How a Drug-Induced, Spontaneous Song Opened Me Up to Mental Healing
MDMA therapy promotes self compassion – it came to me in the form of a little song.
I’d just finished watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory whilst high on MDMA – for therapy and healing reasons, of course – when I closed my eyes and started my therapeutic, drug-induced meditations of new levels of self-compassion and understanding.
That’s the thing about MDMA assisted therapy, and exactly why it works. All the feelings of connection and empathy, love and compassion that people take pills to feel on the dancefloor – as soon as you close your eyes alone, they’re all directed inwards. Then you can really start to work on being ok with being yourself. Psilocybin (magic mushroom) therapy is being slowly legalised in places, and MDMA (Ecstacy) assisted therapy will very likely follow with its excellent results in clinical trials.
But for now, it’s still illegal and I was going it alone.
I’ve made mistakes in my life, as every human has. There are parts of me I would like to be better, as everyone has. There are parts of my life and situation that I’d like to change but can’t. As everyone has.
But all these things, despite feeling very unique and personal, really are things I share with everyone else. Every time you make a mistake or get annoyed with yourself for being stupid — that’s all things that everyone does. When we realise that, it makes things a little easier. It’s not us being stupid specifically, it’s us being a human, and humans do stupid things.
Now, whenever I’m at risk of kicking myself for something, I like to just remind myself that everyone does these things, and it makes things better.
As I lay there with my eye mask on, thinking about my life and the things I didn’t like about it and the mistakes I’d made, a silly little song popped into my head. For the rest of the evening on the MDMA, whenever I thought of another episode of my life I was holding against myself, the song would return. In future MDMA healing journeys, it came back too. It went like this:
Being a human, being a human, being a human being…
Being a human, being a human, being a human being.
Silly, see. But the fact that it’s silly and childlike is exactly why it was so effective. It was like being judged by a child – and children don’t judge. They just accept. The words just made sure that I was ok with everything that I didn’t used to be ok with, because they weren’t personal failings after all. They were just things that were part of life as a human.
That time I put my foot in it with a lecturer at the university when I was just a student, that came back to make me cringe for years after? I was just being a human. That time I stole a part of a toy from school when I was five? Just being a human. That time I spent ten years of my life chasing a career in songwriting and music because I liked the idea of it but didn’t really like doing the work, spending my whole twenties achieving pretty much nothing? Just being a human. And now at least I’d finally come up with a song that had some use.
Something amazing happens when you put your mistakes and failings into the context of doing what humans do instead of seeing them as personal failings, whether you do it with the help of a silly childlike song or not.
As clinical psychology PhD Dr. Marina Harris put it, seeing things as part of our shared humanity fosters connection and reduces shame. MDMA is an excellent drug for both these things too. It was a powerful combination.
This silly little childlike song put me into a place of shared humanity. The shame was gone. Nothing I ever did wrong was because I wasn’t good enough, after all. It was because I was a human.
Whatever I was holding against myself was only because I was doing what humans do. Holding it against myself unnecessarily was also something humans just do. The drugs took off the blinkers and all was ok again. I was just being a human. Being a human. Being a human being.
And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
I wrote a full account of my healing on MDMA and psychedelics here: