As I was pulled into mesmerizing moving images of purple and white half-circles, I remember pouring the words “please fix me” over and over into my mental space. Maybe if I asked it nicely, it would last longer. In a strange mixture of thought and vision, the words became part of the image, and they fanned out and seeped into the fabric of my mind. Ketamine infusions continue to be the best treatment for my treatment-resistant depression I’ve tried, but like anything else, it’s not perfect. Arriving at each appointment feeling depressed once again gives me a sense of hopelessness all its own. I know the ketamine infusion will help, but it may not last. We’re still trying to arrange the best combination of dose, timing, and medications that could help things remain more stable.
Puzzles, Puddles, and Skyscrapers
I closed my eyes and settled back, listening to the “atmospheric piano” playlist I had chosen for yesterday’s ketamine infusion. Eventually, my awareness of my hands and arms disappeared, and I spent some time wondering where they had gotten to. The gentle piano music was relaxing, and tucked under my blanket and weighted lap pad, I began to feel like I was being enveloped in something. I imagined myself being zipped into a giant pea pod, and the image was comforting. “Nothing can get me in my pea pod,” I thought. There were times during the infusion when noise outside the room intruded on me, so I just imagined my soft pea pod and retreated within it again.
There were at least two scenes involving puzzle pieces and building skyscrapers in this ketamine infusion. We’ve been working on a 2,000 piece puzzle of Monet’s garden, and the pink, purple, and white pieces are haunting my subconscious. The puzzle pieces came together to form an endlessly tall building; I craned my neck back to see it disappear into the clouds.
At some point, everything dissolved. I was “looking” at a computer screen, and as I tried to read it, the contents of the page began to melt. The lines ran together, words sagged under the force of gravity, and eventually, the entire laptop softened and melted into a puddle. I began to melt, too. I slipped into the puddle of digital sludge – it looked like an oil slick – and soon accepted my new form. I was too tired and heavy to do anything.
I was far, far, far away when I heard the PA, Erin, ask if I was ok. Finding my mouth and giving it words to say was too difficult, so I nodded and hoped that my head was actually moving. It must have been, since she seemed to accept that as an answer. A little later, she sneezed, which startled me. At the sudden noise, I instantly saw moths with shattered wings, like glass with spiderweb cracks. They fluttered around and came closer until their soft, broken wings were all I could see.
Post-Ketamine Infusion Confusion
Coming back to the room was much harder than usual. I felt a little like I was wearing 3D glasses; everything was in relief with subtle red and blue auras. When asked, I said I felt like “someone else is talking,” meaning the words were mine but the sensation of talking seemed foreign. This is something I experience every time I have an infusion of ketamine for my depression. Erin said I seemed pretty lucid, to which, in relief, I said, “Great – I’m pulling it off.”
Walking down the steps to the first level of the parking garage was challenging. I clung to the railing and stepped carefully, feeling like I was walking on pillows. I’m usually fine to walk after a ketamine infusion; I could fall asleep at any second, but I generally feel pretty with it. This time, though, I felt a lot like this:
Tracking Adjustments to My Ketamine Infusions
In an effort to make the effects of the ketamine infusion last longer, I took some Tagamet before yesterday’s infusion. It’s an H2 blocker used to treat heartburn, but it might also slow the metabolism of ketamine and give patients more time between infusions. I’m usually tired after ketamine infusions, but this was different. I got home around 4 (I think) and by 6:30, I still felt like I was periodically dissociating and then coming back to the room and remembering I was in the middle of something. Walking was hard for a couple of hours. I was off balance and wobbly and had mild vertigo. I think it’s safe to say that the Tagamet is doing something. This morning, I woke up with a mild headache and am still incredibly tired, but the sun is out and our near-impossible puzzle will provide hours more entertainment.
P.S. I remember making a mental note that Shrek appeared briefly during my infusion, but I cannot for the life of me remember how/when. It’s such a bizarre thing to remember, though, that I am sure it really happened.
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.