As you might know I’ve been pretty stressed out recently. This stress led me to taking a holiday, which happened to be in Amsterdam. Being in Amsterdam led me to taking magic mushrooms. (Obviously).
I am mostly interested in drugs for their potential for giving me new perspectives on consciousness and new ways to grow as a person. Though I have always been cautious about drugs, I’m slowly waking up to the fact that they might be rather more interesting than I had previously thought, and rather less dangerous if done correctly.
Magic mushrooms were interesting to me in particular because of stuff I had read on the internet suggesting that they might be useful for treating PTSD. I’m not sure whether I would qualify as suffering from PTSD, but it’s clear that I have gone through trauma and I certainly felt like this trauma was influencing me. I felt like it was lingering somewhere in my psyche, making my general state of emotional wellbeing heavier and more negative. I was hoping that mushrooms could help cleanse me of that, and give me a clean slate, so to speak.
Before I get into my drug experience, let me explain a little dream experience I had recently. Don’t worry, the reason I’m bringing this up will become clear.
A little while back I had a lucid dream. “Lucid” means that I was aware of being in a dream while dreaming. This allows me to choose my actions in the dream rather than follow some kind of unconscious script, and makes it possible to influence the dream world a bit directly with my intention.
The dream in question had qualities I recognise as signifying a low spiritual vibration or a negative mental state: the environment was dark, enclosed, and with objects close together, giving little sense of space.
This sort of environment usually signifies a nightmare for me and this time was no exception. I found myself suddenly surrounded by three entities. I say “entities”, well, they looked like people, shadowy and grey like the surrounding environment, but through that kind of inexplicable knowing you get sometimes in dreams, I understood them to be demons. They closed in on me with the intention of hurting me. Torturing me actually… their demeanor was one of unfettered malevolence. And I felt that they had the power to hurt me. I’m no great lucid dream martial artist, and my influence over my environment is weaker in the darker dreams.
After a short while trying to think of what to do, I tried my self-love meditation on an impulse. In this meditation, I say the words “I love myself”, and focus on the feeling of self love spreading through my body.
As I did this, something amazing happened. Not only the demons but the entire dream disappeared. Suddenly, I was flying above a beautiful natural landscape, with bright sunlight and lots and lots of space. Being the opposite of my dark dreams, my bright flying dreams signify a positive inner state. It seems I had transformed my entire inner landscape in that one moment.
Anyway, back to drugs.
I planned to take the mushrooms with a friend, “A.”. Seeing as we couldn’t trip in the house of the friend (“L.”) we were staying with in Amsterdam, we went to a nearby park to take the mushrooms together.
It was a nice sunny day, if a little too cold to be absolutely comfortable. We found a tree to sit under and ate our mushrooms. I took half of the single dose I had bought, wanting to be safe (we were advised to do so and take more after an hour if necessary). A. took 70% of their dose.
The mushrooms tasted neither especially good nor especially bad, just sort of dry and musky. I was rather nervous, but what was done was done; I decided to meditate a bit, though I found it hard to get into the flow. After a while I just sat and waited.
After about half an hour I started noticing effects. Mostly, my vision began to “swim” a bit and things on the periphery of my vision looked a bit distorted in shape. When I closed my eyes, I saw a hint of a geometric floral pattern. Having seen psychedelic art before, it amused me how close the art was to the reality here.
After about an hour since taking the mushrooms, the “swimming” effect on my vision became stronger, but I didn’t really have any hallucinations (at least not with my eyes open). I also felt a sense of time distortion. I rather disliked these effects, and physically I was feeling very nauseous. I had been told that mushrooms take an hour to reach maximal effect, so I assumed that this was all I was going to get out of them. I rather disliked the feeling, and resolved to vomit up the drugs in the hope of shortening the trip.
We went over to the café which we had previously determined as being a place where we could use the toilet if necessary. I asked the owner again if I could use his toilet, trying my best to appear sober. Then I went to the toilet and vomited up the entire contents of my stomach. As I sat on the toilet seat after that, I saw vivid patterns in the wall in front of me; I couldn’t work out if the drug was just emphasizing patterns that were already there or if I was actually hallucinating them.
We went back to the park. I paid attention to the effects and told A. about them as I was experiencing them. I seemed to be going in and out of “lucidity”, kind of like in a dream. I would kind of forget myself, and my life, and be involved in nothing but the present moment (though not in a particularly Zen way). Then I would take consciousness again, and remember that I had a life, a past and a future outside of this trip.
I came to understand that what I was experiencing had the quality of a dream, with the difference that unlike with most dreams, I was awake while having it. I also felt that whatever stuff dreams were made out of was more concentrated than usual, here.
The swimming of my vision reminded me most of those times when I was incredibly tired and fighting to stay awake, where dreams were starting to encroach on my waking consciousness. I also kept having the feeling of having just woken up from a dream. When I told this to A., they suggested that maybe it meant I was coming down from the drug. As I realised later, it was not that at all. Instead, I think that it felt that way because I was having a dream while awake, and the only comparable feeling to that in normal life is when you’ve just woken up from a dream and have a foot in both worlds, so to speak.
I experienced a growing anxiety. Most of all, I suppose, it came from the feeling of a loss of control. I wanted out of the trip but had no way of achieving that but to wait. The combined feeling of strong anxiety and nausea was really, really uncomfortable.
A., who was having a much milder and more pleasant trip, helped me. We double checked what the internet had to say about anti-anxiety medication, and once satisfied, I took a small dose of Lorazepam, which would hopefully help with the freakout. We also called the friend we were staying with, and he agreed to let me come back and ride out my bad trip in relative safety and comfort.
A. took my hand and helped me get back. Because of the time distortion, the walk felt rather long, even though it must have been only about seven minutes in reality. I seemed to move in and out of full consciousness in that walk; in my memory I see black patches in between waking moments.
At one point, I had an inspiration. I decided to try my self-love meditation. The energy moved through me quickly, and I suddenly came close to having an orgasm. I realised that just as self love had helped me out of a bad dream, this could help me with a bad trip. Though I wanted to avoid having actual orgasms on the street, I kept up some of this focus and it seemed to help to start turn the experience around and reduce the anxiety I was feeling.
As we approached the house of our friend, there were some loud, assholey-seeming male kids on the pavement, coming in our direction. As usual in such situations, I was nervous, as I know that male kids are not unlikely to try and mess with people they perceive as vulnerable and/or LGBT, which indeed they probably perceived us as. The mushrooms made the anxiety feel particularly strong and uncomfortable, and time distortion made the experience particularly weird, as that tense moment waiting to see if we would get past the dudebros safely seemed to stretch on and on.
I tried some more self love meditation then, and saw a pair of eagle wings spread out, as if to symbolise strength. (I saw this vividly in my mind’s eye, or in a moment of dreaming; it wasn’t superimposed onto reality like I always imagined hallucinations to be).
We got past the bros without incident, and got back to the house.
By this time, thanks to the self-love meditation, I was largely feeling better, though there was still some anxiety and overwhelm, not to mention nausea. I lay down on the mattress, and tried to get comfortable.
I came to realise that dreaming with my eyes open was just not for me. With focus, I could remain in reality, but that was just struggling against the effect. When I closed my eyes, I began to see all sorts of visions. I realised that really, there was not much difference between this and a regular dream, except that I could open my eyes whenever I wanted to. It helped me a lot to realise that. Dreams, I knew how to deal with. Dreams are not scary. With my eyes closed, the mushroom trip was almost a familiar experience. It was easier to let go after that.
I forgot a lot of what I saw afterwards, sadly (yet another way it was like a dream, I suppose). But I did feel like I was going through some sort of healing or growth experience. I saw my fear/anxiety symbolised as a snake, and I saw the spirit of the mushrooms symbolised as a sort of chinese dragon. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I remember he was a guide to me in this trip, and taught me about dealing with fear and other life lessons.
At one point (in an eyes-open moment) I felt a lot of longing for my boyfriend, and picked up my phone and started chatting with him online. To start with I wanted reassurance of his love, or just to experience the feeling of his love, but soon I found myself in a sensation of being absolutely connected with him. It felt strangely out of place to tell him “I love you”, because the love was all around and all-pervading, so ridiculously obvious that stating it sounded a bit like saying “water is wet”.
I also longed for some other friends, and wanted to write to them, but seeing as such a physical effort was somewhat hard, it let that one go.
I also felt, especially towards the end of the trip, a lot of euphoria. It was basically the same as the warm feeling I sometimes feel in between sleep and waking, except it was rather strong and went on for a long time. I felt that this warm light had some kind of healing power in it.
As the end of the trip neared, I was really comfortable in this warm feeling and, just like I sometimes don’t want to wake up in the morning and face my problems, I didn’t want the trip to end.
The first hour of my trip had been rather bad, then the trip had been good but still scary and overwhelming, and then the final hour was just really nice and comfortable. I’d love to access that feeling again; it was like a little holiday from my stress.
After the trip was over I was still a bit weak. Me, A., and L. watched some anime together for a while, though I found I was rather sensitive and found the conflict in the anime somewhat uncomfortable. After a couple of episodes I suggested we watch My Little Pony instead, which is rarely if ever scary. After a while I thought to do a quick root chakra visualisation, similar to the one I used to bring me back to Earth after my MDMA trip, and it seemed to help pull me together a bit.
During the most intense moments of my trip I had felt like it was going to be a turning point in my life, and that I would awake from the trip transformed. I gave it a couple of days before I let myself write anything on my blog, knowing from my last trip with MDMA it’s easy to get blown away by a drug and rave a bit too much about your new enlightenment. Actually, the reality was somewhere in the middle; I no longer imagine my mushroom trip to have been a major turning point in my life, but I do feel like I got some new perspectives and seem to have gone through some real healing. I feel more grounded than before, a bit lighter, and a bit more mellow. Perhaps it’s true that that warm glow helped heal my traumas.
I rather feel like I only got part of what I could have gotten out of the trip, because I spent so long struggling with my fear of losing control and didn’t spend much time just letting go and letting the mushrooms do their work. I would really like to have another trip sometime soon, one where I’m in a safe comfortable space from the beginning (preferably with my boyfriend) and be able to really let go and get into the experience. Perhaps that will give me the healing I seek. Or maybe it’ll take several more trips. I do feel like I’m onto something, though.