A Client's Perspective: What Does The Ketamine Experience Feel Like?

USA Today Best Selling Author Kiki Howell shares her experience with at-home psychedelic ketamine-assisted therapy. Stayed tuned for future installments from Kiki, as she takes us through her ketamine therapy experiences. 

Starting The Ketamine Experience

Moments before I put my first dose of ketamine under my tongue, I found my nails digging into my palms as I both reviewed and questioned the decisions that had gotten me to this point. Nerves warmed my body as my heart rate increased. My Choose Ketamine guide assured me of the normality of this response to a new situation, especially for someone who suffers from anxiety. Blessedly normal for a basketcase, the unkind thought flitted through my mind as the yoga teacher in me noticed the shallow breathing pattern emerging. In that moment I realized that whatever lay ahead for me in the next hour with psychedelic therapy had to be better than the twenty-five years of near-crippling anxiety and depressive thoughts. So, I put the dose under my tongue. A decision I would come to be forever grateful for.

By the time I had spit the dissolved pill out and rested back on my pillows, awaiting what would come, a wash of peace melted my otherwise tight muscles as I fell into what seemed a dream-like state. This no-turning-back moment remained consistent throughout each experience. However, what happened after that changed. Each ketamine experience ended up a bit different, I believe, due to the intention I would set. I would like to share with you two completely different intentions and the ketamine experiences they produced.

The First Ketamine Experience

I will admit, for my session, I had trouble putting my intention into words, so if this is a concern of yours, let me reassure you that the process still works. I consider myself a recovering perfectionist, a Type-B Wanna Be, which when I work myself to the brink of exhaustion only increases my anxiety. So, my intention ended up being: there is healing in not doing. This came after writing out several different, and rather scattered versions of this idea first. Because of this, as the pill dissolved under my tongue, my brain couldn’t seem to land on just one. My thoughts had gone on a rampage, fighting me every step of the way, unrelenting in their pursuit of not being able to focus on one simple phrase. My experience with ketamine that day followed suit, showing me nothing and everything all at once, helping me to find the beauty around me that one can see once one slows down. 

I rested back against pillows, wrapped in my favorite blanket, and fell off into a ketamine-induced dreamland. This dreamland played out more like the title sequence to That’s 70’s Show. Bright colors of safety yellow, crayon orange, and hot pink swirled into images of Gerber daisies, my favorite flowers. As quickly as they appeared the colors dissolved into earthy shades of greens and browns, immersing me into a rather mythical forest where giant tree roots held tight to the mounded terrain. I surveyed my surroundings up the knotted bark to the branches which resembled old fingers grappling for the clouds. While I could not see my own body, I felt myself slide down into a welcoming tunnel within the soil, grounding me a second before I shot out and up into the sky. Deep cobalt blue emerged as far as I could see, cooling, freeing. Bright dust fragments emerged, sparkled, energized me until I slid back down to the solid ground. My arms flew out to my sides as I spun around under a waterfall. I fought the heavy torrents massaging my body, building courage, as happiness emerged, tingled and tickled under my skin. Immersed in a sudden flood of emotions, I welcomed what this world had to offer and found myself collapsed on a beach, black jagged rocks countering the sky blue water that crashed against them, contrasting with the white sand which cradled my body like a thousand supportive hands. The sensation of closing my eyes produced darkness I didn’t fear. When I opened them again a crystal cave had become my next sanctuary. While I reclined on a bed carved of clear quartz, I wondered over the various shades of purple amethyst hanging in jagged spikes above me. I woke up in my bed then. Peace hung around me like my blanket, snug and supportive. Serenity had unmolded the usual tightness of my character. Joy danced like invisible stars around me in a way I could feel rather than see. For days after, every friend and family member I encountered commented they’d never seen me smile as I had been since starting ketamine psychedelic therapy. I will admit that as an author and natural shaman, much of what I experienced seemed like snippets of stuff I’d either written in books or experienced. The scenes were what a creative and spiritual mind would naturally conjure once granted peace and joy.

To counter the first example, which was more like what I assume people imagine psychedelic therapy to be like, let me give you a rather different experience. I found myself, once again, long-winded as to my intention. Blame it on the day job of being an author. 

The Second Ketamine Experience

I’ve suffered from food issues my whole life, from childhood anorexia and bulimia to adult-onset diabetes and emotional eating— a deadly combo. Therefore, I couldn’t narrow down  one simple intention related to my issues surrounding food. 

This is a snippet from my journal that day:

This week my intention is around food. I want to be excited to eat smaller and healthier meals. I want to create a healthy, happy, energetic, gifted, motivated version of myself who is drug-free to do what she wants to do. I will be better able to help others that way. When other food is around, I want to be satisfied with tasting it, having only a few bites. When anxious or upset, instead of binge eating, I will sit with the emotions, then come up with alternative ways to deal with them. I will not steal from my future self, instead, I will eat to allow her to be the best version of herself. 

Once I drifted off into my dream-like state, this time I walked into a cave. For only a second I witnessed the scratched, seeping rock walls and shivered before I noticed a woman huddled within. Her body appeared nothing more than a skeleton draped in thin skin. Her suffering, her fear, assaulted me, a gut punch just below my accelerating heartbeat. Her hunger pains sliced through me. Let me be clear here, I knew of fear and hunger, I even knew of the symptoms, as I just described, but I didn’t exactly experience them. Knowing of them existed, but the actual physical sensations did not.

I pleaded with her, begged her to understand that she had enough, though I doubted for a second my resolve, having nothing around me to base such an assertion on. Still, I needed her, a version of me I was coming to realize, to know she would be provided for.

After a glance toward me, she began to crawl from the cave, slowly, methodically toward a small source of light. I’d begun to cry for her, but soon my tears slowed, stopped, and began to dry on my face, as she gained weight magically with each movement, a counterintuitive moment as she gained not only muscle mass and healthy curves but her skin also took on a warm glow.

By the time she reached the mouth of the cave, I stood in awe as she gracefully found her feet beneath her. While her spine straightened, her arms reached toward a white sky. Two large animals came to her sides. Wolves or dogs, I couldn’t be sure. They stood more the size of baby elephants, their fur rubbing against her sides, her shoulders. Her arms became wings. In an instant, she shifted into a dragon who flew over white flower fields toward a shimmering stone building. 

As someone who journeys (without ketamine, just due to my own devices) on a regular basis, this dragon was immediately familiar to me. In my self sustained journeys I become a silver dragon, and often visit the Akashic Records. Having said that, I’ve never wanted for food in my life, so I am not sure where this fearful, starving version of me came from. In my world, this version of me had to be from a past life.

However, in this instance, I was to learn a lesson about my shapeshifting abilities, because for the remainder of the journey, I became varying degrees of woman and dragon. At times my wings were dragon and my legs woman. I kept changing like I never had before. In that moment I knew that my form, my shape, my weight, or even my looks did not matter to the extent that the world had taught me they had. A voice whispered, it is a gift, a holy honor, to care for yourself and others. There is a link between spirituality and food, if you honor them, your gifts will come. I came back to my bedroom then with a lot to unpack in my journal.

Going Forward - Nothing To Fear

I hope all of my sharing will reassure you that there is nothing to fear from the dream-like state of a Ketamine experience. While I can only imagine that the experiences are as varied as the people who go through them and the intentions they set, I found nothing to fear in my ketamine experience. I only have wondrous serenity and helpful insights. Ketamine therapy at home is a blessing, a time of silencing the reptilian brain to live out versions of your best life with all of the awe-inspiring emotions that would come with it. In my humble opinion, psychedelic therapy awakens a dream of a better version of yourself from a calmer, happier, and overall better mental state that enables you to create.

Kirstein Howell is a USA Today Bestselling Author who writes fiction under the pen name of Kiki Howell. A life-long learner, she’s currently a CYT 200 Yoga Teacher with a collection of other certifications that include Reiki, Feng Shui, and Essential Oils. At this current moment, she’s studying to be a shaman.





Experiences with ketamine are individual and vary by user.