Tuesday, December 12
My boyfriend sends me a picture of the four little mushrooms.
I hadn’t taken my medicine in months. Seroquel, an antipsychotic, and Lexapro, an antidepressant. Both were supposed to treat my bipolar disorder – both did nothing. I’d read about psychedelics, particularly LSD, before; I’d heard of its whirlwind effects on the mind, how it can sometimes treat certain mental illnesses. I was at the end of my rope, looking for a last resort. I’d been considering suicide for the better part of five years. Dangling on a string, grasping for straws, met with not even a drop of hope. I was in desperate need of something new, something beautiful. If it meant taking a trip into my psyche, I was going to do it. Shrooms, though? I hadn’t done much research on those. From friends I’d heard it would be a spiritual experience, an emotional one.
I think, How much harm could it possibly bring me? Certainly no more mental damage than what’s already there.
Wednesday, December 13
While sitting on my bed, a hot bowl of mostly untouched black beans and rice in my lap, I decide to go for it. I make plans to meet up with my boyfriend later that night.
Preparation: I put some makeup on my face, grab a copy of one of my most calming books (Eat, Pray, Love), and change into comfy clothes. I hardly know what to expect.
In the car, my boyfriend tells me we’re going to grind the shrooms up and put them on burgers to quell some of the acrid, harsh taste.
“So I read that in people with preexisting mental illness, psychedelics can go one of two ways – they can hurt, or they can help. What if they hurt me? I could be be even worse than I already am,” I say. My stomach is in knots.
“You’re psyching yourself out,” he says, exasperated. “Just don’t think about it so much.”
I remember what my friends who have done psychedelics have told me. Sit back and let it take over you. Don’t fight it, or else you’ll spiral into a bad trip. Just relax.
Around nine in the evening, now sitting on his bed, burgers and shrooms spread out before us, I brace myself. How stupid, I think. Tons of people have done psychedelics. I’m probably the only one who gets so freaked out.
He grinds the shrooms up, and we spread them over the food. Then we eat.
It doesn’t taste nice.
“How long will it take to work?” I ask.
“About thirty to forty-five minutes,” he says.
It’s too late to turn back now.
A little over ten minutes later, I develop a migraine. The worst headache I can remember having in a long time. Second symptom, nausea. I’d read in the past that nausea was a side effect of the body struggling to digest shrooms, but the headache, I hadn’t heard of that one. Besides, only ten minutes in, how could I be feeling it already?
Ten more minutes pass. My boyfriends turns on his television to a four-hour YouTube video of “trippy” visuals and adds hours of music to a Spotify queue. He lets me add my own songs – mostly Grateful Dead, for comfort.
(at this point, we are not tripping yet, but getting there. This is the period where the shrooms first begin to take effect.)
It is now around thirty minutes after we ate the shroom-burgers, and as we watch the visuals on the TV screen, suddenly both of us find everything hilarious. On the screen is a strange combination of geometric patterns, hyper-saturated colors, and first-person journeys into tubes that lead to more tubes.
“We’re in tubes upon tubes upon tubes,” I say to my boyfriend, giggling uncontrollably.
“Do you even remember what the word ‘tube’ means? I don’t.”
In the same way that if someone says a word too many times, it begins to lose its meaning, both of us forget what that word means. We look it up online and still can’t comprehend it. We laugh. At everything. Things that aren’t even funny. I feel loopy, the nausea and headache I had been feeling earlier had gone away. At this point, I’m just feeling like I’d smoked a lot of weed, not that I’d taken a psychedelic. No visuals yet, nor any of the things that make up a typical trip experience.
I’m texting some of my friends about the tubes and the loopiness and this next video we had put on called Electric Sheep. I feel happy, high. This goes on for about fifteen to twenty minutes, and since my boyfriend had taken almost double the amount of shrooms that I did, he begins to trip. A Grateful Dead song is on.
Well, this is disappointing, I think. How come I’m not experiencing this yet? Shouldn’t it have kicked in by now?
I decide to eat another shroom. This one I eat whole, no food disguising the taste. It’s absolutely awful.
THE TRIP (GOOD):
(this is the main event of psychedelics, the one many people who haven’t tried them are most interested in hearing about.)
I notice that colors become more vivid, saturated. I see 3D colors. Objects are lined in red and blue. The visuals on the TV are coming to life. My body feels warm, fuzzy, and heavy from head to toe. My limbs weighed down by sandbags. Rather than giggling at everything, I start to think very deeply.
I text a friend: “I’m getting into the thinking aspect of it. I think this is where you’re going to need to help calm me because all these emotions are coming forward. It’s physically hurting my chest.” I grab my boyfriend’s journal and a pen and write one sentence: I can’t tell if I am on top of the world or lying underneath it.
I can feel myself spiraling, but I remember what I’d read and heard to avoid a bad trip: don’t overthink it, just relax and let it take over. Fighting this will make it worse. Breathe, meditate, ground yourself. Lose yourself in your mind. Explore yourself, take this as an opportunity to grow.
I do all these things, and am pleasantly surprised to find that the anxiety has gone away. I am now feeling more joyful and optimistic than I’ve ever felt in my life. I notice that the walls and my phone screen are “breathing.” Growing bigger, then shrinking. Grow, shrink. Grow, shrink, as if they are taking breaths. The red curtains are vibrating. Everything is moving, but in slow motion. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album plays.
“This is the best music I’ve ever heard,” I say to my boyfriend. He’s fully immersed in the trip, too, so we enjoy the visuals together. There are posters on the wall, and they are moving very slowly, leaving traces of themselves behind, almost spreading on the walls.
I had thought that I’d be frightened by the trip, but instead, I find myself in pure awe of the things going on around me. We notice that if we move our hands in front of our faces, they look shifty, slow.
Happiness is bursting out of me. Reaching to the very core of my being. I feel like shouting it from the rooftops, spreading this elation to everyone.
I text my friends about it. I tell my boyfriend that my bipolar depression, anxiety and BPD are gone, fallen away like gentle leaves. In this moment, I know nothing but the purest kind of joy, the kind that makes you love life and everyone in it.
I begin to dissociate from myself. I’d already had a problem with dissociation for years, but this time, instead of being scary and dark, it’s okay. From the very bottom of my heart, everything is okay. It’s a feeling I had never known until this moment.
Instead of being a person, I am a concept. I am one with the universe. I am connected to nature, to every person on this earth. I’d read about something called ego death. I’d thought I would be frightened by it, but no, this? This is lovely. This is exactly what I need. My mental illnesses are gone. How can this be?
Shrooms are a miracle drug.
I am having the strangest sensation that I am living in a 1950’s style movie. In a pastel diner, baby blue and scarlet red booths. I am not me. I am someone else. Pink Floyd’s song Cash plays in the background. I think it is the best song I’ve ever heard. Every song is the best song I’ve ever heard. My boyfriend is both taking in my happiness and giving it off himself. I feel like we are not two separate people but one. My thoughts are his own. His are mine.
The colors from the television are bouncing around the room. I tell him that I am healed, that I am genuinely happy and I will be forever.
That full-body warmth spreads to my fingertips. Euphoria has me in its soft, comforting arms. I feel loving and loved.
THE TRIP/COMEDOWN? (BAD):
(The good aspect of my trip lasted for 4-5 hours. Shroom trips last around 4-6 hours. At this point, I inexplicably began to fall into an extreme low. I don’t know why this happened, and I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of trying to analyze it, I’m just going to describe it. These descriptions may be disturbing to some. It’s difficult and upsetting for me to recount everything that happened, so I apologize if this isn’t as detailed as the good portion. I’m going to switch from present-tense to past-tense during this, as it’s more comfortable for me to describe this that way than put myself inside of it again.)
The bad portion happened around thirty minutes after the good portion ended. For that short period in between, I felt stuck in a limbo, neither good nor bad. At that point, I had held a normal conversation with my boyfriend. The visuals were gone. I thought I was coming down. Well, that was a good trip. I thought. Now I’m back to normal.
And then it happened. I started spiraling. And this time, I didn’t calm myself, didn’t want to. My thoughts were completely fragmented, incoherent. I went from texting my friends in a manic high about how happy I was that my mental illnesses had gone away, to not texting anyone at all. Mostly because it was difficult to type proper thoughts and I was embarrassed about it. I told my boyfriend that I was starting to lose that insane joy that I’d felt before. He told me that it’s okay, it’ll be okay.
But it was becoming difficult for me to feel okay. I couldn’t even remember what that felt like. I felt like I had been on a plane, soaring smoothly through the clouds, and suddenly I’d made a crash landing. The amazing visuals started to disappear. I was drowning in my thoughts, but still dissociated from them. At the time, I interpreted going through my psyche as wandering through a forest in the black of night. I had no weapons to defend myself against the roots that were slithering away from the trees and cutting at my feet.
The warmth I had felt earlier was gone. I was freezing cold. The depression and negative mental patterns that I thought were gone came back, this time with a vengeance. I was absolutely heartbroken. How stupid of me to think that they could just go away. They’d never go away. I was stuck with them and would be forever. The only way out was through death, but probably not even then. I felt doomed forever. Instead of feeling happy to the core, I felt crushed. I was humiliated and shocked that I had felt so elated just hours before. Was it all a lie?
The thoughts got worse.
Did you really think that you would be okay? That’s absolutely laughable. How could you be so stupid? You don’t deserve to be okay. Everyone hates you. You should hate yourself. And you deserve to hate yourself. Happiness is for them. Not you. The only thing you deserve is death.
During that time, my boyfriend had turned off the TV and music and was going to sleep. He had had a good comedown. I attempted sleep myself, but I couldn’t, even though my eyes were burning.
The hallucinations started once he fell asleep. A thought came to me that he wasn’t sleeping, he was dead. It occurred to me to check that he was still breathing.
Wait, what? How could he be dead? You’re just paranoid. Stop that, I told myself.
I was hearing banging outside the bedroom door. I almost woke him up to ask him what his family was doing out there, because it was irritating me. Then I stopped for a second and listened closer, and there was nothing. It was in my head. Later, I asked him about it, and he said that everyone was asleep, that I was hearing things. It was around two am.
My senses started to quicken to the point of sensory overload. I heard crackling sounds around me, like someone was chewing Pop Rocks. This was in my head, too, I realized.
I woke my boyfriend up once. “Something’s happening to me,” I said. “I’m hearing things that aren’t there. I think I’m going crazy. What if I stay this way forever?”
“You’re not going crazy,” he said. He held me until I was relatively calm, then went back to sleep. I desperately wanted him to stay awake so I wouldn’t be alone with my thoughts, but felt bad asking him to because I didn’t want to annoy him.
That’s another thought I was having. You’re so annoying. Don’t you realize that no one wants you around them? No one wants you to be alive. Why do you think all your friends left you? Why do you think all your past relationships failed? You’re annoying. Just shut up for once. Let him sleep.
The auditory hallucinations started to fade, but in their place came visual ones. I saw silhouettes dancing around the walls. I saw a man in a black suit and tie sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at me with red eyes. I saw a demonic creature on the wall. I saw red letters in the air that spelled out “THEY’RE COMING FOR YOU.” I felt a pain in my left wrist, then looked down and realized I had been digging my nails into my skin. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I wanted to kill myself. I thought of going home and swallowing a whole bottle of Adderall.
It was pure insanity. I still saw geometric patterns, but instead of being funny like they were during the good trip, they represented death, murder, suicide, all the bad things I could think of. I woke my boyfriend up again because I needed him to turn the light on so I would stop seeing things in the darkness. He lit a candle. It got a little better.
At one point, I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I remember was waking up at around nine in the morning. The psychotic delusions and hallucinations were gone, but I felt like I’d been hit by a train. My eyes hurt from scratching at them for hours on end. My head pounded. I felt weak.
The trip was over. We went to a convenience store, got coffee and some doughnuts, and then he dropped me off at my house.
This was the day before yesterday. I’m still trying to make sense of what happened. I’m just writing this now so I have it somewhere, in case I forget. For now, I’m putting this off as a bad dream I had.
I don’t condone the use of psychedelics or any illegal drug. But I’m also not trying to scare anyone off of them. The truth is, though some people with mental disorders benefit from these drugs, in a lot of cases, they just don’t. They take you into your psyche. They reveal repressed memories. If you’re not comfortable with temporary insanity and complete loss of control, stay away from them.
I don’t know how to think of my trip. When it was good, it was the best I’ve ever felt. Unfortunately, the bad was so horrible that it outweighed the good. And I can’t look back at it and think of it as good.
I hope you all have a good day and thanks for reading.