There are so many things I want to say. I find it hard to put into words. How do I explain a fundamental change in me? Are all my problems gone? No. Am I happy all the time? No. Do I still experience anxiety and depression? Yes. Do I respond differently to my anxiety and depression? Absolutely.
First, I want to share my expectations of the treatments. I had hope that I wouldn’t be depressed anymore and that I would never have any more anxiety. I’ve often said that no one can disappoint me, only my expectations can disappoint me. My expectations were unrealistic. The reality is that I will always have sad moments and anxious moments because that is life. I guess when those ‘normal’ moments are felt in the extreme for so long, it’s reasonable to hope they all go away melting into some kind of happy bliss. Even as I write that, I am chuckling. Of course, that’s unrealistic but isn’t that what so many want? A world without challenges? My expectations have changed. And there you have the first obvious benefit of the ketamine.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, it’s important to understand the value of having self-improvement tools in your pocket before you start ketamine infusion therapy. For me, it’s my Christianity first. Then, the processing tool called Inquiry developed by Bryon Katie. The third is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Number two and three are equal to me. They serve each other perfectly. A therapist is a wise choice as long as it’s one who will teach you self reliant coping tools. It’s imperative to have something in place. Here’s why. Ketamine heals the neural pathways. Neural pathways are how your life’s experiences are recorded and create your habits and beliefs. Once healed, you’ll have more experiences. How YOU PROCESS those experiences will determine your new neural pathways.
How have I changed? Or better yet, how am I changing? It’s a process. Its fluid. Scientifically, it takes months for all the physical healing to take place. Along with the physical healing is emotional healing. It is definitely a process.
Difficult conversations are easier to have. I am less guarded in my opinion and yet more aware of how I might need to withhold in order to make needed changes. Confused? Me too. Remember, it’s new to me as well. For example, my husband and I have a typical style of arguing. It’s rarely productive. I’ve noticed its damage. I’ve wanted to change for a long time. Of course, I’ve suggested and tried changes but they don’t work. We have been stuck in a dance. I realize it’s a dance which requires BOTH of us to participate. I’ve been able to observe and step out of the dance in a way I’ve never been able to do in the past. It’s uncomfortable and it’s working.
Some of the principles that I’ve really struggled with have become far easier for me such as staying in my own business. For example, I have two grown children with families of their own. If you’re a grandparent, I don’t need to say much more. Now, I don’t worry too much if at all anymore. If you’re not a grandparent, a different example might be when someone asks for my opinion but then doesn’t follow through with any of my suggestions. It doesn’t bother me. Better yet, my co-dependency is almost dormant. Now, that is a miracle. And a peaceful one at that!
I’m sleeping much better. I might have been able to sleep fine before however what’s changed is noticing what I need to do to sleep better and making sure I do it. Sleep is vital to me because of my hydrocephalus.
Hydrocephalus. I didn’t expect any improvement in this area. It’s an incurable life ending prognosis. Yet, some of my symptoms are improved. At first, my memory was worse and now it’s better. In the past, I’ve reacted to storms with depression-like symptoms. They don’t bother me now. With a little research, I found that ketamine is an anti-inflammatory. No wonder it helps!
Probably the most dramatic result is my discontinuation of Adderall. I’m 56 and have used it since I was 29. Yes, I am ADHD. No, ketamine didn’t heal ADHD. What it did was wipe away the glutamate storm that the medication created. Plus, and I’m not sure how this happened, I had none of the suicidal thoughts or depression that has happenend in the past when I tried to quit that ultimately forced me to go back on medication. All I know is that I’m off for good.
Let’s talk about suicidal thoughts. Except for in the past, at very specific times in my life, I haven’t struggled like others have with suicidal ideation. I know that some feel they have to die to stop the pain of living, that there is no other option. It plagues them for years and years. My deepest respect to those who fight to live. My struggle is what I call soft suicide. I simply hoped God would take me and the quicker the better. I was rarely happy or felt any joy. It’s like living on a slow simmer when you know all the fun happens at a boil. Those thoughts are gone! Done! I find myself surprised at times that they are simply not present.
Energy. I don’t understand at all how this works but it’s a common result. I have energy! If I think of what needs to be done, I just do it. I just get up and do things now. Maybe it’s the dishes or a walk outside. Maybe I’m feeding the horses and think about the weeds out in the pasture and take some action to eradicate them. My bed is made more often. I don’t live in my pajamas. It’s not a fight with myself to move. If you’ve never been there, sorry can’t explain it any better than that. What I can say is that it feels good. Movement is life. I feel more alive.
Overall, I’m extremely grateful for ketamine infusion treatments and the incredible team of professionals who administered them to me. I’ve watched people in other states and even in Utah have horrible experiences due to the environment of the clinic and how it was administered. A series of IV infusions have a documented history of working. Everything else I’m skeptical of.
Future treatments…..six is the standard protocol. I’ve done seven. I resisted the seventh wanting desperately to prove the six worked. After researching the effects of the medication I was on, I knew in my heart I’d need boosters. I was right. It happens once in a while. Will I need more? I don’t know. About a week ago I thought so but today I honestly don’t know. I’m going to sit in my new skin for a while. Watch my expectations. Give myself time to adjust to all this newness and see what happens.