Oneness with Zain - LSD Microdosing
Words by Zain Swaleh
Artwork by Rebecca Cini
There I was, sitting in my dingy, windowless office. To call it an office was flattery. It was a repurposed bathroom. Only a door separated me from the toilet. A toilet that when flushed would spew forth a sulphuric odour which hung in the corners of my administrative box. Spending hours on end in this room, churning through vapid administrative work, left me drained, unfulfilled and yearning for sedation. On this particular day, something was different. A sense of contentedness lingered in my sternum. My nasal sinuses tingled with giddiness. My eyes were racing between a sheet of paper and the computer screen. All one could hear were the frantic clicks of the mouse and the occasional tap of the keyboard. I had never marked the attendance rolls this fast before. Was I too high to be at work?
Leaving the privilege of a comfortable suburban upbringing and fending for myself has been a rude shock. Ripping off the parental umbilical cord, moving out, and getting a full-time job upset my mental health and general wellbeing. On top of that, I felt like a washout. Fresh out of university, I was working a job way off my desired career path. Life seemed a cyclical race to the weekend. Thus began my journey to find a tool by which I could attain contentedness in my present situation regardless of how monotonous it may be. A tool which would also allow me to access the motivation to drag me out of the monotony and on the path to realising my aspirations.
My first instincts were to look to drugs for this tool. Perhaps there was a real limitless pill that would be the spark that my mind needed. I soon stumbled across LSD Microdosing. For the unwoken, LSD Microdosing is exactly what you think it is. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is ingested in minute amounts of around 1/12 of a single tab of LSD (approx. 8 micrograms of LSD). Obviously tabs range in strength (generally 50-150 micrograms), so it is not an exact science. There are plenty of microdosing guides on the internet. This is not a guide.
I was transfixed. Smoke rose and billowed upwards. It fell and cascaded through itself. My eyes followed along with the dancing smoke. It formed curves and shapes so perfect, I yearned to reach out and grasp it with my hand. I knew if I were to reach out and grasp the smoke, I would destroy the very thing that held me in this trance. I burn incense regularly, but never had I been so absorbed by its occurrence. Perhaps microdosing was a lesson cherishing the present, commonplace and often overlooked.
Microdosing has endorsements from across the spectrum. Its praises are sung from Silicon Valley all the way to Wall Street. A Rolling Stone article featuring a Wall Street banker who “microdosed his way to the top” went viral in late 2016. The banker claims microdosing afforded him the benefits of: motivation; confidence; alertness; and an ability to concentrate through menial tasks. Reading this article convinced me that microdosing could be the solution to my problems. He states in the interview, “some tasks I wouldn’t be able to work on for more than 20 minutes without fidgeting and getting agitated.” I have no doubt that would resonate with a lot of people. In a world where one's smartphone provides instant and accessible window into hours of vacuous distraction, LSD microdosing seems like a wonder drug. He continues, “When microdosing, I can actually sit down for hours at a time without even realising it.” I hoped that microdosing could cure my own goldfish-like concentration. The banker continues, “It just changes the way you do things and the way you look at things. It really does feel like the limitless pill...Even after the day of work when I come home I am still motivated to go out and eat healthy and go to the gym.” I was reading all of this at a time where my job was sapping my life force. I was stuck in a perpetual rut of working, coming home, eating, drinking, smoking weed, watching TV and sleeping. Microdosing manifested to me as a solution to almost every problem in my life. Perhaps this expectation was my biggest mistake.
Pale blue, a tapestry of tissue stretched out before my vision. From the black mass, which hovered at the centre like an obsidian moon, the pale blue tissue shot out towards the all surrounding white expanse. This was better than any high-definition image, I thought to myself as I gazed into a lover’s eye. I was again transfixed by that which I would usually pass off. I had never viewed the human eye with such vivid clarity and I haven’t since.
My course of microdosing spanned over the course of 30 days. I dosed on three-day intervals, microdosing one day and having two days off before my next dose. The dosage ranged from 6 to 12 drops of a 15mL vial that contained one dissolved tab of LSD. At work I was increasingly motivated to plough through menial tasks, children’s poor behaviour and general shittiness didn’t bring me down. I was finally content at work. Nonetheless, I was wracked by the guilt of perhaps being too high. The sense of risk eventually became to overwhelming for the benefits of microdosing to be realised.
On dosing days, I was always acutely aware that there was LSD coursing through me. It's not like a full tab of acid that smacks you in the face. It’s a warm sensation that rests in your sternum. It's a tingling sensation that feels as if it is being gently drawn from your sinuses. A full tab of LSD fractures you from your day-to-day existence. Microdosing places a bit of bubble wrap between you and the rest of the world. It’s not numbing separation that would one would liken to an opiate. Rather, it is one that that shielded me from demoralising effects of menial work, troublesome kids at work, and the lingering feeling that I was a complete and utter washout.
Microdosing did not change my life. It wasn’t the one-stop solution to my work dissatisfaction, low-motivation and creative drought. I believe it was the expectation that it was going to be all those things that doomed me from the start. I read too many accounts of microdosing on the internet. Accounts that had been sensationalised for the purposes of making the article more appealing. Would you rather read an article entitled, ‘Microdosing Changed my Life’ or ‘Microdosing Had a Mixed and Unconvincing Effect on My Life.’ Perhaps we as humans also have a tendency to romanticise our experiences with drugs for want of sounding like a seasoned psychonaut.
I ended my foray into the world of psychedelic microdosing having gained a greater reverence of the present moment. I found a willingness to experience pleasure through the engagement of one's senses with the moment. As for being depressed, unsatisfied with my job, and lacking motivation to write. They were not fixed by micro-dosing. A healthy mix of counselling, meditation and the practice of mindfulness has helped me to look upwards and hope. It was a consistent and rigorous application to these tools that moved me anywhere. My biggest mistake was expecting miraculous results from microdosing.