Citation: Jason. "Deeply Disturbing: An Experience with Diphenhydramine (ID 107994)". Erowid.org. Feb 29, 2016. erowid.org/exp/107994
Benadryl Induced Psychosis
I am going to describe one of the most disturbing experiences of my life, and of my family's, following a very high dosage of Diphenhydramine (Benadryl).
It started late one night, I was bored and wanted to get high off something. I was feeling depressed and had no access to any other drugs. I have had a lot of experience with psychedelics so I thought it would be fun to explore a diphenhydramine trip. This was a big mistake.
I was alone in my room around 11 o’clock when my family was in bed. I had a full bottle of Benadryl and took one gram (1000mg) of Benadryl.
12 o’clock: About an hour later I was feeling very sedated and I started having mild hallucinations. All the lights were off in my room and I could see the silhouette of objects starting to form in thin air, though I could not ascertain what they were. I also started seeing clear spiders form on my bed, which I did not like because there are brown recluse spiders in my house, and I could not tell if they were real or not. So I turned on the lights.
12:30: This is when my memory went completely blank, I do not remember a thing about the trip during the night, but I know now I was awake the whole time because of the shape of my room in the morning.
7am: This is when things got very scary. I came back to awareness with my mom talking to me on my bed. I could feel I was very intoxicated but I didn’t remember what I took. My mom was very close to my face and looking at me very strangely. Finally she asked what I was on, I told her nothing, but my mental state, and body language was very revealing. Being in the middle of a very intense trip, and having my mom aggressively question me and give me very suspicious and threatening looks sent me in to a state of paranoia that eventually evolved into a full blown paranoid psychotic state.
8am: At this point my whole house was aware that I was in an altered state. I was in a state of sheer terror as everyone around me was questioning me and staring at me. I was so wired up with fear, paranoia and disorganized thoughts that my eye lids were pried open, receding nearly into my eye sockets giving me a psychotic look. My brother who has seen a lot of psychotic and schizophrenic people while he was homeless said I had the classic look in my eyes and face of someone suffering with schizophrenia- A look of terror and complete confusion. Accompanied by the insane look in my eyes, I was having paranoid auditory hallucinations of voices and disorganized speech and thought processes.
8-9am: At this point I felt nearly brain dead, my short term memory was completely gone. I would begin a sentence and then completely forget what I was talking about, or one of my family members would ask me something and I would start answering it and then forget what they asked and what I was saying in response. Even worse I was having vivid auditory hallucinations of my family members saying things to me that they weren’t and the hallucinations were in their tone of voice and mannerisms. I would see their mouths move to what I thought they were saying as well, it was impossible to tell what was real or what was not. I was completely paranoid and kept hearing them saying negative things about me or our relationships.
This started a long process of having arguments with my family members about things they did not say. In the midst of the experience I was talking complete gibberish about esoteric ideas one might have during an acid trip, and how they related to subjects or ideas that had no connection to what I was saying or to any conversation I was in the middle of having with my family. My family said the things I was saying were so crazy they could not describe it. The whole time I thought I was making sense.
My family said the things I was saying were so crazy they could not describe it. The whole time I thought I was making sense.
9-10am: My memory at this point became so bad, and my body movements and language were so unnatural and disorganized that my brother began to fear for his life, because I was lost in a deep psychotic state; he told me afterwards the look on my face was that of the mass murderer James Holmes in one of his lineup photos. My brother armed himself with a bowie knife because he did not know what I was capable of. My mom was so afraid to enter the room I was in she had to push my brother into it to deal with me.
I do not remember much of what the actual experience of the mental state was but I remember it feeling very much like what I would think someone with schizophrenia or psychosis experiences: no way to differentiate what is real or not, and little awareness of ones actions, thoughts, or words. I believe I was in a drug induced psychosis.
As far as the visual hallucinations, they were very similar to coming up on a shroom trip, with very wavy walls, and moving objects, but the most profound part of the experience was the ‘head state’ and delusional and disorganized thoughts.
10-11am: Finally I began to come down off the drug and could make more sense of reality and my short term memory came back. I gave up trying to talk to my family because I could not determine if they were really saying anything or not. I looked around my room and I had thrown medication everywhere, I urinated in a chair, on my bed and on the carpet sometime during the night. I feel most sorry for my family who had to watch me literally lose my mind and fear that I might not be sane again.
I tried to talk to my brother about the experience a week later to find out what happened. He said it was one of the scariest experiences of his life, and he has witnessed a decapitation. He could not describe the nature of my mental state, or what I was saying. I see it now as one of those experiences where there are very subtle details that are hard to describe and the experience as a whole was so complex that the depth of its disturbing nature can’t be put into words.
It took me nearly a week to recover, I was hallucinating for days.
It took me nearly a week to recover, I was hallucinating for days.
I would stop hallucinating for a little while, go to sleep, and then wake up hallucinating again, and feeling like I was back in the same head space. Luckily the hallucinations and dissociative feelings went away after a week. I will never do Benadryl in high doses again, and I strongly recommend not trying this drug.
On retrospect, the experience did give me great insight into what a schizophrenic or psychotic person experiences. It’s as if the wires in your brain cross, and the processing of intercommunicating data in your brain mix and the resulting perceptual experiences and self-expression is idiosyncratic to your surrounding reality and the events taking place. So you are left saying things that you think make sense and have meaning to people that don’t exist. You are left hopelessly confused and convinced by the vivid hallucinations and delusions your mind validates. It has also left me with a great sympathy towards psychotic and schizophrenic people, because that state was hellish for me, and for my family.
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