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A Reason to Get Up in the Morning
St John's Wort (extract)
Citation:   Cloudy. "A Reason to Get Up in the Morning: An Experience with St John's Wort (extract) (exp105929)". Erowid.org. Jan 19, 2020. erowid.org/exp/105929

 
DOSE:
1 g oral St. John's Wort (daily)
BODY WEIGHT: 55 kg
When it comes to depression, I'm fairly lucky in that it's not a life sentence but a state, one that arrives without me noticing and then quietly leaves months later. My lucid mood is far more joyful than that of most other people I know, and when I do slip into a black mood I usually find I've learned a great deal by getting through it, and feel at the end like I've grown. I'm not a user of psychedelics, but I've read enough Leary that I like to think of it in terms of the famous quote.

Unfortunately, even if my natural consciousness tends to operate in terms of Heaven and Hell, it doesn't change the fact that Hell is - well - hell. Even noticing my own depression is a task since depressed perception feels like objective reality. My ability to think about anything more complicated than about how dull and miserable I am - like, for instance, making doctor's appointments to get hold of medicine I need to not hate myself - vanishes. When I am not even able to peel myself out of my own bed, life doesn't stop and wait for me, and drastically becomes far worse.

In college, sleeping most of the day and with my thoughts constantly circulating to me that I was a failure, I was persuaded by a parent to find something to take. With my doctor's appointment made and several weeks away, I bought a packet of the only OTC depression medicine I could find and promised my parent I'd take it, even though I was sure the reason I hated my life was because I was a really bad person and I'd just never been smart enough to notice it before. It was a hypericum extract, that came in synthetic, sanitised-looking white pills that seemed almost designed to remove any association they had with actual plants. I felt even more like a failure for needing pharmacological help, and had no faith that they would do anything.

Within three days of starting the hypericum I realised how wrong I'd been. The effects of were simultaneously very powerful and immediately noticeable, and yet so subtle and lucid I almost wasn't sure it was even doing anything at all - the same invisible mind-alteration of depression itself, only in a starkly opposite direction. It wasn't anything so simple as feeling happier or calmer, but it was as if parts of my mind began to wake up.
It wasn't anything so simple as feeling happier or calmer, but it was as if parts of my mind began to wake up.
Depressive thought, for me, tends to involve lots of looping, self-defeating misery, but under the influence of the hypericum, more creative and insightful thoughts began to happen again. I should stress that the hypericum-enhanced way of thinking wasn't any more extreme than the way I feel when I'm not depressed - it just allowed me to think 'normal' thoughts rather than the misery negative feedback loop. One thing I did notice was enhanced compared to my baseline, non-depressed level was concentration - perhaps it had a mildly stimulant effect, or perhaps it was part of its effect on preventing looping thoughts, but either way I became more connected to reality rather than lost in my usual fog, and more able to do work. (I'm a massive daydreamer.)

The best thing about it was that it showed me that there was a way out, and that my mental state while depressed had been abnormal. It sounds trivial, but depression feels so much like objective reality that even a slight improvement, a small moment where you think 'hey, this is nice - I used to feel like this quite often a while ago!' is a massive change in perspective.

It was also extremely useful for depressive anhedonia. I was able to take pleasure in music and films and books and video games again, instead of merely use them to occupy time in a zombie-like state of detached appreciation.

The trouble was it was extremely expensive, so I got myself a much cheaper prescription for an SSRI I cannot remember the name of. The SSRI was nowhere near as good as the Wort. My head returned to feeling 'foggy', my thoughts began to loop, and I went from feeling depressed but with a feeling of clarity and connection to the world around me to slightly emotionally dulled. It was still better than without chemical enhancement, but I could feel that it was a chemical enhancement - instead of the Wort's lucidity, I could feel that I had a drug in me doing things to my brain. As soon as I managed to locate a cheaper source of hypericum, I went back, although (on my doctor's recommendation) it was after going cold-turkey for two weeks to get my system back to baseline. I got obnoxious brain zaps from the SSRI withdrawal, which I hadn't experienced in the least from hypericum.

When the depression was finally undone, I simply stopped taking the pills. It was almost as if a clear little voice inside told me I didn't need to take my pills any more, so I didn't. Even though I'd been taking a reasonable dose over a long period, I noticed no withdrawal effects.

Due to hypericum's easy availability and quick effects compared to conventional SSRIs, I find it very useful to have a bottle on hand for the occasional black days, or strange weeks when my thoughts are frantic and going nowhere and I lack the strength to put them in order. I can't help feeling an enormous amount of respect for a plant so gentle and yet so powerful. SSRIs are highly personal to each mind, and I'm very lucky that the one that works best with mine is an easily available plant I can buy from any health food shop.

[Reported Dose: "1g daily over 2-3 months"]

Exp Year: 2012ExpID: 105929
Gender: Female 
Age at time of experience: 21
Published: Jan 19, 2020Views: 2,263
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St. John's Wort (142) : Medical Use (47), Depression (15), Therapeutic Intent or Outcome (49), Retrospective / Summary (11), Not Applicable (38)

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