I woke up a couple of hours after going to bed following my most recent IV ketamine treatment for depression. It was around 1 o’clock when I began my slumber, so when Stella woke me up, looking like she needed something, I automatically fed her dinner because it felt like I had been asleep for a long time. Then I wandered into the living room, where it dawned on me that bright sunlight was streaming in through the windows.
What day is it? Is it still daytime?
Temporary Disorientation After IV Ketamine Treatment for Depression
Perhaps I entered a different dimension where time passes more slowly. Or maybe I’m taller than the moon and my head is therefore circling the sun at a different rate. I went back to sleep, but apparently woke up periodically to accomplish my nightly routine. Wednesday’s cubby in my pill organizer is empty, and I vaguely remember flossing my teeth. Half of what I wrote here was already done, which surprised me when I opened my laptop this morning to write. My phone informs me that today is Thursday, although it feels like several days have passed since yesterday’s ketamine infusion treatment.
An IV Ketamine Therapy Reset
I usually go about three weeks between appointments, but my depression has made a comeback. Similar to how I first began getting ketamine infusions, we decided to do a short series of infusions in quick succession to try to reset things and boost my mood. In addition to the short series, we’re also trying another medicine that can enhance the effects of ketamine therapy.
Scopolamine is an anti-nausea drug that comes in the form of a patch that you place behind your ear. I can tell that it did something; the infusion itself felt more enveloping than usual, and for hours afterward, I had this weird sense that I could feel my blood traveling through my blood vessels. It almost felt like being squeezed – like the boundaries of my body were working harder to keep everything contained within my skin.
I talked to Dr. Grindle (whose name frequently autocorrects to Dr. Griddle, which I think is hilarious) about our plan of action at the beginning of the appointment. My previous infusion was my first experience with ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP). The goal of it was to help me bypass the frustrating barriers to talking that I run into in therapy by having a ketamine infusion and a therapy session at the same time. It was a fascinating experience, but also a little overwhelming, so I decided to just do a normal ketamine infusion yesterday. I’ll revisit KAP another time.
Building a Metaphorical Mental Health Bridge
I don’t remember much from this infusion. The addition of all these other anti-nausea and sedating medications makes it hard to remember what I thought about and saw during the infusion. They also make me crash when I get home, which lets whatever memories I do have fade away before I have a chance to write them down. One part that I can vaguely recall came from a suggestion made by my therapist. After our KAP session last week, we marveled at how much I resisted talking about particular topics, even while zonked out on ketamine. This week, she suggested that I imagine building a bridge across the moat that protects my mental fortress. I have yet to figure out why some parts of my everyday life show up in my IV ketamine treatments and some don’t. The image of a bridge over a moat certainly stuck, although probably not in the way that my therapist hoped it would.
Mixing Memory and Imagination
Thinking about castles and fortresses created an odd merging of memories and imagination in my mind. At first, I found myself thinking about the ruins of castles on the Danube River in Germany and in the rolling hills in Wales. I imagined the people who lived in those castles milling about and going about their daily lives. Then, I seemed to combine that train of thought with memories I have of going to Caribou, an old silver-mining ghost town from the 1870s. It’s situated not far from where I grew up.
We used to go up there and explore the crumbling stone structures and look for currants and wild raspberry bushes. In my distorted ketamine haze, I saw people working in the half-built structures. All of the trappings of normal life were there; a large pot in the fireplace, a sturdy wooden table on the dirt floor, women in long, pioneer dresses and aprons bustling around in the four walls under the open sky.
At some point, the ruins were surrounded by a moat, and a figure stood on the opposite side. Remembering that I was trying to let the person cross the moat, I conjured up a drawbridge. Interestingly, simply creating the bridge was not enough. I couldn’t seem to keep the drawbridge down; it kept raising over the water, leaving the moat impassable again. It was somewhat frustrating – like those dreams where everything keeps going wrong, no matter how much you try to find a way around it. I suppose next time, I should build any bridge but a drawbridge.
A Middle Ground with Major Depression
I feel a little bit better. When I’m awake, I feel more motivated to get things done, and my immediate reaction to being faced with an opportunity or an obligation is not automatically, “Ugh. No.” This is one of the more frustrating phases of depression for me. I feel capable of doing things, I sometimes even want to do things, but I’m so unbelievably tired that I waste hour after hour asleep. I’m starting to wonder if that’s a normal depression symptom plus side effects of the medicines I take, or something else entirely. All I know is that it makes me feel enormously lazy when I wake up at 5:30am and am struggling to keep my eyes open only three hours later. It hasn’t always been that way; when I was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder, I didn’t feel the need to take a nap until mid-afternoon, and I could limit it to something more reasonable. I’m not sure what happened besides a worsening of my illness and the meds I take, or if those factors explain it all. Something to ponder.