Lauren Clements

@thelightholder | contributor
Lauren Clements is a 25-year-old photographer and mental health advocate, living in Tennessee. She lives with borderline personality disorder, depression, OCD, C-PTSD and anxiety. She is passionate about helping others and using her voice for good.

My Experience of Ketamine Treatment for Depression

By the spring of 2019, I was tired. I had been fighting major depressive disorder (MDD) , anxiety , borderline personality disorder (BPD), complex PTSD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) for many years. One of my biggest struggles was severe, chronic suicidal ideation. In just four years, I had survived over a dozen suicide attempts. I had been through a tremendous amount of treatment and nothing was working. Over 20 hospitalizations, three stays at residential treatment facilities, several different PHP programs , nearly every single antidepressant and mood stabilizer on the market, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) therapy and much more. I felt absolutely helpless and had given up on myself, just as many mental health professionals had given up on me. Even someone in my own family said to me, “I think you are just too far gone.” Too far gone. Is anyone really too far gone? I was towards the end of my nearly three-month stay in residential treatment in Chicago when ketamine was mentioned to me. It was a last resort treatment option for me, as everyone in my life was concerned that I would not live much longer. Ketamine treatment for depression has been controversial, but I was open to anything, so I agreed to it. A few short weeks later, I received my first ketamine infusion. It was one hour long and I had six infusions in total. I have received lots of questions about my experience with ketamine, so I wanted to share. The one-hour infusion feels very, very weird. There are no words to describe the experience when you’re receiving high doses of ketamine. It puts you into a very dissociative state where nothing feels real and your memories don’t feel like your own. I felt like I was floating. Some of the infusions are also known to take you to a very dark place temporarily and can even leave you feeling more depressed for a few days afterward. This happened to me, and I had to be hospitalized before completing my last two infusions. After completing all six infusions, within just a few days, I noticed a huge difference within myself. My severe, chronic suicidal ideation was nearly nonexistent. My unrelenting, intense depression felt much more manageable. Now, nearly six months after completing the infusions, I remain free of suicidal ideation and the rest of my symptoms are much easier to manage. That’s not to say I don’t still have my struggles or even relapse from time to time, because recovery is a lifelong journey and it is not linear. However, ketamine saved my life. Combined with intense individual therapy, I am finally recovering and my mental illnesses no longer consume my life.

My Experience of Ketamine Treatment for Depression

By the spring of 2019, I was tired. I had been fighting major depressive disorder (MDD) , anxiety , borderline personality disorder (BPD), complex PTSD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) for many years. One of my biggest struggles was severe, chronic suicidal ideation. In just four years, I had survived over a dozen suicide attempts. I had been through a tremendous amount of treatment and nothing was working. Over 20 hospitalizations, three stays at residential treatment facilities, several different PHP programs , nearly every single antidepressant and mood stabilizer on the market, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) therapy and much more. I felt absolutely helpless and had given up on myself, just as many mental health professionals had given up on me. Even someone in my own family said to me, “I think you are just too far gone.” Too far gone. Is anyone really too far gone? I was towards the end of my nearly three-month stay in residential treatment in Chicago when ketamine was mentioned to me. It was a last resort treatment option for me, as everyone in my life was concerned that I would not live much longer. Ketamine treatment for depression has been controversial, but I was open to anything, so I agreed to it. A few short weeks later, I received my first ketamine infusion. It was one hour long and I had six infusions in total. I have received lots of questions about my experience with ketamine, so I wanted to share. The one-hour infusion feels very, very weird. There are no words to describe the experience when you’re receiving high doses of ketamine. It puts you into a very dissociative state where nothing feels real and your memories don’t feel like your own. I felt like I was floating. Some of the infusions are also known to take you to a very dark place temporarily and can even leave you feeling more depressed for a few days afterward. This happened to me, and I had to be hospitalized before completing my last two infusions. After completing all six infusions, within just a few days, I noticed a huge difference within myself. My severe, chronic suicidal ideation was nearly nonexistent. My unrelenting, intense depression felt much more manageable. Now, nearly six months after completing the infusions, I remain free of suicidal ideation and the rest of my symptoms are much easier to manage. That’s not to say I don’t still have my struggles or even relapse from time to time, because recovery is a lifelong journey and it is not linear. However, ketamine saved my life. Combined with intense individual therapy, I am finally recovering and my mental illnesses no longer consume my life.

When Mental Health Professionals Gave Up on Me, a Stranger Saved Me

On the morning of July 2, 2018, I woke up feeling depressed. Just a few days prior, on June 27, I had attempted suicide. I was no stranger to suicide attempts, having survived over a dozen of them. I was home, when I should have been inpatient in the hospital. I was home because after attempting suicide so many times and having been hospitalized nearly twenty times, the hospital I was in decided there was nothing they could do for me and sent me home. This wasn’t a surprise for me, because when living with borderline personality disorder (BPD), many mental health professionals have refused to work with me. BPD is a highly stigmatized mental illness. It is also extremely painful to live with and has an alarmingly high suicide rate. So on July 2, I woke up feeling depressed. I felt like the mental health system had given up on me and like I had nowhere and no one to turn to for help. Everyone says to reach out for help, but what happens when you reach out, and that help is denied? Being denied help is the reality for many people living with BPD and chronic suicidal ideation. I was tired this day, emotionally and physically tired. I felt as though I had no fight left in me, and there was no point in continuing to live anymore. My thoughts convinced me I was a burden, and that everyone would be better off without me. I believed the lies my thoughts were feeding to me, and I overdosed. Following my overdose on the afternoon of July 2, I requested a Lyft to a local bridge where I live. This bridge is infamous for suicides. When I got to the bridge, I walked right past the blue sign with the suicide prevention lifeline number on it. “They can’t help me,” I thought. I walked along the bridge, and I climbed over the small railing and onto the ledge. I stood there crying as I prepared to jump. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, I noticed a man on a bike. He quickly grabbed me from behind as I screamed, and we both fell backwards onto the bridge. He physically held me down until the paramedics arrived. At the hospital, I was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) where I received dialysis for my overdose. After several days, I was discharged to home — because I was once again told there was not help available for me. Now, over a year later, I am in recovery and have been for the past six months. I was granted a miracle on July 2, 2018, and it is a miracle I will never forget. I never thought recovery was possible for me. After all, dozens of mental health professionals and hospitals had given up on me — so how could I ever believe in myself? Recovery is a journey that will last a lifetime. There will be relapses and plenty of setbacks, but nonetheless, recovery is worth it. It is possible to survive and to thrive. Please check out this means restriction project to prevent suicide, founded by a mom who lost her son to suicide.

When Mental Health Professionals Gave Up on Me, a Stranger Saved Me

On the morning of July 2, 2018, I woke up feeling depressed. Just a few days prior, on June 27, I had attempted suicide. I was no stranger to suicide attempts, having survived over a dozen of them. I was home, when I should have been inpatient in the hospital. I was home because after attempting suicide so many times and having been hospitalized nearly twenty times, the hospital I was in decided there was nothing they could do for me and sent me home. This wasn’t a surprise for me, because when living with borderline personality disorder (BPD), many mental health professionals have refused to work with me. BPD is a highly stigmatized mental illness. It is also extremely painful to live with and has an alarmingly high suicide rate. So on July 2, I woke up feeling depressed. I felt like the mental health system had given up on me and like I had nowhere and no one to turn to for help. Everyone says to reach out for help, but what happens when you reach out, and that help is denied? Being denied help is the reality for many people living with BPD and chronic suicidal ideation. I was tired this day, emotionally and physically tired. I felt as though I had no fight left in me, and there was no point in continuing to live anymore. My thoughts convinced me I was a burden, and that everyone would be better off without me. I believed the lies my thoughts were feeding to me, and I overdosed. Following my overdose on the afternoon of July 2, I requested a Lyft to a local bridge where I live. This bridge is infamous for suicides. When I got to the bridge, I walked right past the blue sign with the suicide prevention lifeline number on it. “They can’t help me,” I thought. I walked along the bridge, and I climbed over the small railing and onto the ledge. I stood there crying as I prepared to jump. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, I noticed a man on a bike. He quickly grabbed me from behind as I screamed, and we both fell backwards onto the bridge. He physically held me down until the paramedics arrived. At the hospital, I was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) where I received dialysis for my overdose. After several days, I was discharged to home — because I was once again told there was not help available for me. Now, over a year later, I am in recovery and have been for the past six months. I was granted a miracle on July 2, 2018, and it is a miracle I will never forget. I never thought recovery was possible for me. After all, dozens of mental health professionals and hospitals had given up on me — so how could I ever believe in myself? Recovery is a journey that will last a lifetime. There will be relapses and plenty of setbacks, but nonetheless, recovery is worth it. It is possible to survive and to thrive. Please check out this means restriction project to prevent suicide, founded by a mom who lost her son to suicide.

Community Voices

PLEASE HELP!!!!

I'm 17 & unable to function due to mental illness. My treatment so far has included 2 fairly lengthy inpatient hospitalizations, 2 months of a partial hospitalization program, 3 months of a DBT program, 2 months each of 2 different intensive outpatient programs, over 10 years of therapy with different therapists, medications, & 2 therapeutic schools that made me feel worse. I'm supposed to try a third school, but I know I can't handle it. I'm not a danger to myself, but I can't function in important areas of life (school, job, etc) and NOTHING has helped. I’m so lost. What’s a good next step? #Depression #Anxiety #dissociativedisorders #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder #Psychosis #Autism #Suicide #SuicidalThoughts #SuicidalIdeation #Delusions #MentalHealth #School #CheckInWithMe

71 people are talking about this
Community Voices

PLEASE HELP!!!!

I'm 17 & unable to function due to mental illness. My treatment so far has included 2 fairly lengthy inpatient hospitalizations, 2 months of a partial hospitalization program, 3 months of a DBT program, 2 months each of 2 different intensive outpatient programs, over 10 years of therapy with different therapists, medications, & 2 therapeutic schools that made me feel worse. I'm supposed to try a third school, but I know I can't handle it. I'm not a danger to myself, but I can't function in important areas of life (school, job, etc) and NOTHING has helped. I’m so lost. What’s a good next step? #Depression #Anxiety #dissociativedisorders #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder #Psychosis #Autism #Suicide #SuicidalThoughts #SuicidalIdeation #Delusions #MentalHealth #School #CheckInWithMe

71 people are talking about this
Community Voices

PLEASE HELP!!!!

I'm 17 & unable to function due to mental illness. My treatment so far has included 2 fairly lengthy inpatient hospitalizations, 2 months of a partial hospitalization program, 3 months of a DBT program, 2 months each of 2 different intensive outpatient programs, over 10 years of therapy with different therapists, medications, & 2 therapeutic schools that made me feel worse. I'm supposed to try a third school, but I know I can't handle it. I'm not a danger to myself, but I can't function in important areas of life (school, job, etc) and NOTHING has helped. I’m so lost. What’s a good next step? #Depression #Anxiety #dissociativedisorders #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder #Psychosis #Autism #Suicide #SuicidalThoughts #SuicidalIdeation #Delusions #MentalHealth #School #CheckInWithMe

71 people are talking about this
Community Voices

PLEASE HELP!!!!

I'm 17 & unable to function due to mental illness. My treatment so far has included 2 fairly lengthy inpatient hospitalizations, 2 months of a partial hospitalization program, 3 months of a DBT program, 2 months each of 2 different intensive outpatient programs, over 10 years of therapy with different therapists, medications, & 2 therapeutic schools that made me feel worse. I'm supposed to try a third school, but I know I can't handle it. I'm not a danger to myself, but I can't function in important areas of life (school, job, etc) and NOTHING has helped. I’m so lost. What’s a good next step? #Depression #Anxiety #dissociativedisorders #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder #Psychosis #Autism #Suicide #SuicidalThoughts #SuicidalIdeation #Delusions #MentalHealth #School #CheckInWithMe

71 people are talking about this
Community Voices

PLEASE HELP!!!!

I'm 17 & unable to function due to mental illness. My treatment so far has included 2 fairly lengthy inpatient hospitalizations, 2 months of a partial hospitalization program, 3 months of a DBT program, 2 months each of 2 different intensive outpatient programs, over 10 years of therapy with different therapists, medications, & 2 therapeutic schools that made me feel worse. I'm supposed to try a third school, but I know I can't handle it. I'm not a danger to myself, but I can't function in important areas of life (school, job, etc) and NOTHING has helped. I’m so lost. What’s a good next step? #Depression #Anxiety #dissociativedisorders #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder #Psychosis #Autism #Suicide #SuicidalThoughts #SuicidalIdeation #Delusions #MentalHealth #School #CheckInWithMe

71 people are talking about this

What It's Like to Wake Up to the Heaviness of Depression

Nights are hard for a lot of us, I think. For me, my depression is always the worst at night. Everything feels heavier at night. The dark sky seems so daunting and the light from the day seems so far away. The darkness surrounds me so tightly that I’m not sure I will ever see the daylight again. Right now, as I am in the depths of my deepest depression, this is a nightly occurrence. I spend hours fighting off my thoughts and urges and use every distraction skill I have to try and keep myself safe. My main goal right now is just to stay alive. That may seem dramatic, but when a depression so deep and so dark has completely taken over every aspect of your life — the most important thing is staying alive. This morning, I woke up hoping the heaviness from the night before had lifted and that the weight of my depression would be a little lighter. Unfortunately this was not the case. I woke up struggling even more than the night before and every move I made felt too heavy to bear. I think I would describe it as carrying extremely large weights on your back — every single moment of every single day. Imagine having to go about your day-to-day tasks carrying hundreds of pounds of weight on your back. Seems daunting, doesn’t it? That’s what depression is. Today will be a difficult day and I acknowledge that. But all that matters is that I get through the difficult days and I don’t allow them to have complete control over me. Because as hard as it is to go through a day with the heaviest weights and the most discouraging thoughts, I have to. I have no choice but to fight.