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!