Microdosing LSD really quieted that “Hey! You suck!” voice…


From Los Angeles Review of Books:

How has your experimentation with LSD affected your sense of yourself? Has that shifted at all?

Well, I still have that voice in my head that tells me, “Hey! You suck!” But the thing about microdosing is that it really quieted that voice. And I really do believe it’s a neurochemical thing. The evidence shows that LSD acts on your default mode network. Microdosing for me quieted that self-loathing voice. It was still there, I could still access it if I wanted to, if I was feeling like I needed to hate myself a little. But it wasn’t the persistent background noise in my life. I could go to work without hearing it. I did have to gird my loins and ignore my fundamental self-hatred. Unfortunately, without the microdosing, the voice is back. Though of course it’s not a literal voice. I’m not quite that crazy.

And yet, things are better. I’m in a good place right now. I don’t get sucked into the kind of deep depression I was in before I began the experiment. But where I notice the lack is in the way I feel about myself. My kids were so sick of hearing my constant stream of self-belittling comments that they made me something they call the self-loathing jar. Anytime I say anything that smacks of self-loathing, I have to put a dollar in the jar.

Without LSD, it takes so much more effort to maintain my stability. I am in a type of therapy called dialectical behavioral therapy, which is particularly good for people who have impulse control issues. It was designed for people who are borderline, so it focuses on emotional dysregulation. It’s kind of a mallet for my smaller nail, but I think it’s an incredibly useful system and I can make use of many of the skills it teaches. I end up seeing a DBT therapist a few times a week, between therapy and skills training and parenting training.

When I was microdosing, the LSD seemed to do all the work for me. I hate to say, “It’s available for you in a pill,” but it really was available for me in a pill. That’s the medication that has worked for me. I was very purposely vague about the time period this experiment took place because I wanted to protect myself and other people, given the statute of limitations for drug offenses, but I feel like all you need to do is comb through my Twitter feed going back a few years and you’ll be able to figure out what month it was. You’ll say, “Oh look! Here’s a month where Ayelet doesn’t say anything stupid. That must have been when she was microdosing.”

Some people who experience depression resist taking medications because of their side effects, one of which is feeling less like themselves. Did you ever feel like less yourself on LSD?

I’m not as affected by the drugs in that way as I know others are. My father, for example, is really flattened by the medications he takes. Lithium and Seroquel have made it possible for him to function but they have really flattened out his personality. Some people who live with him might argue that that’s all for the good. But I’m not sure what he’d say.

For the longest time when I was being treated with traditional medications, I would say to my psychiatrist, whatever it is that makes me me, I don’t want to lose that. So there were drugs I stayed away from, like lithium 00 because I saw what it did to my father. I stayed away from Depakote, from those harder-core mood-stabilizing drugs. I took mostly SSRIs, drugs that focused on alleviating depression rather than stabilizing mania. Anti-depressants can actually be risky if you have traditional bipolar disorder because they can trigger mania. But that wasn’t my problem, so I never experienced those effects.

However, one of my concerns about people microdosing as a treatment for bipolar disorder is that LSD is activating, so there is at least the possibility that it could trigger a manic episode. I don’t know if there’s any evidence of this yet, but it’s a concern. And that’s why it’s so frustrating that there isn’t research on this. We need research, but of course that’s exactly what we’re not going to get, at least so long as current attitudes prevail.

“LSD and Palestine in the Same Season: An Interview with Ayelet Waldman”, Leah Mirakhor, Los Angeles Review of Books