Join 3,438 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

Making sense of a bad drug experience
September 16, 2006 2:50 AM   Subscribe

Please help me make sense of a terrible drug experience from my youth.

In my early 20s I was given something that I did not realize at the time was a drug, let alone LSD. I had never had a drug experience before. It happened to be at a difficult and stressful time of my life living in a whole new city without friends. The first half hour or hour of the experience was fantastic - everything on television I found hysterically funny for no apparent reason. Eventually the faces on the TV started to take on weird, disturbing images and sounds and I felt I had to disappear into my bedroom. From there I went to Hell in my mind basically. I thought I was going insane from all these crazy perceptions and fear I was having. I was particularly concerned that the person with me who had also taken LSD would notice I was in a panicked state inside and this would cause him to panic and we would become hysterical or suicidal or something. I had all sorts of amazing visions and thoughts which stick with me even to this day (one in particular - I saw these very intricate and colorful crystalline patterns which I saw so clearly I could have drawn them yet I have no eye for art whatsoever). I started writing what I was thinking during the experience as it was the only way I felt I could maintain a grip on reality. I looked at myself in the mirror at some stage and was in complete shock at how terrible I looked. I had the face of someone who had just been in a major car crash. To cut an all-night story short where I managed to keep it all together, I came out the other side feeling like I had learnt things I was too young to learn about myself. I felt burnt out and lacking motivation - like I had lost my ego which was keeping me going through my new life. I've heard about similar feelings from young war veterans who witnessed atrocities.

I did recover my motivation eventually and never took anything like that again (and never will either), but the world never had quite the magical wonder and possibility about it ever again. Did I have a nervous breakdown? Years later I'm a normal, healthy individual with a fairly happy settled life now. I just wonder if anyone can help me understand what I went through back then - medically or philosophically.
posted by zaebiz to Health & Fitness (42 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
No, you had a bad trip.

That's what a bad trip is, exactly what you described. That's what happened. They're hell.
posted by Jairus at 2:51 AM on September 16, 2006


Post Hallucinogenic Perceptual Disorder
Depersonalization disorder

Either way, it sounds like you still have some real pain about this, and you might want to go in to talk to someone in a professional setting about this.
posted by gregschoen at 3:07 AM on September 16, 2006


I meant to say, IF you still have some real pain about this... its late.
posted by gregschoen at 3:10 AM on September 16, 2006


Eh, it's just a trip. The shock of what exactly constitutes tripping was somewhat magnified by your lack of experience with drugs before. Everything seems pretty standard about your story, the only thing that sounds like it is missing is a loss of a sense of time. My first hard trip took about a lifetime to end. But yeah, looking in the mirror your face looks all broken out, and you feel like you need a haircut or some sun or maybe less sun or whatever. Patterns are definitely a theme. You start to see the natural occurance of fractals, etc. Inanimate objects melting and breathing is common, too. Clouds can race by, pictures or artwork of fire makes it seem like a live flame.

My first trip, at 16, was epic (as was the experience of my peers). From what I hear from friends who still eat acid/shrooms who are in their twenties now, they just say that it's only mildly entertaining in comparison.

I would attribute the loss of "magical wonder" to the taboo that society places on these kinds of drugs. All those drug pamphlets and elementary school assemblies that told us about how doing drugs once would leave us mentally crippled for the rest of our lives seems to haunt us in our subconscious (what any trip will bring right out in the open). The world is a real place, and if hallucinating doesn't allow you to come away with a sense of appreciation of reality, something I definitely took for granted before I ever tripped, then I don't know what would.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 3:19 AM on September 16, 2006


Agreed. You had a bad trip and took a while to get over it. The fact that you had neither the experience, nor the support to properly deal with this experience didn't help.

Medically I doubt there is anything severely wrong with you, though the fact that you've taken LSD once would make most "doctors" state otherwise.

Psychologically you're probably pretty normal as well. LSD does fucked up things to your mind and makes even the smallest passing thought seem more important than it normally would. Especially when you are panicked or uncomfortable.

I wouldn't suggest taking LSD again. Since it is a psychoactive drug, the previous bad experience would most likely cause you to have another bad experience. I personally quit after two bad trips in a row. I know that they were a product of the situations I was in at the time, but there is also the chance that the second was made worse by the memories of the previous bad experience even though they were years apart.
posted by ChazB at 3:32 AM on September 16, 2006


I would attribute the loss of "magical wonder" to the taboo that society places on these kinds of drugs.

Or, zaebiz just had a trip and didn't like it. That's fair enough; there's plenty of reasons why that might be so. Some people don't like the loss of self-control; some don't like their perceptions being assaulted quite so violently. It's a perfectly normal reaction.

Not everything comes down to The Man implanting propaganda against your favourite recreational pharmaceutical...
posted by Pinback at 3:33 AM on September 16, 2006


What your friend did - dosing you without your knowledge or consent - was very wrong. Did you end up finding out what happened at any point during the experience?

As far as your bad trip goes, remember that what you experienced was only the chemical interacting with your nervous system. The bad thoughts and feelings weren't 'real'. Most of what you experienced is also quite common, although without the benefit of knowing what was going on.

If it means anything, I'm turning 35 soon and I still take psychedelics a few times a year. In the first year of my real experimentation with them (20), I had a series of bad trips that I thought I could never recover from. It was difficult to cope with until I got a little older and looked at psychedelics in a non-romanticized way.

I suggest you read some of the many books on psychotropic substances. I would lean more towards authors who are not a part of the medical establishment (free to speak their mind). Of course, take anything with a grain of skepticism - but I believe demystifying these drugs is key to overcoming the remnants of bad experiences.

Another suggestion is to research and practice some other form of achieving an 'altered state'. You can use these other methods as tools for overcoming the bad trips as well.
posted by melt away at 5:16 AM on September 16, 2006


What everyone else has said: You had a bad trip, which you were not expecting, not prepared for, and had to cope with alone. What your friend did would merit the ass-kicking of a lifetime. LSD and it's ilk are not toys.

Albert Hoffman in LSD: My Problem Child said that Timothy Leary and his crew attempted to order several million doses from his chemical company back in the day. Imagine the chaos that would have occurred if they had managed to dose the water supply.
posted by unixrat at 5:48 AM on September 16, 2006


Anybody who wants to know whether their own drug experiences are anything like anybody else's needs to go look at erowid.org. Just don't treat it as a reliable source of good advice :)
posted by flabdablet at 5:58 AM on September 16, 2006


Thanks for the helpful and reassuring answers so far. I understand I had what people call a bad trip but I wonder if it was a trigger for some other psychological process. As soon as I had taken it, I was told what it was and was assured it would be fantastic. Apparently the guy I was with had a fantastic time.

Without meaning to sound like Officer Joe of Narc Patrol on Metafilter-duty, I cannot see how people can take this stuff. I understand the highs are extremely high and wonderful etc etc but the risk of being in Hell all night and having your mind completely out of your control is just not worth the risk in my estimation. If I was given the option of a few unbelievably heavenly highs provided every now and then I was to be in a head-on car collision in carload of flesh eating zombies trying to drink me through a straw, I think I'd just stick to energy drinks.

Looking forward to more replies.
posted by zaebiz at 6:18 AM on September 16, 2006


I did recover my motivation eventually and never took anything like that again (and never will either), but the world never had quite the magical wonder and possibility about it ever again.

as people move on through life they often lose and then regain a sense of wonder in the way they look at the world ... your loss was by a bad trip and very sudden, but it could have happened anyway ... and something might happen some day that will bring that wonder back to you

i'd guess that you saw something about yourself or the world that disillusioned or disgusted you ... and one of the stranger things about acid is the long term and unpredictable effects it can have on the connections you make to other people ... for me, i met people and had many coincidences happen soon afterwards my first trips ... something similar may have happened to you, but perhaps in another way
posted by pyramid termite at 6:22 AM on September 16, 2006


Without meaning to sound like Officer Joe of Narc Patrol on Metafilter-duty...

A shame you are so adamant against trying it again, zaebiz. I think with the right environment and minders a second, positive experience with LSD is exactly the thing that would cure you of your current psychological issues and questions.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:02 AM on September 16, 2006


I understand the highs are extremely high and wonderful etc etc

Fun fact about LSD: It's the only drug used by humans which lab rats cannot be trained to self-administer.
posted by Laugh_track at 7:15 AM on September 16, 2006


i think that your bad trip had to do with the way you were dosed. imagine if suddenly you were mid air parachuting off an airplane and your friend turned to you and said "we're skydiving today, its great". that's kinda like what happened. When i used to trip, I always had a group of friends around and I knew what I was getting into. And that's huge. I knew, at the bottom of my mind, that it was just a drug.
I think you can mostly chalk up this bad trip not to propaganda or to "these things happen" , but to this friend of yours that did you wrong.
posted by alkupe at 7:15 AM on September 16, 2006


I had a similar experience with Mush. In fact the bad trip was enough that it severly impacted me for the next two or three years, all without me realizing until later. To be honest though, I've had such good vibes with Mush that I ended up doing it during my bachelor party camp out and it was a fantastic experience. I think the key is realizing that the source of the problem was the drugs and the false perceptions acheived by the drugs, and moving on from there.

Sorry that it had to happen to you unwillingly. That's definitely not cool.
posted by furtive at 7:55 AM on September 16, 2006


As a doctor who is, perhaps, more interested in understanding than judging, I've always been interested in the wide variety of experiences people have with the serotonergic drugs: particularly LSD, MDMA, and the SSRIs. It seems pretty clear to me that the "first trip" experience is quite common; that something intense and life-altering happens and thereafter the person's mind or personality is irrevocably changed. Along with this change comes the inability to repeat the transcendent experience of the first trip.

Animal studies suggest that this may occur simply because that first dose kills off a bunch of serotonergic neurons. Interestingly, depending on the subject's personal neurochemistry, that may not be a bad thing. There are reports of people whose chronic lifelong mood problems were apparently eliminated by a single dose of LSD and MDMA, although it is hard to evaluate such reports in isolation. There are also, of course, reports of the opposite - people who "never recovered" from their first trips - and they, too, have been interpreted to mean more than they probably do, in terms of scaremongering.

The 1990 edition of the Proceedings of the New York Academy of Sciences was focused on serotonin and detailed the trials and tribulations of psychotherapists who tried to use MDMA as an adjunct to interpersonal psychotherapy, as well as the experiences of some of their patients and the resistance they encountered when trying to hypothesize about possible mechanisms for some of the beneficial effects they were observing. Makes for interesting reading.

Disclaimer: I've never taken any of these drugs, just read extensively about them.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:59 AM on September 16, 2006 [9 favorites]


I understand the highs are extremely high and wonderful etc etc but the risk of being in Hell all night and having your mind completely out of your control is just not worth the risk in my estimation.

Every acid trip I've ever taken has some aspects of both. Especially in my youth, I always used to be done with the trip way before it was done with me. (I've since learned that it's not necessary to take whacking huge doses the way we did back then.)

One thing acid helped me learn is how to endure chaotic, confusing, unpleasant mental states. I learned to understand that what was going on in my head was the drug process, and it wouldn't last forever. Being able to detach from my mental state is a skill that has proved very useful in later years.

I remember tripping on an Amtrak train many years ago. I went into the bathroom (often a Bad Idea when you're tripping your ass off). As I was standing there in the tiny, rocking, malodorous bathroom, gripping the basin and staring into the mirror, watching the flesh drip and run from my face like melting tallow, I thought "Oh, I'm freaking out. This is what freaking out is like."

And then the fundamental comedy of the situation hit me, and I started to laugh.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:08 AM on September 16, 2006 [2 favorites]


Zaebiz, that sounds just horrific.

You could easily file this experience under "traumatic stress." The way you describe how you felt afterwards sounds very much like the after-effects of any personal disaster in the life of a young person. The fact that is was LSD and it completely fucked with your mind just compounds, and confuses, things.

You could also file it under "loss of innocence," an experience we all have to go through, but usually not in such a nasty way.

Honestly, it seems like you dealt with it very well. It's probably something you will revisit from time to time, and each time you will understand it from a slightly new perspective. Such is the way with processing life's occasional shocks to the system.
posted by shifafa at 8:24 AM on September 16, 2006


Without meaning to sound like Officer Joe of Narc Patrol on Metafilter-duty, I cannot see how people can take this stuff. I understand the highs are extremely high and wonderful etc etc but the risk of being in Hell all night and having your mind completely out of your control is just not worth the risk in my estimation.

But you see, doing a drug like LSD, echoing fellow mefites - is not just about fun for a serious psychonaut. People take the drug for a variety of different reasons, only one of which is to "feel good." The idea of ego-death and having this world blown apart by a few micrograms of a chemical is amazing... scientists still debate over how exactly it works in the brain. Some would argue you can't understand life, you can't truly appreciate it - if you haven't had it blown apart in front of your eyes. Find meaning and purpose in your bad trip. It's there.

As far as your bad trip goes, remember that what you experienced was only the chemical interacting with your nervous system. The bad thoughts and feelings weren't 'real'.

As much as I'd like to agree and just ask you to blame the drug for your terrifying experience, I'm not so sure. Neuroscience shows us that feelings ARE the products of chemicals in our brain - how can you call these feelings completely invalid? e.g. My mood and emotions can be altered by LSD, melatonin, and adrenaline (the latter two our bodies produces naturally). For you to call these feelings 'unreal' just because they were the result of a drug seem careless.
posted by ifranzen at 8:30 AM on September 16, 2006


For those who want to learn more about the psychedelic experience - I'd highly recommend Zig Zag Zen. Lots of great personal experiences.

Common themes are the validity of drug-emotions (as I discussed in the previous post), drug use and spirituality, and the concept of ego.
posted by ifranzen at 8:35 AM on September 16, 2006


Research into hallucinogenics like LSD and Psilocybin has been stimied by the drug war, but that's starting to change. There was a study published recently about psilocybin that I wish I could find again. The experience caused a long term feeling of well being among most of the subjects. It may be worth noting that all the subjects were varying degrees of relgious.
posted by Good Brain at 9:08 AM on September 16, 2006


zaebiz: while use of psychedelics does run the risk of resulting in a bad trip, people who use them regularly [or start to use them under the guidance of someone else who does] tend to be able to set things up in such a way that they can minimize that risk. For example, when trying a new substance, they might start out with a fairly low dose, in case they turn out to be very sensative to it. If they know that they're not fond of crowds, or that when tripping they tend to be particularly crowd-averse, they don't take it in situation where they might run into many other people. If they know that a certain thing - a listen to a piece of music, a walk under the trees in the backyard, etc. - tends to calm them down, they'll do that thing if they start feeling too distressed. Many people find that looking at themselves in a mirror while tripping is disturbing, and so they avoid it. And, of course, people are frequently advised to trip with a friend or even with a sober friend - if things start getting bad, having someone else to talk to can provide a voice of reason: "it's only a drug, this will pass, you're doing fine, ok?"

So people who take psychedelics take them in more controlled ways than you did, and as they get more experienced with a certain compound, the state induced by that compound becomes a little easier to understand and control. All this means that the truly hellish parts are not unavoidable, and that with proper knowledge, support, and experience, the use of psychedelics doesn't have to entail total and complete loss of control. [It doesn't mean that they do it "just for the highs" either, though; if someone's looking just to feel happy and high, without the risk of strangeness and even unpleasant moments, psychedelics are not the first place they should turn.]

Getting dosed the way you did was more or less a recipe for a bad trip. You were not intending to take LSD at all, the amount may have been somewhat high for you, you had no idea what to expect or avoid, and the person who gave it to you provided no support. That said, I don't think it's necessarily scarred you for life. As pyramid termite said, peoples' sense of wonder ebbs and flows and changes throughout life, and that's not necessarily connected to drugs. Some days I'm awestruck by the glory of a sunset, and some days I see a similar sunset and think "shit, sunset and I'm still in lab." What you feel like today has much more to do with the choices you've made recently and the state you're in today. That bad trip was big, strange, and very memorable, but I suspect that your ability to feel wonder at the world has much more to do with whether you're depressed, or overworked, or making time ot do things that can provoke a sense of wonder.
posted by ubersturm at 9:12 AM on September 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


I think it's an unspoken rule that you should never, ever look in a mirror when your tripping. Watching TV (to me) has always seemed like a really bad idea.

Then again, alot of people disagree with my preferred setting; in the woods at night. I love nature! Or anyways, I do when I'm @#%@#% up.
posted by Bageena at 9:54 AM on September 16, 2006


The second thing that guy should have said after telling you he dosed you is that you should not, under any circumstances, look in a mirror.

That guy sounds like a major league asshole.
posted by fletchmuy at 10:12 AM on September 16, 2006


Thanks for the helpful and reassuring answers so far. I understand I had what people call a bad trip but I wonder if it was a trigger for some other psychological process. As soon as I had taken it, I was told what it was and was assured it would be fantastic.

These drugs definitely have a 'lasting' impact on your mind, not because a lasting chemical effect, but because of what you 'learn'. Imagine a soldier going off to some horrible war on the one hand and on the other hand imagine someone taking a year long vacation to the third world where everything is wonderful. Both are "trips" and both are life changing, but one is good and one is bad.

It's too bad you had a bad trip, and you really have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy it. No one should be given LSD without his or her knowledge.

One nice thing about mushrooms is that you can much more easily control your dosage. Start with just a small amount and work your way up, that way you don't need to worry about being 'overwhelmed' right away.
posted by delmoi at 10:18 AM on September 16, 2006


You're not scarred for life, you just weren't in a place where you could learn what the experience had to teach you. However, if you'd like to take another look sometime at what it's like to be motivated by something other than satisfaction of desires, now you know what to do.

So I've heard.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:42 AM on September 16, 2006


to quote the good doctor, the hippies had it wrong because they thought there was a light at the end of the LSD tunnel.

LSD is a game. the rules of the game are simple. the drug wants you to go insane. you have to remain sane. i don't like games. i always forfeited too quickly and had a fairly miserable time with one notable exception, which I let be my last.

you lost the game because you didn't even know you were playing. it's a fairly traumatic event to know what insanity is. it's not something i'd recommend to anyone. recognize it for what it was... the complete removal of your ego, all the natural defenses you've learned and built into your pysche. a tabla rosa of identity.

i think like marijuana, it takes a certain kind of mind to enjoy it. it's not for me though. i think too much... and these aren't a thinking man's sport.
posted by trinarian at 10:49 AM on September 16, 2006


You had an experience which you have not been able to psychologically integrate - therefore it's sticking around in a raw, kind of undigested form. Asking this question, writing about it, etc. are all, in my mind, attempts to understand the meaning of the experience. This is great, and I'd consider all of this activity as the healthy and creative attempt of your mind to incorporate these mystical/horrible experiences.

Now, it may be that the experiences are too much for you to deal with on your own. You would know this if you continue to be preoccupied with them, and obsessing about them takes over too much of your life (e.g., you can't sleep, you can't focus on other things like work, relationships, etc.). If this is true, I'd suggest you consider getting in touch with a therapist who knows about trauma-related treatments such as EMDR, etc.

To learn about the experience of others who've been on this road and were interested in thinking about this from a mystical perspective, consider checking out the classic, Doors of Perception by Huxley. Also, Stanislav Grof and his colleagues formed a group called the Spiritual Emergency Network, which it looks like has been renamed as the Spiritual Emergence Network.
posted by jasper411 at 10:56 AM on September 16, 2006


I came out the other side feeling like I had learnt things I was too young to learn about myself.

To me, this is the most telling part of the story. Many people take LSD in order to have their horizons broadened. People who don't want their horizons broadened should not take it. Your friend probably thought he was doing you a favor by essentially forcing you to have a more open mind, but he was obviously wrong.

Your trip, to me, sounds great, all except for the fact that you didn't like it. What you describe as hell is exactly the sort of experience that I'd like to have next time I trip...with the caveat, of course, that taking the trip is my own decision. Even though I am a fairly pro-recreational drug use person, if I started to trip without knowledge of having taken anything, I think I would freak out too. Almost anybody would. For what it's worth, it sounds like you dealt with the situation in a healthy way at the time: you didn't bring your bad trip to anyone else and you wrote down your feelings.

What you saw in the mirror when you were tripping was probably some combination of your surprised, strung-out self and a hallucination. You shouldn't run with that as some kind of symbol of what you had become at that point, or of who you are now. You were having a difficult drug experience. Most people when photographed in such circumstances don't end up looking too good either.

Now that I've been all sensitive, I have to address the part of your post where you compare yourself to war veterans. Dude...and I mean this in the nicest possible way...get over yourself. The place that you went on that trip was not hell; it was your own mind. You had the right to decide not to go there, and I'm sorry that right was not respected by your friend, but the world you glimpsed was not some kind of perverse and violent aberration, it was another way of looking at the same world that you're still living in. You are less innocent, yes. But that's not always a bad thing. Of course you couldn't look at things the same way you could before...that's because things for you aren't the way they were before. At some point, you just have to reconcile yourself to that, and say, Hey, the world I live in now may not be as clean and cozy as the one I used to live in, but in this new world, it is still possible to acheive and feel good about myself, it's just that now I may have to change my ideas a little bit about what that means. It's like a kid realizing that there is no Santa Clause. It's bad, it's not fair, and it means that the universe isn't actually constructed in order to make little kids happy at Christmas time.

In short, once you accept the fact that the way you saw things before was its own sort of illusion, you will probably be happier with yourself.
posted by bingo at 11:30 AM on September 16, 2006


You had a strange and trying experience. Some people, as noted, enjoy reaching states like this (and going far beyond).

Some people like to bungee jump. Some find a journey to "hell" beneficial.

To take a strong-ish dose of LSD without fully understanding and desiring the upcoming "WHOOSH" is much akin bungee jumping without desiring the jump. Doing either unprepared is sure to leave an impression of some sorts.

I would imagine most of the impactfulness of this trip has been in your interpretation of it; it almost always is. Perhaps look into talking to someone about it more extensively, it could make your "bad" trip better with some understanding/analysis.

Or you could shake it off and disregard it as a crazy event in your life, but that doesn't seem to be working.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 11:30 AM on September 16, 2006


trinarian: "i think like marijuana, it takes a certain kind of mind to enjoy it. it's not for me though. i think too much... and these aren't a thinking man's sport."

There are a lot of perspectives here, but I think this one bears repeating. Myself, I hate lots of drugs, most particularly coffee, because I like to pay pretty close attention to the effects my body is having on my mind. LSD, so far as I can tell, makes that completely impossible. Sure, that's freeing for some people, but I imagine it'd be hell for me.
posted by koeselitz at 11:53 AM on September 16, 2006


LSD can be fun, but it isn't reliably fun. The reason it's called a "trip" is because it's like travelling: sometimes it's great and sometimes it sucks. You're like someone who went to New York, got lost and mugged and frightened and now wonders why anyone ever leaves home.

People willingly put themselvs through a lot of extreme experiences just for the adventure. For example, I can't think of a much worse environment than the top of Everest, and I think anyone who would go there, let alone spend time and money to do so, is basically nuts. Strokes for folks.

There's nothing particularly unusual about your experience, and there's nothing wrong with you. Many people don't like psychedelics, and many others (like me) eventually decide their a great waste of time and mental energy, and find that what was seemed revelatory because tedious with repetetion.

I forget who said that acid opens a door, but there's no need to keep going through that door over and over. If I was you, I'd stay away from it and find something else to beat yourself up about.
posted by timeistight at 12:09 PM on September 16, 2006


I forget who said that acid opens a door

That was Aldous Huxley, although he was talking about mescaline.
posted by bingo at 1:00 PM on September 16, 2006


...the drug wants you to go insane. you have to remain sane.

well, no, you don't. I can't imagine what the point of taking something is if you're just going to do your darndest to fight off the effects.

as for bad experiences, there's something to be said for the idea that traveling away from home makes you appreciate home all the more.
posted by juv3nal at 1:46 PM on September 16, 2006


ikkyu2 writes "Animal studies suggest that this may occur simply because that first dose kills off a bunch of serotonergic neurons."

I know this has been seen with MDMA, but are there any reports of LSD damaging serotonergic neurons?
posted by mr_roboto at 3:08 PM on September 16, 2006


"i think too much... and these aren't a thinking man's sport."

That is an absurd statement. Some of the most famous explorers of alternate states of consciousness have been serious intellectuals. Value judgements really aren't necessary.

Some drugs are a bad mix for some people, and some people just take them in a poor context.

zaebiz, you don't understand why people take major psychedelics because you had a pivotally bad experience. Many people have pivotally good/significant experiences. Thems the breaks.

Frankly, I think most adults find at some point that the world does not contain the easy access to "magical wonder and possibility" as it once did, whether they take drugs or not. I think you had a critical psychological experience that you have conflated with this natural maturation: it probably served as a catalyst for this realization but I think it is probably a bad thing (and untrue) that you have this sense in your mind this experience being some sort of watershed that impaired you forever after. Whether you need some sort of "help" depends on whether and to what degree you're experiencing genuine psychological impairment of your life right now, though if you did get something like counselling I think this drug experience would be a very minor focus. But it sounds like you're pretty much fine now.
posted by nanojath at 3:12 PM on September 16, 2006


Thanks again for all the great answers. It's like having a roomful of people who have thought about or experienced similar things interpretting something you've kept mostly to yourself for years.

I think it's correct that what I learnt about myself was an inevitable life lesson whether I had had the drug or not, but it's like I learnt these things about five years or so too early. I was still a starry-eyed kid who suddenly had a 30 year old's understanding of himself. It probably is like learning there is no Santa, or that you're adopted or that people don't live forever. I became more of a realist and less of a dreamer. I became more suspicious of my own reactions to events in life, knowing how they were no more real than a chemical reaction in my brain. I am not sure how healthy that is, but it certainly gives you a way to deal with future trauma - evens out the ups and downs.

If I had been involved in a car accident, everyone around me would have been supportive and understanding because my experience was available for all to observe - but with a drug experience, it's entirely within the mind. I am by no means obsessed with the experience, I hardly ever think about it, but every now and then this dark, not well-understood patch on my psyche comes back to haunt me. It was all just so unnatural and unreal.

Thanks again. Really enjoyed reading people's thoughts about this.
posted by zaebiz at 3:38 PM on September 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


zaebiz, given what you've just said and the fact that you referenced my comment several times, I feel I should say this. I have done LSD a lot more than you, and I am still a dreamer. So are a lot of people who use recreational drugs. Consider this: maybe what you experienced was not a revelation that you're just a soup of chemicals, but rather that the world is a bigger and more complex place than you thought, and so is the human mind? Maybe there are many facets to reality, and on your trip, you merely glimpsed a facet that you hadn't conceived of? There is a considerable amount of literature dedicated to that sort of idea, and personally I subscribe to it. The 'doors of perception' are not doors opening into a cold scientific lab; they're more like the doors opening to Narnia.
posted by bingo at 6:28 PM on September 16, 2006


the Cosmic Trigger series by Robert Anton Wilson may help you understand this type of thing from another perspective, mainly his, but it's an... educated one. (btw, the full title really has nothing to do with the book, i'm not sure why he called it that). In fact, just about any book by R.A.W. will shed some light on this for you, as well as a few other aspects of philosophical and spiritual inquiry.
posted by qbxk at 7:41 PM on September 16, 2006


zaebiz, I may be way off base here, but I'm going to throw my thoughts out there anyway. Take it if it's helpful, leave it if it's not.

I had never had a drug experience before. It happened to be at a difficult and stressful time of my life living in a whole new city without friends.

I'm trying to imagine myself in your situation at that time because I have been in a new city without friends and completely stressed before at age 22. In that situation alone, I felt insecure, raw and vulnerable. It doesn't help matters that, at age 22, I was shy and intimidated by living in a new city. I was anxious. I had never before been in a situation where I didn't have at least ONE person that I knew and could trust nearby.

If someone had done something unexpected to me, such as giving me LSD without my knowledge beforehand, that caused me to feel even MORE vulnerable and less in control than I already was? That would be pretty traumatizing. It would have less to do with the fact that it was drugs and more to do with the fact that someone was taking advantage of me during a time when I already was anxious and vulnerable.

I have never tried LSD or pot or anything else, but I have been through an absolutely debilitating experience with pretty hardcore prescribed meds after a doctor misdiagnosed me as bi-polar when I was not. Eight meds. All at once. The shakes, hallucinations, freak out time. And then withdrawal from those? Hell on earth. It took years for me to process that event and I was able to discuss it with doctors, though not my friends or family at the time (taboo, don't cha know?) So, it doesn't surprise me that this affected you pretty deeply. Not at all. Take good care.
posted by jeanmari at 9:03 PM on September 16, 2006


Without meaning to sound like Officer Joe of Narc Patrol on Metafilter-duty, I cannot see how people can take this stuff.

Officer Joe has probably not read any of the appropriate literature either, for what that's worth.
posted by flabdablet at 9:47 AM on September 17, 2006


I cannot see how people can take this stuff

Some people like rollercoasters but personally they make me want to puke and that's about it. If they consistently made me want to jitterbug and lounge around pools, I might try them more.

I have it on reliable evidence that looking at reflections of yourself on psychedelics can be both fantastic and terrible. Apparently one's perception of one's face can be made to melt, age, liquify, rot, morph (and so on) with consummate ease. Usually it takes graphics software or a highly developed artistic sensibility to accomplish this.
posted by meehawl at 1:27 PM on June 5, 2007


« Older I have five weeks to train for...   |  I have a comfort bike from Sch... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.