I was in the MAPS MDMA for PTSD study. It freed me from a childhood of abuse.

By Jessi Appleton|October 3, 2017

MDMA-assisted psychotherapy gave me the ability to feel compassion and empathy for myself.

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Eye shades covering my eyes, I find myself in complete tranquility for the first time in my whole life. This was the beginning of my intensive and life changing healing quest.  I was a participant in the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) study for treatment-resistant Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I was a wounded woman with a beautiful, terrified little girl stuck inside of me. I carried her around not knowing how deep her ache and pain went. As I dug deep into my psyche during my MDMA sessions, I came to know ‘‘little Jessi’’ quite well.

During my medicine-assisted session, I had a vision where I could see her quite vividly. She was sitting in a corner of a small bedroom on the floor with her knees to her chest. Her hair was covering her face in attempt to protect her from making eye contact with anyone, including me.

The adult version of me came up and placed my hand on top of hers, letting loving energy flow freely between the two of us. I assured her that as hard and confusing as things were, one day she would find out that eventually things would get better.

When I thought about those words and the promise I had made to my wounded childhood self, I knew that it was time to fight. Fight for that little girl, fight to heal and move forward. This became a fight for me to live fully.

I had found the first step in my healing—knowing that I deserve to heal, knowing that I deserve to feel strong and knowing that I deserve to be in control of my body.

I had been violently sexually abused when I was an infant until I was a late teen. I lacked self-worth and had no self-esteem. I struggled with constant anxiety and flashbacks from the trauma I had endured.

When I promised my child self that she would be okay and safe, I was able to start the healing process and embrace my womanhood. No one had protected her thus far, so it was my chance to do just that. I didn’t need anyone to save me. I could save myself.

My MDMA sessions allowed me to process my past traumas and learn to live a life with compassion and self-love. This was no easy task, considering all the years of darkness and pain that I had to work through. The medicine and therapy combined gave me the ability to think clearly and to be open and honest with myself while experiencing such compassion and empathy for myself, which are key facets of the MDMA experience. In just three medicine sessions over the course of three months, coupled with integration sessions, my life had changed so drastically.

I now love spending time in nature, feeling the connection to the earth and other humans and animals. I had lost that connection during the dissociation that occurred as a result of my childhood trauma.

As a child, I can remember playing this game called ‘the portal’ with my brothers. We would pretend to travel to different universes and live other lives, in attempt to escape our current reality, even just for a moment. I remember this game being such an escape for me. It felt so exciting to believe that I was happy and safe in another realm. But now, I am safe and I savor every drop of my current reality. There’s no need to escape.

During the months that followed the completion of the sessions, I struggled with getting to know the woman I had evolved into. Integration was no easy process. I had changed so drastically from this terrified, nervous woman into this new strong, fierce woman who is in possession of her body and soul. I spent many long hours integrating and incorporating from the old me to the new and improved me.

I recognize now that humans are multi-faceted creatures and I love and embrace all sides of me. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity I had to participate in the MAPS medical study and for my amazing therapists who helped to guide and support me during the process

My hope is that anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, victim of war, or any other traumas that have caused their suffering and PTSD, to be able to use this amazing therapy and heal the way many others have.

There is hope.

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Jessi Appleton

Jessi lives in the mountains of beautiful Colorado. She raises chickens and has a vegetable garden. Her son is her pride and joy. Her email is jessiappleton17@gmail.com if you'd like to reach out or have any questions.