In the upcoming weeks, as soon as my insurance approves it, I will be receiving Spravato (esketamine nasal spray) for depression. I wanted to put together a post explaining what it is all about it, then I found this post and thought I couldn’t possibly do a better job. So I hope you don’t mind if I share this with you. Please note that this covers all forms of ketamine, if you want to just read the “How Effective Is It” statistics surrounding what I will be receiving read sections 3 and 4. I got so much information from tbe post started to not even watch the video attached to it, but then I noticed that it is captioned so I went ahead and watched it and it is very interesting. It does get a little in depth in the science part of things, so if you are interested in that kind of thing, it’s worth it, but if that bores you, you might want to skip it.
Do you have any experience with ketamine? Know anyone who has? Do you have or know anyone who has, medication resistant depression? Or like me, the meds stopped working or there are just way too many bad side effects? I’d love to know other’s experiences.
Ketamine and Esketamine
Drug Class: NMDA Antagonist
How it works: Blocks a channel for a chemical in the brain called NMDA. This, in turn, increases the effects of another channel for a chemical called AMPA. This leads to increased effects of BDNF and mTOR. The increased effects of BDNF and mTOR helps the brain to rapidly form new […] Ketamine and Esketamine — Experiments in Happiness
I have found myself dreading coming to my blog. I don’t want to talk about me, but I have always kept this blog open and honest and I don’t want to stop that. As I look back at the many years I’ve been writing here, I’ve been up and down and up and down and up and down….have I really made any progress? How do we measure progress? I think that’s the real question, and not one I’m going to answer today.
I have a lot going on right now and I simply don’t feel like talking. Ummm, that may not be true, I just don’t want to feel worse when I do. I’ve reached out and been ignored…not sure what happened there. I spilled my guts to someone who told me I could always talk to them, when I finished they said, “WOW. You have a lot going on. Praying you get some relief very soon. Love you bunches.” and that was the end of the conversation. I cried for most of the day after that. That is what happens when you try to talk to someone who does not have chronic or mental illness. She may love me, but she has no clue. And it makes me VERY wary to talk to anyone unless they are my peeps. But I don’t have many peeps and I don’t want to wear out the few I have. I do have a very good friend who hears almost everything and she is amazing, but she has her own crap going on and I can’t just keep unloading on her all the time. Of course, Stuart’s here, and he has never made me feel like I can’t talk to him, or made me feel bad about how I feel, but he needs to get away from it sometimes and he thankfully he doesn’t have a chronic illness. Support groups do not work for me, those people get on my nerves. I have a therapist, but let’s face it, one hour a week is not always enough, and sometimes you don’t get that. (like when I’m so sick I can’t go, and soon she’s going to Thailand for 3 weeks…Ahhh! I am happy for her, she’s never done anything like this before. What a dream trip.) Oh, dang I’ve completely lost my train of thought. So anyway…I don’t want to talk, or maybe I don’t trust talking, I don’t think it’s doing much good, and I feel like I’m losing the few friends I have because of it. I have some new treatments coming up and as that happens I’ll post about them. I would love to know more about other people’s experiences with these treatments, so I’ll be sure to post mine. (I just started Aimovig for my migraines, I’m going to be trying ketamine (esketamine nasal spray) as soon as my insurance approves it for my depression, and I’m going to be going to a pain clinic for my neck pain caused by my migraines…or the neck pain contributing to my migraines…anyway…pain.) So there will be posts.
I’ve decided to try to start putting out more posts, but they will be posts that are about my chronic illnesses and not so much about just me. I will probably put in there how it relates to me personally. But I have soooo much going on right now there may not be a lot of posts coming out, but I’m going to give it the old college try. (where did that saying come from?)
Well, that’s what’s on my mind today. Plus a whole heck of a lot more, but most of that is a mess!
Before I go, I’d like for all of you to know that if you ever need someone to talk to I’ll listen. Well, not with my ears, but I’ll text, message, email…. There is a contact form right here on my blog just go up to the top and you’ll see the “About Me /Contact Me” tab…you can contact me right there and it will email me. Now, if you are someone who wants me to sell something on my blog, or do some strange post, or something like that…don’t waste your time. I’m really not into those things. But if you need a to talk, I’m here for you.
For over a year now I’ve been hit with one thing after another. Last Fall my bipolar medication stopped working and I basically had a psychotic break with the mania/rage going way out of control and battling a lot of medication side effects before we finally got that under control. Then I had a severe UTI that caused hydronephrosis in both kidneys, I had a cyst removed from my scalp that got horribly infected and I had a reaction to the antibiotics. In April the severe intractable migraine started and has continually gotten worse; over the last couple of months I’ve been having an escalation of cluster headaches, at least one a week. and now my antidepressants have stopped working. All this while we have been looking for a house, in the worse housing market I have ever seen, and we have to move from our rental by the end of November.
It is any wonder my brain has decided to check out?
In 2016 I started having seizures during an extremely stressful time of my life. It was determined they were psychogenic non-epileptic seizures. You can read more about that in this post: Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures What Are They? Since that time I haven’t had many, only a few and only in times of great pain (like when I was in the ER for my migraine) or extreme stress (like after a vertigo attack that happened during the mania). Lately they have been coming regularly. It is increasing my pain levels dramatically. When I have a seizure it looks like a grand mal seizure. It starts with my right hand twitching, then the arm goes, and the whole right side twitches and curves back, my head draws back, my muscles are all tight and spasming. It is very painful, and my neck and shoulder on the right side still hurt so much. I feel tingly on that side, and I just feel so off. During the seizure I am mostly aware, but I can’t do anything. Sometimes I’m not as aware, sometimes I’m very confused when it’s over. I always cry when it’s over. I feel so exposed, vulnerable, scared, and unsafe.
Just a year ago I was doing so much better I bought a car. I was driving, cooking, shopping, painting, swimming…. I don’t understand what happened. I’m not asking “Why me?” or anything like that, I’m simply confused. I know we made a major move, but I was doing pretty good for the first few months we were here, so I really don’t think it was the stress of moving. But I guess one stress could possibly have snow balled into a bigger stress… into a bigger stress… into more illness…but who really knows. All this could have happened no matter what. It could have happened independently, but it just happened to happen one right after another I suppose.
Where does it leave me now?
Migraines – I’m still starting Aimovig on the 28th for my migraines, but I won’t know if it’s working for 3 months. I just finished a round of steroids hoping to get a break from the pain, it did lower the pain level, but they made me so sick I couldn’t enjoy it. (Oh boy was I sick, Meniere’s and steroids do not mesh well together, at least not with me). I may go to the pain clinic to get injections in my neck, I haven’t decided about that yet. Just a little scared about that one. Oh, the Migranal nasal spray is working as a rescue medication, thankfully. It doesn’t completely take it away, but it comes close, so I am having a little bit of relief twice a week. More than I was getting, but as I said, it doesn’t take it all away, it takes it from a 10 to a 7 or maybe, if I’m lucky a 6. Ah….a 6…but that is a rarity.
Mental Health – I started a new antidepressant, Trintellix, on Tuesday. I’m to try it for 2 weeks and if it doesn’t work we’re going to try Ketamine. I’ve tried everything else. This should be interesting. I’m working with both my psychiatrist and my psychologist about my seizures. I need to get my pain and stress under control. One step at a time. Just one moment at a time.
Home life – We’ll be moving into one of Stuart’s dad’s houses the beginning of November. The house Stuart grew up in. We aren’t sure if we’ll continue to look for a house to buy, or if we’ll stay there and renovate his house. The house is a bit further out than we planned to live, so we’re going to live there for a while to see how we like it. Kinda cool that we can do that. I’ve just been freaking out a little about not having a home, and needing to settle down. I’ve been feeling so lost and temporary ever since we moved from our house, six years ago, but it’s been so much worse since we moved here. When we moved here we basically got rid of everything. We have 2 chairs in our living room, and one is very uncomfortable. We have no dining room furniture. Our home is very sparse. We did not plan on renting for this long. It’s just so hard on me. This has just been so hard. I need stability. I NEED IT.
Right now I feel very alone, vulnerable, and scared. The only place I feel safe is in my husband’s arms. He literally saves my life every day. I told him that if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here any more. So much pain, both physically and mentally…it’s just so much. And my amazing husband told me that he loves me so much, he never wants to lose me, but it also makes him feel guilty because he knows how much I’m suffering. I don’t know how I ended up with such an amazing man. He’ll never know how much it helps me to know he hears me.
I have so much, a wonderful husband, a roof over my head, nice clothes, good food, access to quality health care, support…. and yet I’m so unhappy. I’m so very sad. It hurts so much. My thoughts are consumed with pain. I find no enjoyment in anything. A friend posted a question on her blog asking if you found out you were going to die what would you regret not doing more of….and I could not answer that question. First I thought, not helping others more, getting more involved…. But then I tried to think of something I enjoyed that I would wish I had done more of, and I had nothing. There are things I used to love to do, but now…..not so much. My art…nope. Cooking…too much work. Taking pictures…can’t see it. I can think of nothing. All I do is sit and color by number. And that’s not for enjoyment, it’s to take my mind off of the pain…the migraine, the chronic daily headache, the back pain, the neck pain, the hip pain, the bladder pain, the pelvic pain…so much pain every day.
life is suffering. life is pain. life is ever changing. life is impermanence.
I’ve been trying to write a post for weeks now, but I just haven’t been able to get the words to come out. I had a CTA scan of my head and neck on July 26th, that’s a CT scan that shows your arteries. I had planned to post about it, to show you the awful bruise the contrast caused, and tell you how I freaked out when the contrast hit me, but I was actually ashamed that I felt that way. They had a hard time finding my veins, as usual, and I, once again, felt ashamed that I’m difficult. I had a bit of a reaction to the contrast and had a very debilitating migraine and nausea for days. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t do anything. Lorraine was nice enough to do a Mindfulness Monday. I’m ashamed I haven’t written since then.
I feel that I have needed to write and tell you how I’m still struggling with the migraines, how the medication isn’t working, and how I can’t accomplish anything really. But I’m ashamed that I’m not better. I’m ashamed that I keep trying different medications and they don’t work on me. I feel like I’m failing. In our culture we are expected to take a drug when we get sick and get better, if we don’t get better then we aren’t trying hard enough. We should change our diet, exercise more…. You see the stories all the time, how someone beat this or that disease by doing these things. We are expected to fight our illnesses and get better, when we don’t we often feel shame. Or at least, I know I do.
With my migraines everyone has a solution. So many people have or know someone with migraine, it isn’t rare, but chances are it’s episodic migraine not chronic migraine. I’m asked so often, “Do you take medication?” and it’s followed by, “I take (or so and so takes)______ and it works!” I want to scream, “Of course I take medication! I take preventatives, and abortives, and supplements, and I use alternative treatments! Nothing is working but I’m afraid to stop any of them for fear it will get worse!” But instead I feel ashamed that I’m defective. Not only do I have migraines, I have migraines that won’t respond to treatment.
Weekend before last we went out for breakfast with Stuart’s father at our usual place. I ordered a gluten free pancake, when it came I suspected it was wrong, but they have never gotten my order wrong before, so I took a bite. I knew immediately it was wrong. I was poisoned. I called the waitress over and asked and sure enough, it wasn’t gluten free. She apologized and I smiled and just ordered a new one. I looked at Stuart with huge eyes and he just said, there was nothing that could be done now. His father said, “it was only one bite” Stuart explained that it only takes a crumb. I should have told the waitress that I didn’t want anything else and told Stuart and his dad we needed to go home, but instead I was too ashamed. I ate that new pancake knowing that I would be sick within an hour or two. I sat there listening to them talk, while my head pounded, my stomach started to ache and get tight and my bowels started to rumble. I ended up having to rush to the bathroom there and it was obvious my stomach was distended by the time we left. I felt even more shame that I could not hide it.
I’ve never been one who is ashamed of my cochlear implants, I know a lot of people like to hide them, but I like for people to understand that I have hearing loss, because I do get ashamed when I have trouble understanding people. I sit and “listen” to conversations, but I often don’t “hear” them, and I’m too ashamed to keep asking for people to repeat what they say. After you are told over and over that it’s not important, you start to believe it, so I don’t worry about it. Then I get more ashamed when I miss things that I needed to hear.
Yesterday I had a very bad day. I woke in so much pain, but more than that when I’d stand I would see stars and I’d start to black out. I asked Stuart if he could work from home, but before he could answer I told him no, I’d be okay, because I was way too ashamed that I needed him. I was not safe, but I was too ashamed to admit that. Last night was the first time I told him how I felt. Now he is afraid he has done something to make me feel ashamed, and I feel shame that I’ve made him feel this way. I’ve explained to him that it’s complicated.
I’m just coming to terms with these feelings. I’ve tried to put a label on this before and called it guilt, but that wasn’t right, it’s shame. Guilt is feeling that you’ve done something bad. Shame is feeling that you are something bad. So, yes I feel guilty about asking him to work from home because I don’t want to take him away from work (doing something bad), but I also feel shame about it because I am ill and have to ask in the first place (am something bad).
Do you have these feelings? This will be a major discussion coming up with my therapist. Shame is not a healthy emotion, this is something we need to battle sooner rather than later.
The day started out okay. I could have slept longer but Kiki decided it was time to play, and who can argue with that face?
It was a normal morning, I had my breakfast, took my meds and thought about what I could accomplish today. I only had 3 things I wanted to get done 1- spend some time outside, 2- fill out insurance information for cochlear implant replacement, 3- do my new exercises.
Out of the 3 the exercises were the most important, so I decided to do that first. Then I looked down at the floor and thought, “There is no way I’m getting on that dirty carpet and have my allergies go crazy again, I’ll vacuum it first.” So, I picked up everything on the floor, moved things around, pulled out the vacuum and vacuumed our small living room. It was going well, then right before I finished I had a shooting pain through my head, the room spun and got dark, I had a hot flush, got nauseous, and had to sit down fast. Another vestibular migraine.
The pain lessened in intensity in a relatively short period of time, but I’ve had continuous other symptoms throughout the day. I feel awful and can’t trust my balance at all, so I basically spent the day curled up in my chair watching Netflix (I saw a talk by Brene’ Brown and an episode of Queer Eye) then I watched cooking shows (which made me want to bake bread and make my own crackers.) Have I mentioned I’m obsessed with The Great British Bake Off? I watch it over and over, can’t wait for a new season to come to the US. Oh, it’s called The Great British Baking Show in the US if anyone is interested.
Now I’m off to bed, having only accomplished, let’s see, nothing on my list for today; and that’s perfectly okay. I got the living room vacuumed!
I do believe the new antidepressant must be working, 2 weeks ago having a day like today would have made me feel worthless, useless, and filled with dread. Today I can take it for what it is, life at this moment. Nothing more, nothing less. I guess it was a good day after all.
Today’s Mindfulness Monday is not really quotes on mindfulness, they are mindful quotes on mental health. There are more quotes than usual, I actually found over 30 that I liked and finally cut it down to these 7. After each quote I will explain why I chose that particular quote. I hope you will bare with me, as most of you know I’m working through a mental health crisis of my own, and working on this post has helped me feel not so alone. ***Please note that this post contains a frank discussion on mental health issues including suicide ideation.
“Beautiful fake smile.
All it takes is a beautiful fake smile
to hide an injured soul and
they will never notice how broken you really are.”
I chose this quote because we I often use a fake smile to get through the day. Whether it be because of my physical or mental illnesses, that fake smile makes others believe I’m okay, and that makes dealing with the general public, and sometimes even those closest to me, easier. I don’t have to explain, I don’t have to deal with the awkwardness…..the fake smile, is a shield I use to deflect the judgments from others.
“Be proud of every step
you take towards stability,
no matter how big or small.”
I have been feeling like all the work I’ve been doing to overcome this crisis has shown little improvement. I chose this quote because it reminded me that even the smallest steps toward my stability are worth being proud of.
“I’m still me no matter
my mental health”
Earlier today I texted a friend how afraid I am that this is my new normal, all the anger, and simply being a bitch all the time. I’m no longer a nice person. I told her, “I feel like I’ve lost Wendy” I chose this quote simply because it reassured me that Wendy is still in there somewhere.
“It’s exhausting to fight a war
inside your head
every single day.”
If you don’t have a mental illness I don’t think you can ever understand this quote, if you do, I doubt I have to explain why I included it. This constant battle going on in my head is driving me insane….or perhaps I’m insane is why I have the battle in the first place….these are the kind of questions that bombard me all the time lately. Every… Single….Day
“Surviving a psychiatric crisis is one thing.
Overcoming one is something completely different.”
I hope to somehow understand this, and hopefully so will my husband. Right now we are in survival mode, overcoming it is going to be a long, hard process. (I’m not sure it will ever happen completely)
“The bravest thing I ever did
was continuing my life
when I wanted to die.”
Okay, I’m admitting something here so other’s my hear my pain, and will perhaps not feel so alone. Each day since this crisis began has been a fight for my life. More than once I’ve thought it would be best if I were not here. I’m not being selfish, of looking for the easy way out. I’m hurting the person I love most, over, and over, and over again. When I’m having the most severe emotions, rage, despair….and the psychosis (auditory hallucinations) I cannot see that removing myself from this world would hurt him worse, I can only see that I’m causing him so much pain, and at that moment I believe that if I’m wasn’t here it would be better for him…and others I love. I want to remove myself from the situation. Actually, that’s exactly it, I am simply trying my hardest to get away from the war inside me, I simply need to escape. The pain is just too great. Please do not judge me, if you do, keep it to yourself, my psyche can’t handle it right now. I am not in danger, my husband and my psychiatrist know about this and I’m being watched….like a child….I hate it.
”You know when you’re in a bad dream
and you’re trying to run, punch, kick, or scream,
and your body just won’t move?
You open your mouth and nothing comes out.
You feel frozen or in slow motion,
and no matter how hard you try to fight it,
That’s how it feels to battle mental illness.”
When I read this quote I thought….Yes!! It is often like that. I feel like I scream and scream and even when I’m making noise it makes no sense. I’m stuck, I can’t get out. I just want me back again! There are so many people who feel like they aren’t themselves after they start their psychiatric medication, especially those who are bipolar I, like me. I will admit, when I first started my meds I wondered if the changes in my moods were making me less….me. I was losing part of who I identified as me, but after I was stable for a while I realized that the real me was the stable person. I no longer had times of extreme mood swings, I no longer did so many dangerous things, I felt more in control. Yes, I missed being able to pain for days on end, I don’t feel I’ve been as creative, and I miss the times I could read 2-3 books in one day, but I don’t miss buying a car I couldn’t afford, or having sex with someone and not remembering it, or losing days that I don’t remember. That wasn’t me. When I’d relapse, which has never been as bad as this crisis, I’d run to my doctor immediately for help. I didn’t like that feeling at all, I was suddenly not me. And suddenly after 20+ years, I’m having a severe crisis. It scares the hell out of me. I will say, I think I’m better today than I was 2 weeks ago, but I still have a long way to go.
I just want to be Wendy again.
***by the way, the photo above is a self portrait I took a few years ago. I haven’t been in the mood to take many pictures lately, and I felt this photo was appropriate. (all right’s reserved)
I have been one of those people with good intentions who have simply said the wrong things, and for that, I’m deeply sorry. I have been there, yet I still don’t know what to say when a friend is in their darkest moments. I need to always remember, I didn’t want to die because I didn’t feel loved, I simply wanted the pain to stop. It helped me to have someone sit with me, hold my hand, and simply be a witness to my pain. It helped me to know that they would help if they could, but that they didn’t try to force this false help on me. I know these things, but it’s very hard to do these things for someone from afar. I can’t simply sit with someone when they are in pain if I can’t be physically with them. Often, when I reach out to someone through texts, or messages, I don’t know what to say after that initial contact. Silence is unacceptable when you are texting. I want them to know that I care, and I simply want to be there for them. I know I can’t fix it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to.
Jack Surguy mentions something that I found helpful for me; by accepting that everything changes I can take solace in knowing that these feelings will not last forever. (even if they feel like they will) When I’m am suffering I know that it will end, that is actually my mantra when my emotions are all out of wack, “this will end”. I guess it’s a variation on “this too shall pass”, but that sounds trite to me for some reason. I promise no matter what you are going through right now, good, bad or indifferent, it will change.
I hope you find both of these articles interesting and possibly helpful.
Right now my wrist is killing me, so I need to stop typing, but after the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, I felt I needed to talk about this, I want to do better. I want my friends (you) to know I love them, that I care, and that I respect their pain. I want them to know this every day, not just times like these.
* photo by W. Holcombe. A red yucca plant viewed while lying down looking at the sky. I found it stunning.
Greetings! I am filling in for Wendy this Monday, and as it is my birthday, I thought I would use quotes about gifts. Not just the tangible, wrapped in fancy paper with ribbon and bow. But the intangible, the ephemeral, the ethereal gifts we can give ourselves every day.
“This life is your gift to yourself…Open it!” (anon)
“The greatest gift you can give yourself is a little bit of your own attention.” (Anthony J. D’Angelo)
“Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen.” (Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks)
image: Lorraine 2017. Please don’t use without permission. Thanks.
After Saturday’s bout with bipolar rage and my continued mood fluctuations I’m reminding myself about self care. Eating right, getting enough sleep, getting some form of exercise, keeping a routine, abstaining from caffeine, alcohol, watching or reading anything that is upsetting, or anything that may alter my mood, ……these are a must when dealing with my bipolar disorder.
I’m paying very close attention to my moods and trying to step back and refocus before things get out of control. (yes, I’ve had a few moments of quick anger, but I took a step back, cleared my mind and took a deep breath. I’m happy to say it’s been working well, it’s just hard to stay on top of)
I’m trying hard to stay in the moment. Worrying about what has happened, or what may happen will only make things worse. That worry could be a trigger.
I’m attempting to meditate more. Meditation helps to calm my racing thoughts, but I have to realize it’s okay to have those racing thoughts while I’m meditating, I just note them and come back to my breath without judgement. That’s the big thing. No judgement. Beating myself up doesn’t help matters, it will only cause me more anxiety. Being gentle with myself.
I have Stuart watching me too. I know sometimes my moods will shift and I don’t realize I’m overreacting. We realized that if he said I was overreacting I might get really angry, instead, when he sees that I’m not acting like myself, he hugs me. So far, it’s worked. I was started to get worked up and angry, and Stuart came over and just held me and I melted. I know there are times that I would not respond well to this, but after talking about everything this was the best option we could come up with, and it’s working…so far. Another huge thing I’m making sure I’m doing: talking with my husband. We are working hard to make sure the lines of communication are open.
I saw my psych doc yesterday. We are adding another mood stabilizer to the mix that helps more with the anger aspects of bipolar. After I’m on it for a while, we will probably reduce the other one I’m on and hopefully get rid of it, and let the new one take over. Funny to say “new one”, I think it’s the oldest bipolar med. I’m going back on lithium. Wish me luck!