Taking mushrooms for depression cured me of my atheism: Psilocybin not only eased my depression, it showed me a new way to live.
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- Taking mushrooms for depression cured me of my atheism
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I think I can offer a bit of insight as an agnostic/atheist who takes shrooms to treat depression.
I have depression that I've been treating with shrooms since my early teens. I take 1 "medium" dose (3.5g- 4.5g). I should note that I have an extremely low tolerance to any drug. 1/2 cup of 5% beer will make me drunk, a small pinch of weed will get me high etc. My friend can take the exact same dose as me from the same batch and barely feel anything. So your experience may vary.
It "cures" my depression for around 2-4 years each time. I can't say what exactly it does to cure it.
However in each of my experiences, I have an extreme "clarity" in my thoughts. I think most people will experience this clarity. It feels like every filter between you and reality has been erased.
My experiences vary but I always end up inevitably talking to god. I'll describe one personal experience, even though it may expose me online.
In an endless room that looked like the inside of a glowing purple tinted orange 3d mandelbrot in darkness, i met a glowing purple-tinted-orange spherical flower. This 3d flower was god. I could feel its presence and its presence told me everything about it. God felt like a young girl. Pure innocence (in the sense that hurting someone would never even occur to her) but with infinite wisdom and understanding. She loved me unconditionally and made me feel it in a way I've never felt in real life. It was ultimate acceptance.
I could communicate with her faster than I could think and vice versa. She wanted to answer any questions I had. I asked her what the universe was and her role in it. She showed me an uncountable amount of thin golden strands coming off her body and coming together like a braid and forming another god. She told me she was trying to create another one of her. I got the sense that she felt lonely and wanted another god so that she could share this outside-universe space with. I followed some of the threads that were creating the new god and they lead into our universe. She told me she didn't couldn't fully control what transpired in our universe-which was the unfinished body of a new god. But she could see the pain and destruction and it made her immensely sad. She made it known to me in somewhat frightening apocalyptic imagery what the role of life was. Biology was the first stage and I got the sense that she did not like biological things. We are supposed to transition to the synthetic, and then finally from there become what she was. Once we awakened into the finished-universe-that is the body of the new god, we could then enjoy this outside-universe place with her.
The apocalyptic imagery she showed me were mountains of rotting corpses with machines at the very top. It looked frightening but I did not feel scared. She made me feel as though biology was not something we would miss. Biology is chaotic and messy, and she does not like how little control she has over it.
I continued following the golden strands and I saw that they all ended as living beings inside out universe. The more intelligent the longer the strand. When a living creature died, the strand would retract every so slowly then come back. She made it clear to me that death was just a simple mistake in this very complex process, the strand would just retract slightly and return to growing longer.
I started coming back to reality shortly after this. I knew that she was a fabrication of the shrooms and my mind, but it felt very real. I had tears in my eyes. I'm still agnostic leaning towards atheism. I explain my experiences as hallucinations I see when my brain when all filters are removed and my brain is repairing itself. Like going to sleep and dreaming but instead of revitalizing my body and mind it revitalizes my psychological well being.
My wife uses shrooms for the same purpose as me. She also has recurring depression that comes back every few years and needs to have another trip. I won't share her experiences, but she is also atheist/agnostic and shrooms have not changed that.
While it bugs me that the author chose the word "cured" as it is not applicable and potentially dangerous, this is a fascinating recount of how psychedelics can cause such a massive shift in the perception of the world, in a way that made this one person's life orders of magnitude better.
But, not always, as I can attest.
And that's the scary part. If it can have that much of an impact, in my mind, there is no guarantee that it ends well. Also the people that do end up with a psychotic break and PTSD probably don't post about it as much.
I am still curious about micro dosing however and love to see some proper research being done there.
I wouldn't say I had a full-on psychotic break, but the actual trip was kind of fun til it took a turn for the worst and became extremely unsettling.
It seemed that the world was trying to communicate to me for the next year and a half after, or...maybe to put it in better words, mundane things experience throughout the world seemed like they were forming some kind of message. For example, seeing a "STOP" sign and then a billboard for beer might've made me feel I was being told by a 'higher power' to stop drinking, or something. Plenty of other examples of hearing things on the radio or in people's conversations that got combined with some other experience at the time that might've felt more than coincidental. Again, as if there were some sort of message to decode. Well, I definitely kept my composure and didn't let any of this really effect how I went about my day-to-day, but it was an unnerving year and a half, to say the least.
Edit: Well, I see there's actually a term for this phenomena, which I guess isn't so surprising.
I would love to see a series of studies on psylocybin's effect on human empathy. I suffer from chronic major depressive disorder and chronic anxiety, and as such I've been following the "magic mushrooms cure depression" whispers since I first encountered them a few years ago. The overarching theme I've been seeing since, and one I have yet to see flatly explained by any researcher or journalist reporting on the research, is how empathetic they make you.
I think that's what the author is describing here as well. I don't believe she "found God" or anything, I think (again, based solely on my own readings of research papers) she simply experienced a burst of empathy by way of brain chemistry activated by the psilocybin. It's the same mechanism that triggers when we encounter something "larger than life" or are otherwise reminded that though we constantly orient our lives through the lens of ourselves, in actuality we are each a member of a larger species that functions as much like a hive mind as is geographically allowable.
Then again I also smoke hella weed so what do I know.
attaining greater empathy sounds key to combatting depression, which often revolves around a lack of empathy for one's self. it also sounds very similar to gaining acceptance of being a small piece of a greater human totality.
I would agree that gaining empathy is part of the "afterglow"(the general term within psychonaut culture for the long term effects of psychedelics) after a trip of mushrooms, or any psychedelic compound, there are actually more then one in mushrooms. It´s probably the main one imo. And the one that might stick with you for the rest of your life. There is no guarantee for how long the afterglow lasts, or what components of your experiences lasts in that said afterglow. But i would say a year is a common endurance in my experience. While the things you "learn", something like empathy might like i said, stick with you longer.
There is much i can add to this discussion, but i just want to add one thing that is present during the trip, but also in the afterglow that had a positive effect in my own life.
I can only describe it as an "awh" feeling. And compare it to when you experience something entirely new as a child. After my first trip i described it with words as if everything i saw and experienced where astonishing or astounding. And that the last time i felt the same way was as a young child exploring the world and found out about something entirely new that blew my mind.
As an adult you(or should i say your brain) have had a lot of experiences, and as more time pass you have set opinions and relate to things the same way. I mean, how many times have you seen a tree before? I would say that you probably have a pretty clear opinion on what a tree is.
That feeling of being a child again, exploring the world in "awh" was very special to me, and it lasted in the afterglow. Something like a basic plant as said tree gave me those feelings, seeing it, touching it, smelling and tasting it.
The afterglow of being in awh of the world helped me in some ways for sure. It gave me perspective. Perspective that helped with battling depression.
I've never really been religious, I tried magic mushrooms many times and had a blast while maintaining my atheism. I have read about psilocybin helping with addiction and that was my experience, in a way. I used to play a text-based MUD, and got involved in a forum that I continued using even after I gave up on the game. I still remember the specific trip where I decided that forum was toxic and never went back. Overall though, I just had a lot of fun times that are very hard to explain now. Mushrooms are (imo, no data to back it up) a much safer alternative to acid. For one, you know what you're getting. Real acid is hard to come by these days, mushrooms are mushrooms. It's also a much shorter trip, maybe 3 hours from start to finish instead of acid's all-day experience. The feeling is different too - after a brief period of nausea, everything is hilarious and then the tripping really starts. Acid is like an alien scientist peeling back your brain and poking around inside.
I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but if you/your family don't have a history of mental illness, you haven't gone through any major psychologically taxing episodes like a break up or death of a loved one recently, and have a good friend you trust to tripsit it is worth it. Magic mushroom spores are even totally legal to buy since they don't contain psilocybin and fairly easy to grow since they're just mushrooms.
My mother took something similar as part of a cult practice. She was a bit zany for a few days, went back to her neurotic self after that. YMMV.
So... is the author actually not atheist or just unsure about their beliefs?
It's possible to be atheist yet unsure about it. Plenty of others in this thread have mentioned how they've had plenty of experiences with psychedelics without having their religious views change. I'm in the same boat there; at the very most, psychedelic experiences have softened my view of other ideas, mostly just to the point of suspending adherence to a single idea. Also, Buddhism is not a theistic religion (though some versions could be viewed that way I suppose). I feel like the title is pretty tangential to the point of the article
I'm complaining right now because I don't want people to get the idea that magic mushrooms are (figuratively) magic and will cure your XYZ without a doubt. My most basic description of a psychedelic experience is that literally everything is intensified: this can be good and/or bad
The extent to which you become lucid on these substances is one of the most interesting things to me.
The main thing it has taught me is that our brains are capable of much more than they throughout ordinary life. Please don't misconstrue this as the "wE onLy UsE 10% of OuR BraiNs" BS, but reading a few texts on secular Buddhism and practicing meditation and daily awareness has changed my perspectives a bit. Actually, I tried tripping after practicing daily awareness for a couple weeks, and I couldn't handle the trip because I was making it too intense for myself. I effectively nope'd out and watched TV until I was coherent enough to do other things. To anyone curious about trying these to treat their depression, please be cautious. Do your research, get a trip-sitter, and organize your environment so that everything you might need is nearby if you're going self-medicate.
Well, time to go watch Altered States again.
This quote by Steve Katz, a professor of Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Boston University, is funny to me because the exact same thing could be said with the terms reversed ("mystical" and "psychoactive" (I'm using psychoactive because the choice of term, psychological, is expressly chosen to define the experience as within the mind)); it's literally dependent on point of view.
Shrooms is the only drug that has really interested me in any form, but I've never been in a position to take it and likely will never be. I'm also an atheist, but I highly doubt such an experience would move me from that camp.
My spouse has depression and I have always wondered how psilocybin would affect her mood. Hopefully someday some type of psilocybin based treatment will be legal.
Your tolerance for illegality may be different, but mushroom spores are 100% legal to purchase. There are a variety of websites that sell them for "microscopy" the same way headshops sell bongs for "tobacco use". From there, very basic research can guide you to creating a growing medium and terrarium, then you just let nature take its course. The most difficult part is keeping everything sterile so only the good fungus grows.
I appreciate the insight, but my employment has regular drug screenings and a very long investigation that must be completed truthfully.
I would say picking them in nature is even better, if a sort of them grow in your area. Me and my friends picked some every year during autumn for a few years while they pop up, making it to a "yearly ritual" where we would trip once or twice after the yearly harvest. Up until i was done with tripping personally.
You have to be knowledgeable when picking mushrooms, many of them are poisonous. Dosage is very important with psychedelics as well. You have to rate every mushroom individually, not only size decides. You have to look for coloration and the amount of spores if they have not released most of them or any at all. Most often you dry them before eating them to, so sort them out in different drying sections and dose when they are dry since they can weight differently based on how much moisture they contain. There is more to it, what i am trying to say is, knowledge is very important, the more the better.
NEVER go in blind if you want to experiment with psychedelics, study, and also learn from seasoned trippers before even thinking about trying mushrooms.