For weeks, I was prancing around this world, a carefree and joyful ballerina under the spell of a wonder drug. I was beyond infatuated with microdosing psilocybin (aka magic mushrooms) - I was in endless love. Then, without warning, I fell into the abyss. Literally. The seemingly deepest well on earth had taken prisoner of the ballerina, and she had no hope of escape.
It began over the summer. The cannabis routine needed shaking up. (Newsletter No 10). For all of its spiritual goodness and wonders for my mind and emotional well-being, I’m not putting smoke in my lungs for a mediocre experience. Mind you, the thought of cannabis losing its luster was terrifying. Nonetheless, some cutting back was in order. I would think of it as a ‘vacation’. A two-week escape from cannabis that would allow me to have a new experience, and to then return home feeling more appreciative, and fully re-energized to engage with my steady flower again. I couldn’t help but think, How clever, Nina. A vacation.
With that plan firmly in mind, I started going through my metaphoric travel guides. I had never considered psychedelics, but maybe, just maybe, it was the perfect two-week trip :). Like lightning in my mind, I was fixated, and not long after I was doing my research on microdosing psilocybin. The same loose research everyone else was stumbling upon. A couple of books and Ted talks.
My ‘trip’ was booked.
How harmful could microdosing be? I know a bunch of people who swear by it. With cannabis, microdosing is a ‘barely’. This was mistake number one. Underestimating the word ‘microdosing’ when it comes to psilocybin and not considering cumulative effects. Choosing microdosing before understanding what macrodosing is. And mostly, comparing it to cannabis in any way, shape or form.
Oh, this is a nice place.
I took my first dose on Yom Kippur, which seemed like a good day for that extra spiritual connection that didn’t happen. Nor did halos appear or was I hugging trees. I wasn’t high at all. What I experienced had meaning and I liked that. I felt the same calmness that Nina pre-baggage-life had enjoyed. To push things along, I introduced a little cannabis at night to go with a psilocybin pill 2-3x a week. The synergy between the two was balancing. The cannabis and psilocybin combo highlighted my two You’s. Outside looking inside and inside looking outside. And I liked what I saw :). It was fun, funny and quite a conversation piece with my friends. Most of my pals were entertained, some a little worried for sure. The cannabis was suddenly great regardless of strain. This kept me very interested.
Social Anxiety. I was much more open socially. I was down to go wherever, whenever, which is typically not the case if there’s any type of small talk involved. It was all good and I laughed a lot. Good times.
Right on. I’m gonna enjoy this vacation.
Tension. There was none. I felt so grounded. I was practically skipping and bopping around from place to place. I thought of the two times I suffered from burnout. It took a long time to get my equilibrium steady again. A few months of this would have been heaven for that transition.
Movement. Halfway into a yoga session, when the sweat kicks up, the psilocybin kicks in. My orchestra was playing and the person on the next mat had no idea. Perfect! I was savoring watching my hands come into prayer. I would look at the light in tree pose with a very different gaze. It made me think of the time I had whiplash. This would have been amazing for reducing the frustration of PT.
Why stay on this vacation for just two weeks? This is too much fun. Life is too good. So clever, Nina.
Physical Reactions That No One Else Could See. It’s quite a therapist, this psilocybin. If you love something, you love it x100 and feel it in your bones. If you don’t, the physical cringe is there. There was no denial with psilocybin. What a compass to how you really feel.
Attachment. The grip on anything and everything was gone. Those threads that keep us attached to stuff. CUT! It had me obsessed about end of life care. Thinking of my mom going through the typical cancer stuff. Overdosing on Fentanyl patches as a standard method of end of life care. Her last weeks were not at all representative of the purist life she led. My mom would have loved this. A few weeks of separating from her kids, her story, any trauma, bills and enjoying the sounds and the atmosphere. Total game changer.
I started thinking of my past like it wasn’t even a part of me. I was indifferent. Not even compassionate. This was the first negative shift. Why was I thinking about past trauma at all? I dropped my story a long time ago.
Now I’m at the 5-week mark. I don’t like where my thoughts are going. I should have called it quits earlier… or right here.
Then I lost my appetite in a way I didn’t know was possible. It had me thinking of both ends of eating disorders. This feeling was a whole other ballgame. Then my hair was dry.
More distressing signs appeared, and quickly. I was not looking well, but I still felt good and lovin my yoga class. I wouldn’t put up with so many negative side effects from cannabis, food or even people, which made me start to question the promise that this stuff isn’t addicting. Isn’t anything addictive?
Then the psilocybin stopped losing all of its sparkle. I began to tank.
My brain just turned off. A thought would get to 60% and stop. I couldn’t piece things together the way I normally did. I didn’t see colors the same way.
Okay - Need to book a trip home fast. This vacation needs to come to an end, Nina.
I declared an end to psilocybin and stopped abruptly. Looking back, weaning off may have been a better idea. When managed properly, my ADD brain is a positive brain that thinks in puzzles without any right or wrong pieces. When something catches its attention, it’s laser focused and curious. Turn it off and nothing’s left. I felt dead, flat, removed. Even worse…uninspired.
It was the absolute worst feeling in the world. And yet, I wasn’t worried. I figured I would be back to normal asap.
Flow Nina. You’ll be home soon.
For two weeks I had sporadic moments being stuck in a haze, doing less than zero. Listening to music and staring at the skyline. It was clear how someone could go from real life, to living in the woods half comatose. My two You’s weren’t friendly either. One was getting jumpy, the other half dead. Why, Why, Why was I fixing something that wasn’t broken? How cumulative is this stuff? I could sense its presence.
There are no flights home. It’s as though a storm has hit my luxury island and all the tourists must stay… trapped in this increasingly horrifying hotel.
I didn’t want to listen to music anymore. I found myself in the back of Ubers, eyes closed, focused on the sounds of cars and the city. This happened for a few months when I first began my mediation practice. Weird not to have a say in it.
Somehow I knew I was at my worst. I was beginning to worry I’d be messed up forever.
Breathe. Do your best Nina. Maybe a new home was in the cards. Trust and surrender.
The next day, I had my first ever hallucination. Oh my, would I love to shrink that one! 🤐 Seconds in, a surprise trap door opened and I fell right through. I was falling backwards, and there was no stopping. No net. No one to hold onto. A free fall into the cold, dark abyss with no turning back. I was in the deepest well on earth with no hope of escape.
I was filled with compassion for anyone who experiences this. I was transported from a positive life, now deep into a negative one. It was traumatic. Not casual traumatic. Not, a-dog-ran-in-front-of-the-car-and-I-had-to-swerve-to-avoid-it-traumatic. Real deal, real life traumatic. All of this happened while I stared in the mirror, not moving. Decades old flashbacks came. A reckless ADD mind that suffered consequences. My brain, when I didn’t honor its needs. That feeling… oof. Revisiting it was a horror.
Then all the little voices with their lessons came out to play. One-by-one popping up and taking turns calling out the ways I’ve been putting my mind at risk by following protocols that make zero sense for someone like me. There wasn’t one surprise in there. How was I going to defend, and sort through the laundry list of evidence presented at this hearing?
I was smacked in the face with a major dose of psilocybin tough love as opposed to the endless patience of the cannabis plant.
Two weeks later, I can still feel the psilocybin although things are turning around now. Music is making a comeback, I’m happy and laughing again, colors and randomness are just beginning to catch my eye, and most interestingly — the curiosity switch is back on with a few slightly shifted perspectives. I’m still deliberating on how to best address all the voices and their compelling assertions. And I’m getting increasingly fascinated with that hallucination. 😍
I shared this experience with some close friends. One simply texted, “if it’s too good to be true…”
Sometimes cliches are useful. This one a good reminder that there are no free rides.
It’s good to be home. Nina, you’re clever… but not that clever.
Happy Holidays Everyone,
Illustration Jenny kroik @jkroik
Dear God, thank you.
— Highly Epiphanies 🌱
I tripped on mushrooms the second day of the emerald cup. Bliss!!!!