Psychedelic Therapy...Self guided?
March 1, 2021 9:42 AM   Subscribe

At the recommendation of my psychiatrist, I would like to try using a mushroom to help me continue working through some big and tough stuff that has happened over the last three years. In a perfect world, I would like to do this under the care of an experienced therapist but for *reasons* I suspect that will not be possible. How do I lay the foundation for a positive self-guided or partner-guided experience in my own home?

Three and a half years ago I experienced a debilitating case of post-partum depression that lasted a year and half. Six months after my recovery I developed a rare and life-shortening immune disease that has forced me to step back from work that I love.

It is hard for me to reconcile myself to the person I am right now. I find myself thinking often and with longing about 'before' times. I am trying. I see a therapist weekly. I have a competent medical team. I take medication for my depression. I try to have perspective and practice gratitude. I am supported by my spouse, family, and friends. And I am desperately sad.

My psychiatrist suggested that I try using mushrooms to as another tool in my attempts to integrate and reconcile with the changes in my life. I've used mushrooms recreationally a number of times in my 20s and it was always a warm and wonderful experience, but (while I don't have a specific end goal) I would like this to be something more.

My husband is totally on board to help or I could try to find someone else to guide me but I live in a small city in Canada and I think finding a qualified and willing therapist would be next to impossible. I already have the mushrooms and am confident about dosing. What I am looking for is ideas for making this experience more powerful and healing.

Here are some ideas I have so far:
- Index cards with questions and ideas related to my experience.
- Poems and meditations related to chronic illness and experiences of the body.
- Music from different parts of my life that I have loved.
- Photographs of my children, my adventures from the past and from my life right now.
- Soft clothing and blankets
- Art supplies
- Books on chronic illness that I have appreciated with marked passages

My questions include:
- Are there things that you would add to this list?
- Are there any particular meditations, books, music you would suggest?
- Can I 'guide' myself (with my husband home to keep an eye on things) or should he or another trusted love one facilitate more actively?

Basically, what can I do to make this a positive and powerful an experience as possible? Thank you!
posted by jeszac to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I am not advocating for the content specifically, but the Yale Manual for Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy of Depression may be interesting reading. Some of it is pretty specific to ACT therapy for depression but a lot of it is pretty general. The preprint should be fully downloadable from that link
posted by JZig at 9:58 AM on March 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have experience using psychedelics for my own personal growth and healing. I have a lot of thoughts about what helped and would be happy to share! Memail me if you’re interested in a conversation offline.
posted by spindrifter at 10:12 AM on March 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I strongly recommend that you find a safe, quiet, outdoor space that is free of other people for this experience. Something like a campsite or very sparsely populated park, ideally still with good bathroom access. I think it would be ideal for your husband to be present with you, not as a guide per se but as a conversation partner and someone who can help you reflect.

Other helpful things - dress in layers, you may get too warm or cold. Have something with a nice smell nearby to aid if you get nausea.

My experience of mushrooms is that they can be a roller coaster - I might feel anxious one minute and deeply content the next. Try to be ready to just be in the moment with no agenda, and you’ll find that your brain goes where it needs to go.

Music-wise, this found me once and kept me company, your mileage may vary: New World Symphony
posted by mai at 10:15 AM on March 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

I am surprised that a psychiatrist would recommend a mode of therapy that they’re unwilling to either oversee themselves or refer you to to someone else who can.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:21 AM on March 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You’d probably be surprised at how available this kind of therapy is once you scratch the surface; no one advertises themselves as offering these services for a number of reasons. But once you ask around, you will likely find someone unless you are in a very conservative area.

I asked my regular therapist if this was an option, she reached out to her professional networks. Two weeks later I had a referral to someone. A couple phone calls later I had a visit scheduled. One month later I had a home visit from a licensed therapist providing these services off books. Clearly this isn’t covered by insurance, and is a cash deal (and not cheap).

It’s a little dodgy because of legality, and many providers won’t actually procure the mushrooms for you, but they will sit with you and guide you through the process.

Especially for a first time, I would highly suggest using an experienced guide at minimum, and a therapist with experience. My experience was wonderful, but there were some hard moments in it.

My mostly lifelong PTSD diagnosis was resolved almost entirely by that one day, and I highly recommend it.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:24 AM on March 1, 2021 [15 favorites]

Also, The Psychedelic Experience by Leary is worth reviewing (even though, uhg, Leary). As is the Psychedelic Explorers Guide by Fadiman.

Both are good resources for experienced and non experienced folks alike.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:36 AM on March 1, 2021

How To Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan has a number of chapters about his and others' experiences with this type of therapy.
posted by Spacelegoman at 1:10 PM on March 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

There are several studies in Canada, like at UTM. I know several Canadian clinical pysch students and it is a normalised topic of study. Reach out to schools in your province to see if they are running any studies you can participate in. Failing that, look at the people involved in the studies and reach to them to enquire about being a patient.
posted by saucysault at 3:04 PM on March 1, 2021

look at the people involved in the studies and reach to them to enquire about being a patient.

Looking into research programs is a great option if you qualify, but if Canadian law is anything like it is in the US, mental health researchers engaging in legal grey areas with controlled substances categorically do not conduct “on the sly” practice (and this is one of the arguments for de-scheduling it in the US, but I digress) because this would quickly jeopardize their legal research. Research and practice are currently quite compartmentalized when it comes to psychedelics in therapy settings.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:14 PM on March 1, 2021

Thanks furnace.heart. It is not quite the same in Canada and schrooms/drugs are not quite as vilified as they are in the States as federal legalization is expected soonish (years rather than decades). There are already 20ish professionals using schrooms in clinical practice.
posted by saucysault at 6:24 AM on March 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

In case you don't already have this aspect planned out: You might not know that it's possible to take a smaller dose than you might recreationally and still get the benefit of clarity in thinking. Not smaller as in microdose; more along the lines of half (or a third or whatever) of a recreational dose.
posted by troywestfield at 9:44 AM on March 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I did just this last month :-)
I have found that not having a soothing and comfortable environment makes for a less successful experience.
Also having some clear intentions about the kind of experience you would like really help.

This soundtrack really helped me last time
posted by drinkmaildave at 12:56 PM on March 13, 2021

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