I'm a guy in his late-20's recently shaken by a major depressive episode brought on by lifelong styles of thinking. I'm earnestly seeking self-compassion through psychodynamic therapy, lifestyle changes, and microdosing psychedelics.
No dose today.
I find myself able to actually look at my past self, and the self-hatred I harboured, as well as the closed-off attitude towards the world, and to actually smile and laugh instead of feel terrified and despairing. I smile and laugh not out of cruelty but because of how off-base I was, how unneccessary all that pain was, and how easily it can be shifted.
It's amazing how attitude, how self-compassion and light-heartedness, truly are simple choices one can make. I'm maneuvering around various attitudes to life to try to find good ones that allow me at once to "get over" my past, and simultaneously to grow self-compassion.
Yesterday I dosed 30 drops psilocybin liquid in the morning and 10 in the afternoon just before I went to a music festival to see a friend perform in his band. It was something of a rollercoaster of emotions, but which ultimately led to several very key personal victories.
Despite waves of anxiety at the prospect of having to catch a public bus and taking a trip out of the city to an outdoor music festival, I made good conversation with people and maintained my sense of self-worth. I noticed neurotic tendencies in my friend, who displayed a heightened sense of arrogance and judgmentalness towards people and music alike. I had instinctive reactions against his meanness towards somebody (not me). I thought about how this behaviour was likely indicative of a feeling of inadequacy on his part, as if he was projecting such arrogant judgment on the world around him, it was likely that he was also subjecting himself to the same treatment.
I was very aware of my own reactions to what was going on around me, too. I anticipated feeling a sense of envy or hate towards my friend or towards other musicians who were enjoying exhibiting their work to an audience. Despite this anticipation I found myself genuinely enjoying my friend's performance, having seen him grow and mature since the last time I saw him many years ago, and taking pleasure in his pleasure of performing. It felt wonderful.
After his show he had some interviews to conduct and I found myself roaming the festival alone for a few hours. I began to feel a lull in myself and started resenting everybody around me, feeling depressed and alone, as though to be forever unlovable and unbelonging. I think this was due to the beer I was drinking, which definitely seemed to have a depressive effect.
I had a brief text conversation with an ex, the longest one in a while, which seemed to spark some hopes in me that she'd be more communicative. After some empty, light conversation, I tried to initiate something a little deeper by asking her how things were going with her, personally. She made it clear she didn't want to open up at all, which in my depressed state frustrated me and I began to think of her as aloof as though she were personally insulting me. A great victory came here when I truly considered her side in this conversation. She had great trouble opening up to people while I'd known her, and in noticing that she still had this problem I felt a wave of empathy and compassion for her. I realised that to take it personally is to miss the broader, richer picture completely. She is having intense personal problems, probably struggling through her daily life, and can't bring herself to do something simple as to let me know how her work is going (I never initiated any profound or intimate conversation). I felt for her. If opening up to people makes her feel so uncomfortable or so sick, that's a terrible state to live in. I removed myself from the equation, asserted the boundaries of my secure individuality, and took the hint by wishing her a great weekend. I'd successfully navigated that situation, learned a great lesson, and grew as a person.
The rest of the festival went well. I chatted almost non-stop to my friend and we had a great time bonding over similar music and interests. This is what it feels like to have a true friend, I think. It felt good!
No dose today.
This morning, I'm noticing with heightened clarity the back foot that I'm constantly taking in society in general. I'm always in an "amber alert", expecting traumatic experiences in interpersonal encounters. I notice that even with my family I feel threatened, with parents not quite acknowledging my autonomy or my ability to overcome challenges myself. I know that the way forward is to perceive their worry and anxiety as indicative of their own problems, not mine.
I notice threats perceived when seeing others' creative work, as undermining my own sense of self and my own abilities. I notice my defensiveness in protecting what I see as core elements of my personal value, such as being technologically savvy or creative. These things are so precious to me that any sense of competition fills me with envy, hate, defensiveness. I know the way forward is to be confident in my own abilities and to enjoy others' contributions to my fields.
I notice all these things and remind myself consciously that I am my own person, and try to access a personal strength and identification rather than comparison to others. I approach interpersonal encounters as threatening by default, and rather than being able to take pleasure in the company of others, I perceive them as a problem to confront and overcome. This leads me to almost totally ignore who they are, waiting for them to finish talking so I can assert myself as someone with a retort and with something interesting to say, to bolster my own perception of myself. It's not even really about how they perceive me. I'm not really even thinking much about that.
The process must be conscious at this point. It's hard sometimes, to backslide and to regress back to automatic thoughts, but I remind myself that the process is going really well, and that this is all new territory for me. The goal is to be recapture and claim permanently that feeling that the world is neutral, and that I am a part of it, and can contribute myself freely while accepting others as they are.
I'm thinking of writing a "prayer" or "poem" to recite every night before bed and every morning, that hits upon all these key thoughts I notice in myself, to reinforce them consciously, and to maintain a habit of them.
dose: 20 drops liquid psilocybin
I've noticed hateful and impatient thoughts returning. My mind seems to want to distance itself from people, to see them as stupid, in order elevate myself above them. I feel cold, distant, detached, impatient, irritable, scornful.
I do realise that around 5 days ago I took large doses of LSD and psilocybin, which may have contributed to this especially "enlightened" afterglow I experienced a few days afterwards, which I wrote about yesterday.
I hope I can continue on a true microdosing regimen and rediscover the experiences from a few days ago, stabilising them further. Nonetheless I remember that I need to be kind to myself, to accept the ups and downs of this journey, and to not beat myself up for the non-linear nature of my progress. This is all part of my endeavour to be a loving, kind, happy person!
It's been a while since I updated this blog. I've been more or less sticking to the same regimen of around 15-20 drops of psilocybin every 2-3 days, with a few large doses of psilocybin and LSD last week as an experiment.
What's been happening to me lately is pretty incredible. My mind, which seems to have been suffering from a kind of arrested development for so long, seems to have "matured" profoundly quickly over the last few weeks.
In tandem with microdosing, I visited the countryside to see my immediate family. I've also been imbibing Buddhist philosophy such as books by the Dalai Lama as well as lectures by Buddhist monks on self-compassion and self-love. I noticed while visiting family that I had a great deal more patience and openness with them, whereas before I would be angry, snippy, impatient, and see them as alien to myself, not wanting to interact with much openness at all, for fear it would somehow "compromise" my ego (it's hard to describe the feeling).
The Buddhist influence
Several key doctrines of Buddhism strike me as profoundly true, and have been guiding my psilocybin-catalysed shift in awareness:
- Emptiness: all things are "empty" of inherent meaning or flavour, and we push or pull towards or away from them according to our personalities, in my case an aversion from honesty and love, lust for hatred and anti-social attitudes. We assign "good" or bad" to things, arbitrarily, locking us in a specific version of the universe very much created by our individual conscious mind.
- Interdependence of all things: Closely related to the doctrine of Emptiness, this idea describes how things do not inherently exist in and of themselves, but arise based on agents, causes, and thoughts from many other sources. This seems to instantly diffuse any negativity I might have towards a friend who betrayed me, or parents who failed me early in life. They are just as subject as I am to forces beyond our control. The only reasonable reaction towards those people, therefore, is compassion through the solidarity of our shared existential condition.
- Cyclic suffering: Seeking pleasure or relief, as well as running from pain and hurt, are inherent aspects of our nature, which ultimately leave us perpetually unsatisfied. Driving my life with expectations of a "payoff", or seeking something external to "complete" me like a girlfriend or a prestigious career move are things that ultimately hold me back. To be completely self-sufficient, to fill my cup so that it overflows, and to enjoy the consequences of that overflowing in whichever aspect of my life it manifests seems to be the correct way forward. I don't "need" any of these things, because ultimately they will end and leave me unsatisfied -- rather, I should find satisfaction and acceptance with the way things currently are, and good things will follow without my being overly attached or needy.
Upon returning to the city, I noticed many changes in the way I perceive the world. It began with a heightened sense of self-worth, which promised to defend me against any aggression from the outside world and from other people. "If they are cruel to me, that's their problem, because I have only good intentions towards people, I love myself, and aggression may indicate suffering in that person's own life, which warrants only compassion from me". There are three main changes I see in my worldview here.
- Self-compassion creating a buffer between my self-image and the world.
- Self-compassion leading to identification with others' suffering and compassion towards them, making me feel more "one" with others, and less like I am being crushed under the heel of society and other people.
- Self-compassion and compassion towards others leading to a "guilt-free" mindset, leaving me with nothing unwholesome to hide, allowing more freedom and spontaneity in life.
Self-compassion is the key thing here. Without it, you cannot feel compassion for others. Having spent so long under the thumb of an enormously negative and depressive mindset, and now starting to emerge from it, I can see people from a new perspective. I notice suffering very frequently around me, and I empathise. I (think I) can read people much better, and notice their defensive attitudes as well as their desire to connect, and the inherent disjointedness of this way of living. All this leaves me purely with a desire to alleviate as much suffering as I possibly can.
The most holistic change I've noticed due to all the above factors is how clearly I can observe my thoughts as they constantly assign personalised value-judgments to all things. A movie poster. Somebody's choice of clothes. Comparing myself to others to bolster my own ego. Self-criticism. While juggling all of the bulletpointed insights above in a very fresh, lucid and open mind, I am able to simply let go of these value judgments. An incredible thing happens when you do this mindfully and consistently enough: you get small glimpses of seeing the world as it truly is, i.e. with zero projections of "anger", "hate", "lust", or whatever other emotion you're painting the world with. The world takes on a calm, neutral manner, where the balance of things becomes apparent, and you become personally separated from arbitrary opinions. Why on Earth do I feel so personally angered by a movie poster? Why do I have to feel sickened by somebody else's music tastes? I guess to make myself feel better about myself, but which ultimately leaves me disconnected from others. These things melt away with enough insight and mindfulness, and you begin to see things dispassionately. That movie poster is an interesting phenomenon of our times, it makes its target audience happy, and perhaps there are some not-so-wholesome values in the movie that perpetuate cyclic suffering in its viewers. That person's music taste makes them happy, which is nice to see; maybe it's not exactly what I would listen to when I'm alone, but I can enjoy their enjoyment of it, and therefore can share in the happiness it creates. Whatever happens, none of these things influences how I view myself in any significant way at all. The boundaries of my Self are delineated enough so as to resist being "absorbed" into erratic and extreme emotions and opinions about things totally unrelated to my life.
This is not necessarily automatic at all. While there have been refreshing alleviations of psychological distress, many of these changes have been brought about by a heightened awareness of my own thoughts as somewhat arbitrary manifestations, rather than as a world I'm forced to live within. I do still have a lot of unhealthy, angry and hateful thoughts, but the difference is I'm able to resist becoming totally absorbed in them and apply the insights from Buddhism and from self-observation that I've accumulated in order to see them in context, and as they really are. This is an almost constant process, which is tiring sometimes. The goal is to internalise them so that they become automatic.
In terms of my lifestyle, I've noticed many changes. I am able to interact with people more openly, albeit still with anxiety at this point. My routine is less brittle, and I can enjoy spontaneous choices in, for example, what I choose to buy and make for my lunch. I cook more, eat better, and smoke less. I empathise with people and feel compassion for them. I respect myself more in general. I am able to fantasise more clearly about what it might feel like to connect deeply with a potential friend or significant other, and how lovely that must be.
After living so long with a reliance upon edgy and opinionated attitudes towards life, there is a feeling that I am losing my "edge". I told my therapist that I feel I'm becoming a "dad". By this I mean I feel very wholesome, stable, and balanced in my view of life. This is something that many people might see as flat or boring, but is something which I feel is lending me a greater depth and subtlety in my approach to life. It's a slightly awkward transition, to acclimatise to a more balanced and compassionate outlook, but I don't doubt it will yield sweeter and more satisfying fruit in the future. I can't bring myself to enjoy schadenfreude anymore, and I'm actually discovering that the more profound humour and pleasures in life are to be found in compassionately observing universal human nature and its many peaks and pitfalls, as well as the "way through" all of that into a more enlightened and truthful experience of reality.
How the microdosing helped
What heartens me about all this progress is that it wasn't overnight. Indeed, I'm still not quite "there" yet. It's been a month of microdosing, reading Buddhist philosophy, discussing things with my therapist, being mindful of my thoughts and behaviours, and interacting with the outside world that has led to a gradual but profound shift in consciousness. I'd like to imagine that the psilocybin has "lubricated" my path, which has still been filled with hard work and a lot of thought. The notion that microdosing has promoted neuroplasticity (while also enhancing mood) seems to be very true. It was not an on-and-off switch, but a catalyst that has given me greater strength to shift the very heavy boulders in my mind. I feel conscious of what's happening, I understand the logic and reasoning behind all of these very deliberate shifts in consciousness; it was not simply a "chemical" change alone, but it definitely let me build some positive momentum.
Seeing as this is uncharted territory (which I predict will become standard practice in a decade or two), I will maintain my microdosing regimen until I feel I'm not in such a volatile transitional period. I still have ups and downs, feel some backsliding sometimes, all of which are healthy challenges to reflexively supporting myself through bad times as well as good. Seeing as my mental "boulders" are so old, so sturdy, so stubborn, I predict I will be microdosing for a few more months to come while I stabilise myself. I am taking a month break from therapy very soon, which will be an important time to move out into the world and apply my new insights to more real-world encounters. Ultimately, I must do what feels right for me, personally, rather than abide by arbitrary recommendations suggested by others. Each person's journey is unique, and my microdosing regimen should probably continue into the near future.
I'm feeling very positive about life.
I realise that it's not about "tallying up" positives vs. negatives about myself in order to feel good. Rather, nothing I have done or will ever do should impinge upon "taking it easy" on myself, being my own friend, being compassionate, understanding, forgiving, and encouraging. The Buddhist doctrine of emptiness has helped me to understand my Selflessness (on a rudimentary level), and I can suddenly see how I cling to everything I do as though it were 100% my own, isolated doing, rather than dependent on the fabric of reality itself, the vast majority of which has never been and will never be under my control.
I took a walk today and smiled at passers-by, understanding deeply that the short hop from self-loathing to self-love feels like a chasm for those who have never traversed it, but once you're on the other side, you can much more easily see the error in one's thinking.
Self-love is not about pride, or about being an inherently good person. It's about being uninherent to begin with. It's about being constantly in flux, about being on a journey where all things are opportunities to learn and grow. The tone we take with ourselves on this journey leads us to good, healthy actions and beliefs, or negative, destructive thought loops and interactions with others.
Nothing should ever make me question my friendship with myself. Anything I do wrong, or any judgment I imagine others have of me (which many times is paranoia to begin with) should never actually make me hate myself and want to escape myself. This is real ignorance about the nature of myself and others. The one thing in this life that should be truly permanent is the loving affection I have for myself, and my status as my own friend.
dose 7 - 20 drops of psilocybin liquid
The benefits of microdosing certainly come and go. During therapy this morning I felt very energetic and "up in the clouds", slightly avoidant. Avoidant of being open and honest with myself and with her. I think I had too much energy which became converted to frustration. Perhaps I should consider smaller doses in the future -- 15 drops, next time.
Yesterday however (on an off day from microdosing), we had an extremely productive session. I had dosed a large amount of THC the night before and had arrived at a series of very profound realisations. I realised that I had pissed off a lot of people in my life almost like clockwork since around 10 years ago. I had made people cry, withdraw from me, dislike me intently. I noticed that I am the single person in this world who can observe such a pattern and truly be honest with myself and come to terms with it. I think previously to that, I had moved all around the world for a "fresh start", not realising that by ignoring my pattern of behaviours (in the belief that meeting new people somehow wiped that slate clean), I would only repeat the negative cycle.
I also watched a documentary that evening about Michael Palin in North Korea and found it absolutely fascinating, connecting deeply with the personal stories of both the urban dwellers of that country and its simpler rural people. I felt a deep human connection that really stuck with me and made me want to engage in the world of people.
The session yesterday was very spontaneous, open, honest, and I feel that a lot of very beautiful (and hopefully lasting) connections were made, both within myself and between my therapist and I.
I saw that acceptance and forgiveness of every aspect of myself is absolutely key to feeling like I can connect to others in a genuine and deep way. I saw that I had perhaps been overplaying my role as "patient" to my therapist, getting extremely involved with her as one of my only outlets for social contact, and how this kind of obsessive fixation is not conducive to getting to a place where I eventually can break off from therapy altogether. I saw how distant I have been from all people in trying to hide myself under layer and layer of performance.
During that session my therapist was very engaged, and softly pressed me to recognise the depth of my knowledge and understanding of what underlies my particular inability to connect to people. This seemed to be a tipping point in my progress, and she wanted me to softly accept and understand myself. The angst, the frustration, the anxiety of not knowing -- these things, she said, are holding me back. And I knew this. But I told her, "it's going to take some time". A pregnant pause passed between us as we looked into each others eyes, and she nodded in a way that seemed somewhat deflated to me.
Today, however, while full of energy, I seemed to feel it necessary to lead the session into angry, frustrated rants about my perceived psychological handicaps starting very early in life. I felt isolated, misunderstood, frustrated and angry with myself, unable to accept it. It felt good to express myself as "against the world", "alone in my experience", and so on. It was an indulgence that I hope to overcome soon.
dose 6 - 20 drops of psilocybin liquid
The psilocybin definitely makes me more outgoing, more willing to venture outside. Talking to people is so much easier, spontaneous. My therapist noted that I seemed agitated, however. She has second thoughts, worried that I will become lost in religious or grandiose thinking.
I had an epiphany yesterday morning upon waking up. I suddenly could see the way I had been conducting my inner life for so long (from early adolescence until last year), and could see with insight and intuition how it has led to where I am now. My fear of people becoming self-imposed isolation, this then turning into hate and envy of others. I knew that a secure, happy person would not have these paranoid fears of others. He wouldn't see happy, confident people and feel nothing but inward envy, tearing them down in his mind and blowing himself up to be grandiose. I saw all this with an intuitive clarity that is hard to convey in words.
I knew at that moment that love was the way forward. I've made a commitment to grow my capacity for love and compassion. I find great pleasure in Buddhist texts, particularly ones written by the Dalai Lama. Without losing myself in abstraction, I want to lean into that transition from fear, anxiety, envy and hate, into love and compassion.
I feel myself able to notice my own thoughts and to step back from them as an impartial observer, a slight smile of understanding on my lips. This insight and observation is key to change. My own hateful and envious thoughts feel more and more foreign as they become clearer to me.
I had some very creative moments in the past few days. Not just this, but I was more vigilant about noticing my tendencies to escape myself and my reality into intellectual and creative abstractions. I was able to look at myself with compassion, to tell myself that I can't just keep boxing myself into an obsessive, lonely cage to try to feel good about myself. A soft sadness comes at the realisation of this. It's time to change things up, to notice the patterns, to take better care of myself and find more balance.
The psilocybin definitely helped me to be myself around other people, too. I found myself talking openly and amicably with somebody I see at the gym semi-regularly. There was a mutual creative connection, shared experiences, and respect for each other.
Last night I took some THC as well, which I found put me in a very positive, present headspace. I was able to really slow down, observe my thoughts, meditate on them, and I ended up scrawling many many pages in my tiny notebook about difficult but honest thoughts I had been having about therapy. Many interesting observations about myself, and the way I think. I look forward to sharing these with my therapist.
I've been looking into macrodosing (AKA a heroic dose) psilocybin. I found very interesting papers written by Bill Richards Ph.D. of a Johns Hopkins psilocybin therapy research team. He compiled a playlist of music that seems like the perfect accompaniment to an introspective and profound psilocybin experience. He lists the required dose as under 25mg psilocybin, which would be about two and a half vials of what I currently possess, or around 5g of dried shrooms. This is indeed a heroic dose, one I don't believe I've approached. I am, however, reluctant to do it alone. I picture it happening in a remote part of the country, under a starry sky. However the importance of therapists or "supporters" being present is very much emphasised in Dr. Richards' papers. I do not have anybody in my life presently that I would want to ask for that kind of help... and that isn't a coincidence! It's no coincidence that I have nobody close in my life. I have created, subconsciously, the circumstances surrounding this sad state.
I did however mull over how best to connect with myself during such a trip. I've so far come up with the idea that I could write a large letter to myself, or perhaps record myself reading it, and then re-read or listen to it during the peak of my psilocybin dose. I could then write a response near the tail end of the trip. I think this would be extremely emotional and spiritual, but again, I'm afraid of such an intense experience alone.
dose 5 - ~20 drops liquid psilocybin
Decided to dose one day early, at roughly 1.3rd what I took last time.
dose 4 - 30 drops of liquid psilocybin
Psilocybin feels very different to acid. Much less supremely sharp focus, rather a more hazy, drunk feeling. I feel more sociable, more at ease, more able to enjoy the outside world.
I dosed 7.5μg LSD the day before yesterday.
I've been focusing very heavily on a new creative pursuit, which has turned out very intricate and complex, made with much more spontaneity and sure-handedness than almost anything I've made in the past.
The experience has been exhilarating, with the LSD definitely making me more open to "flow states" and with clearer access to complex creative intuition.
I feel that I am able to see my past with more forgiveness, more compassion, more solidarity with myself. There was a certain sense of liberation in looking back and feeling like I can close that long, sad chapter of my life.
However, today's therapy session revealed that I was still "up in the clouds". My therapist pointed out I was running from direct communication with her, which was true. All human interaction feels like a vie for social dominance. For superiority in some way or other, or rather a complex constellation of interrelating superiorities. Aloofness is valued to me, emotion appears weak and vulnerable. "Do you feel this even with me?" my therapist asked. Yes, I said, everybody. She made an empathetic facial expression.
Reaching out to people feels dangerous, and like a huge effort. By default everybody feels wary, avoidant, cold. By reaching out, I spin the chamber and play Russian Roulette.
My liquid psilocybin arrived recently, so I will be trying my first dose of that tomorrow morning.
dose 2 - 7.5μg
I drank 3 beers last night with some friends and woke up to a sunny morning, feeling in high spirits. Dosed 7.5μg LSD (half of the 1st dose) this morning out of curiosity to see how I'd carry myself through the day. I went for a walk to a nearby park where many people were enjoying their Saturday morning. I took a book along. Colours seemed more vivid. When a little girl (girl scout?) approached me to hand me a leaflet, I was a little startled, but thanked her and accepted it. I noticed how skittish I feel around people, how out of place.
I enjoyed reading the book, which is about the intersection between Buddhism and Western psychotherapy. A friend unexpectedly called me, and we spoke about her relationship issues at length. I felt empathetic and philosophical. Her pain hurt me, and I wanted to soothe her with some wisdom I had just been reading about. I feel as though I said some helpful things, and she was grateful and happy to talk to me.
I feel introspective and like I can observe my avoidance of pain much more easily. It struck me with much clarity that the majority of my life has been focused around avoiding pain by anticipating it in every encounter, every relationship, and even alone with myself. An overactive imagination has observed pain in almost every corner of my existence in order to "intelligently" diminish its effects, or even avoid it. The result of this mindset has been the opposite: the dulling of every joy, the heightening of anxiety, and the self-fulfilling prophetic power of pessimism.
I had some interesting observations about my attitude towards the Buddhist doctrine of accepting pain and suffering. With an overactive, desperate approach to this doctrine, my mind may automatically do such things as to "force" pain upon myself because it's "good for me". I could try hard to actually FEEL pain, again in an effort to "get it all out of me", AKA to avoid it more. Avoidance is the key trait here, as even a bad attitude at a healthy mindset can be an attempt to find shortcuts.
I would say that today's dose, taken in an already very good mood, was excellent. The quantity seems perfect. I felt energetic and happy the entire day, but perhaps not as clear-headed as I'd have liked (diet? drinking the night before?). I pursued creative endeavours all day and could focus and enjoy it. I laughed a lot (alone) and enjoyed venturing outside. I spoke to several friends on the phone and felt enjoyment from them, as well as empathy and closeness.
No dose today. I will be dosing a smaller amount - about 5-10μg - on Sunday, probably (the day after tomorrow).
I barely ate all day, didn't get out of bed until about 3PM. Felt very low, thoughts racing to my childhood. I tried to make myself cry several times and managed to let some emotion out. Upon reflection I think yesterday was an important experience, that feeling of anxiety. However I let myself get wrapped up in it and failed to maintain any kind of wise objectivity. I should embrace those feelings, not panic and wallow in them or try to escape them, feeling completely hopeless. I feel I need a guide during those moments.
Something that stands out to me from yesterday was my perception of my inner experience being "arbitrary" -- that is, not arbitrary to myself, but in the context of broader human nature. I was able to see that things don't have to be that way, that others may be shocked at learning how my mind works every single day, and that they may not relate to it much. This felt important and eye-opening, albeit frustrating.
Lying in bed all day feels awful to do. I need to get back into a routine and find reasons to leave the apartment, even if I don't want to.
dose 1 - 15μg LSD
Not a great start, as I spent a large portion of yesterday drinking spirits. I woke up with a hangover and proceeded to dose 15μg, which I think was too much. I find it difficult to differentiate between the effects of the hangover and the drug itself.
Alcohol is the absolute worst thing for my anxiety as it puts me into auto-pilot, or tunnel-vision, in which my automatic anxious thoughts can get the better of me much more easily. I will cease consumption of hard alcohol for the foreseeable future.
I was getting very mild visual effects (light sensitivity, colour saturation, an awareness of a smooth, appetizing texture on the surface of everything). While I felt more at ease and in good spirits at times, my anxiety was also heightened, which manifests in paranoid thoughts of how others perceive me, and in feeling that the outside world is threatening, cold and abusive. This is typical of days after I've drank hard alcohol, or drank too much in general. It feels as though the lowering of my inhibitions was a deadly mistake, and I instantly tense up and want to erase my behaviour from yesterday, to control very tightly what comes out of me henceforth.
I was overcome with fatigue as well after a fairly active morning. I slept for around an hour, and still find myself very tired and anxious. Feelings of hopelessness, isolation, and paranoia that my activity on social media and in instant messages exposes me as pathetic, desperate, a fool.
After a Skype chat with a friend I've calmed down, and reminded myself that due to psychologically confusing experiences early in life I view others as a constant threat. This resulted from a pattern of friends and family lulling me into a state of intimacy and trust, and then backstabbing me unpredictably. This has left me with a lingering sense in my adult life of being permanently under threat. Compliments and kind words are perceived as the feint before a lethal blow; harsh negativity and criticism is accepted without question. I can not genuinely appreciate others for who they are, only feel envious of them or else belittle them in my mind. I always sleep with my eyes open and remember to stay low to the ground so as to be impossible to trip up. It's no wonder I can not form genuine connections.
I wrote in my little notebook (where I try to define and understand these automatic thoughts):
DECOY SELF TO KEEP THE SHARKS AT BAY. THEY LIKE THE FRESH MEAT.
It's strange to start to realise that this is not how everybody thinks. It's liberating to know it doesn't have to be this way, to be more objectively aware of it as a disorder of thought, but also incredibly frustrating that I can't change it easily. I'm trying to convince myself that most of those sharks just aren't there. I said to my therapist this week that I feel like "happiness is a sedative", it would leave me vulnerable to real, persistent threats that don't go away just because I forget about them. This is a major realisation and a low-key breakthrough. It is impossible to be alive and swim and splash without a care when the sharks are circling, and it seems they are always circling...
I received a little package of LSD in the post today. It looked like a standard letter, but contained a few tabs in a plastic bag.
I had some recollections of past psychedelic experiences in therapy today. Looking back at these experiences with a fresh perspective, I can notice disturbing or even frightful moments that I had previously glossed over. Taking a full psychedelic trip feels very much like "returning home", in that one's quotidian ego-defenses drop temporarily and one feels more in touch with oneself. It's silly, what I do in everyday life just to feel stable and together, when it just collapses in the midst of a psychedelic trip and the neglected heart of my life makes its presence known. I felt very much in touch with myself during those times, celebrating that feeling of "wholeness" through tears of joy and sentimentality. Old memories took on a precious, fulfilling quality. "Me" felt very real. My loneliness was greatly amplified during the tail-ends of my past trips, however, and I found myself missing past girlfriends for the first time and recognising just how badly I treat myself in "normal" life. The thought that I would soon return to these patterns of soul-numbing self-abuse disturbed me, and tears of genuine self-compassion were shed in solidarity with my true Self, from whom I knew I would soon be departing. Sobered up, I put those moments out of my mind and soldiered on through my difficult daily life in the same old way: hiding myself from everybody, myself included.
Today I bought a small vial with an eyedropper, and carefully measured drops of vodka into it. I'd like to be accurate and work with round numbers, so I'm choosing to measure my doses with drops as I don't have a ml syringe.
I've never had a full-on LSD experience, only taking small doses twice in my life. I barely noticed an effect, which I suspect was partly due to expecting something "huge" given the drug's classic reputation. Microdosing to supplement my regular daily routine should make me more sensitive to subtle shifts in my thinking. Recommended microdoses for beginners start at 10μg, so I'll be measuring out the requisite drops into my morning orange juice or tea tomorrow; that should be more than enough time for the LSD to disperse into the vodka.
I've taken psychedelics (mushrooms in particular) many times, and while the experiences were eye-opening, none of them had any long-lasting mental health promoting effects. Why not? I suspect because I just wasn't interested in my own mental hygiene at the time. Like anything, these things can be used for good or bad depending on how the user exercises his or her will.
In my early 20's I had a very blasé attitude towards my own mental health and what I chose to put into my body and why. While I fancied myself a "psychonaut" and the idea of "exploring consciousness" seemed romantic, I now look back on my mindset as having been one intent on avoidance. Avoiding people, society, my responsibilities, and my Self. "Psychonaut" really just meant "I'm somebody who wants my mind to break out of this body, this life, and float away".
I'm currently undergoing psychodynamic therapy and have been for around 7 months. I was ripe for this kind of introspection. Overripe, probably. It took an extreme depressive episode (lasting over 6 months, much of that filled with alcoholic behaviour) for me to finally recognise that something was very wrong. Whatever psychological coping mechanisms I was employing to get through the days (albeit with constant anxiety and lack of drive) had totally collapsed, and it was time to re-evaluate.
A cascade of profound insights came to me week after week during my thrice-weekly (and later twice-weekly) therapy sessions, and things rapidly came into focus. I had been avoiding self-honesty for a very long time. The crash I experienced was the dead-end of a very long road, stretching years into the past. Toxic mental habits and beliefs about myself had been constructed and clung onto as a means of preserving my ego from what was perceived as a deadly threat to my psychological well-being. Waves of clarity washed over me during this time, and obscure memories from throughout my life started to make sense -- not only the memories themselves, but my mind's logic in selectively archiving and preserving them in such pristine condition.
Today I find myself still under the sway of such subconscious currents, but more and more able to reason with them and "calm them down". These things take not just a good therapist, honesty, and connecting the dots, but time as well. It takes time, alongside a new attitude towards life in order to build a wholesome well of experiences from which to draw nourishment.
My intellectual understanding has raced ahead of the internalisation of these self-lessons. I can observe, sometimes very easily, what I'm doing to myself, and how automatic it is. But some of the much deeper and more profound realisations about myself still feel "theoretical", or abstract. My ego is fighting very hard to preserve the mechanisms it's developed and obscures the more abstract realisations I've made. It's funny how the ego takes on a life of its own and actively fights conscious efforts to negotiate with it. Carl Jung said that "anyone who refuses to experience life must stifle his desire to live – in other words, he must commit partial suicide". It's no wonder that so many people struggle to rewire their own intricate inner lives, but I feel blessed that this self-questioning is so exhilarating to me.
This is why I think now is an excellent moment to begin the microdosing experiment. A full psychedelic dose for the first time since my depressive episode and subsequent therapy-driven shift in awareness feels daunting, and like it may just be way too much to handle (especially alone in a small apartment). A microdosing regimen, however, could help unlock some of the more stubborn cages I've fastidiously maintained around my heart, which could lead to enhanced and more intimate moments in therapy itself.
After some reading online, I've learned that LSD and magic mushrooms are the two most popular substances with which to microdose.
They have different affects on the consciousness when microdosed, with mushrooms described as "earthy" and LSD as "crisp".
From The Third Wave:
Mushrooms tend to dissolve the ego by immersing the user in their surroundings, which can be real or imagined. They promote deep introspection and meditation. It’s likely you will feel a deeper connection to, and understanding of, the ancient rituals that used mushrooms. Think grounded feelings, tactile undulations. Even with a microdose, you may still experience the sensation of being plunged into your mushroom trip.
LSD will dissolve the ego through the sheer clarity of experience. Sounds, colors, and interactions will seem to happen smoothly and without your involvement. You will feel at home both on a walk in the woods and at a coffee shop in the city. It’s flexible, forgiving, and uplifting. LSD feels like something designed to improve you. If you plunge into the depths of mushrooms, you emerge from the surface with LSD.
My goal with microdosing at this stage is to overcome emotional numbness by accessing areas within myself that I suspect have been neglected for many years. From my current uninitiated perspective, mushrooms appeal to me more than LSD, so I will probably begin with that.
Purchasing illicit substances from the dark web is fairly easy for the technologically-savvy. One requires Bitcoin and a basic knowledge of web anonymity and security. There are however, many scams which I learned about first hand. One in particular is that there are fake markets that mirror trusted vendors, listings and reviews. I was scammed out of a small amount of money by one such market named 'Green Road' that I found on a Wiki page on the surface web. Some tips: do not trust open Wikis you find on Google for reliable markets. Cross-reference markets you find with Google searches or Reddit posts. Good markets appear to be under near-constant DDoS attacks but working mirrors usually load fairly quickly.
I was quite fastidious with seeking a good vendor. I searched for as-close-to-perfect review records as possible. Stealth and speed were also factors in my decisions. I chose what seemed to be reputable vendors and made my purchases, which were very affordable. (Microdosing seems to be incredibly cheap despite its blackmarket status, highlighting avaricious 'Big Pharma' practices. Food for thought.)
I purchased small quantities of the following:
- LSD-25 in tab form, around 100μg per tab
- Liquid extract of magic mushrooms, the equivalent of around 5g dry mushrooms
These quantities are around enough for two people (or maybe one veteran) to have a very intense trip. At my starting points of ~10μg LSD or 0.1g mushrooms per dose, I estimate this humble quantity could last over a year (though I intend to begin with around 1-3 months, and am very wary of developing a long-term habit).
I have yet to receive the drugs in the mail, but expect one or both packages next week sometime.
This is a public journal about my attempt to treat a lifelong depressive outlook by, among many other things, microdosing illicit psychoactive substances.
I've decided to make my endeavours public since microdosing is still fairly unexplored (and even taboo) territory in the modern West.
If you're interested in mental health, introspection, observations about work, social, and family life in the 21st Century Western world, and how microdosing psychoactive substances can influence one's journey to form new relationships to and gain fresh understandings of the above, I hope you get something out of this blog. "Render me proficient, if not at least useful".
"Microdosing", as I will refer to it here, is the act of taking "subperceptual" (very small) doses of psychoactive substances, such as LSD or magic mushrooms. As opposed to a normal dose, which may have dramatic effects on the senses and ego, microdoses are intended to supplement one's daily functioning to increase creativity and openness in problem-solving. It seems to be a burgeoning trend in the Western world, with a growing proportion of people using it for various reasons. The world of psychology has taken an interest in it and various studies have been published, but due to the presently illicit nature of psychedelics, it is still understudied and underutilised.
For a general overview on microdosing, I recommend this article.
A little background about myself (as of the time of writing):
- I'm a Western European guy in his late-20's. I'm around 75KG and 180cm.
- I recently became an expat in a country I've never lived in before, where I don't know anybody.
- I currently work in a creative industry from home.
- I am a sensitive and perceptive person, and have suffered from what could be called depression and anxiety for most of my life. I have chosen to live a solitary life, occupying myself with abstract ideas and developing creative skills.
- I had a major depressive episode beginning around one year ago, the result of lifelong defense mechanisms suddenly no longer being adequate in the face of life circumstances. It left me alternating between the extreme lows and extreme numbness I feel today. I realised I have to face painful things that I have been (subconsciously) avoiding for a very long time, which is a slow, deliberate process. I'm solving lifelong feelings of inadequacy, oversensitivity to external dangers, guilt about my own desires, and emotional distance from myself and others.
- I have been undergoing psychodynamic psychotherapy for around 7 months, which I thoroughly enjoy, and during which time many insights have been rapidly made. I have taken an interest in psychology (for the first time), and am interested in being mindful and observant of my own "inner monologues".
Presently I'm undergoing mood swings with a general trend upward. "Upward", as I would define it, is greater insight into my Self, leading to a relief from tension and anxiety and to more spontaneity and light-heartedness in daily life. I'm focusing on broad personality changes through insight, which I am developing primarily through developing self-awareness and discussion with a psychodynamic psychotherapist.
why I'm microdosing
My decision to try microdosing came around one week ago when a friend of mine mentioned taking magic mushrooms in a new and novel way -- a small dose in a few drops of liquid, or a tincture. The dark web was mentioned. I am an impulsive person, and being a fan of magic mushrooms and curious about the "dark web" my curiosity led me to explore online. Maybe getting "high" on psychedelics (something I haven't done in years) will help me out of this rut, and give my journey to self-discovery a boost?
Some hours later I discovered something called "microdosing". I had a revelation and immediately decided to try it. I believe a healthy attitude to microdosing is not that of a "magic pill", but rather a catalyst to insight and creative problem-solving. I've seen many people online describe it as having either worsened their anxiety, or "magically" removing it, only to have old feelings return upon ceasing their regular doses. "Why isn't it working for me?" they often ask. It doesn't strike them that the worsening of their anxiety may in fact be a desirable outcome, something making itself known to be confronted and dealt with -- and perhaps insights need seeking out and lessons learned in order to see long-lasting effects off the drug.
I find my intellectual understanding racing ahead of my subconscious internalisation of valuable insights, and being an impatient person, I'd like to see if I can chemically activate my own neuroplasticity and expedite the process of opening up to the world and myself on every level.
I haven't yet started my microdosing experiment. I have ordered the requisite substances from the dark web and am waiting for their arrival in the post. This journal intends to document the specific effect that I hope microdosing will have in breaking a stagnant routine by promoting creative problem-solving and insight.