“After six ketamine therapy sessions, I’m a different person”

“After six ketamine therapy sessions, I’m a different person”

I walked out of the first session exhausted but with a smile on my face

Who: Patrick Fletch, a 50-year-old automotive service business owner

Treatment: Six ketamine treatments with psychotherapy

I started experimenting with recreational drugs in the late 1980s, when I was a teenager living in Cambridge, Ontario. I’d take shrooms at bush parties when I wanted to mellow out, or I’d do LSD at house parties when I wanted to get a bit wild. I remember being on an acid trip and coming home after a party. My dad was at the top of the stairs letting me have it, but I couldn’t stop laughing because he looked and spoke like the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

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As I grew older, my recreational drug use decreased. I was growing my career in the operations side of automotive service departments. Alcohol felt like a more acceptable substance to consume at events and meetings. By my 40s, I would considered myself a heavy drinker. I was a stress puppy at that time, and drinking was a way to relax. I didn’t have a life or any interests or hobbies outside of work and my relationships suffered.

Something that I found very interesting was the idea of going on a psychedelic retreat. Friends told me I could go to Peru, go up into the mountains with a shaman, and do ayahuasca, a psychoactive brew made from the leaves of a shrub. I always planned on doing it as a mental reset when I turned 50 in May of 2021. Then, of course, Covid hit.

I was building a business with some partners and had started to notice some trigger points for me running a business through Covid. I began to question what I was doing with my life. Around that time, my doctor diagnosed me with PTSD. I had seen close friends and acquaintances struggle with opioids and other medications, so I was concerned with taking prescription drugs and looked for alternative treatment options.

In December of 2020, I heard about the concept of microdosing from a Joe Rogan podcast. The idea was to take small amounts of psilocybin to help calm your anxieties. So I ordered some online. I took one microdose every two or three days. It made me a much more pleasant person. My days didn’t seem as challenging, and I became highly productive. Then, a close friend told me about Field Trip, a Toronto clinic offering integrated ketamine therapy.

In February, I contacted the clinic, and a staff member reached out the next day to talk about my challenges and what I was hoping to get out of the therapy. That conversation was followed by two phone calls with a doctor, which happened a few days later. They explained that they would administer low doses of ketamine which have a similar effect to a hallucinogen. It would allow my mind to go into a state of introspection, and I would be able to work through my stress. Each ketamine experience would be combined with psychotherapy sessions before and after the treatments.

They gave me the option of doing three or six treatments—I chose to do the latter because I wanted the full effect, but it wasn’t cheap. It cost just under $5,000, and my health benefits didn’t cover any of it.

We started with two psychotherapy sessions in early March, which happened over Zoom. They encouraged me to enter each session with a specific question that I wanted to know the answer to. For example, “Why am I so frustrated with my business?” They also told me to cut out any substances while I was doing the treatments. That meant no THC, no CBD, no alcohol, no microdosing.

My fiancée drove me to the clinic for my first treatment since the ketamine would make me sleepy afterward. When I arrived, the clinicians asked me how I was feeling, and I was pretty relaxed. A medical doctor came in to administer the ketamine. It was an orange-flavored lozenge that looked like a piece of candy. I was told to hold the lozenge in my mouth but not to swallow it because then the effects would be diluted, and it could make me nauseous.

The therapist stayed with me in the room for the treatment. I laid down on a couch and was given eyeshades, headphones playing relaxing music, and a weighted blanket. After 10 minutes or so, they instructed me to spit the lozenge out in a cup, and I started to feel the effects of the ketamine. I felt like I was looking into outer space. It was The Twilight Zone with words, letters, and numbers floating around. I’m not sure how long I was in it, but I talked with the therapist for a bit when I got up. I left that experience realizing that all of the answers I needed were in my head; I just had to sort them out. I walked out of the session, exhausted but with a smile on my face. I came home and slept for six hours, even though it was the middle of the day.

For the next few sessions, I went into them asking questions like “Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?” and “Why am I 50 years old and worrying so much about the wrong things?” I remember during one session, it felt like I was in a dark room with red velvet walls. And then out of this velvet wallpaper came a beating heart. After the trip, I talked it through with the therapist and uncovered some feelings buried from growing up. The session made me feel highly appreciative of my fiancée and my love for her.

I went into my last session with a big question about what direction I should be taking my business and how to become a better partner. After I walked out, I sat on it for a few hours, realizing that I could make changes in my business to improve my life. Then I mapped out all the changes that I would make with the company and started to execute my vision.

A few weeks later, my fiancée organized a small distanced gathering for my 50th birthday. I felt younger than I felt on my 40th, and I felt excited about a new chapter in my life and what was to come. If I hadn’t gone through the ketamine experiences and psychotherapy sessions, I think I would have spent my 50th birthday feeling angry—about Covid, about my business, about my life direction. But the ketamine experiences helped me realize and understand how good life is for me and the many positives I have experienced. I plan to do another six ketamine sessions before the end of the year.