"MDMA Is a Place"
Healing from Childhood PTSD
MDMA is a place where I have found healing beyond all expectations. For me it seems to work by provoking meditative enlightenment.
I'm middle-aged, with PTSD and depression since childhood. Causes are obvious - I was sexually abused and my family was wracked by alcoholism. Antidepressants help me, but don't touch the continuous confusion of PTSD which keeps me "on the edge" and stops me from thinking clearly. PTSD means that I am always too alert, like a cave-man who is sure there is a hungry tiger prowling in the dark nearby. I am tempted to deaden my destructive feelings with alcohol, repeating my father's choices.
I did traditional therapy for 25 years, which helped some. I also started meditating as a teenager as a way to calm the cacophony inside.
I terminated therapy half a year ago because my health insurance no longer covers it. At the end of last year, feeling disgusted at the mess I have made of my life, I found myself randomly looking at books about alternative therapies. I came across one on entheogens by a psychiatrist. I didn't know what "entheogen" meant.
Feeling perverse, I searched out the author's address and sent him an unsolicited email. To my surprise, this kind man responded with a referral, which led to a couple more referrals, and a few weeks later I found myself lying blindfolded in an idyllic room in the mountains, having consumed MDMA for the first time in my life.
With me was a wise guide, familiar with the highways and by-ways of psychedelic medicine. We had done preparation before, so my intentions were clear. But I was scared out of my wits, fearing it would tip me into addiction, or send me straight back to the psychiatric hospital.
I needn't have worried. There was no "high," only a sensation of warmth. To my surprise, MDMA put me into a state which felt natural and familiar. I knew this place as meditation, but at a far higher level than I ever achieved in years of nourishing Zen practice.
For four hours I thought and talked with a little prompting from my guide. Truth poured out of me as never before. This was a world away from the pervasive lies of alcoholism, or the white knuckles of PTSD.
What I had in that place was absolute clarity, replacing the confusion and anxiety which has defined my life so far. Completely opposite to some gooey opium dream, it gave me incredible insight without fear.
Three months later, most of the healing is still with me, so MDMA is not like my daily antidepressant. And mysteriously, my brain has changed. It is like the day my first child was born, when somehow I morphed from being terrified of being a parent to loving it.
In the aftermath of this medicinal satori, I have been able to be honest about everything - a huge change which my wife appreciates. I take fewer antidepressants. I have lost the crazy monkey-mind.
In the past month I have noticed that I am losing some of the benefits, though I am still much better. I was determined after the experience to "take it home" through more meditation on the zafu, and in a floatation tank. These techniques get me some way towards the intense insight of MDMA.
I have only taken it once, but MDMA has created profound (if not permanent) change in my life. I am blessed to have stumbled upon this solution to what I thought was untreatable.
It is now a year since I first took MDMA for my PTSD. I have had two subsequent "journeys" using this medicine since what I reported earlier. What difference has this made?
- My anxiety is dramatically reduced. I used to have what felt like a motor inside me which generated anxiety continuously. Every day I would wake with more anxiety, which I would try to reduce with exercise and meditation. That motor is gone.
- I have for decades taken a high dose of antidepressant each day (sometimes more than one drug). I have been able to cut this back to one medicine and reduce that dosage by 50%. I've reduced my intake cautiously and with the approval of the psychiatrist who prescribes it. I am free from depression symptoms at this lower antidepressant consumption.
- One thing which came up repeatedly when in the journeys was my relationship to alcohol (my father's life was ravaged by alcoholism). With the insight of the journeys, I kept feeling that I was tied to alcohol in a serious and destructive way. After the last journey it seemed that I could choose to leave this drug behind, so I did. I have not consumed alcohol for several months now, and I am amazed at the freedom it has given me. I was far more dependent on alcohol than I realized, and I am glad to be past this dependence.
At some level, it is clear how MDMA helps with healing. For me, it has two simultaneous effects: it suppresses my fear and allows me to think with extreme clarity. This combination lets me look at events in my memory in new ways. For example, I did not feel judged or condemned because of my alcohol dependence. Rather, I saw with utter clarity that this is something I have used destructively as a crutch, and I do not need to use it any more.
These experiences of miraculously deep healing put society's disapproval of MDMA in a new light. On the one hand, I can no longer take seriously the notion that this medicine is an unhealthy indulgence for kids half my age. It has done things for me I would not have believed possible.
Ironically, MDMA is far MORE dangerous than it is portrayed. Taking it is a very serious business, because it has changed my life in fundamental ways. If staying the same is important to you, please do not go near MDMA!
I did not want to stay the same. I have spent most of my life struggling with mental illness which ruined a marriage, hurt my kids, and caused untold misery to many people.
I can say with immense gratitude today that these three MDMA experiences have broken the hold mental illness had on me. I have no words for how much this means to me.