Updated: Oct 13
"How taking psychedelics too early F#CKED ME FOR 2 DECADES - Thank you to Nelly Drummond for allowing me to share my story on this platform, and I hope it stops anyone else going down my foolish path by using psychedelics before they are ready"
- Cameron, Father Of 3, 41 Years Old.
What the f#ck is derealisation?
Derealization is a mental health phenomenon characterized by a person feeling as though their surroundings are unreal, dreamlike, distorted, or detached from reality. It can also involve a sense of disconnection from one's own body or a feeling of being an observer rather than an active participant in their own life. Derealization can be distressing and disorienting, often accompanied by heightened anxiety. It is your brains final response to trauma - and sadly the derealization itself is almost always more traumatic than the original cause.
Derealization is often associated with another mental health condition known as depersonalization, where a person feels disconnected from their own thoughts, emotions, and identity. These two experiences, derealization and depersonalization, are collectively referred to as depersonalization-derealization disorder - or 'DRDP' - when they occur persistently and interfere with a person's daily life.
Derealization and depersonalization can be triggered by various factors, including stress, trauma, anxiety, substance use, or other mental health conditions. It's essential to seek professional help if you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, as they can be indicative of underlying mental health issues that may require treatment and support. Therapy and counselling, particularly techniques like cognitive-behavioural therapy, are often used to address depersonalization-derealization disorder.
In the early chapters of my life, I was a happy, confident, and intellectually gifted boy. I had an amazing Mum and Dad who gifted me with an incredible childhood that I am very fond of. I consistently achieved top scores in most subjects, reflecting a promising future - however, I was also an ill-prepared 15-year-old little boy, utterly ignorant of the world of psychedelics, including their potential dangers. I carried an unwavering belief in my mental invincibility and remained blissfully unaware of the profound impact these substances could have on one's psyche.
Curiosity and pier pressure led me down an unforeseen path. I found myself on the precipice of a life-altering encounter with LSA (lysergic acid amide). My friend was to cut the LSA seeds and organise the correct dosage for us all whilst I went to the shop. He failed to inform anyone however, that he dropped most of it down his floorboards. I took what he gave me, and I remember some light visuals, colours were vibrant, and the carpet swirled in a wonderful patter. My worries washed away and I felt at peace - but with a bit of an itch for more - I felt the effects were very mild - which they were. For this reason, the following week I took 3 times more than I originally thought I had taken - remember - I did not know he had dropped most of my original dose down the floorboards and this led me to take a dose 3 times more than I would have intended. I was 15.
This chemical experiment was the catalyst for a condition I never anticipated: derealization. What began as a seemingly innocuous curiosity quickly spiralled into a nightmarish experience, leaving me with a very serious sense of detachment from reality that would affect me from the moment I wake up, to the moment I go to bed, for the next 20 years. The repercussions on my psyche were profound, and words fail to capture the overwhelming sense of dread and confusion as the trip descended into darkness. I felt as though I had stepped into an abyss of despair, a reality that was incomprehensibly sinister. The disconnection from my surroundings and the people around me was profoundly disorienting. Those hours of torment left a mark on my psyche.
The Next 20 Years
The aftermath of that life-altering experience carried consequences that extended well beyond my initial expectations. For a whole decade following that ill-fated night, I grappled with unrelenting and persistent visual and auditory hallucinations. It felt as though my mind had sustained lasting damage, and I was firmly convinced that I had inflicted irreparable harm upon myself.
These hallucinations took on unyielding forms, perpetually distorting my perception of reality. I was consistently compelled to question the very essence of the world I inhabited. Imagine taking a drug at the tender age of 15, only to find years later that you still couldn't look at anything without it appearing to slowly draw nearer. It was inescapable. Without respite, throughout each day, I could be watching television, only to witness the room around me abruptly shrinking in size. When I stood up, it felt as if the floor were mere inches from my eyes even though I am 6 foot 4. I went on to suffer with this from the moment I woke up, to the moment I went to sleep, until I was the age of 35. TWENTY FUCKING YEARS.
I often questioned whether I had spoken aloud or merely thought it. This surreal and enduring hallucinatory experience further exacerbated the emotional toll of derealization, leading me to confront severe anxiety and the haunting spectre of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The unrelenting nature of these hallucinations plunged me even deeper into a profound sense of despair and isolation, as I believed I was forever ensnared within this altered reality.
Support Network? I Wish.
In the majority of years of battling derealization, I believed I had messed up my mind, and I suffered in silence. I had never heard of DRDP. It was only recently that I discovered the term "derealization disorder" - knowledge that would have changed my life if I had known earlier.
I want to emphasize that if you are suffering with derealisation or depersonalisation, you are not alone, and you don't have to endure this in solitude. There is a growing community of individuals who, like me, have faced the challenges of derealization and found strength in sharing their experiences. Connecting with this community and seeking professional help is a crucial step in your journey to understanding and healing. Here are some communities for you to seek advice from others going through the same:
Derealisation (Facebook Group)
Depersonalisation (Facebook Group)
Micro-dosing magic mushrooms, or psilocybin, has been a part of my journey in seeking alternative ways to improve. It's been a fascinating and often worrying exploration - I've learned that approaching it with caution is absolutely crucial for anyone suffering with this affliction that follows you around.
Dosing guidelines are IMPORTANT. To start, I typically take a very low dose, usually around 0.1 to 0.3 grams of dried mushroom. This is what's known as a sub-perceptual, or 'micro' dose, which means you shouldn't feel the strong psychedelic effects you'd associate with a regular trip. Adjusting this dosage over time is essential to find what works best for me. And I always make sure to measure my doses accurately with a scale for consistency and safety.
As for the schedule, I've followed the Fadiman Protocol, a regimen developed by Dr. James Fadiman, a pioneer in psychedelic research. This involves taking a micro-dose every three to four days. Typically, it's two "on" days followed by one "off" day.
On Day 5, I'm back to the micro-dosing schedule, starting the cycle over again. This three-day pattern repeats as needed, always remembering to avoid prolonged micro-dosing without breaks. It helps minimize potential side effects and maintain the benefits. Over time, I've discovered the right dosage and schedule that suits my individual needs and goals.
There are some crucial considerations when it comes to micro-dosing. First and foremost is the source and quality of the mushrooms. I've made sure to get them from a reputable source and ensure they've been properly dried and stored. Different species of psilocybin-containing mushrooms have varying potencies
While some people, including myself, have reported positive effects from micro-dosing, it's important to remember that it's not a guaranteed solution. The science behind it is still evolving, and everyone's experience may vary. Weighing the potential risks and benefits carefully is essential before embarking on a micro-dosing journey.
The Decision to Share
I feel a responsibility to reach out to others who might be silently grappling with this condition, trapped in a reality they couldn't quite grasp, with no understanding of what is happening to them, and probably scared beyond belief, like I was. The message I want to convey is one of hope and solidarity. Derealization is not a life sentence, and there are ways to regain control and live a fulfilling life.
The journey from darkness to understanding has been arduous, but it has also been transformative. My hope is that by sharing my experience, I can offer support and guidance to others who are on a similar path. The strength of the human spirit is exemplified through resilience in the face of mental health challenges, and I am proof that healing and understanding are possible.
Tips & Advice
Seek Professional Help: Consult with a therapist or psychiatrist who specializes in anxiety or dissociative disorders. They can provide guidance and therapeutic techniques tailored to your specific needs.
Education: Learn about DRDP to better understand what you're experiencing. Knowledge can be empowering and demystify the sensations, reducing fear.
Be Forthcoming: Don't hide it from your trusted friends and family like I did. It will worsen the condition.
Mindfulness and Grounding Techniques: Practice mindfulness exercises and grounding techniques to stay rooted in the present moment. Techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise can help.
Avoid Triggers: Identify and minimize exposure to triggers that worsen DRDP, such as stress, sleep deprivation, alcohol, or recreational drugs.
Regular Sleep: Maintain a consistent sleep schedule to ensure you get enough rest. Poor sleep can exacerbate dissociative symptoms.
Healthy Lifestyle: Adopt a healthy diet and exercise routine. Regular physical activity and a balanced diet can positively impact your mental health.
Stress Management: Practice stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises to help manage anxiety.
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption can exacerbate anxiety and dissociation. Reducing or eliminating these substances can be beneficial.
Medication: In some cases, medication prescribed by a healthcare professional may help manage anxiety and related symptoms.
Connect with Supportive Individuals: Share your experiences with trusted friends or family members who can provide emotional support and understanding.
Journaling: Keeping a journal to track your experiences, triggers, and emotions can be therapeutic. It can help you identify patterns and provide a sense of control.
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Consider CBT, a therapeutic approach that can help change negative thought patterns and behaviours associated with DRDP.
Stay Socially Active: Maintain social connections and engage in social activities, as isolation can worsen symptoms. Supportive relationships can be valuable.
My journey from that ill-prepared 15-year-old who ventured into the world of psychedelics without knowing the potential consequences to the individual who now shares this story has been transformative. Derealization is a complex and challenging condition, but it is not insurmountable. By seeking understanding, reaching out for support, and embracing coping mechanisms, you can regain control over your life.
My hope is that the information I am giving you now serves as a warning to any young people who do not understand psychedelics yet, and also offers a ray of hope to those who may still be navigating the shadows of derealization. You are not alone, and there is a path from darkness to understanding, paved with resilience, support, and the strength of the human spirit.
The journey continues, but with each step, you move closer to the light.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)
International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation
I hope my journey serves as a source of inspiration and a reminder that, even in the face of daunting mental health challenges, there is hope and a path to understanding.