Jan. 19, 2022, noon
Disclaimer: I do not support the use of psychedelics for recreational purposes. Rather, I believe in the use of psychedelic assisted psychotherapy and treatment for healing purposes.
In a PsyTechGlobal webinar, Dr. Reid Robison shares that the word “psychedelic” comes from the Greek term; “to wonder in the mind.” Below is just one chapter of my story; and the reason I believe these medicines can assist in psychotherapeutic healing.
There is a space between ourselves, and our highest selves. This space over time grows larger, and as time passes, millions of neurons set the stage for our Default Mode Network. This network determines the way we process and respond to our emotions and experiences as default.
I have been living with mental illness the majority of my life. I have been in and out of intensive treatment for over a decade, particularly for Anorexia, a debilitating eating disorder that coexists with other mental illnesses. I’ve been desperate to live free from the hold Anorexia has had over me and I’ve spent the past 17 years working with specialized therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, dieticians and more. Following my last realm of treatment, I found myself again in the beginning stages of relapse. Not willing to give up, I started looking desperately for more options. I was open to anything that had even the slightest potential to help me not only reach my full recovery but to maintain it long-term -- something I’ve only been able to do in short term intervals.
My most recent treatment program began as an acute hospitalization. I spent weeks in the hospital, followed by the intensive day hospital program, where my specialized treatment continued. I gained tools and skills needed for relapse prevention. I had lined up my outpatient supports and had checked off everything on the to-do-before-discharge checklist. Yet, 2 weeks post discharge, I was relapsing. Everyone, along with myself, was left with the question: WHY?
Through my search for more options, I came across a webinar titled “Can Psychedelics offer a new treatment for eating disorders?” I listened and was left with a glimpse of light; a new sense of hope that there might be something else.
I reached out to one of the panelists of the webinar, Dr. Adele Lafrance, and asked about any upcoming clinical trials for psychedelic assisted therapy. I was informed that there is one underway and was directed to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. There will be a clinical study for the use of MDMA assisted therapy for eating disorders in the coming months. I have been determined to do all things possible to get myself enrolled in this study. They aren’t yet recruiting, but as I await that notification, I am pursuing this research and possibility.
I decided I would try taking a psychedelic known as psilocybin to deepen my understanding of what this could potentially do for me moving forward. I consumed the plant in the form of tea. Prior to going into the experience, I centred myself and set my intentions for the journey I would be stepping into.
When I began feeling the effects of the drug, I noticed myself communicating with what I came to know as my “highest self.” The space between myself and my highest self began to fade away. I soon had direct contact with a part of my brain I’ve not had access to due to the deep ruts my ego has paved out over the years of suffering. I was asking myself questions out loud. There was a lot of back-and-forth communication. What came out of these questions was the statement. “I am without it.” I said it out loud a few times and then my brain was able to clarify it was actually, “I am. Without it.” I’ve felt so tied to this eating disorder that’s been a part of my life for nearly 2 decades and I didn’t believe my existence could be without it. I looked at myself in the mirror, and said “I am, without it. I can exist, without it. I am loveable, without it. I am worthy, without it. I am capable, without it. I am, without it.”
I started questioning what it is I needed to do differently in order to overcome my eating disorder and the coexisting shame, sadness and fear. How can I move on with my life? I have a loving husband, and 4 beautiful young children. Why have I not been able to do this? I was surprised with not only my ability to answer these questions, but also by how quickly the answers were revealed. “There is nothing to fight here. You’ve been trying to overcome this mountain, but there is no mountain to overcome. You don’t have to fight your eating disorder. You don’t even have to refer to it as an enemy you’re up against. What you have, is a need.” I took a deep breath after hearing myself speak this wisdom over me. I began questioning what it means to have a need. I started writing out the wisdom coming from the part of my brain I now had access to. I wrote, “You have a need. It’s not to be judged, shamed, or denied. It’s as innocent as a newborn baby. There is no obstacle to overcome. There is nothing to fight. There is, but a need. It’s woven into your cells and engrained so deeply into your existence. You’ve grown into a woman with this tender need, as tender as the love of a newborn baby, and as innocent as the love that this baby is depending on from his mother.”
I felt very emotional. I returned to my room where I stood facing my reflection and started asking myself: why do I have this profound need and what is it? I started crying as I began to process. I saw moments I’ve experienced overtime that did indeed leave me feeling unloved. I was shown experiences where I felt a significant void. What I needed was someone to hold me tightly in their arms, look into my eyes, and tell me how abundantly loved I was. I was told that I was loved by my parents and other family members, but I needed not only to hear it, but to feel their undivided and unconditional love pouring out of them and into me. I needed empathy for what I was experiencing emotionally. I wasn’t able to communicate this as a child, and as a result, I was left with my thoughts and feelings being consistently invalidated. Nobody is to blame, as nobody could have understood this deep need or the degree of love my existence was so desperate for. I walked out of my room with this information: I’ve got to find a way to fill this void without it coexisting with an Eating Disorder.
I felt overwhelmed with the amount of wisdom I had access to. I started asking about why I am so resistant to my husband’s willingness to protect me from my eating disorder and to support me through my recovery. I immediately had the answer. “Because Mark is armoured with the ability to kill his enemy, which is the eating disorder. There is no enemy. He needs to put his weapons down and to recognize that there is a need. We’ve got to put our armour down and open our hearts to what this need is and how we can pour love into it.
I then made my way downstairs where I spent a few minutes wandering around our basement. I was talking about the importance of giving myself permission to wander. Instead of appreciating and taking pride in my wide range of education and experiences, I get fixated on the fact that I don’t have an ongoing career path. I felt encouraged to share with Mark that it’s acceptable to be a wanderer and that he too doesn’t have to spend the rest of his life fixated in one direction. That it’s okay and worth dipping our toes in different waters should we feel compelled to. Mark stood at the top of the stairs while I shared these thoughts.
And then came awareness into how I feel Mark, amongst others who know my history/story, including myself, see me through a default lens that only sees the body as it was and as it is. “Look into me not out of resentment, fear, or disappointment. Look at me as someone you love. Let go of the need to fight and to fix, and just replace all of that energy with love.” I need to ask this of myself, and I’m asking this of others.
Days later, I am still very much reflecting on and processing my journey with psilocybin. I believe I have broken new ground. I fully believe in the uses of psychedelic assisted psychotherapy and how it can offer new hope to so many who have exhausted treatment programs and therapy alone. I gained an immense amount of awareness. I intend on pursuing this with professionals in this field. I am asking for prayers and all things good to help make my recruitment and acceptance into the upcoming clinical study a possibility.
Onto new ground,
Lindsay is an empath, who is on a continuous journey of self-awareness and a healing work in progress. She lives in the country with her husband Mark; and their 4 young children. She aspires to be a loving message of hope and life-long healing.
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