A male lion stretching in the downward dog pose in a field of tall grass

Backyard Lion: The Ketamine Chronicles (Part 11)

I awoke to darkness. And barking. Whipping the blanket off of me, I thought what I always think in this situation, which is: Stella, don’t wake the neighbors up! And then I thought:

Wait a minute, I didn’t let her out this morning, followed by, wAiT a minute, IS it morning? 

It was not. It was 5:30 P.M., the same day as my latest ketamine infusion. I napped hard after this infusion, which was a higher dose than normal. I went in earlier than scheduled because a change in my birth control threw things out of whack (see Part 10 of The Ketamine Chronicles) and my depression made an appearance sooner than we had hoped. This ketamine infusion was longer and felt pretty different compared to my normal dose. I still saw vivid images and scenes, but they felt more immersive, somehow. They were more like realistic, sometimes-lucid dreams rather than IMAX movies.

There always seems to be a lot of water in my ketamine imagery, but this one was especially saturated (pun intended). I remember a lot of ocean waves, people walking on mostly-empty beaches, and the gentle rocking of the tide. It’s odd to have a relaxing experience of being on water. One aspect of my Sensory Processing Disorder means I get motion sickness so easily that escalators can set it off, so I usually dislike any tilting or bobbing motions. The movement of water during this ketamine infusion, however, was very calming. At one point, I was on a boat where I watched water come up through a square hole in the deck, then recede, then repeat. At a different time, I saw foamy waves that I could stop at will, perfect dollops of whipped-cream water, frozen in place.

There were several dream-like plots this time, but I only remember one.

Why is This in My Brain?

This is the “We Bought a Zoo” bootleg knockoff of ketamine dreams. In the actual movie, Matt Damon plays a recently widowed father who purchases a defunct zoo and moves in with his children. They have to earn the trust of the animals and the people who work there in order to save the zoo and reconnect with each other. It’s heartwarming, at times dramatic, and funny. The bootleg ketamine version was like putting the whole script through several layers of Google Translate and getting rid of 90% of the characters.

In a mundane twist of fantasy, my ketamine protagonist buys a house. He moves in, but later learns that there’s a lion living in the backyard (seems like something the inspection should have caught, but oh, well.) At first, he throws food into the far corner of the yard to keep it away. Over time, though, he and the lion start to trust each other, eventually becoming friends. The man even goes so far as to buy a puppy for the lion to bond with (à la cheetahs with emotional support dogs). This seems like a supremely bad idea, as the lion is already fully grown, but the protagonist is confident.

(Un)fortunately, I will never know how that turned out because I either “woke up” or simply moved on to some other surreal, mental drama. By “woke up” I mean that some change around me brought my attention back to the real world, not that I opened my eyes and was back to normal. What pulled me back may have been movement in the room, a new song in my earbuds, or the sudden realization that I wasn’t actually in a bizarre plot about a backyard lion (which is, of course, horribly cruel and irresponsible.)

Illusions of Ketamine Infusions

I prefer to not wear an eye mask during ketamine infusions, just because I like to have the option to open my eyes and I’m not a fan of having stuff on my face. However, there are times when I think an eye mask would come in handy. You know that feeling when you’re falling asleep on an airplane and you keep waking up because you feel like your mouth might be open? That’s the kind of sensation I get during ketamine infusions, except instead of my mouth, it’s my eyes. They’re not actually open during ketamine infusions, it’s just that the feeling of “seeing” in my mind is so realistic that sometimes I can’t tell. I used to sleep with my eyes a little bit open, and apparently, it was really creepy. I’d like to spare the occupants of the room my unsettling zombie eyes.

Lately, I have been dreading the morning. Stella’s enthusiasm and relentless needling get me out of the house to tire her out, but depression has made it a slog. I’m hoping that this ketamine treatment will bump me back into feeling good about the day ahead.

Note: this blog recently hit 100 subscribers! Thank you all for reading my ramblings and thoughts about depression and mental health. Just before the new year, too! I hope you’ll stick around in 2020. 

If you’d like to read more about my experience with ketamine for depression, start from the beginning of The Ketamine Chronicles or visit the archives. Click here for mobile-optimized archives of The Ketamine Chronicles.

2 thoughts on “Backyard Lion: The Ketamine Chronicles (Part 11)

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