Me + 5 Grams Of Psilocybin
So, I hope this isn't too awkward (I know most of my blog audience is moms) but I took magic mushrooms last night and I want to talk about it in earnest.
It wasn't a pressured choice or an impulsive move. I was intentional and meticulous about it for weeks in advance.
Spoiler alert: it was worth it. :)
It started when I read the newest book by esteemed author Michael Pollan (he wrote a lot of food-based books that changed my life for the better) about the latest discoveries in psychedelic research.
'How To Change Your Mind' surprised me with so many debunked myths in the histories of LSD, Mescaline, Psilocybin (mushrooms), Ayahuasca, MDMA, and DMT. These compounds are, by and large, not physically harmful and new research is showing they can be used to effectively treat PTSD, addiction, depression, and anxiety. The reputation of psychedelics was clouded by a few researchers who were reckless in their distribution to college students, a CIA project called MK Ultra that administered LSD to unknowing employees, and the portrayal of 'hippie' counter culture in mass media. Now legal research is being funded more and more, and the results are incredibly positive. The mental health crisis in America is calling for better, more lasting solutions without gruesome side effects, and even 'big pharma' can't stop the newest research and journey to federally legalize. Oakland, CA and Denver, CO already decriminalized psychedelic mushrooms and peyote in 2019, and the campaign for a statewide vote on decriminalization in California in November is underway.
I don't have a particularly eventful history with psychedelics. I did a smaller dose of mushrooms with my dance studio besties one weekend in high school and mostly just remember staying up all night and laughing a lot. But that's how we usually spent our weekends so it wasn't exactly life-altering. Michael Pollan explains that psychedelics aren't for kids--whose minds are still forming and opening to ideologies. He himself, at 60, tried them for the first time, and noted that adults, whose brains have grown stagnant making the same connections (and assumptions) over and over, have the most benefit to gain from the fresh neural pathways provided by psychedelics.
I was looking to tread some new paths in my own brain. Even with the very satisfying and fulfilling life I lead I was losing self-confidence and self-belief, struggling with thoughts characteristic of depression. I was specifically getting myself down about money, and the ways corporate/government systems take advantage of people just trying to make an honest living. Tensions in LA are high--homelessness and raging, drug-fueled diatribes can be heard randomly on any street. Drivers can be truly insane, and the fake wall of Hollywood/social media glamor was endlessly dispiriting. I was, and still am, on the hunt for a psychologist, but price points, consistency and locations were often leading me to dead ends. When I quit my restaurant job and started the budget for my trip to New York, $150/hour for counseling fell by the wayside, and I wanted to try something new.
I decided on 5 grams - 'The Heroic Dose', with the aim to face my fear and hopelessness head-on. Shane, my live-in BF of nearly 5 years, agreed to 'trip-sit' and take care of me for the evening to keep me feeling safe and loved. I prepped the entire week with yoga and meditation. I gave up coffee two weeks ago and was hydrating hard. I even did a cleanse for 3 days and cut dairy, refined sugar, gluten, alcohol, and seafood (usually I'm pescatarian). It was easier than any other time I've tried to cleanse. I was truly looking forward to this new experience, armed with Michael Pollan's benevolent, exhaustive writing and the full support of my man.
I set an intention to seek 'clarity of purpose and ease of self-acceptance', then ate the mushrooms, ground up, in some salsa with chips (my comfort food) and got cozy. Shane curated a low fi playlist and let some color-changing LED lights warm the room.
What followed was, unexpectedly, the most fun I've had in a long time.
The whole 5-6 hour experience was characterized by deep breath, laughter, and crying. So much crying. It wasn't desperate or defeatist. It was the kind of crying I recently talked about ironically just two blogs ago. It felt like a massive release, and it was consistently triggered by the deep love I felt in my heart, for my home, my family and friends, and my life. With the crying came delicious clarity and the swift rise of gratitude and acceptance. I felt so present in my self-healing. For the first time in so very long, I knew I was going to be OK. I knew it was going to work out. I knew I was capable, and brave, and worthy, and I didn't need to be so hard on myself. I've been told this relentlessly by the people I love over and over, but something in the psilocybin let me just believe it, and relish the belief. I walked through my home, free from my well-worn layers of insecurity, envy, and distress, which seemed to slide off me 20 minutes into the trip. I kept looking at little details of the room and remembering with childlike enthusiasm all the places we'd been and things we'd bought/made. Every recalled story ended with "...(gasp) because we love each other!" or "because they love us!"
The tears flowed through the laughter too. I laughed the hardest I've ever laughed at the most joyous little notions. Shane and I riffed off each other and created a 2 hour stand up special about our lives. It was hard to breathe. I was sweaty and soaked with tears. My eyes were puffy but I felt beautiful and alive.
Other things I remember:
-Feeling simultaneously like a 3 year old child and a 100 year old woman, and being tickled by both.
-Realizing a lot of my unnecessary stress comes from constructs made to worry me, but they don't have to affect me the way I let them (money, misogyny, the Hollywood facade, aging, social media).
-Realizing I am better at love than anything else, and no matter what I pursue as a career, I'll be infusing that work with the love and joy that I naturally bring to the world.
-Realizing I love being different, and I don't have to feel anchored to one culture or ethnicity or identity except for: human happy to be here.
-Taking a moment to grieve and accept the recent passing of Shane's father, Terry, and realizing how proud he truly is of his son. This was an exceptional cry in a sea of good cries.
-Forgetting about time, occasionally remembering time still existed and still not caring. ("What time is it? HAHA! Who cares?")
-Taking a long (*no idea how long) shower, feeling the incomparable warmth of the waterflow and admiring the single droplets on the shower wall, all the while conversing with Shane through the open bathroom door while he snacked in the kitchen. At one point, I thought out loud: "I'm going to New York in a few days... that's really brave!" and my arms shot up to the ceiling to celebrate.
-A bit of an experienced psychedelic tripper, Shane kept noting my coherence and elevated mood with a bit of surprise, given my dose-size. I was occasionally trailing off but never fully lost words for long. And I never once felt lost or afraid.
-Singing, grooving, and letting the laughter move my whole body.
This is NOT a post recommending that everyone do this. It's just a statement of where I'm at and why. The short of it is: I'm at peace. I am excited for the rest of my life and so thankful for what came before it. I am tuned to a higher, more present vibe and ready to love whatever's next, and I'm indebted to folks like Michael Pollan and the meticulous, safe, groundbreaking research and policy being created to allow occasional experiences like this in a curated environment.
More online info on psychedelics: