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This article is part of our Finding Wonderland long stories. Finding Wonderland is our unique series on women's personal stories to destigmatize and normalize the use of psychedelic substances. This is the story of Amy Bolton.
Amy shares her story because she believes in the importance of normalizing and destigmatizing dialogue around trauma/mental health and advocate for the use of psychedelics as an alternative treatment for mental health. Flip the Coin is the story of a journey from depression to peace. From inner healing towards outer action.
And here’s Part II for you.
Bardo 3, Part 2 - The Pearl
Time is a construct, and as I gazed at the tide rolling in and out at the cove where I sat, I found I was able to use Chopin’s Nocturne (No. 1 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 9 No.1) as a catalyst for slowing the tide to a new measure of time. Wonder and excitement flooded me as I felt freed from the mental shackles of my mind and danced with new possibilities of perception.
Everything had become a measure of time to me, from the ancient rocks to the fluid water. We
all have ideas of what ego is; but only until my default, my ego, was washed away did I realize
what it truly looked like and the ways in which it monopolizes my life. Same goes for the many social constructs that we know exist, yet rarely can experience reality without.
In the distance, I saw a large boulder nestled right next to the tide creating a walled-off space. Hopping over, I nestled into nature’s seat, feeling held by the rock, the sea; my home. My body felt good, hot from the sun and cool as the tide lapped up to my knees. The rock contained me on three sides, sea kelp bedded the granite.
I wrapped my arms around myself, I felt held by it all, and so with a deep breath I surrendered and opened the door that every day of my life I usually worked towards forgetting about. Going into the experience understanding how it could be used therapeutically allowed me to look at my trauma, I consciously knew I was ready and wanted to open its door, and as I did the most remarkable things started to happen.
There you stood and I felt a deep sadness, but it was very bearable. Something was holding
me, supporting me while I faced you. I became a viewer of someone I realized was myself.
Turning into a maternal figure to my younger self, I felt a love and support that I’d needed but
had not received.
As I lay against the rock, holding myself together, surrounded by all things sea, I became a pearl and saw myself for the first time as the woman I’d become. For the first time everything I had known intellectually was merging with a feeling that permeated my mind and body, something indescribable was at work and the sense of peace that was settling in filled me with gratitude. I was profoundly humbled by the intelligence of what was occurring, and that intelligence lives in nature.
Bardo 3, Part 3 - : Re-Entry
This psychedelic experience changed my life drastically. It was an intellectual and spiritual awakening (which is saying a lot from a staunch, lifelong agnostic), that left me with the novel “noetic quality”. The noetic quality refers to the feeling one emerges from the psychedelic experience with; an utmost confidence that important truths and knowledge have been revealed to them, a phrase coined by William James, an American philosopher and psychologist.
The place I went to was nurturing, therapeutic, filled with wonder and so incredibly beautiful. It
allowed me to fall in love with my life, rather than wishing to end it. I believe that the level of pain one can feel is mirrored by an equal capacity for pleasure, regardless of whether or not this has been felt before. Pain and pleasure are two sides of the same coin. For those suffering with depression, the flipping of the coin is a particularly tricky matter. Psychedelics allow you to flip the coin and suddenly the deepest places of pain act as a catalyst for the greatest sources of energy and peace.
I got more relief from those six hours than the years of treatment, medication, or therapy. Beyond that, I felt full of ideas and for the first time in a long time, I actually had the energy to do something about them. Depression had always left me devoid of energy. I do not purport to be cured, however, time has shown lasting, positive effects.
That first psychedelic trip was just this past summer (2020), since then I have returned to university maintaining a 4.0 GPA, I have founded and am the president of The Default Mode Network: a student-led organization focused on the expansion and accessibility of discourse surrounding psychedelics for mental health.
I have begun working for Decriminalize Maine to further education around plant-based medicines and work towards legislation for the decriminalization of psilocybin in Maine, and I’m a part of Dr. Todman’s Psychopathology Research Lab at NSSR (New School for Social Research).
This is coming from someone who could barely get out of bed months earlier, never mind stay in school. Psychedelics have given me so much and it is with my deepest gratitude and passion that I venture to facilitate making this experience as accessible as possible for those who want it. I’m just getting started and am energized and excited to continue down my path in this work.
Amy Bolton is our new regular author and a student at The New School completing a self-design Liberal Arts BSc degree focusing on psychology, philosophy, and social entrepreneurship. With her particular passion being in the application of psychedelics for mental health, Amy is the founder and president of "The Default Mode Network", a student-led organization focused on the expansion and accessibility of discourse surrounding psychedelics for mental health.
Working for Decriminalize Maine; an educational non-profit working on legislation change, advocacy, and harm reduction, Amy is also a part of Dr. Todman’s Psychopathology Lab at The New School for Social Research. Outside of her passion for psychedelic and mental health advocacy; Amy loves traveling, cooking, reading, and music.