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  Ketamine: unlocking the shackles of judgment.
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Ketamine: unlocking the shackles of judgment.

Paul DeJoe

I recently completed a series of 8 ketamine infusions.  

If you ever experience ketamine infusions, I suspect the comedown from them will be similar to my experience.  When you complete an infusion you do not have the feeling of withdrawal or depression from the drug. You also won’t derive the feeling of euphoria from Ketamine either.  At least in my experience.  The euphoric feeling I had from a Ketamine infusion came from my mind being free from judgment for 55 minutes.   It came from the new space and freedom my mind was able to explore without the shackles of judgement.  For me, ketamine brought me back to a pre-adolescent state of creativity, kindness, forgiveness, love, and wonder.  When the drip discontinues and you slowly start to come back to earth, you become acutely aware of judgment immediately creeping back into your thought patterns.  Judgment is what is keeping us from a sustained euphoric feeling.  Judgement is the coping mechanism for our perceived inadequacies. 

I wrote several drafts of my experience very close to when I finished each infusion.  I threw them out.  The stories, thoughts and how I felt were real but not letting enough time to process and assess how I felt in the coming months felt incomplete.  I became interested in a ketamine treatment after a medium article I read from a recent patient.  I immediately reached out to the clinic, filled out some initial paperwork but didn’t feel compelled to take the final step.  

I spent a month deliberating about this before I decided to go for it

The clinic recommended to schedule  6, 55-minute sessions every other day for two weeks.  It’s really impossible to describe what it’s like.  It’s like one foot is on the ground and one is on alpha Centauri.  Ketamine is $600 for each infusion.   That’s a lot of money for me but for the same reason I spend money on good food and gym memberships was the same reason I decided to do this.  Your mental health should be regarded as priority 1, 2 and 3.  You are an ineffective agent for your own well being or for anyone else if you’re not mentally sound.  

Within the first session, I could feel why this was working as a treatment for PTSD, depression, and anxiety.  By the last session, I understood why the recommended number of infusions was 6.  Throughout the two weeks, it felt like I explored every corner of my mind.  The beautiful thing about ketamine is that it will allow you to see how limited we are in our capacity.   The visuals are intense, real, and so bizarre that processing these images and this experiential journey requires that a part of your brain you previously didn’t have access to open up to make sense of what is happening.  It’s so encouraging to realize how little we know, how infinitesimally small we are, how we can't possibly grasp other universes, dimensions, cosmoses, and possibility.  It’s so encouraging to feel like there’s a deeper dimension that we’ll all meet and explore maybe one day in this life but definitely in an afterlife or the next life.   At one point during an infusion, I left the planet and solar system and met God.  My version of God was a complete smartass.  He asked me what took so long to see him.  He showed me with an indescribable visual how easy it was for him to have a hand in everyone’s life.  When I asked him what life was about he showed me that he could introduce Matt Damon from The Departed to Matt Damon from The Martian. We laughed hysterically at their interaction.   My takeaway was that life was meant to be experienced, not to take it so seriously, and go out of your way to find ways to laugh from your gut.  The peace of mind I felt from knowing that I’d once again see friends and family that have passed was now available to me from my mind exploring without judgment.  

The experiential element of a ketamine infusion cannot be underestimated.  I have never been more encouraged and hopeful for those that suffer from PTSD, depression, and anxiety.  During the second infusion, I was taken back to one of the darkest and hardest parts of my life.  When I’m in a difficult time, I usually write to bring some reprieve.  Writing helps me to disarm the abstract threat by reducing it to just words on a sheet of paper.  And it did help, but these particular words I wrote that day were still frightening.  I felt compelled to write because I could understand why people committed suicide.  There’s a dark hole you’re falling down at a rapid pace, you know you’re going to pick up velocity and it’s gonna get way worse but you have no idea how far that hole is going to go.  Then you start to tell yourself that your friends and family will understand that you just couldn’t take it anymore.  Not a fun situation to be in but so glad it happened to me.  To anyone that is on that path reading this, definitely talk to someone close to you about it as well as a professional.  Write things down and know it will absolutely turn around through small victories compounding over time.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. The strength you get coming out of it makes you feel like you can deal with anything.  

During the second infusion, I was taken down this hole at a much higher velocity than I experienced in real life.  I could feel my heart beating a little more and a burning sensation in my chest.  I plummeted to the lowest place I could go which was thousands of miles under the weight of the earth in the smallest of crawlspaces with no room to move,  millions of tons of rocks above me, my location being unknown to anyone, and then the biggest most authentic smile and feeling of absolute peace, welcoming more rocks on top of me while I slept the most peaceful sleep of my life with a smile ear to ear.  This is the experiential element that is not available with pharmacology.  There was meaningful reparation to trauma by way of supplanting the feeling of imminent doom with confidence, resilience peace and strength.

I was taken to similar places with past relationships with friends, family, and relationships that I lost or that went awry.  In one instance I was ushered down a path with people that I’ve loved the most in life on both sides of the path with the most genuine ear to ear smiles nodding to keep going down the path.  Each new person that I saw felt like seeing them was the reason I was on that path until the end of it.  At the end of this path was a 5 or 6-year-old version of myself.   I gave him a hug.   Why that needed to happen or why tears started rolling down my face is something I could analyze forever and possibly never know why.  But it was something that needed to happen for me. 

These experiences are why I became an immediate evangelist for this treatment.  While ketamine is expensive,  I’m lucky enough to be able to do this anytime I feel like it.  That’s not the case for the majority of the population that could be served by Ketamine.  It’s been a couple of months since my last infusion and I’m not called to do it again even though it’s an amazing experience.  Everyone has some form of trauma in their lives.   We’ve all gone through something that was impactful in a negative way that shaped our psyche and personality in some way.  

After a couple of months of reflecting on my life and feeling after the treatment, I’ve come to a conclusion that’s really not that exciting.  I was almost certain at one point that Ketamine was a miracle cure.  It’s not.  I thought it was when I noticed how I felt after I had a night of drinking a few days after the infusions.  I would wake up an not be in a depressive state in the morning like I’ve experienced so many times.  This resilience eventually eroded from a few more nights out over the course of a month.  It seemed like alcohol was the kryptonite to the sustainable effects of Ketamine.  Then other things started to feel like they were eroding the effects.  

Unfortunately, there is no replacement or miracle drug that can replace the effects of good night sleep, food restriction, meditation, laughing, helping others, being intentional, exercising, doing something challenging, being honorable, integral and reserving judgment of others.  And I’m glad there isn’t.  We need purpose more than we need cures.  Searching for a miracle drug is fool’s gold.  Leading a purposeful and intentional life is a battle that needs to be fought each day and it’s worth fighting. The payoff of a purposeful existence is the only miracle drug.  

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