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LSD For Depression — My Friend George’s Story

Just to show you how wide-spread depression is, we have three people right here at Townsquare Media that deal with depression.

My friend, George Ferris, one of the most congenial and intelligent people I know, also has a story to tell. I think you’ll find his story very moving.

George’s Story

As you may have heard, May is Mental Health Awareness Month and one of the top issues folks fight every day is “The Big D” depression.

My esteemed colleagues Kristian Bland and Gary Shannon have each written about this here (Kristian) and here (Gary).  These are two men I respect and before I tell you my short tale of woe let’s look at a new study that shows that illegal substances such as LSD and Ecstasy are gaining momentum in the mental health profession as potential treatments.

Last month scientists at U.Sussex and Imperial College in London published concrete scientific evidence for ‘psychedelic drugs inducing a heightened state’.  As a side note: I used to know 20 people in the 80’s that could have told them that!

The Prime Mover in this area of science is a woman, Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss and she’s devoted essentially her entire life to the study of these kinds of drugs effects on mental illness inclusive of depression.  The major turning point in her research was a study last summer in which she organized clinical trials with a dozen volunteers suffering from incurable depression.  They were treated with measured doses of psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and 67% of the subjects were free of depression one week later while 42% were depression free at the three month mark.  The whole article is here.

The idea is to get these substances into regulated medical practice instead of the chemical lab formulations the drug companies have foisted upon us all these years to ease suffering of millions.

I for one, have always believed the Creator put everything on earth that we really need to live, so I often use homeopathic remedies and other naturally occurring substances with the possible exception of eating all my vegetables.  I’ll eat a boatload of fruit, but you can have all of my asparagus and broccoli.

 

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My Story

For the most part, my life was always depression free.  I always felt good and walked around with a happy countenance.  Nothing got me down, I tell people I lived a ‘charmed life’ in which nothing really bad ever seemed to happen.  And I was extremely lucky too – once (and I have an eye-witness in my cousin) while fooling around on an excavator, I raised the arm into a high power line inducing blue sparks and thousands and thousands of volts that passed around me sitting in the operators seat to the ground.  I should have been fried and died on the spot.  And there are many other near-death misses that I avoided by the width of a cats whisker and lived to tell the tale. In the decade of my twenties before I met my wife I led, let’s say an ad-hoc life of risk-taking and danger that most of today’s ‘thrill seeking’ daredevils would run from and I lived through it all.

However, seven years ago on May 13th, 2010 – my youngest son Tanner, who turned down a congressional nomination to attend West Point, instead staying near home to attend Texas A&M, and his best friend were tragically killed in the freakiest 3 car accident there may have ever been.  It couldn’t happen again in a hundred years a state trooper told me, but on that day at that moment two wonderful lives were snuffed out in a most horrible way.

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Shawn Shearod and Tanner Ferris Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band Fall 2009

My luck had run its course.

Within two years of that on October 12, 2012… my wife, a brilliant Pediatric Specialist BSN, graduate of MSU – no longer able to deal with our loss – took her own life.  Leaving me and my oldest son, now a state and local (SALT) tax specialist at a large Denver accounting firm to carry on.

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Sarah, Marshall (top) and Tanner c.1998

So.  I’ll admit to some melancholy moments here and there prior to those events, but they passed quickly, like within an hour or two.  Again I led a charmed and happy-go-lucky life.

After Tanner’s accident, she and I sought professional counseling and some help from a psychiatrist.  But it didn’t work for me.  I reasoned that no matter how many pills they gave us, Tanner was still gone and nothing would bring him back.  Sarah stayed on the medications basically for the rest of her life – as you can see, I guess it didn’t work for her either.  I don’t know if this class of psychedelic formulations in the attached article may have helped her or me, and I’ll never know.

What I do know is, and honestly I can’t write much about this – it Hurts. Always.  It’s some kind of indescribable disparate never-ending soul searing emptiness that I can’t begin to describe.  My Charmed Life ended for all-time and will never come back.  I’d lost both my parents, other close family members and friends…but burying a child is its own special and dark deep abyss and I’d wish it on no one, not even my worst enemy. (I don’t actually think I have any personal enemies by the way)

Some of the worst of it is the ‘what could have been’.  Tanner was only four days past his 19th birthday, Shawn his friend was still 18 at the end of their freshman year at A&M.  In their Corps of Cadets Company in the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, they were the sober ones; known by their nicknames of ‘hold pressure and drive’.  Meaning that during weekend outings (like all college freshmen have), they stayed sober, so if something happened to one of the others and they needed to go to an emergency room, one would ‘hold pressure’ and the other would ‘drive’.

But now, as I see his peers getting married, having children, in my mind there’s nothing but ‘what might have been, what should have been.’  Tanner and Shawn wanted careers in the Army and by all accounts of their friends and the adults that supervised them at school, both of them would have made great Army officers.

Sarah helped an untold amount of children through a wide variety of complex allergy issues, talking ‘bubble’ children here.  Sometimes we’d be stopped in public (before all the tragedy) by parents of babies or youngsters whose lives she’d saved, or comforted in some way.  Pediatric Nursing after all is a family practice and one must inform and comfort worried parents as much as help heal the sick child.

Three wonderful, smart and driven people gone for no good reason.  I ask God ‘why am I still here?’  If I get an answer I’ll let you know.

And now back to the subject of this post, that study.

I think I’d like some hallucinogens by Rx… something to naturally elevate my mood, not erase my memories – but maybe take the ‘edge’ off the constant soul aching agony that lies just below the smile on my face in the office during the day.

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Sloane and Marshall – the Denver Pre-Post Op Nurse and Tax Genius 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still thankful and grateful for what I have.  For my oldest son, and his beautiful wife, also a nurse, that live in Denver.  We communicate continuously especially texts during Astros or Cowboys games, and I go up to Colorado usually two or three times a year to visit or they come down.

But most of the time I spend at home alone with two old cats by choice…with the laughing and smiling ghosts of yesterday still walking around the 5,000 square foot house we shared, stopping now and then to smile at me.  I can still imagine them in the pool, Tanner jumping off the diving board in his famous ‘cannonballs’.  I remember I used to bitch they were costing money knocking some of the water out of the pool… But I’d drink all 20,000 gallons in a single gulp for just one more Hug.

My late wife delayed college until the boys were a little older, they never knew a babysitter or daycare (not that there’s anything wrong with that) we were always together the four of us. I didn’t golf, bowl or anything in my ‘off time’, if I wasn’t working I was at home with them. I’m thankful for the memories- the Christmas mornings, the Thanksgiving and Easter feasts with extended family, walking into the house at the end of the day to the screams of “DADDY” from two toddlers latching onto my legs, the quiet times of just our little family together around the fireplace, those many happy memories live on in my heart alongside the horrors.

I guess I’ll write the Countess, maybe she’ll send out free samples.

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