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I’ve experimented with psychedelic drugs to improve my mental health – don’t call me a ‘waster’

The Independent logo The Independent 23/05/2021 Kiran Sidhu
a woman sitting at a table with a spoon © Provided by The Independent

There’s a strength and a maturity in seeing things the way they are and not how you want them to be. MDMA and psychedelic therapy have been used as tools for tackling trauma. It may not fit in with everyone’s narrative, but it’s about time we integrated psychedelics into mental health.

There has never been a better time to talk about the mental health benefits of psychedelics than in the midst of a global pandemic. In England, the Centre for Mental Health has predicted that up to 10 million people – close to a fifth of the population – will need mental health support as a direct consequence of Covid-19.

This week, BBC Two aired The Psychedelic Drug Trial, which follows research on the effects of psychedelic drugs on mental health, and in March the world’s first psychedelic-assisted therapy clinic of its kind opened in Bristol. Behind this revolution in mental healthcare is UK-based scientific group, Awakn Life Sciences. The biotechnology company is pioneering psychedelics with psychotherapy as the next evolution in psychiatry. The scientific team is being led by Professor David Nutt and Dr Ben Sessa, author of The Psychedelic Renaissance.

I’ve used psychedelics and anti-depressant drugs to help me with my mental health. The prescription drugs don’t work. I’ve been prescribed antidepressants a few times, during the darkest periods of my life. With antidepressants, my personality changed from being expressive to distant and vague.

I felt “other” to myself, so I self-medicated with psychedelics. I already knew about their unique properties as I had experimented with them when I was studying philosophy; they helped me grapple with concepts beyond my comprehension. Taking psychedelics allowed me to navigate my way through my emotions in a way that I had never been able to do with antidepressants. Instead of feeling detached from myself, as I had with the prescribed drugs, I felt engaged. Antidepressants take you away from yourself – psychedelics introduce you to yourself.

Jamaican magic mushroom retreat specialises in psychedelic treatment for women

It’s important to state that drugs are not all the same. MDMA and psychedelics don’t belong in the same category as drugs like heroin and crack. The former don’t make you go against society – they do the opposite – they make you empathetic towards others. I take umbrage at being thought of as a “waster” because of my knowledge of MDMA and psychedelics. People shouldn’t be crucified in their quest for truth.

Video: Chopra: Psychedelics have a role in therapeutic treatment (CNBC)


Our preconceived notions of these drugs need to be challenged. A great many people like me, deemed “normal”, are curious and experimental. We’re university lecturers, scientists, writers, office workers and every other profession you can think of. It’s abominable that people who suffer from treatment-resistant depression have not been getting the help they need because of archaic and inaccurate views on psychedelics.

I’m not naive about these drugs – you need to be sensible when taking psychedelics. They are mind-altering – they cut through the mesh of your existence. Some people are fearful of this because they think psychedelics offer a false reality, but all our realities are already skewed.

There are so many things that we are blind to; we’re unable to hear certain frequencies or see certain colours, there are whole worlds that exist outside our perceived perception. Even the language we speak affects our perception of reality, and only allows us to see a fraction of life.

In these unprecedented times, we’ve had to adapt to a new “normal”. There has never been a better time to open our minds and embrace the science of psychedelics. It’s time we reconsidered our views on psychedelics, and properly appreciate the evidence-based psychedelic research. As my own experience has confirmed, they have great value when it comes to mental health.

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