Writer on the storm

Smilin’ Jack isn’t the only fella in there, y’know.

My man Padraig at Red Kite Prayer is having a rough go of it lately — so much so that he has turned to ketamine therapy in his ongoing struggle with depression.

In a word, this takes huevos. In my misspent youth I dabbled with various psychedelics — mostly psilocybin, mescaline and LSD — and I don’t mind telling you that any or all of these can really pop the top off your Jack-in-the-box.

Thing is, Smilin’ Jack isn’t the only fella in there. And he isn’t always the first one to hit the door running.

It’s one thing to hitch a ride on the Magic Bus when you’re young and sprightly, with your script largely unwritten. I’m not certain I’d have the guts to screen my personal in-flight movie a half-century further on up the road. A lot of that footage is on the cranial cutting-room floor for a reason.

So chapeau to Padraig for having the courage to lift the lid (or rip off the Band-Aid) and face what’s underneath. And for inviting us to join him on the trip. I wish him health and happiness.

If you’ve enjoyed his work, why not pop round to his place to say so? I think he’d like to hear from you.

• Extra-credit reading: Scientific American on ketamine therapy. And William Styron’s “Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness.”

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8 Responses to “Writer on the storm”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Thanks for the heads up, O’G. I followed that story a while ago when Padraig did his rides in Japan and discussed his depression. I’m about to go put some miles on these old legs but will read the RKP piece when I get back.

    Most of us have some devils in our heads that we would prefer not to discuss with others. Like you, I admire Patrick Brady for his willingness to let it hang out, hopefully, with the thought that we can take a pull with him at the front when those headwinds get tough.

    Worst week of my life was back in 1982. Dead of winter, fresh divorce pending, living alone, trying to start a new dissertation topic in the middle of it all after a head injury detonated my first project. My first advisor was angry with me for failing, not realizing that post concussion syndrome makes it tough to do higher math and computation.

    Sat there one night with the Ithaca in front of me. Fortunately, I was too much of a coward to use it and also fortunately, I had key friends to drag me out of the house for beers and dinners.

    But hey, that’s when I took up Serious Cycling(tm). That drug worked well. Let’s all take a pull with Padraig.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Padraig has written a couple-three pieces about his ketamine expeditions now, K. They’re all in the Mind section of the RKP site. It’s quite a journey he’s on.

      I tried antidepressants once, while working at a newspaper, because, hey, I was working for a fucking newspaper. Holy shit, what awful medication it was, too. I had been hoping for some pharmaceutical speed, but no soap.

      I flushed the doc’s dope down the loo and returned to my own personal prescriptions, primarily alcohol and cocaine. The cocaine was first to go, because, hey, I was working for a fucking newspaper and couldn’t afford it. Plus I got a pretty good look at what it was doing to some friends. The booze went next.

      The cannabis is all the rage now, of course, but I’m not interested. I thought it robbed me of creativity and discipline Back in the Day®, and that dope was to today’s strains like a can of Coors Light is to a quart of mescal.

      If I were ever to dip a toe back in the drug pool I might consider microdoses of some light laugher like psilocybin, because I remember shrooms with such fondness. And seriously, who couldn’t use a good laugh these days?

      • SAO' Says:

        https://samharris.org/podcasts/drugs-and-the-meaning-of-life/

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Here’s a keeper from Sam:

        “There is no getting around the role of luck here. If you are lucky, and you take the right drug, you will know what it is to be enlightened (or to be close enough to persuade you that enlightenment is possible). If you are unlucky, you will know what it is to be clinically insane. While I do not recommend the latter experience, it does increase one’s respect for the tenuous condition of sanity, as well as one’s compassion for people who suffer from mental illness.”

        I like the idea of the brain as a filter/reducing valve, too:

        “In fact, the idea that the brain is a filter rather than the origin of mind goes back at least as far as Henri Bergson and William James. In [Aldous] Huxley’s view, this would explain the efficacy of psychedelics: They may simply be a material means of opening the tap.”

        And finally, the hazards of mucking about with the machinery:

        “Even if LSD and similar drugs are biologically safe, they have the potential to produce extremely unpleasant and destabilizing experiences. I believe I was positively affected by my good trips, and negatively affected by the bad ones, for weeks and months.

        “Meditation can open the mind to a similar range of conscious states, but far less haphazardly. If LSD is like being strapped to a rocket, learning to meditate is like gently raising a sail. Yes, it is possible, even with guidance, to wind up someplace terrifying, and some people probably shouldn’t spend long periods in intensive practice. But the general effect of meditation training is of settling ever more fully into one’s own skin and suffering less there.”

  2. SAO' Says:

    // Despite this excitement, researchers still don’t know exactly how ketamine exerts its effects.//

    Seems that’s how every drug in the behavioral/mental health category works.

  3. Pat O'Brien Says:

    I popped over to RKP just now to say hello. I read Padraig’s latest piece on his struggle in depression. The guy can take you along his journey without making you judge the ride. I wish him the best.

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