While it’s well documented that intravenous infusion of ketamine is, by far, the most effective route of administration for the treatment of depression, there’s been some debate on the efficacy of intra-nasal ketamine in maintaining ketamine levels between infusions. My doctor falls in the camp of believing these interim doses are beneficial, so I take intranasal ketamine three times a week, as prescribed. Having never gone longer than a week without the interim doses, I have no real basis for assessing their efficacy at prolonging the effects of the infusions, but I certainly believe they have their benefits. Sure, I won’t deny the appeal of legally permissible psychedelic drugs, but the real appeal of these interim doses is the grounding effect they seem to have. With my mind’s tendency to veer off course, to spiral downward or become stuck in a rut, taking a dose of ketamine interrupts that trajectory and brings me back to center. It’s kind of like a reset button. I don’t take for granted how useful this effect is in stabilizing my mood and preventing relapse, but I will say that mild, four-hour long drugs trips three times a week can sometimes be a bit of an inconvenience.
Ketamine is a drug that lends itself well to mental endeavors. It elicits contemplation and introspection, it invites you to recede from the physical world and take up residence in the vast, inner-workings of your mind. Because of this, ketamine highs are well suited to creative and intellectual pursuits. That worked wonderfully in the winter when there was an abundance of time spent indoors (can you say cabin fever?) and I wiled away the hours writing, studying, and drawing. But spring has finally sprung (after taking its sweet, fucking time), and now I want nothing more than to spend every waking minute outdoors, being active and reveling in my ability to leave the house without six layers of pants on–and I want to be present in this revelry.
When strolling along the lakefront path, I don’t want to be this ethereal, disembodied orb of consciousness, untethered from my bobble-headed meat-suit as it drifts aimlessly behind me like a wayward dog on a leash. I want to hike, bike, swim, and paddle with my brain and body working in tandem and all of my faculties intact–feeling every heartbeat, every twitch of muscle fiber, every droplet of sweat. I want to connect with the world around me, to bask in the sunlight as it bakes my melanin-deficient flesh to a tender crisp like an oven-roasted butternut squash. (Just kidding–in a total rookie move I forgot my sunblock and now my skin is an arresting shade that can only be described as “lobster bisque.” And if you’re wondering how I landed on that particular produce, I will admit that it’s something of a childhood nickname on account of being born with a head shaped like a butternut squash. My mother takes perverse pleasure in reminding me of this by posting pictures of my face carved, drawn, or photoshopped onto butternut squash in varying stages of preparation and cooking with comments like, “Oh my? You’re beginning to look a little feverish!” All the psychological damage is starting to make sense now, isn’t it?) So, it would appear that mid-day dosing is no longer a viable option and night time dosing messes with my sleep schedule–what’s a girl to do? Luckily, the answer came to me after a particularly agonizing day of work.
Last week, upon coming home from a job that has been slowly eroding my spirit and sense of self worth with the patient brutality of Chinese water torture, I blinked back hot tears of rage, feeling like the lowliest spec of shit in a vast, cosmic ocean of the stuff (a sub-atomic shit-spec, if you will). I ranted, I seethed, I took a really, really long shower, which is kind of my go-to move when I come home foaming at the mouth (having finally subdued my previous go-to move of putting my fist through the wall), and I played every moment of my shift and every shift before that–every jab of passive-aggression and shred of confusion and uncertainty–over and over in my head, sputtering to myself through the torrent of hot water like a lunatic (no surprise there). I lamented the steady stripping away of my joy and positivity– something I’ve discovered only recently after having spent the better part of two decades searching for it. But, before I could descend any further down this precipitous road to hell, I gave myself a pep-talk. I employed every cliche in the book–If you stoop to their level, you’ll only be hurting yourself. Don’t let them win. Take the high road. Don’t let the bastards get you down! Eventually I settled on a “nod and smile” approach to work. I would get in, do my job, keep my head down, and get out as quickly and painlessly as possible. And do you know what helps achieve that zen-like, level-headed approach to a tenuous work situation? Ketamine. Here was my shining solution: I would enjoy my days of adventure and athleticism, take my ketamine dose before work, float through my afternoon shift, and emerge on the other side bright-eyed, hopefully not shaking with rage, and ready to greet the world once more.
Some of you might be wondering whether it’s ethical to take drugs before work (you bunch of narcs, you). But firstly, I’m not driving, operating any sort of machinery, or engaging in any activities that could remotely be considered to pose a risk to myself, others, or even inanimate objects, and secondly, ketamine isn’t like other drugs. Its high (extremely mild at the dose I’m taking) doesn’t impair my ability to function at my job in the slightest, and to the contrary, it actually wildly increases my productivity, focus, and motivation, allowing me to stay on task and approach work with an incongruous enthusiasm for what is essentially the world’s most boring job. Also, I wash buckets for a living so, really, what do you people want from me? At least with ketamine on the brain, I can spend those bucket-washing hours when my mind would otherwise be void or contemplating making a break for the fire-exit, focusing on internal productivity–hell, I wrote half of this blog post while scrubbing scum from an endless tower of glass vases!
So, there you have it: drug-life balance. It sounds like a joke, I know, but anyone who’s ever dealt with an illness that requires medication can attest that finding a routine that works for you and allows you to make the most of your time while still managing your health is no easy feat. I’m just thankful the medication that works for me has pleasant side effects and the super useful ability of allowing me to maintain my job without quitting in a blaze of foul-mouthed glory and Kool-Aid-manning it through the plate-glass windows to sweet, merciful freedom.