What’s your morning routine? Mine is to vomit at around 6am.
Wake up at 5am. Feel a sense of anxiety. Try to get back to sleep. Get overwhelmed with thoughts ranging from my loved ones’ mortality, over-thinking conversations of the day just gone, past relationships and the scarring headlines of the previous day. Bathe in my own cold sweats. Then throw up the moment I try to leave the bed – even if all I’ve consumed in the past 12 hours is water.
Dry-retching with no sustenance to actually leave your body is a horrible experience, as is taking a sip of any liquid or eating a small breakfast and being unable to hold it down.
At 7am on the dot, I attempt to diffuse these feelings by taking 150mg (an extremely high dose) of desvenlafaxine, more commonly known as the anti-depressant Pristiq.
By 9am when the drugs have kicked in, I’m generally back to normal. But, what if illicit drugs are the answer to soothe these symptoms?
After being bombarded by ads from health institutes seeking volunteers to try microdosing I decided to give it a shot. I took 0.3gm each morning of psilocybin mushroom powder (a drug I’d never tried before), straight after my desvenlafaxine, with no change to my working or social routine. I work full-time; I have an interview with a prospective freelance client; I have a house inspection; I had social plans with both friends and family; I have a day in the office planned with the madcap editor who came up with the idea for this article.
So, what happened?
Well for one, the vomiting stopped within two days. There was severely reduced anxiety in the early hours of the night and the morning. There were no night sweats, and more solid hours of consecutive sleep.
Improved physical well-being? Check. This of course, led to better mental well-being and me being a lot less obtuse with loved one.
While there were a few cognitive changes, none were psychedelic or what you’d attribute to a proper trip. The fundamental difference was slight changes in my own thinking processes when approaching social settings, workflow and some of my more creative endeavours.
When reading I’d find myself fixated on the etymology of certain words like ‘nebuliser’; when walking through a crowded street there was an overwhelming sense of wonder – with the on-going epiphany that each passing individual was living a life as complex as my own and not just another fleshy obstacle to be avoided; and when I was making strategic work plans, it felt much more vivid when assessing the possible outcomes.
The effects were subtle, but enough to be noticeable to myself. Seemingly no-one else, however. The aforementioned daily tasks of full-time work, a job interview and a house inspection were all successful. My housemate was unaware until I told him after I had finished the experiment. As were family and friends. Unfortunately, the aforementioned editor found my stash and had a very intense day in the office toilet after consuming a heaped teaspoon of it.
Microdosing won’t lead you to seeing patterns on the wall, slurring your speech, falling naked into a bonfire at a festival, or hallucinating in an office toilet – all common effects from a regular dose – but it will lead to subtle changes to your psyche that quite simply made me feel less hateful and a lot happier.
Would I recommend microdosing to other sufferers of anxiety and depression? Absolutely. It’s certainly not going to become a replacement for my legal medication, and it obviously won’t be for everyone – but it’s going to become a sustained part of my regular routine.
It’s just a shame that mushrooms taste so fucking awful. Next up I might also try ketamine or acid.