[Written for the Front Range Voluntaryist, article by Krystal Natale]
I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder when I was 14 years old. I spent the next 13 years in an absolute hell that my own mind had created for me. Desperate to find relief, I did what any normal person would do: I turned to doctors for help. Pill after pill, therapy session after therapy session, there was no relief. I continued to have flashbacks and nightmares, sometimes as often as 5 times a week. At age 26, the doctor's placed me on Venlafaxine, also known as Effexor. They started me on the smallest dose possible and quickly raised me to the maximum dose you can give an adult. I began the most rapid decline of my life, becoming very withdrawn, moody and unable to control my thoughts. I even started hearing music inside of my head. Only 2 weeks after the music started, I had attempted suicide. I had a terrible day and finally something inside of me let go and I gave up. I rolled my windows up in my car and parked it on the side of the road by my home and closed my eyes. It was a 90-degree day.
I was in the car for 2 and 1/2 hours. Sweat had soaked my clothes but was no longer coming from my pores. My breathing was fast and labored. I opened my eyes, and I could see the clouds morphing into shapes and changing into the most beautiful colors I had ever seen. I closed my eyes again for what I thought was going to be the last time. Just as I did, I received a text message. I opened it and read it, it was my neighbor informing me that my daughter was looking for me and was extremely upset. Something inside my brain clicked in that second and told me to get out of the car. I opened my door and regardless of how hot and humid it was that day, I felt a cool blast of air, like air conditioning. I fell out of the car and landed on the pavement, then proceeded to drag myself into my home. I collapsed on the dining room floor where my neighbor soon found me in a pool of sweat. All I can remember, is his dog licking my face, sudden splashes of cold water and him telling me to drink.
My roommate forced me to go to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. They gave me two options, I stay by choice or I stay by force. Either way I was being coerced to stay. I really had no choice. They immediately brought me to the psych floor, and as soon as the door locked behind me, I began to melt down; realizing what had happened. I started screaming for my children and for them to let me go. I soon found myself surrounded by extremely large men and warned if I didn't settle down, they were going inject me with medication and take me to isolation. The others called it the rubber room. It was something straight out of a movie. White padded walls, with a 5 point restraint table in the center.
After 5 days of doing what I was told, taking their medications, and insisting I was okay, they finally let me leave. While I was in the hospital, I had done a lot of thinking. Upon release I instantly typed " side effects of Effexor" into my Google search engine. The list blew my mind. Psychosis was one of the top listed negative side effects. At that moment, I knew the medication was the problem. My normal self would have never attempted to take my own life.
I had children to care for. I stopped taking the pills immediately. Within just a few hours, I began severe withdrawal symptoms; profuse sweating, vomiting, shaking, electric brain zaps, and fatigue. For several days I couldn't even get out of bed. My boyfriend approached me with an idea, little did I know that idea would save my life. "Why don't try mushrooms?"
I had exhausted every other method to return my mind to a healthy state. I began researching. I typed into Google " mushrooms to treat depression" and was supplied with a plethora of sources. Studies showing that it worked, even for people who had cancer and were dying. Finally, I agreed. I had never been so nervous in my life. What would I see? Would little green men come popping out, or demons? What was my mind going to unleash? I saw none of those things. Instead, I saw the most intricate geometric patterns, and my mind began to think. For 6 hours, I was lost in my own thoughts, and the beautiful display in front of me. Two phrases came through, and resonated me to my soul. A message, one louder than I had ever heard before. I could feel the mental chains shatter as a voice whispered: "Happiness is a choice....Perception is reality." The next morning when I woke up, those two phrases kept echoing in the back of my mind. For the first time since I was a child, life suddenly had meaning again. Colors stood out like never before, and I had a genuine smile on my lips; something I hadn't experienced in years.
The mushrooms taught my brain how to think again after having been stuck in "fight or flight" mode for the past decade. New thought processes were now created that were once blocked, or hadn't even existed before. I came to the realization that I am in control of my thoughts, nothing else has that power. Happiness really is a choice.
I have now been free of flashbacks, nightmares and depression for a year. This is not to say that I don't still have some social anxieties or stress, but they are entirely manageable now. I don't lose myself in doom and gloom. When my situation feels hopeless and bleak, that phrase automatically pops into my head without effort.
Psilocybin saved my life, and freed my mind from the chains it once wore; the chains my own mind created for itself. Mushrooms not only treat depression, they also treat anxiety, addiction (from heroin to nicotine), and even cluster headaches. There is no risk of overdose, or addiction to psilocybin. Mushrooms lose their potency if you try to take them multiple days in a row. They are not a "party drug", and they may even knock you on your ass for trying to use them like that; they do have a mind of their own. They are a medicine, the most safe and effective one out there; and best of all, our earth grows them all naturally. Even those who have a bad trip almost always have a positive experience from it afterwards. If you do have a bad trip, it is highly likely that the mushrooms are trying to show you something that you needed to see or learn. You should listen.
That being said, the only requirements needed for healing is a safe and positive environment. Allow your mind to think, and don't try to fight it. It may be a little scary at times, or you may feel as though you're going insane. Rest assured, you are not. They cannot hurt you in any way, shape or form. At worst, you may feel nauseated and may vomit, or be a little gassy the next day. You don't even need to trip to experience some of the medicinal properties. You can microdose, which is taking below the threshold of any visuals. However, I highly recommend people should trip at least once in their lifetime; preferably once per season. Psilocybin mushrooms cured my PTSD. I am living proof of it's powerful abilities. Could you imagine if everyone learned to love themselves again? What kind of world this would be? You are free to choose.