In The Zone

I didn’t sleep much last night. I had a pounding headache which began shortly after my treatment ended in the early part of the evening yesterday and just got progressively worse as the night wore on. It still hurts today.

Yesterday’s experience was like nothing I’d ever felt before. I gave the Nurse permission to increase my dose of Ketamine this time hoping it will somehow make a difference. I’d felt very safe with her and a real sense of calm in her presence one week earlier which is something I have not felt with the other two Nurses who have also been under my care. Kindness and compassion sure do go a long way. 

Before she administered the higher dose to me I needed to sign off on it first. While doing so we also spoke in great length about how distressing my week had been and how I am feeling very much alone in this process right now and often triggered because no matter how many doctors you talk to or how much research you do on the incredible affects that Psychedelics can have on individuals with treatment resistant depression and suicidal ideations or how many testimonials you may watch from strangers on YouTube who seem to have felt an almost instantaneous release from their symptoms of depression and suicidal ideations, no one is living in my body or mind and with each passing treatment I am feeling more and more like a failure. 

She listened intently. I felt understood. I was ready to begin.

She handed me the tablet. I placed it under my tongue and swooshed it around until it dissolved. I was still playing around with my phone, trying to find which playlist to listen to but almost immediately my lips went numb and my limbs felt heavy and then suddenly the room began to spin. My vision went blurred and I saw two of everything. Sounds became muffled like I was under water. 

It came on fast and furious. I quickly on my sleep mask and began my descent into another world. A scary and super intense world. 

A world that took me back to my childhood. My precious childhood dog Bamboo paid me a visit (she died one week before my wedding). I believe she was there to protect me as I began running away. I held onto her tightly as I was being chased through a dark forest where the ground was filled with fallen leaves. The leaves were mostly yellow, a few were red. 

Bamboo

I was easily startled as the experience deepened. I became very confused and kept asking out loud where am I as I ran for my life. I felt a shortness of breath. I watched all this happening from outside of my own body. I was completely disconnected as my body floated beside me the whole time. 

It was an extremely distressing experience to say the very least but maybe, just maybe it was an experience that needed to happen. 

#ketaminetreatment #psychedelics  #treatmentnumberfour #treatmentresiatantdepression #suicidalideations #inthezone #sleepmask #mentalhealth #youareenough #youarenotalone

A quick walk

Rich and I decided to sneak in a quick #summerofrich “Fall Edition” adventure this afternoon and explore a piece of our beautiful city as we make our way downtown to my next treatment later on today.

A perfect way to help clear my head.

P.S. A young girl stopped to tell me she loved my sweatshirt. That made my day❤

#summerofrichfalledition #midtowntoronto #citytrails #octoberhikingchallenge #fallingleaves #nature  #mentalhealth #clearingmyhead #mentalwellness

Speed Dial

I’ve been on a downward spiral this week. 

I have been consumed by thoughts of suicide and feelings of hopelessness and guilt; literally every waking moment.

I feel like such a failure. 

I feel helpless. 

Today I felt unsafe.

I reached out to my therapist for support. 

I am always hesitant to do so because I worry that I am truly bothering her. 

In my heart though I know that’s just my anxiety talking smack to me.

I see her on a weekly basis and she will often remind me that if ever I need to reach out to her at anytime in between our sessions that she will always be here for me in whatever capacity she can; and oh ya, she also reminds me that I am most definitely not a bother either.

Having a professional who is always in your corner, who believes in you and who offers you a safe, judgment-free space to talk through or help you cope with whatever life challenges you may be experiencing is truly a blessing. 

*If you are in crisis or in need of immediate support and do not have access to care right away please reach out to a helpline or go to your nearest emergency room.*

#therapy #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety #suicidalthoughts #suicideprevention #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok 

What Is Wrong With Me?

*Potentially triggering*

I’m feeling pretty darn defeated today and the guilt surrounding this feeling is literally killing me. 

What is wrong with me? What am I doing that is so wrong? This must be all my fault? I can’t do anything right? Why am I such a failure? I might as well just give up for good this time? 

These are just some of the many thoughts that crossed my mind last night as I left another treatment; this time however, unlike the previous two sessions, I left in tears, suicidal and feeling completely defeated. 

Each thought kept worsening into deeper, more hopeless thinking and by the time I arrived home just before 10pm, I was feeling nauseous, my head pounding and my mind consumed by thoughts of suicide. 

I knew what I was getting myself into before I started this process. I accepted the fact that during each session I’d be put into a disassociative state of mind. Do I like that feeling? Absolutely not, but I accepted it. 

Does my anxiety build to the extreme before each session knowing how the treatment is about to make me feel? Absolutely yes, but I’ve accepted that. 

Do I give both my body and mind permission to feel disconnected and distorted from reality during each session? Absofuckinglutely. I’ve accepted that too. Heck I’m willing to accept almost anything at this point if it could potentially be life saving. 

Then what caused me to leave my session last night in tears, feeling suicidal and completely defeated? 

So how does someone come out of their treatment feeling worse than when they went in and then make you feel as though you are failing at yet another treatment?

I’ve read so many testimonials from individuals who have said that after their first treatment their symptoms of depression and suicidal ideations began to ease greatly, yet here I was three sessions down, in tears, suicidal and feeling completely defeated as the Nurse began to ask me a series of questions for her report.  

These questions are asked at the end of each session before they release you while your mind and body are still not fully conscious. 

Ketamine is used in anesthetic and although I’m not fully asleep during my treatment I am most definitely not fully awake either. It takes a few hours until it leaves your system. Try and imagine for a moment how you have first felt when you are just coming out of an anesthetic, following a surgery. 

You are probably pretty groggy, feeling sedated and likely still somewhat incoherent. 

I’m barely able to lift my head or open my eyes yet but I am being asked to recall how I felt during the peak of my experience. Did I experience this feeling or that feeling? Did I see things that weren’t real? Was it in slow motion? Did it make me feel happy or sad or scared? Was the feeling mild or moderate or severe? The questions feel never ending and go on and on for a good ten minutes. Then the questions switch to how I am feeling right now. Am I feeling suicidal, do I have a plan, what would my plan be, how will I act on my plan?

It’s beyond overwhelming. What if I give the wrong answer? What if they decide not to continue my treatment based on my answers? 

It all just felt too much last night. These questions felt too much. My mind was still in a confused state. My body still numb. I could barely speak. I started to cry, I felt suicidal…and completely defeated. 

I feel so alone.

#whatiswrongwithme #ketamine #treatmentresiatantdepression #anxiousmind #unconsciousmind #suicidalmind #feelingdefeated #depression #mentalhealth #mentalillness #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok 

Living His Best Life

I’ve never been to Israel before and to be completely honest the thought of going has always (since I was a child) brought with it a ton of anxiety and agonizing fear (nevermind just having to get on the plane first in order to get there!) but seeing the joy on Jacob’s face and sensing so much meaning in his heart after only a few days of being there, through his daily videos and pictures he sends us in our family Snapchat, truly makes my heart smile ❤.

#Israel #livinghisbestlife #mentalwellness #tripofalifetime #meaningful #myheartissmiling

Recap of Yesterday

Yesterday’s experience felt quite different from my first session only days earlier. I know it’s to be expected though when you take any kind of psychedelics.

I’m trying to be strong right now and cling to the hope that this treatment will help give me the relief I’m so desperately longing for. Heck, at this point I’ll take even a fraction of relief which I know in my heart is really all I can do for now but I am also feeling extremely overwhelmed by the thought, even if it’s only a fraction that I will be letting everyone else down as well if it doesn’t help me.

When I arrived at the clinic yesterday the vibe itself also felt quite different. I was welcomed right away with a friendly hello and a warm smile by both the office coordinator and Nurse. They were not the same ladies who’d been working during my last session.

Right away I felt so much more at ease because of the staff which was the completely opposite feeling I had during my entire first appointment. A friendly hello and a warm smile (even if it’s under a mask) can go a very long way.

Before my treatment began and my vitals were taken, the Nurse and I discussed whether or not to increase my dose from the initial one I was given on Tuesday. I was both scared and hesitant to do so given the strong reaction I’d experienced on the lower dose. Just to add to everything else, I had also hurt my back on Thursday morning (when I took a deep breath) and I was still in quite a bit of pain which worried me to think how little control I would have over my body while undergoing treatment.

She assured me that it’s normal to feel this way and that many patients never increase their dose throughout its entirety. She understood my fear and hesitancy as well and said we could always try and do so next time instead if I preferred. No pressure. 

I’m so glad I didn’t. 

My experience this time was quite different than my first one as I mentioned above.

I was offered an anti-nausea medication before I was given the Ketamine tablet to help ease the nausea I had felt last time (which really helped) but I still experienced the same numbness on my lips and tongue, an intensity of brain zaps and some muscle stiffness. What I honestly wasn’t prepared for this time was the build up of emotions that came at the peak of my treatment. 

Suddenly I began having all consuming thoughts of suicide. I became extremely agitated, fidgety and very restless. I ripped off my socks and threw them on the floor. If I could’ve I would’ve ripped off my skin as well.

I felt like I was being smothered. I began to panic and sob. I couldn’t catch my breath or swallow. I could hear the Nurse quickly enter the room. She sounded far away from the echo of my ear pods. She sat down beside me and began soothing me and helping me to calm down. She gave me some water to drink which is kinda hard to do when your lips and tongue are frozen. She kept reassuring me that I was safe and helped me with my breathing. By now my head was pounding and my arms and legs became tingling like there were pins and needles in them. 

I tried to open my eyes. I slowly began my descent back to earth. I felt numb. And defeated. My Nurse however thought I was a total Rockstar! 

#ketaminetreatment #psychedelics #treatmentresistantdepression #suicideawareness #mentalhealth #mentalillness #mentalwellness #youarenotalone #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #reflections

Our Next Generation

My kids have had to deal with some pretty painful and often frightening emotions over the past seven plus years because of my illness. They’ve watched with their own eyes as their mom went from being a happy, carefree, independent, hands-on social butterfly to a sad, depressed, anxious, emotionally charged, burdensome and withdrawn one; overnight.

They have been on this journey with me since the beginning whether they chose to or not. They’ve seen me at my worst which has become more and more difficult for me to not place all the blame on myself, feel a tremendous amount of guilt and take fault at, whether I am or not, for any emotional pain or mental health challenges they may have faced over the last many years or those which may grow to affect their well-being over time. This is sadly how a depressed mind thinks.

When I first made the choice about four and a half years ago to create a blog and start sharing my journey with the world, one that has included some of the most intimate and vulnerable moments of my life I really didn’t know what to expect or even how it would be received as it still felt so stigmatized. 

I’d already been sharing quite a bit of my journey with those in my inner circle and many others who were along the perimeter of it as well but my number one priority was to ensure that both Rich and I kept a very open and honest dialogue with our kids from day one (they may have also started to wonder where I’d disappeared to for any great length of time when I’d been admitted into hospital). 

Completely sheltering them from their new reality would have immediately sent a message to them that they were somehow responsible for my illness or that they had something to hide from the world or worse that they were not safe but at the same time I couldn’t help but continue to worry that I’d also bring a sense of shame to their lives as well by sharing my story. 

But I have been fortunate enough to learn that my willingness and openness to share my journey with my children meant that I am modeling to them that it’s okay to NOT be okay, that they are NOT alone, that asking for help is NOT a weakness and that creating healthy boundaries in their relationships is stupendously important. 

It’s what also kept me motivated to publish my children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?”.

I know that my kids are not alone and that sadly their home is not even close to being the only one on the block who could be dealing with a loved one’s mental health challenges. I also know from the incredible outpouring of love and support that they have all received most recently from their own close circles of friends and those along the perimeter as well that this next generation is making a change, a change for the better, in a big, BIG way. 

I also have the confidence that they are completely up for the challenge as they begin to deal with the aftermath of living through a Pandemic and whose mental and emotional pain could possibly carry many of them throughout the rest of their lives.

We as a society can certainly help to ensure their success by modeling to them that it’s okay to not be okay, that they are not alone, that asking for help is not a weakness and that creating healthy boundaries is stupendously important in their day to day life.

With our help this next generation and many more to come are not going to remain silent much longer. I truly believe that they are gonna be the ones who will finally kick the stigma to the fricken moon and I couldn’t be more proud knowing that my children are willing participants in becoming a part of that change.

#nextgeneration #letsendthestigmatogether #startaconversation #bepartofthechange #mentalhealth #mentalillness #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #masksoff #endthesilence #healthyboundaries #blogger #author #advocate #wheredidmommyssmilego

REFLECTING ON YESTERDAY

So as most of you may have seen by now, yesterday I was administered my first treatment of Ketamine. 

I am very overwhelmed and emotional today and haven’t been able to respond to the outpouring of messages I’ve received (both privately and on social media) since yesterday afternoon wishing me good luck and cheering me on. But I am so grateful for each and every one. They definitely keep me going. 

I’ve needed this time instead to reflect on yesterday’s experience and the last few days that have led up to it.

I didn’t get home until after 9 pm last night by which time I was both mentally and physically exhausted, emotionally drained and still somewhat stoned!

I think overall the physical experience went pretty much how I imagined it would go, especially given my past trials and tribulations with psychedelics before.

My body went completely numb (including my lips) almost immediately after placing the tablet under my tongue (it was very bitter tasting). I was told to let it dissolve naturally and the nurse who was looking after me repeatedly told me not to swallow my saliva for at least 15 minutes. She made me very anxious. 

I lay in a big comfy recliner, the lights were dimmed. I closed my eyes, wrapped a blanket around me which they had suggested you bring with you and listened to music giving both my body and mind whatever they needed to go through the process freely. Rich sat in a chair across from me, playing Candy Crush and watching Tik Tok videos the entire evening. 

I had a complete out of body  experience. I felt a disconnect and like I was moving in slow motion. At one point I almost felt as though I was flying right out of my body. I had some muscle pain at times, felt brain zaps quite a bit and experienced some nausea as well. I heard noises that weren’t always there and saw images in my head too, both of which startled me many times during. I was completely conscious yet could not lift my head or move my body for 2 full hours.

As I stated above, I was prepared for what I would experience in a physical sense but mentally and emotionally I was not. Before I began the treatment I spoke with a Psychiatrist briefly. She had been well versed by my own Psychiatrist recently on how depressed and suicidal I’d been for the last while. 

She needed to know before we began where my current state of mind was at. I told her honestly, explaining what had transpired late last week not realizing that she would become hesitant about allowing me to start my treatment yesterday given how vulnerable I really was. It actually confused me since this treatment is supposed to help people who are feeling very depressed and suicidal. She also wanted to know about any specific plans I may have of suicide and details of my previous attempts too.

Anyways she did agree at the end of our conversation to begin the treatment as previously planned but made me promise to go to the hospital if I need to at any time between sessions.

I was able to let go of my emotional pain throughout the experience. It was what happened once I got home that terrifies me that this treatment won’t help me and that I will not only let myself down in the process but everyone else as well.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t get home until after 9 pm, still feeling some of the physical effects. I got into bed right away. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. I became very emotional very quickly. 

Once I did manage to fall asleep probably around midnight it was very disrupted because everytime I felt myself drifting off I also felt myself unable to catch my breath or swallow. Each time this happened I got so scared that I would immediately sit up in order to catch my breath and try and swallow. I went into fight or flight mode and kept hearing the nurse’s voice ruminating in my head, telling me not to swallow. By 5 AM I found myself inconsolable once again. Lucky Rich is such an early riser!

I am scheduled to have my second dose on Saturday afternoon. The nurse told me to expect a call from the doctor today or tomorrow to go over my first experience at which time they will also be deciding whether or not they feel it is safe to go ahead and raise the dose at my next session. 

In the meantime I had my weekly scheduled appointment today with my therapist where I was able to reflect even more on my experience, especially given my emotional state right now. It is highly recommended as part of the treatment plan that consistent therapy is also needed. 

Like with any individual taking Antidepressants or other such treatments to help their symptoms, therapy helps set the stage for its affects to be more successful and longer lasting. 

I can’t say it enough to people how important therapy is for treating mental health disorders alongside their other treatments, even if their current treatment may or may not seem to be helping. Oftentimes it may only be a bandaid without the upkeep of talk therapy/psychotherapy.

I am so blessed to have such an incredible and supportive therapist by my side.

Until next time…

#ketaminetreatment #psychedelics #treatmentresistantdepression #suicidalideations #talktherapy #mentalhealth #mentalillness #mentalwellness #youarenotalone #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #reflections #thankyou