Ayelet Waldman suffered from severe mood swings for years. She went through a lot trying to get a diagnosis — she was even misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder for a few years — and she dutifully participated in therapy and tried almost every medication out there. That worked to varying degrees, but it was all taking a toll on her life and her marriage.
In the midst of this, Waldman heard about an experimental treatment in which people microdose with LSD. At about 10% of a typical dose, people who microdose don’t feel any of LSD’s trippy effects and instead begin to experience…nothing. The doses are too minuscule to cause any discernible mood alteration. And yet, the little research that does exist on microdosing points to its usefulness in treating mood disorders and illnesses like PTSD.
A Really Good Day is part memoir, part investigation on the LSD and drug laws in the United States. Waldman, a self-described nerd and chicken when it comes to breaking the law, chronicles the events that led to her finally receiving a little blue vial of diluted LSD in the mail from “Lewis Carroll.” As a former lawyer who often represented clients accused of drug-related offenses, Waldman had personal experiences with drug laws that gave her book some unique insights.
I think most frustrating is the U.S.’s role in preventing LSD research from moving forward around the world. Prevailing notions of acid tripping hippies taint government preconceptions of LSD, so anything having to do with the drug in an official medical capacity is frowned upon almost universally. There’s a stigma around LSD even though the drug is startlingly safe and potentially has more therapeutic possibilities that most drugs currently on the market.
It’s a fascinating book. Waldman also talks frankly about her marriage (she’s married to the author Michael Chabon); she’s open about their struggles and the unorthodox methods they occasionally use to get their relationship back on the rails. And as a writer, she also discusses the effects of microdosing on her writing. She covers a lot of ground, and the topics might not seem related at first glance, but she weaves it all together expertly.
A Really Good Day was released in January 2017 by Knopf. I listened to it on audiobook.
Publisher/Year: Recorded Books, 2017
Narrator: Ayelet Waldman
Length: 7 hours, 37 minutes