Citation: Regis_L. "Conceptual Apocalypse: An Experience with Ketamine (exp108557)". Erowid.org. Dec 27, 2018. erowid.org/exp/108557
Ketamine Conceptual Apocalypse
In spring 2016, I had a great deal of free time and a small degree of financial security. I used this period to explore psychedelics. My motives for this exploration involved the satiation of curiosity as well as a desire to overcome a fear of death. One of my most memorable exploratory experiences was my first use of ketamine.
At the time of usage, I was a 37-year-old man with extensive experience using cannabis, psychedelic mushrooms, mescaline, and LSD. I had experimented in my 20s with DXM in cough syrup but hadnít really delved into dissociatives. I was smoking cannabis on a daily basis, and using small doses of psychedelic mushrooms every other or every day. It is also salient to note that I was taking 20 mg of Prozac each day. The SSRI didnít seem to affect my experience using mushrooms or LSD.
I had purchased a gram of ketamine from a new vendor and read a great deal on how to conduct safe psychedelic explorations. Iíd found Fadimanís The Psychedelic Explorerís Guide especially useful. On a late Wednesday morning, with the rain coming down in the desert, I insufflated approximately 200 mg of ketamine powder. I measured this visually, and cannot vouch for the accuracy of the measurement.
I had planned this for a week, as I knew no one was going to be around. My mescaline, mushroom, and LSD experiences had also been solitary. If it had not been for this plan, I may not have taken it, as my mood was somewhat fragile. My recent experience with regular mushroom use gave me confidence that whatever the experience of ketamine was, I was prepared for it. Boosted by this confidence, I had started a fire in the fireplace, thinking that Iíd be able to be safe around it. The room was silent, and the doors were locked.
The powder was extremely unpleasant going in. I had read basics on ketamine dosage and onset, but was still very shocked by the speed that the ketamine hit me with. Within two to five minutes the room was spinning. Time became altered the moment that the ketamine hit: I lost all knowledge that I had been sober before and all knowledge of the length of the trip. The spinning was very different from the spins one experiences with alcohol: I felt that my sense of balance was completely skewed, as if the world was canted about 45 degrees off level
my sense of balance was completely skewed, as if the world was canted about 45 degrees off level
. This was extremely disorienting.
The ketamine hit while I was sitting on a comfortable couch, but very quickly I decided to lay on the floor in front of the fire. I felt dissociated from my body to the point that I put my hand on my chest to feel my heartbeat and could not feel it. I noticed a whizzing, popping roaring fuzz in the background, and I am still unsure if that sound was a hallucination or real.
My relation to my senses had changed. Objects were flattened into more geometric shapes. I note that this was not a visual hallucination, as it was more conceptual, as if the platonic ideal of a ball had become pixelated. I felt derealized and knocked on the walls to ensure they were real. My coordination was altered Ė I could not type properly, and also could not walk comfortably without supporting myself.
The primary effects were to my comprehension. My thinking was profoundly altered. My thoughts seemed to manifest as planes or segmentations. My identity began to fracture: Thoughts appeared at the exact same time, which appeared to point to the existence of fracturing points of view within my mind, as opposed to a coherent, single entity Ė which raised the question, does fracturing indicate a reduction of faculty, or was each fractured point of view a focus?
The barriers between mind, reality, and fiction dissolved. Iíd recently read a work of fiction involving the Nazi death camps. I instantaneously connected the fireplace to the ovens in which bodies were burned. I could not distinguish the fictional representation of the ovens from the reality in front of me. This bothered me as I knew there was a difference, but I was not emotionally upset by this inability to distinguish the reality of what was in front of me from history, memory, or fiction. False narratives became equal to verifiable narratives. I felt that my emotional axes had been simplified: I now had one continuum of emotion: on one side were fear/dread/frustration, and on the other were safety/calm/comfort.
My identity had fragmented further Ė I began talking to myself, and then began using my hands as puppets to talk with. I gave them voices and personalities and had a conversation with each of them. I am a socially anxious person, so the first question I asked them was ďAre you my friends?Ē I thought to myself that I would cut each of them off if they answered negatively. They answered positively.
It is important to note here that I did not intend to harm myself, but rather that this consideration of harm seemed to be a consequence of emotional flattening. The concepts of harm, embarrassment, and safety became more conceptual and consequential than emotional, instinctual, and moral. There was no emotional barrier to the concept of cutting off my hands, nor any emotional response to the thought. I thus had no instinctive decision-making ability. I therefore that I had to reason through consequences of actions. This was very troubling, and I was thankful that there was no one around, as I felt that my morality had been compromised. I could not tell if I was psychotic or transcendent.
I felt that my morality had been compromised. I could not tell if I was psychotic or transcendent.
I had great difficulty holding the details of observable reality in my mind, and I retreated into a thoughtscape. I found myself navigating an internal conceptual geography. Closing my eyes, I saw repeating geometric patterns, very ominous. I cycled through this geometric space, which was made of concepts, and navigating through it required considering, step by step, the logic of the concepts of which the reality was made. This was extremely difficult, as many of the concepts appeared to have a moral element, and navigation to certain areas of this reality required going through the morality in such a way that one considered immoral acts good.
Topographically, I felt that I was in a set of planes that included this reality in the same way an Etch-a-Sketch includes the reality of what has been written on it, but also includes a tumbling morass of reality-elements below it and a guiding force above and outside it. It appeared closed to a great void, a great organic void, in which were machinery and equipment made of flesh, or so complex that it mimicked flesh. It felt inhabited. After about an hour of navigating this space, the ketamine faded. I felt exhilarated and shocked, as if Iíd cheated death by my own skill. I smoked a little cannabis and relaxed for several hours on my bed. I also ate a very good lunch.
T+ 4 hours
Later in the afternoon, I took another line of roughly the same dosage while standing in front of a mirror. I heard a whooshing, crackling, like Styrofoam being crushed in a trash compactor. Staring at myself in the mirror, I saw someone with wild hair and huge, rabbit-like eyes. The line gave me a bad post-nasal drip and experienced the same detailed step by step analysis of consequence: I thought to myself that cutting my tongue out would stop the drip, and had to reason through this decision, ultimately determining it would cause more harm than benefit, and that drinking water would alleviate the drip without harming me. My thoughts came in the form of imagined voices, and I could not stop my internal dialogue from mimicking a fictional character. This was jarring, and I felt that my identity was being compromised.
T + 4 Ĺ hours
I returned to the planar internal geography I had experienced after the first line. I laid in bed at one point and felt a dimensional agoraphobia - I wanted my bearings back. At this point, the trip turned from overwhelming to deeply unpleasant, and I tried to change what was happening. It took will to allow the planes to compress until there was just this reality. This collapsing pushed my identity back together from above and below. While laying there I thought of everyone I loved and who loved me and used these thoughts as guidewires to anchor myself and push my identity back and forth vertically. By five PM, I felt normal enough to take notes on the experience.
The next day I felt fine, and deeply thankful to be sane.
Ketamine causes a conceptual apocalypse. The barriers between imagination, reality, and fiction dissolve. This glimpse of a multivalent and multilayered reality was altering in that it expanded the context of my reality. Knowing this exists, either outside or inside me, was similar to discovering there is land across the ocean, or accepting an afterlife. This was an overwhelming experience and despite the latter, unpleasant half, I am thankful to have had it.
My experience with ketamine was as similar to DMT experiences as to ketamine experiences. This raises questions about the chemical identity. While I was not equipped to analyze the substance, I believe it to have been ketamine. I therefore believe the ketamine interacted with the cannabis and/or the Prozac to create an extremely intense experience that is anecdotally similar to DMT.
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