Hello again. This is Susan from myketaminestory.com. Welcome to my Ketamine blog for the Boise Ketamine Clinic website. I am excited to have another platform to share my experience with Ketamine treatments in hopes of educating others on the potential this drug has for helping others, like me, with Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD).
As many of you know, I suffer with TRD, anxiety disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In January of 2015, I nearly succeeded in taking my own life; after many prior failed attempts. I found myself completely spent and my light went out.
My world and mind shifted when I was introduced to Ketamine for Treatment Resistant Depression. My clinical depression could not be suppressed by traditional methods of therapy and medication cocktails. In desperation, I allowed ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy), which is when you have a frightening experience the doctors refer to as a procedure, done under general anesthesia, in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. I had 12 sessions of ECT preformed over a 4 week period. I was already hospitalized for yet another suicide attempt and I would remain for a total of three months during the period of time I was receiving ECT treatments. I have read that this is an outpatient procedure and that petrifies me. I have very little recall of the three months I was undergoing ECT. In fact the months leading up to my hospitalization and many weeks after I was discharged are a blur or nonexistent to me. During all 12 sessions I was in a sterile and controlled environment. I can’t imagine trying to manage my life while simultaneously having my brain shocked and memories erased.
I was lost. I wanted out of my pathetic pit quickly because I was certain this depression would kill me. My doctors thought ECT was my best option. I asked a lot of questions. I watched several videos. I was horrified by my new found knowledge of how ECT worked. I was even more afraid of what would become of me if I didn’t accept this treatment plan. My hubby asked the questions I was unable. The physicians informed us that ECT seems to cause changes in the brain chemistry and they felt that it could quickly reverse symptoms of my mental illnesses. This was not my experience. Not at all. I could share horror stories and part of me is really driven to share due to the excess of articles being published today favoring ECT as a viable therapy.
Recently, I have been hearing of more and more people turning to ECT treatments. This terrifies me. It saddens me immensely. It is pretty upsetting because many of these individuals want to try Ketamine but can not because of the cost involved with Ketamine therapy. ECT is covered under most insurance plans. It is an incredibly costly procedure, but I haven’t heard of any insurance companies refusing to pay. Unfortunately, Ketamine therapy doesn’t have the same luxury. I want that to change. I am doing what I can.
I advocate for Ketamine therapy. Why? After decades of failed painful treatment plans, I have had pretty successful results, for the first time ever, using the drug Ketamine. I am living in the light. It has been with the assistance and benefits of Ketamine that I am alive today and writing to educate others on the importance of this life altering medication. I was capable of pulling back the curtains of darkness to expose the colors I longed to soak in, absorb, and truly appreciate the variations in shades and depth of richness each color provided.
I am surrounded by layers and layers of magnificent color. When you live in darkness like I did, those same vibrant colors, which I can enjoy and appreciate now, don’t exist. In your world, and not at all as it is for most of the population, color distinctions are limited. My world since starting Ketamine Infusions over two and a half years ago has clearly made me aware of how muted my view of all the beauty around me was. I am a photographer. Imagine. The world through my camera lens is splendid. What is even more impressive is the glorious vivid surroundings I see without my camera in hand.
Color. All the amazing plays with light. I have been obsessed with color. All my life. I could spend hours photographing people and places with a heavy heart. I experienced a love for nature and expressions. It still felt like a world I wasn’t a part of. I was only allowed to click image after image for others to hold close to their hearts and truly feel. I feel color now. That may read strangely, but it is true. I have been in tune with the arts over the years. A deep love and a passion that can often make me cry by the profound feelings that overtake me. The changes in my capacity to love language and art has only been compounded and has embraced me whole since Ketamine continuously aids me in reducing the depressive symptoms I was drowning in.
I see rich colors.
I was in a pretty dark place lately. I was in that familiar dark hole. I have been stressed. I have made poor choices. I have had to pay for these errors in judgement. Intramuscular (IM) Ketamine works brilliantly at suppressing the symptoms that make me want to die. It does its job. I am the other factor. I have a part now. This is exciting and frustrating. I am quickly learning that mental health is affected by more than just chemicals or inflammation. I struggle with insomnia, and it can ravage everything I hold dear. I refuse medication. This has been a persistent problem, sleep disruptions, for me. Tragic. In the past, sleep was administered with the help of benzodiazepines and sleep medications. I was heavily drugged. It was the only way to calm and quiet the voices and noise keeping me awake and focused obsessively on my racing thoughts and desire to end my life to find the relief I was seeking. In 2007, I ended my hateful affair with medication cocktails and spent the next year and a half getting off all my medications. My ability to sleep regularly has never recovered from the years of high levels of anti-anxiety and sleep medications. I cycle with sleep disturbances and this affects how I function and process information. Diet also plays a vital role in my recovery. I will be writing shortly, an article for my blog on what I have discovered about foods and mental alertness. I will address how many foods cause inflammation and thus cause swelling in the mind and body hence making Ketamine have to work harder and more efficiently to keep the depression at bay. This is a tough order for one drug to preform. In general, I am over the moon with happiness at what Ketamine combats so that I can fight this insidious battle and dominate over the depression and anxiety. I have more days in the light than the days spent in that cave I have written about previously in another blog. That is because I get IM Ketamine shots every two weeks.
I noticed that when I am struggling, I make poor decisions, my sleep suffers, my craving for comfort foods and items that contain high levels of sugar, escalates. I stumble. I trip. I want to steady myself but I keep leaning on the most destructive devices and I shatter. I have glue now. It takes time to piece together all the fragments of my life. I am impatient. I want more. I am not enough. This is unacceptable. Is it? I can say that after my last Ketamine session I am now seeing my world clearly. It is in focus. Clarity unlike any photo lens I have ever had the pleasure to work with. The thoughts that seemed ludicrous now were all so real to me only days before. I am still in awe at the abilities Ketamine has over me.
I have had many life stresses lately. I have been faced multiple times with what I perceived as attacks on my ego and self esteem. The last several months have been trying. I have built up my ammunition against my self defeating assaults. I have a toolbox filled with techniques and helpful methods for tricking my mind positively, unlike the havoc the demons assert with their winning charm and manipulations. Depression is a lying bastard. It is also cunning and painfully believable. It is often too late when I realize that nasty illness has once again claimed me. That spiral down hurts. I watch all the things I spent weeks putting into place evaporate. It all feels like a timer. I can’t take the anxiety. When will it explode in my face and destroy me like I figured it would? I fall forward. I reach out to grab anything. I latch on to the old unhealthy coping mechanisms. I get so outraged. I am being eaten alive by that hot rage. I am blind to the beauty. I frantically scan for the colors. Nothing.
I feel like I can’t take this bloody roller coaster another day.
I recently told my doctor that it is more than a roller coaster ride. At least on a roller coaster you can see ahead. You can prepare yourself for the peaks and valleys. You are totally aware. The clanking of the cart going up. The pure excitement. The love for all things crazy and thrilling. You are feeling joy. You hear the release. You have a second or two to brace for the drop. You are given warning before the trip downward. I have felt that with depression and Ketamine, lately, that I was on that same amusement ride with ear plugs and a blindfold. I have no idea when the drop is coming. And when it does, it can be vast and tremendously upsetting. It causes me to feed the vicious compulsions. My obsessive thoughts take control. I speed straight down with no faith that my roller coaster car is spinning around a corner and soon it will be taking me back up into the light. In my twisted state of mind, I am now on an airliner heading straight down into the concrete below. And I can only follow along. I am a very unwilling participant. I can only hear the noise in my head. The volume is so loud. It distracts me. It hurts. I lose more. I cry out. Terror. It is so confusing. I lose ground. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. I search for the whys. I seek out ways to predict. Nothing. I want balance. I want the world to stop so I can heal and not keep striving to obtain a feeling that randomly gets snagged away from me for absolutely no reason. There is a reason. Ugh. There is a bloody reason. Depression. Oh how I wish it were not an issue; not my issue. I do wish the Ketamine was a permanent fix and not just a fixture in my life. I quickly correct this thought pathway with the gentle reminder that I have found a medication that gives me days of relief. Relief. I know the difference between a life with TRD and a life filled with symptom free periods. I try to be grateful. I try not to follow the evil force convincing me that this time I will not recover. This time, it is time to put an end to all this silliness.
Depression makes you believe things will never be any better than this moment. In fact, it is almost certainly going to get much worse than you could have ever previously imagined. You know now what life could be like for you. Optimism and passionate curiosity. Gone. Never to return. The illness is in the driver’s seat once again. I want to be better at keeping the steering wheel. It is not a power or will-driven option. I can’t beg loud enough or shove hard enough to jerk and shake the devil from controlling all aspects of my sports car. I fade. The suffocation I feel from the weight of the depression and anxiety create unwanted desires to find a true, permanent solution. Death. It welcomes me. It appeals to me. I resist until I am so broken and raw that I welcome the idea of death. It warms me. It seduces me. It is luring me into that trap of ultimate peace. No more struggling. No more suffering and darkness. I can finally let go of all this toxic anger. Please. Bring it on.
I went last week to get my next booster shot. I barely made it. I was wrapped completely in my plan. I was actively suicidal. I could not turn off all the negativity and pain. I could not shut off that disastrous voice. You know, that voice that pretends to care. The one that makes suicide magical. The perfect solution to decades of devastation. It does not matter that Ketamine exists. It won’t cure me. Life will always be unpredictable and unmanageable for me. It is not fair. Why does the Ketamine have to drift away and leave me? Over and over I slip and slide. If unexpected situations arise and it draws my attention away repeatedly will I ever get ahead of this tedious game? Probably not. If Ketamine was my true hero I would never…. I would never. I want to end this.
I was afraid, going to get my Ketamine therapy last week. I was terrified that this miraculous drug that has been working amazingly for me for over 2.5 years is never going to work again. I have been stolen and kidnapped and Ketamine will never find me. I shook in horror. I was hearing only the calls from the graveyard. All the cemeteries nationwide were screaming my name. I had a plan in place. I was able to strike up a bargain with my tormentor. Let me give Ketamine a chance. History has proven its effectiveness. I was no longer a believer. I was lead astray. I feared that my lack of faith in Ketamine would dominate over the ability Ketamine has to lift me for this ordeal I find myself dying in. The brain is a powerful organ. I have learned that how I think Ketamine will work for me can actually determine the outcome. I fear all the darkness and doubts would cloud all the benefits. I will grudgingly admit that I walk out of my doctors office with the sense of doom hanging over me. It took everything in me to stay put and not follow the rabbit down the hole to pure insanity and my demise. My doctor mentioned that we would try increasing the dose and I that I should return in one week instead of my normal two weeks. My doctor also suggested admitting me but I refused and told him if he hospitalized me he would surely be signing my death certificate.
I left defeated.
I waged through the muddy waters for two days after leaving my doctor, determined to put my plan in motion. I was playing around with the fantasy of all things related to reaching that end goal of cessation. Depression is a familiar presence. Ketamine is, even after two plus years, still a new friend. I don’t want to continue to believe the lies my mental illnesses taunt me with but my depression is a strong enemy that doesn’t fight fair. No rules. It is just attack after miserable attack. I feel I never get a break. I am always working to stay present and centered. I feel wronged. I yell out, to the empty room I hide away in, why am I being repeatedly punished? What did I do that was so unforgivable that I must be subjected to this unyielding beast?
I do something different.
I reached out to my friends. My support. This might seem like an obvious conclusion. We reach out for comfort, advice and support without judgement. I didn’t share much. I just asked them to remind me why I fight so hard to stay a part of their lives. I told them I am in the dark and could really use a match. Remarkably, I heard some of the most compelling reasons to march on. The words and kindness. It made me wonder why I pull away instead of reaching out. It felt good. It was what I needed to read and hear. I generated strength from their words. I soldiered on. It took a few days but the Ketamine calmed me and allowed me to reconsider my plan.
I made it through another hateful week. I went to see my doctor last Wednesday and had probably one of the best Ketamine experiences ever. I feel incredible. I am still giddy, and it has been three days since my last Ketamine session.
When I get IM Ketamine shots, I find it helpful to also have my doctor present and participate in psychotherapy. I will warn that I have spoken to several Ketamine patients that feel they could never consider therapy while under the influence of Ketamine. I suggest they reconsider down the road because the benefits of using Ketamine as a tool to repair the connections between behavior and thought is phenomenal. This past appointment really emphasize why I feel so strongly about combining analysis with Ketamine.
The Ketamine took about seven or so minutes to switch the suicidal ideation off. Minutes later I was feeling light and positive. I was describing the connections I was discovering to my doctor. I remember saying, Dr. Moseley I hope you are taking great notes because I feel I am making huge progress and can literally feel myself gaining strength. I am feeling empowered. I am at the center of everything. I just want to stay here. Can I stay? Dr. Moseley please don’t say a word I just want to sit in the splendor. I feel whole. I see my words in colors. Colors are my love. I am pinks and yellows. Soft. I am at peace. I can accomplish the job now. I can totally kick this illness’s ass now.
I don’t focus on the fact that this feeling is temporary. I choose to direct my attention to having an unknown amount of time free from that deadly fiend. I am Susan. I am not my depression. I believe it now. How is that possible? That desire to take my life is a foreigner now. It seems too unbelievable to be possible, but here I sit typing my story.
I smile as I am seeing the colorful words in front of me before my fingers are capable of following my thoughts to this blog. I feel so good. I want all Ketamine sessions to feel that way. I want to carry this maternal hug with me always. I literally felt like I was being wrapped up in the arms of mother earth. The internal mother. A nonjudgmental mother. I feel her love and acceptance. I felt safe. I felt loved. I felt color. Ahhh. I felt color. My relationship with light and shades of darkness found new meaning for me. I smile. I am still smiling. Ketamine continues to amaze me with its ability. It seems to give me exactly what I need. It somehow knows what that is better than I. During my darker moments, I learn about my dysfunctions, and that sucks, but it is immensely necessary for growth. I think. I laugh at this. Depression is so grueling and heartbreaking. I want to never experience it again. I don’t look forward to the return of my symptoms. I try to keep my attention on now with the hope of limiting my anxiety. This is a process I wish I was an expert at, but slowly I am gaining ground and I am able to leap over the hurdles I was just recently describing having to walk under in another Ketamine blog.
It was at the end of my last treatment that my doctor said to me, “Well Susan, I am no blogger but you are welcome to my notes if you would like to share them during one of your published ruminations. I will make you a copy before you head out because you did some impressive work today and my notes may help remind you.”
In closing today, I would love to share a few of the comments Dr. Moseley made in his patient notes for my chart during my Ketamine therapy on September 20th.
Patient notes during K session feeling as though she was coming out of the depression and anguish. She states she is gaining distance and able to disengage from the insidious disease of depression. She is capable of taking a full breath again. Patient states that she is walking into my words. “It has been too long, Dr. Moseley. I have needed this so badly. Ketamine and I are a team. A great working machine. We are a team. We need each other. The Ketamine is working now. I am in the circle now. Things are messages and I am making connections. I feel resurrected. I am going deep into the Ketamine this time Dr. Moseley. It is really great. Calm. Love. I see my words in color. ”
I believe the patient is demonstrating active synesthesia; I say, “This is magnificent and your birthright. Enjoy it, own it, remember it, it is your antidepressant.”
Patient says she feels incredible. She keeps saying that Ketamine has made so many things possible for her. It continues to help. “I was so worried, Dr. Moseley. But once again Ketamine is my hero. I can’t open my eyes, she laughs, but I feel incredible. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I want to stay here. I want to never leave. I just want to stay here. I feel like a warm blanket is welcoming me home. I feel really, really good. Gosh, every session should be like this! I can’t move but I don’t care. I have nowhere I want to be but here in this moment. I am pink and yellow and feel so calm and happy just to be. I need this calm. I have so desperately needed this. It has been a gruesome few weeks Dr. Moseley. I feel that when I am in therapy with Ketamine I can feel love. I feel loved and safe. I want to be wrapped up in this feeling forever. I never want to leave. What time is it? Don’t tell me. I want to stay here a little longer. I want to stop time and just be allowed to sit with this reassurance and love for as long as I can.”
Patient whispers, “I am at the center of everything, Dr. Moseley. Oh Dr. Moseley I am so glad I did not take my life. It is so funny how I want to stop thinking and feel this way always. I feel so fucking fabulous. This is what I needed. It’s amazing. I needed this. I really did. I was so black. I was so far away. I feel joy. I feel love. Ketamine comes to me and offers me what I need. I don’t always know the lesson but it is there teaching me. It is incredible that this one drug can allow me to be Susan. It let’s me see Susan and like her enough to work with her again. I am back. I am good. This is good. I am at a loss for analogies or metaphors, but I am okay with that right now. I feel so much better, so calm. I would like to open my eyes but at the same time I don’t want to have any other stimulus to distract me from this pure feeling. I am not ready to open them. Breath is so vital Dr. Moseley. It really is. Sometimes I find myself holding my breath totally unaware that I was. I used to get so down on myself for that. She laughs and states, among all the other blasted things I find impossible to accept when the Ketamine has weaned. But right now, I am pretty cool with my shortcomings and flaws. She laughs. I just need to breathe. Just breathe like my tattoo states and my mind ignores. But it is all good. I am working on it. If you knew how hard I worked in order to get to this appointment. If you only knew how much I fought to get here. How much time remains?” I answer her with 30 minutes! “Wow, time is my friend today! Time is my friend and my enemy. It is glorious how nothing seems upsetting right now. I just want you to know how much I needed this……”
I thought it was really neat that my psychiatrist appreciates my website and the writings I do for The Boise Ketamine Clinic, as well as, The Injection & Infusion Clinic of ABQ enough to share his patient notes with me and agreed with my expounding on his notes. Thank you, Dr. Moseley.
If you know of anyone suffering with treatment resistant depression, like I do, let them know that Ketamine therapy may be an option worth looking into. It has been and continues to offer me relief from my symptoms. If you or someone you know are considering Ketamine infusion therapy, please visit the Boise Ketamine Clinic website for low cost ketamine infusion and injection options. If you are not in the Boise, Idaho area I suggest approaching a local professional and start educating them on the benefits of Ketamine. It doesn’t hurt to ask for what you need. You can also visit my Ketamine Provider & Location List to find a provider in your area.