Not All Heroes Wear Capes
Christopher Reeve was an American actor and activist that was best known for his starring role in the “Superman” movie and three of its subsequent sequels.
In 1995, he shattered the first and second cervical vertebrae in his neck after falling off a horse during an equestrian competition.
The accident left him completely paralyzed from the neck down, in a wheelchair, on a ventilator, and totally reliant on others to take care of him.
Although his life completely changed, he never chose to give up.
Instead, he lobbied for spinal cord research and for better health coverage for people with physical disabilities.
He also founded the Christopher Reeve and Dana Reeve Foundation and co-founded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, which are both dedicated to helping people find cures for and to recover from paralysis caused by injury and other neurological disorders.
And that was when he made this comment - not when he was a star and superhero on the silver screen.
Despite the many adversities that he faced, it was his choice to live, thrive, and help others based on the experience he gained through his life-changing injuries, illustrating that each of us has it within ourselves to be a hero, no matter what challenges we may face.
#christopherreeve #strength #enduance #perseverance #hero
The First Opioid Crisis in the United States
Our first opioid crisis was brought on by The US Civil War, which was the first war where there were documented cases of substance use disorder.
In 1804, Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Serturner, a little-known German pharmacist's assistant, isolated morphine with it becoming widely used as a painkiller after the invention of the hypodermic syringe in the 1850’s.
Prior to this, alcohol and opium had been used as anesthetics and for pain, so the relief that morphine provided was revolutionary since it was very effective and instantaneous.
Many men that were gravely injured on the battlefield were given this new drug due to its strong analgesic properties, leaving 400,000 men addicted to morphine and other readily-available opiates.
US Customs records indicate that rates of substance use increased rapidly after the Civil War, rising from 0.72 per thousand in population in 1842 to 4.59 in 1890.
Most people viewed their substance use as social condition related to their war injuries, earning it the moniker of “The Soldier’s Disease.”
Due to it being considered a deviant behavior, many of the men that struggled with opiate use were judged by the government to be of weakened morality and character, often leaving them without the care and benefits that other soldiers were guaranteed by their service alone.
Through understanding and compassion for veterans and their substance use, the first conversations about treatment began as we considered their condition as being one that resulted from the war.
#civilwar #substanceuse #morphine #veterans #soldiersdisease
Ayahuasca and the Tree
My Dad always loved trees.
Not in a simple sense, as I found out on my healing journey.
Since his death in 2016, I have been on a deep, introspective, personal path of recovery which has led me to look at who and what shaped me into the man that I once was... as well as what led me to become the man that I am today.
During an outdoor ayahuasca ceremony in Florida some time back, I sat down by a towering tree.
It was a self-centered decision, only hoping to have something to brace my back against if I wanted to sit up.
Plus, I was guaranteed some semblance of shade from the hot, afternoon sun.
When I sat down and leaned into the tree, its Spirit explained to me that my Dad loved them more than he did my Mom, not to mention in a special way.
It seemed odd at first, but after thinking about the experience many times over the past few years, it came to me:
As a child, he lived on a small farm in Hamburg, Germany during World War II.
Ah, the stories of survival and horror he would never share, but that other family members would tell me.
Trees could never hurt my father, but people could.
I know that many people in his path somehow failed him.
In turn, he ended up hurting those around him.
He meant nothing by it, only acting out as a suffering, confused, traumatized human being.
Perhaps he realized that he couldn't hurt trees, either.
Over his lifetime, he gently planted and grew hundreds, nurturing them from seedlings and saplings into loving trunks, limbs, and leaves.
And now I have a better idea as to why.
If you see me smiling at a tree or simply hugging one, I hope that you can understand why.
My affinity for creepers, climbers, herbs, shrubs, and trees runs much deeper than their roots.
It is in their nature to heal and never hurt.
"Our greatest ability as humans is not to change the world, but to change ourselves."
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Language Matters: Everyone is a Hero
Everyone who works with psilocybin-containing mushrooms mindfully and with intention is a hero in my book.
Some time back, Terrence McKenna coined the phrase "hero's dose" to recognize the courage that it takes to sit with five grams (or more) of dried fungi, eyes closed in a dark room.
People use this as a yardstick today, thinking that by sitting with anything less, they will somehow have a second-class healing experience.
Wouldn't a person that was struggling with their mental health that had tried every modality imaginable to break free of their depression, and finally decided to turn to microdosing (although they were fearful about what may happen) constitute them to be a hero of sorts?
How about someone who had been faithfully attending Alcoholics Anonymous for years who only chose to sit with a few grams but had to fearlessly overcome their long-standing beliefs about abstinence and re-frame psilocybin as a medicine beforehand?
And what about people that deal with schizophrenia or psychotic episodes that made the valorous decision to work with a practitioner in a safe, controlled setting, but only at very low doses to see if it may help with their condition?
Let’s acknowledge one and all for their individually courageous decisions to work with psilocybin, no matter what the dose may be.
Belladonna and Bill Wilson's "White Light Experience"
Did you know that when Bill Wilson sought help to stop drinking alcohol, he tried a treatment that had been promised to “cure” almost anyone’s malady?
Towns Hospital began offering treatments in 1909, claiming that its proprietary blend of belladonna, henbane, prickly ash, and other substances alleviated people’s urge to stop drinking, using drugs, as well as a host of other troublesome behaviors.
The formula for the unique mixture that they used had been developed by a farmer that shared it with Charles Towns, who then worked with his business partner, Dr. Alexander Lambert, to make their treatment more available to people that could afford it.
Believing the hype in the newspapers and willing to try anything, Bill tried the “belladonna cure” on his third and fourth attempts to put an end to his habit.
Within three months of his initial visit, he was drinking again and returned to try a yet another treatment.
During his fateful fourth visit, something miraculous happened and within days, it became evident that his entire life had changed.
As he lay in the hospital bed, his friend and mentor suggested that he turn his life over to God.
When Bill did his best to do so, he had a “white light experience” that left him without the desire to drink and gave him the ideas that led him to start the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous with Dr. Bob Smith.
While people knew that the “belladonna cure” caused hallucinations, no one considered that the experience that it produced may have been the reason that the treatment was so impactful on the lives of people that received it.
Belladonna and henbane are both tropane alkaloids which have deliriant effects and are known to give rise to intense auditory and visual illusions.
Datura is another well-known tropane alkaloid and power plant that don Juan Matus gave to Carlos Castaneda during his apprenticeship for its often-transformative effects.
After using lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in the 1950’s, Bill wrote that “all of the assurances of my original experience [were] renewed, and more,” comparing his current psychedelic experience to the one that took place during his treatment while at Towns Hospital.
While the “belladonna cure” died along with Charles Towns in 1947, the idea that psychedelic medicines may help people to overcome substance use disorder is becoming increasingly widespread, providing for more spiritual experiences like Bill had.
Psilocybin and the Purge
Nausea is one of the side effects that many people encounter during their psilocybin journeys.
This uncomfortable feeling occurs because mushrooms are mostly made up of chitin, which is an indigestible polysaccharide that’s known to cause inflammation, activate immune responses, and even cleans out the digestive tract as it passes through the system.
Several weeks ago, I was several hours into my experience when I decided to step out of my comfort zone and go deeper by eating another serving of mushrooms.
Within a half an hour of the second dose, my stomach was rumbling, although I didn’t know what to expect.
Over time, I found that by asking myself what’s bothering me the most sometimes helps, since the deep emotional responses that come along with this medicine can sometimes elicit the same disagreeable reaction.
While it didn’t help much, I was handling things well until my cat decided to climb on my stomach, leading me to the purge bucket that I had left bedside in preparation.
While vomiting probably isn’t on the top of many peoples list of favorite things to do, it serves a purpose with psychedelic medicines and can be one of the best parts of the journey with the right perspective.
With deep reverence, humility, and a willingness to surrender, I got onto my hands and knees in front of the bucket and prayed that anything that may be holding me back or that was harmful to my soul would be released by way of the purge.
For people that have problems with letting go, this process provides a way to see tangible results of one’s sincere efforts to liberate themselves.
As I began to see what looked like hundreds of flailing white wisps extending from my ceiling towards me, everything was relinquished into the bucket.
Within a few minutes I was feeling better, onto the next part of my journey, laughing at myself and the seeming insanity of the entire spectacle.
The following morning, I took the purge to a curry tree that grows in my backyard and with a grateful prayer, offered it to the tree as nourishment and as a way to thank the Spirit of the Mushroom for the incredible night before.