MY KETAMINE JOURNEY
I suffered with major depression for over 20 years. I was first diagnosed during my senior year of nursing school after a suicide attempt. This began a very treacherous road of hospitalizations, therapy, and endless drugs. Zoloft worked well enough for me to finish school and get my license. Eventually the Zoloft stopped working. From this point on, I was prescribed almost every anti-depressant available. Some worked for a short term. Most did not. I was then given more drugs to cover up the side effects of the anti-depressants. Side effects and withdrawals from the meds were awful. I was still very depressed and had just enough in me to function at a minimum capacity. I had no interest in life whatsoever. I was just an observer while life happened around me for many years.
Four years ago, I had five significant deaths happen within a two year period. The first was a co-worker of eight years and the last was the death of my dad. These losses turned my world upside down. I no longer had any control over my depression. Different meds were being prescribed to no avail. I had at least three hospitalizations during this time and one suicide attempt. I was kept for a few days and then sent home with yet a different med to try. The last hospitalization (after the suicide attempt), I begged them to send me to the state hospital because I knew how sick I was. I was told no. I begged to be sent somewhere for ECT and was refused. I was told by my psychiatrist to apply for disability and learn to live with my depression.
I was sent home where I totally decompensated. I felt like I had a two-ton cloud of sadness and hopelessness covering me that would not go away. I did not get out of bed except to use the restroom and sometimes eat. I went seven to ten days without bathing, brushing my teeth, brushing my hair, or washing my hair. These tasks were too monumental to even think about. I only did them when my husband strongly encouraged me to do so (can you imagine how stinky I was?!). I laid in bed, slept, and stared at the TV. Sometimes I would read, but this was very difficult as I did not have the ability to concentrate.
Fortunately, I picked up a book my mom had given me on alternative treatments to depression. A little blip in this book mentioned treatment-resistant depression might not be a serotonin issue but a glutamate issue. What?? The answer to this was ketamine. As a surgical nurse I was familiar with ketamine, but I had never heard of it helping depression. My interest was piqued and for the first time in years, I saw a tiny, flickering light of hope.
I started researching ketamine for depression. It felt like a perfect option for me. It was my only hope. I was dying. I was not living. I was only breathing in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide back into the air. I found a ketamine clinic four hours away and made an appointment. I cannot explain the enormous amount of energy it took to make the phone call for help. I am glad I did. Ketamine has given me my life back.
Two years ago, I received six infusions over a three week period. After the second infusion, I told my friend “I think my head feels lighter, like part of the cloud is gone." Indeed, I DID feel better!! I continued to feel better after each infusion. I began to FEEL again. That was very strange because I don’t know at what point I had lost the ability to feel. I did not even realize emotion (except intense sadness) was missing.
Ketamine infusions were not an instantaneous fix. They were a tool that helped me get out of bed and shower every day. This made me feel better, and I walked the dog. Walking the dog made me feel better, so I cooked supper. This made my husband very happy, which in turn, made me happy. Ketamine shifted my actions and feelings in a positive direction. These actions became progressively positive. For example, in time I had the energy and confidence to apply for jobs. I got a job. Being a productive member of society again does wonders for the psyche! Working again made me realize how much I loved helping people and how much heart I have to offer society. This gave me the confidence to apply to nurse practitioner school. Here I am today: typing my experience, going to graduate school, working, and wondering what to cook for supper!
Something I struggle with is a new identity. Who is Becky without depression?? I don’t know. I am learning how to make and keep friends. Depressed Becky isolated herself and lost many good friends. I am learning to be social. I am learning how to deal with feelings and emotions. Depressed Becky did not feel (except for negative emotions) or care. I am learning how to love and how to be transparent. Depressed Becky had thick walls and a fake façade. I am sharing these things out of honesty. Who knew feeling like a human again had its share of challenges?
I have had four boosters at various times since my initial infusions two years ago. I am not taking anti-depressants. This is a personal choice, and I recommend you follow your clinician’s advice. I do not remember when I have ever felt this good emotionally. I feel like a human. It is amazing, and it is a miracle. I thank God for keeping me from taking my own life. He knew I could experience life and enjoy it when I only saw darkness.
"I tried ketamine to help with brain fog caused from years of being chronically ill and as a result of taking too many medications. I can say that my memory is performing significantly better! My thoughts are much clearer! I haven't read book in over 20 years. However, after my treatment, I have now read four books in four weeks. My concentration and clarity is fantastic. Thank you Panhandle Ketamine Care!!"
- Panhandle Ketamine Care Patient, August 2019