Stanislav Hybadulin was born and raised in Chisinau, Moldova. In 2013, he founded Scutul Social, a right-wing organization known for conducting raids against pedophiles and drug dealers. At that time, his perspective on psychoactive substances was highly negative.
When the war erupted in Ukraine, Stanislav relocated to Kyiv and joined a volunteer regiment in the eastern part of the country, where he earned the call sign "Hitman." Despite sustaining three severe injuries, he courageously returned to the battlefield each time. These traumatic experiences left a profound impact on Stas's mental well-being, leading to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Traditional treatments proved ineffective in alleviating his suffering. However, a bold decision to explore psychedelic therapy would ultimately revolutionize his life.
A particular day and time remain etched in my memory: February 22, 2018, at 17:00. It was near Svitlodarsk when we found ourselves ambushed. Engaged in a fierce exchange of fire, my close friend and I fell under a grenade attack. The loss of my dear friend Ilya Serbin had a profound impact on my life.
His name was Ilya Serbin. Ilya was a remarkable individual who exuded self-assurance and conducted himself with unwavering conviction. Being around him instilled a sense of security, knowing that he always made the right choices. He possessed a background in psychology, and his profound understanding of human behavior and capabilities was evident.
As a child, my anti-communist grandmother instilled in me a clear understanding of what russia represented and who the true aggressor was. When the war in Ukraine erupted, we organized rallies both at football matches and in front of the Russian embassy. However, it became evident that merely shouting "Putin is a dickhead" would not suffice. Like many nationalist individuals from Russia and Belarus, I made an immediate decision to join the war effort.
In the spring of 2015, I arrived in Kyiv and enlisted in the Azov Volunteer Regiment. I immersed myself in the language, mastering my first Ukrainian words, and underwent training in a sabotage and reconnaissance group. Eventually, Azov was transferred to the second front line, while I joined the Kyivan Rus battalion and became a part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
During our downtime in the barracks, when we were away from the front line, I felt frustrated. Despite daily training and reading, I yearned for the intensity of combat missions.
Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Transformed My Life in a Single Session
I saw blood gushing from his jaw, a severe injury to his jugular vein. When we were being evacuated, I prayed to God, asking Him to spare Ilya and take me instead. I believed he deserved to live more than I did. I had deep love and respect for him.
The doctors later told me they brought me back from the brink of death. I had suffered critical injuries to the central femoral vein and artery. Shrapnel had entered my abdomen, cutting through my intestines and piercing my stomach and spleen. They had to remove my spleen, and I lost three liters of blood.
Looking back, I realize those thoughts were foolish, but at that time, all I could think about was seeking revenge, fighting until the end, and being willing to die in battle. It became my driving force to return, even though I knew it would be challenging on the front lines. Following the prescribed diet was particularly difficult, as it differed greatly from the standard army rations.
The nature of my injury was such that my intestines had to be brought out to facilitate healing. For seven months, I walked around with them outside my body. Then, they surgically repaired my intestines and provided me with a month of rehabilitation. After just one month, I returned to the war.
That's how our army operates: if you claim everything is fine, no one questions it. No one checks how you truly feel or considers the state of your mental well-being. They have no understanding of what a psychologist does.
The second injury I sustained was from an anti-tank missile. The rocket detonated just 20 cm away, resulting in the loss of my fingers. As I looked at my hand, I thought, "Not bad, at least it's not my wrist, only the phalanges." Since it was winter with a lot of snow, I felt there was no use searching for the severed finger bones. I also had shrapnel wounds on my arms, chest, and head, along with a concussion that caused me to lose consciousness. I underwent treatment for two months, and then I was back in action.
I came back, practised my revenge, and carried out my duties. During one mission, I stepped on a mine. It exploded, but I remained standing on one leg. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. Through the thermal imaging sight, I witnessed an elastic band slowly flying out of the explosion, just like in the movies. Then I turned my head and saw my severed leg nearby. Even then, I thought, "Well, there's no point in picking it up. It won't make a difference." Hopping on one leg, I signaled to my comrades because I was the first to lead as a division commander.
We blew up alongside the separatists' positions in the woods. They began to surround us. Not wanting to slow down my fellow soldiers, I told them, "You go, I'll stay." I was ready to fight back with my last bullet, even if it meant sacrificing my life. That's how desperate I was. However, my comrades pulled me out.
After leaving the army, I spent some time in a military hospital. The thoughts of Ilya's death continued to haunt me, causing guilt, anxiety, and fear. Suicide often crossed my mind. Then, the psychologist in the hospital approached me, offering a piece of paper and some pencils, saying, "Here, Stas, draw. It will make you feel better."
They offered other therapies too, like working with dolphins. But when I saw the conditions those dolphins lived in, I realized it wasn't right. Keeping animals like that to help veterans just doesn't make sense. I'm against that kind of therapy — it's both cruel and ineffective.
I also gave other methods a try, such as tango dancing, as a way to rehabilitate myself. But to be honest, I don't believe that dancing and drawing alone are effective in overcoming severe PTSD. In my personal experience, they couldn't compare to what I would later discover—psychedelic therapy.
At the time, I didn't even know what PTSD was or understand what was happening to me. I experienced constant sweating, extreme fatigue, and unrelenting anxiety. I thought it was some kind of virus. And then the panic attacks started — coughing, struggling to breathe, sometimes multiple times a day. I had all sorts of tests done, even suspected cancer at one point, but it turned out to be related to my spleen. Eventually, I was referred to a psychiatrist.
The psychiatrist at the military hospital prescribed antidepressants, so I started taking them. After three months, the panic attacks began to subside, you know, they became less intense. Six months later, the symptoms seemed to disappear, but I had this lingering feeling that something was still deeply rooted inside me. However, being not a psychiatrist myself, I didn't know the right way to handle it. They told me to take the pills, so I continued taking them.
A year later, the doctor said, "You can slowly taper off the antidepressants." It was the summer of 2021, and I had just completed my first year of university, which had been extremely challenging for me. PTSD affects cognitive functions severely. For example, when I tried to read a book, I could only focus for five minutes, and then my mind would wander elsewhere. I couldn't comprehend anything, and soon fatigue would overwhelm me, making me fall asleep.
As the summer began, I stopped taking the antidepressants. But in August, right before my second year of university was set to start, I started experiencing coughing fits. It wasn't a cold or a virus. I called the psychiatrist in a panic, asking, "Hey, why is this happening again? What should I do?" It turned out to be an autumn exacerbation of my symptoms. The solution? Antidepressants again.
So, I bought the antidepressants again. As the new academic year began, I felt a complete lack of interest and motivation. Each day, it seemed to get worse. I even experienced panic attacks while taking Paroxetine, which is a potent antidepressant with anti-anxiety properties.
I desperately wanted to find a way to treat my PTSD so I could focus on my studies. I considered going to the hospital and even made an appointment. However, things took a different turn when a friend told me about a special technique and introduced me to a practicing therapist. We started talking, and this therapist exuded a sense of confidence and calmness that reminded me of Ilya. I became intrigued.
With my limited understanding of English, I went home and started reading articles about psilocybin. I found a wealth of information, including the recognition by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) of its potential as a breakthrough therapy for PTSD and depression. As I read more, I realized that this information was reliable, not just some nonsense.
I told the therapist that I was ready to try it. However, before proceeding, I called my psychiatrist to inquire about this technique. He was a modern-minded person, not some conservative type. He said, "Yes, I've heard of it, but I've also heard that it can be dangerous. You might not be able to come out of that state." His response scared me a bit, but I decided to proceed with the therapy anyway. After all, what did I have to lose?
It all began with the first sensations — I felt my blood vessels constricting, and my heartbeat became louder. It started to scare me a little. However, the therapist quickly reassured me. I could feel his empathy, and I knew he didn't want to cause me any harm. He said, "I believe in you. You're a warrior. You're strong." These words gave me a powerful push to embrace the process.
During the therapy sessions, we touched upon various issues, but my main focus was on the overwhelming guilt I carried for Ilya's death. I felt that it was my biggest burden. Through the therapy, I was finally able to truly understand and accept that blaming myself served no purpose. It made no sense — none at all...
My cognitive functions improved drastically — I could read for hours without getting tired. I didn't need any antidepressants anymore, and the panic attacks were completely gone. It was as if everything fell into place in my mind. I felt an incredible sense of well-being. I started engaging in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and took up running.
Every day, I would have my training sessions, and astonishingly, there were no more panic attacks. It felt like a miracle, something truly incredible. I understood that psilocybin had given me what antidepressants couldn't provide. Specifically, it was the psychedelic therapy that made the difference.