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Innerbloom Ketamine Therapy: A Patient’s Experience

This month, we are delighted to share the Innerbloom Ketamine Therapy process from a patient’s perspective. Our beloved patient, who will remain anonymous, volunteered to recount her experience from start to finish. This patient has suffered mainly from depression and has tried multiple modalities of treatment including antidepressants and talk-therapy without much relief. She came to us after enduring a particularly difficult holiday season and was ready to try something new.

An artist's painting of white geese which are bright white as highlighted by an unseen sun and flying in formation above a brown field in front of dark clouds

I am a thirty year old female born and raised in California. I have experienced bouts of depression periodically since the onset of puberty. Usually, I am highly-functioning with a sunny disposition, so these depressive episodes feel especially crippling in contrast to my ‘normal’ sense of equilibrium. I’ve been prone to feelings of extreme anxiety, stress and deep dissatisfaction with myself and my life, resulting in sleeplessness, as well as excessive sleep at times, excessive alcohol consumption and instances of self-harm. While caught in these episodes, even performing the most basic tasks can become incredibly overwhelming. My depression has a substantial negative effect on my life, as well as effecting the people close to me.

My experience at Innerbloom started with a phone consult with Dr. Rivas, where we discussed my current mental health issues and my medical history. I was nervous to disclose personal and sensitive details about my past, however Dr. Rivas’ professional, yet comforting demeanor put me at ease. He thoroughly explained the process of the infusion treatment plan and took a lot of time to answer my numerous questions about ketamine and the science behind it. I was surprised that he seemed to truly care to get to know me, not just my medical issues. Next, I filled out an electronic intake form, which did not take long to complete. Dr. Rivas then personally called me and we developed my unique treatment schedule. I chose to do two infusions a week, which Dr. Rivas assured me was appropriate for my condition. I was nervous leading up to my first infusion day, because despite doing hours of my own research, I still had no idea what to expect once the infusion began.

When I arrived at the clinic, I was greeted by a very affectionate Golden Retriever, who immediately made me feel better. Next, I sat down with Dr. Rivas and we discussed what the ketamine experience may feel like. I was comforted to know that someone would remain in the treatment room at all times to look after me. He explained that many people experience a full range of emotions, from joy to sorrow, and that tears are not uncommon. This made me feel better, as I am a very sensitive person. I was gifted a welcome kit which included a journal, essential oils, and locally made tea! I then entered the treatment room and the adorable puppy, Ellie, came too. She was so sweet and cuddled up right next to me. Nurse Nina came in and encouraged me to take off my shoes and get comfortable. We then practiced some calming breathing exercises and we discussed my intentions with Dr. Rivas. Nina adeptly started the IV and provided me with eyeshades and a headset to listen to a curated music playlist. The music was very relaxing and beautiful while I waited for the effects of the ketamine to begin. I listened to about three songs before I started to feel different. I adjusted the blanket with my hand and my fingers somehow felt both heavy and light, simultaneously. I could tell that I was about to embark on a very strange experience. I began to see warm colors swirling together in my mind’s eye. The images spun together in time with the beat of the music. At first I was inside of a loom, with threads of beautiful, soft fabrics whirling around me. I felt incredibly warm and protected, as if I were a baby being swaddled. The images continued to change, from a beautiful Sonora desert scene, to a lush, dark forest, I flew through the sky exploring the most beautiful parts of the Earth. Most of the experience didn’t make sense at all, just moving shapes, colors and textures, but at one point I sensed that I was with my boyfriend, and I felt a great sense of love and connection as we rode a futuristic roller coaster together. I traveled down within myself performing a sort of ‘body scan’ and saw that each part of me was doing perfectly well. I can’t say exactly why, but the experience left me with a great sense of peace, and imparted me with a feeling that I have the inner fortitude to overcome my challenges. When the ketamine started to wear off, I was suddenly aware of how disconnected my body felt. At first I felt a bit confused, but the effects of the ketamine quickly began to drift away. Dr. Rivas and Nina welcomed me back to reality, eagerly waiting to hear about my experience. They gave me a cup of hot tea and we discussed what I saw and how I felt. I felt giddy with happiness and they told me that I had a huge smile on my face for the majority of my session.

My next infusions were fairly similar, each featuring beautiful scenes from nature with the sensation that I was soaring through the air. After my first two infusions, Dr. Rivas raised my dose of ketamine and my ‘dream sequences’ became more intense.  During the next infusion (with the new dose level) I became a bit overwhelmed with the images and sensations. Instead of relaxing and letting it wash over me as I had done before, I began to resist, fighting to control the images in my mind. This only made things worse, the more I fought it, the darker and more intense the trip became. Right as I began to believe the infusion would go on forever, I was brought back to reality by Dr. Rivas gently patting me on the arm, telling me everything was alright.

A surreal photo of a woman wearing a large black brimmed hat looking down at the ground while standing in the middle of a desert in the southwest United States

On Dr. Rivas’ recommendation, I have been working hard to maintain a healthier diet, get daily exercise and to keep an earlier bedtime. I can’t say that I suddenly woke up a ‘whole new woman’ however, the change in me has been subtle. Getting out of bed has become easier, and I no longer feel a sense of dread upon first waking up in the morning. I’ve been choosing to take more walks and spend less time on my phone, opting to do things that I know are good for me. Even my boyfriend pointed out my long-lasting good mood, remarking on my improved disposition! Ketamine wasn't a magic bullet for me, I’ve still had some darker days, but now I’m choosing to fight through them instead of letting the pain and the hurt overpower me, and for that new willpower I am truly grateful. My experience with Innerbloom is one I will never forget.  From start to finish the staff were there for me every step of the way.

Dr. Rivas truly cares about the details, from the beautiful art on the walls to the soothing smells of essential oils, he goes above and beyond to make you feel welcome and safe.

To those of you questioning if ketamine is right for you, I would absolutely recommend Innerbloom Ketamine Therapy. Trust the process and go all in, and you won’t be disappointed.

Tags: anxiety, best ketamine clinic, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, golden retriever, iv ketamine, ketamine, ketamine infusion, ketamine therapy, mental health, psychedelics, san luis obispo, therapy dog

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