by Julia Blum
If psychedelic medicine reliably reveals one thing, it’s how much our environment shapes our internal perspectives. So, when we venture deeply into our inner world, we recommend bringing in those who are close to us that we trust.
For most, mental health struggles are an isolating experience. People don’t like to talk about it. The stigma and shame often outweigh our genuine need to connect. If we’re suffering, we may be worried we’ll be judged, or simply don’t want to “worry” loved ones. Loved ones often don’t know how to help, and even if they’d like to, feel paralyzed and inclined to hold back.
Yet, embarking on a healing process is not supposed to be a solo adventure. Healing in connection is a key part of the journey and critical for lasting change.
Read on to learn about how psychedelics can help you re-connect, why it’s critical to have the right support system in place, and how we can make sure to bring in family and loved ones with intention and impact to support the healing process.
From an emotional and spiritual perspective, mental illnesses can be seen as disorders of disconnection (often in disguise).
Part of the underlying problem is often disconnection from Self. Somewhere along the lines, we’ve lost touch with the part inside of us that’s whole, vital, and content. That disconnection is painful, so for some, it feels easier to live in a space of numbness than in a space of that disconnection.
When we’re disconnected from ourselves, it can be hard to cultivate genuine connections with others. That’s why it’s tempting to self-isolate. It’s a valid coping mechanism, but unfortunately, it’s one that usually only makes things worse in the long run.
Human beings are not meant to be isolated creatures. We evolved in tribes, and the tribe of our modern life is our family – whether that’s relatives or a chosen family.
In order to return to genuine and authentic connection with those around us, we first have to return to connection with ourselves. This is where psychedelic journeys provide a unique opportunity.
By downregulating the Default Mode Network, the region in our brain that’s connected with what we refer to as our “ego”, we create space from the more dominant voices in our mind. By turning down the volume on those voices that usually lead the internal dialogue around our depression or anxiety, we give more subtle and sometimes vulnerable parts the opportunity to come forth.
By doing so, we begin the process of reconnection. It’s precisely these more vulnerable parts that often hold the key to our well-being and answers to some of our deepest struggles. The wisdom is always already there, it is not contained in the psychedelic substance itself. The psychedelic simply creates the conditions for us to connect with the parts that hold the wisdom required to heal. Parts of us we haven’t been able to access, or perhaps, haven’t even been aware of in our regular state of consciousness. Neurologically, this is reflected in the fact that psychedelic substances prompt brain regions to communicate that normally don’t.
Here at Curio, we believe that there’s an immense opportunity to leverage the love and care that already exists within families to help their loved ones heal and re-connect.
Our relationships are a reflection of our inner world. When the inner world shifts, our relationships shift. A psychedelic experience becomes a healing experience with lasting impact when integrated in a way that affects our relationship Self and those around us.
We make it a priority to work with members to help them mobilize support systems in whichever way they see fit in service of their integration and healing. By bringing in family and loved ones into the process across the different stages, including the preparation and the integration of the experience, we ensure that everyone has the appropriate support they need.
Psychedelic experiences can be quite mysterious to those who haven’t encountered them. That’s why it’s important to be intentional about how to bring people in. Whether those close to us have knowledge and experience or not – education is always the first step. By sharing openly about the characteristics of psychedelic medicine and the processes they trigger, we can begin to educate our loved ones. This will not only make them feel involved but also maximize their ability to help. The more they know, the better they’ll be able to support us.
Education will also allow you to eliminate any stigma family members might have. One of my sisters, for example, who is a neurologist was extremely skeptical from the beginning. Once I began educating her and sharing some of the science, she became much more open-minded and we were better able to have a conversation grounded in facts rather than judgments.
Some facts and references to mention:
Here are also some great beginner-friendly resources to share with loved ones:
Due to the mysteries of psychedelics, the process can also be somewhat nerve-racking for loved ones. That’s why we need to create a safe space for open, vulnerable, and honest conversations. This will help family members support loved ones without overwhelming them with their own emotions about the process.
When one family member undergoes healing, it undeniably has an impact on the whole family system. That’s why it’s critical for everyone to feel supported. Sometimes, the healing and integration process can also involve vulnerable conversations with loved ones which aren’t always easy.
In order to prepare and support everyone sufficiently, we believe it’s paramount to provide tailored support to family members around how to manage those conversations in a way that’s therapeutic for everyone. Our care team will work with members to determine how best to create those containers for intentional dialogue – whether that means sharing guidance for those conversations with loved ones or facilitating conversations directly.
Here are some useful principles for communicating vulnerably and effectively:
If you want to learn more about psychedelic therapy and how to involve family and loved ones, here are some additional resources:
Photo by Omar Lopez