jar of peanut m&ms

The Sound of Peanut M&Ms: The Ketamine Chronicles (Part 9)

Part of figuring out what your individual limit is between ketamine infusions for depression is to stretch it out bit by bit until you find the length where it wears off. My daily mood metrics show a drop a few days ago that stayed steadily lower than my previous (good health) average. However, there were several possible factors that may be to blame, so it’s not clear to me whether three weeks between infusions is actually an accurate time frame to use. That said, we’re going to go another three weeks and see what happens.

I had a lot of trouble with my music this time. The playlist I chose stopped playing shortly after I started to feel the ketamine, but I kept thinking that it was just really quiet. It was like when the radio is on in your car on low volume, and part of your attention gets sucked into it and you’re going what IS that? I just kept turning the volume up again and again over the course of several minutes before realizing that no, nothing was playing. My brain was just making something up that was barely audible because I expected to hear something. I managed to find a different playlist that I’ve heard many times, so it was comforting but not very interesting.

Maybe because I listened to something familiar, I didn’t have any sustained scenes like the very memorable fish wedding. But, like always, I sank into flowing images that seemed to come from my subconscious. A deep red octopus slithered around my mind, only one day after I marveled at a captive one in a butterfly pavilion. Under the influence of ketamine, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be an octopus; how would it feel to have eight limbs, each one a sensing individual capable of independent reactions? At some point, a vibrant green light was disrupted by a dark shadow moving up from the bottom of my internal “visual” field. Like when someone stands up in front of a projector, this vaguely ominous shape rose up again and again. As it reached the top and had obscured all of the green light, the bottom thinned out and the light shone through again. Then, the shadow started again from the bottom.

I have no idea how far into the infusion this happened, but at some point, my doctor sat down at the desk in the room and began preparing something with plastic bags and vials. It sounded exactly like he had taken an enormous bag of peanut M&Ms and dumped them out on the desk, then rolled them around with his hands. The sound reminded me of how on road trips, my dad used to stop at the gas station before we left and get “a duffle bag” of skittles, peanut M&Ms, whatever was the largest bag available. I tried not to laugh at this memory, as that might sound weird out of the blue, and then I’d have to explain it with my too-big tongue. Instead, I cracked my eyes open and tried to discern what he was actually doing, because I knew, rationally, it definitely wasn’t the M&M thing. Too blurry. I got distracted and started looking around the room.

The walls looked sort of like I was looking at them through a big sheet of cling wrap. Subtly shiny, a little distorted, and slightly moving. The edges of things were indistinct, and trying to focus on any one thing produced a weird motion that was like looking at something far away with one eye, then switching to the other eye. It felt like a very subtle change in perspective, despite looking at it from up close with both eyes open. The M&M noise had paused momentarily, so I looked over at Dr. G, who motioned for me to close my eyes. Ah yes, I’m not supposed to be looking at things. That’s how you get a bad case of nausea. I shut my peepers and was swept away by…something. I don’t remember.

Later, I laughed about the M&M sound with my mom, who apparently didn’t even notice it, despite sitting directly next to my feet. I’m sure Dr. G was actually being very quiet, but something about ketamine can make your hearing sensitive while the infusion is going.

I’ve been noticing that, for me, it’s the second day after an infusion when I wake up and feel better. The day after an infusion is usually a pretty sluggish day, but then the day after that is when things start to look up. If I didn’t know that, it would be pretty discouraging to wake up the day after an infusion and feel crummy. Now I know to wait it out and not let that first day throw me off. Experience is a great teacher.

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