Ketamine Addiction & My Journey Out of the Hole of Depression

Ketamine Addiction & My Journey Out of the Hole of Depression

by

Listen to Executive Director Gabriel Nathan read this post aloud:

Ketamine is a huge drug in the UK. Droves of ravers take it to float around clubs and have a fun night. A few keys up their nose waiting for the taxi. Sneaky bumps as they queue outside the venue. A line in the toilet before they hit the dance floor. Constantly topping up with small amounts throughout the night, to remain on that tender cusp between ecstasy and malfunction.

Taken like this, ketamine may not make the user vulnerable. But if they take one bump too many, then chaos ensues, their night becomes one of horror and confusion.

As the unwitting individual sinks inside a ket-hole, they panic; they are filled with overwhelming dread. Not everyone can handle this debilitating state. If treated carelessly, ketamine will toy with those who misjudge it like an angry child snapping the head off a doll. Sadly, they become just another unfortunate victim, unwillingly thrust into a world of its own making.

However, there are those who seek this hole. People who yearn to be plunged from reality. They like the disassociation. Hallucinations. Gratification that there is a realm other than their own.

I am one of those people. Ketamine was used to escape from myself. For years, I hated who I was. I had accumulated such a worthless self-image. I was nothing, just a speck of shit on the end of everybody else’s shoes.

This self-loathing had built up over many years. It wasn’t something I realised was happening until it was almost too late. At fifteen, I began to drink. Like with most young people, alcohol was the first substance I tried. I was instantly hooked. It provided a glow to the world I had never witnessed before. I embraced intoxication full-throttle. Soon, I yearned to try more. That’s when I started sniffing uppers. Other drugs that feigned self-confidence.

Little did I realise that I was, in fact, riddled with social anxiety. I guess I always had been. I started off as a quiet, shy kid, who coped with that by blossoming into the class clown. As an adult, I overanalysed every interaction, believing I was strange, and that people wouldn’t like me. To combat these feelings, I continued down the tumultuous path of addiction.

Six years of drug use later, I was at a house party when my best friend died of an overdose. I found him. His face was blue. Rigor mortis had set in. But where was I? Shouldn’t I have saved him? To this day, I don’t know what happened. I was blacked out on a sofa, high on the same narcotics that had killed him.

I still remember trying to resuscitate him. Pump, pump, pump on his cold, still chest. A puff of air to his tightly clasped lips. It was futile. I knew it. But I wouldn’t give up until the paramedics arrived and declared him gone.

That should have been a pivotal moment where I decided to quit drugs. And, for a short while, that was my plan. It didn’t last long. I convinced myself only uppers were the problem. MDMA had killed my friend. If I just stopped doing that, everything else would be fine. That’s when I turned to ketamine for solace. I tried it a few times before but never really liked it. Now it comforted me in my darkest hour.

It transported me to bizarre but brilliant worlds where I wasn’t myself. Where I rode a rollercoaster through whatever media I watched, experienced alien abduction, the formation of the universe or, quite literally, ascended out of the Matrix like Neo in the films.

For a while, it lifted me out of my depression. I was constantly high, so I had no time to be low. I had an overflow of money due to my student loans, therefore I could always afford it, and I always did. But the more I did it, the higher my tolerance became. Soon, I was doing gram lines of the stuff and hardly getting a hit. That’s when my depression really spiralled out of control and, in turn, my social anxiety worsened.

 

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I shut myself in my apartment for weeks, missing lectures, hardly speaking to friends. The only friend I kept in contact with was my bag of horse tranquiliser and even that wasn’t comforting me anymore.

Somehow, I managed to achieve my creative writing degree. How? I don’t know. I scraped a 2:1 by the skin of my teeth. With university over, my addiction and poor mental health was still there. I continued to take ketamine regularly. I moved back home with my mum, worked in warehouses to fund the habit, and let my passion for writing go to waste.

Eventually, this culminated in my mum finding out about my drug habits. In 2020, I overdosed and ended up in hospital amid the thrall of the pandemic. Carted in the back of an ambulance, I thought I was about to die. I wept and begged God not to take me yet. I wasn’t a religious person, but isn’t it funny; even those who have no belief turn to God for assistance when they need Him most.

He answered my pleas. I am alive. I am still here. Since then, for the past four years I have undergone a journey of steady self-discovery. I chose to look inwardly and face my demons rather than block them out.

I began to exercise, meditate, and journal. Those three things people much smarter than me say aid mental health recovery. For so long I brushed them off as being bollocks. They will never work for me. Gratefully, I was wrong.

Through implementing these new daily techniques, I regained a semblance of humanity. Gradually, I became a better person. A nihilism which had fuelled my outlook was slowly vanquished. I started to care about myself, about others, and about the world around me. I stopped lying, shunned my self-destructiveness, and realised that I needed to seek help.

This is when I contacted a local substance rehabilitation charity. Rather than try to fight my demons alone, I asked for their guidance. Whilst I struggled to get sober at first, they helped me understand myself. My drug use was a learned coping mechanism I turned to whenever I experienced any stress. This had been my coping mechanism since I was fifteen, therefore it was deeply ingrained in my psyche. They warned me that changing this would be difficult, but as long as I wanted to change, then it could be done.

It has been a long, bumpy road. I have made many mistakes along the way. But all these mistakes shaped me into the person I am today.

Some days I still miss ketamine and the ability it had to snatch me from my sober reality. I had some of my most profound experiences on the drug. But they were ephemeral. And coming down only made my sober reality much worse.

Because of it, I almost lost many cherished aspects of my life. It almost made me homeless. It almost tarnished the few relationships I had left. It ravaged my insides to the point where my organs were being devoured by the powder. I almost lost my life. And I struggle to forgive myself for that.

But I do try to forgive myself every day. I still consistently battle with my mental health. I am still overtly nervous whenever I speak to new people. I still choose to avoid certain social situations. I still have days where all I want to do is curl up in bed and not move. These are aspects of my personality I can never escape, although I tried to flee with various substances for thirteen gruelling years.

For anybody who uses ketamine the same way I did, I beg you, please don’t get lost inside its holes. They can be hard to climb out of. They are wondrous when within them. But eventually, you must climb out, and like me, hopefully never fall back into their pits.

Now, I have been free of their depths for almost a year. Yes, after my overdose, it took me another three years to finally quit. But again, this is something I must forgive myself for.

Thankfully, with the help of my substance support worker, I managed to embrace sobriety. Being completely sober has changed my life. I now wake up with a motivation to succeed that I thought was obsolete. I have energy; a light surrounds my eyes. I will never allow myself to fall back inside those holes again. Despite their mirages, they are in fact, dark and lonely places. And because I chose to climb out, today, I can finally say I am doing okay.

 

 

​EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR / EDITOR: Gabriel Nathan | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | SITE ORIGINATOR: Bud Clayman

 

 

Daniel is a budding writer and blogger from Leeds, England. Whilst he has always had a creative mind, for thirteen years he struggled with addiction, depression, and social anxiety. Now, he has mostly overcome those challenges, and rather than let his passion for writing go to waste, he chose to try to make it his career. With the publication of this essay, he hopes it is the first real step towards making his dreams come true, but he also hopes it will help anybody reading who can relate. If you would like to read more of his work, you can access his blog here: danielgaughan.com.