Singing a New Song with Magic Mushrooms

Exploring my brain through psychedelic therapy

Photo by Lizzie Finn

I was two hours into a heroic dose of magic mushrooms when I finally understood why I was weeping so profusely. The music was divine, and my body was infused with it. I watched as the tiny hairs on my arms stood up and swayed back and forth as if conducting an orchestra.

It was one of the most transcendent experiences of my life.

No, I didn’t see demons, and my face didn’t melt. It’s more like I entered a waking dream state with heightened senses, and yet I was in the calmest state of being I had ever felt.

The best way I can explain it is this — it’s like playing a game in virtual reality. Only you are playing within your brain. And rather than playing to win — the point is to sit back, relax, go with the flow, and see where the game takes you.

When the experience became too intense, I removed my eye mask and earplugs and took a couple of deep breaths. Then I plunged back into this mystical VR world so I deep-dive into my mind before the magic wore off.

Ten months ago, I turned 52 in Jamaica and had my first experience with magic mushrooms at a psilocybin-assisted retreat. I wrote about that experience below.

After having incredible results, I became an advocate for plant medicine and threw myself into the study of psychedelic therapy.

I learned enough to know it was something I wanted to explore more on my own — especially during the pandemic.

I recently started Microdosing Psilocybin, and I was able to wean myself off of antidepressants. This is not something I encourage others to do. I happen to be in a very good place emotionally and mentally, and I thoroughly weighed the risks of doing this.

I’m also grateful for the existence of antidepressants. They stabilized me when I experienced Postpartum Depression and then again, when I became clinically depressed in menopause.

Nine months ago, my hormones settled down. And I realized I no longer wished to medicate my midlife existential and spiritual pain away — I wanted to face it head-on and see if I could heal it for good.

I’ve still only done heroic doses of psilocybin twice so far in my life.

It is not an experience I recommend for everyone. It is an arduous journey you take into the inner recesses of your mind. At the end of your trip, you feel like you’ve climbed the highest mountain in the world.

There is euphoria and also complete exhaustion — similar to how I felt after giving birth.

On magic mushrooms, I gave birth to myself. I emerged from the experience feeling reborn and renewed. It’s like peeling back layers of faulty programming and then rewiring the brain, so you see yourself and the world more clearly.

So much of what is holding us back is fear that was implanted in our developing brain. We have these thick rooted neural pathways that keep on playing the same old song, even though the record is warped and scratched and now drives us crazy.

Decades of therapy and antidepressants helped me negotiate life with the dark passenger of depression brought on by childhood trauma. I spent over forty years trapped in fight-or-flight with an ever-present heightened state of readiness for impending doom and disaster.

For decades, cortisol flooded my body, and this made me sick — spiritually, physically, intellectually, relationally, and emotionally.

And it nearly destroyed me.

How are we supposed to know what a normal, healthy, functioning brain is supposed to feel like?

Our brains are the only reference points we have. And no two brains are alike.

By the time we reach middle-age, most of us are stuck in ruts. We assume these are external ruts brought on by the mundanity of life and that by changing our exterior lives, we will transform ourselves.

Truth is these ruts are more permanent than that. Changing the external might temporarily give our brain a boost of dopamine, but it probably won’t alter our neural pathways.

Real change only happens if we re-train our brains. This takes time and effort and also awareness. The first step to changing your brain is realizing you are replaying old tunes that no longer serve you.

I knew I was depressed and that my hormones made it worse. I believed that I’d probably need to medicate myself for life and lean on cognitive behavioral therapy.

My first experience with psilocybin showed me that perhaps there was another option.

Psychedelics temporarily quieted my default mode network so I could recognize what a brain feels like when it isn’t needlessly ruminating constantly.

With the sound turned down for the first time, I could hear my genuine and authentic voice.

And I could finally start singing a new song.

Every time I speak or write about psychedelics, people reach out to me, asking for information and assistance.

You can attend a psilocybin-assisted retreat in Jamaica at MycoMeditations.

There are ketamine clinics currently operating in several states and in Canada.

I write, create, instruct. My curiosity is expansive — health, happiness, relationships, spirituality, TV/film, psychedelics, feminism, neuroscience, life.

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