Part I: Naming the Beast
It Shouldn’t Be This Hard
If you’re reading this, then it’s likely that I’m not meeting you at the start of your story. You’ve been searching for answers long enough that one line of thought has probably echoed in your head more times than you can count: It shouldn’t be this hard. I shouldn’t feel so alone. When you came across Actify Neurotherapies and learned about the existence of Ketamine treatment, I’m willing to bet it made you reflect on all of the time that you’ve spent in difficult and thankless struggle. Anyone who deals with invisible illness or trauma finds a way to make it from one day to the next, but you’re here because surviving isn’t enough.
Surviving isn’t living. I don’t know the darkness you’ve come through to make it to this moment, but what I do know is that you and I aren’t so different. We’ve both felt the weight, and we both know what it feels like to want to give anything to lift it.
My name is Allen. From the time I was four years old, a dark shadow named ‘depression’ has done its best to take from me any joy the world might afford. That name is only one piece of a complicated puzzle, but that piece wakes beside me every morning, whispering in my ear: Give up. Surrender. There was never any point in trying in the first place. I’m sure you’ve felt that weight, too. I know how difficult and lonely your journey has been to bring you to this point. It may have been only a few months for you, or a few years, or many more; regardless of where you began, this is not your end. You’re in the woods. I’m going to do my best to help you climb the trees.
Naming the Beast
I want to talk to you today about naming the beast. In cultures around the world, names are not only a method of organization and identification; they’re associated with power and mastery. To define a beast is to give it a shape, trapping its power within a cage. You’re here because you or someone you love is in a mighty struggle with demons that are as real as their pain. They can be named. They can be mastered.
I spent most of my twenties in the US Air Force. When I joined the military, the discipline and structure of my everyday existence didn’t feel constricting – it felt like freedom. For the first time, I experienced mastery over my world and myself. I can still remember how amazed I was that I could run faster than I thought possible, endure things I never believed I could withstand. Long days of rigorous exercise, rigid expectations, and late evenings transitioned from hardship to pride. At the time, I didn’t know enough about myself to understand that the challenges that began when I was young hadn’t magically evaporated; I was simply overjoyed that I could live like this, feel like this. I brought a new way of experiencing the world along with me for eight years, until I left the service with hope of making a life for myself. This was my introduction to the invisible weight.
I couldn’t tell you exactly when it started, but that’s how it works: what once was effortless slowly becomes difficult. I enrolled in full-time college courses using my GI Bill, and attacked them as if I were still in uniform. Thinking I’d go into medicine, I took a pre-med schedule and told myself that there were no excuses for failing to achieve. Have you ever said something similar to yourself? It worked for a while. Momentum can take you far from where you’ve started, until the wheels stop turning and you’ve found yourself in an unfamiliar place. For me, that was two years after I left the service. That was when the weight began to settle on my shoulders.
The Invisible Weight
I had trouble getting up in the morning. Focusing on tasks became difficult. Deadlines for something as simple as homework assignments fell by the wayside. I knew something was wrong, but I was already in the woods…and when you’re in the woods, you can’t see the forest for the trees. Every day, I was a little worse than the day before. I’d see small changes in my habits and explain them away. No, I don’t have time for the gym today, there’s a paper due on Monday. I know I’m exhausted, but getting six hours of sleep instead of seven won’t kill me. There are things to do, but if I can just clear my head after a movie or a round of video games, I’ll be able to focus. Straw by straw, the weight of my existence grew. The clouds of depression didn’t roll in with the drama of a thunderclap; they began as a haze, and grew more slowly than I could see. That’s not me anymore, I insisted. I’m not depressed. I’m just not working hard enough. It’s my fault.
The trap had closed around me. I had refused to name the beast, and in so doing, I had not preserved my power over it. It had gained power over me.
Be bold enough to be honest with yourself: Are you struggling with the darkness? Have you told yourself that you need to be better, without knowing what that looks like? Do you know deep inside that living in your own skin shouldn’t feel like a war against something you can’t see or hear or touch? If your answer is yes, then what you feel is real. You owe it to yourself to treat it as if it is real.
Maybe that invisible weight is heavier than it’s ever been right now. Maybe you’ve tried your best to name your beast. Whoever you are, and whatever you’ve been through, you’re here because you’re in the fight of your life and you’re searching for answers. I’m here to tell you that you came to the right place.
More About Allen
This is Part I in Allen’s ongoing series on his experience with finding a depression treatment that works. Allen is proud to share his story with others in an effort to build connections in the mental health community and advocate for finding effective treatments to help others get well. Allen is a patient with Actify Neurotherapies and has been empowered in his path to depression management.
If Allen’s story resonates with you and you’re curious about the treatment options Actify Neurotherapies offers, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our Patient Services Specialists. We are available day or night to learn more about your story and to help you decide if ketamine therapy is right for you. You can reach us at 888-566-9774 or email us.