Flies, Lies & Magic Mushrooms

My close friend Arsenio just can’t cease conversing about flies. It’s all he talks about. He’s confident there are a lot more flies in his garden nowadays than there were being yesterday. He texts me a video he took of a swarm near the fence marking the boundary in between his assets and his neighbor’s. I observe it and depend 8 flies.

When we converse or textual content, I check out to change to a further subject matter. “I’m not interested,” he says, then goes again to grumbling about the flies.

“There are more factors, Lucilius, that frighten us than injure us, and we endure much more in creativity than in reality.”—Seneca, Epistulae ad Lucilium

He hasn’t constantly been like this. About the many years I’ve recognised Arsenio, other problems would ambush his intellect for a spell, then retreat. Challenges with a wild teenager, his ailing canine, or wellness issues of his possess. But this fly detail is the worst I’ve witnessed.

Nell, Arsenio’s upcoming door neighbor, owns a menagerie of farm animals, much much more than the city’s zoning ordinance enables. For months, Arsenio great-naturedly looked the other way, but when she developed a horse stall correct up versus the fence she shares with Arsenio, he noticed a definite uptick in the fly population.

He would make a bunch of fly traps from recycled soda bottles and hangs them about, but they really do not do a lot. When he notices horse manure piling up, he features to aid Nell clean up it out, but she receives irritated and waves him absent. He worries about the house value of his area. Will all the buzzing flies make it worthless? He cannot prevent imagining about them.

“They will not stay on her facet of the fence,” he suggests. “It’s like I’m the Landlord of the Flies.”

A deep dim gap

Painting by Art Moura. #inartsroom

Arsenio appears to be like like the maniacal ruler of an obscure despotic regime, with formidable eyebrows, a outstanding schnozz, and a foot-lengthy gray goatee. There’s a pent-up electric power about him, like he’s sending off sparks, primarily when he’s targeted on his do the job. A prolific “outsider artist” of some renown, he’s been written up in global artwork publications and represented by galleries in Los Angeles and in other places. He makes so a lot art it fills each and every nook and cranny on his home, indoors and outside the house.

I the moment teased him that his artwork in all probability keeps him from killing the rest of us. He agreed and explained I was fortunate.

Arsenio’s earliest memory is of a deep, darkish hole, threatening to swallow him up. He was raised on a string of dairy farms in Salinas, California, the staff typically Portuguese-People like his moms and dads. Arsenio Sr. was these types of a heavy drinker he couldn’t keep down a task, and the spouse and children moved close to a great deal. Arsenio Jr.’s childhood evenings were being clouded with pressure and concern. Each evening, he would hear at his parents’ bedroom door for his father’s drunken droning to explode into a violent suit he’d inflict upon his mother, his sister or himself.

For a lot more than 60 a long time, Arsenio has remained hyper-vigilant, unable to let his guard down. It is as if a Geiger counter is strapped to his psyche, its needle swinging wildly at the merest hint of conflict –  triggering his nervousness, earning his palms sweat and his blood strain surge. The fly mess has him consistently on alert, obsessively checking the horse’s stall subsequent door through a gap in the fence when monitoring his own residence with a concealed camera.

Arsenio calls 1 evening and states he miracles if the fly infestation is all in his head. Or is it truly as negative as he thinks it is? Has he been lying to himself? He cannot figure it out. He thinks he might be getting rid of his head. Then the pandemic hits, and the months of COVID-induced be concerned and isolation are nearly way too a lot to bear. He stops making art. He tells me his existence feels meaningless. He thinks about marketing his residence and relocating considerably away.

A brain abuzz

I operate into Arsenio’s daughter, Anna. She tells me how the other working day she experimented with to converse to her dad about some perform concerns, but all he could communicate about had been flies.

“You, much too, huh?” I say.

It is gotten so terrible that Arsenio wakes in the center of the night time and lies in the dark for hrs, his brain abuzz. His medical professional prescribes an antidepressant. It doesn’t help. Arsenio’s therapist suggests that when he sees a fly, he should question himself, “Is this satisfactory? Can I dwell with this?” He tries it but it doesn’t do considerably.

A person night time, Arsenio phone calls to convey to me his mate Melvin thinks he must deal with the flies by microdosing magic mushrooms. Psilocybin, the psychedelic compound uncovered in the mushrooms, could acquire the edge off his misery, Melvin spelled out, maybe eliminate a wing or two from the flies buzzing about his mind.

But Arsenio is doubtful. He had experimented with psychedelics in his youth, and it didn’t go properly. The final thing he wants is to get all strung out. Melvin had assured him the dose would be so little, he’d rarely experience it. Arsenio is not certain.

“Those bourgeois tech bros are all about that microdosing shit,” he suggests. “They’re remaking it and spiking it with Bitcoin.”

“It’s a mushroom, you nut,” I say.

“I do not belief it.”

Rumination Nation

“To ruminate” is to chew about one’s problems like a pet dog gnawing a bone. Obsessive, repetitive pondering can twist the head and hijack one’s perception of fact.

“Rumination,” claims neurologist Dr. Sharmin Ghaznavi, PhD, “is self-reflection absent awry.” She points out how when we ruminate, we set up unfavorable thought loops in our intellect like a warped vinyl record participating in at the wrong speed. This continuous interior drone of catastrophizing and self-criticism gets all-consuming and impairs our means to function generally and connect with other people.

When we ruminate, we established up damaging believed loops in our thoughts like a warped vinyl file participating in at the mistaken pace.

When we ruminate, we turn into far more isolated, which in transform triggers loneliness — a perception that our social needs are not staying fulfilled. Loneliness increases the probability of developing melancholy, addiction, stress and anxiety disorders, PTSD and OCD, and also will make them harder to address.

“It’s as bad for your wellness as smoking cigarettes, extreme ingesting, and being overweight,” Dr. Ghaznavi states.

Not too long ago, neuroscientists have been researching extreme rumination, loneliness, and other psychological struggles by observing how they impact the brain. In wholesome mind operating, brain cells (neurons) cluster collectively in areas, processing facts and “talking” to every other via interaction channels referred to as circuits. Significant quantities of circuits positioned in different locations sort an interconnected structure of networks. If at any time you locate you continuously fixating on the very same challenge or predicament, seeing every little thing and everybody (including you) as progressively bleak and hopeless, it’s probable your default method community is out-of-whack.

Composed of a immediate line between two mind regions recognized as the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior singular cortex, this community is said to course of action information about our self-perception it also influences how we see some others and our ability to really feel compassion and empathy for them. When Arsenio is too fixated on flies to hear to his daughter or his buddies, his default manner community is almost certainly lighting up like a Christmas tree, when other networks needed for ideal brain functioning are sputtering.

Mushroom Magic


Painting by Art Moura. #inartsroom

A person working day Arsenio hits a wall.  He’s had more than enough. He calls his good friend Melvin, who resources some dried psilocybin mushrooms from a buddy of a mate of a mate, and lends Arsenio a little scale to evaluate the doses. Arsenio starts off with a microdose of .10 grams, which he chews up and swallows.

When Arsenio calls me that night, I sense anything distinctive. As an alternative of remaining locked and loaded into his regular buzzing harangue, he make any difference-of-factly lectures me about dollars. If I would’ve just listened to his information, he says, and spent my hard cash on expired steaks from the sale bin in the supermarket as a substitute of all that fancy grass-fed shit I purchased at that substantial-falutin’ meat counter, I’d have a suitcase of Benjamins below my bed and not have to hustle so a great deal all the time. Then he moves on to the topic of all the funds I blow receiving lit up in pool halls whilst aspiring to develop into a woman pool shark – when I could be drinking low-priced beer and minding my very own enterprise at dwelling. The fly fiasco hardly ever comes up.

“Damn,” I say.

“Damn right,” he suggests.

“I like you superior when you are obsessed with flies,” I say.

“That’s because before I ate the Mushroom I was often stressing about producing other men and women mad,” he claims. “Now I really do not give a hoot.”

The previous Arse I know and appreciate and sometimes want to strangle is back again.

At Melvin’s recommendation, Arsenio sticks to a microdosing program: Just take a dose, skip two times, repeat. Arsenio notices the most pronounced consequences on his dose times, but he’s a lot less bugged by the flies on his days off, too.

He tells me he feels lighter, the problems that inevitably floor are additional manageable. He sends me one-way links to posts and Youtube video clips about recovering from childhood trauma or applying mindfulness to experience additional gratitude. He laughs at my jokes.

Creating Resilience

For most of us, resilience usually means the potential to react to life’s worries without slipping apart. When confronted with a stressor, a resilient brain will bend, but not crack, adapting and keeping well being in a system named allostasis. Quick intervals of pressure are essentially superior for the mind, improving immune function and some kinds of memory, but too substantially worry provides allostatic load: the biological have on-and-tear on mind and human body that can direct to a cascade of overall health troubles, including stress and melancholy.

Psilocybin and other psychedelics are powerful applications for boosting resilience.

In accordance to a 2015 study in Neurobiology of Worry, “depression and nervousness problems are examples of a reduction of resilience, in the perception that changes in brain circuitry and function, induced by the stressors that precipitate the dysfunction, turn out to be ‘locked’ in a individual condition and consequently need to have external intervention.”

Our brain’s resilience is profoundly influenced by our a variety of everyday living ordeals, primarily those of early childhood. Escalating up with a hard-consuming, abusive father, as Arsenio did, could make dealing with strain as an grownup much far more than difficult. Our genes also enjoy a job in our brain’s resilience. But outside of the points we can’t transform or command, what can we do to enhance our resilience in the deal with of oncoming stressors?

Lifestyle aspects, such as physical exercise, diet regime, and anxiety-reduction techniques like mindfulness, have all been revealed to shore up the brain’s resilience. It turns out that psilocybin and other psychedelics – which present promise for managing trauma, melancholy, addiction –  are also impressive resources for boosting resilience, suggests Dr. Ghaznavi, who a short while ago grew to become Affiliate Director of the Centre for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics at Massachusetts Standard Medical center in Boston.

Impaired social working is at the core of psychological diseases, says Dr. Ghaznavi. It’s a issue for which psychedelics may well be particularly very well-suited. And the advantages of a psychedelic working experience can last for months or a long time. “Psychedelic compounds can improve professional-social attitudes and behaviors, and a feeling of link with some others,” she states. “They also have the likely to improve the brain’s neuroplasticity and make psychotherapeutic interventions far more productive.”



Portray by Art Moura. #inartsroom

The Middle for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics is researching psilocybin with the principle that growing the brain’s neuroplasticity – in other words, its ability for improve – can alleviate struggling by assisting clients quell the extreme rumination at the root of melancholy and other psychological ailments.

Dr. Ghaznavi acknowledges that research into how psychedelics make more healthy patterns of brain action is only just commencing. When asked about microdosing, she says there has been a deficiency of arduous study involving this sort of little doses. So significantly, the number of reports done with psilocybin have utilized larger, one or less recurrent “trip” doses, but much more experiments are underway.

Arsenio doesn’t claim that microdosing psilocybin has fully knocked out his stress and fixation on flies, but he’s sensation a lot significantly less haunted by them. He claims he intends to go on his mushroom treatment regimen. And he listens with genuine interest when I chat now, as a substitute of batting me down like a pest intruding upon the darkish swarm of his views.

If I had to pick out concerning two versions of my outdated friend  — the Landlord of the Flies or Señor Cheapola — I’d decide the Arsenio who presents me grief for investing ten pounds on a bourgeois hippie burrito when if I’d only long gone to the taco truck a little bit even further down the highway, I’d be out a mere seven bucks. I’m satisfied to see him suffering significantly less. Now if he would just demonstrate me the correct location in his fly-ridden backyard where he’s buried all that income he’s saved, we could equally set this fly problems driving us.

Melinda Misuraca is a Job CBD contributing writer with a previous existence as an old-school cannabis farmer specializing in CBD-wealthy cultivars. Her content articles have appeared in Higher Occasions, Alternet, and many other publications.

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