Switching gears along the Yarra River, I pedal faster and faster, heading nowhere in particular. My face just crashed into a party of flies and now I’m swallowing wings. Sinking into my surroundings — the wind, ripples in the water, parrots overhead — with no thoughts of all the elses and elsewheres I could be, I’m tripping.
This microdose feels like a half tab. Which isn’t necessarily bad, except I can’t focus. I can’t sit still. I can’t read the lines of a book without being bombarded by my own. I can’t write. All I can do is keep going and going. Moving through. This is not what I anticipated for a Wednesday morning.
I thought I had gotten better at it — taking the right dose for any given occasion. I’ve been microdosing for years. I started in 2017, with the Fadiman regimen (one day on, three days off); more recently, I was microdosing as a spot-treatment for depressive dips. In attempts to recalibrate my mood. Some would call this masking the issue. It was, in a way.
I haven’t taken acid since that last ride. I reached my limit, and microdosing no longer serves my daily functioning. The last few times I’ve done it, I’ve been wrought with anxiety and shot into mania. It no longer stabilizes my mood, so this experimental chapter has ended.
What changed my interaction with acid? Maybe it’s impossible to get the dose right for a body constantly in flux. Maybe I’m taking too much. I imagine if acid were regulated, it would be easier to determine the proper dose. It’s the risk I take experimenting with the unregulated. Nevertheless, the quality of my tabs has been consistent. Same batch, single source. 1P-LSD purchased online from a lab. I trust the drips have been evenly distributed across the blotter. Trimmed the same slit I usually do: about half a quarter, or ~12.5 mcg.
Microdosing always used to produce an expected result: a lifted mood, intensified presence, shift of awareness into the euphoric of the everyday, with the ability to focus on a task and move smoothly through daily activities and responsibilities. For someone who tends to hide inside internal dialogues, microdosing historically helped me step outside the confines of my mind, my apartment, and into the sunlight. It helped me feel more comfortable and confident navigating between the internal and external world, instilling some sense of existential and metaphysical ease in being.
This worked well, for a while. But that last dose set me off. Sure, it extinguished a depressive rut, but it also shot me into overdrive, rushing around the city aimlessly. My heart, racing. Manic, anxious, spiraling out of control.
I’m still glad I microdosed for a period of time. It was a catalyst that helped me become more self-aware and better able to take care of myself. To establish daily practices that help me feel a bit more balanced. But I also feel the responsibility to update my stance on my microdosing experimentation and report that, in my experience, it is not a long-term solution. (I will still be using macro doses on more rare occasions — both therapeutically and recreationally — to explore the unknown. Someday I may write about these experiences, but for now, I’m still processing and integrating teachings from plants like San Pedro and ayahuasca.)
I’ve reached limits in more traditional therapeutic routes, too. Talk therapy has helped me become more aware of certain thought patterns, but after a few months with a particular therapist, after they pick up on my quirks, intricacies, ways of thinking, and history, sessions can become repetitive replays, an endless reflecting back that is no longer productive or proactive.
It’s as if I’ve dialed into some continual hyper-introspective psychological loop. Stuck in some ouroboros cycle of rational analysis with an intent to ‘heal’ — or change my reactions to my emotions. To better manage maladaptive tendencies. Sure, maybe it’s useful to return again and again to conversations about your childhood or certain themes, but at some point: you want better tools to move forward. To reorganize ways of being.
If a particular therapy isn’t working, it’s okay to move on.
Now my intention is to free myself from the illusion that I will ever be completely ‘healed’ with medicine. To stop trying to control my fluctuations in mood with routine drug intake—always high, tricking myself into being. I simply want to become better aware of the spins and better equipped to handle them from within.
I want to feel everything. I want to embrace every shade of grey and stop trying to obsessively seek happiness. The state I’ve been told to remain in. Show me that smile. The constant state that seemed to be required by 9–5 work culture. Always productive, always positive.
Happiness is being aware of the foundational dissatisfaction we exist in and also its unsolvability. It’s a non-problem.” -Marguerite Duras, I Thought Often…
If I can acknowledge where I’m at, I can sit with various moods or bike through them rather than dose my way into some elated drug-induced state. Once I feel better (not just feel good, but feel the whole spectrum of emotions more fully), I will be able to do better and give better.
Maybe Americans have taken drug use too far. Maybe we don’t need more or better drugs. Maybe we need to change the way we feel about emotions. Maybe we need to confront life’s inherent difficulties rather than avoid all aspects of melancholy. Maybe depression is a rational response to a disconnection from nature and others. Maybe anxiety is a rational response to gun violence. Maybe fatigue is a rational response to informational and sensory overload. Maybe our biology isn’t always the problem. Maybe our minds are reacting appropriately to a sick system. And while healing individual mental crises is a critical and moral objective, current treatment options may overlook symptoms of a larger societal problem. Maybe we need a new environment.
Certainly, I needed to slow down.