Warning: This post mentions sexual assault
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is effecting millions of people ever day. PTSD is a condition caused by a traumatic event that leads to reoccurring negative thoughts and memories of the event. People who live with PTSD might have to deal with symptoms like reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind them of the event, having more negative beliefs and thoughts, and they may always be on the look out for danger. It can be debilitating and take away someone's life from them. It can lead to anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, drug abuse, physical problems, illness, career issues, and relationship problems.
PTSD can be caused by many different traumatic events including abuse, car accidents, natural disasters, combat, or sexual assault to name a few. For me, it was sexual assault. The memories of the event were haunting me and it seemed like it was following me into every area of my life. I couldn't think straight and I couldn't eat/sleep. It was the first thought I had in the morning and the last thought I had before bed. Why didn't he stop when I said NO? Why didn't the police officer want to keep me safe? How could they do this to me? These were the questions that would play through my head over and over and over.
Not only did I have PTSD from being sexually assaulted, I also had PTSD from the way the police officer handled my case. I was treated like the criminal when I called the police for help. I was told to "stop lying or I'd be arrested" before I even told my side. Eventually I was arrested because they said when I admitted to fighting back- I was admitting to assault. So I called the police for help after I was raped and I was the one arrested for fighting back. Eventually, another detective saw the case and the rapist was arrested and the case against me was dropped but I still went to jail after getting raped. I will be writing a separate blog on all the ways the police officer mishandled my case to bring attention to how the police department encourages corruption. They shouldn't be allowed to refuse to take evidence and call you a liar and I will make it my mission to change how rape cases are handled but I will post more on this later.
Anyways, I felt like I had double PTSD from both the attacker and the police officer. Every where I went, I thought I saw his face. Every man reminded me of him. Every police officer looked like a monster. I was raped and arrested and I couldn't stop replaying it in my head. I felt unsafe. I felt like I had to hide from the world to make sure it could never happen again. The police didn't want to keep me safe so I felt like I had to do everything in my power to avoid any kind of situation that could put me at risk. That meant isolating myself from social activities and hiding from the world. I just wanted to feel safe.
The negative thought patterns were getting worse and worse. Replaying it in my head felt like it was happening all over again. I felt hopeless and I felt like rape was legal (Actually it is legal in some states). I felt like I was let down by the people you are supposed to go to for help. I didn't want to be on a planet that seemed to encourage rape and corruption. I just wanted to be six feet under and not have to have these thoughts anymore. I didn't want to be scared of men anymore. I don't want to feel like I have to be alone forever to be safe. I didn't want to have to fear the police. I just wanted to be normal again and these ideas were leading me down a spiral of suicidal thoughts. I wanted to die just so I wouldn't have to think about it anymore. I just wanted the thoughts to stop.
Eventually, I was introduced to the idea of using psychedelics to treat mental health problems. I had used psychedelics a couple times before but not with the intention that I would be healing myself. And that really is the most important part- intention. Because when you set a certain intention, you are more likely to learn and grow from the experience. It's like when you go to school with the intention to gain knowledge you are more likely to succeed and learn more. If you go to school just to party, you are less likely to do well. If you use psychedelics just to party, you won't know how to use it in the most effective way. Intention is important because it guides how well you deal with the situation and integrate its teachings into your life.
So now I had the intention that I would be healing myself and I started microdosing psilocybin mushrooms. Microdosing means taking such a small amount so you only receive the medical benefits without the high. I started microdosing and noticed that my mood stabilized and I was free from negative thought patterns. I didn't have to "trip" and I could go about my day normally. Microdosing helped remind me to appreciate the little things in life. It helps you see things from a new perspective.
How I Microdose:
I recommend starting with the smallest dose possible to discover how your body handles the effects. Every one is different and will be effected differently. People with a history of schizophrenia might be at a higher risk for negative side effects so it is important to remember that nothing is completely safe for every single person and everyone reacts differently. Once it's legal, we will be able to do more research and ensure a higher degree of safety.
When I first started microdosing, I would just eat a small mushroom cap and this felt similar to the effects of cannabis. It was a very mild euphoria that made colors stand out more and allowed to you see and appreciate little details. This might be considered more of a "low dose" rather than a microdose since I did feel subtle euphoria.
Now I've evolved to microdosing by eating a tiny size amount the size of my fingernail. This ensures I feel no psychoactive effects so I can be productive and go about my day normally. Sometimes I will take this dose a couple times in one day. My goal isn't to feel high and in fact I want to avoid feeling high so I can be productive and get things done. The idea is to take smaller amounts more frequently.
Some people like to take James Fadiman's advice and microdose less than a gram once every 3 days. I like to take it every day just in smaller amounts than most people will do. The dose doesn't even register on my scale and I just measure it out by size.
There is no one right way. Do what you think is best but be cautious and realize there is always a risk in anything you do. Sometimes you think it will be a microdose but you'll get a stronger batch and they will effect you much more than you might like. Be careful and make sure you don't have anything important to take care of when you are first trying it out to get a feel for what the right dose is.
These are the benefits that I feel like I experienced personally but keep in mind that everyone is different and other factors might be involved:
-Appreciation for little details (colors seem brighter, every day things we take for granted stand out more)
-Mindfulness which lets me analyze my emotions more effectively
-Increase in positive thinking
-Increase in productivity and motivation
-Colors seem brighter
-Different perspectives on life
-Increase in libido
-Seems to calm my social anxiety and makes it easier to connect with people
After microdosing on and off for a few months, I have noticed my moods are stablized and I don't wake up thinking about it like I used to. I feel like it shifts your way of thinking so that you don't get stuck in only thinking about the negative side of things.
Instead of thinking "how could they?", I feel like the mushrooms shifts my thinking into "How can I change this? How can I be productive and make sure these things can't happen to others?". The mushroom helped me realize this was my chance to make change.
Instead of seeing it as a fixed problem that will never go away, the mushroom helped me see it as a way to give my life meaning and help other people who've been through similar issues. It opens up your mind and allows you to have a Growth Mindset. It makes you realize you have the power to create the future and we don't have to stand for the injustices in the world.
It gave me hope.
It changed my mindset from suicidal to knowing I can change the world.
I used to wake up like a bolt of electricity when my ptsd was really bad. I would wake up angry and wanting to scream just thinking about what they did to me. Why didn't he stop when I said NO? Why didn't that officer want to help me? My first thought every morning was every injustice ever laid upon me and it was exhausting. Once I started microdosing, I stopped waking up like this. I was finally able to enjoy my mornings and it was easier to focus on more pleasant thoughts. It seemed like a miracle for me.
The Science Behind Microdosing:
You may be wondering why a mushroom that makes you see hallucinations would be able to treat a mental health issue like ptsd. The science we can do is very limited due to psilocybin being mislabeled a schedule I drug. But the research we do have is showing that psilocybin can "eliminate the fear condition in mice" and can increase neurogenesis.
Neurogenesis happens when new neurons are formed in the brain. Neurogenesis can improve brain function and an article in Journal of the Royal Society Interface in 2014 found that psilocybin creates a "hyper connected brain" and there is greater communication between the entire brain.
The photo below shows a normal brain on the left and on the right is a brain from a patient who used psilocybin. The psilocybin brain shows a larger amount of connections which allow different parts of the brain to "talk" to each other. This open communication could be part of the reason that psilocybin can help treat ptsd and other mental health issues. More research needs to be conducted which is why it is so important to normalize these substances. Psychedelics have helped me so much and research is showing it has potential for medical use so it's time we make some revisions to past laws.
Psychedelics are not the ONLY answer!
Healing from trauma is like a recipe with many different ingredients. Psychedelics might be one of the most important ingredients in my opinion but you should also keep in mind that there are many other things you can do to promote healing. We need to get out of the mindset that we can just take a pill and everything will get better. Healing is about putting in the work and getting out of your comfort zone and you can't just take a substance to do that. Meditation, mindfulness, exercise, eating nutritious foods, talking to people you love, getting out in nature, getting hugs/physical touch, and doing something that makes you feel valuable and productive are all important to maintaining your mental health.
I believe psychedelics can make it easier to do all these things and I think it can shift your mindset to be able to do them more effectively. If used properly, psychedelics can train you to better manage your emotions and allow you to analyze these emotions similarly to the practice of mindfulness. I think part of the benefit of psilocybin is that it encourages you to do other things that promote well being.
Sometimes I wonder if the mushroom is helping us be the best version of ourselves so that our species will thrive and cultivate more mushrooms. Perhaps the mushroom is just helping us in order to increase its own biological fitness but that's just my speculation. Either way, the mushroom is showing us it wants to help us and we should let it.
Microdosing is going to change the way people perceive psychedelic use. Once people realize you don't need to feel high from psychedelics to get the mental health benefits will be the day it is taken more seriously. I think this was true for cannabis as well. Once people saw CBD could treat seizures and PTSD they realized that it was more than just a silly thing stoners do. Just because it could give you the giggles doesn't mean it shouldn't be taken seriously as a way to heal from trauma and illness. It's not just for hippies because all kinds of people can benefit from its use. From soldiers, to business men, to police officers, to nurses, to sexual assault survivors- we could all be benefiting from this medicine but it needs to be normalized and respected as a tool for personal growth. You can do your part to integrate this medicine into our society by speaking up about the research and medical potential.
Come out of the psychedelic closet and share your story to be a part of ending the war against cognitive freedom.
Here are some more resources and experiences to learn more:
Other tactics for improving mental health:
Love Your Damn Self!
Thanks for reading!