In “A Really Good Day,” author Ayelet Waldman chronicles her effort to deal with her irritability, anger and mood swings with microdoses of LSD. She says it worked. Waldman discusses her book Jan. 31 at Town Hall Seattle.
“A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life”
by Ayelet Waldman
Knopf, 256 pp., $25.95
Ayelet Waldman is an attorney, a law professor, a novelist, an essayist and the wife of acclaimed writer Michael Chabon. Waldman and Chabon have four children and live in the hills above Berkeley, Calif., where they enjoy a charmed life as a literary power couple whose work is popular with readers and in Hollywood.
Waldman’s also a mess. She describes herself as irritable, neurotic, bossy, angry and sad. Mood swings sent her from being a sparkling life of the party to a harridan who lashed out at her children and picked fights with her husband. Decades of therapy and the drugs that come with it — Lexapro, Prozac, Zoloft, Lamictal, Wellbutrin, Adderall, Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Seroquel, Ambien, Lunesta, among many others — didn’t do the trick, and neither did medical marijuana. Waldman found herself with a frozen shoulder, a failing marriage and a perimenopausal cycle that kept her perpetually off-balance. It felt like everything was slipping away.
LSD saved her.
The author of “A Really Good Day” will discuss her book at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Town Hall Seattle. Tickets are $5 at townhallseattle.org and at the door. Information: 206-652-4255
Waldman began taking a tiny amount of LSD — 10 micrograms, less than one-tenth the amount of what someone seeking altered consciousness on an acid trip would ingest — and immediately started feeling better. The clouds didn’t turn into rainbows and the earth didn’t move under her feet, but the trees looked greener and the flowers smelled sweeter.
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“Even more thrillingly, for the first time in so long, I feel happy,” Waldman writes in her new book, “A Really Good Day,” at booksellers Jan. 31. “Not giddy or out of control, just at ease with myself and the world. When I think about my husband and my children, I feel a gentle sense of security. I am not anxious for them or annoyed with them. When I think of my work, I feel optimistic, brimming with ideas, yet not spilling over.”
Microdosing is a phenomenon so new that Waldman had to teach her computer to spell-check it. The protocol is to take a dab of LSD, a couple of drops under the tongue, on a repeating three-day cycle for 30 days. The goal is mood stabilization and enhancement. Well-being, not hallucinations. The results, in Waldman’s case, were successful beyond all expectations. Goofing with the kids. Bonding with Chabon, who comes off as endlessly patient and put-upon. Writing up a storm.
Waldman describes it all in a gleeful, smart-alecky tone that abruptly disappears when she’s summarizing a research study or making a case for legalization of all drugs. “A Really Good Day” is two parts “momoir” and one part amicus curiae brief by a woman who taught a course on the legal implications of the war on drugs.
It’s an odd combination. She’s funny when revealing that she got her LSD testing kit on Amazon, serious when she makes the point that LSD, an illegal drug, is no more harmful and has far fewer side effects than all those antidepressants she took.
But make no mistake, LSD is illegal. Waldman was breaking the law by possessing some, and shut down her experiment when she ran out after 30 days because it was too risky. Microdosing does sound promising for those suffering from depression — but there have been no officially sanctioned studies, nor are any likely in the U.S. given the current political climate. Waldman had some really good days and carved out some psychic space for herself, and got a book out of the experience. That’s a trip worth taking.