The search for knowledge is never-ending and can lead to new and wonderful opportunities, as made evident by Christi Myers, owner of Flow Integrative of Encinitas, CA. Even though she already had quite the list of credentials under her belt, Myers wasn’t satisfied knowing that there was more that could be done for those who suffer from mood disorders.
Besides being a seasoned paramedic and educator, Myers has taken on the task of helping those who suffer from their mental health by opening a clinic for the residents of Encinitas. There, they can expect innovative treatment for conditions like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and more.
When we sat down with Christi we asked a series of questions that she answered with grace, showing the compassion behind the hardworking mindset that this field requires.
Continue reading to see a transcript of our conversation below.
Can you tell me about your education?
My profession began with the fire service and emergency medicine. I have an associate’s degree in paramedicine as well as fire science. I hold a bachelor’s in public safety and a master’s in leadership.
So what turned you to ketamine?
I have been a paramedic for 16 years. I transitioned into a teaching role about a decade ago. And in that, I teach pharmacology, where we as providers started to incorporate ketamine in this county. Part of what I teach is all the drugs that we hold in our scope of practice, ketamine being one of them. Now I had to actually take the time to learn more about this medication. I came into this with the preconceived idea that ketamine is essentially a horse tranquilizer, as well being used recreationally as having street names such as, “Special K.” There are two perspectives with this type of medication: the recreational side, then the conscious sedation side. Working in an emergency room prior to and during paramedic school, ketamine being used as conscious sedation to help with certain procedures. It’s different in the sense that those patients are completely inundated with the drug which puts you in a lucid state where the effect is amnesic in a sense.
Now my perception has shifted and being able to break the stigma and share how wonderful ketamine is, when used mindfully. The mental health component in our profession, as well as my own personal journey through the Covid-19 pandemic, all of the research has allowed me to see the benefit of ketamine and how it helps provide perspective shifts. Psychedelics as whole such as; psilocybin, MDMA, and now ketamine are FDA-approved, and are now being integrated for mental health. So really, it was in the teaching spectrum, not only to my students, but to myself is where I discovered ketamine.
What was your first exposure to [ketamine] for mental health treatment?
The first exposure was at MAPS which is a conference of beautiful sound-minded experts that discuss the revelations of medicine and new treatment modalities. Early 2020 I attended this conference where ketamine and PTSD were becoming more spotlighted in the mental health community, which led to infinite amounts of research. Once I was exposed to the new found knowledge and opportunities, I immediately became invested. Starting out by becoming invested in myself and willing to experience ketamine and begin to heal myself as a human, which in turn helped me grow into an even better medical provider.
Wow. So when you say personal experience… Did you have infusions?
I did. I had an intravenous infusion so that I could speak from a place of understanding in addition to solely the intellectual side of this process. The realization that these types of psychedelics are able to give us a sense of awareness. Which would give clarity and allow us to actively look into the self, where true change and progress can manifest. . I do a lot of inner work consistently on my psychology. I have now been able to make the proper adjustments to my lifestyle which has given me the strength to live with a sober mind. Living with a clear and sober mind evokes self actualization in the sense that you are experiencing emotion and introspection in its rawest form. I’ve come full circle with my journey in mental health, being able to see, love, and appreciate my own spirit and self.
I allow for that to be a catalyst in my ability to sort through, and grow in that healing. I truly go into these experiences with the intent of achieving a deeper awareness that was not presented initially.. So my experience with ketamine was a reminder of how autonomic or self-regulated our body truly is. The reality being I need my body, my body doesn’t need me. We don’t have a healthy awareness and understanding of our parasympathetic nervous system, which is the Rest and Restoration phase our bodies should be experiencing. The goal of therapy is to understand how important our bodies are and how we need to learn to sufficiently take care of it. Rather than abusing and overindulging our bodies. When we understand correct self-care and self-love we would be able to identify what is really needed for our bodies to thrive, not just survive.
So is there anything more you can speak to about the importance of ketamine? It’s not just a medicine. It’s not a Band-Aid. It’s a tool as part of a broader mental health treatment plan.
Absolutely. It is a tool. It’s a catalyst. A lot of times we get stuck in our belief systems or in the program that we’re currently running. We sometimes don’t have a true awareness of just how complex and programmable it is. Our perspective lenses become limited or distorted, which can be altered with a catalyst. Those catalysts are in the form of plant medicine and psychedelics. With my whole heart, I believe that there is a better way of treatment outside of the current modalities such as antidepressants or medication that has been essentially created or in use just temporary avoidance or dismissal of our own emotions.
So allowing yourself to see it and experience it through emotion and feeling is incredible. Then the proper tools are able to continuously be put it into practice when we are feeling either limited, stuck, scripted or habitual in our ways of being. The understanding of this concept and realization of the correct tools needed, will allow us to evolve into a greater version of self because we are not harboring or holding onto all those previous thoughts, emotions, or wounds.
So what is the process then at your clinic in terms of making sure patients feel like they’re in that safe place, but also like they’re taken care of?
Yes, of course. So we have a few collaborative pieces embedded that help reassure patients they are comfortable and safe when stepping outside of their comfort zone, as well as being vulnerable. The set and setting is a commonly discussed component of the ketamine treatment. Rightfully so, because it is about the expectation of what each patient plans with specific intentions to address, accomplish, and release through ketamine therapy treatment. We optimize set and setting in an attempt to provide an experience that will have a long term positive impact on you. This includes customizing your ketamine dosing based on a variety of factors. Set is the current state of mind of the individual patient. Setting is the physical space treatment will take place. Which includes the room, our presence and guidance through your treatment session experience. The continuum of care outside of the conversations that are had beforehand or the ability to have access to providers and resources. When questions arise, using Osmind as another way of communicating, journaling, and tracking mood.
They’ve done such a good job with creating an app that allows your medical care to be handled remotely by phone. With that convenience and how much we are on our phones already it’s not an inconvenience to document how you feel or what you’re going through in real-time. Which then allows us to communicate directly and indirectly to see how patients are really processing what they’re experiencing, as well as if they have questions or concerns arise. There’s a means of continuous communication so that you don’t feel as if you’re alone throughout your journey.
So, on the note of ketamine’s accessibility, do you think psychedelics are going to follow suit within the next five years?
Absolutely I do. I believe that with my whole heart that psychedelics are coming to fruition, MDMA and psilocybin being first and then DMT, LSD, and ayahuasca to follow suit. A lot of this is truly about debunking the stigmas set in place decades ago.
What have been some of the highlights or things that you’re most proud of?
Developing the quality of perseverance despite adversity, resulting in being graced by grit. Incorporating how to reset your human and allow expansion in consciousness. Realizing that when we help ourselves we in return help all. So it is very fulfilling and it is very challenging in the same sense. So it’s idealistic in continuously progressing forward and becoming a better version of self each and every day.