What happened during my first ketamine for depression therapy session (part 2 of 2)
Read Sober Psychonaut disclaimer for people in sobriety exploring psychedelic medicine
After prepping my Mindbloom box contents and following instructions for preparation for ketamine therapy, i was ready to connect with Billie, my guide, who'd been texting me during the week to see if I had questions or concerns she could support me with. (Read part 1 of what happened during my first ketamine for depression therapy session)
Introduction to my ketamine therapy guide
When Tuey left the room, Billie had me sit on a chair with my feet on the floor so we could check my blood pressure. I removed the wrist cuff from its little white box in the Mindbloom kit (I’d previously charged it up at home) and wrapped it around my left forearm.
With Billie watching, I pushed the start button and the cuff began to squeeze and measure: 117/70 with pulse of 60.
A computerized voice read the numbers out loud and I also held it up so she could see it on- screen.
“117/70,” I repeated after the device, “I’m usually pretty low.”
Setting an intention for my first ketamine therapy session
I nestled back into bed for instructions on how to take the medicine: 400 mg of ketamine, a conservative dose for my first time, prescribed by Katherine, the psychiatric nurse.
“Now if you’re willing to share with me, please share your intention for the journey," Billie continued.
You place a dissolvable tablet under your tongue or inside one of your cheeks and lean forward slightly so you don’t swallow your saliva, which you have to hold in your mouth for seven minutes. Once the seven minutes is up, you spit that out into a cup you already have prepared nearby.
“Well I was writing in my journal this morning and I got to: 'Loving living.'"
Billie asked me to expand on the idea of loving living so I could get more present to my intention for this ketamine therapy session. Soon afterwards she signed off and I took my medicine. I put on my headphones and played the first seven-minute Mindbloom soundtrack on Soundcloud, "The Meaning of Life," by a guy named Sam Harris, talking about the trivial things people tend to focus on in life⏤but all there ever is, is now.
I could feel my mouth growing numb and tingly and after seven minutes I spit in the cup, swished with Gatorade, spit again, laid back against the pillows and adjusted my eye mask for the journey as the playlist rolled into a reiki healing track. Billie had advised me I could switch to the next track if I preferred but I resisted the temptation to control any aspect of the experience, starting right then.
I took the ketamine and here's what happened
Right after spitting out the ketamine and saliva mix and falling back on the pillows, I felt a rush of sadness. The tears leaked out around the eye pads of the Mindbloom mask they sent me.
“I just don’t want to be left alone," was the feeling behind it.
Maybe it was the release of grief and sadness I had just shared with Billie before we got started. The duality of life, how.I had created the intention of love living and all that it entails, including death.
I also made a point of not getting attached to “don’t leave me all alone” or to any of the other randomness that crossed the movie screen of my mind during the next hour, from what I would write about to whether anything was actually happening to friends I hadn’t seen in awhile whom I really loved and who make me laugh to mild boredom to thinking about who else might benefit from ketamine therapy.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and knew my hour was up. I couldn’t remember the last 1/2 hour, it seemed. I stirred, then sat up. Swigged some Gatorade. Felt fine, lucid, normal. Reached for my journal and realized it was already time to Zoom back in with Billie first.
We had a 20- to 30- minute follow-up session with questions about any physical sensations and anything I wished to share. Took my blood pressure. Did I feel nauseated? No.
Billie advised me to be sure to hydrate, take it easy, set aside time to journal today.
Also consider neuroplasticity, she reminded, and the brain's heightened ability to make new connections in the days following after taking ketamine. Keep writing and going inward, caring for self.
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