Taking Back My Mind details my journey overcoming severe clinical depression with the use of psilocybin mushrooms, commonly known as "magic mushrooms." My story begins in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, where divorce, my dad's death, and several major health issues plunged me down the dark rabbit hole of depression. After ten months of intense suffering, and falling victim to pharmaceutical drugs, I reached the brink of suicide. Then, on December 22, 2017, I ate a small handful of mushrooms, and took a walk on the beach with my brother. This journey jolted me out of my deadly downward spiral, literally overnight, and sparked a magical and transformative journey that eventually led me back to Mexico, this time to the mountains of southern Oaxaca, to shoot a documentary, a concurrent side project, about my experience with the local indigenous Mazatec who continue to use these plant medicines for their own mental, emotional, and spiritual well being, as they have done for thousands of years.
During my psilocybin journey that beautiful December day, a veil had been lifted. The next day I still felt great, and I knew it was real. I immediately began weaning off the antidepressants I had become dependent on. I had also coincidentally just stumbled across a breathing technique a few weeks before my psilocybin journey, called the Wim Hof Method, that contributed heavily to my rapid and dramatic recovery. I have not missed one day of the practice in over two years. I also have not gotten sick in two years, and my overall health is the best it has ever been. And yet another coincidence immediately following my psychedelic journey was my introduction to Stoic Philosophy, an ancient Greek philosophy about how to live life. With a fresh pair of lenses from which to peer out at the world, Stoicism immediately resonated with me. I decided to apply its principles to my life, as I felt I had a clean slate before me. I had been rebooted.
The synergy that was created from the consistent practice of these three extremely powerful tools; psychedelics, the Wim Hof Method, and Stoic philosophy; completely transformed my life. In this book, I attempt to explain how each of these practices, individually and collectively, continue elevating my well being to heights I could have never imagined. We are the alchemists of our bodies and minds. We have the power to create the feelings we want, on demand. I have never been happier nor healthier than I am now.
Depression is not a disease like most people think. It is a symptom of very complex and multifaceted biological, psychological, nutritional, environmental, and societal factors, among many others, and taking harmful, addictive pharmaceutical drugs to try to suppress natural and necessary human emotions is not the answer. It is time to change this paradigm.
During this difficult time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to remain as healthy as possible, to cultivate a calm and resilient mind, to stay present, and to raise our awareness and collective consciousness, so we may overcome, learn from, and transcend the current crisis of consciousness threatening our very existence. In this book, I share the tools, tactics, and routines that I have used, and continue using, to achieve this goal.
These are tough times and we all can use a little help. A looming mental health crisis will very likely follow this pandemic. We all know people currently struggling or suffering from depression. Let's give them the tools they need, and the gift of hope.
Help support psychedelic research. 5% of all author royalties will be donated to psychedelic research, including psychedelic therapy facilities.
"The day before my psilocybin journey was the last day I ever broke down about my life situation. Life was beautiful again, and best of all, it made perfect sense. So strong was the relief from my depression that I immediately began weaning off the antidepressants I had become dependent on. As discussed earlier, the following night after my last dose was the first night I slept a full eight hours in ten months, revealing the damage the antidepressants had been doing to my sleep. This would make sense, given the manipulation antidepressants (SSRI's) have on serotonin levels. Serotonin produces melatonin which is vital for our circadian rhythm which regulates sleep cycles. My sleep has improved dramatically ever since, contributing to my rapidly improving physical, emotional, and mental health."
"On May 7, 2019, Denver became first city in the United States to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, a landmark victory in a decades long battle against prohibition. Oakland and Santa Cruz quickly followed with the decriminalization of all entheogens, and many other cities are following closely behind. At the time of writing, Berkeley, Chicago, Portland, and Port Townsend, Washington have introduced City Council resolutions, or are in the process of getting such measures on legislative agendas for the 2020 elections. At the state level, Decriminalize California, which just partnered with the Beckley Foundation, is looking to decriminalize psilocybin, and Oregon is hoping to put a measure to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic purposes on Oregon’s ballot for 2020. At the federal level, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Democrat - NY) introduced an amendment to a spending bill that would have removed a budget rider that inhibits research into the potential medical benefits of psychedelics. The proposal was rejected by the House in a floor vote, however. Ocasio-Cortez also called for the decriminalizing of psychedelics for personal use and later broadened that to include all illicit drugs."
"...perhaps the most powerful of these addiction deterrents lies in the Wim Hof Method (WHM) alone. In only thirty breaths and about thirty seconds, we have the ability to activate our endogenous feel good hormones and molecules. During a recent study, it was found that the breathing cycles activate our cannabinoid and opioid systems (the natural, necessary, non addictive kind) as well dymethyltryptamine (DMT), dopamine, serotonin, nor-epinephrine, adrenaline, and nor-adrenaline. We truly are our own alchemists, fully equipped to "get high on our own supply," as Wim Hof says, while boosting our immune system in the process, instead of seeking exogenous, many times harmful substances to provide relief. In fact, I have not gotten sick since I started the Wim Hof Method over two years ago and feel better than I ever have."
"Life is a delicate dance between the present moment, the future, and history, intrinsically tied together, and all happening, quite literally, at the same time. Our reactions to the present moment dictate the flow of the dance. The truth is that we don’t actually make anything happen, we react to things already happening around us. Unless we actively lead this dance, our emotions lead, and emotions have had their dancing shoes on for millennia. Let’s just say they are better dancers. In the words of Marcus Aurelius, “The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, in so far as it stands ready against the accidental and the unforeseen, and is not apt to fall.” To lead this dance requires acute awareness and acceptance of the present moment and a cultivated control of our mind, which fuels our emotions, which determines our reactions."