After struggling through years of PTSD that have felt impossible to articulate, and 4 years on medications where the side effects were just as bad as the issues they were supposed to treat, I began searching for something beyond talk-therapy and pharmaceuticals to resolve my problems. I spent months reading about ways to try to understand mind-body connection that had landed me where I was: emotionally distraught, plagued by insomnia and experiencing neuropathic pain that worsened each time I was triggered by some event in my day to day life.
As I explored options beyond standard western medicine and delved into psychedelics, the benefits of which are being discovered again by the medical community, I found positive mentions of Mycomeditations in the news again and again. Reviews online bolstered my confidence that this was an option I wanted to explore. I listened to the Mycomedications podcasts and news articles that explored the efficacy of Psilocybin research: it resonated, and I was impressed that there was research to support what so many people were already talking about: the power of mushrooms. Many people facing the same challenges I had reported relief after tripping… plus a bundle of other benefits: a feeling of greater connectedness to others, a renewed sense of hope, an unforgettable experience…and even, I hoped: inspiration. As an artist, my day job (which is not artistic!) often trampled out my desire to be creative, and medications had done the rest of the work. I’d been desperate for the past 5 years to rekindle the intensity of artistic inspiration, intuition and empathy that has been such a huge part of my identity in the past.
From the first few conversations with Eric and his team I knew I had found something special: the judgement free conversations about my condition and goals quickly helped me understand I was being listened to by people who were ready to work with me. Before and during the retreat every time I shared anything about myself with the Mycomeditations team and fellow retreaters I was met with warmth, compassion and understanding and at times: challenged to dig into my emotional responses and really deal with their outcomes.
When it came to the group sessions after each trip, I struggled a bit as a shy person, but the reality of the group setting truly hit me towards the end of our time together: In the beautiful setting of Jamaica, with a group of all different ages, religions and backgrounds, I had met a collection of open and caring souls willing to explore and deal with our traumas together: this must be one of the most amazing group therapy experiences available today.
In general, the structure of our days during the retreat was ideal: I felt relaxed but engaged. The food was authentic and thoughtfully cooked by a staff that was sensitive to our dietary restrictions. Enough can’t be said also about the biodiversity and natural beauty that the setting of Jamaica brings. By day, our retreat space was filled with birds, flowering plants and fruit trees where we grabbed stray mangos. The gentle family who owned the land we were on made us feel welcomed, and we walked freely between our cains and the shorelines; swimming at random in the day and evening.
After Jamaica, I can’t imagine wanting to have a psychedelic experience like this in a closed room or near a city. One of my favorite nights after a trip ended with fellow retreaters and I in gazing dreamily at the Milky Way as shooting stars dripped by: something you can only do in a place like rural Jamaica where low-light pollution sets the galaxy ablaze!
A month after my retreat, I feel I have stepped into a phase of life where I am ready to be my authentic self: silly, funny, weird, laughing more easily and making more time to be with friends. Not only have I felt a huge relief from the neuropathic pain I was experiencing, but also lessened anxiety and insomnia brought on by PTSD. Lastly, as I had most desperately hoped, this experience has brought me a galaxy’s worth of starry ideas and inspiration— I have made art every day since my retreat.
Some people say that their retreats feel like years of therapy rolled into one week, but all the years of my own therapy don’t add up anywhere close to this outcome and it still feels like there’s more to come. For anyone who feels like the only solution is to increase the dosage on a medication that already doesn’t seem to work, for anyone who sits on a psychiatrist's couch and has the feeling that person only aims to quickly match you to a diagnosis and medication, for anyone who has ever been made to feel that they are worth less than that the moon and stars: I encourage you to try this option!
Let the mushrooms help you catch a glimpse of yourself in a frame of mind that is brutally honest, magical, frightful in its daring wonder: come experience something beautiful, and let it leave a mark on your heart.
-- Ally S., Artist, US
Number of Participants in ceremony: 12
Follow up integration