Source: Lori Calabrese, MD
Transformative remission is inextricably linked to the quality, depth, and degree of dissociation during ketamine infusions.
Christopher trudged through the day, listless. He felt dead inside. Just couldn’t work up a care about what happened at the job interview. But practicality — the bills were piling up — drove him to go anyway.
He did his best in the interview, then got in the car to hurry home where he could retreat into his dark bedroom and sleep. He thought about death…about ways of ending his life… of making a plan that would work, before he could be interrupted. He knew he wouldn’t do it. But he’d been living with these thoughts all his life, and in the bad times it was the only way he could calm his mind and maybe fall asleep.
After months of research with studies she found online, his wife had been talking to him about ketamine treatment, and how it could not only wash away the suicidal thoughts but could help him feel good again, and find the energy to live. To care.
He wasn’t buying it. Just another antidepressant. They don’t work and never have. One more way to throw away money. A waste.
Still, she insisted, and he resigned himself to be a “guinea pig.”
How Dissociation Quality Determines Remission Lasting Power
The first two infusions were pleasant. Relaxing. Sort of “billowy.” But once each one ended he was back in the real world –, irritable, edgy, resigned. He thought to himself that surely his wife will now accept there’s nothing that will work, and leave him alone about it.
His wife, however, was determined. If ketamine could help others achieve remission, then it could help her husband.
When the doctor came in, she told him in no uncertain terms that nothing good was happening to Chris that she could see. She pressed the doctor to change something so this would not be a waste of money…and hope… Because his hope was gone. He needed success.
Increasing the Dose and Duration
The doctor agreed and increased the dose and extended the duration of the infusion to try to find that sweet spot between relaxation and overstimulation. Christopher’s “relaxing” experience was quite different this time.
Little by little, he lost his awareness of his chair, his presence in the room, and of his wife sitting nearby. He felt himself floating into another room…then another place…and then he lost awareness of himself and just let his mind float, and fly, and feel freedom. He didn’t care what was happening. Christopher thoroughly enjoyed the respite and relief of this vacation from his pain.
After his treatment ended, Chris felt a tinge of renewal. Of refreshing. Just a tinge…but it was unmistakable from the previous infusions where he soon returned to the same despair.
Now I get it, he thought. I see where this is trying to go. He set about googling and reading to find out how to prepare himself for the next infusion, to give it its best chance. He also picked back up a low stress hobby he’d enjoyed in the past and found he was enjoying it again. Did he feel happy? No. But there was something different.
Just a tinge of hope.
Christopher talked to the doctor about the first two infusions, who suggested that they keep doing infusions for awhile to make up for the lost ones. The doctor was willing to see where it took Chris, since he admitted he was learning what ketamine could do, too…
The 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th infusions each enfolded Christopher in a deeper, more intense, and longer lasting dissociative experience then the one before.
By the end of the 8th infusion and for the weeks that followed, Christopher discovered life with a fresh new perspective.
He saw everything through more hopeful, optimistic goggles, and found more energy to create wondrous software programs in his work, enjoyed his wife like he never had before, and took up painting sunsets in a quest to truly capture the intensity of colors he saw.
Christopher has been enjoying his life and living it with gusto for the last 13 months since his ketamine treatment. He still looks back with gratitude on that day when his wife pressed him to let the doctor raise the dose, and the transformation with ketamine began…