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Netflix Introduced me to Psychedelic Therapy in My 50s

David, a medical doctor in his 50’s finds psychedelic therapy in a last-ditch effort to combat his lifelong struggle with depression. His journey of conquering his inner critic and rewriting his habitual thought patterns highlights the transformative potential of psychedelics in mental health treatment.

    Your blindfold is off. You are sitting under a tiki hut on a Jamaican beach, having just taken some pills containing psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms. A storm hovers on the distant horizon as seagulls surf the wind and dive occasionally for fish.

    How did you get here? Not long ago, you were home in the States, wondering how your life had become so difficult. Sustained happiness felt out of your reach, but as you feel the breeze on your skin and see strobes of turquoise light dance across your vision, you consider that maybe living a happy life is a real possibility.

    You pull the blindfold over your eyes, tune into your five-hour psychedelic playlist, and start to feel the effects of the four grams. No preparatory research could have fully conveyed to you just how enchanting and impactful this moment would be.

    This is the story of David, a medical doctor with two kids, a wife, and a life-long struggle with depression—but who has since found lasting relief (more on that later). David came to us looking for some deep support.

    In this article, we will be sharing his story, which is nothing short of an uplifting tale of finding light at the end of the tunnel as he transformed his relationship with himself and his mental health. 

    We hope that this article as well as David’s written testimonial bring some encouragement to those who are suffering and shed light on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. Now, let’s go back to the beginning.

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    For harm-reduction purposes, we provide links to online psilocybin vendors, local stores, delivery services, and spore vendors for growing your own medicine at home.

    Key Takeaways

    • When looking for psychedelic therapy, it is crucial to invest in and understand the importance of preparation and integration, because the journey itself is only one piece of the overall treatment. 
    • Finding relief from mental disorders and illnesses does not happen in a straight line. As old patterns fall away, new challenges may emerge, and it is important to not give up.
    • Setting clear intentions and having a supportive network are crucial for successful psychedelic therapy, as evidenced by David’s eventual positive outcomes with guided integration care.
    • Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic-assisted therapy near you in the United States.

    David’s Written Testimonial

    “My facilitator was Scott from Florida.  He was amazing.  I wholeheartedly recommend him without reservation! What an unbelievable journey ! I struggled with depression and a brutal inner critic among many other dysfunctional but effective coping skills throughout life. 

    On the outside it looked like everything was fantastic but on the inside it was an immense amount of pain. I too did conventional therapy for years. I found the psychedelic therapy option on happenstance one day sitting down and watching Netflix and the show came on talking about LSD. I knew nothing about LSD but when I got to the second episode on psilocybin I was really intrigued. 

    I was in a really dark place and struggling all on the inside and quickly looked into psilocybin therapies. I work in the medical field and I’m in my ’50s so I was trying not to take a legal risk and had all these visions of drug sting operations just waiting for me while finding something to try to help my mental well-being.

    So I decided to go to Jamaica for my first journey. It was a wonderful journey with the setting and my mind had already been focused on what the issues at hand(set)were. It was so freeing from the chains of internal brutality that I experienced everyday, it was wonderful. The only problem was that the most important part of the experience is the integration which I was not prepared for. 

    Afterwards, I was struggling with some major anxiety because all of my coping skills were no longer there. They had all been stripped clean. I was like a newborn just learning how to deal with everything. My sleep patterns were horrible and I wasn’t sure what to do. I figured I just messed everything up, my worst case scenario inner voice telling me hourly. I was looking for every second and third opinion I could find and I happened across Psychedelic Passage. 

    They connected me with the most wonderful human . He helped me get back on my feet and to find a way to try to surf the waves again . I struggled a lot during the integration periods because I over analyze every little detail, what was that? Should I be worried? and he was always accessible and comforting. The amount of growth I had was exponential and at times overwhelming but he was always there.

    After I could figuratively stand and I was still pushing forward. I got to a point where I had exposed some additional internal critics and a few additional dysfunction/more like antiquated coping mechanisms and was at an impasse. This time I did my journey with him. Singular and not in a large group setting. The ceremony was wonderful and deeply moving and the journey was wonderful and just what I needed. 

    The integration following this journey was supportive, calming and helpful. He has taught me to ride the waves and I feel like any waves that life throws, I can handle. I’m very thankful that you offer this service through Psychedelic Passage. The profound effect psychedelic therapy can have on people is utterly amazing and it’s such a shame that its research was squelched in the ’70s but thankfully started again in 1999 with an amazing amount of positive research being officially documented.

    I am unbelievably and eternally grateful for his presence. He’s a wonderful man and a wonderful human who has guided me through this challenging and rewarding process of essentially being reborn. His calm demeanor and presence was always a guiding light. This whole experience has been life changing, not easy, but life changing.”

    The Starting Point: Living With an Inner Critic & Mental Health Struggles

    “Every year, I’d have a really good, severe depression for about a month,” David shared during our interview. Years of unaddressed, dysfunctional coping mechanisms kept him in a rut, manifesting mostly through the voice of an inner critic.

    “It was always a struggle internally. I’d tried my best to present a very good book cover to everyone else, so most people didn’t realize what was going on inside.”

    His inner critic, David believes, originated from early life traumas and family dynamics, and these mechanisms were created to protect him from feeling blamed, unworthy, abandoned, or unlovable.

    ”That’s the kind of voice I had in my head, which was destructive… That you’re not worthy, that you’re not lovable, that you don’t deserve anything, and it would use different kinds of ammo.”

    While his coping mechanisms may have worked to keep out external sources of pain, it also self-inflicted the very pain he was trying to avoid and prevented him from feeling loved. “It would beat them to the punch…so I didn’t have to feel the pain from them,” he said.

    When it came to trying to heal, he had thoroughly experimented with many modalities. From extensive reading to meditation to medication to traditional talk therapy, his symptoms persisted, proving to be a case of treatment-resistant depression.

    “Mindfulness sort of helped a little bit. I tried meditating for the last two or three years, and the inner critic voice was farther apart… It didn’t seem to happen every hour, but it would still happen daily, and then, when it did speak up, it seemed like it had just as much power, if not more power, than it did if it was cumulative over the day. So it gave me quieter periods, but it didn’t seem to change a lot.”

    When it came to other methods, he shared: “Over the years I’d seen several different therapists, read tons of books trying to figure out what exactly was wrong with me, why I couldn’t stay happy, why my self esteem was so destroyed.”

    And even as a doctor, he struggled to find effective mechanisms for healing his inner critic. When reflecting on his time on antidepressants, he said, ”[SSRIs] made me feel blunted. I never felt happy per se… The inner critic never stopped. The bouts of depression that I would get would be blunted, so they wouldn’t be nearly as deep, but they were still there.”

    At a certain point, David’s mental health reached a real low point, in which he struggled with suicidal thoughts. Luckily, he never gave up and later found what has become permanent relief and change in his life, with things continuing to look up. Let’s take a look at what sparked that change.

    From Netflix to Jamaica: How Michael Pollan’s “How to Change Your Mind” Sparked the Way

    “Which Netflix show made you want to jump on the psychedelic bandwagon?” I asked during our interview. As a doctor, this new media-directed psychedelic paradigm contradicted his preconceptions about these substances.

    ”So the show was ‘How to Change Your Mind’ by Michael Pollan,” he replied. “I had just sat down to eat. I was feeling pretty miserable. I was really down, and I was thinking that there wasn’t a lot of time left,” he said, alluding to catastrophic thoughts around his marriage and suicide.

    ”It started talking about LSD… My wife and I are both docs, and in med school, they taught us about the Schedule I drugs. All they said was all the stuff that everyone else had promoted back then, which was, you know… bad, bad, bad, and that one dose of mushrooms or LSD is going to turn you into a crazy person.” 

    After doing some more digging into the use of psychedelics for mental health, one thing that struck David as promising were the testimonials of people who had profound feelings of love during their psychedelic journeys. “I’ve been craving love my entire life, because I don’t let myself enjoy that and feel that,” he said.

    So psychedelics became his next line of hope, but with complications around the accompanying legal risks. It’s for this reason that David booked a trip to Jamaica, where psilocybin retreats are legal.

    Recommended Reading: Where Are Magic Mushrooms Legal?

    Arriving at the Psychedelic Retreat

    ”The setting was perfect actually. I couldn’t have asked for a better setting. So, while I was there, Hurricane Ian was coming around the south part of the Caribbean Island. It was in the Caribbean Sea. You could see the storms in the distance, but it wasn’t supposed to hit the island,” he shared.

    Under his tiki hut, David was given four grams in the form of capsules (more than the rest of the journeyers in his group). ”You’re too analytical. You’re going to overthink it,” the facilitator had told David, explaining why his dose was slightly higher than everyone else’s three grams.

    As the pelicans and seagulls “dive-bombed the water,” David started to see what he called “blue speckles,” and knew it was time to put the blindfold down, tune into his playlist, and turn inward. 

    ”I put down the mask, well, actually, I put on my roller coaster bar first, because I had no idea where this was going to take me.” What transpired after was nothing short of life-changing.

    “Out of body experiences, turning into a band of energy in space, blacking out for probably two hours… I forgave anybody and everybody that ever potentially slighted me in my life,” he shared.

    The pivotal theme of his journey, however, was overcoming his inner critic, which he most certainly did. In an imaginary swamp in the depths of his psyche, David met his inner critic, who was equipped with a black hood and sickle not unlike the grim reaper himself. Opposing that character was his childhood self.

    “I got this,” he said to the looming character, turning to his inner child and giving him a big hug. ”We made a truce. I no longer wanted to kill myself.” Even though this transformative moment transpired, he was far from done.

    ”There were three journeys in Jamaica. Well, the first journey was great. Then I got scared, so the second journey, even though I took a bigger dose, I did things to kind of keep me from going as deep.”

    Immediately following his second psychedelic trip, David found himself battling a whole host of new problems, unable to sleep and grappling with anxious energy. In order to complete his last of the three journeys, he simply took a gram and went for a walk, awaiting his return home, which would be alone with new battles.

    New Problems & Potential Challenges of Psychedelic Therapy: Moving From Depression to Anxiety & Insomnia

    Following David’s trip to Jamaica, something had changed, but it wasn’t clear if it had changed for the better.

    ”I was physically drained, I had lost 12 pounds in those first two weeks, I was so anxious. I would just get these anxious feelings in my body, and I was getting stressed at all kinds of things… having major anxiety that I had never experienced,” he said. 

    Having never had any prior issues with falling asleep, his insomnia struck a nerve and became a source of worry, regularly only getting two to three hours of sleep per night at most, along with generally feeling wired and nervous. 

    During this time, David was prescribed a few different medications to help manage his anxiety and insomnia, namely Lexapro and Ambien, which helped minimally. ”I had some PTSD from that. I mean the fact that I wasn’t sleeping for months, that really set me up for the fear of not sleeping in the future.”

    ”I heard so many people talking about the Default Mode Network and these ruts, which is what I had. I had these ruts because of all of my dysfunction, all of my coping mechanisms… So those ruts were gone… but I didn’t have any mechanism now. I didn’t have any way to deal with stress,” David said.

    And he’s right! Psychedelics are known for their interesting effects on neuroplasticity and the brain’s habitual patterns and operandi, such as the Default Mode Network. Once those are dismantled or the relationship to them changes, opportunities for restructuring are possible, but this time can be incredibly overwhelming for some.

    Recommended Reading: How Do Psychedelics Work In the Brain?

    When it comes to support and aftercare, David sadly received very little. Two weeks after his Jamaica trip, a two-hour group check-in session with the facilitator took place, with only a few minutes for each journeyer to speak, but David was otherwise alone in trying to integrate his experience and come back to a stable mental state. 

    Learning to Surf: Finding Psychedelic Integration Where There Was None

    “You need to love this guy,” David said, peering at himself in the mirror, deeply for the first time. This followed a revisiting of his psychedelic playlist and some heavy, blindfolded introspection and emotional release for hours on end. He didn’t know what else to do.

    Luckily, a callback from a psychiatrist prompted a small, silver lining. “The day that that psychiatrist called me, I was ready to check myself into a hospital.”

    Able to get just enough sleep from the new medication, David continued searching for answers. In hindsight, one gaping problem with his experience in Jamaica, and the Netflix show which turned him on to the idea, was the lack of importance placed on integration

    ”A problem with the show that I think is a bit of a disservice, is that they talked about the journey… They did not talk about the work afterward,” he said. ”That’s one thing that I don’t think these places do a good enough job with is that aftercare,” he continued, thinking back to the facilitators from his Jamaica trip.

    After finding Psychedelic Passage, David was able to work one-on-one for extensive integration care, with no requirements of any more psychedelic journeys. ”Scott helped me get those super powers working,” he said. 

    ”We just talked, and we had several sessions, and we worked on learning how to surf again… basically learning how to cope with things and showing me these newfound abilities,” he said, expressing his excitement at the ability to stop habitual thought patterns and recreate new, more positive ones.

    ”My support group was a psychologist who didn’t believe in it, a psychiatrist who only wanted to give me meds, my wife, and myself,” David shared. “The integration part, I didn’t realize was important. They didn’t talk about it on the show, they didn’t talk about it much on their website.” 

    After working with Scott for some time, David felt that one last journey was necessary for him to complete what was started in Jamaica, but now, with the right support, he was confident in his trajectory. 

    ”That journey did exactly what it needed to do,” he said. All remnants of his inner critics dissipated. He saw his loved ones turn into balls of love and energy, and he was able to say goodbye to deceased loved ones and process grief. This was the start of his new life filled with happiness and love. 

    The Light at the End of the Tunnel: David’s Transformation & Message

    At the end of what seemed like a dark tunnel, David no longer struggles with negative inner voices that tear him down, his anxiety has settled down, and he is sleeping again with no issues and no need for medications.

    “I just want people to realize that this is a potential option. A lot of people don’t know about it or are totally mis-educated on its potential, or they’re just afraid… It’s just amazing how many people I hear who are dealing with anxiety and depression, and they just can’t get past it, and then they give up.”

    When asked what message he would share to others looking into psychedelics as a therapeutic tool, he mentioned some pointers:

    • Setting the Right Intention: “I think the better vetted your intention, the more likely you’re going to have success… The people who had the most positive journeys and had the most success without any issues had the more simplistic [intentions],” David shared.
    • Gratitude and Grace: “Just give yourself time…Realize that you may have some work to do afterwards.”
    • Trust Your New Superpowers: “You will have these abilities that you can change and reroute and recreate new thought patterns, and that was pretty impressive that you can actually say stop and reevaluate and say how can I look at this differently and reinterpret this so that it’s positive?”

    His last message to readers is: “The journey is wonderful and full of awe and amazement, and may answer your issues, but if it doesn’t, don’t despair. The integration period can be a time of great growth and even more healing than the journey itself with effort,” and we think those are beautiful parting words for this article.

    A Guide to Challenging Psychedelic Journeys

    Get Matched with a Trusted Psychedelic Therapy Provider Near You

    Hi there! We sincerely hope that you’ve found valuable takeaways that resonate with your current intentions. To explore research-based education, stay updated with psychedelic news, and benefit from practical how-to articles, we encourage you to head over to our resources page.

    If you’re seeking personalized advice and are prepared to take the first step toward a therapeutic psychedelic experience, we invite you to book a consultation with our team of experienced psychedelic concierges.

    This consultation is more than just a conversation; it’s an opportunity to be matched with a trustworthy local facilitator. You’ll be seamlessly connected to our rigorously vetted network of psychedelic guides, ensuring potential matches align with your needs.

    Psychedelic Passage offers confidence and peace of mind by alleviating the burden of having to guess who’s right for you. If you want to discover how Psychedelic Passage can help you, we empower you to learn more about our services and check out client testimonials from those who’ve gone before you.

    Your healing path is uniquely yours, and our commitment is to serve you at every juncture. Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic-assisted therapy near you in the United States.

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    At Psychedelic Passage, we offer professional 1-on-1 guidance and companionship on your journey of healing. We simply can't sit back and let Americans continue to sit in silent suffering trying to battle mental health issues within a broken health care system, all while knowing that effective alternatives exist. We stand for the sacred, at-home, ceremonial use of psychedelics for consciousness exploration, which we believe to be a fundamental human right.

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