*Warning: Could be potentially triggering to some*
This Thanksgiving weekend I have so much to be THANKFUL for and I am overwhelmed with such GRATITUDE right now from the outpouring of kindness and love and support that has been shown to me and my ENTIRE family in SO many DIFFERENT ways.
I am slowly learning to embrace the help I so desperately need right now and accept that it’s okay.
Sometimes it takes a village in order to do so.
But that’s okay too.
And by learning how to let go of one’s pride and embrace the kindness and love and support of so many wonderful friends, family and truly an entire village has aroused so many super important conversations over the past few days and it has also afforded me the privilege of making many new and some really special connections as well; it’s truly been such a HUGE BLESSING.
I am THANKFUL and overwhelmed with GRATITUDE.
As many of you probably know by now I have been doing all that I can to survive for weeks now and by Thursday evening I honestly felt like I was about to take my last breath.
The build up of everything I’d been feeling just became too much and I could no longer allow myself to be a burden anymore, to anyone.
I’d hit rock bottom.
After dinner as I began to spiral further I told Rich that I was cancelling the Ketamine treatment. I just wanted to die rather than live with the guilt I felt. I became angry, mostly at myself and then eventually inconsolable. Rich suggested he take me to the hospital. I gave it some thought for a moment but instead I turned around, went into my bathroom, closed the door behind me and sat on the floor in the dark, crying.
Rich came in and tried to console me. I asked him to please leave and let me be. He did as I asked, but not for long. When he returned again he found me still sitting on the floor, still crying, still in the dark but by now there was an open bottle of Tylenol on the counter and a pair of tweezers tightly clutched in my hand. I was desperate to find whatever means I could to end my pain once and for all.
As soon as Rich realized what was happening he grabbed the tweezers from my hand, picked me up off the floor and held me until I was calm enough to lay down and try and get some rest.
Thursday I’d hit rock bottom. Or so I thought. Then Friday morning arrived.
I went to sit outside on the front porch. It was 8 am. Rich followed me outside. It was decision day. My treatment had to be paid for in full by end of day. We spoke about what had transpired the evening before. For the first time in a very long time I understood that I truly couldn’t keep living like this, that WE couldn’t keep living like this and that my kids DEFINITELY didn’t deserve to live like this. We both knew that we had to find whatever means we could in order for me to do this treatment. We both felt so desperate. But suddenly for a brief moment I felt a sense of calm come over me and then Rich blurted out, “I lost my job yesterday and I haven’t been able to find the words to tell you”.
Fuck. Poof. Goodbye calm. Hello tornado.
But Rich wasn’t giving up; not on me, not on us and certainly not on our family. Nothing had changed for him in that moment. In his mind this was not going to be the end. It had to be the start of a new beginning. So he swallowed his pride, left his ego on our front porch and went to work creating a “Go Fund Me Page” to help us pay for the 6 initial treatments and for whatever other expenses we have been told by my Psychiatrist we are likely to incur over the coming months for the maintenance of treatment.
Today happens to be “World Mental Health Day” and it’s theme this year is “Mental Health in an unequal world.” This couldn’t be a more fitting theme given the unfair treatment gap, discrimination and many other barriers that so many people like myself face every day by not being able to have the same advantage or accessibility to affordable mental health care. We all deserve the same fighting chance.
But today, thanks to the kindness and love and support of my village, I have been given a fighting chance.
Today I am THANKFUL and overwhelmed with GRATITUDE.
My Psychiatrist prescribed me sleeping pills recently to try and help with my very disruptive sleep patterns.
I don’t take them every night but the first couple of times I did take them I actually slept like 7 hours…in a row!!
But with any of my past experiences taking sleep meds, usually after about 3 days or so, I seem to become immune to them and history repeats itself and eventually they just stop working.
So my Psychiatrist suggested that maybe I alternate between 2 different kinds to try and avoid building up an immunity to one particular brand.
The secondary pill he prescribed is pretty new on the market and came with a bit more risk to me when it comes to its long laundry list of potential side effects. Something I have to be very vigilant of given my history with most medications I take.
I tried taking them once or twice a couple of weeks ago and found that it made me extremely groggy and unfunctionable the next day. I decided to just save them for nights where I really feel I need one.
Last night felt like one of those nights that warranted me taking one. I was having a bad night and feeling super anxious and emotional. I also hadn’t slept the night before because I have been experiencing severe pain throughout my entire body the last few days which I believe to be a side effect from the recent increase in my anti-anxiety medication and I was almost too afraid to fall asleep.
So Rich gave me the sleeping pill about 10pm. An hour or so later I could feel myself slowly drifting off to sleep, or so I thought.
My eyes were closed but then suddenly my arms and legs felt very tingly, I felt very weighted down under my weighted blanket, I kept trying to move but couldn’t and then my body went almost numb.
I felt paralyzed and for the next hour and a half I began hallucinating and became extremely paranoid.
I remember all of it. Every noise I heard and every image I saw including the one of a gun pointing directly in my face.
My body may have felt very disconnected but my mind was still very much aware of my surroundings. I was completely conscious yet felt helpless against the danger I kept feeling I was in.
It was terrifying.
Our brains can have a very cruel sense of humour sometimes. My body is so damn sensitive to drugs of any kind and that’s no joke. It’s really making me reconsider my decision to begin Ketamine treatment next week even more.
I could hear myself trying to speak aloud at times but the words weren’t always coming out of my mouth. I couldn’t catch my breath. I kept trying to take deep breaths but I was gasping for air each time I did. Those desperate and very loud gasps for air was what brought Hannah anxiously running down the hall from behind her closed bedroom door to see what was going on.
One minute I’d be hysterically crying and the next moment I was hysterically laughing.
Maggie kept trying to lick my face. Her tongue felt like it was on speed. She could sense that there was something wrong.
Rich held my hand the entire time trying desperately to calm me down while at the same time laughing hysterically alongside Hannah at some of the nonsensical and I gather from their outbursts of laughter, very comical things that I kept saying.
Laughter was all that was holding them together. I guess that’s why they say it truly is the best medicine.
**If you missed my blog yesterday about my upcoming Ketamine treatment please go to: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/10/05/ketamine-again/
Before I sat down to write this today I was planning on doing another Vlog. (Note: I actually wrote this and intended to post it yesterday before I found out that Facebook and Instagram had both crashed!). I thought I needed to maybe hear my own voice again today but I’m just too vulnerable right now and so I wrote my words out instead.
My Psychiatrist increased my new medication again late last week with the intent to get it to a therapeutic dose soon. It’s an anti-anxiety medication which I mentioned I would be starting a few weeks ago. As of yet I can’t say that it’s really been helping me. So for now I will just add it to the long list of failures.
Yesterday was a pretty bad day all around for me. My anxiety was very high which then turned to panic, crying, rumination and an increased amount of thoughts of death and dying.
As I also mentioned recently my Psychiatrist had put a plan together for me when we spoke a few weeks ago. It included this new anti-anxiety medication and it also included treatment for Ketamine…AGAIN which has been scheduled to start early next week.
So for those of you who don’t know what Ketamine is I will give you a quick explanation here. For starters, it’s actually a very potent and sometimes deadly street drug known as “Special K”. It is also apparently used as a horse tranquilizer but most commonly it is found in anesthetic.
I’m not gonna bore you or put you through a science class today but people living with Depression are known to have “abnormal brain plasticity”. Continued studies and research have shown that using Ketamine can help to remove the “negative receptors” in our brain and then it like “plants a seed” in your brain which allows for new “neuropathways” and positive neuroactivity to grow and flourish.
Studies have shown that by using Ketamine to treat Depression there has been a 60% success rate so far and unlike anti-depressants it is supposed to work faster and more effectively.
Now let me go back for a second here and explain (for those who may not already know) what I meant before when I said I am scheduled to begin Ketamine treatment…AGAIN.
Several years ago during an inpatient stay at Sunnybrook Hospital I was asked to take part in a Clinical Trial for Ketamine. I had never heard of it before but I was the perfect candidate though because it is used mostly on patients who suffer with Treatment Resistant Depression like I do. I happily and very naively agreed to try it. I figured I had nothing else to do seeing as I was in the hospital anyways.
I filled out a ton of paperwork, spoke in depth and several times with the Psychiatrist in charge of the study. I filled out many questionnaires with his Associates. After I was given approval to begin the study I was scheduled to start the 1st of 6 treatments the very next day.
They told me during the initial consult that the Ketamine would be administered through an IV and that I would have to lay there in the OR attached to an IV drip for 45 minutes and then kept for observation for another 30 minutes following. Before we began the process I asked the Anesthesiologist if I would feel anything. He said you may feel a bit woozy.
Well woozy was an understatement because for the next 45 minutes I lay on the cold table hallucinating, feeling disassociation and seeing psychedelic images flash before my eyes. It felt like a complete out of body experience with flashbacks as far back as my childhood.
I hated every bloody second of it and couldn’t wait for it to be over. The next day I met with the Psychiatrist to discuss how it went and we both agreed it was probably best that I don’t continue with the study. Another epic fail.
Now let’s fast forward to March of 2020. My current Psychiatrist happens to be the Medical Director of 2 Ketamine clinics in the GTA and has studied it’s effectiveness on Treatment Resistant Depression for several years now.
Back in February or March of 2020 (everything is kinda a blur now) we began another discussion surrounding Ketamine and he asked me if I would be willing to try it again as with more scientific research and studies conducted it was now available in a nose spray form. And less invasive.
He told me he would administer the 1st dose in his downtown office at the hospital he works out of to ensure I tolerate it and that the following 5 doses could be picked up at a local compounding pharmacy and be administered under the supervision of my husband in the comfort of my own home.
I agreed to try it AGAIN cause well, I try almost everything at least once when it’s come to my treatment or in this case twice.
We were scheduled to begin the 1st treatment on March 15th 2020 at 6:00 p.m. It never happened. And if you have been following my journey very recently I kinda just let things slide from there once the pandemic hit.
As most of you know though I reconnected with my Psychiatrist a few weeks ago at which time he told me that patients were no longer allowed to administer the nose spray at home. The whole idea had been kiboshed over the past year as research had shown that it was a liability and quite dangerous to do so. But I guess it’s OK because since March of 2020 Ketamine is now available in an even less invasive form, a pill which is dissolvable under the tongue but still can only be administered under the watchful eye of a doctor/nurse.
So I guess as they say, three times a charm as I have agreed to try it…AGAIN. The six sessions are to be completed at a clinic in Toronto (there is also a clinic in Mississauga too). Each session will take between 2 to 3 hours from start to finish to complete and I am not allowed to drive home afterwards. They actually recommend you don’t drive for 24 hours following. The sessions will take place twice a week for two weeks and once a week after that.
Although I’ve agreed to try it again given I feel like I’m running out of both viable options and steam, but I have been told by my doctor that I am very likely to still feel those same hallucinations and disassociative feelings that I don’t like. I’ve done many other treatments and have tried many hallucinogens over the last several years. I don’t like feeling as though I’m tripping out on LSD.
I’ve been consumed with very negative thoughts for several days now (surprise, surprise) since booking my treatment. I’m experiencing extreme anxiety and feelings of overwhelming guilt and lets not forget those feelings of being a burden that weigh me down too. I’m questioning my decision to do this again for many, like OH MY GOSH, too many reasons.
For one, it’s still very new and likely not to be a forever cure from what the current research shows. I will very likely need to continue on some type of maintenance program after the six sessions are done. But like how long term? And does anyone even know what the long term effects of it could be, especially cognitively. As it is, I did ECT (Electroconvulsive Treatment) several years back. Probably the most invasive and scariest treatment I’ve done. The eight treatments I did fucked me up royally. It fried my short term memory, my ability to recall many things and I find myself often forgetting what I was talking about mid…sentence.
But at the same time Psychedelics seem to be the wave of the future for treating mental illnesses and especially for people like myself who are treatment resistant. I’ve even tried “shrooms” in a pill form, but couldn’t tolerate the hallucinations it caused, although my Psychiatrist is also currently working on many new studies and its amazing effects on Treatment Resistant Depression as we speak.
I’ve tried so many different treatments over the past seven years and how I see it, I have failed them all, many of which have cost a shitload of money because they were not covered by either Ohip or insurance, Ketamine now included. I wish I could understand why if there is such a need for these treatments and Ketamine for one has one of the highest success rates among all treatments including anti-depressants then why has it not yet become part of the mainstream health care system so that more people can have access to it? I know, dumb question.
It’s an expensive treatment, especially if it becomes ongoing. It’s an expense we really can’t afford at the moment and just adds to the extraordinary guilt I already live with on a daily basis. The “what if” I’m not part of that 60% success rate, the “what if” yet another attempt fails and we throw away even more money that we don’t have. How can I live with that on my conscience?
The answer is, I can’t.
I’ve carried on and on AND on the last few days with all the other reasons as to why I also shouldn’t do it as well and feel like a burden yet again to my family by having to take me and sit with me for 2 to 3 hours (plus the 30 plus minute drive there and back) while I have my treatments.
These are very real struggles for me which of course my Psychiatrist tried to remind me the other day as I rambled on about all my reservations that I’m having that it’s my Depression talking and that my Anxiety is happily cheering him on. I can’t let them win.
But it’s so fucking hard though and the noises in my head are loud as hell. It’s literally killing me.
They keep telling me I don’t deserve to live a life free of chronic Depression, debilitating Anxiety and daily thoughts of Suicide. They keep telling me I’m just gonna fail at this attempt too. They keep telling me to give it up already and that I’ve already used up my many chances at recovery over and over AGAIN. Like why would this time be any different?
Thanks for listening to me today. I so appreciate the extra set of ears. Somedays the best medicine is just knowing that someone is there listening to my very real and terrifying emotions with only the purest of intent.
I have spent the better part of the past few days since my visit to emerg trying to process everything while still desperately figuring out whether or not I even have the strength anymore to keep going.
The Psychiatrist who was assigned to my care the other day was a very special and very rare find as far as any encounter I’ve ever had with a Psychiatrist in an emergency room before. He went above and beyond anything I have ever experienced during a visit to emerg and trust me when I say I’ve had my fair share of experiences.
You see, it’s very difficult to advocate for yourself when you don’t believe that you are worthy enough or deserving of.
Knowing how overwhelmed I was feeling and knowing how hard it is for me to even complete the simplest of tasks (scheduling appointments being one of them), Rich took it upon himself to help jump start the process of self-advocacy the very next morning, starting with making a follow up call to my GP’s office on my behalf, hoping that she could somehow escalate an appointment quicker to see my Psychiatrist.
That’s when he learned that the referral he’d requested 3 weeks earlier in order for me to make an appointment with my Psychiatrist because I hadn’t seen him in over a year had never been sent out.
She had been on vacation that week but Rich was assured it would be sent as soon as she was back in the office the following week.
Upon learning the disappointing news that it had never been sent out, Rich was assured again the other day that it would be taken care of right away. He waited a few hours to give my doctor’s office some time to fax it over and then he called the office of my Psychiatrist to make me that appointment. They still hadn’t received the referral and still would not make the appointment without it even though I was already his patient but just hadn’t seen him since last year when the new treatment I was scheduled to begin the week of March 15th 2020 was abruptly cancelled due to ya know, a Pandemic!
Feeling frustrated and desperate and very impatient by now, Rich said screw this bullshit and sent an email directly to my Psychiatrist himself to explain what’s been going on.
Within a few hours of sending him the email my Psychiatrist answered Rich’s pleas and copied his two assistants on the email asking that they schedule me in for an appointment to speak with him after hours the very next day on Zoom.
So late yesterday afternoon, feeling emotionally drained from the past few days and hungry from fasting all day being that it was Yom Kippur I finally reconnected with my Psychiatrist. A true gem and another rare find.
We spoke for the better part of an hour where along with Rich’s input a new plan was put into place immediately including a plan to pick up where we had left off last year and have his assistants schedule a first appointment at one of his other clinics to begin the treatment I was to start in March of 2020.
There have been many changes to the treatment’s protocols and the actual administration of it as well and not just due to Covid but several other factors that have come into consideration since then while conducting many clinical trials. The treatment itself has also evolved as well due to more and more research and scientific discoveries.
I’m still really overwhelmed and mentally exhausted right now to say the least and filled with so many mixed emotions today.
I’m so appreciative and grateful though for all the incredible support I have in my life (especially you Rich 💚), even if I may not feel worthy enough or deserving of it.
On Friday evening after experiencing several heightened episodes of anxiety throughout the day, I found myself right smack in the middle of a full-on panic attack.
I did my best to try and calm myself down using some breathing techniques but trying to distract myself from what was triggering me in that moment I could barely catch my breath long enough to take some CBD oil; something I don’t hesitate to do several times a day when needed as a therapeutic.
As soon as the CBD oil started kicking in and my heartrate began to decrease to a more tolerable level I curled up under my weighted blanket, still fully dressed from the day but I didn’t care because all I wanted to do in that moment was close my eyes and go to sleep.
But whose kidding who? Like is sleep ever an option for me? Even if my panic attack had just taken every last ounce of strength I had left inside and crushed it with my blanket, I was still preparing myself for a sleepless night ahead.
And I knew if I lay in bed much longer I would most definitely end up having another anxiety attack of some sort, so I reached for my other bottle of CBD oil on my nightstand, the one with the THC in it.
I regretted my decision almost immediately even though it took a while for it to kick in. It did not reduce my anxiety or relax me or even help me sleep, instead I spent the rest of the night fighting off my paranoia and hallucinations and by the time morning arrived I was still feeling the effects from the THC and spent the entire day in bed yesterday with a “hangover”.
They say it’s nearly impossible to OD on cannabis but if there is even a slight chance of that happening then I’m pretty sure I managed to do so. Cannabis is supposed to give you a feeling of euphoria but like every other prescribed medication or therapeutic treatment I’ve taken along my journey, including that of Medical Marijuana, “Shrooms”, Ketamine and Edibles I’ve experienced adverse effects from them all.
By morning my Psychosis had pretty much gone away but it left me barely able to finish a sentence or swallow. I had a headache, I felt exhausted, I was beyond nauseous and dizzy and whenever I tried to stand up I felt myself passing out on the floor moments later. But not to worry because I can always count on my family to look after me, and they did just that while between fits of laughter and snapping pictures and recording videos of me to ensure they captured all the highlights.
I have tried and tried for years now to reap the benefits from using THC and other similar treatments but I think that after what happened to me this weekend I have tried for the very last time and I am just grateful that at least my regular doses of CBD oil still helps me in some small way.
The week we first went into lockdown 5 months ago this week (in case you’ve forgotten!) I had an appointment scheduled with my Psychiatrist to begin a new treatment. The decision for me to even attempt yet another new treatment was not an easy one to make, especially since it’s still quite new and not very accessible to the general public as of now; and not to mention that I had already been part of a clinical study for a more invasive version of the same treatment several years earlier during a hospital admission that I needed to stop immediately.
The first dose was to be administered by my Psychiatrist in his office at the hospital he works out of to ensure that I could tolerate it and from there I would be monitored closely as I continued treatment several times a week from my home. It’s now been five long months since that initial appointment was postponed inevitably as I continue to struggle deeply on a daily basis.
As most of you who follow my journey regularly know by now that my relationship with medication and treatment options (both traditional and MANY non-traditional as well) to help ease my symptoms associated with anxiety and depression have been met with many obstacles, extreme challenges and sometimes severe complications to say the least. So when I discovered CBD oil a few years ago and found immediate relief from it while experiencing high levels of anxiety throughout any given day (even if it’s only temporary), I’ve come to rely on it like you would rely on any loyal and trustworthy friend.
Although it’s been far from a cure and (unfortunately) for me it has yet to give my symptoms of depression any type of real relief I’m still so grateful to know that just like my many loyal, trustworthy friends I have in my life, it’s a safe and reliable way to help me cope with my often severe and very persistent daily bouts of anxiety and panic attacks because I really don’t know how I’d ever get through so many difficult days (and nights) without any of them.
Over the last couple of days there has been a lot of buzz on the news (especially CNN) regarding the drug Ketamine as it has recently been approved by the FDA for treating Treatment Resistant Depression. For those of you who may not know exactly what Ketamine is or have never heard of it before I will tell you. Ketamine is actually a very powerful drug which is used as an anesthetic and for all of you with teenagers out there it’s important to note that it is also an illegal street drug better known as “Special K”.
The drug is to be sold by prescription only under the name Spravato to patients suffering with depression and have been unsuccessful in trying at least 2 other medications to treat their symptoms (I’ve tried at least 20). Spravato is not intended to be taken orally but instead it will be administered in a nasal spray, under the supervision of a health care provider and cannot be taken at home.
The drug is to be given either once per week or once every other week and is said to be fast acting by restoring brain cells in treatment resistant depression patients. The side effects can be very unpleasant including “dizziness, nausea, increased blood pressure, anxiety, vomiting, suicidal thoughts, decreased sensitivity, sedation and disassociation, a feeling of being temporarily disconnected from your body and mind.” At this point in time since the drug is still so new for treating depression it is also difficult to know what the possible long term cognitive health effects could be as well.
Since the news broke about this potential ground breaking treatment I have literally been flooded with text messages and private Facebook messages from so many of you reading this right now who have been following my journey and want nothing more than to help me with my recovery. Your support and kindness is unfuckinbelievable. Just knowing how many of you are rooting for me is unfuckinbelievable and also knowing that I am in so many of your thoughts and prayers is beyond unfuckinbelievable.
Here’s the thing though, I already tried Ketamine. Two years ago. In one of my many hospital stays I was asked to join a research trial that the hospital had just been approved for. I filled out what felt like 100’s of pages of questions and was explained to in great length what this trial was hoping to do as a breakthrough in Treatment Resistant Depression. As with everything else I am presented with I said okay since my begging to go home wasn’t working, what else did I have going on to pass the time.
Once all the paperwork was approved I was scheduled to begin the next day. This was not a nasal spray, this was instead being done in the OR hooked up to an IV with a dose of Ketamine being administered intravenously. They told me I would receive a low dose of Ketamine for 45 minutes and that when complete I would have to lay there for another 45 minutes while the drug went through my system. I asked if I would feel anything and they said I may feel a little woozy. Well I was more than woozy. For 45 minutes I watched my life flash before my eyes while they were closed and I saw lots of psychedelic colours and images swirling around the inside of my head. In a nutshell, I hallucinated for 45 minutes straight and although I have never done LSD before, I’m pretty darn sure that’s what it felt like. I was beyond relieved when it stopped. I lay there for another 45 minutes afterwards just trying to come back down to earth.
I was scheduled to do this another 5 to 8 times over the course of a 2 week period but upon speaking with my psychiatrist in charge of my care at the time of my stay, together we decided it was best that I didn’t continue with the trial. But I guess that’s why they have trials, to see what works and what doesn’t. I of course just beat myself up every time I feel like I have failed at yet another treatment, no matter how big or small it is.
But what I really wanted to say from all this was thank you for letting me know you are thinking of me, thank you for continuing to check in on me and for taking the time to send me any new or pertinent information on what could possibly be that one promising treatment to help with my recovery. Basically, thanks for always having my back!