Micro-Dosing at 80
by Barbara Kane
Talking to T, just now, reflecting on our Modern Aging Group meeting of yesterday.
How amusing it was when suddenly in a gloomy moment of often not exactly uplifting sharing of the problems of the days — kids, creative blocks, people getting sick and dying — C. suddenly announced that she micro-doses psyllicylum. Mushrooms! What!
You!!! You micro-dose mushrooms, I say, trying to adopt my most psychoanalytic mien and tone but my excitement and surprise was evident. You, mushrooms?(Barbara, shut up, I scream at myself, she will be offended that you are so surprised. Nobody wants to be seen as conventional. Mushrooms, at age 80, hey, why not? )
So what’s it like, I say in a quieter voice...but the other group members have already gotten curious on their own. C. says, Well, I was so depressed after Smith died, actually a bit suicidal if you must know.... therapists, mindfulness experts, the whole list of antidepressants, family interventions, what can I tell you, a suggestion came down the tubes (what tubes, I wonder, wanting already to write down the information). I can’t tell you who exactly but my psychiatrist had a contact with someone who grows mushrooms, delivers them encapsulated in micro-doses. Very small doses, You don’t get high, you just feel better. I recall out loud how good I felt in college when I tried dexedrine. I could have danced all night.....and, often did......but it was wearing, depleting my nervous system.
This is not depleting, C. continues, not at all. She goes on as if she were talking about taking aspirin. It’s just like the vigorous and expansive feeling you get on dexedrine but without the amphetamine.
Everyone was talking at once. Another woman, we are all between 70 the youngest and middle 80’s the oldest, S. starts shouting: I’ve heard about Ketamine. It really helped a friend of mine....helped with what....the reminiscences, all those damn regrets, the woulda, shoulda, coulda of our lives. And all of the people around us, including us, getting depressing, fearful diagnoses, well if not today, then any day now, and at least once a week we accompany someone to a hospital or someone dies. Not to be superficial or anything like that, but it does get scary and depressing. Sad.
C. says, “I stopped feeling weighed down by sadness. No, I have not become callous and indifferent. I just feel more energetic. And MDMA, someone else says, I heard its a love bath, it stimulates the release of serotonin and oxytocin, the hormone released when you start breastfeeding. Lovebath, flooded with warm tender loving feelings....”
The energy level of the group in this half hour has noticeably escalated. I noticed it went from minus two to at least 7 or 8, excitement, curiosity is growing...problems, you didn’t know you had might be loosened out or God Forbid, forgotten.
That heavy heart....who would I be without my heavy heart...??
Now, comes the kicker...who would think that conventional C. from San Diego California would say....you know, girls. . .
I have a whole supply at my apartment which happens to be just two blocks from here. Come on over. I will give each of you a few..
What are you saying? Could you could be arrested??!!
No, no, I won’t be. It’s prescribed by a doctor.... (A doctor, I mumble under my breath...doctor, my eye. Proscribed, is a more appropriate word.)
How could I possibly trust a pill-pushing, little octogenarian lady?
But, group enthusiasm is, as we know, contagious. Within the half hour, 7 ladies are gathered, leaving my apartment, excitedly crowding into the elevator...(after all, I mutter to myself I am already high, high on the 15th floor. Who needs more high, but, as I said, the enthusiasm, the excitement and heightened curiosity is contagious. I felt better already.
Oh, just come with us, Barbara.
Well, OKAY. Why not, down on Central Park West the street, again, I inwardly double over in laughter....this little group of eager white haired ladies, well, not all white haired, one or two, red or brown...this little group of rather funny little ladies are formed into a bunch of groupies, listening to the Beatles, trying to get backstage. Laughing our way across 96th and the Park we hang a left on 97th and off our rather shaky legs but fiercely stalwart arms, our band of women goes forward.
(The Supreme Court couldn’t a’ stopped these bitches.....I said, I can't believe this, we are all going to C.'s ‘pad’ to score...???)
Again .I burst out laughing.... we were even what you might call raucous. What the hell did we little old ladies look like to others walking all around us....cackling geeses? Aged hippies? Superannuated nuns....no, maybe just a gaggle of ‘girls’ having a good time...what’s so odd about that, anyway???
You got a problem?
The story ends as expected...well, maybe you didn’t expect this ending...we got to C.’s...she disappeared into a back room (of course) and came back 15 minutes later, what I am doing in this hot, dusty apartment. I was beginning to have second and third thoughts....C.s back...with half filled little plastic bags in her fists, palm, I mean....I can't believe this...fast forward, backward, 50 years to Sheridan Square and Christopher Street...
“This has three capsules, microdoses of mushrooms, I can't give you more, my supplier doesn’t show up till Wednesday!!”
Is this really happening? Our chatter has subsided. The tone is now seriousOK, what exactly is going to happen, how do I know it's safe...?
Look at me, the sweet, California C. says. I take one...I am safe...If I take it, really, me? You have gotta know its good stuff.
Yes, I humbly ask, how often do you take it....well, maybe once or twice a week, A day when I am feel neurotically melancholy and self loathing....I take one...and I start to feel better...just a terrific quiet sense of well-being...my step is lighter...you really don’t notice anything at all....just that after a while, you're feeling normal....whatever you thought normal was like...happy inside, content, get your work done, take a vacation, take your kids to the seashore, normal, you know!
OK I took my package.I smiled and tried not to crack up with laughter, which for some reason had repossessed me...this is too hysterical I kept saying to myself again, the 80-year Solution...Get High! Drugs, the answer.
No Sex, No Rock and Roll....
No, Fear of Death. why not?
No Fear of Death, just laughter..not a bad ending, don't you think?
Well, it's the next day now and I haven’t taken one yet...Shouldn’t I run this by my doctor?
E., the redhead from our group...she calls me now. She is still laughing also...That was the funniest ending to our group meeting, don't you think?”
“ I do.”
I said...I can't stop smiling when I think of us, trouping across 96th Street and CPW, fiercely striding as only 80 year olds can do, striding, I tell you, To score! Hah HAH.
‘Have you taken one yet...well, not quite...
Maybe we can make a date, a few of us, and not try it alone....I smile...let's think about it tomorrow.
Just in case you think we are all on our way out.......
Barbara Kane, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., has practiced psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in New York for several decades.