Read Sober Psychonaut disclaimer for people in sobriety exploring psychedelic medicine
My friend Cory who is something of an expert in psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”) for depression, reminded me about the critical work of integration between sessions. I have to admit I’ve only attended one integration circle with a handful of other Mindbloom participants. I found it useful but difficult to schedule into my busy life although the circle guides have been persistently supportive, trying to accommodate me.
Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about the things I’ve been doing intentionally to cultivate joy (one aspect of integration), like playing a daily happy song, dancing around by myself, and being with friends whenever I can.
Mind you, this is not much different from what my regular therapist has advised me in the past. During the height of the pandemic when I was seriously making plans to order enough Xanax from China to go off myself somewhere (that was probably the second worst experience of mental anguish in the five years of depression I had endured at that point), my therapist caught me in time and prescribed weekly coffee dates, in-person with friends.
“You’re a social person,” she reminded me what makes me tick. “I want you to get out there and be with people, safety permitting.”
I didn’t talk about the Xanax or the rest stop on the Jersey Turnpike that might be a good location to hide out and have no one miss me for a day or so. Who asks for help when they’re thinking about ending it? That’s the last thing I’d wanna do is talk about it. If I was really gonna do it, I’d make plans and do it and not tell a soul. I wouldn’t want help at that point. I’d be too far gone in my own reckless mind and too resigned to get help.
NOTE: I am not suicidal.
I am writing this in retrospect. I had suicidal ideation quite often, for a long time. COVID triggered it again and at one low point, I really did start fantasizing about a plan. That’s as far as it ever got. I’ve never taken Xanax. I didn’t like the idea of having to come up with $300 for a shipment either. Then I remembered, “Shit, life insurance.” We’re beaucoup protected as a family, unless of course somebody screws it up with suicide. So that was, frankly, one of the strongest deterrents.
Plus, my therapist swooped in along with my psych nurse, who changed up my Prozac and Wellbutrin cocktail and all was well once again. I’m glad I’m not dead (at least not like that). That’s the best I can do for now as I still don’t get a great thrill from living.
But I think my friend was referring more to the thoughts and insights that become available from having taken a psychedelic journey, with whatever it may be, and journaling is especially conducive to teasing it all out (which I vowed to do daily but have yet to succeed at).
This ketamine session: I was a tree (seriously)
Then I had the epiphany that I’ve been off of all antidepressants⏤Prozac and Wellbutrin for the crazies and gabapentin for neuropathy in my left leg⏤since last summer and ultimately ending my last dose in October.
Surely, that’s nothing to scoff at! I’m no longer taking pill after pill every day. (Jesus, relief from all the constipation caused by the antidepressants is probably mentally healthy.)
And though the dip in energy is noticeable, I’ve had no long-sustained issues with mood. It fluctuates, perhaps like it would normally, whatever normal means for a menopausal woman.
Ketamine pills: Two out of three ain’t bad
I prepped my ketamine supplies, made a fresh bed and took and shower, then found I was down one pill. I must’ve thrown one away with the packaging by accident during my last session.
Will it still work? I wondered.
The K train has been “express” lately and I wanna keep going FAST and HARD.
My next thought was, “You’ll get what you get (and you don’t get upset),” as my 17-year-old son’s kindergarten teacher always said.
So I’ll get what I get.
Today’s the day. Tomorrow’s the morrow.
Took the two ketamine tablets and held one in each cheek for 10 minutes this time (usually timer is for seven minutes but I wasn’t taking chances of having a lesser experience). Swish, spit, and off I went on the K train express.
Intention for my sixth and final ketamine therapy session:
I AM SET FREE OF MYSELF
EVERYTHING COMES TOGETHER
The K train came right on time and took me away fast.
I was quickly at one with all there was. I remember very little but the darkness and the spaces other than I was All of them⏤not inside of them or experiencing them, but I myself was each space.
When light came in, I remember being high up in the trees looking out over a vast landscape of other trees and seeing below a few signs of urban life.
Then I realized I was the tree itself and it was so liberating to be able to see everything from above. I yearned to stay there but my Being morphed into some other state I cannot recall.
The music, clanging and chiming and rhythmic, was energetic, invigorating. I wandered. Aimlessly it seemed.
At one point, I swooped low, “flying” though not really distinct from all below me: lush forests, like you’d see flying low in a puddle-jumper plane, over remote wilderness. It felt so good and then I descended right into the black-green forestation, the hum and vibration perfecting the meld of me with it.
I was only vaguely aware of my body at one point, as though my right ankle were lodged in something. I readjusted and back I went to being Nothing at all.
It was so blissful.
Was that my message: Being insignificant?
It must be like death, the comfort of not having the “weight” – physical and otherwise – of the human body, of human existence. I had nothing to carry around.
I also had a genuine “I am one with everything” moment⏤multiple moments actually⏤but at least one in which that message itself surfaced. I was inseparable from it All. I was it all.
Especially as a tree.
I wondered, is this how it all comes together? I am a tree. That’s it?
Removing tongue from cheek, maybe…just maybe…that’s what I had to see to be SET FREE FROM MYSELF.
And everything is still coming together.