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My Experience With a ‘Vagus Nerve Stimulator’ Clinical Trial for Depression

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I wanted to hurl the tablet in my hands across the windowless room. I’d been answering questions about my severe depression for over three hours at the baseline visit for a research study.

I was in the home stretch, fending off fatigue and migraine when a question on the screen broke me. It asked, “How many hours of work did you miss this week because of your depression (eg leaving work early)?” I’ve been too sick to hold down a job in years, but “does not apply” wasn’t an option.

I felt a wave of self-doubt about whether my volunteer projects counted as work, then anger about living in a society where productivity is constantly used as a measure of wellness.

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