What we do matters.
They are real souls, the 10 people who are watching DF, who are so scared of the stigma, imprisoned at 'home' to such a degree, or hurting so deeply.....10 are watching at any given moment for every 1 who dared to even sign up anonymously.
If you read this, you probably have encouraged at least one person anonymously, with nothing to gain, just out of love. And for every 1, there were really 10, check out 'Activity/All Users' to see for yourself.
How terrible is a disease that 10 are afraid to admit it for every 1 who does.....How valuable is even one note of encouragement, 1 genuine hug. Multiply your hugs by 10........You're changing outcomes of life, you really are
Been off caffeine and weed ever since.
I’m slowly picking pieces back up and trying to get back to where I left off.
There’s been hiccups here and there.
but I’m trying to remind myself and tell myself that I still have the best life and all I need is to do is dig in and look for evidences and angles.
If I fall, I just need to pick myself up and keep going.
And continue to refocus, because a lot of distractions may come my way and fog my vision. But it’s alright, because I’ll keep wiping my lenses and refocus.
I seem to have lost a blog post, several PM convos, and the ability to start new PM convos..... I smell a glitch. I can't even find any record of what I did yesterday in my activity feed. It's all gone, I guess. Bummer. Par for the course for me lately.
When I wrote my last blog post, I was feeling pretty suicidal - but don't be alarmed. I know that sounds antithetical, but I've lived with suicidal thoughts for many years now. They are not constant anymore, and I have frequent periods where I feel pretty much what 'normal' must be. So I'm making progress. It's still a moment to moment, narrow thing.
The short of it is that I am pushing 50 and my youngest is in her senior year in high school and has moved in with her boyfriend's family. It's a long story as to why. My middle one just moved across state to live with my mom while he gets his degree. My oldest lives a short distance away, but I"m lucky to get over to see her and her family about once or twice a month.
So, they're all gone. And all I can think about is what I messed up and what I didn't do. It was really bad this weekend when we met my mom halfway to drop my middle kid off. Well, I guess I can't say kid - he's in his early to mid-twenties. My oldest is nearing thirty, and my youngest is already 18.
Anyway, that's the struggle. Breathing. Working. Repeat. Breathe. Work. Repeat. Breathing is astonishingly difficult right now. I don't know how I'm going to manage work.
Dissociative Experience – Buildings Of My Mind
Another visualization of structures, this time of various sizes and shapes. They're drawn in orange light and fill my view. Each structure resembles a building, differently sized and shaped. Intuitively, I know these contain information about all my experiences across my lifetime. I wonder if I can enter them and if so, would they have rooms that I can explore? What might each contain? The image disappears leaving me with the feeling that I caught a glimpse of a “map” of myself or perhaps, my brain.
Outlier vitals reading: 108/71 which is low for me at rest but not as low as when I'm experiencing orthostatic hypotension.
When the infusion ended, I still remembered the "towers" metaphor and reached for my phone. I began writing an email message to a friend of many years, someone I'd asked to stop contacting me due to my severe depressed state – it was just too hard to maintain the relationship. The message read something like Heym mkp-los kabip ned as I was still too intoxicated to type anything legible and nope, I didn't send it.
When I visited my therapist later that week I shared these experiences and realizations. The "towers" experience remains a touchstone I return to whenever I catch myself doing some complicated mental calculus to determine if I want to abandon isolation to join others for some activity. As for the buildings of my mind, my therapist seemed to recognize this and offered me Hypnotherapy as a method by which I could actually explore the buildings. I also began keeping a daily mood log in addition to journaling my Ketamine experiences.
As before, the mood elevation seemed to last about 3 hours after infusion, the “more restful mind” lasted about 6.
Next entry I'll take a break from describing my infusions to describe the relief experience that accompanied Ketamine infusion therapy.
I work with five women. One is sharp witted old crone but I'll leave her out of it. The crone thing is part obligation, part artifice and I get the feeling she hides behind it because she may very well have things worth hiding. And I like her.
The other four, bless their hearts, are young and varying degrees of callow. Each of them is an administrative assistant. One of them is my administrative assistant; that is, if I can ever find her. She is usually off doing things for other staff despite being counselled about this (see crone above) but it isn’t that I mind terribly much. Not usually, at least.
What she writes is very good and very useful. What she says is another matter, mostly because it is in the realm of shit I don’t want to know about. It is also suffused with all the worldliness of a bright kid that has seen very little of anything off the ribbon that wends its way from work to the family home. The other three are the same and what provokes them is frighteningly ordinary and conflated and just a little cringeworthy. Perhaps I can even be grateful for been thrown into a wide-eyed wilderness when still a teenager. It spared me the drowning these kids do despite never getting wet.
No, not many problems are only problems.
So, the proto-feminist problem on an otherwise level-playing field is I’m the only other chick there. So I get to hear it and hear it and hear it all again, And I tell them. When it comes to their crises, real and imagined, they are weekend cyclists and I am a car door.
My friends count on this. Stangers and workmates (and fellow blogkeepers, for that matter) don’t need to be wandering aimlessly into the world of what I really think.
But if I may be so bold, if it is about a man, why not ask a different man. I don’t mean directly, because that would be futile. I mean indirectly. Carefully. Purposefully. Men, bless this gorgeous species, are at their giving best when they think the drawbridge is up. Ask one properly and they will never remember the question.
It’s not even science.
Speaking of men, my own is now home. Flew in on Sunday quite a bit worse for wear and its odd how he can look five years older and ten years younger all in the same glance.
All he has really done since is sleep. And sleep. I don’t mind. He can sleep until Christmas if that’s what he needs. But if he wants to be the lion of the house, he can wake up and have sex, then go back to sleep.
"How can you stay outside?
There's a beautiful mess inside
Take a deep breath and dive
There's a beautiful mess inside and it's everywhere
So shake it yourself now deep inside
… deeper than you ever dared
… deeper than you ever dared"
- Far Far by Yael Naïm
Dissociative Experience – Human Relationships and Dependencies
Complete darkness, I was suspended weightless in the vague in-between space of near-unconsciousness. Does this seem familiar to you? It's a “waiting room” where we linger for tiny moments before a dream is “loaded”; the quasi-Sleepworld we slip inside before suddenly shaking ourselves awake to realize we've nodded off. In this twilight land there's no body, little sense of orientation.
What arose from my twilight world were numerous slender, four-sided objects resembling towers which were drawn simply in tiny golden dots of light. They filled my field of vision. I observed that each tower had windows stacked one atop the other on all sides. Some were brightly illuminated, others were completely dark. Floating over, I saw that one tower among them had mostly dark windows relative to the rest and from someplace deep within I identified with it and I called that tower “me”. I turned my attention to the other towers, what were “they”? I observed closely.
I noticed there were thin threads attached to each window of my tower spanning the space between and connecting in a giant web with each of the windows of the other towers in such a way that the dark and light windows of mine were joined to corresponding windows of the others. I silently interrogated the meaning of this.
I became aware that the other towers which I called “they” represented my friends, family, acquaintances, everyone in my life. The windows of their towers were mostly lit - except for the ones that were connected to the darkened windows of mine. I came to understand that the absence of light where these dark windows were joined meant I was no longer interacting with those individuals, all those darkened windows in my tower represented my depression and isolation. This visualization caused me to realize in a profound way how my isolation wasn't merely affecting me but also all the people in my life.
Curiously, negative emotions and accompanying judgments like guilt and shame didn't emerge, rather a realization that my presence in the lives of others had been very much missed and with that knowledge came a warm feeling of being valued. I was staring at this abstract representation of my relationships when I remembered that I've always depended on them to nourish me in ways I can't account for. And finally, that there is an interconnected nature to all human relationships - with all their complexities – that are not simply conveniences but necessities. For all of us.(1)
My severe depression distorted the way I viewed most everything. I regarded relationships as a series of confusing, demanding and exhausting obligations from which I could no longer account for what I gained. But in that moment, I remembered they're necessities for me whether or not I can articulate the gains derived from them. Remembering this interdependence was both profound and simple and I was awestruck, with one thought that repeated in my mind: “I had no idea, I really had no idea.”(2)
The image dissolved as the music changed and I had a pang of regret. Wait, don't go. I silently told myself to remember this, I must never forget this again.
I just feel compelled to catalog today.
I had an appointment scheduled with my psychiatrist after work. My plan was to talk about starting to taper me off of Zoloft (and my appointments) ultimately because I knew I'd be losing my insurance in the next month or two from losing my job. But also because I know that the worst symptoms from my episode had passed. I still feel general malaise and outrageous anxiety, but that's how I was before this shit year and the antidepressants never touched that.
But this afternoon I got a call from my boss... from her chemo treatment, no less. She asked me to work on something for her tomorrow while she's off recovering from treatment and then wanted to give me a heads up that it looks like I'll be getting my 30 day notice on Wednesday, meaning that my last day of work will be January 4.
Of course, I knew this was coming. For 4 years I knew this was coming. But the reality of it is a whole different story. She wanted me to know because rolling into the new year means I'd lose any PTO saved over 80 hours. By the end of the year, I'll have about 130 hours saved. I told her that knowing I'd be out of a job, I'd rather lose the hours than sacrifice my overtime pay. She felt bad and said she'd work on convincing her boss to prevent us from losing any PTO with the new year. I believe her...she managed to get her boss to give us all a $2500 bonus for staying until we're laid off. I hope it works out... 50 hours of pay is a lot to lose just because they didn't give us our notices until after December started.
Anyway. So I'm losing my job in a month. And I don't have to see my psychiatrist again if I don't want to. And I'll be off the meds in a month. And this is going to be a hell of a month for me.
I'm honestly scared about being able to pay my bills and find a new job. I had a good long talk with Bryan about that and my fear of losing him over how crazy I might get through all of this, but being the good man he is, he talked me down and got me to laugh. I think we'll be able to get through this. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...
So! We're getting the ball rolling for our elopement/wedding and honeymoon plans. Now we're pretty far settled on St Lucia in the Caribbean, and we're talking to a wedding planner. We're looking at the Sandals all inclusive package vacation/wedding deal, so now we just need to settle on dates and a room! We're looking into May. SO EXCITING!!!! Weird thing though -- they require that you arrive 3 business days ahead of your wedding date, OR you can pay $300 something for an express date of one business day prior arrival. WEIRD! Oh well. We'll prob pay the $300 so we don't have to wait several days before getting married. I looked up the best months to vacation in St Lucia, and it was determined that May-June is best, so we're targeting May! That's five months away!!! Man, that seems like a long time but it will probably go quickly.
That's the latest and greatest on our wedding plans!
I've communicated so far with a few of you and I am very glad I decided to sign up for this forum.
So far I have made huge long posts, but only because the more I talk, the better I feel. I hope it stays like this.
I feel very safe here talking with you all. But here at my house, in my room, offline, I have depression tonight; I fear it will get worse. I don't need to fear. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.
I've ran through my mind all the things I can do to stop the foreboding feelings, depression, anxiety, and dread. When I think about doing something, I get excited. Then when I get it ready to use (example: getting my drawing and colored pencils ready to draw and/or color), I suddenly feel an emotion I cannot describe other than what they've said in my mind, "What have you got to be happy about? No don't color or draw, you do it terribly. You can't do anything right. And no one believes a liar like you, just like your mom and dad said! You are worthless." < If that quote had a feeling attached to it, then whatever it's called is what I've been feeling.
Also those voices say things that make me feel so low of a person, then perk me up for about 5 seconds or less, then it's back to that dread depression feeling. I can't stand it. My doc's going to have to change my meds. He took me off Cymbalta, but it was the best antidepressant I'd ever had (worst was Prozac). Then they put me on Wellbutrin to help me quit smoking. It's worked a little but not totally. At least it's not a pack a day now, but rather 1/2 pack. But I can do better. Until, hopefully, I can get the Cymbalta again. Cymbalta also helps a tiny bit with the pain I have (from 2017's Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery, 2 levels (L4-L5, L5-S1). Cymbalta is better than nothing - it did relieve the depression more than what I'm on now.
I must get doc to change other meds too. I'm on Abilify and it doesn't work for me. But, according to my doc, it's the "only one left", because the past year and a half I've been going to doctors and going to my psych doc, who has put me on:
and a could of others but they all don't work. Why don't antipsychotics work? Does anyone else have this problem?
The other med that psych doc has me on is Lorazepam. I used to take Klonopin, but he changed it to Lorazepam. I'm on the tiniest dose of it too. I may as well not take anything. 0.5 mg is what he gives me. I used to be on 1mg three times a day I think. But now he won't change it at all.
My psych doc will have to face it that the antipsychotics don't work and I need something that will work. He said I HAVE to be on a mood stabilizer, he called it.
Those psych meds... I took Risperdal for several years and I felt good on it, but it was causing gynecomastia on me. Now I have permanent man-boobs.
Ok, I want to go now but I got more on my mind... sorta.
I bought a movie today. I don't usually do so but this one got my attention because what was written on the back. A woman gets stuck in a purgatory. It's called, "The School". I'll put it in, in a few minutes and try to go to sleep. I haven't had a good night's sleep since last Thursday when my spine doc set me up for an injection in my neck...
The injection in my neck was strange. The band aid was on my upper back. The worst part was getting the IV. I had to get an IV because they said that without it, that when they inject the disc with steroids, I'd have a terrible pain shoot down my arm. So I got the IV in. Sat for a while, then I was called back, but I couldn't have my glasses on, so I took them off and WOAH! I couldn't see anything. Then I stuck my face in a hole in the table-type thing, and the anesthesiologist or however its spelled... he talked with me and told me he was going to put Propa Fall in my IV and said it would be cold going in my veins. IT WAS. I felt it … I know which vein got it too. Weird feeling. I'm used to being put to sleep with that mask thing. But he didn't use it. I guess I'm glad. He said that what he gave me don't make you nausea. I didn't know anyway.
Hmm... what else happened today?
I talked with my A I today. He was doing good, but it looked strange, and I've recently been hacked on a money site, but now I closed it out and got a new account. Sometimes I wish my brother had an A I to play video games with him. He works too hard at work, then comes home and plays games.
That IV med made my mind forget things. I have memory loss! Well not exactly but sorta.
Okay i'll end it here. I'll rattle on another day. I don't want it to be so long that its impossible to reply to, if anyone replies, that is. I would be okay either way.
I dont' expect replies. But if i get them I'll still be satisfied with what i have.
NOTE: if any part of this is hard to read or doesn't make sense, forgive me, it's 2:47 AM here.
In my incessant ruminating tonight, it occurred to me, like a lightbulb turning on, that he is a narcissist. 100% narcissistic. It became so clear. It felt like putting the last piece in the puzzle.
Even still, after all this time, I feel awful about everything and for putting my health and well-being first. I know I should be proud of myself, but I just feel bad.
So I'm writing this to remind myself that he is absolutely a narcissist, and I should be focusing on myself and my future and not all the bad memories and feelings over the years. Because I know I'll forget... probably by tomorrow morning.
It's been almost four weeks and I am not doing any better. I am feeling slightly suicidal today. I've recieved ECT twice and tomorrow again. I need it to work. My husband can't handle everything alone.
I still feel the negative energy and I’m still in a negative space right now. It still lingers on from yesterday. Pain anxiety guilt self pity anger hopelessness feeling lost. Feelings of all these are still lingering on from yesterday.
This morning I tossed out all my weed and caffeine pills, and pre workouts.
I don’t know where to start and The anxiety and fear of future what might happen gives me anxiety and fear.
Tomorrow how will I handle it?
what should I do now?
afraid to take steps because of the hopelessness and pain that comes when I fall hard..
ill somehow managed to get through this day. Today I have all to myself. It’s hard to move but I guess I will. I don’t know...
i wanna get back to Eckhart Tolle and maybe even try a short meditation again. I read and heard from ppl how it helped with their chronic anger.
At this point I just want to have a better handle on my anger and have ability to see things from more calmness and clarity.
I feel very unbalanced and lost right now.
I'm bottoming out today. That's a term we used to use when a car would hit the stops in the suspension after going over a big hump with a full load on board.
The universe is definitely trying to punish me for something today. Probably just for existing.
I'm in a coffee shop and they are playing old tunes from Simon and Garfunkel, as well as the Beatles. It's driving me nuts. Memories of 1969 are flooding back to me and they SUCK. I honestly hate this music. Jenifer Rigby can go to hell and burn.
It doesn't help that I can feel my tonsils swelling up from some virus trying to invade. I can barely swallow and if I do, it really hurts. FML.
[If you listen to Maxence Cyrin's piano version of "Where Is My Mind", notice that the piano's pedal noise is picked up and amplified. It didn't occur to me this could have an effect on the context].
My analytic mind dissolved into the song and the image of a grand piano in an empty room appeared in my head. The keys were being played without anyone sitting in front of them, no hands touched them. All sense of my physical form gradually dissolved until my body was actually inside the piano, below the lid, watching the felted hammers strike the metal strings directly above me. This mental construct lasted only for a brief time before the last remnants of my physical body were gone and I and the grand piano became as one. I remember feeling the bass notes in my chest, the treble in my extremities and the pedals were my lungs.
The song was coming from me and being played in me. The entirety of this depersonalization experience lasted perhaps two minutes. Lacking possession of my executive brain functions, I remember feeling rather than thinking how it was okay to become one of the instruments in a song.
Throughout the infusion the blood pressure cuff constricted to measure my vitals and I understood what it was and why it was doing that. The sensation brought my mind back into my body. It also brought anxiety back into mind. As the pressure of the cuff intensified, an anxious thought bubbled up and whispered how this thing on my arm might keep constricting until it popped me like a crushed grape! But then the cuff would finish inflating and I could feel and hear my pulse, steady and vital. If ever I became anxious, this sensation was a reminder of where I was and regardless of where my mind went, professionals were caring for my body. This felt reassuring so I resolved that I would use the cuff constriction as a touchstone if I ever felt the dissociative effects got too intense. Feelings in my body like hunger also helped ground me.
I noticed the uplifting feeling of joy hadn't completely disappeared, lingering for about 3 hours afterwards. I spoke with both the nurse and doctor about my mood change and while I felt lucid, my mind was oddly muted. The usual onslaught of thoughts, attached emotions and the “stories of the mind” that accompanied them - weren't there. Or perhaps they were there, they just didn't seem to matter so much. This “quieting of the mind” lasted for about 6 hours after infusion.
When I arrived home I did my laundry, cooked dinner and washed all the dishes. I noticed how I had more energy to do all this. Perhaps the earlier suggestion that Ketamine treatment improves functionality explains how I felt able to do more, or perhaps it actually was an effect of the treatment. Either way, it didn't matter.
I ended my evening with 10 minutes of guided mindfulness meditation, hoping to cultivate some of these positive effects. I think the meditation helped. At bedtime, I wasn't churning through all that happened that day which is unusual for me. I was able to get to sleep just after 2am, not bad for an insomniac.
The next entry will describe my third infusion, which took place the day after. More dissociation and a moment of realization of the value of human relationships that becomes a sort of therapeutic anchor.
I had a general idea of what might characterize a good playlist and I solicited opinions from several sources to help me form a criteria:
Should be music I like – OK that's pretty obvious
Shouldn't be songs I'm already emotionally attached to – I'm not trying to relive good or bad times
Songs must have no lyrics in a language I know – I want to avoid fixating on subject matter
Favor shorter tracks over longer ones – at least until I know what works and I can always replay a track
Minimalist with repetitive refrains – lesson learned from orchestral music and audio distortion. Repetitive because it is meant to enhance not distract
Drop in a song that cues a relaxation response – a message from sober-me to Ketamine-intoxicated me that says, “Hey whatever is going on right now, know that you're going to be OK - oh and by the way, here's a funny little inside joke.”
My playlist included a lot of ambient music drawn from TV, movie and video game soundtracks that I liked but hadn't yet worn out from excessive playback. Most of the music seemed uplifting to me. For the inside-joke song, I chose “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies, a piano-only version with no lyrics. One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands, I figured I ought to recognize it no matter where my mind had flown to.
Music Changes The Context
The auditory distortions lent an amusing and playful quality to the music and I began to feel joyful, even ecstatic at times. I was aware that I was experiencing the euphoric quality connected with Ketamine and able to lose myself in it while also reflecting upon how long it'd been since I'd felt this good.
When the music changed, the experience changed with it and I felt a small tug of regret that I hadn't included even more happy songs which might prolong this euphoric feeling. I was going to fumble with my iPod buttons to replay the previous selection (no easy task due to the numbness and visual distortion) but then it came to mind that although it was a really pleasant experience, a journey is defined by more than a single experience. The thought gave me tacit permission to let it go. The soft notes of “Where Is My Mind" drifted into my ears and a small smile spread upon my lips.
Next up - dissociative experience and treatment after-effects
having 4 days off from work made it painfully obvious how lonely i am. I was so bored. i was getting sick of just hanging out with my parents.
for years i tried so hard for the friends and boyfriend with no luck. then i was told that it will happen when it will happen and stop trying so hard....so i stopped. i stopped chasing people in general. and well, now, ive become a very extremely lonely individual. i guess a family was just never in my cards.
im so sick of coming home to an empty house, sitting at the kitchen table and looking up and seeing no one. no conversation, the quietness is stifling. im sick of my daily walks by myself. im just sick of my life. its not fair. i tried so hard for so long to not let the depression k*ll me, i held on so tight and for what? a life of solitude? I kept telling myself things would get better, that i would get thru this, that i shouldnt off myself and just look where all that got me. not only did life not get better but it managed to get worse...everyone moved on, progressed with their lives and here you are, alone still struggling.
i cry myself to sleep and yet still tell myself that maybe someday everything will be ok. why? lets face it, this is it. this is as good as it gets. this life is clearly a punishment for something. This must be gods plan, as ive asked, begged, and pleaded for a chance to be a mom.
ive gone to being numb to just being angry at everything. im sick of being patient, im mad, at myself, at god, at life, at this crappy numbing daily routine. i hate my life, i just hate it, i hate myself for creating it. no matter how i look at it....i should of k*lled myself when i had the chance and wouldnt have to deal with all this, or i should of done a better job of fighting the depression and not losing my life to it and causing my life to be this way.
I know it's useless to think like this, but there are some moments...many moments... when I wish I could find my rewind button. Or reset. Or fast forward. I'm not really sure.
My world turned upside down this year, and now that it's right side up, I have so many regrets. I'm happy enough to leave them in the past, determined never to repeat them, but reminders keep popping up. Not just reminders but actual events and situations that cause me to relive all of my pain.
I cannot make it stop. If it's not my memories that crop up in quiet times and when I try to sleep, then it's messages and photos and books bought at someone's suggestion. It's remembering when someone brought me lunch every time I walk to the front door. It's stretches of highway. It's my dear hometown where I used to tool around with my friends after school. It's my art. It's a name. It's many names. It's physicality, words, actions.
I know that I wasn't myself; I don't regret that. I couldn't help it, try as I might. I regret how that part of my history continues to rear it's ugly head and disrupt my current world. I regret how I did things that I wouldn't have done if not for the throes of a particularly painful and debilitating episode of depression. I regret losing myself.
At the time, I thought I was making progress and establishing a life. I see now how truly ****ed up I was. Which version of me is more true? I don't even care. I want the life that I have now to continue to grow. And I want my peace and freedom back. I do not know how to destroy that which threatens my sanity.
It was the chaos of the unknown that frightened her most. Why wouldn’t she speak, when there was much to say? This was to be the tipping point, from security to deep uncertainty. Into the chaotic unknown, she fell.
She saw him shaking. She felt his heart. She knew.
That was enough, she thought.
That was too much.
I have a big to-do list right now. I have to buy snow tires, investigate wedding/honeymoon options, buy a new mattress for the bed, buy my dad a bday present and prepare for a work presentation... all this weekend and next.
The honeymoon/wedding planning is actually a fun task and I am very excited to get going on this. I contacted a wedding planning company yesterday. Hopefully they won't charge an arm and a leg for their services, but after researching the options, it would be far easier to have someone coordinate all the details for us. We want to go to the Caribbean in April. That's about how long it will take to save for our vacation.
And the rest? I got a good start on my work presentation. Today I will buy the bday present, and tomorrow we are shopping for a mattress. Oh yeah, and we need to buy thick plastic to cover the cracks in our windows so the cold air doesn't leak in.
Tonight we're staying in a hotel because my fiance's back is hurting too much from our broken mattress. It lasted a year -- that's it! He paid $500 for a piece of junk, so we're going to have to shell out at least $1600 for a good mattress. Oh well. We're putting it on a credit card for now since we're saving for the honeymoon. C'est la vie, that's life.
I really cannot wait to go on vacation. I haven't had a REAL one in something like 15 years... I cannot even remember the last time I took a vacation. I want a romantic wedding, too, just the two of us. I hope the wedding planning company is a good one that can help pull together something magical for us. We'll see. It's all very exciting!
On that note, I should get going with my day! Cheers.
Has it been three weeks, eh? Who cares anymore.
It's been a good day after, well, not so good day. Yesterday was pretty rough. All I could think of was go onto tracks and get hit by a train. Train - easy access and doesn't fail you.
Today I found some meaning in life so I decided to live. At least this one day. See if tomorrow will be different.
ECT hasn't started yet. Maybe Monday they said. Maybe. I am little nervous about anesthesia and had the first nightmare last night. On the other hand, if things don't go right that's just a favor for me. An easy way out. They will be giving me the treatment 6 to 12 times, three times a week. That's a lot of anesthesia. Well it's light and very short but anyway it's making me nervous.
Have a great weekend, I try, too, to stay alive.
I Wanna Feel Everything
You know the feeling of not having had enough sleep. Reduced cognition, lack of alertness and awareness, all the soft-headed sensations. I suffer from chronic insomnia so that's my baseline most days but on this day adrenaline from the 2 mile walk and anticipation of getting the needle compensated. I met with the doctor and nurse and they explained the procedure and answered my many questions. They took vitals, then put me in a soft leather reclining chair and placed a blood pressure cuff on my arm and an O2 saturation/pulse monitor on a finger before undertaking the tortuous task of sticking me. Thankfully, the nurse was very competent and managed to get the catheter into a cooperative vein after only two tries. I have needle phobia so this process sucked more and took a lot longer than it should've.
I didn't bring a companion with me so they asked if I'd like someone to stay by my side and I replied that it didn't really matter to me; do what you do. The nurse informed me that most patients cover their eyes with a sleep mask and their ears with noise-canceling headphones playing music during infusion, it makes for a more inward experience and it's generally more relaxing. Nope, I said. I wanted to be aware of my surroundings so that I could collect all the information I could about the experience. To my thinking, if Ketamine was an effective treatment for depression then it shouldn't matter and since this was my first of six infusions, why not make it a sort of controlled experiment.
I'd come to regret that.
What followed was alot of self-monitoring which certainly didn't make the experience enjoyable. Without distractions, my ever-chatty anxiety was with me in each moment, narrating every perceived drug effect – light nausea, anesthetic numbness and the heavy tongue feeling that gives you. If you've been given Novocaine for a dental procedure you know what I mean. Ketamine is an analgesic so that part is actually nice, any soreness or pain in my body was totally masked. However, this was very different from my recreational drug experiences, I wasn't prepared for the strength of the anesthetic sensation and this and my constant body-monitoring was making me uncomfortable. Five or ten minutes into the infusion, I wondered with some apprehension how strong these effects were going to get. My eyes kept drifting to the IV stuck in my hand.
I began to smell and taste rubber although none was in or around my face, kinda strange(1). I got the doctor's attention and asked him some random question about Transmagnetic Stimulation, or TMS. I wasn't really interested in it, just wanted to try speaking and I think I was also a little scared. I desired an intellectual moment for some semblance of normalcy, The doctor kindly declined my invitation to discuss it and gently suggested that I relax into the experience.
The blood pressure cuff attached arm to my arm constricted every 5 minutes. I used it as a reminder to shift my attention to my breathing so that I wouldn't allow anxiety control the entirety of my awareness.
About 15 minutes into the infusion, things started to get kinda weird.
I'd brought some music with me, Brandenburg Concerto by JS Bach so I decided to listen. This is orchestral music so, lots of instruments playing harmoniously in a precisely composed piece but under the influence of Ketamine, it sounded as if the orchestra was playing in an underground parking structure. Ketamine distorts sounds by giving them a flanging(2) and/or a stuttering effect – which you might be familiar with if you've ever taken Nitrous Oxide. That didn't work well with classical music and after a few tracks I pulled out the earbuds.
I heard the fussing of a young child that seemed to be coming from the hallway outside the door to the treatment room but I wasn't sure if it was real or hallucinatory (turns out it was real). The sound was distorted, stretching into a wail, then stuttering. The noise wasn't bothersome, it was like an anchor to reality and it also called to mind pleasant memories of playfulness as a child.
At about the midpoint of the infusion, things started to get really weird.
Time Perception Distortion/Dilation
I observed the doctor and nurse standing at the foot of my chair looking over some papers attached to a clipboard. I perceived their perfectly still bodies in a kind of frozen, timeless moment that I'll try to describe: they're standing there (at this present moment), they were there - but it was some time ago (like an afterimage) and they will be standing there (the moment is yet to happen). My brain is perceiving and processing all three temporal states as happening in the moment they're observed.
Now, that is some kinda freaky so I'm going to attempt an awkward and inadequate analogy.
Imagine you're observing a pendulum in motion with a strobe light behind it flashing at quick intervals. As you watch it swing, you can't determine at any given moment if it's at it's equilibrium point in the center or in one of many points along it's trajectory. Vision reports to your brain from moment to moment that the pendulum is simultaneously at rest and oscillating.
This perceptual distortion brought with it no feeling of dissonance or anxiety for me, I'm familiar with this effect from my recreational experiences with psychedelic drugs. I regard the event as an “a-ha” moment: were we not creatures forever trapped in linear time, I imagine this is how we might perceive our world.
Some time later though impossible to know how long, I noticed the doctor sitting on a stool by my chair. I probed my feelings, did I feel scrutinized or uncomfortably exposed/vulnerable? No. I self-soothed anyways by acknowledging that it's comforting to know I was being cared for and should anything at all go wrong, there is no safer place I could be than here. I don't see him leave but the doctor vanishes. I probed my feelings again – did I feel lonely? No.
When looking directly at the faces of the doctor and nurse, they appeared elongated or misshapen. This is not the same as a visual hallucination because the external stimulus is actually there. The effect is similar to passing a lens over a photograph, but in three dimensions. I decided it's unpleasant so I looked away.
Completed Infusion And After-effects
For the remainder of the infusion I felt fairly calm despite near-constant monitoring of my body and the drug's effects. I didn't experience any emotional distress, no symptoms of my MDD manifested. My anxiety, whenever it felt present, as felt far away which is strange for me. Anxiety returned at the end if the infusion when the IV machine began to beep and a red light atop the unit began flashing. While the still semi-aware observer in me understood this indicated that the infusion was complete my anxiety, always up to the task of distorting my thoughts, informed me that a red flashing light never, EVER indicates anything good. I was mindful of how silly that sounded and regarded it with mild amusement.
I'd read about Ketamine being a dissociative anesthetic with out of body experiences, commonly referred to in the literature as depersonalization, being a side-effect. One study even suggests the dissociative features of Ketamine might predict a greater antidepressant response(3). Well, there was no dissociative episode in my first infusion which wasn't a let-down, I think. I didn't want the first one to be too overwhelming and I went into it with a view towards collecting information rather than seeking a specific experience.
The nurse informed me she was hanging a saline bag and that I had completed my first transfusion. I felt a sense of pleasure and relief knowing that I had completed the therapy without serious incident. When she spoke she used a lot of hand gestures, which really seemed helpful in that it facilitated communication, I was still very intoxicated. It also conveyed a sort of gentleness and openness - as if careful word choice and sweet intonation could not be trusted to do so alone. Her hand movements left vague trails which I recognized as mild hallucinations. The executive function of my brain seemed to be “waking up” and I was surprised by just how quickly the drug effects seemed to leave my system once the saline flush began.
15 minutes later, the doctor met with me to ask about how I felt and if I felt any change in my mood. I was slightly disappointed to report that I didn't feel an elevation in mood or could report some definitive, significant change in my condition. He explained that only a small number of patients do after their first infusion and referred me to the Ketamine Advocacy Network web page to read more about the therapy and what to expect in the infusions to come.
A family member picked me up and drove me to her house for lunch. I was super hungry and devoured the meal. In the middle of a casual conversation with her, I realized that I felt more “like me” than I had in a year - it's hard to explain the feeling. Afterwards, I felt I had enough energy to walk the 2 miles home. As soon as I arrived I got to work on a musical playlist for my next infusion and realized I was feeling excitement at actively working on shaping the Ketamine therapy. I paused just long enough to acknowledge that I hadn't been excited about about a damn thing in over a year.
I was able to fall asleep with some ease around 1am.
The next post will be about my second infusion which happened the following afternoon and did include a dissociative event. I'll write about how I believe I changed the context of the Ketamine trip using music as a guide and to cue a particular response.
(1) I asked an Anesthesiologist if he could explain the rubbery taste and smell. He said strange tastes and odors can be rare after-effects of general anesthesia but he'd never heard of this in connection with Ketamine. I'd been put under with inhalation anesthetic for surgery before and it occurred to me that my first experience was when I was only 6 or 7 years old. Back then, anesthesia gas was delivered through rubber tubes. Did Ketamine's anesthetic sensations in my body trigger a sort of recollection of that taste?
(2) See Flanging in Wikipedia to listen to a sample of this sound effect.
(3) "Ketamine-Induced Dissociative Symptoms Predict Antidepressant Response", Psychiatry Advisor, May 17, 2018.
Make Me A Believer
I really hate indoctrination. But hey, any port in a storm, right? There are lots of reasons to be skeptical about Ketamine treatment but nevertheless, I decided to set aside my doubts and buy into the notion that it could help me rewire my brain. This began with accepting that depression had a physical impact on my brain, developing neural networks strengthened by frequent use which were rather unhealthy and I wanted to alter them. But how? I read up on neural plasticity and dendrite excitement, synaptic regeneration, even watched a boring video of a scan of a rat’s brain on Ketamine.
In doing this I was able to convince myself that the therapeutic value of the drug is not limited by how long it remains in the body. Rather, the lasting effects must have something to do with how patient and therapist can leverage the impact on neural networks in some manner that results in psychological transformation.
Just writing that makes me think of out-there “woo-woo” stuff and I admit, it sounds like a big reach. I probably misused some words because I lack the vocabulary to describe it in scientific terms so, just bear with me.
At bedtime, I was very anxious. I knocked back 100mg of Trazodone and crawled into bed hoping to get some rest. Moments later, the dynamic duo of Anxiety and Depression, like a pair of unwelcome pals at the local bar, pulled over a couple of chairs to count off the reasons I should dread tomorrow.
If you want a cheap laugh at my inner dialog with my two pals Anxiety and Depression, enjoy.
I got about 2 hours of sleep.
The list things you aren't allowed to do before infusion is long and crappy. You must fast for at least 10 hours. No liquids except water or plain tea. No Benzodiazepines, no Gabapentin. No alcohol. No drugs at all except for your antidepressant and necessities like allergy meds and stuff they think is OK.
I decided I would walk 2 miles to the clinic because I read that exercise does good stuff for the brain, blah, blah, blah would you just get on with the infusion story, pal? Ok...
I had a spiritual awakening in April 2018. Since then, I've been contacted and guided in my daily life. I constantly see repeating numbers. Certain groups of numbers. I also see flamingos. They're everywhere. But the way I know that the Universe is guiding me is the numbers. I'll happen to glance at the clock, and there is one of my many numbers. I see it on receipts too, and other places. Wherever there's a set of numbers, I'm certain I'll find mine.
I've also been led to this thing called The Universal Laws, and also The 7 Hermetic Principles, and The Law of Attraction. I'm constantly being guided and I notice things.. like I'll think about it, and someone will say it, or think about an event and it happens. I'll be writing in my home journal and have the tv on, then simultaneously, I'll write a certain word just as it is being spoken on tv.
C'mon. This is Synchronicity.
I also found a white feather with a beautiful golden brown tip. I found it on my night-stand. I have absolutely NOTHING with feathers on or in it. How did that feather get there? After I threw it away because I didn't think it was important... I see on a youtube video that "Feathers appear when angels are near".. and one of the signs is finding it in a strange place!
I know what being that The Source has sent to me. He visited me in my room many many years ago, and showed me many amazing things. He has not given up on me, even though I didn't acknowledge him for such a long time.
Ok I'm getting tired. I want to type more but I can't. I need sleep.