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Ketamine and psilocybin helped my complex PTSD
When I'm not playing cool, I feel: These past few years of disintegration (from a macro and micro perspective) have felt like some fuzzy form of torture I try to evade via constant hyper stimulation.
Note: I’ve made this post free.
I know, you just finished reading it, and you’re like holy shit it’s so good, right, and you’re like how can I support this kind of actually authentic writing because what I try to do as a responsible consumer in the world is VOTE WITH MY DOLLAR so I’ma buy some of my bitchiest-ass friends gift subscriptions and we gonna cackle and decipher and puzzle over, which is such an easy thing to do rightchere:
Never was much of a romantic I could never take the intimacy And I know I did damage 'Cause the look in your eyes is killing me I guess you knew of that advantage 'Cause you could blame me for everything And I don't know how I'ma manage If one day, you just up and leave -Kanye West, "Runaway"
I have all these other posts that I’ve started (like long, long, long-ass posts) but I feel like I need to just write this one thing real quick just to see if it’s anything.
BTW: I’m listening on repeat to that damned Kanye song right now, and while it might have been the multiple bowls of marijuana that I have smoked thus far (via elevated euphoria, weed allows me to access feelings that are too overwhelming otherwise), but that lyric sequence I quoted up-top made me crumble into tears just now.
So I want you to be equipped with this knowledge of what I am listening to and how it is affecting me in case you want to listen too.
Think of it as, say, ASMR writing (…oh whoops, hey…TREND? trend? trend? editors? trend? feature me? Trend?).
So . I despise performative victimhood.
It enrages me.
Probably, maybe, I don’t know, maybe because I was never allowed to be truly vulnerable when I was a kid because I always had to be watching out for my dad, who couldn’t see and was prone to terrifying pendulum swings of temper according to his head injury. I learned early that if you aren’t hyper-vigilant at all times, someone ends up screaming.
Sometimes it might be you.
My family does not like it when I write about them.
And I try not to, to the best of my ability, but it’s also the most formative part of what makes me who I am, and it’s the only realm of experience I have to try to make sense of the rest of my life.
My ex used to say that he would have to manage me, emotionally, after I had even a brief touching base with my family because he knew that he would subsequently have to bear the brunt of all the undealt-with-emotional-runoff-in-the-days-following from me not telling my family off like I actually wanted to and therapeutically, long needed to.
Swallowed rage curdles into poison.
I could never tell my parents or my sister to fuck off. It wasn’t safe. So I told my ex a number of variants of the sentiment instead.
The pattern continues. My dad or my mom is cruel, and I just want to be left alone so that I don’t slaughter anyone in my path.
But I’m not as bad as I have been. I am glad about that!
I’ve come to recognize—and really feel in my loins—just how insane the past two years has been to my sense of personal wellness and safety, and when I really let myself feel it, I collapse into what I can only describe as an orgy of grief.
And I know it’s not cool to talk and write like that, with such a dumb overwrought expression, but that’s what it feels like when you touch something deep inside you that you didn’t realize you could still connect with—via grief or rage.
I think all of the self-medicating adventures I’ve been on these past two years have been extremely helpful, TBH.
Not like drinking and being a stoner, but the now-fast0-becoming-mainstream medicalized stuff: ket and mushrooms.
It has definitely helped me see why that dude Michael Pollen wrote that book How to Change Your Mind—and ultimately I believe has helped me start to heal some of the complex PTSD I wrestle with most days, jumping at any noise 20 feet high in the air.
Ketamine: not just for horse sleepytime anymore.
Before 2020, I had never done ketamine or psilocybin before.
I did both over quarantine, and I could see—and continue to see—how my emotional baseline was raised and my reaction to triggers changed. It was very positive.
The only way I could describe the ketamine was to say that it was sort of like being able to see yourself how someone else might see you—but more lovingly and caringly. Like being able to see the gentleness of care you might give yourself if you yourself could be someone else.
Also, the next day after ketamine, I had a phone call with my ex, and shit then was super-stressed and tight, and he did that thing that men do where they either sharply exhale or inhale but it can—if you’re brainwashed by childhood triggers like me, and desperately and diligently trying to erase them like me—make you SNAP like Pavlov’s damn dog into attention that you’re in trouble, you did something wrong, all hell is about to break loose—even if it’s just the self-created shaking of your bones from anxiety and recall.
So he did that thing. The exhale or the inhale thing.
And post-horse-tranquilizer (because let’s call a spade a spade) I didn’t take it personally.
I think it was the ketamine. If you haven’t read all the studies about it, read all the studies about it. But particularly for very severe and seemingly untreatable depression and trauma, it is a life changer.
The most remarkable, awesome story about ketamine I’ve read was this little tabloid tale:
And I get it.
For me, it was like if you could actually swallow the dusty old paperbacks of I’m OK, You’re OK and Games People Play and every episode of Mad Men which is for sure influenced by the ‘60s realm of therapy known as transactional analysis. Here’s a definition of it from this longer article on the theory and its founder Eric Berne:
Also check out this dead-ass translation of the games that people play:
And then came shrooms.
Psilocybin the first time was mostly just an aphrodisiac because I was hilariously hanging out with the dude who I met off Craigslist years and years ago that first time I tried cocaine (if you’ve read Unwifeable you’ll know what I’m referring to—all the dirtiest deeds lie in Chapter Eight), and we have remained friends. So yeah, when I did mushrooms with that dude, who actually—ha ha! I have never thought of this before—I think he said some of his friends call him “Q” (we were brainstorming superhero names). Am I hallucinating that? Holy shit that strikes me as funny now. He’s this 6’4” super buff black dude, and man how great 2020 would have been if it turned out he was fucking Q! Q. Good times.
Yeah, so. That first time it basically just led me to sex. Grinding on the dude and then ripping open my pantyhose PERFORMATIVELY (but also likely high as shit) to provide the full pornified experience.
I apologize for my bad feminisms in this regard, but please remember: My generation was raised by The Love Boat which might as well be called The Coercive Control Cruiseliner, amirite. I am trying. But I like to be honest about sex stuff, even when it makes me bad feminisms.
And it was not just The Love Boat reinforcing all my be-pretty and be-porny expectations either.
Dude. Growing up, my blind dad, every time someone got all hot and bothered about my supernormal stimuli 6’2” height, my dad would be like, “WHY DON’T YOU SAY HOW BEAUTIFUL SHE IS. INSTEAD OF HOW TALL SHE IS.”
Like a threat.
Like it wasn’t true.
Like I better keep that shit ship-shape tight for my dad’s ever-rotating admiring army of veterans, Toastmasters and felons.
Second time I did mushrooms was the best.
It was with a friend at Sixty Soho, the secret hotel I managed to get into early quarantine because I learned about it as a paparazzi-escape-zone for Paris Hilton and pals back in 2007 during my New York Post days. It’s so great. It was fun too because I did it with a friend who is like UltraZoomer, and so she made like a set-list of movies to watch while we tripped. See, GenXers, we just improv!
She was also there for me, not long after, when I screamed-stood-up-to the guy I had hooked up with in the building where I was staying who started stalking me, threatening me by opening my garbage and opening my mail, and it was fucking terrifying and I put knives up against the door every night. Imagine me now doing the Jewish ritual of spitting because I do not like to give any focus or attention to evil inclinations or possessions, which is why stalking is perhaps the most evil thing there is because the person can never safely and freely write about the terror of it because that will be read as a sign by the stalker.
By the way—a few minutes have passed—and I have completely forgotten now that I wrote the above.
That’s how my brain deals with trauma, and anyway, this feels like enough about this for now. It’s too painful, and we’ve got to be really good about managing our pain-pleasure threshold because we are worth that.
And to complete this ASMR reading experience, here’s the song that is currently making happy-feel-getting-through-it-cry. I hope you like it. AMSR-Reading! It’s the new new! But seriously, would you listen to the songs please? Thank you. Goodbye.
Crush a bit, little bit Roll it up, take a hit Feeling lit, feeling right Two AM, summer night, I don't care Hand on the wheel Driving drunk I'm doing my thang Rolling the Midwest side and out Living my life, getting our dreams People told me slow my roll I'm screaming out, "Fuck that" I'ma do just what I want Looking ahead no turning back If I fall if I die Know I lived it to the fullest If I fall if I die Know I I lived and missed some bullets I'm on the pursuit of happiness, and I know Everything that shine ain't always gonna be gold, hey I'll be fine once I get it, yeah, I'll be good I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know Everything that shine ain't always gonna be gold, hey I'll be fine once I get it, yeah, I'll be good I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know Everything that shine ain't always gonna be gold, hey I'll be fine once I get it, yeah, I'll be good Tell me what you know about dreamin', dreamin' You don't really know about nothin', nothin' Tell me what you know about them night terrors every night Five AM cold sweats, waking up to the sky Tell me what you know about dreams, dreams Tell me what you know about night terrors, nothin' You don't really care about the trials of tomorrow Rather lay awake in the bed full of sorrow I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know Everything that shine ain't always gonna be gold, hey I'll be fine once I get it, yeah, I'll be good