Trying "The Mushroom Cure" For OCD

Trying "The Mushroom Cure" For OCD

An interview with comedian Adam Strauss about his autobiographical, one-man show.
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Psychedelic mushrooms might be able to help those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

This is the premise of comedian Adam Strauss’ one-man show, The Mushroom Cure, which showed at Cherry Lane Theater in New York City this past summer.

The show is autobiographical, based on Strauss’ real struggles with this mental health condition. Strauss was diagnosed with OCD after a breakup in his late twenties, though he had been seeing therapists and trying medication for other diagnoses, such as generalized anxiety disorder and moodiness. “I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts which has, I don’t know if this is true, but it was always said that it has the highest per capita of psychiatrists for any city in the world,” Strauss says. “I wasn’t diagnosed with OCD until I had already been on medication for about 10 years. And the OCD didn’t even emerge as OCD until around that time.”

“I was on all sorts of medications for about 15 years and about 6 or 7 of those years were when I was specifically diagnosed with OCD,” Strauss explains. “I tried I think every SSRI that was on the market then. I tried benzodiazepines, I tried stuff that I don’t even know what class of medication it is, I tried everything.”

Strauss’ OCD was rooted in decision making, and he was desperate to find something that worked for him after not reacting that positively to all the medications he had tried. That’s when he found something online about the benefits of psychedelic mushrooms for people living with OCD, so he gave it a shot.

While the mushrooms didn’t entirely cure his OCD, he did find them to be beneficial and has become an advocate for advancing medical research of them. In fact, all the profits from The Mushroom Cure go to MAPS, a foundation that looks to make psychedelic medicine a legal treatment. “There’s a lot more research coming out now than there has been in the past few decades but there’s still only a trickle,” Strauss says. “[MAPS] annual budget is $4 million, whereas Pfizer spent $210 million last year just to market Cialis. So the amount of money going into research is infinitesimal compared to the amount that’s going into pharmaceuticals. As a result, stuff is received relatively slowly.”

Aside from the mushrooms, another thing that has helped Strauss cope with his OCD is a 12-step group called Obsessive Compulsive Anonymous. “In my mind that was at least as important as the psychedelics for me,” he says. “It’s a great resource for people with OCD. It’s free, they have phone meetings so you just call in. No one has to know you’re there, you don’t have to talk if you don’t want. I got a lot out of that, I still get a lot out of it.”

When it comes to representations of OCD, Strauss notices they tend to be trivialized. “On the one hand, OCD is viewed as a trivial thing - people saying ‘I’m so OCD I spent three hours cleaning my apartment this weekend just because my parents are coming.’ So it’s trivialized but on the other hand I think when people are really confronted with real, heavy duty OCD, it’s bizarre, it’s freakish, and it’s terrifying,” he explains. Additionally, many people also only assume OCD is about cleanliness rituals such as handwashing. As a matter of fact, he believes this is why he wasn’t diagnosed with the condition earlier on. “My experience, all the psychiatrists I saw did not diagnose me with OCD until I saw [the therapist mentioned in the play] and I think it’s because I didn’t have the stereotypical hand washing,” he says.

In terms of feedback Strauss has gotten, many people have approached him after the show because something in it resonated with them. “The people who talk to me, they’ve had some sort of experience that’s been powerful or real to them,” he says. “And that’s what I’m going for because I guess it’s sharing, really, I want to share my experience and have other people share with me as deeply as they can.”

Though the Cherry Lane showings of The Mushroom Cure have ended, Strauss hopes to continue to put on this play in other theaters, or even create a movie version of it. “Telling this story is the most important thing in my life, to put it bluntly,” Strauss says. “I want to keep telling this story to whoever wants to hear it, in whatever form I can, wherever I can.”
Cover Image Credit: Theater Pizzazz

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A Playlist From The iPod Of A Middle Schooler In 2007

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Something happened today that I never thought in a million years would happen. I opened up a drawer at my parents' house and I found my pink, 4th generation iPod Nano. I had not seen this thing since I graduated from the 8th grade, and the headphones have not left my ears since I pulled it out of that drawer. It's funny to me how music can take you back. You listen to a song and suddenly you're wearing a pair of gauchos, sitting on the bleachers in a gym somewhere, avoiding boys at all cost at your seventh grade dance. So if you were around in 2007 and feel like reminiscing, here is a playlist straight from the iPod of a middle schooler in 2007.

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Cover Image Credit: http://nd01.jxs.cz/368/634/c6501cc7f9_18850334_o2.jpg

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Travel Blog: Vegas, Baby!

An inside look at my weekend-getaway to "Sin City."

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For a college athlete, traveling across the country every weekend is nothing out of the norm. This weekend my team ventured off to Las Vegas, Nevada. Being a native from New Jersey, things were a lot different then home. Here's a list of the crazy-fun things I got the opportunity to experience, places I was fortunate enough to go, and things I've never seen before.

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I was sitting in the back of an Uber when I hear "Gab, look! It's the Eiffel Tower!" That was quite a shock to hear and I didn't believe it at first, but after getting over my suspicions and looking out the window, there it was, a replica restaurant of the famous Paris attraction.

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A ginormous statue to commemorate the year of the pig; yup, it's Chinese New Year in Vegas. There was a huge section of the Bellagio dedicated solely to Chinese New Year. This giant animatronic pig was surround by a huge waterfall and dozens of murals and statues honoring the holiday.

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Nevada time is three hours behind New Jersey time. For the last three hours of the flight, it was very weird to see the time change from nine o'clock to eight o'clock three different times. To make matters worse, I was exhausted by nine o'clock West Coast time every single night...maybe because it was twelve in the morning back home.

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