In part one of this series, I said that I don’t remember what it feels like to feel better, so it’s hard to imagine it being worth the effort. Well, I’m feeling better. For future reference, it is absolutely worth the effort.
When I got up to the dog park one recent morning, the skies were clear and there was fresh, deep snow on the ground. There was nobody there, so we had the place to ourselves. I let Stella into the empty park and swung my boots through the heavy powder. A gentle honking made us look up to find a flock of geese passing by on downy wings. With one glance, Stella took off after the flock, bounding through the snow with unbridled joy. My breath rose in clouds as I whooped, urging her on and clapping my mittens in the sharp morning sunlight. I felt like I was on a different planet. A new one, with bright, saturated colors and crisp air. This is what ketamine has done for me.
No antidepressant I’ve tried has had an effect on my treatment-resistant depression like ketamine has. With one infusion left in my initial series, I thought I’d check in with how it’s been progressing. I’ve been going to Boulder Mind Care for my infusions, and it’s been a wonderful experience. For a process you begin while feeling absolutely terrible, Dr. G and Sarah make a huge effort to make you feel comfortable in their clinic.
I think my strategy of detached curiosity was successful; I started to feel discouraged when it didn’t work right away, but I tried to just accept the process at whatever point I was at. It was subtle at first. I didn’t wake up and feel cured, but gradually, small things became easier. Getting out of the house, running errands, and just holding a conversation with someone became manageable, sometimes even enjoyable. I read a book, I went out to dinner, I bought more art supplies, and I even looked up the location of a support group.
For the first time in a while, I find myself thinking about the future in a positive way. It seems like surviving – maybe even conquering – depression is possible for me, something that even a month ago I would not have said. The fear that it won’t last is still there. The feeling that I shouldn’t commit to anything in case I can’t follow through is still there. But I feel strong enough now to push those worries aside and challenge myself to grow.
Infusion number seven went well. Rather than decrease the dose from last time, we did the same dose but slowed down the rate of the infusion. It hit me so subtly that for a while, I could barely feel it. I kept thinking that it wasn’t affecting me yet, but then Dr. G got my attention and reminded me to close my eyes. When I did, I saw beautiful, delicate golden bubbles that turned into raw corn kernels.
I guess it was affecting me, after all.
The corn multiplied and moved until it was an ocean of golden-yellow kernels with people swimming in the sound of it shifting and pouring. I adjusted the volume of my music with the buttons on the side of my phone and noticed that my fingers felt like they were coated in suede. Someone knocked on the door in the waiting room, and Dr. G leapt up. I think maybe the door was not supposed to be locked, but I honestly have no idea. I was too busy with my visions of corn.
I know that I saw other things, but I don’t remember them at this point. I think it’s fascinating to guess at why my mind comes up with certain themes during my infusions. On the way to my appointment, I thought about popcorn while my mom and I discussed seeing a movie this weekend. I can’t help but wonder if that influenced my ketamine visions of corn oceans. Just before my first infusion, I suggested to my mom that she bring her knitting in while she sat with me. That infusion was heavily saturated with images of knitted materials and quilts. I think there’s something to this theory, and I wonder if you could deliberately seed your short-term memory with certain things that you wanted to contemplate during an infusion. Or maybe it’s a strictly unintentional process. That’s an anecdotal experiment that would take me a long time since I have one infusion left before my initial series is finished. So, if anyone is starting ketamine infusions, do me a favor and read this post beforehand. Then let me know if you see lots of corn. 😉