note: There’s a $200 off sale on June 30.  

Here’s a much cheaper source for sponges for the stimulator. You have to cut them down to size but I think that’s a small price to pay considering how much money you save (like $19 for 50 sponges instead of $48 for 48 sponges like it is on the FW website). 

(I get NOTHING for praising or recommending the Fisher Wallace Stimulator. I paid full price for my own stimulator and they don’t have any referral program or anything. It’s just worked well enough for me that I want to spread the news of it to others!) 

The Fisher Wallace Stimulator. My sponge holders are slightly blue because of my continued hair dye experiments.

The Fisher Wallace Stimulator. My sponge holders are slightly blue because of my continued hair dye experiments.

TL;DR VERDICT: The Fisher Wallace Stimulator has been the only depression treatment I’ve tied that has ever made me feel “cured” for an extended length of time. I do use this on top of two depression meds (bupropion and duloxetine) though, and it does take daily use to work (and don’t forget to change those sponges weekly! The effectiveness goes down if you don’t. I do have a much cheaper source for these sponges at the top of this page though). It also isn’t a miracle worker, so my depression does get a little worse if I’m like, sick, or feeling unusually stressed or lonely. But overall, my depression incidences have gone down from probably at least once a week to more like once every two months or so, and when those incidences happen, there’s usually a traceable and fixable reason. 


The whole story:  

I have clinical depression and have struggled with it at least once a week probably most of my adult life (that is a guess because I’ve never tracked the incidents that much, but that seems like a good ballpark range). Summer 2018 in particular was very difficult for me, which was distressing since I literally had just got married and bought a house. Everythinf on the surface was going really well for me, but I felt miserable an awful lot of the time. This was how I felt despite being on two different depression medication and doing lots of (near daily) walks outside in the sun!

After my legal fraternity’s convention in August, which I loved but struggled with intensely, I decided enough was enough and something needed to change. So I started researching different depression treatments. I looked seriously into biofeedback, but my insurance doesn’t cover it and the necessary sessions can run into several thousand dollars. I ended up buying the Fisher Wallace Stimulator for $700 instead, reasoning that it was cheaper than biofeedback (oh, yeah, my insurance didn’t cover this either) AND it had a 30-day return policy if it didn’t work for me.

So what is this thing? It’s a stimulator that basically makes your brain produce less cortisol (stress hormones) and more serotonin (happy hormones). I started using it twice a day for 20 minutes when I first received it on August 21, 2018. It took a couple days to kick in, but once I hit August 25, I felt....amazing. The misery, fatigue, inattention, and self hatred I constantly feel when in a depression fog had left me. Suddenly, I felt happy, focused, energetic, and stable.

I accomplished SO MUCH that weekend, and when I got back to work that Monday, I found that the benefits stuck with me. The euphoria did actually wear off after a few days (because no one can live like that all the time) but the device continued to really work for me.

The stimulator came with an adjustable white headband to hold the sponges to your head, but I use exercise headbands instead, as they give a much tighter and more comfortable fit that doesn’t catch on my hair like the FW one does.

The stimulator came with an adjustable white headband to hold the sponges to your head, but I use exercise headbands instead, as they give a much tighter and more comfortable fit that doesn’t catch on my hair like the FW one does.

Positive effects of getting my depression under control:  

Here’s what I wrote about my FW Stimulator Experience last September: 

- I feel happier at my job than I have...basically ever. I procrastinate less and find it significantly easier to focus and churn out work. I do sometimes still have focus issues (I do have ADD after all!) and occasionally get bored, but those issues are much more manageable using basic time management and work techniques, as opposed to previously, when I struggled with focus, boredom, and serious misery almost all day, every day. It’s amazing how much easier it is to do your job when your brain is working the way it should!

- Tasks at home are easier for me to accomplish too, and it’s easier for me to stick to good habits and health. I actually managed to break the weight loss plateau I’ve been on since January 2016! Because fun fact- it’s a lot easier to stick to a diet when you’re emotionally stable.

-I feel like I’ve gotten better at sticking to social commitments once I make them; in the past, I’ve backed out of plans with friends a lot due to just plain feeling miserable and fatigued for reasons I couldn’t explain. I haven’t done that since I started this treatment.

It’s not like I never feel sad or mad or frustrated, but it’s all manageable now;  these are all emotions that I’m experiencing within their healthy range. They’re not overwhelming me. I have, however, had to start really working to figure out exactly what I need to be happy when I’m not seriously depressed, because I’ve had depression for long that like, I really don’t know. I’ve discovered for example, that when I’m not hampered by depression, I want and need to be around friends more often to be happy! But these are fixable problems. :)

I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop but so far, it seems like this treatment is actually sticking and working for me. I haven’t had a depression incident since the effects of the stimulator kicked in (i did come close, but it ends up that was just because i ignored the instructions about changing the sponges in the applicators every week. Once I changed it, it immediately started working as well for me again.). If I go 6 months without a recurrence of depression, I plan to talk to my doctors about weaning myself off depression meds altogether.

It was expensive, but honestly, this feels like the best money I’ve ever spent on anything ever and I honestly cannot friggin believe more people don’t know about it. I am in SUCH a better mental place than I was 30 days ago. And that’s why I wrote that novel of a status. 


Me writing about my experience in October:

1. I enjoy talking to pro se applicants over the phone SO much more than I previously did. I also really enjoyed the trademark picnic today and had an easy time talking to numerous people, when in the past, I've definitely struggled to start up conversations. It hasn't totally erased my focus issues, because I still have ADD, but it is generally much much easier for me to concentrate on conversations and while working.

2. I have managed to move forward with several long term goals in the past MONTH that I've been stalled on for a longggg time. I wrote a one act play I was happy with and submitted it to a new works festival! I can't remember the last time I actually finished a creative writing project I started (longer than a blog post anyway)! I broke through my weight loss plateau/rollercoaster and as of this morning have lost 31 pounds. I've started meditating every morning and working out every morning! These habits have been so hard for me to build and I am delighted they are happening.

I still totally suck at getting anywhere on time ever. ADD Tip: If you can get a job that doesn't care /when/ you work as long as you get your hours in, it is the best thing for someone with time blindness ever.

3. I have a few credit card issues I've been working on for a while (because law school taught me terrible financial habits, medical bills, etc.). These money issues used to /really/ stress me out and upset me, and John was scared to talk to me about them, but today we had a conversation about it and realized that actually, I haven't freaked out over money at all since the treatment kicked in. This is a delightful effect that is totally making my marriage better and John's life a little easier.

5. In general, dealing with problems is much much easier for me, and I'm more of a macgyver at finding creative solutions. This has come up several times lately, but the only example i can think of right now - John's welder is 300 pounds and can only sit in one open closet on the main floor in the entryway, as it would damage the floor anywhere else. You can't even close the door and it's just...not tidy or nice looking at all. I managed to hide it by hanging up a curtain and now our front entryway looks much better!

6. My extroversion is much more apparent now and I basically want to hang out with my friends alllll the time. My weekends are much more full of activities and I'm committing more time toward seeing friends during the week as well! Poor introvert John is slightly overwhelmed by this, but we're slowly finding a happy medium for the two of us.


 These days: 

Almost a year after trying it, I still use my happy zappy (as I affectionately call it) daily. I usually only need to use it once a day now, but if I’m having a tougher time than usual, I’ll use it twice daily. I am still on my depression meds (I tried removing one in the winter without actually talking to my doctor about it and it didn’t work so well). I firmly believe I wouldn’t be where I am as an author today without getting my depression under control. I won NaNoWriMo, finished that novel, and am revising it currently. I’ve written numerous short stories and essays and submitted them to literary publications; i’ve had three accepted. I published one of my short stories as an ebook and am turning that into a short story series, with a new volume released each month! I really don’t think any of that would be possible for me personally without the Fisher Wallace Stimulator. It has actually changed my life and made it significantly better. It’s not for everyone; it’s helped most of my friends I’ve recommended it to, but it just gave one of them headaches and nightmares. Given the high cost and the fact that insurance doesn’t cover it, I understand why people would be hesitant to buy it. Personally though, it’s one of the best decisions of my life. 


If you have any questions, please ask away! I’d be happy to talk to you more. :) 

#mentalhealth #depression #endthestigma