Writer Ayelet Waldman is no stranger to controversy. She was famously provocative when she asserted in her New York Times Modern Love essay that she loved her husband more than she loved her children (“If a good mother is one who loves her child more than anyone else in the world, I am not a good mother. I am in fact a bad mother.”). With her new book, A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, Waldman is once again, venturing into uncharted territory: LSD use.
— NYT Styles (@NYTStyles) January 8, 2017
Waldman, a wife and mother of four, has battled bipolar depression for many years. But in recent years she fell into what she calls an “activated depression” where she, “was doing everything to ruin” her own life. She had hit rock bottom and was looking for a way to keep from killing herself. She was afraid that she would, “probably attempt suicide-and being a capable person, I don’t think a failed attempt was in the cards.” She explained to The Guardian that she was profoundly depressed and,
It wasn’t the kind of depression where you fall into bed. I’ve been through that before, and while it’s grim, it’s manageable. This was more of a mixed state, a kind of activated depression, and that’s a dangerous place to be.
She came upon the work of James Fadiman, a writer and psychologist who had been documenting stories of the effects of regular microdosing of hallucinogenic drugs (LSD and psilocybin). Fadiman’s work helped her imagine a possible, if highly controversial, way out of the pit of despair. Many of those who Fadiman profiled claimed to have broken free from their depression and to have experienced improved moods and increased focus. Some, “went to bed feeling they had enjoyed that most elusive of things: a really good day.” All of this was due to microscopic, barely perceptible doses of drugs like LSD.
Despite the fact that such drugs are illegal, Waldman, a Harvard-educated lawyer and former public defender, decided to give it a try.
Waldman recounts her experiences in A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life. Her writer’s block lifted and her work thrived. Waldman told Marie Claire, “I found it inspired a state of calm hypomania. It was a flow but without the Adderall irritability. You lose track of time because you’re so into the work, and you’re making all these exciting connections.” Within the first couple of doses she felt like, “the computer of my brain had been restarted.”
Before the microdosing she feared that her marriage was in danger of imploding. In fact, her husband encouraged her to embark on the experiment because, he too, was desperate. Waldman credits LSD with saving her marriage.
Waldman was given the LSD by someone she knows as “Lewis Carroll” but when her one month supply ran out she did not buy more. She was uncomfortable purchasing drugs illegally (although simply possessing LSD is illegal) and she hoped to write a book about her experiences, but did not feel she could do so if she was still using.
The book is both a memoir and an exploration of microdosing. It is, in the end, the story of a woman who knows that her life is fraught with issues and the drug that, for her, worked better than anything a doctor had prescribed.
Photo Credit: Manel Torralba
We receive small amounts of compensation from purchases made through the links to the book on this page.