BEEN THERE, DONE THAT! NO “SPECIAL K” FOR ME

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!

Poem: I Want To Live, But I Want To Die

POEM: I WANT TO LIVE, BUT I WANT TO DIE

I want to live, but I want to die
It’s an endless struggle, I will not lie.

I want to live, but I want to die
My heart is heavy, there’s no denying.

I want to live, but I want to die
I find some comfort when I can cry.

I want to live, but I want to die
I dream of ways to say goodbye.

I want to live, but I want to die
My feelings are valid and very justified.

I want to live, but I want to die
Will I ever become that butterfly?

I want to live, but I want to die
I feel so confused and mostly terrified.

I want to live, but I want to die
So I need to ask the question why?

I want to live, but I want to die
It’s so hard some days to even try.

I want to live, but I want to die
I wish the two could see eye to eye.

I want to die, but I want to live
To show my illness what more I have left to give.

Get Me Off This Hamster Wheel

It’s been a really hard week for me. There isn’t just one thing in particular that has made this week really hard but instead it’s been a combination of many things much of which I will not disclose of today or maybe not ever because even though “I would love to tell you, then, I’d have to kill you!” Okay you know I’m just kidding around on that last part but sometimes I feel like I utterly can’t catch a break.

I’m sure you’ve all felt this way from time to time but when you are relentlessly battling with depression and anxiety like I do and continue to try everything in your power to make it through just one more day yet you are persistently being met with one roadblock after another it can make it seem near impossible. Trying to push through each day or find any motivation at all to do so is really hard when you just keep spinning around and around on that hamster wheel that just doesn’t seem to want to stop.

I wake up every morning (well not that I really sleep) to a brand new day and as soon as I get my body moving, my heart rate elevates and begins beating a mile a minute which more often than not will then lead to feeling nauseous and metaphorically speaking my hamster wheel is only just warming up for the day ahead. On a typical day the wheel will spin uncontrollably, getting faster and more worn down as the day gets on leaving me so physically and mentally exhausted.

Where do these hamsters think they are going? Who is threatening them? What are they running from? Why are they spinning around and around with no end in sight? How do they do this night after night? Don’t they realize that they aren’t actually getting anywhere so how are they to ever catch a break?

These are all questions I wonder about as I spin on my hamster wheel day in and day out while trying to figure out how to make the damn thing stop. I mean it’s fricken claustrophobic on that wheel and boy oh boy is it ever tiring to say the least. I mean when you think about it, even those sweet little rodents catch a break to sleep sometimes. Don’t I deserve to catch a break too?

Just Breathe

The last few days have been particularly difficult for me and one of the most important things I need to remember when I am feeling especially vulnerable is that I need to breathe. Most people take breathing for granted as it’s just something we do without giving it a second thought but for me when my emotions are running awry breathing can take a great deal of effort. There are so many days that I wish I didn’t have to breathe at all and when my emotions become exceptionally clouded where I feel an overwhelming sense of powerlessness to this disease, finding the right tools to help me breathe are more important than anything. I know that it’s okay to not be okay, I know that it’s okay to reach out for support when doing it alone just seems too hard and I also know that I’m not alone when it comes to my emotions so I have added some videos below which were created by a friend of mine to help anyone looking for that additional support, teaching us the proper techniques on how important it is to just breathe.

Sticks And Stones

I’m pretty sure we have all been guilty of doing this at some time or another in our lives but as we try to collectively move toward a stigma free society we need to start by remembering that mental illnesses are not adjectives. An adjective (for those of you who may have forgotten their grammar lesson from grade school) is “a word or phrase naming an attribute, added to or grammatically related to a noun to modify or describe it”.

When we use words or phrases to negatively describe another person that may be suffering with a mental illness or whom you may feel ill-will towards we are only enhancing the stigma surrounding it. We all know that using politically incorrect jargon, harmful expressions to describe a person’s disability or gender-specific stereotyping to describe another person or group of people are both offensive and very hurtful but yet when it comes to using those same offensive and hurtful words associated around mental illnesses many people don’t seem to bat an eyelash.

Whether or not you are using the words or phrases to describe yourself or someone else or whether or not you are doing it intentionally or in a malicious manner, the negative connotation is still the same. Using words like psycho, schizo, bipolar, loony and mental as adjectives are all words that can cause further damage to how we see mental illness.

It can also be just as destructive to someone suffering with a mental illness to hear phrases like “You’re so OCD!” or “I’m so depressed that my favorite tv show was cancelled” or worse than that is when you hear someone say something like “I just broke my nail, I think I’m gonna kill myself!” All of these phrases may be in jest but to someone who is actually experiencing these emotions or has been diagnosed with any type of mental illness including OCD it only further exploits the individual suffering.

Living with any type of mental illness is challenging enough so choose your words or phrases wisely and remember that adjectives help express the quality of a person so let’s try and build each other up instead of tearing each other down.

My Neurofeedback Journey Has Come To A Close

This week after many weeks of overwhelming anxiety I decided to discontinue my Neurofeedback treatment. I made a promise to myself (and to the clinic) from the onset of my treatment that no matter what, I would complete the first 10 sessions as difficult as it may have been for me. And it was way more difficult than I imagined with lots of setbacks (which has included the worst winter ever!)

Originally they asked me to commit to coming 3 times per week which right away proved to be beyond challenging for me so we decided pretty early on to only schedule 2 sessions per week where some weeks I could only make it to 1. I did what my body and mind allowed me to do and they were more than willing to accommodate me as best they could in order for the treatment to be a success. But as each session finished I was still not seeing any improvement or feeling any different.

Ten was their starting point but truly they were hoping I would complete up to 40 of them. They told me that many clients begin to feel some sort of shift in the way they feel as early on as after 4 sessions with a majority of them feeling that shift sometime after 8 sessions. I got to 4, then to 8 and then to 10 and I felt no change at all and my husband saw no change at all and I began to feel more and more hopeless again, more and more like a failure again and more and more worthless again. And not to mention the guilt of how much money this treatment was costing us.

Like with everything else I have endured along my journey I try my darndest to find that glimmer of hope when a new opportunity or remedy comes my way. I spent a great deal of my time and even with my limited resources and energy I researched Neurofeedback until I felt this too was worth a try. That’s the thing though, I do keep trying and I can always say “at least I tried” no matter how big or small it may seem to others because I have tried a shitload of treatments etc., but I beg the question now; how many ways can someone keep trying before you just give up? Before you just say I can’t do this anymore. What’s the magic number or better yet is there a magic number

One Puzzle Piece At A Time

Over the past couple of years I have solved a lot of jigsaw puzzles and it may surprise you to learn that there can actually be a lot of health benefits when doing so. I have always enjoyed doing a variety of different types of puzzles and especially ones that can be somewhat challenging but nowadays it’s best that I find activities that can benefit my mental health and not overwhelm it which is why I turned to jigsaw puzzles.

Trust me though when I tell you that jigsaw puzzles can still be quite challenging and sometimes overwhelming, I mean have you actually spent time just choosing a puzzle itself these days? There are 1000’s upon 1000’s to choose from for starters and then to top it all off, having to decide how many pieces you want to try or if you would prefer a puzzle of a beautiful landscape, an adorable collage of puppies or maybe it’s a scrumptious basket filled with donuts that tickles your fancy.

Well once those hurdles are behind us then the fun part begins by unwrapping the puzzle box, opening its packaging and spreading the 1500 jumbled pieces of adorable puppies across your dining room table which can really get your adrenaline pumping. That’s when the first of many benefits fall into place.

Jigsaw puzzles help me develop and improve upon many important skills. They help with my creativity, my short-term memory, my organizational skills, my problem solving skills and my critical thinking skills which of course are all beneficial to our mental health. Anytime we are exercising our brains we are also strengthening our ability to focus outward which helps to distract me from those unrelenting negative thought patterns.

Not too many activities these days can do all that and more for me so any chance I get I try to do a jigsaw puzzle, many of which I have proudly displayed upon my walls (and my favourite is of course the one my kids gave me for Mother’s Day which was a picture of them!). But sometimes after spending countless hours enjoying the peaceful benefits of creating these puzzles (and oftentimes have even sparked some togetherness among certain family members) I’ve reached the end of a puzzle only to be left with a missing piece.

That’s when I find myself “puzzled” by the parallels between that missing piece and the rest of my life in general. It’s as though that missing piece is a metaphor for what seems to always be standing in my way, preventing me from ever feeling complete again and that all my tiresome efforts are for nothing. Sometimes however, the missing pieces do eventually turn up whether it had been stuck under a chair leg or even once I found a piece in the washing machine and let me tell you that there is nothing more gratifying than when those “missing” pieces just seem to all fall right into place.

Self-Love

Lets call a spade a spade. Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a commercialized holiday that is celebrated among couples. A day set aside each February to show your significant other just how much they truly mean to you by showering them with presents and cards. The concept itself seems pretty harmless in many ways but of course that’s only true for those of us “lucky” enough to be part of a couple.

For many people Valentine’s Day is merely a sharp reminder that they are lonely, that they have failed at a relationship or that maybe they feel that they are undeserving of having a healthy, happy loving relationship at all.

It isn’t this way for everyone of course, in fact many people choose to be alone while others have the confidence to be in a healthy, happy and loving relationship with themselves. Self-love can be very powerful and can help set the standards for how we want to be treated in all our relationships both with ourselves and others. People who truly love themselves first (and not in a narcissistic President Trump kinda way) will in turn benefit from the happiest, most valuable relationship of all.

Of course this is not me. This is the most opposite of me that you can get. I shame myself daily, I put myself down daily and I berate myself daily almost to the point that “figuratively speaking” I have left many bruises and scars on my body and in my heart.

If you were to ask me to name all the things that I love, my list could be endless, I mean the top three of course are a no brainer; my amazing husband, my 3 beautiful kids and my adorable puppy (well she’s not a puppy anymore but whatevs) but even after the top three I could still go on and on naming more and more things that I love but you can be rest assured that upon conclusion of my list I will not have named one very important love; myself, no matter how many times a day I try to crush my inner voice and tell it to stop shaming me, to stop putting me down and to stop berating me.

Trust me it’s something I work on daily trying to shut those damn voices up any way I can and I just want to let all those struggling today to shut down that same inner voice, whether you’re feeling lonely right now or you’re “lucky” enough to be in a loving relationship it’s so important to celebrate today by being kind and loving to yourself first; and I will even bet you that you won’t want to return that gift you gave yourself either!

Justin Bieber Is Receiving Treatment For Depression

Depression doesn’t discriminate no matter your age, race or social status. So many look up to the Biebs, especially the youngest and most vulnerable generations, wanting to emulate him and wishing to be rich and famous like him. But so many of us forget that he is a human being first. That just because he may be rich and famous it doesn’t make him immune to this dreadful disease. Achieving the success he did from a young and vulnerable age kept him from living a regular childhood and forced him to wear a mask to hide his pain and suffering for so long in order to keep up an image that made so many fans envious of. I hope those same young and vulnerable fans can now see their idol for who he really is now, a strong and courageous young man who can finally take off his mask, reach out for the help he needs and deserves, giving his young and vulnerable fans the opportunity to see him as a different kind of idol, the kind of idol who is cool enough to say it’s okay to not be okay and that asking for help is the bravest thing someone can do no matter your age, your race or even how rich and famous you may be. https://people.com/…/justin-bieber-receiving-treatment-dep…/

Bravo Lady Gaga

Bravo Lady Gaga for your honesty, your boldness, your bravery and for always being your true authentic self. Thank you for continuing to take centre stage and reminding the world that mental health is real, that we need to crush the stigma together, that if you see someone hurting, don’t look away and most importantly that no matter how hard it may seem, it’s so important to let someone know when you are suffering. You are beautiful both inside and out @ladygaga #takecareofeachother #findthecourage #startaconversation #bekind #itsoktonotbeok #dontsufferinsilence #youareenough #noshame #yourmentalhealthmatters #mentalillness #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #welldeservedwin #grammys

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