For much of his adult life, David felt like a short man, even though he stands six feet tall. He used to walk with a hunched back, weighed down by decades of pain and trauma.
On the day that David shared his story with me, however, he entered the room with his shoulders pulled back and his head high, wearing leather boots, a plaid shirt, and his long hair swept away from his bearded face. He quickly opened up about recent changes in his life that reversed a trajectory he had been traveling since he was an adolescent.
“I had scoliosis as a child and started getting migraines when I was 12,” he begins. “I was also beat up a lot as a kid – bullied at school and abused by people I trusted. Pain is all I’ve ever known.“
– David R. Patient of Alleviant Health Centers
Trauma settled into David’s mind and identity at a young age and morphed into a depression that followed him to adulthood.
As a successful hair stylist, David worked on his feet for 30 years. The strain of his profession was coupled with a series of car accidents that left him in chronic pain. The pain and stress triggered more migraine headaches, spiraling his health deeper and deeper into depression and disease, forcing him to stop working and sell his salon.
Throughout his health challenges, David has been able to lean on support from his husband. They spent hours in waiting rooms and doctor’s offices, every visit leaving David feeling more desperate and alone in his search for healing.
He was eventually diagnosed with fibromyalgia and before long, he was housebound, crippled by his pain and anxiety. “I would spend the day over the toilet, in a dark room, ready to throw up. Things got really, really, really bad,” he admits. David was so desperate to escape the pain that he attempted suicide.
His attempt failed and was hospitalized for his depression. After he was released, he began to see JC McDaniel, a Licensed Professional Counselor. “I had never told anyone my story until I went to JC,” he confesses. “He was so compassionate. I was doing better, but I was still like a dog paddling to stay afloat.” JC told David about his options for continued therapy, including ketamine infusions. After doing extensive research and talking it over with his husband, David decided to move forward.
“I was really nervous because I didn’t know how it was going to change me,” David says. He didn’t know how the infusions would impact his relationship with his husband. He was also facing a nagging fear: What if this doesn’t work? What then? JC worked with David to prepare himself mentally and emotionally for the potential outcomes of ketamine infusion therapy – what to expect if they did help him, and what to expect if they didn’t help.
He had four lengthy infusions in one week. “The procedure was terrific!” he exclaims. “The first day, during the infusions, some of the people who have hurt me worst showed up in my mind. I mentally saw them, then they just vanished. Before, if I thought of them, I would have to go home and go to bed. Literally. It’s not that way anymore. I’ve let them go.”
David immediately felt better. He still experiences some fibromyalgia pain but has had no migraines since the infusions. “I still hurt, but the hurt isn’t defining me anymore,” he explains.
“I went from crushing depression, crippling anxiety, not wanting to leave the house, not wanting to eat, not having any satisfaction in life, to waking up feeling like a young person in my brain again. I have so many options!”
David continues to see JC and has a plan in place if he should ever need another infusion or continued help. His story illustrates the vital link between physical and mental well-being; how one cannot be well while the other is diseased. David reminds us that each one of us has the ability to heal, change, and recover from trauma – no matter how deep the wound.