It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when I realized I was depressed, but I think I’ve been coping with depression for a long, long time. Masking it, not acknowledging it, and basically shoving traumatic experiences from as far back as my childhood aside, all while pushing myself to do more and more, as a result of my anxiety.
Having realized all that now, I’m pretty sure that’s why things just went way down for me and I had a huge crash.
At first it was like I was experiencing patches of depression. Days where I felt blue, but nothing that I recognized as real depression. But then, over the past couple of years, I realized that those “blue days” were intensifying and lasting longer, showing up more often and growing exponentially. It was more than having a hard time getting out of bed and putting the laundry in (both things that were true). Looking back now, I think I was probably in a really bad, unsafe space.
I’d been on different medications since 2006, when my ex-fiancé left me two months before our wedding. I’m talking intense, tragic-life stuff, where I knew I should see a doctor. So I did, and I started SSRIs that I now know didn’t really work in the long term, but at the time they had a placebo effect on me. It’s like I talked myself into feeling better even though I knew I really wasn’t. Eventually, I finally weaned off them and had terrible side effects like electric shocks to my brain, which is totally something I do not recommend to anybody.
I went back on medication after I had my second child, having experienced post-partum depression with my first. My gynecologist at the time put me on the basic stuff they prescribe to most women and although it helped with my anxiety, it really didn’t do anything to help my depression. Neither did the second medication they prescribed me. Finally, enough was enough. I was so tired of the back and forth and knew that I had to take the bull by the horns and do something else. That’s when I discovered psychedelics, through a segment on 60 Minutes.
A Google search brought me to Field Trip Health. As a straight-laced kid who went to an arts boarding school in Michigan, I’d never done psychedelics before. Heck, I wouldn’t even know where to find them, and even then I would have been too scared to do anything to jeopardize my schooling. But by the time I got to the Field Trip clinic, it was such a wild, positive experience for me, even when I did that first, baby dose. A huge part of that was feeling much safer having my therapist with me, supporting me for integration and keeping my best interests at heart.
During my sessions I was able to come to some pretty big realizations about my life and past trauma, from dealing with the emotions brought on by abuse I went through as a child with my uncle, to my current relationship with my father. During one session he manifested as a giant, blue bust looking down at me, and I just remember that overbearing feeling.
As the dosage increased things got even more intense, in that I was finally able to tap into my own mental health and well-being. Yes there were tears and big emotions, but I was finally facing my true self for the first time.
I had stayed on one of my medications throughout, even though I knew it wasn’t really working. One of the most interesting things about the experience was that following my therapy, I could finally tell the difference between how I felt and how I should feel—like I wasn’t in the fog but I could see it still there. So I spoke with my doctor and started new meds, and for the first time in my life they’re actually working. I honestly think going through the ketamine-assisted therapy is the reason my brain is now, finally, able to handle the medications in a better way.
At the start of this journey I never expected to feel like a human again, and when I actually did I was so afraid it wasn’t going to last or I would forget, so I charted my journey through my podcast, Acting up with Ali Goodman. I did an episode after every session, so now it’s always fresh in my mind. That’s a pretty big milestone for me considering my depression got so overwhelming that at one point that I just paused the entire show.
Today, I know I still have work in front of me, but I’m so much farther in my mental health journey than I’ve ever been. I try to stay grounded and to be aware of what’s going on around me, while tapping into my emotional intelligence and dealing with my feelings on a real level. As a child of abuse I’m used to saying things as I think them, because that is how I survived. Now I can take a breath, feel the chair beneath me, and notice surrounding sounds while I process. Touchstone moments, meditation and journaling keep me grounded.
My medication continues to work, and because of that I hope to do a booster session with Field Trip soon. I think it would be such an interesting experience to do when I’m relatively okay, versus where I was when I started. I’m also thankful that now I have the tools to be very aware of those negative emotions and to recognize depression, because I don’t ever want to go back there, ever.
As told to Amber Dowling for Field Trip Health
The testimonials are the individual experiences of those who have attended Field Trip and taken part in our treatment, however they are individual results and results will vary. The testimonials are not necessarily representative of all of those who have used our treatment.
Field Trip may have edited the testimonials to account for correction of grammar or typing errors where necessary. In other cases, the testimonials may have been shortened for brevity. Field Trip has not edited the testimonial in a way that would create a misleading impression of the individual's views.
Ketamine is also not for everyone and may result in serious side effects. Certain medical conditions and other factors may reduce the effectiveness of ketamine as a treatment or disqualify you from receiving ketamine. Please consult a physician or other medical professional before commencing treatment.
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