Fantastic Mental Health and Where To Find It

I am enough. I am sufficient and alive.

These are words that never rung true to me. It’s easy to blame society, but it’s also a necessary process for understanding how hurt we collectively are. We’re not damaged, per se, at least not as we’ve led to believe. We are all enough, all sufficient, all alive. At the same time, we’re conditioned to feel inadequate, incomplete, not living to our maximum potential.

Another source of dysfunction is we’re led to imagine an external savior. If only we had more money and more time. Perhaps our friends should be different. Conceivably, our spouse could read our minds. We do this ad infinitum. This is idiocy, and I’m an idiot too.

Earlier this year, I fucked up. A monumental, intense, galactic-scale fucking up. And in so doing, another human being was hurt, the best person in my life, my everything. What followed were months of unbearable hurting for that person and a plunge into darkness for me. I handled others carelessly, seeking meaning and health. I lost who I was in the bad things I did. Essentialism teaches us that we have “a set of attributes that are necessary to [our] identity and function,” both of which I couldn’t connect with anymore.

Broken and cast into my darkest era, I hoped for a savior. But there are no heroes. You are already enough and sufficient because you are alive and worthwhile. Fallible, but worthwhile. You are the cavalry, the army of Self, the maladaptive cyclical thoughts, and healthy beliefs. It’s easy to turn to Disney and ask for bail, for the prince in shiny armor. Only the prince has no access to your poorly codified self-schema. Swords don’t pierce into the shadows of the mind. Only light does, and that stems from you, the Self.

And so, armed with 1P-LSD — an analog, due to its legality —, I went to war with myself. It was my responsibility. I’m now getting access to therapy, have been using CBT to figure my shit out, and believe I will be fine. Yet, it took acid to see the gateways of heaven open up. Out of them, an army of me. You are your own champion.

The psychedelic experience is not something that lends itself well to words. Your brain is operating on multiple threads, all hyper-threading, all fighting for access to long-term storage. Words can’t describe the visuals nor the experience. At a point, I decided to meditate, to see inside myself. What I saw wasn’t good, beautiful, or pretty. Of all things, it was the hardest to face. I felt the physical weight of the shadows inside of me, very present and surrounding all I was. Inside my bones, I found my broken, bruised, hurt, Evil Self.

The Evil Self, right… only the Evil and Good selves are both me, not separate entities. I dealt colossal damage to the person I loved the most. And from that, somewhere in the past, I think my brain fought off this savagery by creating a secondary image. It manifested a ferocious and cruel being that was responsible for all negative actions. That is no longer the case. I’ve picked it up, hugged it, and made it clear we are both in this together. We are both the same, and together we are enough.

This means there was only one thing left to do. Or rather, a chain of connected contrivances that had to be communicated: my shame, my guilt, my actions, my regret, my shit. After seeing my former partner as a source of light that had consistently given me the energy I needed, it was time to heal back the hurt. She’s become the manifest force of who she used to be, a white wolf, and so I had to give her the much-deserved truth.

I had to apologize and acknowledge all I did. And in so doing, hope for forgiveness, undeserved, and a future where I can nurture and promote her growth and freedom. Her wildness. This was self-evident.

It took an acid trip to finally accept the Emotional Responsibility Principle, which sits at the heart of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In tripping, I admitted I was the driver of my burnout and that I bottled my emotions for fear of understanding them. With ego out of the way, I could finally admit that I’m the only one responsible for my inner and outer worlds, my environment, and all that connects with it.

You are responsible for your emotions, your actions, your choices. Your beliefs were codified by yourself. I’m not belittling trauma and how shitty others can be. There are terrible actions done to us that damage us beyond understanding. An acid trip might not help you fix that, a psychotherapist should. Yet, it gave me a newfound sense of purpose: taking proper care of myself and acknowledging my inner world. With this purpose, it defined a new era of my inner Self.

Not because I have to, but because I choose to. I had this sentence in my head near the end: these are my bones, my muscles, my tendons, my organs, my skin, and everything in my body; they support me, so I choose to take good care of them. And so it is. This is my inner world, my emotions, my thoughts, my beliefs. They are what makes me, and so I choose to be vigilant and honest with myself.

Life is difficult, but not unbearable. You are fallible but worthwhile. You can transform the unhealthy responses, from anxiety to concern, from depression to sadness, from rage to annoyance, from guilt to remorse, from shame to regret, from unhealthy envy and jealousy to their healthy manifestations.

“We all deserve love, even on the days when we aren’t our best” [1], says Bo Burnham. However, the next time you hope for love from the outside, seek it inside instead. Tell yourself you are enough, and that you are sufficient and alive. Growth is ever-needed, and change is part of life. But right now, you are not broken, simply where you needed to get at this very moment. If you strip down the conditioning from the hyperbaric societal pressures, from the self-obsessed capitalistic rituals, you’ll notice you are enough.

Erica Avey has quickly grown to be one of my favorite authors, with her research into psychedelic medicine and bioethics. As she put it, “psychedelic medicine could upheave the entire psychiatric system and provide a new structure, just like it can quiet the default mode network and create new connections in the brain.” [2] These are non-trivial claims. Drugs, pharmaceutical or otherwise, impact us in transformative and significant ways.

It might be that “LSD simultaneously creates hyper-connections across the brain, allowing the functions of seemingly unrelated regions of the organ to ooze into one another.” [3] It may help restructure the default mode network, as it also distorts your sense of time. With your ego out of the way, your emotions knocked into twelfth gear, and your empathy and self-reflection at an all-time high, I believe it could be helpful in healing parts of your sense of Self. I’ve tried other dissociatives, but this experience was the only one that led to sustainable, consistent improvements.

Don’t take my excitement as the final word. We’re only now going back to LSD, psilocybin, and DMT as possible psychedelic medicines. After decades of being plunged into a dark age of “carpet bombing”-like anti-depressants, it will take some time before we can safely use these substances to attack treatment-resistant diseases. We have kept legal substances that cause more harm to the taker, others, and society, including nicotine/tobacco, alcohol, and some prescription drugs (including opioids). I’m glad to see a movement picking up the research and pushing evidence-backed psychonautics[4] forward.

Ultimately, I’ll now put my faith in psychotherapy and meditation. I can finally do that, now that the umbra curtain has been lifted by an acid trip. My former partner was there with me and provided the best experience I could hope for. The remainder of the fight I’ll fight myself, without heroes, without having to pray for an external savior.

I am the cavalry, my own champion. Who’s yours?

  1. From “Lower Your Expectations,” a song by Bo Burnham and part of his “Make Happy” live special. ↩︎

  2. Dosing after microdosing, by Erica Avey, retrieved on 2019-07-30. ↩︎

  3. “LSD May Chip Away at the Brain’s “Sense of Self” Network”, from Andrea Anderson, hosted by Scientific American, retrieved on 2019-07-30. ↩︎

  4. Psychonautics, from the Psychonaut Wiki, retrieved on 2019-07-30. ↩︎