This post is part of The Euthymia Train, a series documenting my experiences with depression and anxiety. The above image is from my web comic Instructions for Life (Now With Pictures).
If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that last winter I decided to deal with my chronic depression and anxiety. And, since 2015, I’ve been following promising research on the use of psychedelics to treat depression and anxiety.
So last winter I began searching for someone to help me embark on psychedelic therapy—a psychedelic guide.
There’s just one little catch. Most of the substances used in psychedelic therapy are categorized Schedule 1 by the DEA, which means they have “no currently accepted medical use,” and are very, very illegal.
Because of the
turd-headed and hypocritical deeply problematic U.S. drug control policy, most psychedelic work exists in an underground that is reminiscent of the Prohibition era. The substances are illegal and therefore unregulated. The practitioners are incognito and therefore unvetted. There are no certifications, rules, or referees. It’s the Wild West.
After extensive sleuthing I found someone who would talk to me about psychedelic therapy. I went into the conversation thinking it all very cloak and dagger and illicit. The person I spoke to was totally not that, a very normal individual who chatted with me at an organic cafe in the Seattle area. **Unless you are a cop, in which case I imagined all of this with my imagination.
Afterwards, I joked with a friend that I was expecting to see a hitman about killing my depression. Imagine a Goodfellas wiseguy with a thick New Jersey accent. Think Joe Pesci.
As a comedy sketch, this pretty much writes itself. So I wrote it up and performed it while hosting Use Your Words, a spoken word open mic, at The Barnacle (Orcas Island’s tiniest bar).
There were some big laugh lines, the biggest being “Mary Methyldioxy Methamphetamine.” Say that five times fast. Ok, at long last:
Depression eh? Gotta hazy way about him, kinda smoky, kind of dampening everything around him? Comes into your house and steals your joy and your gratitude, as well as deeply painful emotions like grief or rage, and all that’s left is this kind of blah middle, so you can kinda endure but life loses all of its color?
Yeah I’ve met the guy.
You know they’re cousins, depression and anxiety? Most people don’t know that. You know in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that the symptoms for depression and anxiety are nearly identical? Yeah most people don’t know that neither. Be that as it may, they’re tough customers, they get under your skin, they never leave. Luckily you’ve come to the right place.
These are very tricky mental disorders, but I gotta few tools in the tool box. I mean you got your SSRIs, your Prozac, your Paxil, your Lexapro, your Zoloft, your Celexa. Or maybe you’re kinda kinky you want an SNRI, you want buproprion, maybe you’re old school you want your MAOI inhibitor. I mean you could take em but they only work for some people and for alotta people they don’t work better than placebo. Which is not for nothing, I mean placebo is pretty effective.
Or, and I’m just talking here, maybe we could lure them down to the docks, maybe you’re watching the moonrise by yourself, and feeling kinda this deep like existential loneliness? And boom they’re there, am I right?
But maybe they get waylaid, maybe they run into my friends… Johnny Mushrooms and Mary methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, AKA Madame MDMA, aka Ecstasy. I know what you’re thinking, he makes you freak out and jump out of windows, she’s a club drug, she rots your brain. Look I know they get a bad rap, but the risks are wildly overstated and based on bad science and anti-drug hysteria.
Anyway, a little MDMA, a little psilocybin mushroom badda boom badda bing depression and anxiety are suddenly missing. They’re on the milk carton, they’re on the Have-you-seen-this-cat-poster, they’re gonzo.
I mean who’s to say what happened?—I didn’t touch em. I mean literally–the mechanism of these substances is not well understood, though it is currently being studied by Johns Hopkins, UCLA, NYU, and other prestigious institutions around the world.
So I’m just saying you go with me, I gotta few moves I can make. They ain’t strictly kosher if you know what I mean…Hey you’re not a cop are you? You have to say.
Ok. Bottom line, you go with me? Maybe your depression and anxiety have a little accident. Being a poorly understand and highly culturally stigmatized mental disorder is a dangerous line a work.
I mean anything could happen, they could take a long vacation, maybe nobody knows where…I mean they might come back. But then we send Johnny Mushrooms in again—boom bing bang, ego dissolution, experiencing birth and death, touching an infinite sea of love that underpins the entire universe…
Who’s to say though, it’s kind of a black box. In this line of work you gotta have what the Buddhists call a beginner’s mind. Maybe Johnny Mushrooms helps you out, maybe a little Mary MDMA…or tell you what. There is another option.
It’s a cousin of my cousin. His name is Kenny Ketamine. Yeah you probably know him as a party drug, or like a horse tranquilizer? Well it turns out at moderate doses he’s actually a psychedelic, and he’s been used to treat anxiety and depression, legally, since the 1980s. And sometimes, he’s even covered by insurance. Just sayin’, I mean it’s an option.
Think about it. Don’t call me though, use Signal. And don’t use like specific words, you know, keep it vague. At least until these substances are legalized, which is very likely as they are both being fast-tracked for rescheduling by the FDA because they represent the first new medications for anxiety, depression and addiction in over 20 years, which is pretty crazy, given that we have an epidemic of these disorders.
You wanna complain about that? Bring it up with Nixon and Reagan and something called the War on Drugs. Google it.