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.