Oh Well, At Least I’m On Ketamine
2024 will be a critical election for trans people. Republicans are still campaigning on anti-trans bills despite disappointing results in the midterms. The leading contenders for the Republican nomination are Donald Trump — whose shortcomings are, uh, well known — and Ron DeSantis, whose animus toward trans and queer people could easily lead to something like a nationwide ban on gender-affirming care. Add to this that Joe Biden is not a strong campaigner; keeping him in office is far from a best-case scenario for most trans people, but it’s the best outcome we can hope for from this specific election, and it’s not assured.
Yep: It’s a pretty stressful situation, all right. That’s why I can’t write about any of it right now, because I’m on ketamine.
It’s an exaggeration to say that I’m “on” ketamine. I didn’t just put the tablet in my mouth and start typing. (Maybe I should???) I subscribed to one of those mail-order ketamine therapy things, and I finished my sixth and final treatment on Sunday night.
Those mail-order ketamine things are, notoriously, not the optimal way to receive treatment — if you have an in-person therapist, it’s safer and better to go to a clinic and receive treatment with your therapist in the room. Still, I have a good trauma therapist, who works with me remotely, and I have a long-standing meditation practice, so I’m pretty good at managing difficult emotions in the moment, and I’m in a rural area, so driving a few hours to the nearest ketamine clinic every week was impractical. This was not the best option, but it was my best option, and I went into it with my eyes open.
Why did I need ketamine? Well — leaving aside the question of whether anyone needs a reason to dissociate on their couch rather than face reality — I have PTSD, and one of my particular problems is looping, repetitive, intrusive thoughts. These thoughts are typically about past conflicts, and they’re a natural response to stress. Your brain is wired to focus disproportionately on threats to your safety; by replaying every argument I’ve ever had on a loop, my brain was trying to figure out a strategy that would allow me to escape those situations.