Shroomiversary

Today is the anniversary of the most amazing moment of my life. I had long known that I suffered from extreme anxiety and panic attacks. In the past few years, this had become combined with extreme anger. My anger was not directed at anything or anyone in particular. I was simply angry for what felt like no reason at all. I had a headache which had not gone away in over a year and had been chipping my teeth from clenching my jaw too tightly.

My life was going to end at my own hands. I could see this clearly in front of me. I abstractly posted about having issues on Facebook and received an outpouring of support from people. A day later I went to see my GP, who prescribed some somewhat useless medication and later I signed up for psychotherapy sessions.

My psychotherapist is amazing, but there was a limit to what she could do with talk therapy alone. After 18 months of psychotherapy, my headache was no longer constant and came and went sporadically. My anger was reduced, but I still flew into furious rages at pretty much nothing on a regular basis. And most importantly, I had no idea why any of this was happening. My psychotherapist seemed certain that I had unresolved conflict/trauma from my youth which was connected with this, but none of the things she suggested about my childhood resonated with me. I did not see my childhood as traumatic or having any impact on my adult life. I have an incredibly good memory of my childhood, to a level which somewhat startles some people, particularly people I grew up with who are surprised at what I can tell them of their own childhood which they have long forgotten. So it seemed unlikely it could be something I had simply forgotten.

In desperation, I had been looking around at what options I had to treat my problems. Cannabis proved to have some benefits, but slowed me down whilst working, so I stopped this. Traditional anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication simply numb the problem, don’t fix the root cause and come with severe side effects. However studies into the use of psychedelic drugs for treating anxiety and depression looked extremely promising. They are also extremely illegal. “Everyone” knows that psychedelic drugs are bad for you … or are they?

I found a video on YouTube with only a few hundred views (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtU3FP-ZLGw). The presenter, Rosalind Watts, quoted some of the participants from a study she was involved with at Imperial College London on psilocybin as a treatment for depression. They said “I wanna know why I’m depressed, I just don’t know why, I wish I could know, I wish I could understand”. She went on to explain that through the psilocybin therapy, many were able to access those emotional connections they had long forgotten. This sounded like what I needed. So following the sort of advice I’d expect to see on a Jackass episode, I illegally obtained some psilocybin mushrooms (aka magic mushrooms) and set out a procedure I would follow based on that developed by the study at Imperial College London (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2032994).

I didn’t understand why, but I felt a sense of urgency to start this process, and on Friday February 12th 2021, a close friend came over to babysit me while I consumed 1 g of psilocybin cubensis mushrooms. I then put on headphones and an eye mask, laid back, and proceeded to have the most terrifying, most productive and most healing experience of my existence. I assume my own birth was more significant, but I don’t remember that and I assume the only thing which will come close in the future, will be my own death.

I was plunged into a world which felt both incredibly famililar, and yet incredibly foreign at the same time. I had been there before, yet I had never seen this world. It was a world of symbolism and colour, and every symbol and colour had deeply profound meaning to me. I saw a series of purple and green symbols flying past. I didn’t understand what they were initially, but I felt a deeply profound love for these symbols. I quickly realised that purple was a symbolic colour representing my mum and green was a symbolic colour representing my dad. I later realised that these colour combinations were deeply embedded in my psyche and had actually controlled many colour selections I have made in my life. Feeling such an extreme sense of love for my parents was quite startling.

But I was not here to learn what I have a sense of love for, I wanted to know what was causing me to become angry. I repeatedly forced myself to think about why I became angry, to force my unconscious mind to reveal to me the hidden reason for that anger. But this just caused more purple and green symbols to appear. Why would I see purple and green symbols when trying to think of anger? Why would my parents have anything to do with anger in adulthood? This made no sense to me. Eventually I became frustrated and ordered myself to show me why I was angry. I quickly discovered that demanding myself to show myself why I become angry, is a sure fire path to the most terrifying experience of my existence. But sometimes, the most terrifying experiences, are the most rewarding. An orange brown tree symbol appeared in the distance. I didn’t know what the orange brown tree was, but I did know that it was the most terrifying thing I had ever seen. I’m honestly thankful I didn’t poop my pants right there and then, because that orange brown tree absolutely terrified me to my core. I tried to pull it closer, but it shot away and my psychedelic experience ended.

On this day, I went from feeling like my parents and childhood had no effect on my present day, to understanding that they had a profound and fundamental impact throughout my entire life, which had rippled into my present day. But I was still no closer to understanding where my anger was coming from. I could however, see clearly why so many people believe in the healing power of magic mushrooms.

Over the next two weeks, I woke up multiple times per night with horrific nightmares. Those nightmares were all about people or places from my childhood. I had many recurring nightmares over the years. One of the most common, involved my grandad on my dads side picking me up on the side of the road late at night. There was a power pole on the side of the road on a slight incline. I would walk up to the car, open the door and get inside where my grandad was, then I would wake up in a cold sweat breathing frantically. Others involved me chasing after a little blonde girl who I was worried about. Many friends had noticed I would jolt awake at night and ask me what it was, and I would always just laugh it off, as this something I was incredibly used to. It was just how I had always operated. I literally had this same dream hundreds of times during my life and had mostly gotten used to it. But now I was having dreams which appeared to be related to this one, but were not the same; they often involved a small girl who I needed to rescue. I spent a lot of time trying to patch together what these all meant, but two weeks after the mushroom trip, they all came rushing back like an emotional wrecking ball passing through my mind.

The recurring nightmare about my grandad was not my granded on my dads side after all. It was my pop on my mums side. I figured out what it was about, by looking at the locations of all of the nightmares I had during the weeks following the mushroom trip. They were in a perfect triangle. At the center of the triangle, was the the location of a horrific car crash from my childhood.

We were travelling home one day after dropping my dad off at work. The car began violently swerving from side to side. Looking back, I now know this is what is called a tank slapper. It was a wet day and my mum must have somehow spun the wheels (rear wheel drive car) and not been able to control the slide. The tank slapper resulted in us plowing directly into a power pole. My pop was the one who picked me up from the hospital that day, and it was him and my grandma who looked after me in the following weeks. My brain was using the wrong grandfather to stop me from understanding the true nature of the dream. The little girl I was trying to protect, was not a little girl … it was me.

The orange brown tree symbol from my mushroom trip, was a symbol of the power pole we crashed into. I have always associated days of the week with various colours; I had never really thought much fo this, I felt it was just a meaningless association in my mind. Monday was an orange brown colour. I had no recollection of the date of the accident, but a few years ago, I collected my medical records from my GP in New Zealand. The date listed in those medical records was February 12th 1985 … a Tuesday. So my colour correlation of orange-brown with Monday did not match the colour of the tree … so what was it? I told this story to my brother Scott; his immediate reaction was “the accident happened on February 11th, not the 12th”. I guess the medical records took a day to get to my GP which will be why the date was wrong. I think 5 year old me knew it was a Monday and impregnated that orange-brown colour onto the event accordingly and it stuck there for 36 years until flooding back into my consciousness exactly one year ago.

There were many other aspects of my life I uncovered from this mushroom trip, but the core cause of my anger, anxiety and stress, was unprocessed trauma from that car crash. I was only 5 years old at the time, and I had never properly processed my feelings and emotions from that experience. This sounds somewhat insane whilst I’m typing it out, but the flood of incredibly intense memories and emotions helped crystalise explanations for many aspects of my life which I could not previously explain. Seemingly irrational fears, which I could not previously explain, suddenly crystalised into obvious emotions associated with events buried deep in my past; not forgotten, but emotionally suppressed.

My universe was flipped on its lid. Emotional turmoil which had remained hidden under a lid for 36 years exploded out of me. Things which had remained hidden from me by a terrified little boy, suddenly came rocketing to the forefront of my existence. The world as I had seen it did not exist. My life was not a lie, but my viewing angle of it was severely warped. Those innocent looking little mushrooms took my world view and gave it the violent shaking it required.

Once I knew what the cause was, I could process them and move on. I no longer experience extreme anger, anxiety or depression. The stresses which once controlled me, no longer hold any power over me. I am still the same person, just without the emotional baggage I had been carrying around for so long.

Magic mushrooms are no joke. Treat them with great respect. Be aware that although these little gifts of nature can be dangerous, they also have the power to achieve wonderful changes in the human mind. They’re not some party drug to have a good time, but a tool to help better ones self, a tool to create a better society and to help heal us of the stresses we create within our own minds. Just because something is portrayed in the media as evil, does not make it so.

πŸ„ β€οΈπŸ§‘πŸ§‘πŸ’›πŸ’šπŸ’›πŸ’œ πŸ„

3 thoughts on “Shroomiversary

  1. Remkus says:

    What a wonderful journey to have experienced, Ryan. I’m happy for you that psilocybin allowed you to uncover that which needed to be processed.

  2. Rudiger says:

    So it was just a coincidence that you first took mushrooms on Feb. 12–the anniversary (plus a day, I guess) of the car crash in 1985? Weird.

    • Ryan Hellyer says:

      I don’t think it was coincidence. I think the unconscious part of my mind which was hiding the emotional connections knew that date.

      Until doing the mushroom trip, the only date I was aware of, was February 12th. Until seeing it in my medical records later in life, I had no idea what the date was. My brother told me later that it was February 11th. That prompted me to check what was in my medical records about the event, and to my surprise, there was no record. But I remembered seeing it in my medical records. Thankfully I still had the original files, and buried deep in those, was the record of it being on February 12th. I think I may have stripped it from my main records; I guess because it bothered me seeing it in there :/

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