I’m a 25 year old student of anthropology, sociology and psychology. School is working out well, I take relatively good care of my health and keep the house relatively clean. I am also one of the broken souls that never feels really good. I suspect that I suffer from some emotional disturbance, because I have high peaks where I think I’m better than everyone else, and then I fall into a black hole where I find it very difficult to function normally. Right now I’m in one of those holes, and have been for approximately 4 months (with some bright days/hours). I have previously used antidepressant tablets on a daily basis to stabilize my mood and make life easier, but I stopped because it felt as if I lost a part of myself. And I wasn’t actually rid of my anxiety. I was just somewhat better at dealing with it when it arrived and my panic attacks were less turbulent. Now things are so bad that I am strongly considering going back to them. I have suicidal thoughts and isolate myself completely without external reasons. I absolutely don’t want to die, but I feel weak by the mere thought of life just continuing like this.
I have seen some documentaries and read a lot about how hallucinogens affect our brains and that there is reason to believe that it changes the way we think about the world in the same way as religious experiences might change people’s lives. I have tried it myself a few times, though in recreational context, and last year when I tried truffles I got an incredibly wonderful feeling of my actual place in the world which persisted for several weeks. Then after a while the negative thoughts came back again and with them doubts that these drugs actually help – maybe they just take me farther away from “reality”.
Now I have thought again, and you confirmed what I thought of. Maybe I’ll try to actually medicate myself and give it more than just once. Just the thought that perhaps it can help me stay of the antidepressants makes the world feel a little brighter. Do you think it can help with emotional instability, in the same way as it helps against depression? And if so, which kind of dose would be best?
Thanks in advance!
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thank you for an interesting email that raises many thoughts. As you can probably understand, I would have to have a private session with you to be able to give you specific personal advice, but I can discuss some of the issues you raise in a broad sense.
Since you mention suicide, I would like to start off by saying a few words on the subject. I had a friend who chose to commit suicide and several years later I managed to get in touch with him in spirit. He said that there are lives when one needs to experience suicide, but pointed out that it isn’t a choice like any else. If one ends one’s life without having finished one’s life lessons/challenges, you will need to do it all over again in the next life. To kill oneself to avoid a challenge is thus counterproductive, because you will need to redo the whole thing and will suffer in the same way for yet another life. With that in mind, I would like to say like my friend – dare to live.
With that said, let’s move on to your main question of whether hallucinogens can be good tools for working with your mood, and if so, how.
Hallucinogens are excellent tools for aiding in healing depression, emotional instability and such conditions. I have myself healed from severe depression with LSD and have seen many others do the same with mushrooms, San Pedro, Ayahuasca, and even Cannabis. I would however not recommend Cannabis initially, because it is the only one of the plants and substances that I have listed that I perceive has an actual addictive potential, and at the same time it is not as potent as the other plants/substances.
There are plenty of stories of miraculous healing with these plants and substances, but I want to discourage you from approaching them as some kind of quick fix. Sure, you might fix your emotional instability with a single trip, but it is much more likely that you need to put a lot of work into healing yourself. The plant or substance in that context is only a tool. You will need to do the work to heal yourself, so be prepared for that.
What to do first?
Without knowing much about your specific problems I would probably first advise you to clean out your life. Your mood originates from somewhere; possibly from old wounds and relationships. If there is too much other clutter, you will need to spend a lot of time cleaning it all out of the way, instead of diving into the core of things. Therefore, you should get rid of as much clutter as possible in advance, in your everyday life.
First off – promise yourself to recover and to do whatever you need to do so. Then examine your life and remove everything that is not favorable to you. They might include things, relationships, ways of seeing reality, and more. Remove anything that does not benefit you. There are certain things that you should really get rid of completely, because they disrupt your energy structure: alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, drugs (here I do not count hallucinogens) and sex where you do not respect yourself. The first two are particularly important, as they clog the body’s energy structure and are in their very essence self-destructive.
Once you’ve done that, I would consider that you are ready to begin working with hallucinogens for healing.
How do I work with hallucinogens?
Once again I feel I should point out that you would need to book a private session with me for proper counseling. The answers I can give you here are general.
There are two questions that I think would be good for you to ask yourself initially:
1. Do I need a shaman/therapist/guide?
2. What plant or substance should I work with?
Based on what you have written, I think it would be wise for you to work with a shaman/therapist who not only knows hallucinogens, but who also understand the kind of mental states that you are struggling with. Someone like me could help with such things as:
● To help you prepare for your trip/trips
● To maintain a safe and secure place for you to meet and work with yourself
● During the trip to do things like clearing away blockages, parasitic energies, conveying messages from spirit helpers or channeling healing energy
● During and after the trip to be your mirror and discussion partner
● After the trip to help you structure your continued work and help you maintain your focus
Some people can do all this themselves, because they have an innate ability to work with their own development, but I feel that far from all can do so. Many instead risk going wrong, getting trapped, or even being frightened by the experience and taking several steps backwards. If you feel with you that you cannot do this by yourself, I would advise you to work with someone who can support you. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a shaman or therapist, but could also be a friend who has the knowledge and the abilities that I have described.
Plant/substance and dose
It is impossible for me to say in advance what kind of dose you should have. I always double check what dose a client should have before a session. Usually I do so with tarot cards, but I also use my common sense. I generally prefer high doses, because it will lower your defenses and allow to quickly go in depth with the actual problem. But what is an average dose for one person can be a high dose of another, so you need to determine the dose on an individual basis.
Which plant or substance is most appropriate in your case is in the same way hard for me to speculate. That is also something I would check in advance. Usually I find that it is clear which plant, substance and even who you should work with, because they tend to appear when you are ready. If you need LSD, LSD will come knocking at your door and if you are meant to work with a specific shaman/therapist, your attention will be directed to them.
Set reasonable expectations
Hallucinogens are surrounded by an almost magical aura. I have seen many miraculous events on hallucinogens, but to expect a miracle is not reasonable. If you are supposed to have a miracle, it will come to you, but it’s much more likely that you need to work devotedly to recover. Get ready to do so.
It is reasonable to expect that you will devote considerable attention to this for at least a year and during that time you might need to take several trips. Periodically you may even have to trip quite often. But tripping is not the thing. The trip shakes things up and loosens things, but it is between trips, in your sober state, that you will need to work actively to translate the insights that you got into your normal life.
For example, if you come to realize that you are making yourself ill through the relationships you have, with what you eat or how you behave, you will need to sort those things out. Although it can happen, it is not a reasonable expectation that the hallucinogens will collect all that is bothering you and remove it. You will need to do that work.
Photo: Bang-bang by Yuliya Libkina on Flickr