CW: depression, suicide ideation
I've been a member of the EA community for about four years, and I have another non-anonymous account on the EA forum that I occasionally post and comment from. This is my first post on a new anonymous account.
In recent years there's been an uptick of interest in the use of psychedelics in mental health therapies. Numerous studies have shown promising results in the use of psycociblin, MDMA, ketamine and LSD in treating depression, addiction, PTSD and even easing the fear of death for end of life patients.
I unfortunately have a great deal of experience with depression, and to a lesser degree anxiety. To give some context, the following are all true largely due to my experience of mental illness:
- I've taken two different types of SSRIs for a combined 10 years.
- I've attended six different courses of talking therapy.
- During university I was so depressed I struggled to do even the most basic of things such as getting out of bed, showering and eating. As a result, I took a leave of absence from university for a year and moved back in with my parents.
- I was often too anxious to attend high school, or would need to leave early. My attendance was so bad I was in danger of failing.
- For several years my average happiness and life satisfaction hovered around a 3 out of 10, and never got higher than a 6.5.
- For several years, I had intrusive thoughts about suicide, multiple times a day.
- At many points I could not remember what it felt like to be happy. I doubted my ability to recover or ever be happy again.
I am pleased to say that I recovered. Finding a good therapist who could work with me on a long term (> 1 year) basis, switching the SSRIs I was taking, learning the principles of CBT and mindfulness, doing regular exercise and creating an environment where I had regular meaningful social interactions, all helped. I no longer consider myself depressed, and on a day to day basis, I am happier than I ever thought possible at my lowest point.
Around four years ago, I started experimenting with LSD, ketamine, MDMA and psilocybin. I was probably moderately depressed at the time. I had never taken these drugs recreationally before and while I would be lying if I said I wasn't intrigued by them, my primary interest in them was therapeutic. When I took them, I tried to recreate the substance, dosage, times between taking the drugs, and setting (even as far as the music playing) that were in the clinical trials.
The results of taking psilocybin in particular have been consistently surprising and powerful. Simply put, of the three most profound experiences of my life, two have come through taking psilocybin. While it would be wrong to say that psilocybin 'cured' my depression, it has been a significant help, and feel like I've made personal breakthroughs in my life that could have many hours of therapy over several years or never been made, without the aid of psilocybin.
From time to time I see facebook posts in EA support groups asking about taking psilocybin as a treatment for depression. This does not surprise me, given population base rates of depression, the positive results from clinical trials, and how slow authorities have been to even approve further medical trials, yet alone legalising and legitimise psychedelic therapy for the general public. Undoubtedly people like me are trying psychedelic therapy in an 'underground' way.
My concern is that there is not much advice for these people. Sure, you can find general advice online regarding dosage, common experiences, side effects, dangers, the importance of set and setting etc. But there is no place for people to share experiences relating specifically to depression and psychedelics.
I think part of the problem is that psychedelic therapy combines two stigmas - illegal drugs, and mental illness, and the compounding effect of the two stigmas makes people unlikely to talk about it. I have made an anonymous account just to write this post. Secondly, the number of people who have experienced these two things is probably quite low (although I imagine many more people could benefit from psychedelic therapy in the future). Lastly, the experiences likely to be described are incredibly personal, and many people may not want to share them.
This is a shame, as I think having a place to write these could have some benefits:
- Useful for those considering psychedelic therapy themselves
- Useful for those who have done it to process and share the experience
- Useful for practitioners of underground psychedelic therapy
- Useful as advocacy for the legitimisation of psychedelic therapy
I would like to share my experiences with psychedelics and depression. I'm just not sure of the right place for it, and I need some sort of encouragement that it's something people would be interested in reading. I'm not sure the EA forum is the best place for this - it seems very professional, and would we want it to be a place where people talk about their personal experiences on psychedelics? It seems that would be opening it up to a lot of weird posts that we don't necessarily want. I've considered an anonymous blog, or a reddit account. The writing would contain highly personal aspects about my life including descriptions of my depressive and suicidal thoughts, descriptions of the trips I went on and how it helped me with my depression, during and after the trip.
So, would anyone like to read this? Can you recommend a platform for this?