Ketamine Therapy And Cannabis: A Potentially Unhealthy Alliance
Hello again. It is Susan from myketaminestory.com.
I am a blogger that suffers with Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD), Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I was introduced to Ketamine for TRD in January 2015. I am forever grateful that I was. I spent the first two years focused on my recovery. I now have an excellent treatment plan in place, but that does not clear me from obstacles or pitfalls. I journal regularly. I educate and advocate for Ketamine Therapy to help treat depression.
I have written for several Ketamine websites, entirely based on my experience with Ketamine therapy over the past 3.5 plus years in treatment. I am now adding the Ketamine Academy to my list of platforms I am grateful to use, in order to educate and advocate for this cutting edge therapy for chronic depression.
In this blog, I am going to discuss how the use of Ketamine and Cannabis together may not be a healthy combination for treating depression and anxiety disorders. It has been my experience that Ketamine, by infusion or intramuscular injections, is an excellent drug for combatting treatment resistant depression. Ketamine has worked magnificently for me over the past several years. However, even with the positive effects of the Ketamine, I was still struggling to manage my anxiety disorders and decided, on my own, to self medicate my anxieties with Cannabis. My initial reaction to this alliance seemed positive. It appeared as though these two drugs were working nicely together. Nevertheless, over long term use I was discovering complications. This is solely my experience, but I feel it has some merit and is worthy of discussing.
Ketamine has assisted me in my abilities to return to the world of the living after decades of suicidal depression. In spite of that, I was wrestling with continuous nervousness and trepidation.
I have been fortunate enough to have the help of Ketamine therapy to aid me in experiencing freedom from depressive symptoms for weeks at a time. In addition, I have gained profound mental clarity, introspection, and self awareness over the past several years using IM Ketamine as my antidepressant. It continually grants me the ability to make connections between my thinking and behaviors. It relieves me from the hellacious world I once lived in, for decades. It gives me the ability to explore my inner self and find the self awareness needed to heal.
If you would, please allow me to digress a bit.
I took several months off from writing to work on underlying issues stemming from childhood experiences, self medicating, intense anxiety, fear of failing and succeeding, and complications from past treatments that kept me locked in a cycle of self destruction.
I took a month away and entered myself into an intensive recovery program. I can now admit that it was the best decision I ever made for myself. I learned such valuable lessons about myself and what was holding me back from living. Ketamine allowed me to see the truth about myself and yet I was resistant to change. I didn’t know how to not be depressed and anxious. I had been in such a cycle of self loathing that even with the help of Ketamine I was unable to consistently be okay with life.
I wanted to control every element of my world and often found myself in a pit of despair and hopelessness. I was fighting against feeling good about my future and sinking further into old behavior patterns. It was killing me. I was willingly and slowly committing suicide. I could not cope. I didn’t want to be a part of this world, where I had to fight for every sane thought and moment. I was exhausted.
It was not an easy decision for me.
I did not want to admit to my part in the darkness I was creating.
Ketamine lifted the depression, but I had years of behaviors and thought patterns to break free from. My depression and the symptoms that coexist with this hideous disease were helped with my Ketamine therapy. However, I was unprepared for the success. I was an infant to all the new emotions I was feeling. I have decades of tools hidden in my mind for managing my insidious negative mental states, yet I was refusing to use them. I was persistently terrified and didn’t understand why.
I mean, I wanted to live a productive, mindful and content life. I did. I still do. At the same time, I was reluctant to do the work. I was filled with anger. I was filled with hate; a red hot burning rage and it was nothing Ketamine could fix. I really thought that once the depression was lifted I was going to be free. I believed that I would be healed and could move on. Let go. Enjoy this life I was given.
That would not be my story. Ketamine is a remarkable drug for treating depression, but it can’t fix the years of how I fought to stay alive. I can’t make the hurts, the memories, the grief, the loss of decades of my life disappear.
I still had work to do.
I was pissed.
I didn’t understand these new feelings I was experiencing and I definitely did not appreciate the time that was involved in sorting through them all. It was too much for me. I was beginning to suffer with panic attacks daily. I would lash out in frustration and self pity.
I felt raw.
All the time.
I wanted badly to numb the anxiety. I wanted to numb everything. I didn’t realize it at the time, but on reflection it is very obvious that I wanted the familiar back. I knew how to manage the darkness I once lived in to some degree. It was not a life I wanted back. I didn’t long for the hell I was locked in for over twenty five years, but I felt like the anxiety I was wading in every second was too much to bare, too. I felt constantly confused and horrified.
I started to self medicate with Marijuana.
And I thought I had found the perfect combination of medicines.
Ketamine for the depression. Marijuana for the anxiety.
It worked for a while. I was a believer. I thought I had mastered my depression and anxiety.
A perfect blend.
It worked for me.
Then it didn’t.
It became problematic, and I couldn’t stop. I was too afraid to not use weed to control my anxiety and I was way too fearful to go without it. I was petrified of the anxiety I thought would return if I didn’t smoke.
I started using all the time. I was no longer able to use only when the anxiety was present. I was waking up in the middle of the night and using it to get back to sleep. I now realize that I was making choices to isolate and avoid life in order to numb myself. I believed, in the beginning, that I was keeping the anxiety away. On reflection, I can see that I began trying to predict what types of situations would cause panic attacks or even experiences that would create mild anxiety. I would choose to get high to avoid the sensations associated with my anxieties.
In reality, I was discovering that I couldn’t face…. me.
I was finding I needed more weed to get the same effects; to get that reprieve from myself and my inability to cope. I couldn’t manage my life, especially a life without my enemy and long-time nemesis. I know that sounds counterintuitive. My depressive symptoms were at bay. I should have been thrilled and at ease.
Yet, I still felt lost and afraid.
I am familiar with addiction, as I am a recovering alcoholic. I haven’t had a drink in close to sixteen years. I viewed my alcoholism as a thing of the past. Despite that, my tolerance for Cannabis was building. I could see the signs. I ignored them. I really convinced myself I had the perfect medication duo. I made excuses for my behaviors and my mood swings. I wanted to deny I was causing my spinning. I fought the thoughts asking me to investigate my role in my downward spiral. I got pretty good at avoidance. I was an expert at shifting focus and placing blame. I lied to everyone. I lied incessantly to myself.
I am a pro at lying to myself. I think a lot of us are.
The problem is that the more I used cannabis the less effective the Ketamine was at fighting the depression. I had denied this realization for months. I started to blame the Ketamine. I had my doctor increase the Ketamine dose. When the depression would resurface after eight or nine days I started going weekly to get my Intramuscular Ketamine shots. I lied to my doctor about my marijuana use. I lied to everyone. Most of all I lied to myself.
I didn’t want to admit I had a problem that I thought I was causing. I wanted to blame my mental illness. I wanted to target everything outside of my addiction issues. It worked for some time. Addiction is a cunning enemy. It often wins.
Ketamine gave me hope. I knew that I could have a better life.
If I was willing to do the work.
Ketamine gives me mental clarity. It got harder to deceive myself.
It was becoming blatantly obvious to me that I was extremely wrong about my perfect marriage of Ketamine and Marijuana. I was ashamed. I didn’t want to admit to my doctor that I was trying to get a constant daily reprieve from my anxiety disorder with the help of cannabis. I also didn’t want to stop. I didn’t think I could deal with the anxiety and their causes. Yet, I could not deny that something was off. I was not right. I started to have a hypothesis that maybe the marijuana was hindering the effectiveness of the Ketamine. I became very suspicious that maybe, just maybe, my using behavior was not helping me. I was still searching for evidence that I was wrong in my thinking. I didn’t want to give it up.
I talked to my doctor. I opened up to him. I was as I honest with him as am I being with you by recounting the errors in my thinking and trying to do things my way. I tried to cut back. I tried CBD oil. I tried going days without. The suicidal thinking returned; it was definitely not helping me with clarity and understanding. I knew I needed to stop. I wanted to stop. I could not stop. I was hateful and angry. No one understood. The world and everyone in it was against me. I wanted to die.
I wanted to die.
It was when my son confronted me on my drug use that I could no longer deny the truth. I saw the pain in his eyes. He saw the promise Ketamine was giving me and what my addiction was costing me and my family. He stood up to me. He was so incredibly brave. It must have been one of the most difficult positions I have ever put him in. He could see hope dissolving; a lot more than I was willing to admit to myself at the time. It was his words and love that lead to my seeking treatment. It was the strength of my family that I finally conceded. I admitted I needed professional help and a safe place to detox and reaffirm my commitment to my recovery.
That was almost eight months ago now.
The reason I am sharing all this history with you is in order to potentially help someone else out there fighting for their sanity as I was.
While I was in treatment, and for an additional month after I returned home, I went without Ketamine treatments. It was not easy. I believe with all my heart it was what I needed to do. I needed to learn just how capable I was at coping. I needed to rediscover all the tools I have had at my disposal but for whatever reason would not use. In treatment I started using them and discovered a strength I did not know I had. I learned that I can tolerate much more than I ever gave myself credit for.
When I was finally forced, due to a minor depressive episode, to return to my Ketamine therapy I was a little disappointed. I had honestly hoped that I would be able to go without the aid of Ketamine in my life.
However, before addiction, I had mental illness issues. I couldn’t escape that fact. It was because of my depression and anxiety that in the past I sought out alcohol and then more recently weed to self medicate; neither were ever the solution. I can’t control the reality of my brain chemistry.
I have depression and anxiety. I am not depression. I am not anxiety. It is an illness. It is not a personality trait or something I can control. That was a difficult thing for me to accept. I still struggle with lacking control over it and the return of the symptoms.
Acceptance is a tough one for me.
I have learned numerous lessons in the past six months. I am back on track. I am actually leaps ahead of the game. I am feeling confident in my ability to maneuver through the obstacles in my life. I have a strong support network. I continue to practice what I have learned during treatment. I have a list of things I do to keep myself in recovery. I do them all daily.
As a side note, I will briefly mention, as I feel it has helped me dearly in my recovery, is the fact I am now meditating. I absolutely recommend meditation. I practice meditation every morning and evening. I feel it has been a huge benefit for me and will continue to help me with my anxieties and allow me to grow towards living a content and full life.
There are several types of meditation.
In the morning, I practice passage meditation. I sit for 25 minutes repeating a meaningful passage, that speaks to me, over and over again. There are so many inspiring and spiritual writings to select from too. If my mind wonders I gently and kindly bring myself back to the start of the prayer and begin again. I started this practice in treatment and would do it a couple times a day for two minutes each session. It was all I was able to do at the time. I slowly built up to twenty five minutes with my goal being thirty minutes.
In the evenings, I use relaxation music; such as Weightless by Marconi Union. It helps me unwind from my day and prepare me for sleep.
I will also add here that, of course, this is only two methods of meditation available but they work splendidly for me. I strongly suggest researching meditation for the various ways to go about it until you find one that works for you.
I am sure I will write more, in the future, about the lessons from my time in the recovery program and strategies for dealing with stressors, but let me turn back to Ketamine for now.
It was following a depressive episode, about nine weeks after I stopped using cannabis to self treat my anxieties, that I started getting regular Ketamine injections again. I may have had false beliefs about my ability to keep the depression in the past, but my doctor reassured me that I didn’t cause the symptoms to return. It is biochemical and I still have no control over my brain chemistry. I have an illness that needs to be treated.
I am working diligently on my acceptance issues.
I can typically go 14-17 days between maintenance shots once again. I am gaining back my life. I work on my coping skills and what strategies work for me. It is not always easy, but I am slowly gaining a deeper understanding of my thoughts and feelings. I know that feelings are not facts, and thoughts are definitely bullshit. I am not my thoughts or feelings. They are present to assist me in deciphering the world around me. I see thoughts as invitations to accept or decline.
I am a work in progress and I always will be.
I am not as angry as I once was. I don’t allow myself to participate in self loathing and try to minimize my self destructive tendencies. It is a daily assignment. I am willing to do the work now. Ketamine takes care of the depression and it is my job to live my life.
I ask myself a lot more questions when intrusive thoughts try to rob me of my serenity. If I stumble, and I do, I don’t instantly believe everything I think.
My favorite self care questions to ask myself are:
How is this serving me?
How is this helpful to my well being?
Is it kind?
Is it truthful?
What is more true?
I am becoming more skilled at slowing down my thoughts. I am becoming less impulsive. I take the time to pause and evaluate. It is absolutely necessary, as it is my goal to be less reactive. I practice letting go of my unrealistic expectations of myself and others.
We are all just human after all.
I would be lying if I didn’t say I still fight the desire to be superhuman. I want to save the world and everyone in it; including me.
I invest much of my time in being present; living in the NOW.
When the anxieties resurface I can usually quickly determine that I am either thinking of the past or looking too far forward; both of which I have no control over and can not predict.
Ketamine offers me time away from my disease. I have been able to be symptom free from my depression during the time between my booster shots. It is truly a blessing. I am on one medication and one alone, and the results have been remarkable.
I am actually living a fuller life than I ever thought possible. It still baffles me that had I invested in confronting past issues, not related to my chronic depression, I wouldn’t have lost myself. I can’t undo the past. I obviously needed to go through the recent turmoil in order to appreciate where I am at now.
I have been told we are exactly where we are supposed to be at any given moment.
Life is a jigsaw puzzles with no picture to go by and probably with several pieces missing too.
I know that when I get Ketamine therapy it helps me discover connections in my thinking and behaviors. It allows me to dig deep into my unconscious and find hope. It is tremendously beneficial in realizing the positive actions I am taking and how much more capable I am at tolerating my depression, as well as, handling the uncertainties and frustrations that living in the present bestows on me.
Until next time, I hope these musings give you a few insights and that you find yourself asking more questions.
If you are a healthcare provider, and would like to become a provider of Ketamine Therapy, consider enrolling in The Ketamine Academy’s online Ketamine Infusion Therapy training course to learn how. It would be an excellent decision for you, extremely helpful for others, and possibly save lives. The Ketamine Academy’s online program will surely benefit you and the mental health community.
In conclusion, 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 continues to offer me relief from my depressive symptoms.
I have been generating a Ketamine Providers and Locations list, and I update it regularly. Please visit my personal website for the full provider list. This list may help you find a clinic in your city or state. I update the provider list regularly. I highly recommend individuals contact me if you administer Ketamine or if you are aware of a Ketamine provider not in my directory; I will happily add new Ketamine clinics.
Feel free to visit The Ketamine Academy to enroll in your dream today. If you are fascinated, but not yet ready to commit, I suggest the free trial to help you determine whether you want to invest in yourself and in this is new online Ketamine Infusion Training Course. Just think, if you enrolled in The Ketamine Academy your new clinic could easily be added to my directory for the grand opening!
Ketamine offers hope. Becoming a Ketamine provider allows you to administer this hope to people like me.