Twenty-seven-year-old Mitchell Maldonado was diagnosed with chronic depression over a decade ago. Since then, doctors have prescribed him over 25 psychiatric medications—he’s currently on three. And he’s seen more therapists than he can count.

The drugs failed to heal Mitchell’s brain. He became so entrenched in his own despair, only the thought of killing himself offered him relief.

“I got to a point where suicidal ideation and the thought of suicide was very oddly calming to me,” he said. “I knew it was an option and it was an easy way out. I don’t remember a time where I didn’t think like that, even as a little kid.”

Out of options, Mitchell turned to Facebook and made a plea for help.

On July 13, 2021, he wrote: “If I do indeed perish someday due to my mental health struggles, blame the healthcare system, not me.”

A friend saw Mitchell’s post and alerted him about Phoenix Nest Community Project, a Chico clinic that heals mental illnesses with the only psychedelic therapy that is legal in California—ketamine. Mitchell called Phoenix Nest, and was sitting cross-legged and barefoot the very next day at his first ketamine therapy session.

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