NAD and ketamine infusions were a nightmare for me. They were horrific to endure and did not give any of the intended, and desired, results. For many, both of these treatments provide great relief from symptoms of severe depression. Finding stories from patients that did not have a positive experience is nearly impossible, which is why I am choosing to share.
A little background. NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is sometimes dubbed, “the fountain of youth”. NAD is a coenzyme found in all living molecules that is necessary for cellular metabolism. As we age, NAD greatly decreases. Other things that affect the amount of NAD we have are stress levels, diet, sleep, pregnancy/postpartum, chronic illness, amongst others. When it comes to depression, NAD is thought to effectively combat mood disorders because of its enzymatic activity on neurotransmitters and brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Since NAD is a naturally occurring substance, receiving this IV infusion seems to be a very natural and holistic approach to managing the cause of some mental illness, as opposed to treating the symptoms. So far, this all seemed amazing and worth a try! I did four NAD IV infusions in total. Each infusion lasted approximately six hours because I was very sensitive to the infusion and had to have a slow rate. When the rate of infusion was increased, I became very nauseous, had tremendous chest pressure and discomfort, as well as a headache. So, we took it slow. However, I did not respond well to this treatment. After each NAD infusion, I would acutely suffer heightened, impulsive suicidality for at least one week. It was incredibly frightening, and I truly thought I wouldn’t survive. Because case studies reveal such positive results, I persisted in trying more treatments to see if that reaction dissipated and would instead give me relief. Unfortunately, it did not.
Upon failing NAD infusions, I decided (along with my provider) that the next step for me would be to try ketamine infusions. I speak with women most days of the week through social media in hopes of supporting other Mothers enduring mental illness. But this time, I was the one thoroughly scrolling and reading posts about what has worked when everything else has seemed to fail. And in doing so, I kept coming across ketamine. I know people personally that have successfully treated their MDD with ketamine when nothing else seemed to work. And there seemed to be nearly no side effects in any of the published data. So again, why wouldn’t I try this? I was desperate for relief, for the pain and suffering to end. I was desperate to stop my mind from constantly whispering all the ways I could end my life throughout the day, and the reasons why I should do so. I was just desperate altogether.
The first ketamine infusion was done as a combination with my final NAD infusion. The ketamine seemed to make the NAD infusion more bearable, and I did not have the reactive suicidality after that infusion, but nothing else changed. The next, and final, ketamine infusion, sent me spiraling. Without the NAD, I felt the full effect of this medication. And I suppose, I did not know what to expect or what I would experience, which in hindsight maybe would have been helpful. I didn’t realize that I would be completely out of control of my body and mind; that the dissociation would have me feeling like I was suffocating against the ceiling; that I would be aware that none of this could actually be happening, but at the same time unable to change anything; that I would fight with every ounce of my strength to open just one eye in an effort to ground myself; that I would pray the entire 45 minutes for God to just let me die (because it felt like that was what was happening), or to wake me up. I just didn’t know. I think if I had, then I wouldn’t have tried it. But that is not the experience many people have. For the majority, this treatment provides a calming to their mind that carries over and ends the harmful thoughts. For me, I felt like I was in a constant state of panic. This feeling did not go away, and three days after that infusion I was drowning. My sisters and Gabe were thrown back to a time nearly three years ago where they were trying to support him from afar, and he was trying to remain calm while implementing a safety plan and caring for Olivia. I can only imagine the dread inside of him. I refused to go to the ER. I just felt that our local ERs wouldn’t have any idea what could possibly help this. Ketamine infusions are not mainstream, so I had zero expectation that doctors not performing them would know the protocols. But I was in crisis and I knew it. The next morning, on a Sunday, I was able to get ahold of my infusion doctor. He prescribed high doses of a sedating medication that has been shown to counteract the ketamine. I took it as prescribed and was no longer on the edge. However, I was also not back to where I was prior to that infusion. I had a massive increase in anxiety along with my continued severe depression. But one thing was notably gone, and that was the active suicidality. It had become passive, and over the coming weeks would dissipate further and further into the background. So, I am grateful for that piece of success in all of this. I’m not sure it was worth going through everything else, but you have to find the silver linings. For me, ketamine was an utterly terrifying experience. It was traumatizing in bizarre ways as I was left feeling disconnected from everything and everyone and having bouts of dissociation, which is not normal for me. It has been several weeks now, and I think I am finally getting back to my typical level of anxiety that I was experiencing prior to that ketamine infusion.
My mind is definitely a problem child. My infusion doctor was so saddened by the results of all of this. He has had such great success and is determined to keep working with me to help me. He has been fantastic despite the treatments causing such backsliding. He was the one provider that recommended the GeneSight testing to determine which medications were a better fit for my genetics. Turns out, most of the ones I failed were not on my list of good matches, go figure. But it was really nice to have objective information that we could use in developing a treatment plan. I highly recommend having that test done to anybody struggling with their mental health and finding the proper medications.
I am currently doing TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) therapy for my depression. I looked into it earlier in the year prior to doing the infusions. However, the only locations were in Spokane, and it required a daily commitment of at least 6 weeks. And what was I supposed to do with Olivia during this time? At that time, I felt like there was no way for that scheduling to work. So, I went the infusion route first. But I can look back now and see that those steps were all necessary to get me to the treatment center I am currently at.
God truly works in the craziest ways. The path you take is never by chance. My continuing to seek out treatment and find all these amazing connections is only because of Him. The impact this will have on my future, and hopefully the future of many others, is only because of God. And yet, I still doubt Him. I doubt that He will see me through; that He will not leave me suffering forever (even into eternity); that He is punishing me. On and on the ruminations go. But God is always good. Even when all I see is darkness. Even when all I feel is agony and pray for death. HE IS GOOD. The other stuff? It’s all just lies… Very, very believable lies when you are shrouded in mental illness, but lies nonetheless!
TMS seems to be going well as I am in the middle of my third week, and I will absolutely post an update here when I am a little further in!
If you have tried any of these treatments, I would love to hear from you! And if you need support, a place to vent, resources, etc, my inbox is always open!
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