It’s been four weeks since my last infusion and, right on cue, the ketamine has worn off. I have an infusion scheduled for Monday, but in the meantime, the monsters are running the show with all the propriety and deft skill of a pack of roid-raging frat bros pounding Four Lokos and hulking out of their salmon shorts. They enjoy day-drinking, loud music, and flying into fits of unprovoked ire. Rather than fighting them in a no-holds-barred, WWE-style smack-down inside the wrestling ring that is my brain, I find it easiest to sit back and indulge their every whim. Yesterday, when they wanted to spend the entire day on the couch googling pictures of baby warthogs and crying unrestrainedly, I said, “Wow! Sounds like a great idea, guys! I certainly didn’t have anything productive I wanted to get done.” And when they couldn’t sleep last night I consoled them, “It’s okay, that’s what coffee is for. I’m sure I can mainline enough caffeine to be moderately functional at work. Better yet, we’ll get someone to puppeteer my comatose body around the office, Weekend at Bernie’s style. Won’t that be fun?”
I’ll be honest, as much as I enjoy gallows humor and sarcastic wit (the native tongue of my ancestors, along with Yiddish), it is incredibly disconcerting—and more than a little terrifying—to go from being a contented, thriving, and productive member of society to a snarling, wounded id-beast with little desire for life or any of its accoutrements, in the span of 24 hours. Sometimes it happens more gradually and you can actually feel your brain losing function, as if powering down a computer. Other times it’s lightning quick, like upending a glass of water on the motherboard and waking up to the sudden crack and fizzle of a short-circuit. But, unlike before, I can now take comfort in knowing this condition is temporary. I just have to hang on for dear life and ride that wave of despair until someone chucks me an injectable, narcotic lifesaver.
In the meantime, I find I can occasionally take a perverse pleasure in wallowing in my own misery–like the morbid satisfaction of picking a scab—a useful skill I picked up along with my lifetime supply of misery and my “I have depression and all I got was this dirty shirt–seriously, someone come help me with the wash” T-shirt. (It was a package deal. I sent away for the calendar with 12 months of blacked-out days, but they were fresh out.) With the apathy that permeates depression comes a kind of release—slogging through life with an inability to care is beyond damaging, but finding yourself with no fucks to give does allow for a certain freedom. And with rescue on the horizon, I see no harm in indulging in this small consolation prize. Spending money I don’t actually have on expensive beer and kimchi? Sure, why not! Kicking the nauseating Pollyanna attitude in favor of fanning the flames of righteous anger after being forced to work weekends? Intensely satisfying. Allowing my inner curmudgeon free reign as I wander the aisles of the grocery store barking, “Move it or lose it!” at small children and muttering, “Where’s the fucking vinegar?” loud enough to garner looks of concern? A merciful acceptance of my true nature. This is my window of opportunity to lie uselessly on the couch, crack open a beer at noon, and revel in my general unproductiveness without those pesky feelings of guilt nagging away. I mean, how much damage can I really do in one weekend? I don’t know, but I sure plan to find out!
(Note: You may be wondering, “Why let it get to this point if you have an effective solution? Wouldn’t it be better to schedule infusions so that the ketamine doesn’t have a chance to wear off? Excellent question! Ten points to Gryffindor. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that ketamine treatment for depression is currently very expensive and not covered by insurance. I’m fortunate to be able to afford as many treatments as I can—an opportunity many people suffering from mental illness don’t have. So spread the word, support for-the-people healthcare reform, and, if you’re like me, don’t forget to thank your parents for all the drugs. (The stuff every little girl’s dreams are made of—like a pony, but better!))