Ketamine is a miracle, but it doesn’t take away the painful beliefs from my childhood

It’s been a little over 3 weeks since I started low-dose ketamine nasal spray as part of my treatment regimen for CPTSD, DID and suicidality. I have had phenomenal, life-changing results that seem entirely impossible to be true. The stability I feel just doesn’t seem believable to me, and I am still waiting for the bottom to fall out.

You can read about my initial experience here if you are interested.

At 3 weeks in, I have been able to decrease the ketamine doses. The first two weeks I did one nasal spray on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Since I responded so positively with the first dose, and the stability seemed so solid, I decided to push it out to one spray a week for the 3rd week. I’ll keep you posted how this goes, but so far, it is holding me in a good place of stability and mental clarity.

As a side note, I am not taking the commonly recommended antidepressant to go with it as I am not a fan of of them for me, and I wonder do people really need to take the antidepressant since it wasn’t necessary for me. Anyway, I know someone else may need something different, so I recognize it may be necessary for other people. I do take a sleeping pill at night, which is the only medication I take besides the generic ketamine.

As someone who experienced severe developmental trauma, I have been living a lifetime of PTSD flashbacks, debilitating depression and anxiety, frequent thoughts of suicide and self-harm, and the unsteadiness that comes with having dissociative identity disorder. Oh, and the most difficult consequence of my awful childhood has been trying to live a decent life after being raised by a family that didn’t love me.

The traumatic patterns I learned as a kid have been extremely difficult to change as an adult.

With my new ketamine-induced stability, I have honestly been a little confused about what to do with myself. I don’t feel like myself because I am not used to this ability to regulate my emotions, deal with stressors, and not think about killing myself on-and-off throughout my days.

For me, ketamine actually accomplishes what DBT is supposed to accomplish for those of us with CPTSD.

I can’t completely say, oh, I tried ketamine and now everything in my life is perfect. It’s not. But it is 1000% better and more manageable. The difficulty with the issues I was struggling with have gone from a 10 to a 3, which has made a very significant difference in my ability to cope and live my life.

Since the ketamine also enables me to think more clearly, I have had the opportunity to think about what is still causing my life to be messy, or less than good. By no surprise to me, it’s my attachment issues. Turns out ketamine can help a lot, but it doesn’t help with the aftermath of growing up in a family that didn’t love you.

My earliest messages from my family were: you don’t deserve love; you are unlovable; you are too much so make yourself small; there is something wrong with you; everyone hates you, so shut up and stay quiet; you don’t deserve happy; you are trash and don’t deserve anything good; you should do us all a favor and kill yourself; the only thing you are good for is sex.

So, sadly, the ketamine doesn’t take away my belief that I am a terrible, no-good person who doesn’t deserve love.

Since the ketamine did take away the nonstop flashbacks of childhood abuse, I can now actually focus on these horrible beliefs that I have about myself. For once, I will be stable enough to stay focused and safe while I deal with the real pain of my childhood. I am done talking about the horrific abuse I suffered as a child because that is in my past, and I need to live in the present.

Talking about my abuse did not help me recover from my traumatic childhood. I did a lot of therapy, and it just didn’t give me the results I needed to recover from all the trauma. I do believe there is value in therapy, but I honestly do not see it alone giving most people the results they need to recover from CPTSD.

Unfortunately, in the present, I hold these really horrible beliefs about myself that I can’t seem to distance myself from like I can the memories of abuse.

Maybe this is the real work of therapy I have been waiting for. It’s so extremely painful for me that I am probably going to drive my therapist crazy with the slow pace and resistance I am going to put up to defend myself. I really can’t help it no matter how hard I try not to do it.

Ugh. I have no idea how to even begin to tackle this horrible belief system I have about myself. At this moment, even with my new found mental clarity, I can’t even intellectually believe that those things aren’t true about me. I know usually starting in an intellectual place is easiest for me, but at this point, that seems like that might be a far off accomplishment. But, I will push like hell to get there because I will not waste the miracle of what the ketamine has done for me.

Ketamine still allows me to feel the awful feelings that go along with severe trauma. The big difference is that ketamine makes it so I can mentally get myself out of a suicidal spiral as my knee-jerk response to these feelings. Instead of going right into a suicide plan, I seem to have the wherewithal to recognize my suicidality and to talk to someone about what is going on with me. It’s not alway easy to find someone to talk to about what I am feeling and thinking because I only have a few people in my life that understand it without freaking out.

Once I find someone to talk to, to just get it out, the suicidal thoughts melt away. This was definitely not possible pre-ketamine.

I am excited to see if the ketamine continues to hold me in a place of stability, and whether it quite possibly might allow me to do a level of talk-therapy that I had never done before. A level that may actually bring me healing?

But make no mistake, I do not believe talk-therapy without the ketamine would bring me closer to healing. The ketamine has been the missing ingredient to my healing, and I just wish I could get others to understand this may be the missing ingredient for a lot of other people like me.

How other’s trauma affects my PTSD

I am terrified as I write this. Literally feeling sick to my stomach from stress. My spouse lays next to me having no idea of the meltdown going on in my head, and I don’t say a word because I don’t want to appear crazy.

The evening started out uneventful. After we got the kids to bed, my spouse asked again if we could finally watch the movie “Sully.” I had been nixing that idea for the past couple of weeks when we were deciding what to watch.

I learned during 9/11 I have an unusual experience with my PTSD. I found when I was watching the nonstop coverage of 9/11, my own PTSD became activated at such a level as if I were actually involved in the incidents. The lines became very blurry, and my PTSD symptoms were extremely high.

I can still remember driving through downtown Atlanta on my way home from work and sweating as I looked up at the high rises above me. I was absolutely certain one was going to come tumbling down on me from a terrorist attack.

Since 9/11, I became very attuned to the fact that if I had witnessed a car accident, which is not uncommon in Atlanta, I would replay the scene and the sounds and the stress of it over and over in my head as if it had happened to me.

I have learned to avoid a lot of things since I became aware of how these things were affecting me. I try not to even watch the news anymore. Thus, I knew I should avoid a movie replaying a traumatic event, but I didn’t want to look crazy to my spouse who really wanted to see this movie.

As we watched the movie, I had moments where I could barely breathe, and other moments where I felt panic and wanted to cry. I was crying on the inside. It didn’t seem to matter that I knew what was going to happen in the story. I seem to always over-relate to someone else’s experience of trauma.

Now, my brain is spinning and I am hearing what sounds like a passenger plane flying low around my home. The plane noise won’t go away. My spouse doesn’t hear anything, so I know it is me going crazy.

I know it isn’t real, but the noise won’t stop. I am filled with anxiety. I am telling myself the noise isn’t real, but the sound of the impending airplane is so loud and continuous I can’t ignore it.

I have medication that would help in this situation, but I have worked so hard to not take medication for the betterment of my health.

I am hoping somehow writing about this will calm my symptoms down.

Why doesn’t it help to know this is just my PTSD?

I am so angry at myself for having this twisted brain that reacts to other people’s trauma like this. The anger, fear, and shame now have me feeling suicidal.

You would think with the self-awareness I have about my PTSD, and how this continuous noise is not real, it would make me be ok. It doesn’t.

I am irrationally terrified over a stupid movie. My self-loathing is kicking in. My belief that I don’t want to live life with this kind of terror in my head is kicking in.

Make the noise stop.

It hasn’t.

Will I forever be this tortured soul who can’t seem to get rid of this trauma brain?

I still hold hope one day I will be free. Until then, I work to survive the imprint left on my brain.

My Brain After Trauma

Gehirn - Schwingungen 3

Some days, I like to forget about my horrific abuse history and think I am just another ordinary person trying to get by in this world. After all, I can get distracted by the things in life the same way my presumably ordinary neighbors can.

I appreciate the moments when nobody knows my big secret about having Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and that people think I am just another neurotic person, similar to themselves. I am a master at hiding my symptoms.

Then there are the moments when the truth slaps me in the face so hard I can barely stand up again.

This week I met with a doctor to go over my results of some cognitive testing and my QEEG, or brain map. I am very interested in alternative or nontraditional therapies in treating my DID, so I am working with a new “Brain Doctor,” in addition to my traditional talk therapy.

I have always known I am sometimes cognitively impaired, and certainly sometimes operating from a “trauma brain.”

Though I had neurofeedback this past Summer for about 15 sessions, the providers I used never shared what was going on with my brain—they shared positive statements about the neurofeedback results they were seeing. Never the baseline.

In my discussion this past week with the new doctor, it was explained as sensitively as it could be, that I am extremely cognitively impaired and my brain waves look like a badass, not good, electrical storm.

I was told calmly and slowly they have seen worse, but it is pretty bad. The doctor is a genuinely good person and an optimist, and believes she can help repair much of my brain problems, even as severe as they are.

Because I had my son go through this process for a different reason, I knew what the brain pictures were supposed to look like. You want the brain to appear white on the paper.

I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of color on every one of my brain images.

I thought I was really calm during the actual test being done, but the results make it look like I am an anxious wreck. I guess my body has simply become used to the free-flowing anxiety from my PTSD, and I only recognize it when it is over the top.

I showed my brain in my best state. Can you imagine if I showed it when I am doing really poorly?

PTSDbrain

Two years ago, I was working in a highly demanding job in which I was quite successful and made a lot of money. Today, I am not working at all.

The one sentence from the doctor that stood out to me was when she gently said “I can see why you are not working, your executive functioning is extremely low.”

A dagger in my heart.

The scribble scrabble brain waves on the page were not something I can deny. I don’t need to be a doctor to know it isn’t normal looking at all.

The mental anguish I feel on a regular basis has just been verified as totally real, and it is as bad as it feels. It is not hidden or made up. Through this QEEG, I let people see the mess of a brain I have. Lots of internal conflict about doing so.

“You’re such an idiot, why did you let people see what it looks like inside.”

My trauma has without a doubt destroyed the way my brain is supposed to function. Maybe I shouldn’t say destroy because my favorite word is all the buzz these days—“neuroplasticity” (when the brain can heal itself), there is hope through neurofeedback and other brain therapies to repair much of the damage.

I always thought I wanted to see what my “DID brain” looked like. At this point, I am feeling it was a mistake, but hopefully some day I will change my mind about it.

It is an overwhelming picture of myself. And, I actually feel shame about my brain. That’s a new one.

This morning I was looking at a job announcement that came to my email, and what followed were the voices in my brain telling me I can’t possibly work given the extremely low level of executive functioning I am at (confirmed by these test results). Sigh.

I always knew the abusers from my past ruined my brain, but I secretly didn’t want it to be true. Parts of me appear to be so severely abused. I didn’t want to believe they could be as badly abused as they felt and claimed. I realize now how much I was clinging to the hope that not all of my story was true.

It is hard to hide from the serious consequences of the severe abuse I endured throughout my life. It is sad when the ability to deny the consequences is gone.