My unpleasant experience with ketamine infusion

On the whole the staff were professional and kind I felt they genuinely cared about my well-being. The facility was clean and comfortable. On the downside I feel I wasn’t well prepared for the aftermath. The experience for the first hour or so was very interesting and euphoric at times. I didn’t experience any especially unpleasant content or disturbing emotions, but it was much more intense and psychedelic than I expected. It’s sort of like lucid dreaming. At times I lost touch when my own sense of self, sort of like a dream-within-a-dream where you lose track of what’s real, and can’t remember basic things about yourself.

After that I think was about an hour-and-a-half, they moved me to a recovery room, but I was surprisingly dysfunctional. The videos I watched didn’t really prepare for me the comedown. I felt very fatigued and dull. It took great effort just to walk. I felt unsteady on my feet and slowly shuffled to the recovery room like a geriatric stroke victim. I had trouble with my memory and found it difficult to engage in intIelligent conversation. It was hard just to form complete sentences. Sometimes I just forgot what I wanted to say mid-sentence.

Three days later and I’m still feeling dull and tired. For the last few days, I feel like I’ve lost 10 or 20 IQ points. I’m having trouble focusing on my work, making decisions, staying on task, and remembering things–even having trouble spelling common words when writing in my journal.

I thought the session would leave me feeling energized and having a positive outlook, but the depleted, hungover, spaced out feeling is very troublesome. It’s left me feeling damaged and depressed. I’ve been in a fantastic mood for the past few weeks, but after feeling a bit drunk, tired and dizzy more than 72 hours alter, I’m really left me feeling on the verge of tears.

When I talked to the Illumma staff about my feelings, they said “it’s OK if you feel like crying, Ketamine can help open up feeling you have been repressing” and said I may “need time to process the emotions that have been brought up.” I replied to clarify, “it’s not a matter of needing time to process any emotional content”–nothing unpleasant or negative came up. It’s the hungover feeling which is really disturbing me because it’s left me feeling like a half-wit–my memory and executive function seems to be impaired. Yet again, they wrote, “everything that ketamine brings up is just under the surface, so looking at what comes up feedback and insight from your system is an important awareness tool.” (yes, the grammar of their response was a bit garbled like that.)

The way they keep insisting that I feel drained and depleted is because of the supposed unconscious content I need to process is irritating. It’s patronizing, and feels like they are gaslighting me into thinking there is some imaginary trauma I need to deal with, when in fact this drug has left me feeling like a burnout for days, and I wasn’t given any warning that I might feel this way. I want my brain back.

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That can be one of the side effects of ketamine. I sometimes feel physically and mentally exhausted for a week post infusion.

I wonder if maybe you got too strong of a hit. As a BIG guy… I wasn’t bothered, but I am 6’2 240. Folks with smaller body mass seem to have more post infusion than us big dudes… no judgment about size at all… when the subject was broached, were you offered a less powerful dose? The reason I say this is that someone I met complained of the same type of issues, the provider backed off the potency, and everything was fine. I hope you find what you need.

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I am so sorry this was your experience. I have had mainly good experiences. However I do have memory issues and do feel fatigued for several days.

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I’m sorry to hear that, too. Echoing what others have said above, my initial experiences (first 2-3 infusions?) left me feeling exhausted and unable to communicate. I talked to the folx at my clinic who said that ketamine can create a short-term brain fog and to give it about 3 days or so after the last infusion (of my initial series) to see how I feel. For me, I appreciated the practical response rather than the “it’s probably an emotional response you’ve been suppressing - journal about it!” response. Journaling is great, dgmw. I wanted to know if I was going to be able to think straight again, though.

Hang in there. It’s a process and some clinics have better techniques than others, it sounds like…

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Thank you all. It’s very helpful just to hear that others have had a similar experience—and recovered. I’m feeling better now four days later. But still I’m concerned that something which can leave you feeling incapacitated for so long might be damaging. :scream:

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I found that I had greater energy the next day,I usually nap right after therapy. Six sessions have improved my focus, and I complete tasks that have been left undone for years!

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I’m sorry to hear you didn’t have a particularly pleasant experience. I did feel wiped-out afterward and I have had 3 infusions so far, each better than the last, but I accomplished absolutely nothing for the rest of those 3 days. I was supposed to go to a work function on Saturday evening and had to cancel - the thought of having to make small talk was too much. It reminds me a little bit of doing ecstasy in the 80’s! Fantastic pleasure for an hour and then 12 hours of walking through molasses and general dull-wittedness.

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My ketamine experiences have all been positive. Having said that, I will also say that I wouldn’t call most of them pleasant. Nothing that I would call bad (nothing like the street blotters that gave me a bad trip many, many years ago), but not pleasant. In some ways, I dread going in for my boosters. I started with troches after my last clinic session (1 in fractions to start, 3 full ones so far). It will be interesting to see how the in-betweens effect the injections.

My experiences haven’t been like ones mentioned in this thread. My clinic staff have all been very professional and caring (but never clinical…I say this as a Good Thing). My clinic does IM, in a series of 3 injections, 1 every 30 minutes. Afterwards they use a wheelchair. Most of my discomfort has come along with the success of the clinic…I can’t chill/come down in the treatment room as long, because they need it for someone else. I get it, no problem. But, that has resulted in nausea/vomiting because of the motion. Once I get home and stationary I am fine. I am wiped out for the day, but it seems a small price to pay, considering the results.

When I talked with them about the “bumpy ride”, they said that I wasn’t the only one, and what they have been doing is starting the first shot at full dose, then tapering off a little with each successive injection. That has helped a lot, as far as the “bumpy ride” goes. I still need the barf bag to go home with, but like I said, small price to pay.

Mental after effects…I realized that (for me) it was best to just let it roll over me. I don’t try to analyze any of it, during or after. I have learned to just sit back and observe/feel. If I try to think about any of it, I start heading towards the panic that the street blotters gave me. It isn’t always comfortable, rarely if ever pleasant, but I always make it through OK and it always helps in the long run.

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I’m on infusion 3…I agree…its been a bizzare process…and I’m feeling just out of it for days after. I told them not to up my dosage…my first infusion was pretty good. Everyone responds differently…

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Thanks for sharing your experience, Salty. I am curious what the rationale is for giving you the IM injections in 3 doses half hour apart? I too get IM injections however, I get the full dose all a once.

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I don’t remember the reason for sure. I’ll ask the next time I talk/visit them. I think that it is full dose 3 times to be comparable to 1 hour IV. The half hour part is based on the 30 minute half-life of ketamine. That is also why they started doing the progressive step down. For (humorous) example, if they start with 1 liter to start with, when they come back to do the next “leg” (that’s how they refer to it) of 1 liter, 500 ml is still circulating, the third “leg” would end up being 1 liter + 750 ml, almost double the starter.

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Love that description!! I get one full dose shot that last about 40 minutes before I start coming back. Just curious if I should be questioning methodology. Thanks for sharing.

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Another thing, they have countdown timers (Time Timer, brand name) that show remaining time, which I like, because if things start getting uncomfortable, even if a bit dissociative, I can see how far I am into it/how long I have to go. The 3 dose cycle is a bit of a roller-coaster. By the 3rd “leg”, I am not entirely sure when they give me the 3rd injection.

With 1 injection/40 min., how often do you do it? Perhaps I should question My People. I guess that could be part of the discussion of why 3 legs.

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I participate in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP). My therapist is with me the entire time. She is there strictly to help with things like you struggled with the timer. If she sees I am having a difficult time she will say things like you’re safe or you’re also done… She also observes my body language and expression during this period.
As I am coming back we begin to process the visions. The more I return the more we work on processing the session and integrate the means into everyday life. I am there at least 3 hours. I went every 10-14 days for the first 6 sessions and I do lozenge once to twice a week in between sessions. Typically the recommend 3-6 sessions. However, I have Chronic PTSD so I will go back for a more sessions in a couple of weeks. It has definitely helped me. For me, the processing with therapist is vital.

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I have read a little about KAP here, and my friend who does nasal spray and troches/lozenges says his therapist does some talk therapy during his treatments.

Unfortunately, my clinic doesn’t provide that service (I don’t think they do). But I like them. They provide their services in a very relaxed atmosphere. In their previous location they had big bean-bag chairs and floor to ceiling windows in some rooms with a view of the mountains. They still have a good view (they only moved about 1/4 mile down the street). I also started taking the mild tranquilizer they offer a little before the injections. That has helped with anxiety when the effects start.

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You shouldn’t have to suffer the nausea Salty. Ask them for an anti-nausea pill or antiemetic before starting. I’m sure they have that available.

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Love it! Thanks Rafael!

This is My Guy.

Deb, here is your answer as to the way my treatment goes.

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Since I am a techno-peasant, I’m not sure how all of these new-fangled systems work, so this might be a repeat.

See my reply to Rafael’s post. There is the answer about my treatments.

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