Updated: Nov 13
As I walked out of the doctor's office and stepped into the parking lot my eyes began to swell with tears.
Why do I feel this way? Why do I feel so hopeless? I should be relieved. She said my “brain was perfectly fine.”
I went to this neurologist and took her cognitive tests hoping to find answers, but these results left me more lost than ever. Instead of the relief I was seeking, I only found more anxiety, fear, and hopelessness.
I hoped she would find something wrong? Why? The realization dawned on me; because it would give me an excuse. My life, and however it turned out, would no longer be my responsibility, or my fault. No, it would be the fault of my brain, my genetics, my luck, but not of me.
If she had found a “chemical imbalance” or some disrupted neural pathways, that would have been the ultimate relief. I could succumb to the mediocre existence I’ve been living with complete impunity from a guilty conscience. Without any responsibility to take ownership of. But there was no such defect that could be identified within my brain.
Following this realization my awareness was overloaded with anxiety-ridden follow-up questions; If there is nothing wrong with my brain, why do I hate myself? Why do I not care about what I do with my life? Why do I habitually distract myself with instant gratification as I race towards the finish line?
Maybe I should have taken the meds she offered. I thought. No, no, I’ve gone that route before, they only served to convolute and exacerbate my problems.
The next terrifying realization dawned on me; no one, nothing, can save me, I am on my own. Those words contained in them a responsibility so grand that the fear of it threatened to overwhelm me. Responsibility is what I have been avoiding my whole life. Responsibility terrified me. Although what I was feeling in this moment was uncomfortable, for the first time I began to realize it was also valuable. They provided insight into my life and began to illuminate some of my repressed past.
I realized why I had never found relief in the countless treatments I had tried over the course of my young adult life. Each and every attempt was met with my reluctance to accept responsibility. I have always been searching for something or someone to save me. Something external to solve my internal problems. Always relinquishing my control into the hands of some authority.
Today, that would change. I would find a way to treat my crippling depression and anxiety on my own. I would find a way to make my life worth living, I would find meaning and purpose in this seemingly meaningless pain that surrounds me every day. Or at least that's what I told myself.
I began researching plant medicines, which led me to studies by Robin Carhart-Harris showing Psilocybin mushrooms could help people with treatment-resistant depression. I never considered psychedelics before, the thought of them terrified me, but I was desperate. I learned how to grow my own and I started. My grow yielded just enough for one experience.
Dying to Live is an autobiographical series of writings, which explore my journey towards confronting and accepting my mortality. New entries are added weekly. Thanks for reading. - Ryan