The Ketamine Journey & Labor Land

The Ketamine Journey & Labor Land

I’ve had an incredible opening of Alchemy Wellness, working with ketamine clients over the past three months.  When I tell people in my network I haven’t seen in a while, their reactions are often confused. “Wait–weren’t you going to school for women’s health?  How did you end up in ketamine?” On the surface, that may seem like a sensible question, but I have a different perspective.

My nurse practitioner education prepared me to handle mental health from the perspective of women’s transitions–menarche, parenthood, infertility, and menopause.  My fifteen years of experience in hospitals and emergency services providing direct care to those in crisis, recovery, and labor rounded out that understanding. At Alchemy, I structure wellness plans that address all the different pathways to improve mental health–diet, supplements, activity, lifestyle, and therapies.  It’s a fascinating time to be delving into the things we know about the brain, and to be on the bleeding edge of innovative therapies.

“Last week, I found myself touching a client on the arm, and uttering familiar words. You’re safe. I watched the patient’s whole body melt into the chair after he had been beginning to mutter to himself, becoming slightly anxious.  It was so familiar—and surprising, as I reflected on it afterward. While my environment may be different than when I worked in women’s health, the work itself doesn’t feel much different at all.

There is an altered, almost dreamy mental state of intrapartum referred to as ‘labor land’ by maternity care providers. Birthing individuals are conscious, but often seem far away from the conversations and people around them.  It is a unique state, often very amenable to positive affirmations–almost identical to people on ketamine. Last week, I found myself touching a client on the arm, and uttering familiar words. You’re safe. I watched the patient’s whole body melt into the chair after he had been beginning to mutter to himself, becoming slightly anxious.  It was so familiar–and surprising, as I reflected on it afterward. While my environment may be different than when I worked in women’s health, the work itself doesn’t feel much different at all.

Rachel Featherstone is a nurse practitioner practicing at Alchemy Wellness, the newest ketamine clinic in Richmond, Virginia. Her professional focus is on the intersection of reproduction, sex, and mental health. She is a proud graduate of Frontier Nursing University, where she studied women’s health. When she’s not reading journal articles or kayaking, she’s spending her time resurrecting the Greater Richmond Maternal Mental Health Coalition.

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