Hello Again. This is Susan from myketaminestory.com.
My deepest desire is to educate both the general public as well as physicians on the use of Ketamine for treating chronic clinical depression. I also want to encourage practitioners to invest in themselves and in others like me to offer this phenomenal drug. It is with the help of the Ketamine Academy, a Ketamine provider training course, that I feel both objectives are possible.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder at the age of 18 and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder several years later. I spent nearly 30 plus years after that searching for treatment to pull me from the depths of suicidal depression, daily panic attacks, insomnia and agoraphobia. I have spent countless times in psych hospitals, often for long periods. I have been prescribed practically every antidepressant on the market at one time or another during my life. The side effects alone have horror stories that could easily fill an entire 700 page novel. I have felt so desperate to escape the hell I was constantly living in that I even tried ECT (electroconvulsive therapy, otherwise known as shock therapy) and absolutely nothing worked for me.
I believe that after a couple decades of seeking out treatments and several different varieties of therapy, to no avail, I truly began to believe that maybe my depression was “all in my head”. However, I could never wrap my mind around that self defeating belief because I was sincerely convinced that I would never willingly choose the world I was suffocating in daily.
Fast forward to 2015. I am once again deep in the pit of depression. I saw no hope. I was done fighting. I had attempted to take my life so many times that I can’t recall a number; suicidal depression was always calling my name.
January 2015, my light went completely out. I honestly had no fight left in me. Those of you that suffer know exactly what I mean. Trust me when I say treatment resistant depression is exhausting. I felt like I was fighting an evil so big, dark, and all-encompassing that I couldn’t breathe. I was done. It was my most serious attempt. I left a note to my husband that no action should be taken to save me. I apologized, but I could only pray that one day they would know and understand that I loved them and stuck around so, so, long just for them. I no longer wanted to be a soldier in this war I was living in.
The pain, hopelessness and the lack of successful treatment drove me to actions that, unfortunately, many understand while others will never get it; to those individuals please be grateful you are so blatantly unaware of the world we were unknowingly and unwillingly sucked into.
My last attempt was a serious one. I almost succeeded. However, the universe had other plans for me.
I was so frustrated and angry when I was unsuccessful at getting better and even more outraged at once again failing in my attempt to end my life.
It was during my recovery that my therapist at the time and my husband went into research mode and both were equally excited about this new treatment they found for treatment resistant depression, Ketamine Infusions, in a brief but life changing paragraph in Psychology Today.
The only problem was that it was a new treatment and insurance won’t cover the cost.
I know for many, including myself, the cost of mental health puts a financial burden on the family. We didn’t really have extra money to invest in an unknown expensive treatment.
I was so angry.
Why do we have to put a monetary value on what we are worth?
I was at the end. I knew with everything in me I would keep trying to take my life until I was successful because the life I was living was no life at all.
My husband and therapist realized I was unreachable. They kept pushing me to give it a try. We used our entire income tax return and savings to travel to New Jersey (we live in Virginia and at the time there were no clinics or facilities providing Ketamine infusions there) to the Ketamine Treatment Center of Princeton.
It took everything in me to stay alive until we received our tax refund and could travel to the treatment center. It was the longest five weeks of my life.
I was filled with doubt that Ketamine infusions could even help me and that driving desire to end my life. My psychiatrist at the time held little faith in the treatment and saw it as a new aged money making therapy with not enough current evidence of working. He suggested deep brain stimulation as the path I should follow. I flat out said I would rather die before trying such an invasive surgery whose long-term success rates have yet to be established either.
In the end, I would travel to New Jersey and meet with Dr. Steven Levine and undergo Ketamine therapy. I received six infusion treatments over a two week period. And I am thrilled to admit it changed the direction of my life.
I was fortunate enough to learn from Dr. Levine that a doctor in Charlottesville, Va was willing to start trying intramuscular Ketamine shots if I was interested in reaching out to him and becoming his first Ketamine patient. It was because of my observations of the effects of Ketamine Infusions on my depression that I was opened to speaking with with him.
When I returned home to Virginia I was feeling rather strange, but in a hopeful positive manner. This experience of reprieve from my depressive symptoms was completely new to me.
When I was originally asked what it was like during my initial treatments with Ketamine, I could only compare it to an individual that has been deaf all their life and then receive cochlear implants. I imagine that once they wake from surgery everything in their world is shifted, new, scary and a little shocking. I felt like I was experiencing life from the shoreline instead of under the vast powerful ocean waters.
My life, it has not been the same. I have discovered me. It is still a lot of personal growth work, and I struggle, but Ketamine has allowed me to see clearly. It gives me the ability to do the work needed to heal because it pulls me up and out of the debilitating depression I once could not escape from, no matter which medication cocktails I tried.
I get Ketamine shots every two weeks now. I have been for years.
I want to share my experiences, educate, possibly change a flawed belief system, as well as approach insurance companies to consider paying for the cost of treatments in order to reach more patients suffering with treatment resistant depression.
Trust me when I say, the cost of Ketamine therapy is a fraction of the cost of hospitalizations and traditional methods of treatment.
In my blog, I have been able to document my Ketamine treatments, the effects, how it is changing my life, and have been able to educate others suffering with treatment resistant depression.
One day I want to be able to discuss changing insurance policies to include Ketamine treatments and if I am effective in my writings I am really hoping to open the eyes of psychiatrists, physicians and practitioners alike.
I am painfully discovering that having treatment resistant depression for decades kept me from experiencing life fully. I was drowning under a dark vast ocean invisible to everyone but me.
My world has always been plagued by this undeniable feeling that I was different. I believed that I didn’t see the world the ways others did, but couldn’t understand why. I have always felt like an alien walking among a huge population. It wasn’t until I had Ketamine in my life that the distinctions were obvious to me. I am floating on the waters I used to live in. I feel so uplifted and positive. I am enjoying the possibilities.
However, in the beginning it felt impossible to stay optimistic, because the real world is incredibly negative. I can breathe. I want to live. I look for good. I easily see it now. The problem I was encountering was that nagging feeling that most of society wanted to break me.
There are so many negative people.
I understand how my cheerful approach to Ketamine treatments could rub people the wrong way. I am sure I could be annoying in my enthusiasm when I was sharing my experiences with Ketamine for depression . It was so incredibly new when I began writing on the subject of Ketamine that many sufferers and professionals wanted studies and documented proof that this drug was safe and effective. I got that. I wanted that too, but I had to take a gamble as my options were absolutely non-existent unless I wanted to undergo brain surgery as my psychiatrist recommended.
Ketamine was a risk, with little information available prior to my first infusion, and over the last four years more and more has been written about this miraculous drug and opinions are changing.
In the beginning of 2015, my husband and therapist had to really search to find information and studies on the drug. I mean I get it, sort of. The general population haven’t lived in the crushing life sucking world those of us with Major Depressive Disorder have, and it may have seemed extreme for me to try Ketamine with so little documentation available, but that was where I was at as my recourse was depleted.
My universe shifted with Ketamine.
I don’t want to view the world the way I once did, and mainly, that reason is due to the fact I don’t have the depression filters on 24/7. I am in the light. When you’ve lived in pitch black all your life and someone or something, such as Ketamine, switches on a light, the effects are profound.
Now imagine you can see colors and feel the breeze touching your skin where once the air was stale and world gray. You can truly appreciate the simple things. For me, the blinders of depression are open and I really like what I am seeing and experiencing.
I smile more.
I openly greet people.
I try hard to learn about this new world I am in.
I am learning the world is an entertaining place to be alive in. I feel alive. I am alive and ironically everyone else appears to be zombies. Why is everyone so miserable? I want to know, can’t they let go of the pettiness and hating? I am shocked. The place I was existing seems so dull in comparison to life as it is today. I was trying unsuccessfully to grasp the fact that I have had a profound change occur with Ketamine. It lifts the weight I was once strangled by, and I am able to raise to the top of those petrifying depths of despair.
I know and feel the difference.
I want to tone down my enthusiasm to be more accepted, but I also refuse to die inside because the people around me are spiritually dead. I am searching for a balance. I was so far away from the living world, and many were, and are unaware of just how catastrophic it was for me and for others like me to exist in. I don’t need others to know my past but I think they would understand my approach if they did. I haven’t figured out why it is so important to me to be understood, I only know that I found a solution to my depressive state of being and truly feel others could benefit from it and lead productive lives again.
Years later, I am still exploring the various ways to communicate just how Ketamine has changed me and my mental illness.
I want to live in the now. I am training myself to be present. I won’t lie. It has been excruciating at times. I am trying to rediscover myself in this new world that has opened up to me and it is quizzical.
I am enjoying most of my discoveries even through my confusion. I just don’t want this new world full of half living individuals (aka: doubters) to destroy me because I am unable to scientifically explain how Ketamine works. I just know that it is.
I am discouraged today. I am writing again. It is a challenge. I am grateful that I am able. I feel I have so much to offer. I am running into closed doors and tall unbreakable walls. Even four years in, this is all still so fresh to me. I am continuing to process and heal. I want to be a better person. A whole one. I am having emotions I don’t necessarily have experience with because the depression numbed me. I think, I didn’t know all the emotions I could feel and as exciting as that is, it is also terrifying.
I have had to redefine my emotional language. What I mean by that is, my knowledge of the definitions of feelings were strong - or so I thought. I believed I was in touch and self aware. However, my first hand experience was damaged by my mental illness. I feel with Ketamine I am distinguishing the differences.
I will give you an example. As I have stated, I have lost many things because of my depression. Friends have passed away. Disappointments, massive ones, have occurred and my depression deepened. I did not grieve. I thought the depression was evidence that I was going through the stages of loss. I have shared this before, but feel it is a great demonstration of how it will take time to maneuver through the unresolved past and the emotions I didn’t deal with because the depression was already all encompassing for me.
I was in a store and realized I was crying when I thought I saw a friend that passed away almost three years ago. It startled me. What was going on? What were the tears about? It had only been a few days since my Ketamine shot. I was perplexed and afraid. Was the depression resurfacing during the period between treatments? Why? For me, I think feeling any sadness at all has been my deepest concern between appointments. I question with fear. It was only after months of treatments that I realized everyone gets sad. Grief isn’t clinical depression. Having a day of tears doesn’t equate to a lifetime of spiraling depression or hospitalizations. I have to constantly remind myself. I try every day to use the correct terms to express myself. I feel this discovery was a valuable asset for my recovery. It is definitely a frustrating component. It is also the way in which I have grown most over the past years. I am a work in progress, but at least I am growing. That would never have been possible if I had not taken a risk back in 2015 and given Ketamine Infusions an opportunity to redefine the way I manage my mental illnesses.
Ketamine has inspired hope in me. I may slip and fall, but I no longer sink.
If you are interested in educating yourself further on Ketamine therapy for Treatment Resistant Depression, check out the four-part series I wrote answering questions about Ketamine use, based on my experience with Ketamine therapy over the past 3.5 plus years:
My first blog, Ketamine: Addressing Questions & Concerns focused on my early experience with Ketamine Infusions.
In part two of the series, Addressing Questions & Concerns About Ketamine Therapy for Treatment Resistant Depression I addressed questions and concerns about Intramuscular Ketamine vs Ketamine Infusion therapy.
In my third blog, Frequently Asked Questions: Redefining Depression With The Assistance Of Ketamine Therapy, I was a bit more random. I had emails with several questions and themes, and I addressed as many inquiries as I could.
In my final question and answer dialogue, Pondering Concerns & Questions: The Benefits Of Ketamine For Treatment Resistant Depression, I discussed research, clinical studies, and the need for changes to occur within our insurance companies and federal government so that maybe one day Ketamine will not be so difficult to afford or obtain, from any qualified professional.
I hope these personal blogs from a patient that suffered for over four decades with treatment resistant depression will be helpful in convincing you why Ketamine could help you or someone you love.
Until next time, feel free to comment or shoot me an email. Better yet, if you are a healthcare provider, why not sign up for the Ketamine training course today through The Ketamine Academy. Be a force of positive change. Be an option. Be a place for those suffering with Treatment Resistant Depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to turn when all other avenues have been exhausted.