Vanna Winters

@vanna_winters | contributor
Writer. Advocate. Survivor. Vanna works as contributor for The Mighty, National Alliance for Mental Illlness, Yahoo Life, Parents Magazine, But Have You Considered Therapy Podcast guest, and Elephant Journal. Follow me on Instagram: vanna_writes
Vanna Winters

How My Parents' Gaslighting Affected Me as an Adult

As a child, in my eyes, my parents could do no wrong. They were my foundation by which I learned how to be treated. I was born, as are all children, with the hard-wired need to believe my parents’ intentions and actions are of pure and loving motives. But what if they’re not? When a parent, the primary caregiver and source of emotional growth, targets their child, the damage cuts deep into adulthood. That’s where the inherent danger of gaslighting lies. Gaslighting is a term used to describe a particularly sinister form of emotional and psychological abuse. The gaslighter uses manipulative behaviors to control the victim, such as: 1. Exploiting weaknesses through taunting/degrading words or behaviors. “You are such an idiot. You can’t even pass that quiz” 2. Lying or making exaggerated claims to boost the gaslighter’s ego. “When I played soccer, I won state. Your team didn’t even make regionals this season.” 3. Projecting a perfect outward appearance, even if it’s at the expense of the victim. “My daughter ran into the mailbox and dented the car, not me!” 4. Alienation or isolation. “I think Laura at school doesn’t really like you and is probably just using you. You don’t need her, you have me.” 5. Outwardly using confusion to divert blame or making you doubt what you saw with your own eyes or have actual evidence to disprove in front of them. “I absolutely did not call Bobby from your phone. You’re nuts!” These tactics kept me spinning. I second-guessed everything. Did I hear that wrong? Why can’t I do anything right? Was I crazy? The evidence, from my point of a view as a child, was pretty damning in my parents’ favor. My checks and balances were all off. I had no way of knowing what was emotional abuse when I was raised in it. Being manipulated as a child is so particularly cruel because I was a captive, innocent audience. I had no reference or ability to escape, even if I did. The channels by which a gas lighter uses to maneuver their way to power are corrosive in any adult relationship, but this abuse from a parent possess such danger that goes largely unseen. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered how entangled in disfunction gaslighting left me. The realization that my perception of myself, others and the world in general were all askew from reality. That maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t “crazy.” The idea I had merely been a pawn to my own parents at the expense of our relationship was devastating. As an adult healing from childhood gaslighting, I struggled with and have worked hard to repair these five things: 1. Difficulty/inability to trust. When my primary source of safety and support manipulated and crafted an alternate reality, it was almost impossible to trust in them or anyone else. The foundation of development is trust. Growing and adapting to life in an environment where I was given every reason to mistrust my parents caused immeasurable damage. Learning to trust again is a bridge that has to be rebuilt brick by brick. 2. Guilt. When blame was placed on me from the time I was very young that any and all circumstances that go awry must be my fault, the end result is unshakeable guilt. The burden of responsibility for things out of my control or that never happened in the first place became a shackle weighing me down. Realizing now that I don’t need to apologize for anything and everything has taken some getting used to. 3. Low self-esteem/high self-doubt. Developing in an environment where I was repeatedly demeaned or taunted, it was pretty impossible to gain a true sense of self. As I attempted to mature, figuring out my own identity was a struggle when my parents were metaphorically holding a bag over my head while they spun me around as fast as they could. The reflection I saw in the mirror was the creation of my parents, not the reflection of reality. Questioning self-worth and identity are the byproducts of the murkiness this kind of manipulation left in its wake. 4. Paranoia. Fearing the next move of an impulsive person instills hypervigilance. That hypervigilance served its protective purposearound my parents, but entering into the real world it becomes unnecessary paranoia. The idea I no longer need to be steps ahead of those around me will take time to become my normal. 5. Hopelessness. Humans are born with innocent eyes and a belief their parents are the measure by which they should be treated. When that belief was misused, it was natural for me to lean inward and assign fault in myself instead of outward where it actually belongs. Reliving this experience over and over, as with the Machiavellian-style tactics my parents used to hold power, fostered a bottomless sense of hopelessness. “I can’t do anything right” became a narrative I had to break in order to move forward in my healing. The impact that my parents’ gaslighting had on my life was far-reaching. It gave way to long-lasting consequences. The effects that this destructive and abusive dynamic placed on my adult life have taken me years to unpack in therapy. I finally have a vantage point to see their actions for what it truly was: abuse. Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Vanna Winters

How My Parents' Gaslighting Affected Me as an Adult

As a child, in my eyes, my parents could do no wrong. They were my foundation by which I learned how to be treated. I was born, as are all children, with the hard-wired need to believe my parents’ intentions and actions are of pure and loving motives. But what if they’re not? When a parent, the primary caregiver and source of emotional growth, targets their child, the damage cuts deep into adulthood. That’s where the inherent danger of gaslighting lies. Gaslighting is a term used to describe a particularly sinister form of emotional and psychological abuse. The gaslighter uses manipulative behaviors to control the victim, such as: 1. Exploiting weaknesses through taunting/degrading words or behaviors. “You are such an idiot. You can’t even pass that quiz” 2. Lying or making exaggerated claims to boost the gaslighter’s ego. “When I played soccer, I won state. Your team didn’t even make regionals this season.” 3. Projecting a perfect outward appearance, even if it’s at the expense of the victim. “My daughter ran into the mailbox and dented the car, not me!” 4. Alienation or isolation. “I think Laura at school doesn’t really like you and is probably just using you. You don’t need her, you have me.” 5. Outwardly using confusion to divert blame or making you doubt what you saw with your own eyes or have actual evidence to disprove in front of them. “I absolutely did not call Bobby from your phone. You’re nuts!” These tactics kept me spinning. I second-guessed everything. Did I hear that wrong? Why can’t I do anything right? Was I crazy? The evidence, from my point of a view as a child, was pretty damning in my parents’ favor. My checks and balances were all off. I had no way of knowing what was emotional abuse when I was raised in it. Being manipulated as a child is so particularly cruel because I was a captive, innocent audience. I had no reference or ability to escape, even if I did. The channels by which a gas lighter uses to maneuver their way to power are corrosive in any adult relationship, but this abuse from a parent possess such danger that goes largely unseen. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered how entangled in disfunction gaslighting left me. The realization that my perception of myself, others and the world in general were all askew from reality. That maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t “crazy.” The idea I had merely been a pawn to my own parents at the expense of our relationship was devastating. As an adult healing from childhood gaslighting, I struggled with and have worked hard to repair these five things: 1. Difficulty/inability to trust. When my primary source of safety and support manipulated and crafted an alternate reality, it was almost impossible to trust in them or anyone else. The foundation of development is trust. Growing and adapting to life in an environment where I was given every reason to mistrust my parents caused immeasurable damage. Learning to trust again is a bridge that has to be rebuilt brick by brick. 2. Guilt. When blame was placed on me from the time I was very young that any and all circumstances that go awry must be my fault, the end result is unshakeable guilt. The burden of responsibility for things out of my control or that never happened in the first place became a shackle weighing me down. Realizing now that I don’t need to apologize for anything and everything has taken some getting used to. 3. Low self-esteem/high self-doubt. Developing in an environment where I was repeatedly demeaned or taunted, it was pretty impossible to gain a true sense of self. As I attempted to mature, figuring out my own identity was a struggle when my parents were metaphorically holding a bag over my head while they spun me around as fast as they could. The reflection I saw in the mirror was the creation of my parents, not the reflection of reality. Questioning self-worth and identity are the byproducts of the murkiness this kind of manipulation left in its wake. 4. Paranoia. Fearing the next move of an impulsive person instills hypervigilance. That hypervigilance served its protective purposearound my parents, but entering into the real world it becomes unnecessary paranoia. The idea I no longer need to be steps ahead of those around me will take time to become my normal. 5. Hopelessness. Humans are born with innocent eyes and a belief their parents are the measure by which they should be treated. When that belief was misused, it was natural for me to lean inward and assign fault in myself instead of outward where it actually belongs. Reliving this experience over and over, as with the Machiavellian-style tactics my parents used to hold power, fostered a bottomless sense of hopelessness. “I can’t do anything right” became a narrative I had to break in order to move forward in my healing. The impact that my parents’ gaslighting had on my life was far-reaching. It gave way to long-lasting consequences. The effects that this destructive and abusive dynamic placed on my adult life have taken me years to unpack in therapy. I finally have a vantage point to see their actions for what it truly was: abuse. Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Vanna Winters

How My Parents' Gaslighting Affected Me as an Adult

As a child, in my eyes, my parents could do no wrong. They were my foundation by which I learned how to be treated. I was born, as are all children, with the hard-wired need to believe my parents’ intentions and actions are of pure and loving motives. But what if they’re not? When a parent, the primary caregiver and source of emotional growth, targets their child, the damage cuts deep into adulthood. That’s where the inherent danger of gaslighting lies. Gaslighting is a term used to describe a particularly sinister form of emotional and psychological abuse. The gaslighter uses manipulative behaviors to control the victim, such as: 1. Exploiting weaknesses through taunting/degrading words or behaviors. “You are such an idiot. You can’t even pass that quiz” 2. Lying or making exaggerated claims to boost the gaslighter’s ego. “When I played soccer, I won state. Your team didn’t even make regionals this season.” 3. Projecting a perfect outward appearance, even if it’s at the expense of the victim. “My daughter ran into the mailbox and dented the car, not me!” 4. Alienation or isolation. “I think Laura at school doesn’t really like you and is probably just using you. You don’t need her, you have me.” 5. Outwardly using confusion to divert blame or making you doubt what you saw with your own eyes or have actual evidence to disprove in front of them. “I absolutely did not call Bobby from your phone. You’re nuts!” These tactics kept me spinning. I second-guessed everything. Did I hear that wrong? Why can’t I do anything right? Was I crazy? The evidence, from my point of a view as a child, was pretty damning in my parents’ favor. My checks and balances were all off. I had no way of knowing what was emotional abuse when I was raised in it. Being manipulated as a child is so particularly cruel because I was a captive, innocent audience. I had no reference or ability to escape, even if I did. The channels by which a gas lighter uses to maneuver their way to power are corrosive in any adult relationship, but this abuse from a parent possess such danger that goes largely unseen. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered how entangled in disfunction gaslighting left me. The realization that my perception of myself, others and the world in general were all askew from reality. That maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t “crazy.” The idea I had merely been a pawn to my own parents at the expense of our relationship was devastating. As an adult healing from childhood gaslighting, I struggled with and have worked hard to repair these five things: 1. Difficulty/inability to trust. When my primary source of safety and support manipulated and crafted an alternate reality, it was almost impossible to trust in them or anyone else. The foundation of development is trust. Growing and adapting to life in an environment where I was given every reason to mistrust my parents caused immeasurable damage. Learning to trust again is a bridge that has to be rebuilt brick by brick. 2. Guilt. When blame was placed on me from the time I was very young that any and all circumstances that go awry must be my fault, the end result is unshakeable guilt. The burden of responsibility for things out of my control or that never happened in the first place became a shackle weighing me down. Realizing now that I don’t need to apologize for anything and everything has taken some getting used to. 3. Low self-esteem/high self-doubt. Developing in an environment where I was repeatedly demeaned or taunted, it was pretty impossible to gain a true sense of self. As I attempted to mature, figuring out my own identity was a struggle when my parents were metaphorically holding a bag over my head while they spun me around as fast as they could. The reflection I saw in the mirror was the creation of my parents, not the reflection of reality. Questioning self-worth and identity are the byproducts of the murkiness this kind of manipulation left in its wake. 4. Paranoia. Fearing the next move of an impulsive person instills hypervigilance. That hypervigilance served its protective purposearound my parents, but entering into the real world it becomes unnecessary paranoia. The idea I no longer need to be steps ahead of those around me will take time to become my normal. 5. Hopelessness. Humans are born with innocent eyes and a belief their parents are the measure by which they should be treated. When that belief was misused, it was natural for me to lean inward and assign fault in myself instead of outward where it actually belongs. Reliving this experience over and over, as with the Machiavellian-style tactics my parents used to hold power, fostered a bottomless sense of hopelessness. “I can’t do anything right” became a narrative I had to break in order to move forward in my healing. The impact that my parents’ gaslighting had on my life was far-reaching. It gave way to long-lasting consequences. The effects that this destructive and abusive dynamic placed on my adult life have taken me years to unpack in therapy. I finally have a vantage point to see their actions for what it truly was: abuse. Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Vanna Winters

How My Parents' Gaslighting Affected Me as an Adult

As a child, in my eyes, my parents could do no wrong. They were my foundation by which I learned how to be treated. I was born, as are all children, with the hard-wired need to believe my parents’ intentions and actions are of pure and loving motives. But what if they’re not? When a parent, the primary caregiver and source of emotional growth, targets their child, the damage cuts deep into adulthood. That’s where the inherent danger of gaslighting lies. Gaslighting is a term used to describe a particularly sinister form of emotional and psychological abuse. The gaslighter uses manipulative behaviors to control the victim, such as: 1. Exploiting weaknesses through taunting/degrading words or behaviors. “You are such an idiot. You can’t even pass that quiz” 2. Lying or making exaggerated claims to boost the gaslighter’s ego. “When I played soccer, I won state. Your team didn’t even make regionals this season.” 3. Projecting a perfect outward appearance, even if it’s at the expense of the victim. “My daughter ran into the mailbox and dented the car, not me!” 4. Alienation or isolation. “I think Laura at school doesn’t really like you and is probably just using you. You don’t need her, you have me.” 5. Outwardly using confusion to divert blame or making you doubt what you saw with your own eyes or have actual evidence to disprove in front of them. “I absolutely did not call Bobby from your phone. You’re nuts!” These tactics kept me spinning. I second-guessed everything. Did I hear that wrong? Why can’t I do anything right? Was I crazy? The evidence, from my point of a view as a child, was pretty damning in my parents’ favor. My checks and balances were all off. I had no way of knowing what was emotional abuse when I was raised in it. Being manipulated as a child is so particularly cruel because I was a captive, innocent audience. I had no reference or ability to escape, even if I did. The channels by which a gas lighter uses to maneuver their way to power are corrosive in any adult relationship, but this abuse from a parent possess such danger that goes largely unseen. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered how entangled in disfunction gaslighting left me. The realization that my perception of myself, others and the world in general were all askew from reality. That maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t “crazy.” The idea I had merely been a pawn to my own parents at the expense of our relationship was devastating. As an adult healing from childhood gaslighting, I struggled with and have worked hard to repair these five things: 1. Difficulty/inability to trust. When my primary source of safety and support manipulated and crafted an alternate reality, it was almost impossible to trust in them or anyone else. The foundation of development is trust. Growing and adapting to life in an environment where I was given every reason to mistrust my parents caused immeasurable damage. Learning to trust again is a bridge that has to be rebuilt brick by brick. 2. Guilt. When blame was placed on me from the time I was very young that any and all circumstances that go awry must be my fault, the end result is unshakeable guilt. The burden of responsibility for things out of my control or that never happened in the first place became a shackle weighing me down. Realizing now that I don’t need to apologize for anything and everything has taken some getting used to. 3. Low self-esteem/high self-doubt. Developing in an environment where I was repeatedly demeaned or taunted, it was pretty impossible to gain a true sense of self. As I attempted to mature, figuring out my own identity was a struggle when my parents were metaphorically holding a bag over my head while they spun me around as fast as they could. The reflection I saw in the mirror was the creation of my parents, not the reflection of reality. Questioning self-worth and identity are the byproducts of the murkiness this kind of manipulation left in its wake. 4. Paranoia. Fearing the next move of an impulsive person instills hypervigilance. That hypervigilance served its protective purposearound my parents, but entering into the real world it becomes unnecessary paranoia. The idea I no longer need to be steps ahead of those around me will take time to become my normal. 5. Hopelessness. Humans are born with innocent eyes and a belief their parents are the measure by which they should be treated. When that belief was misused, it was natural for me to lean inward and assign fault in myself instead of outward where it actually belongs. Reliving this experience over and over, as with the Machiavellian-style tactics my parents used to hold power, fostered a bottomless sense of hopelessness. “I can’t do anything right” became a narrative I had to break in order to move forward in my healing. The impact that my parents’ gaslighting had on my life was far-reaching. It gave way to long-lasting consequences. The effects that this destructive and abusive dynamic placed on my adult life have taken me years to unpack in therapy. I finally have a vantage point to see their actions for what it truly was: abuse. Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Vanna Winters

How Hyperemesis Gravidarum Caused My Antenatal Depression

I went into my second pregnancy with the excitement and anticipation of adding to our young family. Though it wasn’t planned, I felt ready to handle a second child. I very quickly found myself deep in morning sickness. At the six-week mark, I traveled with sick bags and already had smells I had to avoid at all costs. By 10 weeks, I had grown accustomed to the limitations in my diet and the specific times of day I could predictably expect to be out of commission. My midwife remained hopeful it would let up by the second trimester. I held onto my calendar tightly, crossing off the days, waiting for the relief she expected to arrive soon. As I crossed days off, then weeks, I only got sicker. During the middle of my second trimester, I spent more time curled up on my bathroom floor than anywhere else in my house. I couldn’t even think of going out anymore. Then, I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). My husband could no longer cook, make coffee or keep a garbage can inside the house. Every single smell seemed to restrict my ability to participate in life. I was weak and exhausted from vomiting dozens of times a day. As a result of long stretches of the isolation that came from trying to manage my symptoms, my mood had become increasingly affected. My time curled up on the bathroom floor begging for the nausea and vomiting to stop, I had never felt so alone. My world had become confined to a cold tile floor and the desperate hope that each week of this would be the last. I had antepartum depression , also known as antenatal depression. You can research hyperemesis. Your doctor can offer you medication (which did nothing in my case). But no one prepares you for the impact on your mental health  that this condition brings. How deep the isolation cuts into your life. How people seem to forget you exist. The offers to come visit dwindle and the judgment from other women’s projection of their own pregnancy experience is real. “Is it really that bad?” I heard more than once. It was. I fought dark thoughts of resentment toward a child who hadn’t even been born yet. Then, the guilt from thinking that at all swirled in to tug at me back and forth. I focused on my light at the end of the tunnel. I checked off the days, eagerly waiting for labor and this to be over. When I finally went into labor, I found it to be the easiest part of the whole pregnancy — a silver lining I wasn’t expecting. After I came home, holding my baby in my arms, I had a tangible representation of this experience. The struggle I had endured to bring him into this world felt less and less important. The heavy cloud of depression began to lift, hormones readjusted and my physical health was regained. As I settled into life again, I realized that while my world had stopped for nine months, the rest of the world had continued on without me. I felt out of place. I didn’t expect to have to assimilate back into my own life, but I did. There was this awkward phase of reacquainting myself with the details of daily life I had put on pause. But with support from my husband and family, I found my way back. I didn’t foresee myself battling hyperemesis gravidarum. Though I was aware of postpartum depression , I had no idea antepartum depression existed. I wish education on these subjects had been included in my pregnancy care. The knowledge that what I was going through was a condition and not my own “weakness” in handling the symptoms would have gone so far on how drastically it impacted not o nly my mental health, but also how long I suffered in silence withholding care from myself because I didn’t realize I needed it. Ten years later, now, I still wonder what could have been different if I had known. Being able to name it and have the space to speak about what I was going through then could have been an asset. As our society moves toward the continued openness and acceptance of mental health , antepartum depression should be given the space to have a voice, too. Education and acknowledgment to anyone who may find themselves facing this mental illness should be an open and ongoing discussion in obstetric care. Follow this journey on the author’s Instagram.

Vanna Winters

My Experience With Ketamine Infusion Therapy for PTSD

When I made the decision to use ketamine infusion therapy to treat my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I had no idea what to expect or what results I would get afterward. I walked into the clinic, tense. I wanted badly to be optimistic and hopeful. I needed this to be the push in my recovery I hadn’t yet been able to find on my own. I sat in the chair, half-skeptical and half-terrified. My heart was pounding. The back of my shirt clung to the chair from my sweat. I was crawling out of my skin with anxiety . I envisioned I’d feel inebriated. Maybe even a little high? I’ve experienced neither of those things before, so even that was hard to imagine. I leaned back as the IV was placed. I watched the liquid trickle out of the line. I took a deep breath. There wasn’t any going back now; at least I didn’t have to be anxious about that anymore. I drifted off and my eyes closed. I had the sensation I was lying back on the ground, looking up at the stars. I gazed up in amazement at what seemed like an infinite blackness. I was surrounded with a warmth and peace I have never felt before. As that faded out, I could feel my body at the top of a cave. Memories were dripping down to form stalactites. I slid down with one. I was watching myself in one of those memories. I was the audience. The memory couldn’t pull me in. It couldn’t hurt me. I was only an observer. I watched. It’s dusk. A group of kids are huddled in a circle at the grassy high point of the cul-de-sac, chanting “ready, set, go,” flashlights in everyone’s hands. I see my younger self in the group. As my friends disburse to run and find the best hiding spot, I watch as she sprints off. They were playing manhunt. She comes over to play any chance she has. She darts into the vacant lot. It’s narrow and has a worn path in the grass from them cutting through it as a shortcut to school. In the middle is a huge boulder. When they were little, they loved climbing it and jumping off. Their initials are carved all over the sides of it. I watch her crouch down behind it. She waits in anticipation of a flashlight beam coming in her direction. While her focus is being held by the game, a white van slows down on the side street her back is facing. A man in the back slides open the door. He reaches out to grab her shirt collar to pull her into the van. She turns around at the last second. His hand brushes past her, slipping right through her hair. She stares at it all happening like it’s in slow motion. Her heart is pounding in her ears. I’m on the grass next to her holding down her legs so she can’t go anywhere. I keep her safe. She knew I was there. I was by her side. I could protect her now and she knew it. I could feel the fear come out of her and go through me as it evaporated. Then, I started to wake up. The hour I had been under the ketamine had only felt like a few minutes. The loneliness and panic I had felt previously when I recalled this particular moment vanished and it lost the power it had held over my life. The same chilling emotion it had elicited before was no longer there. I was in control of the impact and I could finally let go of tension it held deep in my body. I had this weird sense of ownership over how this memory made me feel. The breakthrough that had been just beyond my grasp in my three years of psychotherapy came to me in three weeks of infusion therapy — not a cure but the chance to finally have the capacity to bring this trauma and the others behind it into therapy without having to experience the same triggering intensity of emotions that had me continually spiral with each attempt. All of these traumatic memories still need to be processed with my therapist. But now, after the infusions gave me the unique opportunity to rewrite my own narrative, they evoke a sense of finality. I can put each of these memories back in my mind where they belong instead of having them looming over me unsettled and ever-present. I was hesitant to give ketamine infusion therapy a chance. I was guarding myself from putting any hope into it. But in trying something new, I allowed myself to be part of what I believe will be a treatment many others who are stuck and scared like I was will benefit from also. I went into this experience timid and heavy with a sense of powerlessness over the traumas I had lived through. I had put an enormous amount of energy in psychotherapy to heal, but felt like it was all too much to get past. It all seemed as if it was a wall in my life I might never climb over. Ketamine infusion therapy threw me a rope to scale that wall, as my therapist and I can now work on making it to the other side without losing my grip and falling back to the ground. I had the chance to be the person I wished I had in those moments. I was given the opportunity to save myself. I was able to come back for her and saved her in a way no one else had before. Ketamine infusion therapy gave me that when I felt like nothing else could. Follow this journey on the author’s Instagram.

Vanna Winters

My Experience With Ketamine Infusion Therapy for PTSD

When I made the decision to use ketamine infusion therapy to treat my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I had no idea what to expect or what results I would get afterward. I walked into the clinic, tense. I wanted badly to be optimistic and hopeful. I needed this to be the push in my recovery I hadn’t yet been able to find on my own. I sat in the chair, half-skeptical and half-terrified. My heart was pounding. The back of my shirt clung to the chair from my sweat. I was crawling out of my skin with anxiety . I envisioned I’d feel inebriated. Maybe even a little high? I’ve experienced neither of those things before, so even that was hard to imagine. I leaned back as the IV was placed. I watched the liquid trickle out of the line. I took a deep breath. There wasn’t any going back now; at least I didn’t have to be anxious about that anymore. I drifted off and my eyes closed. I had the sensation I was lying back on the ground, looking up at the stars. I gazed up in amazement at what seemed like an infinite blackness. I was surrounded with a warmth and peace I have never felt before. As that faded out, I could feel my body at the top of a cave. Memories were dripping down to form stalactites. I slid down with one. I was watching myself in one of those memories. I was the audience. The memory couldn’t pull me in. It couldn’t hurt me. I was only an observer. I watched. It’s dusk. A group of kids are huddled in a circle at the grassy high point of the cul-de-sac, chanting “ready, set, go,” flashlights in everyone’s hands. I see my younger self in the group. As my friends disburse to run and find the best hiding spot, I watch as she sprints off. They were playing manhunt. She comes over to play any chance she has. She darts into the vacant lot. It’s narrow and has a worn path in the grass from them cutting through it as a shortcut to school. In the middle is a huge boulder. When they were little, they loved climbing it and jumping off. Their initials are carved all over the sides of it. I watch her crouch down behind it. She waits in anticipation of a flashlight beam coming in her direction. While her focus is being held by the game, a white van slows down on the side street her back is facing. A man in the back slides open the door. He reaches out to grab her shirt collar to pull her into the van. She turns around at the last second. His hand brushes past her, slipping right through her hair. She stares at it all happening like it’s in slow motion. Her heart is pounding in her ears. I’m on the grass next to her holding down her legs so she can’t go anywhere. I keep her safe. She knew I was there. I was by her side. I could protect her now and she knew it. I could feel the fear come out of her and go through me as it evaporated. Then, I started to wake up. The hour I had been under the ketamine had only felt like a few minutes. The loneliness and panic I had felt previously when I recalled this particular moment vanished and it lost the power it had held over my life. The same chilling emotion it had elicited before was no longer there. I was in control of the impact and I could finally let go of tension it held deep in my body. I had this weird sense of ownership over how this memory made me feel. The breakthrough that had been just beyond my grasp in my three years of psychotherapy came to me in three weeks of infusion therapy — not a cure but the chance to finally have the capacity to bring this trauma and the others behind it into therapy without having to experience the same triggering intensity of emotions that had me continually spiral with each attempt. All of these traumatic memories still need to be processed with my therapist. But now, after the infusions gave me the unique opportunity to rewrite my own narrative, they evoke a sense of finality. I can put each of these memories back in my mind where they belong instead of having them looming over me unsettled and ever-present. I was hesitant to give ketamine infusion therapy a chance. I was guarding myself from putting any hope into it. But in trying something new, I allowed myself to be part of what I believe will be a treatment many others who are stuck and scared like I was will benefit from also. I went into this experience timid and heavy with a sense of powerlessness over the traumas I had lived through. I had put an enormous amount of energy in psychotherapy to heal, but felt like it was all too much to get past. It all seemed as if it was a wall in my life I might never climb over. Ketamine infusion therapy threw me a rope to scale that wall, as my therapist and I can now work on making it to the other side without losing my grip and falling back to the ground. I had the chance to be the person I wished I had in those moments. I was given the opportunity to save myself. I was able to come back for her and saved her in a way no one else had before. Ketamine infusion therapy gave me that when I felt like nothing else could. Follow this journey on the author’s Instagram.

Vanna Winters

My Experience With Ketamine Infusion Therapy for PTSD

When I made the decision to use ketamine infusion therapy to treat my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I had no idea what to expect or what results I would get afterward. I walked into the clinic, tense. I wanted badly to be optimistic and hopeful. I needed this to be the push in my recovery I hadn’t yet been able to find on my own. I sat in the chair, half-skeptical and half-terrified. My heart was pounding. The back of my shirt clung to the chair from my sweat. I was crawling out of my skin with anxiety . I envisioned I’d feel inebriated. Maybe even a little high? I’ve experienced neither of those things before, so even that was hard to imagine. I leaned back as the IV was placed. I watched the liquid trickle out of the line. I took a deep breath. There wasn’t any going back now; at least I didn’t have to be anxious about that anymore. I drifted off and my eyes closed. I had the sensation I was lying back on the ground, looking up at the stars. I gazed up in amazement at what seemed like an infinite blackness. I was surrounded with a warmth and peace I have never felt before. As that faded out, I could feel my body at the top of a cave. Memories were dripping down to form stalactites. I slid down with one. I was watching myself in one of those memories. I was the audience. The memory couldn’t pull me in. It couldn’t hurt me. I was only an observer. I watched. It’s dusk. A group of kids are huddled in a circle at the grassy high point of the cul-de-sac, chanting “ready, set, go,” flashlights in everyone’s hands. I see my younger self in the group. As my friends disburse to run and find the best hiding spot, I watch as she sprints off. They were playing manhunt. She comes over to play any chance she has. She darts into the vacant lot. It’s narrow and has a worn path in the grass from them cutting through it as a shortcut to school. In the middle is a huge boulder. When they were little, they loved climbing it and jumping off. Their initials are carved all over the sides of it. I watch her crouch down behind it. She waits in anticipation of a flashlight beam coming in her direction. While her focus is being held by the game, a white van slows down on the side street her back is facing. A man in the back slides open the door. He reaches out to grab her shirt collar to pull her into the van. She turns around at the last second. His hand brushes past her, slipping right through her hair. She stares at it all happening like it’s in slow motion. Her heart is pounding in her ears. I’m on the grass next to her holding down her legs so she can’t go anywhere. I keep her safe. She knew I was there. I was by her side. I could protect her now and she knew it. I could feel the fear come out of her and go through me as it evaporated. Then, I started to wake up. The hour I had been under the ketamine had only felt like a few minutes. The loneliness and panic I had felt previously when I recalled this particular moment vanished and it lost the power it had held over my life. The same chilling emotion it had elicited before was no longer there. I was in control of the impact and I could finally let go of tension it held deep in my body. I had this weird sense of ownership over how this memory made me feel. The breakthrough that had been just beyond my grasp in my three years of psychotherapy came to me in three weeks of infusion therapy — not a cure but the chance to finally have the capacity to bring this trauma and the others behind it into therapy without having to experience the same triggering intensity of emotions that had me continually spiral with each attempt. All of these traumatic memories still need to be processed with my therapist. But now, after the infusions gave me the unique opportunity to rewrite my own narrative, they evoke a sense of finality. I can put each of these memories back in my mind where they belong instead of having them looming over me unsettled and ever-present. I was hesitant to give ketamine infusion therapy a chance. I was guarding myself from putting any hope into it. But in trying something new, I allowed myself to be part of what I believe will be a treatment many others who are stuck and scared like I was will benefit from also. I went into this experience timid and heavy with a sense of powerlessness over the traumas I had lived through. I had put an enormous amount of energy in psychotherapy to heal, but felt like it was all too much to get past. It all seemed as if it was a wall in my life I might never climb over. Ketamine infusion therapy threw me a rope to scale that wall, as my therapist and I can now work on making it to the other side without losing my grip and falling back to the ground. I had the chance to be the person I wished I had in those moments. I was given the opportunity to save myself. I was able to come back for her and saved her in a way no one else had before. Ketamine infusion therapy gave me that when I felt like nothing else could. Follow this journey on the author’s Instagram.

Vanna Winters

My Experience With Ketamine Infusion Therapy for PTSD

When I made the decision to use ketamine infusion therapy to treat my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I had no idea what to expect or what results I would get afterward. I walked into the clinic, tense. I wanted badly to be optimistic and hopeful. I needed this to be the push in my recovery I hadn’t yet been able to find on my own. I sat in the chair, half-skeptical and half-terrified. My heart was pounding. The back of my shirt clung to the chair from my sweat. I was crawling out of my skin with anxiety . I envisioned I’d feel inebriated. Maybe even a little high? I’ve experienced neither of those things before, so even that was hard to imagine. I leaned back as the IV was placed. I watched the liquid trickle out of the line. I took a deep breath. There wasn’t any going back now; at least I didn’t have to be anxious about that anymore. I drifted off and my eyes closed. I had the sensation I was lying back on the ground, looking up at the stars. I gazed up in amazement at what seemed like an infinite blackness. I was surrounded with a warmth and peace I have never felt before. As that faded out, I could feel my body at the top of a cave. Memories were dripping down to form stalactites. I slid down with one. I was watching myself in one of those memories. I was the audience. The memory couldn’t pull me in. It couldn’t hurt me. I was only an observer. I watched. It’s dusk. A group of kids are huddled in a circle at the grassy high point of the cul-de-sac, chanting “ready, set, go,” flashlights in everyone’s hands. I see my younger self in the group. As my friends disburse to run and find the best hiding spot, I watch as she sprints off. They were playing manhunt. She comes over to play any chance she has. She darts into the vacant lot. It’s narrow and has a worn path in the grass from them cutting through it as a shortcut to school. In the middle is a huge boulder. When they were little, they loved climbing it and jumping off. Their initials are carved all over the sides of it. I watch her crouch down behind it. She waits in anticipation of a flashlight beam coming in her direction. While her focus is being held by the game, a white van slows down on the side street her back is facing. A man in the back slides open the door. He reaches out to grab her shirt collar to pull her into the van. She turns around at the last second. His hand brushes past her, slipping right through her hair. She stares at it all happening like it’s in slow motion. Her heart is pounding in her ears. I’m on the grass next to her holding down her legs so she can’t go anywhere. I keep her safe. She knew I was there. I was by her side. I could protect her now and she knew it. I could feel the fear come out of her and go through me as it evaporated. Then, I started to wake up. The hour I had been under the ketamine had only felt like a few minutes. The loneliness and panic I had felt previously when I recalled this particular moment vanished and it lost the power it had held over my life. The same chilling emotion it had elicited before was no longer there. I was in control of the impact and I could finally let go of tension it held deep in my body. I had this weird sense of ownership over how this memory made me feel. The breakthrough that had been just beyond my grasp in my three years of psychotherapy came to me in three weeks of infusion therapy — not a cure but the chance to finally have the capacity to bring this trauma and the others behind it into therapy without having to experience the same triggering intensity of emotions that had me continually spiral with each attempt. All of these traumatic memories still need to be processed with my therapist. But now, after the infusions gave me the unique opportunity to rewrite my own narrative, they evoke a sense of finality. I can put each of these memories back in my mind where they belong instead of having them looming over me unsettled and ever-present. I was hesitant to give ketamine infusion therapy a chance. I was guarding myself from putting any hope into it. But in trying something new, I allowed myself to be part of what I believe will be a treatment many others who are stuck and scared like I was will benefit from also. I went into this experience timid and heavy with a sense of powerlessness over the traumas I had lived through. I had put an enormous amount of energy in psychotherapy to heal, but felt like it was all too much to get past. It all seemed as if it was a wall in my life I might never climb over. Ketamine infusion therapy threw me a rope to scale that wall, as my therapist and I can now work on making it to the other side without losing my grip and falling back to the ground. I had the chance to be the person I wished I had in those moments. I was given the opportunity to save myself. I was able to come back for her and saved her in a way no one else had before. Ketamine infusion therapy gave me that when I felt like nothing else could. Follow this journey on the author’s Instagram.

Vanna Winters

My Experience With Ketamine Infusion Therapy for PTSD

When I made the decision to use ketamine infusion therapy to treat my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I had no idea what to expect or what results I would get afterward. I walked into the clinic, tense. I wanted badly to be optimistic and hopeful. I needed this to be the push in my recovery I hadn’t yet been able to find on my own. I sat in the chair, half-skeptical and half-terrified. My heart was pounding. The back of my shirt clung to the chair from my sweat. I was crawling out of my skin with anxiety . I envisioned I’d feel inebriated. Maybe even a little high? I’ve experienced neither of those things before, so even that was hard to imagine. I leaned back as the IV was placed. I watched the liquid trickle out of the line. I took a deep breath. There wasn’t any going back now; at least I didn’t have to be anxious about that anymore. I drifted off and my eyes closed. I had the sensation I was lying back on the ground, looking up at the stars. I gazed up in amazement at what seemed like an infinite blackness. I was surrounded with a warmth and peace I have never felt before. As that faded out, I could feel my body at the top of a cave. Memories were dripping down to form stalactites. I slid down with one. I was watching myself in one of those memories. I was the audience. The memory couldn’t pull me in. It couldn’t hurt me. I was only an observer. I watched. It’s dusk. A group of kids are huddled in a circle at the grassy high point of the cul-de-sac, chanting “ready, set, go,” flashlights in everyone’s hands. I see my younger self in the group. As my friends disburse to run and find the best hiding spot, I watch as she sprints off. They were playing manhunt. She comes over to play any chance she has. She darts into the vacant lot. It’s narrow and has a worn path in the grass from them cutting through it as a shortcut to school. In the middle is a huge boulder. When they were little, they loved climbing it and jumping off. Their initials are carved all over the sides of it. I watch her crouch down behind it. She waits in anticipation of a flashlight beam coming in her direction. While her focus is being held by the game, a white van slows down on the side street her back is facing. A man in the back slides open the door. He reaches out to grab her shirt collar to pull her into the van. She turns around at the last second. His hand brushes past her, slipping right through her hair. She stares at it all happening like it’s in slow motion. Her heart is pounding in her ears. I’m on the grass next to her holding down her legs so she can’t go anywhere. I keep her safe. She knew I was there. I was by her side. I could protect her now and she knew it. I could feel the fear come out of her and go through me as it evaporated. Then, I started to wake up. The hour I had been under the ketamine had only felt like a few minutes. The loneliness and panic I had felt previously when I recalled this particular moment vanished and it lost the power it had held over my life. The same chilling emotion it had elicited before was no longer there. I was in control of the impact and I could finally let go of tension it held deep in my body. I had this weird sense of ownership over how this memory made me feel. The breakthrough that had been just beyond my grasp in my three years of psychotherapy came to me in three weeks of infusion therapy — not a cure but the chance to finally have the capacity to bring this trauma and the others behind it into therapy without having to experience the same triggering intensity of emotions that had me continually spiral with each attempt. All of these traumatic memories still need to be processed with my therapist. But now, after the infusions gave me the unique opportunity to rewrite my own narrative, they evoke a sense of finality. I can put each of these memories back in my mind where they belong instead of having them looming over me unsettled and ever-present. I was hesitant to give ketamine infusion therapy a chance. I was guarding myself from putting any hope into it. But in trying something new, I allowed myself to be part of what I believe will be a treatment many others who are stuck and scared like I was will benefit from also. I went into this experience timid and heavy with a sense of powerlessness over the traumas I had lived through. I had put an enormous amount of energy in psychotherapy to heal, but felt like it was all too much to get past. It all seemed as if it was a wall in my life I might never climb over. Ketamine infusion therapy threw me a rope to scale that wall, as my therapist and I can now work on making it to the other side without losing my grip and falling back to the ground. I had the chance to be the person I wished I had in those moments. I was given the opportunity to save myself. I was able to come back for her and saved her in a way no one else had before. Ketamine infusion therapy gave me that when I felt like nothing else could. Follow this journey on the author’s Instagram.