Spravato Treatment For Depression: My Experience Part 1
Some History and What The Treatment Is Like
Let's Start With Some Background Information On Me
My full story is a very long story, even the short version is a little long so please bear with me.
My depression started when I was 12 years old. At the time I didn't know what was wrong with me only that something wasn't right. As things continuously got worse I made 3 cries for help.
The first cry was subtle but made sense to me. I started dressing in all black all the time. Not in a gothic form of dress, just regular clothes but all black.
In my mind, the only time people wore all black was at funerals, and I was dressed in black because it represented death and how I was feeling. The sudden change was never questioned by my parents.
The second cry for help we had an in-class assignment in my English class in high school. On the assignment, I wrote a poem about death and suicide and handed the assignment in.
The next day it was returned to me, and there in red ink pen, was a note from the teacher saying that it was a great poem and I should consider entering a poem contest at the school. I threw it out on my way out the door.
My third and last cry for help was self-harm.
Late at night, I took a razor blade to my face and just started cutting. It was superficial, just enough to draw some blood but there were a lot of cuts. I went to school the next day knowing what I looked like.
I went through three-quarters of the day before a teacher pulled me aside and sent me to the office to speak with the counselor. They asked what had happened, I told them, they called my step-dad and he came and picked me up.
Not much was really done, he sent me to see a therapist where they did one of the depression tests and that's the first time I heard about depression and was told that's what I was suffering from.
Mental illnesses at that time weren't something that was really talked about.
Being sixteen years old and severely dressed I didn't continue to keep my appointments with the therapist and my step-dad didn't check to make sure I was going.
I figured if no one else cared why should I.
So I took the core essence of who I was, sealed it off in a small corner of my brain, and let the depression in and take over.
I was able to graduate high school and work but spent most of my free time playing computer games. If I was lost in a computer game I didn't have to deal with the thoughts in my head.
Treatments Finally Started
When I was 22 I finally broke down completely. That's a story in itself. In short, I had moved back to Canada, and my dad and step-mom knew something was wrong but didn't know what.
When I finally broke completely they got me in to see a therapist right away. During the discussion with him, he walked me over to the hospital, which was right across the street from his office, and had me admitted.
Around that time my application for a family doctor was also accepted and I was able to meet with him.
After two appointments, explaining everything to him, and he told me my depression was outside of his expertise to be able to treat and referred me to a psychiatrist.
For the next fifteen years, I went through every medication and medication combination the psychiatrist could throw at me. The medications either didn't do anything, had bad side effects, and didn't do anything, or in the case of a few started to help but after two or three months suddenly stopped.
We finally reached a point with the medications where there was nothing left to offer. It was waiting for the next new medication to come out and hoped it helped.
I did Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). I went through eight sessions without any sign of improvement so it was stopped.
I was referred for a consult in a trial for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for use with depression and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). The psychiatrists running the trials felt that those treatments wouldn't be effective with the type of depression I had.
I also did Ketamine infusions at my local hospital. There were some improvements, but the ketamine infusions are a short-term treatment.
There is a lot more, but as I said that is a very long story and I just wanted to give the gist of my history and what was tried.
The Spravato Esketaine Nasal Spray Treatment
I was started on the highest dose of the Spravato treatment which was somewhere around 80 to 90 mg in total.
At the time of starting the Spravato treatment, suicidal thoughts, urges and death fantasies were a daily, all-day thing. I would see everything from the start to the finish in my head, it was always visualized.
These could last 5 or 10 minutes or I could get lost in these thoughts for hours, either seeing the same death over and over or the same death with slight variations.
After the first treatment, suicidal urges were rare, and suicidal thoughts and death fantasies had calmed down to about two a day.
After the third treatment, it was rare for me to have those types of thoughts at all.
I'll get more into how things improved in another post, I want to just go over the experience of the treatment first.
What The Spravato Esketamine Treatment Is Like
I only can speak about what the treatment is like for me in full detail.
However, I have heard as patients are leaving the treatment who were there before me, and from the questions I sometimes got asked by the assistant, that it is far different than my experience.
I hear a lot of people will see all kinds of lights in the dark room. Some people have an out-of-body experience where they are somewhere else. Some even said they could just see an area they knew but as though seeing it from the sky looking down.
I have to say I feel kinda ripped off with my experience. For me, I feel as though all there is to me is my head, don't feel much of the rest of me.
My eyes always want to close, so I don't fight them and just let them close. Then all I see is black and all I do is think!
Sometimes I get lucky and it's just thinking about everyday things.
Other times I start thinking about the mysteries and vastness of space and what might be out there, or the meaning of life, why are we here, and are we here for a purpose more than chance. Even some more spiritual/religious thinking. Wonder if heaven is real, what would it look like, what would we feel there, etc.
Those were the types of things I thought about.
Before being given the first dose, your Blood Pressure (BP) was checked. Then you'd be given the nasal spray bottle and it is one spray up each nostril.
Depending on what dose you are being administered the checking of BP and then the next bottle, repeats up to a maximum of 3 bottles.
I believe it is somewhere around 28 mg a bottle.
fifty minutes later the doctor will come back in for another BP. You are at the clinic or doctor's office for 2 hours and they take one last BP before they let you go home.
I don't know about other people but once I get home I end up taking a two to four-hour nap. I'm still out of it a bit when I wake up. Just kind of feel like your overly tired, and just feel like being a couch potato watching mindless shows.
In the next post, I will talk more about the improvement I saw over the months of the treatment.
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About the author
I enjoy writing about many different topics but my main focus is mental health, mental illness, and specifically depression. I have a long personal experience with Severe Treatment-Resistant Depression and Anxiety.