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Destler Dodge

Next to Indian food and morning sex, psilocybin is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

My first exposure with psilocybin was either the second or third day of my freshman year at Wagner College. I had put on 30 or 40 pounds as a result of the toxic relationship I was still masochistically participating in and a recently developed interest in quasi-racist Norwegian black metal, coupled with a psycho-sexual interest in recreational drug use, left me with a pretty glaring chip on my shoulder. I shuffled my Bathory tee-clad frame into my dorm one afternoon after class to find my roommate, a scrawny, wild-haired young man, whose name was legitimately and legally “Krag”, speaking firmly into a headset. He hurriedly wrapped up what he was saying after I came in, but what I caught was telling in and of itself:

“Unfortunately, the current societal attitude regarding psilocybin, or ‘psychedelic mushrooms’ as they’re colloquially referred to, is entrenched in paranoia and deceit.”

He put down his headset and smiled at me sheepishly over his shoulder.

“Just recording some stuff for myself.”

My growing interest in drugs with a hard “D” was being fueled primarily by my girlfriend’s attitude toward them. She ensured me without hesitation at any and every mention of weed, mushrooms, LSD, coke and the like, that drugs were “for children,” only experimented with “by losers” and had “no benefit whatsoever unless you’re already a weak person.” Grasping for independence and an identify outside of my relationship, I had smoked weed under the cloak of darkness at parties and house shows, but my experience with the whole spectrum of drugs was still pathetically limited. Needless to say, this snippet of Krag’s monologue piqued my interest.

“What kind of stuff?” I inquired.

Krag’s face fl ushed and the obvious mechanization of his expression showed that he was struggling for a way to broach this subject with me.

“Well,” he started, turning toward me, “what do you know about ‘magic mushrooms’?

Roughly two years removed from this initial exposure, which we will return to later, I have amassed a wealth of experience with psilocybin and can say confidently that it has changed my life in remarkably transformative ways. I won’t naively state that psilocybin has been the cure for all of my preexisting ailments, but its introduction into my life marked the beginning of a steady and unprecedented upswing.

I’ve been grappling with bouts of depression and anxiety for most of my life, but I’ve never been the type of person who voices my inner-turmoil. I’ve always opted for a more reserved form of self-treatment, withdrawing into quiet seclusion at the first sign of depressive episodes or anxiety attacks. This particular coping mechanism, speaking from personal experience, has gone part and parcel with intense feelings of isolation and loneliness, and more often than not I have found myself combating psychological and emotional deficiencies with others of the same ilk. I’ve been taking an ever-evolving cocktail of anxiety medication since I was 10 years old, and while some have undeniably worked more than others, the effect has always left something missing.

I didn’t take psilocybin for a while after leaving Wagner due to some pretty serious dissatisfaction with just about everything there, but the first time I did was at the beach – it had been baked into a chocolate bar. After about 20 or thirty minutes of lying on the sand with a forearm plastered against my sweaty forehead, I felt its effects starting to slowly wash over me. Images dragged as I turned my head, patterns mutated in and out of logical structure and tactile sensations made me audibly giggle. 

Roughly two years removed from this initial exposure, which we will return to later, I have amassed a wealth of experience with psilocybin and can say confidently that it has changed my life in remarkably transformative ways. I won’t naively state that psilocybin has been the cure for all of my preexisting ailments, but its introduction into my life marked the beginning of a steady and unprecedented upswing.I’ve been grappling with bouts of depression and anxiety for most of my life, but I’ve never been the type of person who voices my inner-turmoil. I’ve always opted for a more reserved form of self-treatment, withdrawing into quiet seclusion at the fi rst sign of depressive episodes or anxiety attacks. This particular coping mechanism, speaking from personal experience, has gone part and parcel with intense feelings of isolation and loneliness, and more often than not I have found myself combating psychological and emotional defi ciencies with others of the same ilk. I’ve been taking an ever-evolving cocktail of anxiety medication since I was 10 years old, and while some have undeniably worked more than others, the effect has always left something missing.I didn’t take psilocybin for a while after leaving Wagner due to some pretty serious dissatisfaction with just about everything there, but the fi rst time I did was at the beach – it had been baked into a chocolate bar. After about 20 or thirty minutes of lying on the sand with a forearm plastered against my sweaty forehead, I felt its effects starting to slowly wash over me. Images dragged as I turned my head, patterns mutated in and out of logical structure and tactile sensations made me audibly giggle. 

Considering that this is a personal account based on no one’s perspective but my own, the citing of clinical studies and statistical analysis may be counter-intuitive. The only person I can speak for is myself, of course. However, my feelings about the mentally, emotionally and spiritually healing effects of psilocybin appear to fall in line with the majority of those who have tried it. According to a study of the effects of psilocybin on “18 healthy adults” conducted by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 2011, 94 percent of those who received psilocybin claimed it was in the “top fi ve most meaningful experiences of their lives,” and 39 percent said it was the most meaningful experience of their entire life. In addition, studies published in the British Journal of Psychiatry and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that psilocybin is powerful in fighting post traumatic stress disorder as well as depression.The first time I took psilocybin at Wagner wasn’t with Krag – or with anyone, really. Being around Krag’s passionate interest in all things hallucinogenic had certainly fostered an interest of my own, but he was still waiting on his grow kit to come in the mail – and once it did, it would still be another month before we could even think about eating the mushrooms. Rather, my fi rst experience with taking psilocybin was at a male-posturing-filled frat party on campus. A joint was being passed around between five upperclassmen, who all knew each other pretty well, and me. Despite the unfamiliarity, I was still reveling in the idea of “doing drugs.” One of them unfurled a small sandwich bag fi lled with dried brown mushrooms and smiled at our sudden rapt attention.“You guys want to get fucked up?”Everyone offered their own half-hearted excuse as to why they could not partake and immediately dispersed to different corners of the backyard. I lingered, offering up a small handful of money to split the bag with him and soon found myself walking back to my dorm feeling a dull heat rise from my feet to my waist with every step. Suddenly, I found myself sweating in my building’s lobby and then clutching my chest in the corner of the elevator that was taking me to my room on the 12th floor.I walked in the door, muttered a swift greeting to Krag, who was sitting at his computer once again, and laid face up on the bed. Krag almost immediately rolled his chair over to me.“Is everything OK?”I groaned.“Yeah, I bought some mushrooms from some guy at a party and I think I’m just having a really terrible reaction to them.”Krag laughed knowingly, which infuriated me.“That’s not possible,” he started. “Did he say anything when he gave them to you?”“Well,” I sighed, “he said something kind of jock-like, from what I remember.” Things were starting to get pretty confusing at this point, “something like, ‘let’s get fucked up.’”

“Well, there you go!” Krag exclaimed, slapping his knees. “Listen, man, let them get fucked up on it, but there are plenty of other drugs that are better for just getting fucked up on. If it’s their prerogative to misuse it, so be it – but once you let that mindset influence you, you’ll never experience it correctly. Give it the respect it deserves and the respect you deserve and you’ll discover more about you and your world than you could possibly imagine.”In every way, he was right.