a-oK: the ketamine diaries #1 - how did we get here?

I'd gotten to the point near the end of 2022 that for easily 2+ years, if anyone had asked me, "do you want to live?" I'd have said "NO" before they could even get the question out. Probably not the best place to be...

a hand raised in the air out of the ocean
Photo by nikko macaspac / Unsplash

Raise your hand if you need help! (Spoiler: No one drowned in the sourcing of the above photograph.)

Content warnings for general discussion of depression and suicidal thoughts.

a gif that says "depression mode" with the on / off switch toggling back and forth

Since Forever

There's been an undercurrent of depression in my life for as long as I can remember. I may not be making an overarching statement about the totality of my life as much as I'm balancing that sum with my memory, which often turns in garbage level performances. (More on that some other time.)

I'd gotten to the point near the end of 2022 that for easily 2+ years, if anyone had asked me, "do you want to live?" I'd have said "NO" before they could even get the question out. I was able to find spots of joy in little stuff sometimes. Even get excited about things for short bursts. But there was a terrible ticker scrolling across the back of my mind. It felt like I was always treading water in an attempt to stay afloat.

My head, the place where I happen to be a lot of the time, was so loud that I usually couldn't separate, let alone articulate the things I really wanted to get across. I was exhausted and frustrated all the time. And I needed so. much. sleep. It wasn't the kind of depressive episode where you stay in bed 16-18 hours a day begging for sleep (though I've had those). I went to bed by 9 pm most nights because I didn't want to do anything and could barely do anything by then anyway, but I truly slept for 9-10 hours straight.

Everything had to be scheduled in my calendar. Partially because of my shit memory, and partially because I needed to know well in advance what kind of energy I'd have to stock up to complete any given day's tasks. There was never enough.

I was perpetually (passively) suicidal. I separated suicidality into two modes at some point: active and passive. Someone who's actively suicidal would have a plan, would be in danger, needs protection. But me? Passively suicidal – which means I wanted to die, but I had neither the intention nor the energy to do anything about it. It was simply my near constant state of being.

To be honest, I'm only now realizing how bad I was, not only during that time, but for countless years. I started therapy and meds at 15 years old for depression. Over time, it morphed. More therapy. Different meds. Bipolar disorder diagnosis at 27. Different meds. Almost died. No meds for 3 years. Life explosion. Almost died at 30. Lots of research. Different meds. DNA testing. Added meds. Better. Worse. Up meds. Down meds. Change meds. It was an endless cycle of searching for... something, anything to make me feel better.

Instead, I got worse in many ways. Worse, because it got harder. Harder to maintain any sense of normalcy. To keep "mentally ill" me out of everyone else's hair.

Snoop Dog saying "it be like that sometimes"

Things are what they are...

Bipolar disorder is not strictly a progressive disorder and you can toss depression in beside it. They are two diagnoses that describe an umbrella of symptoms, that aren't necessarily going to get worse, cause you to decline over time, or kill you.

But, I'll tell you what.

They feel progressive. The longer you have them, the harder it gets. Sure, you can sometimes skate by on coping mechanisms (healthy or unhealthy) you've learned over time, but the symptoms themselves take a toll.

A character from the movie Anchorman yelling "loud noises"

Someone please turn down the volume.

Every year, I'd notice myself getting more and more worn down. Bone tired. That's what happens when you have "voices" (in quotes because I'm not being literal) in your head on a loop telling you how worthless you are, how you're a burden, and no one loves you because you are inherently unlovable to your very core.

Voices that speak so loudly and so often, you embrace them as your own. Then, they are no longer just voices. They're thoughts. What you think about yourself, not what your disease is telling you. They become a part of you.

They start to blur the lines of who you even are, making it hard to trust others because you can't even trust yourself.

You're just... lost.

Johnny Rose from Schitt's Creek saying "not exactly sure where this is going"

Last Ditch Efforts

You may be slightly confused about where we're headed with this series. I'll explain the process and outcome more deeply in upcoming posts, but suffice it to say I was nearly at the end of my rope when one last option, one I'd stopped searching for, presented itself in the form of a friend.

A friend who was going through Ketamine treatments and insisted I start researching. A friend who went through the thick of it with me. A friend you'll hear from during this series.

Next post: I'll take you through my search for the right clinic and the mental tests I gave the CRNA before I ever considered letting them treat me. I would truly be some practitioners' nightmare patient.

Then again, poor practitioners don't like a patient who's informed.

I promise in advance, I haven't become like a Vegan or Crossfit guy who will literally never shut up about how you need to do the things they do because it will change your life. I'm not selling a miracle cure or any cure at all. I'm just telling a story. It's kinda my thing.

Until next time.