Bye-bye Coffee, Hello Mushrooms

Will microdosing cure my insomnia and subsequent Karen-itis or just further expose my fragile nature to the world?

Nicole Paulus
3 min readAug 16, 2021
Marco Allegretti

Anxious episode after anxious episode followed by another sleepless night.

That’s my life these days.

At one point recently, I even had a near meltdown in Starbucks when the cashier refused to give me a Frappucino straw because they were out of paper straws and the Frap straws “were just too expensive” to be placed into a plebian iced oat latte. I offered to pay for one. She stared blankly at me and shook her head. She was not having any of my shenanigans.

Though I resisted catapulting my body over the counter and reaching my hand into that giant box of Frap Straws before telling her to go fuck herself, I’ve never felt MORE like a Karen than I did that day. I wasn’t proud of my caucacity or the surge of empathy that followed for any sassy whyte lady who has ever been denied something menial. Gross, I know.

To avoid molting into an even more monstrous Karen, I gave up caffeine and began microdosing mushrooms. I hoped this would help me combat the volatile roller coaster of emotions I was experiencing as of late. While it didn’t seem to do much for my insomnia, it did make me feel like a raw piece of meat unable to decipher whether the comments my partner sent my way while brunching with friends were malicious or his cute yet awkward way of making conversation.

Instead of swallowing the comment, I spoke up. Not at the table, but I spoke up within a few hours of the occurrence. When you are a tender piece of flesh, you no longer wait for things to get better. You approach the person who hurt you as soon as possible with a sandwich of criticism — a positive comment followed by the criticism, followed by another positive comment. My nervous system just can’t carry the weight of animosity any longer, whether intended or not. Not speaking up felt like a betrayal of self.

He did what most people do when you criticize them, he became defensive initially but then quickly apologized. He assured me that he hadn’t meant to embarrass me which actually just made me feel worse.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” I told him, “I’m just really sensitive these days.” Not only was I developing Karen tendencies, but I was also becoming a master gaslighter — of self. Anxiety is a helluva drug.

But that got me thinking — Am I really more sensitive “these days”, or have I ALWAYS been this sensitive?

Maybe I HAVE been erecting intricate layers of armor every time another toxic lover, manipulative business partner, flaky friend, or demanding client drifts in (and out) of my life. But WHY on earth were these protective layers melting away now (mushrooms, dat you?) And more importantly, could I learn to use my increased sensitivity as a superpower instead of a debilitating disability? I sure fucking hope so.

I don’t have the answers (yet) as I only slept 4 hours last night, but if and when I find them I’ll be sure to relay my findings. For now, I’m just trying my damndest to stay soft and open-hearted while I navigate this newly exposed rawness.