Jim’s Journey: A Revitalist Testimony
Hello, my name’s Jim. I found Revitalist two years ago. Actually, I didn’t find it, my sister did. I had been suffering from PTSD and depression and anxiety for about six years, and my sister looked it up on a website. A friend had told her about it, my sister’s a nurse, that there was a new treatment for people who had post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, and anxiety, and that were somewhat suicidal.
She actually set up the appointment here at Revitalist for me to come. I was unable at that time to set up an appointment. I couldn’t… I’d become catatonic and wouldn’t get out of the house or speak. So she set it up with Katie and came and picked me up and brought me here on the first day, and I did not know anything about ketamine or the treatment or what it was supposed to do.
My sister just asked if I would please come try something that might help me get my life back that I had lost after a series of traumatic events that occurred in 2012. It may have been different for me, with the ketamine consultation, I was so depressed I don’t remember much from that day. I wasn’t speaking so much that my voice was so weak I couldn’t speak, and my sister did most of the talking for me.
I just answered some questions on a questionnaire, is all I remember. And I remember Katie looking at me and saying that they could help me. I didn’t say anything to her, she said “we’re going to be able to help you. I know you feel bad right now” but I hadn’t even told her I felt bad. But she told me later how bad I looked – my color, I was pale, I hadn’t eaten, I wasn’t sleeping, I was having nightmares.
She immediately took my sister to the side and said that they were gonna go ahead and do the treatment that day, that I needed it – that I didn’t need to wait. So mine happened quickly. I was so sick that Katie decided mine didn’t need to wait. They took the time, right then, to work me in that day for a session and that was the start of my treatment with ketamine.
I had been put on by my doctor, and then my regular physician, family physician, then my psychiatrist, a series of antidepressants, mood stabilizers and anti-anxiety medications. I think from what my physician, my psychiatrist had told me, I had tried over 20 different antidepressants and SSRIs and SNRI, both combinations, with all the other new medications but none had worked. And then he tried me on mood stabilizers and also the boosters for the depressants. Abilify and the other medications like it.
I was also on a large dose of anti-anxiety medications and medications for sleep, since I was having nightmares so bad. At one time, I was taking seven medications: 2 antidepressants, 2 anti-anxieties, 2 mood stabilizers, and a sleep pill. All of which could not get a hold of my depression and my fears and anxiety that haunted my days.
So, I tried those for – it had been over 5 years that I had tried the traditional treatment medications for antidepressant medications and being working in the mental health field most of my life, I realized since those weren’t working, I was hopeless. That there wasn’t anything out there. And that’s when I began to lose hope.
Ketamine was a drug I had never heard of, I have heard of so many other treatments for depression and PTSD, one being electroconvulsive therapy, ECT, which I was a candidate for but couldn’t do because I couldn’t quit drinking long enough to do it. I could not drink before the procedure, and I was drinking so heavily at the time that I wouldn’t do it.
Fast forward several years, and I had become catatonic and wouldn’t speak or eat and was having suicidal ideation. When my sister brought me in for the consultation, and they actually did the treatment that day, the first treatment. I didn’t know what to expect. I was just told that it would give me hope and a reason to live again. And I didn’t have to carry around what I felt and saw in my nightmares anymore.
I could not have done it without ketamine. I come back now once a year for a maintenance dose.
I trusted them because I was so vulnerable, I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. I was at the end of my limit with pain, and I wanted it just to end. And I did the treatment, a series of six [infusions] over a two-week period. And I had some thought that maybe when I took one treatment that I was gonna be normal again. I didn’t realize it was a series of six sessions – intense sessions, where a lot of the trauma and the things I had seen over the last five years, particularly the loss of my wife, that it was going to bring back all the bad things that I had seen, what I’d done is repressed them and pushed them so far down that I had never dealt with the trauma. And then I never dealt with the deaths, because of that, and I never could grieve.
So I was then stuck in the grief and trauma and I would not allow it out because it hurt so much. And that pain caused me to drink for years. To the point where I was unable to get out of my house or work, and I lost contact with most of my family and friends.
It was so painful that I couldn’t help anybody anymore, that I’d been a social worker all my life and that I couldn’t help myself. So, when I came in here and Katie said “you can become who you used to be”, I didn’t believe her. But I had no choice if I wanted to live, because I didn’t want to live anymore. And Katie and the staff here at Revitalist did – what this drug did for me, was it gave me a second chance at life.
And it was hard work, it was tough and it was painful, but not more painful than what I’d been in for six years of misery, of drinking, and depression. But it pulled me out, it immediately took away the desire to die. I had suicidal ideation everyday. And it went away, immediately. I still hurt but I just didn’t want to die. I wanted to get better. My friends and my family, my mom.
And two weeks later, I kept coming back, and it kept getting better each session. I wasn’t screaming as much, or I would even lose consciousness in the darkness. Katie said it was the depression that was lifting. And I started seeing a light, and I could feel things I hadn’t felt in years, and every – instead of seeing darkness and death, I started seeing light. And I hadn’t seen light in twenty years.
And she brought in a grief trauma therapist in one of my sessions and she sat through it with me, and guided me. Some visual imagery that helped me so much that when I would get these images in my head, I had to use things to get those images out. And the medication allowed me to do that – the ketamine did.
The ketamine was the key. It opened the inside of me that had been so dark and let it out. Everything that I had withdrawn into, the fear and the pain and the depression, it let me let it out finally with the guidance of the great staff here that have to take you through it cause you can’t go
through it alone. It was even like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders within two weeks. I began to talk again, and eat again, and I began to do things I hadn’t done in six years. I had quit drinking. I started going to AA meetings and I found a way to work through my addiction of alcohol that I had used to treat my depression for so long.
I could not have done it without ketamine. I come back now once a year for a maintenance dose. I don’t feel any – I start feeling a little sad in the holidays. My wife died December 4 and my dad died three weeks later, right after Christmas. And those years were just hell for me. So after I took ketamine I was actually able to be with my mother and sister and friends to get through Christmas and last year for the first time I was able to go to both Christmas and Thanksgiving with my family that I have left, and I haven’t been able to do that in six years.
I actually enjoyed being there. I wasn’t consumed with thoughts of the loss of my wife and father. I wish I had known four years, five years earlier that ketamine was there, and it may not have been. I don’t know. But the miracle of my story is my sister and my good friend Linda found it and they brought it to me. I couldn’t get here and they made the appointment and brought me.
And it saved my life. Not only did it save my life, it made me wanna live again and help people. And I work now at my old job at Helen Ross McNabb in recovery, and I help young men in recovery. And I’m in active recovery myself, not only for trauma and major depression, but from alcoholism and I love going to meetings everyday. It keeps me sober and in the right frame of mind, just like ketamine keeps the darkness and depression away from me. And I know I need to come back once a year for maintenance. I know if anything happens, I can call Katie and the staff here at any time and they’ll be here for me. And I just wish more people knew about this drug.
I tell people in my AA meetings that are suffering all the time who have quit drinking but are still suffering from depression, there is hope. Who have tried medicine after medicine. I know now that if I get depressed to where I don’t want to live again, I know there’s something that can get me out of that. And I’m just so grateful for that.