Every Treatment Plan Has Frustrations; Even Ketamine Therapy
Hello again. This 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 write for The Injection & Infusion Clinic of ABQ, entirely based on my experience with Ketamine therapy over the past 2.5 years,
It has been a rough couple weeks for me. It makes me humble. I often forget where I once was. I was speaking with a friend recently about how frustrating my recovery has been and how it continues to really mess with me emotionally. I feel so incredible when Ketamine is assisting me. I complained how inconsistent the relief is. I moaned about how the depression was crushing me. I begged her to remind me why I fight so hard. I requested kind, gentle reasons why she thinks that I am a good person. I needed to know my worth. I get discouraged easily. I know much of my insecurities are tied to decades of profound depression and habit energy. I am aware. My friend says to me, "Susan, write." That was her advice to me after her compliments just caused me embarrassment. It is not easy for me to hear positive insights people see. It is not my strongest ability. It feels impossible to hear and accept kind words about myself when the depression filters are on. I want desperately to know why my friends and family are pleased to have me in their lives. I am eager. When others share with me all the good they see in me I want to reject it even when I need the words and feelings to wrap around me and squeeze tight.
My friend is wise.
Several of the people in my life know what writing means to me. They know how writing has been the foundation to my recovery. It has been one thing I could count on to help me process my feelings and confusion. I have been using my love for language and arts forever to express myself and find clarity. When I responded this way in the conversation with my dear friend, I could hear a smile in her voice as she agreed and pointed out how writing about my black days could also help others understand the journey I am on with Ketamine and perhaps be an inspiration for them.
I was ready to hang up the phone and head straight to my laptop when the last thing she said to me really hit home. I wanted to cry. Her message to me was that I am more than my depression. My friend ended with, "Susan, sometimes you gotta walk under the hurdles when you can't jump over them!"
She is absolutely right.
However, I can believe it to be true and logically know it to be fact, but it doesn't make it any easier to accept it. I do not feel it enough to believe it to be my reality. I don't want to be outraged by my lack of acceptance. It has been four decades and I am still in denial about not having any control over my illnesses. Ketamine allows me the ability to observe my mind and actions. I can see the difference. I have discovered that the Ketamine works beautifully for me until it doesn't. I want to be like every other person and not need medication to make sense of the world around me. I resent everything mental health. I pout. I retreat. I fume. I want the Ketamine to never stop working. I don't want to have any days where I experience a backslide into that all too familiar place. I don't want to accept this. I want to stop taking any steps back. I falter and the anxiety consumes me. I fear leaving the house. I don't get it. I was just fine a few minutes ago and now I am fighting to take a breath.
I do have to be told routinely that before Ketamine I never had a symptom free day. The Ketamine shot I get can last up to 12 days for me. It has. I feel if I am eating a vegan diet I find the Ketamine seems to keep the demons at bay longer. I am a vegetarian that strives to be vegan. I have committed to veganism for as long as nine to ten months at a time. Then, in a moment of weakness, I will start to think that cheese and crackers sure do sound amazing! That is all it takes. Dairy foods can be addictive. My body craves cottage cheese. Seriously. Unfortunately, I have become all too aware of how my eating plays havoc on my mood and on how long and how well the Ketamine works for me. I am now re-committed to a vegan diet and plan to write an article on the subject of diet and Ketamine later in the month.
I recognize that many foods cause inflammation. I believe inflammation is directly linked to depression and anxiety. Ketamine works on inflammation. The connection seems obvious. I find when the depression is doing the talking, I want comfort. I am not thinking at my best. I feel miserable and cheated. If I am kidding myself and in denial about the connection between food and feeling good my cravings for a pint of Cherry Garcia outweighs all my memories of past negative experiences. I find myself with a spoon in hand. I pay a high price for those brief glances at pleasure. That sugar will destroy me for days, and what is even worse is the Ketamine is weakening, and the battle is on.
I should be able to control what I eat so I can give myself better chances for feeling great, but habits are locked in place. Great - now I have even more work to do.
This illness, my nemesis depression, I don't want to accept it. I don't want to admit it has control. I am a huge control freak. I don't want to accept all the issues having treatment resistant depression carries with it. I wasn't given a choice. This is my history and future. I am beginning to learn to manage the roller coaster I feel I live on most days with the help of Ketamine therapy, but I won't lie and state I am a master at it. I am gifted with days where I feel like a super hero and I can conquer everything evil. I was never so blessed in the past. I promise not to digress and follow that thought any farther, because I could ramble paragraph after paragraph on how nothing helped me in the past. I could state with hostility that not one medication cocktail or ECT treatment healed my depression enough to give even the slightest relief. Ketamine has been the exception.
I was able to keep that brief. Remarkable.
Back to the conversation I was having with a close friend. I whined to her about my frustrations with feeling great and sinking without a caution sign to warn me. I am exhausted. I am cycling with insomnia. I feel my thoughts never give me peace. I feel I spend all my waking hours breaking old habits and thoughts. I am not kidding I do spend a fair amount of time working on understanding my illness and how it controls me. I spend even more time utilizing the cognitive behavior therapy tools I already paid for. I am discovering. I am aware. I have learned so much about the differences in my abilities to function in the world when the depression shows its fangs. It is bittersweet, really. I have no control. None. It is like quicksand pulling on me. I am going about my business. I am living life in the light. I am whistling and skipping down the street. I stop in front of a pet store and soak up the glories of the puppies in the window. I feel the sun on my face and life is good. It is really great. I am managing. I feel whole. I giggle at the silliness of the young dogs and then catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection in the store window and it can happen, just like that: sadness and despair. The concrete below my feet turns to water and I am drowning. What the..... Wait. What? Why? What did I do? I promise not to do it again just please allow me another couple days of sunshine and blessings. Just like that I can no longer find the patience I need to deal with Susan when the depression and anxiety take over. I find that I am fighting for the simplest things. Should I go into the pet store, watch from outside, continue walking down the street, or should I, should I? It seems impossible to hear the answers through all the doubts and self hate. It is difficult to hold on to the self assurance I had only moments ago. I want to die. I don't want to fight. I want to be raging mad that once again I am below the surface. I am frustrated that as much as I want to be able to face the world and its complications, I am reminded that I will always have depression and anxiety filtering my mind and my world.
I was feeling extremely suicidal last week. I was exhausted. I was bitter and resented once again about having to do the constant work needed to keep me grounded and focused. I spend countless hours practicing mindfulness techniques, cognitive tools such as visualization, active thought redirection and behavior modification experiences. Why do I still find myself repeatedly saying I want to die? I wish this would end, I am exhausted, I need a break, stop, please stop? The depression returns. It pains me. I try not to be outraged. I actively plan for the return of my symptoms. It happens. The depression and anxiety return like clock work. I get my Ketamine treatments and I know that I will be more than capable of coping with any stress put in my way. I leave my doctors office 95% of the time ready to take on the world. I am ready to put my illness on the back burner and start cooking. I find myself calm and excited to be participating in this game called life. I am eager to accomplish as much as I can in the next seven or eight days. It is only now as I am writing this blog for The Injection & Infusion Clinic of ABQ, that it occurs to me that I might be setting myself up to fail my second week during the two week period between my Intramuscular (IM) Ketamine shots and the next maintenance dose. It seems obvious that trying to schedule two weeks of activities and recovery work into the one week I know I will feel great may not be in my best interest. However, I worry that if I spread all my obligations over the full two weeks, I will not be able to manage what I planned in my second week. I want to get everything I can taken care of during the frame of time I have absolute confidence the Ketamine will keep my depression at bay. The second week is far less reliable. As I have written before, the Ketamine has turned down the symptoms I have felt all my life due to depression and anxiety disorders regularly. I have been successful in going almost 12 days feeling free from the beast and darkness. I have also had occasions where the illness took back control after only four days of relief. It is frustrating. I now see the same adorable puppies in a completely obscure light. I can only hear the barking and clawing. I can smell wet pet hair. I cringe. I feel lost. I don't want to lose hope too.
I really want to not feel rage and bitterness when the spinning begins. I want control. The anxiety and heaviness is too much. It feels unbearable. My son likes to reassure me that I have been further down the rabbit hole and climbed my way up, I can make it two days until my next Ketamine treatment. He is also correct. I know these confusing thoughts and resentments don't compare to hiding away from life in a closet afraid of myself and the world outside those four walls. In retrospect I would much rather stress over my indecision and thoughts of doom. Trust me. Unfortunately, when the Ketamine goes on vacation, so to speak, that major drop from "all is good with my world" to the opposite feelings of... "oh hell no, not again. It is too soon. Last time I got relief from my symptoms for nine days and today is day six. Please." I know that once the devil shows his bloody face it is down hill until my next Ketamine appointment.
I want balance.
I want to adjust more smoothly. I don't want the presence of my depression and anxiety to be so incredibly disruptive to me and my life. I am trying to have a career and social life. I can't keep retreating into hiding and misery every 9 or 10 days. It feels impossible to understand how I can cope miraculously with the stresses of work, family and more, only to find myself spinning and unable to find the strength to combat the darkness and sorrow the following day. It is painful. It is exhausting work. There is suffering. Every single being has their own war. I get that. I am not comparing. I am sharing. I am better. I still fight. I still get severely depressed; suicidal. I want to give up. I am exhausted. I direct my focus on trying to make it to my next Ketamine treatment and stay present. It is way too easy to lock myself in my home until I can be the best version of me. The acceptable me. As you can correctly surmise, I am a work in progress. I am all too happy to report that I am moving forward, healing, growing, getting stronger. Every day I gain self awareness, worldly knowledge, and strive to be a better healthier me. I succeed with this task more days than not. I love having hope for my future now. I know Ketamine is not a cure for my depression, but it offers me days filled with laughter like I could never imagine before. It seemed that world was for others. I am glad I can be a visitor now. One day an outcast and the next day a queen. It is the inconsistencies that hit me harder than I care to admit. I still wouldn't exchange the freedom I have now, even if it doesn't last more than a week. It is a week I never had before I found Ketamine.
I am very fortunate to have the option of Ketamine therapy and that it works for me. This will not be the case for everyone. I understand that. I also think it is important to know that life is difficult. Everyone has "bad" days. I often confuse a bad day with the start of a depression cycle. This is not necessarily the case. I have had a crap day and would believe 100% that the depression would definitely kill me only to wake up the following day and feel fine.
Emotions are complex.
I try to be curious. I work at refraining from judging myself too critically. I win some, and I lose many. What is important for me to remember is, I am winning.
So, yes Ketamine is changing my life. I find I desire life more than death. That has been new. Ketamine religiously lifts me from despair. I need Ketamine therapy to tackle my profound depression so I can accomplish the personal growth I need to be whole and maybe one day find peace and acceptance. I look forward to the day I am no longer raging mad about how my mental illness keeps randomly affecting my life so negatively. That will be glorious.
I know that all treatment plans are not perfect. They all need tweaking. They all then need more adjusting. I do feel blessed to have a plan in motion. I love that I am no longer looking for yet another medication to try and have fail. I am always grateful for Ketamine therapy. How do I state this with such passion after all I have shared in this blog? I know in my heart that I just have to make it until my next appointment feeling these intensely negative suicidal thoughts. I went decades thinking this illness would claim my life. Convinced. It almost did. It almost did. I know as upsetting as the return of my symptoms are to me during the second half of the time between Ketamine sessions, I still have it to aid me. I am no longer in an emergency room having a doctor tell me I am toxic from all the medications I am on. Better yet, I won't have repeat stories about visits to the ER where I had to have a catheter administered because my latest medication cocktail treatment plan had the wonderful side effect of urine retention. I literally could not pee. Really? I don't miss those days. I still can't forget them, but I no longer worry that it is my future.
Every treatment plan issued has pitfalls and obstacles to maneuver around. It can be a frustrating recovery while the mind heals, but I am slowly inching forward with the help of Ketamine every two weeks. It still amazes me that one shot given every two weeks can assist me in functioning in a world I could only dream of being a part of just 2.5 years ago.
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 has been and continues to offer me relief from my symptoms. If you or someone you know are considering Ketamine infusion therapy, please visit www.infusionclinicabq.com for low cost ketamine infusion and injection options. If you are not in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area I also suggest approaching a local professional and start educating them on the benefits of Ketamine. Again, it doesn't hurt to ask for what you need.
I have been generating a Ketamine Providers and Locations list and I update it regularly. The list can be found here and on my personal website. This list may help you find a clinic in your city or state.
Join me again later in the month, when I plan to share my thoughts and experiences about how diet affects mood and possibly Ketamine therapy. I want to send out a special thank you to everyone, from my fellow sufferers to those that love us, that continue to connect with me. I appreciate all the interest and inquiries. I really do. Thank you for reaching out. I hope others will find hope with Ketamine. I will continue to advocate Ketamine for Treatment Resistant Depression and Anxiety Disorders. It continues to work its "magic" for me every two weeks.
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