More than 280 million people suffer from depression worldwide, with many not responding to conventional treatments, and over 5,000 lives are lost to suicide in the UK each year.
Former international Scotland rugby player Rory Lamont suffered a career-ending leg break and debilitating mental health crisis, which led him to seek healing through psychedelic medicine.
Lamont will speak on his experiences with mental illness and psychedelic-assisted therapy at PSYCH Symposium: London 2022. Ahead of the industry-leading event to accelerate access to psychedelic healthcare in Europe, PSYCH spoke with Lamont on its transformative potential.
‘I had a reasonable amount of success throughout my career,’ said Lamont. ‘I played at some good club teams alongside some world-class players and enjoyed my time, but my career was always blighted with injuries right from the beginning.
‘With each big injury you never quite fully recover, and the heavy use of prescription painkillers and anti-inflammatories was a regular occurrence, just to get through training and to get through games. The more injuries I suffered, the more I needed them to play effectively and the more my dependence on pharmaceutical drugs strengthened.
‘Over the space of my 10-year career, I was knocked unconscious 10 times and had 14 operations. My career-ending injury happened when I was 29, a leg break playing for Scotland. I went up for a ball and landed, but, as I got tackled, I got spun around – ending in a real bad leg break.
‘I spent the next year trying to get back, but the injury wouldn’t really heal and so that was the end of my rugby career. I was 29 when I got injured and 31 when I actually retired from the game. Almost immediately off the back of retiring, my health kind of collapsed.
‘I was stuck at home, had lost my job, was unable to walk and couldn’t really feed myself properly. Mainstream doctors didn’t have any answers really, and at that stage I slipped into a pretty dark place and was deeply depressed, with suicidal ideation. This depression is something a lot of rugby players go through when they retire, and I think there are a combination of factors there. For many, this is all they’ve ever known, everything they’ve dreamed of doing from a very young age. All they have ever been focused on is rugby and you kind of get institutionalised when you’re a professional rugby player.
‘Everything is taken care of and you get to know your team. You kind of feel like a family and you’re surrounded by your best friends every day. It is hard work, it’s brutal, but it’s also really good fun. Then you come to the end of your career and you’re ejected from the game, left to find your own way, and it’s such a big change in situation – kind of like you are cut adrift.
‘After I retired, I spoke about rugby’s problem with brain injuries and concussions, at a time before it was such a big talking point.
‘I started getting heat from Scottish Rugby and coupled with the injury it was a perfect storm.
I was in this depression and stuck on my sofa with severe pain for the next year. My social life died and I just felt really, really isolated and alone. I was not really sure how to move forward with my life and was dealing with suicidal ideation on a daily basis.
‘The whole time I was hoping for some kind of external intervention, that someone was going to come and rescue me from this deep despair I found myself in. I don’t know what could have been done, because of the state of my mind, my depression and how I really isolated myself from people.’
With 75% of suicides in the UK committed by men, Lamont commented on how the inability to communicate effectively often leads to isolation, which compounds depression.
‘Typically as a man, and especially a sportsman, I struggled to admit vulnerability and the need to call for help. At one point I remember being on my hands and knees, calling out to the universe for some kind of intervention.
‘A couple of weeks later, I was listening to this testimonial by a guy called Aubrey Marcus, a friend and business partner of Joe Rogan. He was speaking about his experience with the plant medicine iboga and it really resonated with me.
‘There was something within my heart that knew that this was what I had been looking for. I went to Costa Rica and had three ceremonies with the medicine. It changed my perspective on myself and my situation was completely transformed.
‘All the challenges I faced were still very much present, but iboga gave me a new perspective and way of looking at my circumstances. I saw my history in a new way, which gave me this new outlook. The depression and suicidal ideation were gone overnight, leaving me filled with optimism and an intuitive knowing of how to move forward.
‘From that point onwards, things very much changed. I started incorporating as many natural healing modalities into my life as I could. About three months later, I connected with ayahuasca and continued to get more insights and deeper introspection into my life.
‘Plant medicines helped me to get to the root of the suffering behind my emotions: the childhood experiences, interactions with parents and the traumatic events that happened in my life.’
To raise awareness of depression and psychedelic medicines as an intervention, Lamont will join a panel discussion at PSYCH Symposium: London 2022 on Wednesday, 11 May.
‘Events like the symposium are essential if we want to move forward into a new era of healthcare,’ commented Lamont. ‘Unless there is public pressure on politicians and the government, we’re probably not going to see the rescheduling of these medicines.
‘The symposium is crucial to raise awareness of the healing potential of plant medicines and to destigmatise their use. Once the public becomes aware of their healing potential, it is inevitable that pressure will be exerted on politicians to change the laws and reschedule these substances, so that we can access these medicines.
‘In the UK, suicide is the number one killer of men aged from 18 to 44, and with every day that passes, we are unnecessarily losing lives.’
The limited-capacity conference at the National Gallery provides a platform for the industry’s most influential figures to connect and collaborate. Secure your ticket today to connect with industry influencers, learn from the sector’s thought leaders and contribute to the future of psychedelics as medicine in Europe.
For more information, please visit the website: https://psych.global/symposium