Reviews | I took ketamine for my depression. Things got pretty weird.
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This is where I come in. Over the years, besides the good old psychotropic drugs, I have also tried several types of therapy through speech, meditation, acupuncture, singing lessons, bungee jumping, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. (I still have fond memories of the peak sounds from my brain.) Nothing worked. So I was ready to jump on the horse tranquilizer. As an expert in psychological distress and in the spirit of scientific inquiry, I am here to share my findings.
In August, I hit rock bottom: the pandemic was continuing its deadly course, Brazil was run by someone who claimed vaccines could turn people into crocodiles, and I was homebound with my toddler often. sick. So I signed up for a course of infusions. Each session – there would be six in total – cost me 1,700 reais, about $ 300. It was very expensive, but it felt like a bet worth taking. And besides, for an obsessive like me, it would be a shame not to finish the set.
Ketamine is not a classic psychedelic, but it can have a strong dissociative effect – people can feel detached from reality and from their own bodies. Under its influence, patients usually enjoy soft and pleasant sensations. I certainly had some. Sometimes I felt like an elephant swimming in the sun, an outgoing octopus, or a slowly inflating balloon. I repeatedly requested the presence of a dog. I also grew giant hands. It was all quite pleasant.
Other times, not a lot. At the start of my second session, I blurted out a silly thought, “A ketamine tea is like going on a two hour Uber trip with a clown. (Fortunately for me, the anesthesiologist didn’t seem offended.) But moments later my mind inevitably turned to the evil clowns – and that’s how our president, Jair Bolsonaro, appeared during ‘one of my bad trips. His eyes were glassy, hair parted to the side, as he hovered merrily above the pandemic deaths. It was terrifying.
During these frightening times, I would often ask to “come back”, saying that the experience was “too hard”. I asked for help. In my worst moments, I felt I had to resolve impossible time paradoxes to stay alive. (What if this session started before I was born? What if I got stuck in a ketamine loop all the time?) My brain was filled with loud construction noises and I felt like I was about to die.
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