Ayelet Waldman (author of Daughter's Keeper, Love & Treasure, and the Mommy-Track mystery series to name a few of her titles), wife of writer Michael Chabon, and mother of four, has struggled with depression and mood problems her entire life. Initially diagnosed with bipolar disorder II, she tried a variety of medications to help curb her irritability and mood swings. Later, she was told she had premenstrual dysphoric disorder and tried a new slew of drugs with mixed results. And then she stumbled upon microdosing: taking small doses of LSD to regulate mood and boost productivity. It's illegal, which was a major cause for concern for Waldman, a former public defender with plenty of insight into exactly what the criminal justice system does with drug offenders. But at a tenth of a recreational dose, taken every three days, Waldman wasn't taking LSD to get high. She was taking it to get "normal." Waldman explains how her 30-day experiment with LSD affected her, injecting her narrative with interviews with doctors, neuropharmacologists, and other experts on how the brain works as well as insights into how the federal government's war on drugs does more harm than good in some cases.
It takes a not insignificant amount of bravery to not only break the law by taking a psychotropic drug but also write about your experiences and then publish it internationally. While Waldman never took enough LSD to achieve anything close to a high, merely possessing it is a crime. But, she posits, should it be? One part personal journey and one part soap box lecture about decriminalizing drugs in the United States, Waldman's 30- day trip through using an illegal drug to manage her sometimes debilitating irritability and "black moods," as she calls them, is almost heartbreakingly honest. Waldman's daily struggle affects her family, her career, and her own feelings of self-worth, and she lays that all bare. The book is a captivating read peppered with LSD's history and musings about federal drug policies that Waldman says need a major overhaul. Whether or not readers agree recreational LSD should be legal, Waldman makes a compelling case for researchers to take a closer look at therapeutic dosing.
Reviewed by ba, 03/17. Other reviews by ba.