My lifelong battle with depression got worse after a close friend passed away. My daughter, a teen, and I were having trouble communicating because of my sadness. Ketamine therapy was something I tried, and it helped. Morning Brew is read by more than 3 million people; you should too! I never intended to have my daughter Lauren, 18, suffer from the melancholy that has been my constant companion in life. I thus kept it a secret.
My condition is described as “atypical” or “smiling depression” by some professionals. My condition lasted my entire life and alternated between getting better and worse. I had to force myself to do things like brush my teeth or make dinner during the dark times, and I gave death a lot of thought. I experienced a general sense of hopelessness even in my happier moments. One thing remained constant: the smile on my face. My superpower was to appear joyful.
I’ve tried everything over the years to elevate my mood, including counseling, support groups, meditation, exercise, special diets, and medication. Everything failed. I would play Monopoly or MouseTrap and try to be as joyful as my spouse and daughter during family game nights. I decided that Lauren would benefit from my pretending because I didn’t want to set a bad example and mimic bad behavior.
I didn’t try ketamine therapy till after that.
Things worsened. But after my oldest buddy committed suicide, I was unable to battle my sadness the same way I always did. I had a tougher time hiding my symptoms. My kid caught me crying several times despite my attempts to shield her from my suffering. “Mom, what’s wrong?” Lauren enquired.
I said, “I miss my friend.” It was simpler to claim bereavement as an explanation for my melancholy than to acknowledge my underlying depression. I said when Lauren offered preparing cupcakes, “Maybe tomorrow.” I responded again when she requested to go for a bike ride, “Perhaps tomorrow.” She would pick up her phone and head to her room after I was rejected. I made the decision to undergo a course of treatment that I had previously deemed extreme ketamine because I felt that something had to change.
The idea of consuming a product that drug traffickers refer to as “cat Valium” or “blind squid” was difficult for me to comprehend, and I had images of heroin users lying on dirty beds with needles all over the floor. Then, after doing some research, I learned that anesthesiologists and emergency room physicians utilize ketamine to sedate patients during grueling medical operations. People with depression and PTSD, like me, can get relief right away by using it off-label.
My doctor advised me to combine ketamine with other treatments like painting, meditation, and writing. I was ready to do anything at that point.
I felt improved. After setting up the meeting, I took the decision to disclose my depression to my kid. I explained my treatment strategy, which included six infusions spread out over two weeks. She gave me a hug after listening. We barely spoke for a short while, yet I was left feeling lighter and closer than before.
My expectations for my ketamine experience were significantly different from the actual event. My infusions were overseen by a doctor I trusted in a clean, safe atmosphere. I witnessed flowers bloom inside an igloo while floating on a hot air balloon made of shooting stars while ketamine slowly entered my bloodstream. My body changed first into a sky-blue marshmallow, then into a river winding through a lush jungle.
For the first time in my memory, I felt pain-free after the first session. I brewed a pot of tea later on that day. I turned to my daughter and remarked, “Look how it sparkles,” as I added hot water to the pot from the kettle. It appeared as though my vision had been cleared of cloudy glasses and I was witnessing a miracle.
However, sparkling water is not the true marvel. It is the unseen barrier between my daughter and I that has crumbled. I was able to lower my guard and be myself thanks to ketamine. It improved me as a mother.