In her new book, Ayelet Waldman says she’d been “held hostage by the vagaries of mood” throughout her entire life. Psychotropic meds and all manner of treatment never did the job. So she decided to try LSD.
A Really Good Day is Waldman’s first-person account of her month-long adventure into microdosing LSD. In the preface, Waldman tells readers that she was diagnosed years ago with a variant of bipolar disorder.
“When my mood is good, I am cheerful, productive and affectionate,” Waldman writes. “I sparkle at parties, I write decent sentences, I have what the kids call swag. When my mood swings, however, I am beset by self-loathing and knotted with guilt and shame.”
Waldman, who lives in Berkeley and is the mother of four children, said there was nothing she hadn’t tried in terms of mindfulness, meditation, yoga, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. The list of psychotropic meds she’d been prescribed over the years takes up almost a page-long paragraph in her memoir.
So, in her effort to be less of a “difficult woman,” Waldman looked into the work of James Fadiman, a psychologist and researcher who studies the effects of microdosing psychedelics, with the general idea, based a the long-held belief, that they can help work through issues and see the world in a different way.
Psychedelic microdosing is the practice of taking a sub-perceptual dose — or an amount too small to produce traditional psychedelic effects — of a substance such as LSD or psilocybin mushrooms.
Despite the fact that Waldman was once a public defender and law professor and has full knowledge of U.S. drug laws, she decided to give microdosing a try.
“After squinting through her middle-aged reading glasses to make out the directions on the LSD testing kit she’s ordered on Amazon, Waldman takes a leap of faith, swallows two drops from the mystery bottle and jumps down the rabbit hole,” said book reviewer Maureen Corrigan.
It turns out that Waldman’s experience was a good trip with positive results.
She reports in her memoir that her mood leveled out, she got an enormous amount of writing done, her frozen shoulder improved and she became so uncharacteristically mellow that one of her kids finally asked, “Who are you?”
Waldman wrote that she had some sleep disruption, but nothing as bad as the side effects she’d experienced on prescription medications.
A Really Good Day, in addition to being a good story, should also make us think about how drugs are classified (LSD is Schedule 1, like marijuana and heroin) and therefore barely researched, and how brain chemistry alters what we think of as essential personality traits.
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