Peter Kalanzi had the “perfect” life until he started slipping into an existential crisis which deteriorated into depression. The graphic designer spoke to Turning Point about how magic mushrooms helped him make sense of life.
Briefly introduce yourself.
I am a graphics designer and photographer. My personal journey has been shaped by my own experience with depression, which ignited my unwavering dedication to a life of service in helping those who suffer from mental afflictions.
At what point did you begin feeling depressed?
Despite having a life that seemed colourful, a well-paying job, and a good-looking family, and being at my peak physically, I found myself slowly slipping into an existential crisis. Plagued with the desire to find meaning in the routine of my life, I started feeling empty and confused about why I was even alive and for what purpose. This was towards the end of 2018.
What do you think triggered the condition?
Well, the monotony and lack of meaning in my life. I felt, at least, that if I could find meaning, the monotony would be at least bearable but this was not to be and I spiraled even deeper. Trying to fill my life with some ‘excitement’, I cheated on my wife with countless women but this made an already bad situation worse.
Ironically, when I did try to change this behaviour, it proved so difficult and I felt powerless and out of control. Now truly craving for change, I was unable to change, and the pain of seeing the damage of the mess I was creating, further compacted to the already terrible situation.
How did this experience affect your personal, family, and social life?
I was out of touch with myself, resulting in self-hate. Getting up was a problem, work was a struggle, and my marriage was on the rocks because of pathological cheating.
I was emotionally absent from my kids and I really came down hard on them whenever they misbehaved, even slightly. I was their bully, to be honest. I became very materialistic, not really caring about the close relationships around me. I made poor financial decisions by buying things I did not need to fill a gap inside me.
I withdrew from having a relationship with my aging mother, blocking her number and ultimately stopping my visits back home. I dived deeper into substance abuse just to feel some life within me. I was constantly living in fear. Fear that I was going to die or maybe clock out myself. Fear that I wasn’t enough. Otherwise, I wanted to leave everything behind and just disappear.
How did you come out of it?
It has been a process but in mid-2019, a Brazilian introduced me to entheogens, magic mushrooms to be precise after seeing my struggles. He started by explaining to me what DMT (N, N-dimethyltryptamine) was; how it is also created in the body, and how it could have some transformative effects on my life.
I also learnt that you could trigger it through meditation but I was in such a mess to sit still. That is where magic mushrooms came in. He gave me a small dose; I felt nothing physically but I did notice a calmness in the subsequent days.
Briefly take us through your transformational journey.
Where do I start? Well, for one, I experienced peace, love, and harmony. This was reflected both within me and in my marriage. I was no longer fighting about issues even though we did not have to agree on everything. My kids got their father for the first time, healing flowed in so naturally and it has been an amazing process.
My mother and I became friends. All my addictions had vanished, just like that! Creatively, I developed a skill in painting. Problem-solving became a breeze. All my fears and anxiety are gone, and I can make choices not based on survival. I have finally fallen in love with life.
I have taken the mushrooms a number of times and every time the revelations and lessons brought me to tears, further making my path sharper. I have never been this clear-minded in my life and I am able to see solutions in a way no psychiatrist in the entire world could have made me see. The integration is very crucial though.
What are you currently engaged in?
As I mentioned, I am self-employed. I do graphic design and photography. However, my passion is service in the mental health field, counselling, and motivational speaking.