MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy For PTSD & Anxiety [Personal Story]

This blog was written by Paul Marlow, one of our talented guest contributors! You can find the original piece here. You can also follow Paul on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and his website here! If you want to submit or syndicate your great content, reach out to us at [email protected]

I did MDMA assisted psychotherapy.

I could not handle the effects of PTSD and anxiety in my life anymore.

It took me weeks of reading up on psychedelic therapy and talking with those I respected to finally decide on doing this.

It has been the best choice I have made so far in my life.

I wrote this because I want to help inform others who are struggling like I was, and give them insight.

I am not writing this to convince you to do as I have done.

But if I can help you in a little way with your therapy choices, then please read on.

Daily Journal Entry – A few days before starting on the path to do MDMA  assisted psychotherapy.

April 6th, 2019 – Two days before my 34th birthday

“Two days ago, I finally vocalized to my therapist Grace that I had felt I wasn’t able to live my daily life without support. Help to be anti-depression drugs.

I had seen my ex need pills and use them. I understood the positives of getting back that feeling of retaking control of your life.

Blowing that dark cloud away.

Also, the negatives of the numbing that can occur and potential weight gain. Most likely taking months to find the right dosage and much much more.

After the conversation, I felt a weight lifted off me for the next 36hrs. To the point where I wondered if I was taking a step that wasn’t needed.

Was I jumping the gun on this?

Could I move on in life if I did everything right?

Was I wrong for thinking I was at that stage?

This morning I was hit with the reality of it all.

The cloud was back.

The hard part about my mental struggles is that they arnt with me 24/7. I can go days or weeks with a positive outlook on life. Then the next morning wake up in a dull gloom.

The gloom doesn’t stop me from living. I can sleep, workout, eat, basically go through the motions in my life. That’s all it is though… they are motions and no more.

3:48 PM

As the hours go by, I hope I feel more normal, but today is not that day. I eat I watch tv. I meet up with a family member.

My world is livable, but there is still no connection, I am just here.

These effects of PTSD and anxiety gotta stop”

The Day I Was Ready To Take Anti-Depressants

I realized days before writing this, that I needed my life to change one way or another to fight these feelings.

I had been focusing on my fitness, work, eating, and sleeping as well as I could yet the grip of despair wasn’t letting go.

For eleven months, I did all this.

As well as therapy two times a month, sometimes four.

The only other thing I could do was to find the right dosage of antidepressants that aligned with me.

Or was it?
*Disclaimer* MDMA is an illegal drug. It is currently allowed in psychedelic research assisting those with mental health conditions. But not currently legal for MDMA assisted psychotherapy like I did.

Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is one of the forefront leaders in working with psychedelics in clinical trials. Their current goal is to have MDMA be FDA approved for prescription medicine by 2021.

I chose a therapist who had an extensive background in this work. Also, there were nine talking therapy sessions before the MDMA assisted psychotherapy.

To keep my therapist safe, we are going to call her Sarah and here are her credentials.

  • Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.
  • Registered Clinical Counselor at BCACC.
  • Trauma training with Dr. Gabor Mate.
  • 5 years of experience as an underground psychedelic therapist.
  • Sarah struggled with her own depression. Only to come out of it with the help of MDMA assisted psychotherapy and other guided psychedelic sessions.

Deciding That Taking Antidepressants Could Wait

Keeping honest with those around me I took to my IG stories and laid out what was going on in my head. I want to help people with mental health problems so post my struggles as much as I can on social media.

I have been an advocate for eating healthy, working out and treating your body right. Because of the realization that I couldn’t do this alone, I thought it was only fair that they hear the reasons why.

The hours after posting what my plan was, many people contacted me. Saying they knew the feeling I was going through and had suggestions on what to do instead.

A reply stood out that I connected with.

have you tried doing MDMA assisted psychotherapy before?

Over the last five years, I had listened to a lot of Tim Ferris ( Podcast #365 With Micheal Pollan ) and Joe Rogan ( Podcast #782 With Rick Doblin ). At first, I was listening to these guys to find inspiration and learn how they got to where they were in life.

As episodes passed, I started hearing about the use of ecstasy, MDMA, psychedelics, 5-meo dmt and ayahuasca. These became a central point for these men and also the guests they brought in.

They were using these drugs as a way to break down barriers while opening up their subconscious. With help from a professional, I pictured myself doing these some time in the future.

And It seemed the future had arrived.

And this is what I did.

How To Find A Psychedelic Guide

Finding a therapist that worked with psychedelics was the hardest part of this journey.

In the last few years, there has been many talked about changes in mental health treatment. Yet most of these are still illegal to do for the general public.

Due to the legality of psychedelic therapy, they don’t go and make a flashy webpage.

I live in a forward-thinking city, Vancouver, BC, Canada. And only when I got a contact through a friend, did I have the first real opportunity to make this a reality.

Word of mouth

Unfortunately, this is the only way I can see others finding someone to help them in this area.

You have to put your trust in the person who connects you. Then do your due diligence to do a check on the therapist and meet with them before agreeing.

You need to feel 100% safe. Until our governments change their laws on these drugs, this is what we must workaround.
• Reach out to your friends

• Google ” MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy around me “

• Tweet Rick Doblin/ Founder of MAPS

• Contact those who have written about their experience

• Ask your therapist for a reference

What Is The Cost Of A MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy Session

The cost of doing this will vary between therapists.

To give you an idea of what you could be looking at, I want to share with you what I paid for this experience.

Sarah offered a free initial sixty-minute therapy session. During the session, I gave her the rundown of my life in the last five years.

Getting my first long-term girlfriend who was battling BPD.
Learning on the fly how to be a boyfriend for the first time. I wasn’t very good at it, and it put stress on us both.
Finding out my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Watching him decay as we found out it was most likely Lewy Body Disease. And then finally passing away from a cancerous lump we only saw for the first time weeks before.
The PTSD and Anxiety were too much to handle.
I told her these stories.

Anxiety gripped me when my ex came up.

I cried when I talked about dad.

I did the things I was getting used to doing when I talked about these people.

She evaluated my situation and made it pretty evident that I was in dire need to have this work done.

I couldn’t have agreed more.
Sarah quoted me somewhere between $3000 for three months worth of therapy sessions and one day of MDMA therapy.

12 therapy sessions = $150 each

1 MDMA assisted psychotherapy 6 hour long Session= $1200
This video was made before I walked out the door to meet Sarah for the first time.

*I initially thought I was going to be doing an Acid therapy session, after this initial therapy session it was decided we would be using MDMA instead.

9 Therapy Sessions Before The MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy Day

The initial therapy session was like every other one I had been too.

You come to an office.

Sit down in front of a total stranger.

Then stab wildly at an emotional topic you feel could be a good starting point.

Trying to verbal vomit enough out to make the fifty-five minutes worth my time.

There is no right or wrong way when starting with a new therapist.

Try to let down your walls and show them the real you.

The difference in these sessions, to past therapists, was that we had a focal point. My dads’ death and the anxiety that still came up 2 years my breakup.

What surprised me was as the sessions started to accumulate.

They were having a positive effect on my anxiety and stress in my daily life right away.

I was less agitated anytime they came up, and they also came far less often.
These were my thought after the first therapy session with Sarah. There was a lot learnt in our first in person meeting that made me realize I was on the right path.

After reading other blogs on MDMA assisted psychotherapy session. I saw most initial contacts were through email.

A few more emails went back and forth, then they met for the first time to do the MDMA treatment.

There was no trust built, nor anytime for the therapist to fully understand what was going on.

I would not recommend this. For these reasons.

Do you trust this person enough to be in a vulnerable drug-induced state?
Can you get the most out of this costly session from telling them about your life in email format?
Will you fully open up to a stranger even with the powerful “tell-all” effects of MDMA in you?

MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy: The Day Of Therapy Session

Sarah came to my apt at 9 AM on a warm sunny Saturday.

The other sessions had been at her office, but this experience needed to be in a place I felt safe.

We sat down right away and she went over the critical points for our day.

Start by taking 125mg pill of MDMA
There is the second pill in case it’s needed
Don’t expect anything
It’s approximately a 6 hour process

8:50 AM I documented how I was feeling in the final moments before embarking on the MDMA assisted psychotherapy session.

9:37 AM I took the first 125mg pill.

Sarah got me to lay down with a blanket on top to keep my body temperature up and put on a sleeping mask.

She then went “hippie-dippie” bringing out sound bowls and crystals. But, I was in her world and wanted to jump into the deep end, not dip my toes in the water.

She handed over a rose quartz crystal for opening the heart, and selenite to align my chakras. The sound bowls came next and she chanted a hymn.

As I laid there listening to the low ringing tones, I was in a place of peace and calm and warmth.

I laid there.

And laid.

And laid for what felt like 45 minutes.

Is the MDMA kicking in?

I can feel it coming … oh wait, can I?

Dammit, I should say something because this is getting awkward.

What the hell do I say?

If I’m high, my first words should be profound and hit my depression on the head.

“Soooo I feel like I should say something, but have no clue what to say “

Nice work genius.

“That’s ok Paul; we can talk about anything, there is no wrong subject. What’s going on in your head.”

The feeling of being unsure washed away and the verbal deluge began.

What Does MDMA Feel Like?

MDMA is the active ingredient of ecstasy and molly. MDMA is the purest form, not cut with anything to alter its effect.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse describes MDMA as…

“a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions). It is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception.”

When it kicks in, the world becomes a bright bundle of joy, where everything is possible.

The blanket that I had wrapped around me became a cloud from heaven.

The desire to talk to Sarah became all I wanted to do. It was the most exciting thing in my life at the time.

Anything that came to my head I immediately blurted out.

The voice in my head that checks every emotional statement to make sure it is”worthy” was gone.

Desires that I had hidden deep down that I had not let anyone know about became the forefront of topics.

The fear of shame was gone.

I could be wrong with no repercussions.

Those dreams I dare not tell anyone came into light.

While the areas I had thought to be my anchors in life, were hardly talked about.

They, in reality, when I could be free to speak, were of no use to me.


9:37 AM First Capsule of MDMA 125mg

11:40 Am Second Capsule of MDMA 125mg

Usually, the second dose is 60mg, but due to me being a giant at 6’7 235lbs, she decided a second full dose was needed.

1:40 PM One Capsule of psilocybin ( magic mushrooms ) 250mg

The purpose for the psilocybin was to help connect myself as I came down from the MDMA.

How I Felt After The MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy Session

The after-effects will leave you in a low, depression-like place. I did not relate it to the PTSD and anxiety I felt before however.

To get high, your natural levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine get depleted.

Explained here by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

This can last anywhere from 24-72 hours. By administering 5-HTP for two-three days you will help counteract this.


Video taken 60 minutes after the MDMA assisted psychotherapy session was done

The Day After The MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy

This morning was … odd.

I wasn’t depressed like I had been in the past when taking MDMA on nights out partying.

Yet, I also didn’t have a ridiculous hangover from alcohol paired to it.

But, I had zero desire to do anything outside of my routine. Making it even more confusing.

I was very contemplative, yet didn’t know what to contemplate.

Was the PTSD and anxiety gone?

Nothing felt bad… just damn different.

Sarah told me the first three days were where I would most likely feel like I wasn’t completely there in the world.

I was there… wherever there was.

7:03 AM the day after the MDMA assisted psychotherapy session I took this video.


In the first 48 hours, I found myself coming in and out of that “odd” space.

It happened less as the hours passed, and finally, as I woke up the third day after my session, I felt normal again.

Not the same normal that I had known the last 33 years of my life.

Two weeks after the MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy session and the most noticeable change I have found is how comfortable I am in my skin.

I don’t use the words PTSD and anxiety when describing myself anymore.

I don’t feel ashamed about my little imperfections.

I am not making excuses to hide from doing things that are not part of my typical day.

I feel normal… something I have not felt in a VERY long time.

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Paul Marlow

Paul Marlow

Paul Marlow is a mental health advocate and entrepreneur who overcame severe depression himself and hopes to inspire authentic actions to inspire better mental health in others. He is the founder of, a company that helps those in need start working towards bettering their mental health.