There’s this running joke about La Croix that I love—that confusingly also applies to depression.
It’s about how drinking La Croix is like…
Tasting a hint
Of a whisper
Of a ghost that once glanced at a lemon as it drove by on the freeway.
Thing is, when you have depression, life feels like it was manufactured by the La Croix people.
Replace the bubbles with nihilism, slap a label on it that says “Fulfillment Flavored,” and voila.
After a few years, the La Croix lifestyle starts to get to you.
You begin doing more wackadoodle things to escape.
So in the midst of my pandemic angst,
I heard there was research out there that showed microdosing psychedelics can help cure depression…
That’s all it took. I was off to the races.
Sprinting deep into the (metaphorical) woods,
looking for a trustworthy drug dealer.
No research into the origin of that rumor.
Just…”woosh!” off into the horizon.
“Lemme just wing it,” me, presumably, circa 2020.
In the years that followed, I’ve done a little more research.
(It’s also important to note that there’s some research that supports this, but it hasn’t been conclusively proven in the realm of science.)
Neurogenesis is the brain’s production of new neurons.
This slows down significantly as we grow older.
Neural plasticity refers to our brain’s ability to rewire itself.
This can be especially helpful in forming new beliefs, learning, and overcoming trauma.
Together, that means, at least in theory…
Microdosing should make you a little more like the guy in the movie “Limitless.”
Or at least that’s the hope.
But for that, one needs a proper protocol.
Enter Paul Stamets.
Stamets has been featured in at least three Netflix Documentaries about mushrooms.
He’s also basically the keynote speaker at every Psychedelic Summit of note.
His hat is mushrooms. Not shaped like one.
Literally made from mushrooms.
If there ever were a magic mushroom guy, it’d be Stamets.
Stamets has a famous microdosing protocol.
(No one should be surprised by this.)
It begins thusly.
Every day for four days, you take 0.1 grams of psilocybin mushrooms.
This is a sub-perceptual dose.
(Meaning that most people can’t feel the psychedelic effects. In theory, this allows you to get all the sexy brain benefits, without tripping balls at your day job.)
You add to this Lion’s Mane (that one mushroom that looks like a pile fuzzy Snowballs—the pastries not the snow).
And Niacin (otherwise known as B3).
Then on day five, you stop everything.
The train comes to a screeching sober halt.
And everyone is presumably sad about it.
You get three days in total to give your tired ass neurons a break.
Then you repeat the protocol until you get the desired result.
I planned on repeating this as often as I needed to be “cured.”
When the mushrooms hit, I start feeling buoyant.
It’s a strange rising sensation in my chest.
Like there’s a joy and a lilt to life that I can’t fully suppress.
I notice how strange it is that I’m trying to suppress it.
“Do I always do this with joy?”
I scribble down a note on my phone: Stop…resisting…joy.
This is my fifth epiphany in a row.
A piece of me remembers that this whole microdosing thing is supposed to be like…under the radar. I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to be feeling them this hard.
I double-check my notes.
It’s the right dose…
(In retrospect, this was likely all the meditation I was doing. The more you properly meditate, the harder psychedelics seem to hit.)
It’s a weird thing.
Feeling this good.
I wonder to myself aloud if “this is how normal people feel all the time.”
But it doesn’t take long before my brain is enthusiastically fixated on the next shiny thought.
I’m not sure what to do with all this energy and zazz about life.
It doesn’t feel natural.
And despite my best efforts, I am having a good time.
As soon as my eyes snap open,
I’m reaching for my microdoses.
The reaction is instinctive and automatic.
Higher priority than showering or even brushing my teeth.
These things are not important.
Microdosing is bae.
I’m dimly aware this might be the beginning of some habit-forming behavior. If I hit pause and look objectively, I’m like a drowning man clinging to a wooden barrel.
But then the glorious shrooms kick in, and it’s like the sun has risen again.
Things are warm and bright.
I am, against all odds, smiling to myself.
It’s easy to get immersed in the little details.
The way the clouds move.
The hush and sway of the branches on the breeze.
Life is beautiful when you slow down enough to see it.
The “bad” days give meaning to the good.
It’s clearer to me now.
With good things, we habituate.
It doesn’t matter how good the ocean view is.
Eventually, you’ll take it all for granted.
We need the struggle to give meaning to what we do.
They reset the hedonic treadmill. When we lose everything, we can appreciate the scraps we still have left.
Without polarity, good days are just days.
I am becoming a goddamn motivational poster.
A part of me is also aware that this gratitude for the bad is the luxury of hindsight.
It’s easy to be grateful to the universe after the bad days have resolved.
It’s easy to be appreciative of the bad days…
When they’re outnumbered.
I’m a bit worried about taking a break.
Like…actually dreading it.
Which makes sense.
When I’m depressed, everything sucks.
It isn’t perfect, but there’s so much more world to enjoy.
I’m not ready to go back to the way things were.
Against all odds, I am grateful.
Grateful to have had the chance to step away from the endless days of La Croix.
But I really do wish all of this…didn’t have to end.
This was a mistake.
Also, I am rage.
I’m still mad and nothing is helping.
Yelling in my car doesn’t work.
Sitting in the sauna does jack squat.
Climbing and meditating isn’t cutting it..
I’m driving aggressively and fast.
Everything is rubbing me the wrong way.
It feels like I ran out of good luck and now all I’ve got is crap and ashes.
I don’t know how much longer I wanna keep doing this.
It feels like I wanna explode and kick the world’s collective shin as a whole.
Honestly the most important thing right now seems like letting the world know how angry I am.
The rational part of me knows how legitimately terrible that idea is, so for now it’s all under wraps.
If this doesn’t go away soon I’m going to get into a street fight because someone looked at me the wrong way.
My nervous system feels a bit shot.
Everything in the world just feels a bit misaligned.
I’m not sure what’s going on here.
It feels like the last three days were just scraping by.
Like all my happy chemicals got burned up on days one through four.
I’m glad this is the last day of sobriety.
I’m ready to stop feeling like crap.
On the other hand, I think microdosing is causing this.
Gonna give it another round just to make sure.
Honestly, I’m not sure this is sustainable.
I really like how I feel when I’m microdosing, but this is like having a hangover that refuses to die.
In the end, I gave it three more weeks.
In that time, here’s what I learned:
I took this project on because I was trying to stop feeling like…me. When your reality is suffering, sometimes it’s nice to just get a break from all that.
My life felt like one of those condemned houses that people fix and flip on reality TV. Except the renovations never stopped.
Microdosing didn’t help me make the repairs any faster. But it was really nice being able to set that all aside for a little while.
Microdosing seems to force a flow state.
But there’s a cost.
Being in flow state doesn’t stop your body from having needs and wants.
You don’t stop being triggered or annoyed by the world around you.
That stuff just gets easier to ignore for a little while.
Microdosing is like kicking the can.
Once you stop, everything you’ve been ignoring hits all at once.
It’s one of the reasons why people need to remember to keep drinking water on ecstasy (otherwise they overheat, dehydrate, and sometimes die).
You aren’t really paying attention to your body when you’re in a peak flow state.
(Think athletes who don’t realize they’ve broken bones til after they finish.)
The worse you are at self-care to begin with, the harder this lesson hits.
I’m fortunate in a lot of ways. I’ve overcome my depression since that time.
That’s allowed me some additional perspective on this experience.
In this moment, psychedelics feel like a sneak preview.
They crack open the gates.
They show you what’s possible.
You can feel amazing.
And you can build a life where that feeling is there without them.
But it also means treating them like a crutch, not the solution.
Learn to be strong on your own two legs so that one day, you can run marathons.
If your life is a road and your traumas and triggers are the potholes, microdosing is a bit like flooding the road and giving yourself a hoverboat. It’s glorious while it still works.
But water evaporates and drains away.
And when it recedes, that pockmarked road is still there.
Would I do it again?
I can get there using meditation and exercise, now.
But when I was so completely lost in the dark, it was nice to have a little match in my back pocket.
Even if I knew it wouldn’t last for long.
Til next time,