Uncontrollable crying for no reason was my sign. The slap in the face I needed to finally admit I needed help. But let me back up and start from the beginning.
I used to be the happy girl. If you asked my friends, the first thing they would say was that the party didn’t start until I walked into the room. I was the vivacious smiling girl, bubbling over with enthusiastic excitement. It was always easy for me to walk into a room full of strangers and befriend them. I woke up happy, with or without a boyfriend. I loved waitressing and bartending all through school and, after graduation, I loved nursing even more. I was 33 when my husband died, but I pressed on and fell in love and suffered break-up’s more than once. I don’t say this to brag; rather, I say this to explain who I used to be before my dark depression.
I had never experienced depression before. Sure, I had had sad moments and I had experienced grief, but neither were depression. In my early 20’s I struggled with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), when my PMS turned me into an irritable, angry person for a few days every month. Thanks to an advertisement in a magazine, I tried Sarafem (aka Prozac/fluoxetine) for a brief time, and once again my life was sunshine and rainbows ... until it wasn't.
I met my future ex-husband on Labor Day of 2017, and we were married exactly one year later. I was blissfully happy but, apparently, I had ignored the signs that he never was … less than a year later, I found myself divorcing the man of my supposed dreams. My second year of graduate school was suddenly becoming insanely difficult. I was diagnosed with ADHD that had gone unnoticed my entire life. I have since learned that depression and anxiety are closely linked to ADHD because our disability is a glaring reminder of our seeming ineptitude as compared to our 'normal' or 'neurotypical' peers. My life seemed to be unraveling before my eyes. The 4.0 honors student in me was now struggling to cope every day, lacking any sense of purpose, sad for no tangible reason, avoiding friendships, and nearly failing grad school.
My brain believed that the ‘nurse’ in me had failed. I felt beyond embarrassed and ashamed of my inability to accept and overcome my increasingly depressed mood. My psychiatrist prescribed Prozac again since it had once worked but, as is not uncommon, it let me down the second time around. (This is often referred to as the 'poop-out syndrome'). Then he prescribed Wellbutrin, then Lexapro, then Pristiq, all with sub-effective results and miserable side effects (insomnia, headaches, fatigue, sexual side effects, etc.).
But one day, I remembered how Ketamine infusions had changed a former colleague's life. Firsthand, I had witnessed her practically overnight transition from near catatonic depression to happiness. That was the day I picked up the phone and spoke to Jessica, my former colleague and current dear friend, who worked at the same Ketamine clinic my friend had visited (Cornerstone Psychiatric Care). When I expressed hesitation at the cost for Ketamine infusions, which she recommended as the gold standard for depression and PTSD, I will never forget what Jessica said to me: “Sure, you might be better on your own in a year ... but do you really want to waste a year of your life being depressed? How much is your life worth to you?”
You see, dear reader, at this point and for the first time in my life, I suddenly understood the meaning of the word ‘depression’. Despite what you may think, mine was no ‘situational’ depression; it had persisted for over one year before it became impossible for me to pretend anymore. My passive suicidal ideation was growing by the day and, while my pride refused to share the extent of my seemingly shameful secret with even my bestest of friends, I was suddenly overcome by the seriousness of it all. And so, as a last-ditch effort, I decided to try Ketamine infusions.
To this day there do not exist adequate words to express my gratitude at Jessica and Dr. Ettensohn's compassion during what I perceived to be my flawed state of depression. Realize that I was the nurse who encouraged patients to seek help; yet that same nurse in me so arrogantly lacked the courage to take my own advice until it was almost too late. Their kind-hearted empathy made all the difference in my sad heart.
During his amazing TED talk, "Depression, The Secret We Share," Andrew Solomon so presciently stated, "... but the brain lies". To this day, when I listen to his incredibly perceptive talk, I still shed tears at the realization of how close I came to giving up … but my tears turn to sobs when I ponder the mental struggles endured by so many others; by patients whose faces I can’t forget who have cried in front of me. And then I weep for people I will never know for whom the struggles were unendurable, and for the loved ones I have lost including my beloved nephew, and my niece's husband.
In the very near future, the USA will witness the FDA's approval of Ketamine, as it has already approved its stepsister, intranasal Esketamine. When this happens, and I promise you that it will as evidence-based research concurs, I hope against hope that other depressed individuals, as I once was, will be educated regarding this fast-working life-saving treatment option. That their psychiatrists or psych NP's, or their family and friends, will suggest and encourage them to try Ketamine. That people will learn how Ketamine infusions are currently being used in select Emergency Departments nationwide for patients presenting with suicidality. How on earth do we expect depressed and often suicidal patients to wait 4-6 weeks for an antidepressant to work?
I am writing this in an effort to stop the shame associated with depression and mental illness. There is a reason that you are still reading my experience and so I implore you to grab onto this life preserver called Ketamine ... because it will undoubtedly save your life as it once did mine.
-- [Cornerstone Psychiatric Care removed the patient’s name and contact for compliance purposes.]
If you or your loved one suffers from mental illness, give us a call at (561) 531-7818 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how ketamine can help.