Citation: Shark. "After All This Time It's Nothing: An Experience with Nitrous Oxide (exp111146)". Erowid.org. May 10, 2018. erowid.org/exp/111146
I've been doing nitrous oxide for a long time. Usually 6 months or so would pass, and then I'd go on a bender and two four or five boxes with a few friends. I used a whipped cream canister and cartridges, and would often stack/load 3-4 cartridges at a time (loading #3/#4 after taking the first one). Every time I had a feeling of going deeper towards a mystery. I would have these revelations at the peak of the experience, and then they would be stripped away from me, layer by layer until I was back where I started. Something fundamental stopped me from remembering these experiences, or sharing them. It felt so strange.
The last time (about two weeks now) I got there. I figured out what was happening, exactly what I was experiencing, and why I felt the way I did. I've never been so disappointed. I barely even care to talk about it at this point, its so mundane, but I figured that perhaps others would want to hear what I found.
The setting: on a coworkers couch, listening to some chill music. Nothing really special there. Had a drink or two earlier, but the effects had worn off. This last one was four cartridges, with breathing designed (by me, someone who knows nothing about this sort of thing) to remove oxygen and inhale gas only. I left a tiny bit in the canister, but it was otherwise empty.
As I would inhale more and more gas, I would fixate on holding my breath. I would briefly expel air out of my nose, plug it, and inhale more gas. All in an effort to remove as much oxygen from my system as possible. The last cartridge I took, I realized that every time I did this that I was being given a choice. A choice to go deeper, or to give up. And then I realized what that choice was. I realized I had to keep holding on. I realized it was killing me. I realized that was the choice. To die, and find out what all of this was about, or to live and never know. I felt my body convulse instinctively trying to breathe, and I *almost* let it, but then I realized that this was the challenge. My body's desire to breathe, or my minds desire to open whatever door was there. I could feel my body shaking, convulsing. It was a herculean effort to keep my airways closed. I had to choose.
How I chose is not entirely clear to me, but I can remember thinking many things, paraphrased but very true in spirit: 'Hold on. It will be worth it. Nothing could be this difficult and not be worth it. You're almost there. Its just dying, everyone does it. What if this matters? That you make the choice, and do the hard thing. Be strong. Die now.'
I fell over on the couch, my body fighting my mind for control. The people that were there with me were calling my name, pushing on my chest, and otherwise trying to bring me back. And as it faded to darkness I realized that there was one reason and one reason only why I couldn't go through with it. 'You're about to ruin these people's lives. They might never recover.' Them, and all of the other people for which this would hold true for. My wife, my family, my friends. I couldn't put them through it.
The moment that followed was an interesting one. I chose to live. I could never choose not to, because of what it would do to the ones I loved.
I chose to live. I could never choose not to, because of what it would do to the ones I loved.
I opened my eyes and breathed. I tried to look sorry, so they would know. I was bleary but clear enough for normal thought. I assured them that I was okay, and that there was nothing to worry about. The situation seemed to recover pretty quickly. I don't think it lasted very long for them, and I let them know that I was done for the night, and most likely forever. My coworker even enjoyed a few more cartridges before we left.
It sounds like a catharsis, realizing that I could never kill yourself. I'd like to say that it felt good, but it was considerably more mixed up than that.
I'll never find out if there was something to it. I couldn't tell if I was proud that in a moment of excitement I could give up what I was sure was enlightenment because I cared for others. Or if I was disappointed that I might have just been given a key and pointed at the door behind which the answer to the biggest mystery of my life lay.
I know I wouldn't have died. I would have passed out and woken back up later. Maybe?
Either way, now that I've made my choice, I lean into the only remaining rational conclusion. I was chasing the dragon, witnessing parts of my brain shutting down, heading towards unconsciousness every time I took in that gas. And when I came down, the parts of my brain would slowly turn on, and like the cavemen emerging from the cave, I felt like a witness to great wonders and meaning.
In the end, I was just an idiot trying to hold his breath for as long as he could, was surprised when he couldn't hold it forever, and mistakenly felt privy to some miracle as I regained full consciousness.
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