Kristine Evans

I didn’t partake in the slip ’n’ slide, but I did take the mushrooms.

It was a hot, sweat-slick day in Denton, Texas, and I was with my college roommate, the same boy who had been my boyfriend in kindergarten. Now he had a boyfriend and I didn’t. Thank god I’d gotten over him when I was five-and-a-half. Both our brothers were also there, along with about 10 other friends. Hence the baby pool. Hence the Crisco-enhanced slip-n-slide. And the psilocybin.

I am notoriously bad at drugs. The first time I smoked weed in high school, I went to the emergency room. I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.

So I don’t in any way want to recommend taking an illegal substance, but what I remember about that day was feeling more myself than I ever had. Or more accurately, than I had since I was probably four years old. Remember how you felt before you started worrying whether you looked cool or thin or smart or if your feathers looked like Heather Locklear’s or perfect round toilet paper rolls made of hair that you attached to your head?

It was pure, unadulterated, childlike joy that I think was triggered by the loss of Giving a Shit. I’ve always given far too many shits for a variety of reasons and now I was devoid of them. But I did have to pee. So, I got up, walked away from the party, and down our suburban street in the warm glow of dusk. My friend Daniel followed just to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid, like step out of my pants while walking, leave them in the middle of the street, and squat to pee right there. But that’s exactly what I did. That’s how many shits I didn’t give and how many pees I did (one).

That was my last experience with psilocybin, and now, as a grown-ass woman who doesn’t want to pee in the middle of the street, I’ve been researching psychedelic mushrooms as a treatment for anxiety. According to the New York Times, researchers from Johns Hopkins have recently suggested psilocybin (the magic in “magic mushrooms”) be re-classified as a Schedule IV drug so it might be used to treat anxiety after multiple successful trials with anxious cancer patients.

That’s why I attended the “Portland Women Exploring Psychedelics” workshop put on by the Portland Psychedelic Society. There were five speakers, each discussing a different psychedelic.

Did you know the FDA recently approved a trial utilizing MDMA, or ecstasy, to treat PTSD? Did you know that the first-ever placebo-controlled trial of microdosing LSD is happening in London, while Silicon Valley types have been doing it for years to enhance creativity and sharpen thinking? Did you know that Kambo, the hallucinogenic poison emitted by the skin of an Amazonian tree frog, is being tested as a treatment for depression and drug dependency? Or, in my mind, the most interesting fact of the night—that if you choose to ingest Kambo (which is totally legal, by the way), you can use either the kind they get by tying up frogs, or the kind they get from gently massaging the frogs, which is significantly less dickish from a frog’s perspective? I learned a lot.

I’m not good at doing illegal things (it makes me, not shockingly, anxious), but these drugs seem increasingly appealing, not just because some are naturally occurring—although frogs might disagree—but because, with the ACA at constant risk, those of us who struggle with mental health issues would like a drug that won’t cost $1,500 a month without insurance.

I’ll be doing more research on this subject and reporting back. If you’re interested in doing the same, check out the Portland Psychedelic Society, the Oregon Psilocybin Society, or the website for PSI 2020, the ballot initiative whose goal is to legalize psilocybin therapy and research.

In the meantime, don’t tie up any Amazonian frogs. Total dick move.