When a small vial arrives in her mailbox from -Lewis Carroll, - Ayelet Waldman is at a low point. Her moods have become intolerably severe; she has tried nearly every medication possible; her husband and children are suffering with her. So she opens the vial, places two drops on her tongue, and joins the ranks of an underground but increasingly vocal group of scientists and civilians successfully using therapeutic microdoses of LSD. As Waldman charts her experience over the course of a month--bursts of productivity, sleepless nights, a newfound sense of equanimity--she also explores the history and mythology of LSD, the cutting-edge research into the drug, and the byzantine policies that control it. Drawing on her experience as a federal public defender, and as the mother of teenagers, and her research into the therapeutic value of psychedelics, Waldman has produced a book that is eye-opening, often hilarious, and utterly enthralling.
- ISBN-13: 9780451494092
- ISBN-10: 0451494091
- Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
- Publish Date: January 2017
- Page Count: 256
- Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-09-26
- Reviewer: Staff
Novelist and essayist Waldman (Bad Mother)mother of four, married to another high-profile writer (Michael Chabon)worked as a federal public defender and taught at prestigious law schools. After struggling with mood swings and bouts of depression, Waldman becomes a self-study psychedelic researcher, taking small doses of LSD on repeating three-day cycles and discovers plenty to exonerate the illicit substance. Its a major departure for the author of novels and a mystery series, and though the books subtitle broadcasts the happy ending, the hows and whys of her journey are the great payoffs. Waldman structures the book as a diary of her microdosing protocol, but each entry is a launchpad for topics on which she speaks frankly and knowledgeably. Her journal tackles drug policy, her days as an attorney, parenting, writing, and marriage maintenance. Its a highly engaging combination of research and self-discovery, laced with some endearingly honest comic moments. She is exactly the sort of sensible, middle-aged, switched-on, spontaneous woman whom any reader would enjoy taking a trip with. Waldman, by her own account, is firmly in control when it comes to controlled substances: she doesnt want to feel out of it; she just wants to get on with it. (Jan.)
A long, strange trip to wellness
BookPage Nonfiction Top Pick, February 2017
Depressed, suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder and wrought with pain from a frozen shoulder, Ayelet Waldman was on a steady diet of antidepressants, estrogen patches and sleeping pills. Yet her pain and wild mood swings persisted. Her four children and husband (writer Michael Chabon) were the targets of most of her wrath.
“I found myself in a state of seemingly perpetual irritability,” she writes. “I seethed, I turned that fury on the people around me, and then I collapsed in shame at these outbursts. . . . I couldn’t manage to lift the grimy curtain of my unhappiness.”
Then she stumbled on a book about microdosing—taking tiny amounts of LSD, ofterwise known as acid. The doses are so small that they don’t cause hallucination but improve mood and focus. The process of microdosing was “not so much going on an acid trip as going on an acid errand,” she writes.
Following a strict dosing protocol, she experienced decreased physical pain and increased joy. Waldman, author of Bad Mother and a series of entertaining mysteries about a public defender turned stay-at-home mom, began her career as a lawyer and taught a college class on the war on drugs. She struggles with the morality of purchasing and taking illegal drugs, albeit for a good cause. She also writes openly about how her mental health has impacted her marriage; Chabon is portrayed with near-saintly patience, and a scene where they attend therapy is a lovely glimpse at a couple in it for the long haul.
A Really Good Day is a surprisingly poignant, funny and deeply introspective journal of Waldman’s month of treatment. Ultimately, her story is about family, marriage and dealing with modern life, with all its stressors and moments of beauty.