A New Perspective on Depression…Rebooting the Brain
One Person’s RESTORE Experience
How well is your depression treatment working? Does it help a bit, but you still don’t feel as if the darkness has lifted? It is sometimes surprising how many people likened the Restore treatment to having their brains “rebooted” or “reset”. Here is a very personal story written by a successful “40-something professional” on overcoming depression and “rebooting” his neural circuits.
Clear skies. Radio silence. Whatever you call it, it's real. For the first time in 25 years, I don't wake up in a fog and spend the day sighing. I don't have a vicious jingle running in the background (and right before my first Restore ketamine infusion, it had gotten extra vicious).
I feel normal. And for me, that's amazing.
It's not perfect, and it's not permanent, but it's been worth every cent. Flying down to Pensacola for a weekend Restore treatment ranks among the best decisions I've ever made. If you're in the grips of depression (or chronic pain or anxiety) and haven't been able to find relief, I encourage you to get in touch with Dr. Grass.
Some people may not respond to ketamine infusion treatment, but thankfully I did. Or, to be more exact, my treatment-resistant depression responded to the infusions as structured by Dr. Grass. From what I gather, his approach is unique: he's an accomplished anesthesiologist with extensive clinical study experience who personally monitors each infusion. So you get a stronger therapeutic dose of ketamine that's custom-tailored for you and your body's response to treatment.
Where I live, there are already several ketamine infusion treatment centers, but a single cycle requires six treatments over two weeks. They offer no weekend options, and they use a one-size-fits-all treatment plan. Well, I have to work for a living, so that's not realistic. Oh, and the cookie-cutter approach is six two-week treatments per year! Who on earth can miss that much work?!?
Speaking of having to work--you may balk at the cost initially (I know I did), but don't write it off. I'm not wealthy by any means (sheesh, I tapped my 401(k) to cover initial treatment since few (if any) health insurers cover this alternative use of ketamine). But I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I've already been in touch with Dr. Grass to set up a maintenance infusion and will gladly travel back to Pensacola on whatever schedule he recommends. (Pensacola, by the way, is a gem: quiet, beautiful, and surprisingly hip--especially the historic district. Oh, and the beaches are perfect. There's that too.)
Eventually, ketamine infusion will gain wider acceptance I believe. I mean, with results like I'm having, I don't see how it can't. It's a totally safe, FDA-approved drug that's commonly used in ERs to anesthetize children--at much higher doses, for heaven's sake! Yes, it's used to tranquilize animals and sold on the streets as a drug of abuse, but so what! Animals need anesthesia too (read: ketamine's inexpensive and predictable enough to use on really big mammals); and there'll always be people who abuse drugs.
The actual experience of getting a ketamine infusion is light years away from any of that. Picture sitting in a tidy, welcoming exam room in one of those vinyl recliners you find in clinical settings. There's an IV drip and a couple of small pump machines on a desk. You get an IV needle in the crook of your elbow (smaller than the one they use to take blood), and some friendly conversation with Dr. Grass before the ketamine kicks in. For me, it was like zooming through an awesome music video whenever I closed my eyes. With eyes opened, I was right back in the exam room--in control of my body and able to ask/answer questions--super woozy, yes, but nothing scary. With eyes closed, I'd slide right back into a kaleidoscope of colors.
You may wonder, What brought a successful professional at the height of his career (if I do say so myself) to trying ketamine infusion treatment?
I've struggled with depression and anxiety since childhood, but starting in my 20s, it took a dark turn and has, at times, been life-threatening. At 34, I checked myself into a depression clinic (best decision I ever made) and finally began the hard work of: (#1) accepting that I'd likely struggle with depression and anxiety for the rest of my life, but (#2) also learning that I could do a lot to build my coping skills.
With help from some great caregivers, I learned how to stop my making my situation worse (stopping the negative is 100% do-able and it's huge for depression), as well as how to improve my life where possible. I accomplished a lot with cognitive behavioral therapy ("Feeling Good" is a great book on the subject), group therapy, exercise, and maintenance meds.
But there was always a fog over my outlook, almost like a dirty film on a camera lens.
For whatever reasons, the fog started to thicken this past summer, and began hampering my work performance, just as I'd reached a place in my career I'd dreamed about for decades. About the same time, I happened across articles about how some people with treatment-resistant depression responded to ketamine infusions. I've got a PhD in cell & molecular biology and the more I read, the more intrigued I got. I mean, there are all sorts of medical studies about ketamine infusions going on right now--for treating chronic pain, various types of depression, anxiety disorders, etc.
It's starting to look like ketamine floods the learning loop at the middle of your brain, and spurs neurons to branch out in new directions--to grow away from thinking patterns you've "learned" that keep you stuck in depression, pain, and anxiety.
I like to picture a dry field with a path running across it, where an old nag (a horse, that is) walks back and forth every day--totally stuck in a rut. Then the dry field gets flooded, and all of the sudden, there's growth everywhere, and the nag starts to branch out and make new paths. I mean, just look at that tasty-looking grass way over there! What nag wouldn't branch out?
Eventually the dry season comes back (remember: the effects of ketamine infusion are not permanent), but some of the new growth hangs on and things don't go all the way back to the way they were. A follow-up maintenance infusion “re-floods” the field.
Ketamine is actually a lot like that--the neural networks light up all over your brain when you're experiencing the effects of ketamine. I think most folks experience this as a visual flood of colors. Please note that this is just my experience and I'm no expert in the field, ha. Plus my experience had an awesome soundtrack.
After mulling it over, I finally decided to approach the Ketamine Research Institute. Second best decision I ever made! (The first was seeking help closer to home, long before I ever heard about ketamine infusions.)
Looking back , I can only imagine how much better my life might have been with access to periodic ketamine infusions. Not perfect, not without effort on my part--but better. Fortunately, now I know that I can find a new level of relief (in my case, total relief for several months), any time the fog starts to roll back in.