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Case Study:
Traumatic Brain Injury

Female, Age 30. 


For more than five years, I have been grappling with a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), which has brought with it an unrelenting stream of debilitating symptoms. In the first year following my injury, I was immobilized, bedridden, and experienced regular bouts of vomiting, nausea, and severe migraines. My injuries forced me to abandon my cherished pursuits, including college volleyball, coaching, and my academic endeavors. The persistent physical pain that accompanied my TBI was compounded by the overwhelming emotional burden of losing my sense of self-identity. I suffered from intense stomach pains whenever I ate, and I fell ill with colds on a frequent basis. I could not spend more than five minutes in the sun without feeling nauseous, and walking on a treadmill was impossible without causing me to throw up. Driving or even being in a car caused motion sickness, and the lights and sounds of everyday life were overstimulating and triggered nausea.


As time progressed, I noticed that I was having greater difficulty controlling my emotions. I cried more frequently than before and was prone to becoming agitated. The constant fatigue I felt made even simple tasks feel impossible and engaging in social activities required days of recuperation. Leaving my home became a significant challenge, as my life centered around managing my pain. Despite seeing multiple specialists, including neurologists, headache specialists, chiropractors, therapists, healers, and other health practitioners, my suffering continued, leading to a diagnosis of post-chronic concussive syndrome, brought on by seven concussions over a period of less than two years. Even with all the treatments, the pain and fatigue remained ever-present, and I had to be careful in choosing how to expend my limited energy reserves.


My pursuit of treatment options was relentless. I tried a range of therapies, including hyperbaric chambers, dietary adjustments, CBD for pain management, migraine Botox treatments, monthly self-administered migraine shots, massage therapy, cranial sacral therapy, chiropractic work, energy work, somatic experiencing therapy, cellular resonance therapy, and Magnetic E-Resonance Therapy (mErt), among others. While some treatments offered temporary relief, none provided a cure. The financial cost of my treatments was significant, and I felt a growing sense of guilt and shame, believing that I was a burden to those around me.


Over the past five years, I encountered countless emotional obstacles, such as anxiety, depression, feelings of incapability, guilt, loneliness, and isolation. My body's limitations made it difficult for me to set boundaries with others, and I often felt ashamed for not being able to fulfill my obligations as I had in the past. I resented my body for not being able to perform as I desired, leading to a devastating blow to my ego. Despite maintaining my sobriety, which was a vital source of support and motivation for me, I often found myself losing hope, blaming the health care system, and wondering whether I could endure this quality of life indefinitely.


I have persisted in my efforts to regain a sense of normalcy and to reconnect with the activities and people that once brought me joy. Regardless, of my physical limitations persisting, I was determined to continue to improve my quality of life, both for my own sake and for the sake of those I care about.


After exhausting all conventional treatment options, I began to consider the potential of psilocybin treatments, which initially seemed out of the question due to my longstanding sobriety, which will soon reach seven years. However, my desperation to regain my life and witnessing the toll it has taken on my husband led me to consider this unconventional option, but the stigma surrounding psychedelic treatment delayed my decision to pursue it, as I was concerned about potential judgment from my community, colleagues, and peers considering my role in sobriety.


After conducting extensive research for over a year, my husband and I turned to prayer and meditation to determine whether this treatment approach was the right next step for managing my pain. Eventually, I raised the idea with my treatment team, which included my neurologist, therapist, psychiatrist, A.A. sponsor, family, and close friends. To my immense relief, everyone was wholeheartedly supportive, having witnessed the daily struggles I faced with pain and fatigue, as well as my efforts to manage these symptoms. Once I felt fully supported, I sought out the right guides to help me navigate this transformative journey, recognizing the importance of proper preparation and integration.


During meditation, I visualized what micro dosing might feel like, and I was moved to tears as I felt a sense of familiarity and a return to my former self. Fast forward, after more than two weeks of micro dosing, the results have been remarkable. On average, my pain has reduced by 70-90%, and the benefits have continued to accrue over time. I experience significantly less fatigue, rarely suffer from nausea, and my overall mood has improved dramatically. Prior to beginning micro dosing, I had not fully realized the extent of my stomach pain, and the substantial reduction in this symptom has been revelatory. I recently slept for six uninterrupted hours, a feat that had eluded me for quite some time. My husband has observed that I am more cooperative, less rigid, and less preoccupied with anticipating pain. In terms of the Internal Family Systems therapy modality, I have noticed that my fearful and anxious parts have had more space to relax, and my joyful and connected parts have resurfaced, exploring my inner system to test whether it was safe to come out and play. My Self-Energy has been able to naturally lead again, without reactive, frustrated, or concerned parts hijacking my inner system. Whenever these maladaptive parts begin to emerge, my Self-Energy is now able to soothe them calmly and compassionately or explore their needs further to help them relax.


I feel more attuned to my body, and it is no longer a struggle to listen to its needs. In addition, I have experienced an unexpected boost in focus, enabling me to complete my work more efficiently and assist others with theirs. Whereas I typically avoid using my video camera during Zoom classes due to the migraines and strain it places on my eyes, I have found myself spending significantly more time on camera over the past week. Life feels more fluid, and I can experience greater presence and ease. Friends have remarked that I appear happier and more energetically light. I am surprised to find that micro dosing appears to have reset my fear response to pain, as I have been able to agree to activities that I typically avoid, such as hiking, without hesitation. I feel more capable of bearing witness to myself, noticing physical, mental, or emotional responses without immediately reacting or panicking.


I never anticipated that magic mushrooms would offer me a cure. However, the micro doses have afforded me the profound ability to embrace the enchantment in every aspect of my life. It has allowed me to not only accept the magic present in my life, but in my body, my pain, and my healing. I am curious to see what further improvements await me, and I look forward to continuing my integration journey. I am incredibly appreciative of the substantial reduction in my pain and exhaustion, the unwavering support of those who have accompanied me on this journey, and my expanding, empowered capacity to feel safe, playful, connected, and whole again.

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