It’s Getting Real, and I’m Getting Nervous.
I have been given a date for my first dosing of psilocybin! This news produced in me a curious blend of excitement and nervousness that continues whenever the issue pops into my head. (If you’re just tuning in, you can get the background on my upcoming adventure by reading the first post in this series.)
I am disinclined to share the actual date of the procedure, as I think it would add pressure to the experience if I knew that people were waiting to find out what happened. But I will receive the first dose in July, which isn’t that far off any more.
It seems that ever since the researchers gave me a date, I’ve read and heard about nothing but bad trips, so that has made me apprehensive. So does my inability to imagine what it would be like to be considerably altered by one dose of a drug: it seems impossible and nerve-wracking at the same time. Of course, nothing may happen at all. And on the third hand (?), maybe all the projections and hopes will be realized and I will gain a new lease on life and a new sense of purpose: depression alleviated. Since, according to Michael Pollan, no drug is as suggestible as a psychedelic, if I focus on potential positive outcomes, rather than negative ones, that will probably help. There is a lot of evidence that bad trips can be mitigated if care is taken with “set and setting,” which I discussed in a previous post (scroll down to the heading of that name).
Which brings me to my other concern. As of today, May 1, I need to start tapering off the antidepressants. This means cutting the dose in half now and eliminating the medication (duloxetine/Cymbalta) completely in early June.
I have been on anti-depressants of one sort or another for about 35 years, so this is not nothing. I have read that withdrawal can be very difficult; hence the tapering. My research team has advised me that potential withdrawal symptoms include “anxiety, irritability, brain zaps and flu-like symptoms.”
My temptation is to grab a few bags of munchies (both sweet and savoury) and to take to my bed for a month or two with a few books and a remote so I can stream some riveting tv programs and streaming series until the withdrawal passes. I know this is not a good idea as such behaviour is more likely to plunge me deeper into depression than is the withdrawal experience itself. So instead I’m resolving to meditate every day and to get out into the woods every couple of days at least.
I have started to compile a list of books and articles I’ve read, and programs and podcasts I’ve watched and heard, that relate to the potential benefits of psychedelics in the treatment of depression. I will update this page as I come across new material that I believe will be of relevance to people besides myself who are interested in this issue.
Between now and the first dose, I plan three updates here: I will be briefly reviewing two books: Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind and The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide by James Fadiman. I am also going to write a post as the time gets closer about what I am expecting from this treatment, and what I am still worrying about. If other topics occur to me, I’ll write about those as well. (Let me know if there’s anything relevant you’d like me to investigate, report and/or confess.) (I’m joking about that last one. I write confessions only when I’m so inclined.)
In the meantime, I am working on a new novel… and worrying about what happens if its author “changes her mind” completely before it is done. I’ll be posting a few chapters of that work of fiction as invented by my pre-psychedelic-treated brain (🙂) on another of my blog sites as they are completed. Because if I don’t post them, I will never write them. (← confession)
I am very happy with the positive feedback I’ve had from readers of this blog. There seems to be a fair amount of interest in the subject. Nice to know I’m not alone.