Read Sober Psychonaut disclaimer for people in sobriety exploring psychedelic medicine.
After prepping my Mindbloom box contents and following instructions for preparation for ketamine therapy, i was ready to connect with Billie, my guide, who’d been texting me during the week to see if I had questions or concerns she could support me with. (Read part 1 of what happened during my first ketamine for depression therapy session)
Introduction to my ketamine therapy guide
She was younger than I thought she would be, cute, with long, curly dark hair, but mature, grounded, confident—and I had specifically chosen her based on her Mindbloom bio.
Billie asked me how my morning had gone and walked through how the process would go. Parts of it were a little scripted, as though she was reading from a guidebook, but I figured the guides all have to do that to some extent, in order to cover the bases.
My friend Tuey whom I had selected as my Peer Treatment Monitor (required by Mindbloom, a trusted friend or family member to check in on you while you’re taking ketamine), was included for part of it so he would know when to check in on me.
- Once I took the medicine and put on the headphones and eye mask, he would set a timer for 60 minutes and then check in on me every 15 minutes to see how I was doing.
- At the end of 60 minutes he would touch my shoulder to rouse me and I would start to come back to to the room.
- After that I would journal a bit and reconnect with Billie on Zoom at 12:30 pm.
Round-trip: About two hours for the whole appointment.
When Tuey left the room, Billie had me sit on a chair with my feet on the floor so we could check my blood pressure. I removed the wrist cuff from its little white box in the Mindbloom kit (I’d previously charged it up at home) and wrapped it around my left forearm.
With Billie watching, I pushed the start button and the cuff began to squeeze and measure: 117/70 with pulse of 60.
A computerized voice read the numbers out loud and I also held it up so she could see it on- screen.
“117/70,” I repeated after the device, “I’m usually pretty low.”
You place a dissolvable tablet under your tongue or inside one of your cheeks and lean forward slightly so you don’t swallow your saliva, which you have to hold in your mouth for seven minutes. Once the seven minutes is up, you spit that out into a cup you already have prepared nearby.
Billie asked me to expand on the idea of loving living so I could get more present to my intention for this ketamine therapy session. Soon afterwards she signed off and I took my medicine. I put on my headphones and played the first seven-minute Mindbloom soundtrack on Soundcloud, “The Meaning of Life,” by a guy named Sam Harris, talking about the trivial things people tend to focus on in life⏤but all there ever is, is now.
I could feel my mouth growing numb and tingly and after seven minutes I spit in the cup, swished with Gatorade, spit again, laid back against the pillows and adjusted my eye mask for the journey as the playlist rolled into a reiki healing track. Billie had advised me I could switch to the next track if I preferred but I resisted the temptation to control any aspect of the experience, starting right then.
I took the ketamine and here’s what happened
Right after spitting out the ketamine and saliva mix and falling back on the pillows, I felt a rush of sadness. The tears leaked out around the eye pads of the Mindbloom mask they sent me.
“I just don’t want to be left alone,” was the feeling behind it.
Maybe it was the release of grief and sadness I had just shared with Billie before we got started. The duality of life, how.I had created the intention of love living and all that it entails, including death.
I also made a point of not getting attached to “don’t leave me all alone” or to any of the other randomness that crossed the movie screen of my mind during the next hour, from what I would write about to whether anything was actually happening to friends I hadn’t seen in awhile whom I really loved and who make me laugh to mild boredom to thinking about who else might benefit from ketamine therapy.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and knew my hour was up. I couldn’t remember the last 1/2 hour, it seemed. I stirred, then sat up. Swigged some Gatorade. Felt fine, lucid, normal. Reached for my journal and realized it was already time to Zoom back in with Billie first.
We had a 20- to 30- minute follow-up session with questions about any physical sensations and anything I wished to share. Took my blood pressure. Did I feel nauseated? No.
Billie advised me to be sure to hydrate, take it easy, set aside time to journal today.
Also consider neuroplasticity, she reminded, and the brain’s heightened ability to make new connections in the days following after taking ketamine. Keep writing and going inward, caring for self.