Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Can microdosing with LSD help depression? Ayelet Waldman talks about A REALLY GOOD DAY, her writing life, her marriage, her moods, more

Ayelet Waldman is an Israeli-American novelist and essayist. She has written seven mystery novels, four other novels, and some controversial essays about motherhood.In A Really Good Day, she talks about turning to microdosing with LSD to help her sanity and her marriage--and the book is spectacularly fascinating.

Thank you so much for being here, Ayelet.

I always want to know why this book, why now? What did you intend to figure out while writing it, and what happened instead?

I didn't intend to write a book at all. I found myself in a very scary, very desperate place. My mood disorder, once well controlled by medication, was proving harder and harder to control. I was slipping into despair, fighting with my husband. I was in terrible pain from frozen shoulder. I was desperate and decided to try microdosing. I began keeping a faithful diary of my experience, and soon realized that I was writing a book!

How we feel, how we react, are all chemical processes, so it makes sense that the right drugs could help us to feel and act and BE better. yet so many of them have terrible side effects or are addicting. But you found micro doses of LSD incredibly helpful--and now you cannot legally get more.  How can we change the mindset of the country about this in terms of legalizing helpful drugs like weed and micro doses of LSD?

What's interesting is that compared to other drugs, cannabis and psychedelics actually have far fewer side effects and negative outcomes. No one has every overdosed on either. I know that's hard to believe. I myself believed a whole lot of stuff that turned out not to be true. I spend a lot of time talking about safety in the book because I was very worried about it. I include lots of research and references. I'm a big believer in a reality and science based approach to life!

You're known for your absolute bravery and honesty in putting your feelings and your life on the  page. There's a lot about your marriage in this book, and a lot about your feelings about who you are and how you behave and why. Did that every make you nervous to expose yourself so much?

I think whenever you write memoir you have to be very thoughtful about what you say and what you don't say. Every one draws their own line in the sand. For example, while I'm happy to reveal my own foibles and mistakes, to an unusual extent perhaps, I would never write anything negative about my husband.

What I loved about your book was the honest assessment of what drugs can and cannot do for us. How are you feeling now that you are no longer micro dosing? Are there residual effects?  And how are you managing your anxiety/depression now?

I wish I could still microdose. I'm definitely not doing as well as I was. I have to work much harder to maintain equilibrium.  I go to therapy. I try (unsuccessfully) to mediate. I use all sorts of apps and things to remind me to breath and calm down. I even got a tattoo with the word "wait" on my arm, to try to remind myself to think before I act.

What did you learn from the whole experience that you didn't expect?

That LSD is wildly misunderstood. That there are a myriad of uses for this and similar drugs that scientists are only now being allowed to explore. And that when you say "I took LSD" a surprising number of people say, "Me too!"

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