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Depression, anxiety with Alzheimer’s ‘is what it is’

You might be tired of reading about my fight with depression and anxiety. Honestly, I’m tired of writing about it, but it is what it is. I suppose some others who have mild cognitive impairment as a result of Alzheimer’s are dealing with this as well.

I feel much better lately and am able to think about the need to change expectations I have for myself. Perhaps, I mistakenly remember how joyful I used to be, which causes me to strive to be someone I never was. In any event, I know I was almost never so deeply depressed as I’ve been at times this year. I’ve never experienced anxiety and now action is required, so I’ve been trying different things to ease this current state of being.

Maybe some or all of my experiments are working or maybe it’s just a matter of time before I fall into a deep depression again. But I’m compelled to keep trying to lift my spirits.

I go to psychotherapy and to a spiritual leader, where I get practical ideas of things I can change and new possibilities that might help. For instance, I stay in daily touch with friends and monitor my behavioral changes. I’m taking medications that may actually be helping. Who can tell if I would be worse without them? I’ve tried psilocybin a few times. It’s supposed to help with chronic depression. I think it does help for a while at least, but it is such a big ordeal that I decided to try ketamine, a gentler and easier experience that works on a different part of the brain.

I’ve had one treatment, under the care of a doctor and am awaiting the second. With ketamine, I had an infusion that lasted about an hour and was like being in a deep sleep. I experienced interesting visions of changing landscapes, in which I was an integral part.

Since that session, I feel lighter, smile more naturally and more often, and feel somewhat less anxious. I realize this could be a placebo effect because I strongly want this to work. The treatment is expensive, $400 a session, and six sessions are advised. That’s a lot for an imaginary effect. Nonetheless, I’ve committed to try for a while because what do I have to lose, besides money.

Writing about this leaves me feeling so egocentric. It’s embarrassing, really. I tell myself, “For heaven’s sake, get over yourself.”

At the same time I have a sense of urgency and my legacy matters to me. I don’t know how long my rational self will exist, maybe just a few years. I don’t want to be remembered as a cranky, depressed old person. I want to be remembered well by family and friends. I want to live out my life in peace, confidence, and with love and joy in my heart.

Even though I feel much better lately, I know depression and anxiety are real health conditions I have to deal with. I also know, but fail to remember sometimes, that those bad spells don’t last forever. They pass, usually within a couple of weeks. I certainly do not want to be remembered by my illness. I want to go out with dignity, so I continue to try to improve my mood and outlook on the life of unknowns I am living.

Here’s to a joy-filled new year for us all.

Kim Martin splits her time between Hesperus and Durango, and is a former instructor of Asian history, writing and comparative cultures at Fort Lewis College.