Insight once came to me after I was prepped for a surgical procedure. As my body's weight began to evaporate, a pain I had never recognized, but which must have always been sounding in the...
Insight once came to me after I was prepped for a surgical procedure. As my body's weight began to evaporate, a pain I had never recognized, but which must have always been sounding in the background noise of my being, vanished. The superadhesive worry--which sometimes frightened others as much as myself, that in order to socialize, I had learned to sometimes twist into a temporary shape resembling charm--came unstuck and peeled away. Then followed a great thought, a mandate for how I should spend the remainder of my life. Also, I needed to poop. But more than that, I needed to get out of this semi-public hospital bed and to a private space immediately, so I could allow this cosmic insight a moment to fully bloom. Time was against me. Anesthetized, I knew I was slipping toward, maybe even over, the falls past which I would forget everything of this experience until a groggy post-procedure awakening brought dull daylight and its senseless aches back to me. I had to somehow save the thought. I searched, but the bathroom gave up no markers, no specimen cup labels to write on. I wondered about tearing toilet paper into little letters, hiding them above the cabinet. But would I remember to return to read the message? With an increasingly calm desperation, I dug my nails into the flesh of my hand and repeated again and again the life-saving insight delivered during communion with the world that lay beyond pain. Please remember, please remember this thought.
When I regained consciousness, it was waiting for me like a friend who had lost patience, and now seemed much less attractive. What I had somehow stolen from the gods, secreted in my closed palm through a swim across the river Lethe, was this message: “Do Drugs.”
I had realized that analysis, working on the problem of myself both mentally and verbally, had won me no appreciable gains. Insight, I had. But relief, happiness, an improved outlook? Nothing I had done had really helped me feel better. Anesthesia instantly had. These aren’t the words of an addict coming on-line. I was a reluctant user of any substance. However, in the years following I forced myself to again undertake drug trials with my psychiatrists. Methodically, I worked through every class, waltzed backward through the eras of drugs, danced off-label with each oddball wallflower, ingested every twisted molecule to ever win over the FDA with a promise of psychiatric benefit and maybe some that merely had intrigued one of my more historically-curious doctors. When Eddie Haskell, MD wanted to resurrect a drug of the bad old days just to see what it’d do to a person, I was the patient with his hand out.
I overslept and didn’t sleep. I gained and lost a third of my body weight. My head felt like a styrofoam block, then like the slate of a blackboard being scraped with tableware. I was more or less charged, sweaty, sensitive to light, and shaky. Some drugs make you feel like Benjamin Braddock in his birthday diving suit. Others make you feel like an amnesiac idiot in Benjamin Braddock’s birthday diving suit. A common theme emerges. These substances could help me feel slower, distant from the world, claustrophobic, clammy, sensorily distorted. Sometimes, they dulled my anxiety, or dried my hair-trigger tear ducts, but they accomplished this through impairment, and very clumsily. I have never been drunk, but I think it’s like a drunk traffic cop: success in psych meds comes about by the stopping of certain avenues, slowing up of traffic, blocking lawful turns. And it’s sometimes noted in the overall impact that fewer crashes have occurred. To me this is not success. Impairment so far hasn't been healing for me. I want my turn at quoting the line, "I feel like myself again."
And so, my heart sinks at every day's new headline about psychedelics. If you follow health news at all, you know they are a hot topic, showing a ridiculous amount of promise. Despite fitting the diagnostic profile, my former home was far from anywhere with signups for studies. I reached out to several "clinics" offering psychedelic-assisted therapy. They struck me as resembling many legal weed shops--loads of young bros polishing their presentation and sanitizing an extortionate drug deal in hopes of financing a Tesla. With fees starting at 8x the plane ticket to administer and contextualize a drug that costs less than $20 a dose, I wouldn't credit their soft patter as containing much idealism.
And here I am--for other reasons besides. Yes, a part of me thought living here would put legal psychedelics within my reach, but I'm not seeing any opportunities. Now I'm kicking myself for never having tried to cultivate mushroom spores, never having ventured to ask acquaintances for a hand. I'm marooned here and psilocybin is about blow up in the States.