Citation: Julia. "The Happiest Ending to a Horrifying Trip: An Experience with Mushrooms (exp114555)". Erowid.org. Jul 1, 2020. erowid.org/exp/114555
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” -Albert Einstein
(Names throughout the story have been changed to respect their privacy). My friend Dale and I were planning on doing large doses of mushrooms together. Our friend Missy was to be our sober supervisor to help us if we needed anything at all that night. Dale planned on taking 6 grams and I planned on taking 3.5 grams, more than I had ever taken before (I am well versed in the 0.5-1.5 gram world but was nervous about taking this much following a mildly disturbing trip a week prior with roughly 2 grams). I had skipped dinner but had a big lunch about five hours before the trip. I felt more confident having Missy there, as she is well experienced and a very calm presence to have around.
I felt more confident having Missy there, as she is well experienced and a very calm presence to have around.
I am a single 24 year old woman living a relatively happy life far away from home. I am active, I have wonderful friends, and I love my work. During college, I had come to terms with my depression that has basically been with me my entire life. My mom died when I was 12 from breast cancer and a brain tumor. She was first diagnosed when I was six, meaning just about half of my life with her was spent caregiving for her and her terminal disease. The rest of my adolescence was spent trying to fill the role of the woman of the house and channeling all of my emotions into schoolwork. Of course it wasn’t all bad, but it definitely wasn’t that great.
Following college, I moved across the country and almost immediately rescued a dog from the shelter. I have no doubt that he was my soulmate if there ever was one. Roughly a year after adopting him, he became sick with what eventually was diagnosed as jaw cancer. I had to put him down last summer. This was a major setback in my journey trying to tackle my depression. Losing him was the hardest thing I have ever gone through (more on this later).
The intention of this trip was relatively innocent. Following some personal frustrations with a budding relationship, I realized that I love torturing myself when it comes to dating. I like to go for men that I know deep down but won’t admit I am probably too good for, fall for them way too hard, then end up being crushed by them after short periods of time. I grossly overthink things and get carried away with my hopes and expectations before they are ever even communicated. Yet, I never learn and always go back for more. So, the question I wanted to ask the mushrooms that night was “Why do I like to torture myself so much?” The journey they took me on to answer this question went far deeper than I ever thought was possible.
I came up fast and started to hallucinate about half an hour after eating the mushrooms. I was very happy and energetic. I played outside in the rain, hung out in my garden talking to and touching my flowers, listened to happy bluegrass music and chatted with Dale and Missy. I sang along to my music, danced a little bit, and played a little bit of guitar with Dale. Eventually Dale told me he wanted to be alone for a little while, so that left me to refocus and remember the intention of my trip. Missy told me that she was concerned I wasn’t tripping as hard as she thought 3.5 grams should make me after two hours. She mentioned the possibility of giving me a little bit more. I was scared to take more because I was already having a great time socializing and remembered my uncomfortable trip from the previous weekend. I was also scared to be alone, now that Dale was doing his own thing.
I misconstrued the original intention of my trip and got in my head that the purpose of my trip was actually to face my fears head on. Well, I was scared to eat more mushrooms and I was scared to be alone, so I figured I should probably eat more mushrooms and go be alone. Missy gave me 1.5 more grams and I retreated to my bedroom to eat them and see what they would tell me to do.
I heard Dale playing Pink Floyd while Missy was measuring out my mushrooms for me, and I figured that was a good idea. When I got to my room I asked Missy to queue up The Dark Side of the Moon and my mind was completely blown. I was so happy listening to it at full volume and dancing around and singing in my colorful bedroom to an album that was a huge part of my childhood. I had thoughts of “me, me, me” and realized that I am important and that it was okay to focus on me right now. I remembered how much I love to sing and how big of a role music plays in my life. I had thoughts of “I am loved, I do love, I am love” while dancing and I repeated this to myself often.
I have always been scared of the album The Wall. For one, it’s a terrifying album to begin with, but now it triggers lots of uncomfortable and painful memories. I asked Missy to queue the album up in its entirety after The Dark Side of the Moon, because I was still convinced that I needed to face all of my deepest fears that night. The songs “Mother” and “Comfortably Numb” have always been difficult for me to listen to since my mom’s passing. After losing my mom, my dad still played and sang “Mother” on his guitar all the time and I never told him how much it bothered me. I bought The Wall when I was in middle school, and I vividly remember going directly to the hospital from the record store to proudly show it off to my mom and play it for her. She was barely lucid, and she tried to sing along to “Comfortably Numb” with me while holding my hand. I was determined to listen to the album that terrifies me the most. I felt that if I could make it through the whole album I could beat whatever was wrong with me.
While The Dark Side of the Moon was still playing, I started looking through an old notebook on my nightstand that had started as a dream journal, then became a regular journal, and had eventually petered out to serve as random scrap paper for various notes and scribbles over the past year or so. I knew that I had written some very angry passages about a man I was previously involved with who was a very, very bad guy. This man had degraded me, shattered my sexual self-esteem, and had left me emotionally scarred in too many ways to count. I was determined to go back and read the words I hadn’t thought about since they were written. I felt as if I needed to relive these evil experiences to “beat” them or “move on” from them.
On the way to find those passages, I read about a dream I wrote about on the 9th anniversary of my mom’s death. It seemed like a happy dream, with great friends and happy memories. It even mentioned snuggling and playing with my childhood dog, who we had lost about six years prior to the dream. This got me thinking about my own dog that I had lost to cancer at three years old less than a year ago. I asked Missy and Dale to grab me my box of his things out of the garage so I could smell him and feel him with me. I felt that if I let out all my emotions about my dead dog right then and there, that I would be able to move on and be okay.
Then The Wall started, and I was elated. I was so excited to be tackling this album, these songs that had been haunting me for over half of my life. I continued dancing around and yelling and singing. “Mother” eventually came on and I instantly got sad. I went to the bathroom, stayed there for a little while, then made myself go back into the bedroom. I needed to get through the album. I finally turned the music down a little bit.
My sadness turned into fear and panic. I was sweating uncontrollably and needed to do something about it. I brought the music to the dark bathroom and took a cold shower. I returned to my room, soaking wet, naked, and freezing, standing in front of my fan running full blast. I looked at my warm and cozy bed, but wouldn’t let myself get in it. I looked at the warm and cozy clothes I had laid out for myself before the trip, but wouldn’t let myself put them on. I was shivering and the scary music was still playing.
I finally, physically, took a step backwards and realized that I was literally, physically torturing myself. I told myself that this was what I needed to be doing in order to get through this miserable album. After a bit of this, I eventually put a T-shirt on and decided enough was enough. I made my way to Missy’s room and tried to explain to her what had been going on. I felt myself about to start having a panic attack. She got me into bed with her and held me and soothed me. I eventually let myself give in while realizing it is okay to need people sometimes.
Missy asked me lots of questions that I did not have the capacity to answer. All I could get across was that I was feeling bad, dark energies. No one thing in particular, not even a scattering of thoughts, just BAD. She told me that we should reset my surroundings and play some calmer music and turn some lights on, but we didn’t make it that far. She posted up in the living room with me and started hearing me out.
I then experienced every wave of emotion. I told Missy things about my mother that I hadn’t told anyone before, or barely even dared to think about. I am so scared of forgetting my mom, however my most vivid memories of her are extremely traumatizing and horrifying and excruciatingly hard to think about. I finally accepted that I am traumatized, instead of denying it or insisting that being tough means I can’t be affected by trauma. I am deeply affected by this trauma and always will be.
I cried fully and deeply about my dog. And everyone I have lost in this life and how it is so hard to continue living without them here. Missy reminded me that darkness is just a curtain--all you need to do is pull it aside to see the light. I admitted that I have had passive suicidal thoughts, i.e. long drives home at night as a teenager: “what if I just keep driving straight off the road instead of turning with this curve.” Hell, I even had that thought last week driving down a Colorado mountain pass at 10:00 pm.
Missy told me she does not believe that these are in fact suicidal thoughts, she told me she believes that I know how fragile life is more than anyone and that I realize how something I actually hold so precious could be gone in an instant. Finally admitting these thoughts that have existed for years to myself and out loud immediately removed a massive weight off my chest. I realized that Missy was absolutely right, that I truly love life and that I never have had thoughts of how I won’t be missed, how nobody truly loves me, how the world will be better off without me in it, etc. Because I KNOW that I am truly loved by those in my life. Things are slowly starting to come together here. Thoughts of “I am loved, I do love, I am love” make their way back in. Missy still sitting there with me was living proof that I am loved.
We continued talking about my hard-ass upbringing in a strict, emotionless family. We also talked about the good things in my upbringing. Throughout the trip I realized more and more how influential music truly has been in my life. My dad plays guitar and loves to sing and our house was always filled with music. He and I even had a game we would play in the car when a song came on the radio. The first one to correctly name the song and band won. Over the years I started to beat him more and more often, and I still remember when he finally admitted that my “musical education is complete.” I was so proud. My brother is an insanely talented musician. He is one of those genius types you only see in movies or read about in books. He has heavily influenced my musical taste and standards. I played in the school band growing up, but mostly I loved singing in the jazz choir and singing to myself. I am terribly self-conscious of my voice (for no good reason), but singing makes me happy and I am going to do it more from now on. I want to be a creator, and finally get serious about learning how to play guitar well enough to sing along and play some simple jams with friends. I realized I have recently given up on learning guitar because I am coming to terms with actually missing a man that I was with this past winter. He meant more to me than I wanted to admit and his leaving hurt me more than I wanted to admit. He was a wonderful guitar player with a wonderful voice, and I loved the music he brought into my world and I miss him terribly, but I only hope the best for him now. Falling asleep that night I thought about him once more. Even though I miss him, he hurt me in a big way and I do not deserve to have anyone in my life that can treat the people that care about them so badly.
Missy continuously asked why I am so mean to and hard on myself. I admitted that I don’t want to be happy. I can say I want to be happy all I want, but I know it’s not true. I recalled two recent events of close friends telling me how generous they think I am. I don’t see myself this way, and admit that I don’t actually want to. I told her more about losing my dog. She commented on all the parallels between caregiving for him and ultimately losing him to cancer, just like with my mom. I hysterically cried more and felt more weight being released from my chest. I had “jokingly” thrown out while drinking with buddies a couple times over the past few weeks that losing my dog was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I had been thinking about it more, immediately feeling guilty because how could losing a dog be worse than losing a parent? Then I came to realize it is the honest-to-God truth. Though losing my mom was excruciatingly painful and will forever haunt me, I know I always have my family to fall back on. I always had and always will have my brother and dad. I went through it with both sets of my grandparents, my aunts and uncles and cousins, all of my friends and all of her friends. She was so very loved by everyone who knew her and we all suffered the loss together. When it came to caretaking for and losing my dog, I had never felt more alone. He was mine and mine alone, no one had and no one could ever understand the relationship we shared. He was my responsibility, I was supposed to take care of him and save him but I couldn’t. No matter what I did, I couldn’t save him. I was his mother and I failed him.
At some point, “Comfortably Numb” came on in the background. I told Missy the story of my mom in the hospital and she offered to change it for me. I told her no and we listened to it together. While we continued to talk, the rest of The Wall finished quietly in the background. I made it through the album that scares me the most. All I needed was a friend by my side.
Things got better from there. My panic had completely subsided by this time, and I was ready to listen to Missy’s guidance. She told me I should think about treating myself like a little kid. “How would you feel if you treated your eight year old self like you treat yourself now?” I told her I would feel like a complete monster. She asked me all of the right questions and helped me to reflect on everything I had learned during the trip.
She asked me all of the right questions and helped me to reflect on everything I had learned during the trip.
What fascinates me the most is the way the mushrooms had to make me PHYSICALLY torture myself to make me understand how I am treating myself emotionally. I realize that my self-torture is much deeper than superficial boy problems. I mentally torture myself in every way and refuse to let myself be happy, because I am so comfortable and familiar with my misery. I am stuck in this depressive cycle with no desire to get out. I now realize that it is harder for me to be happy than sad or angry, so if I can’t be happy then I might as well focus on making myself miserable because at least then I am in control of something.
I am so proud of myself for removing myself from my wet, naked, shivering, overstimulated and terrified state and getting warm and seeking help in my friends. It feels very symbolic in that I never have to be alone if I don’t want to be. I don’t have to continuously torture myself or beat myself up, because it is a truly miserable state to be in and I hated feeling trapped in that situation (just like I’ve been feeling trapped in my depressive cycle). I now know that all I have to do is ask for help and my friends who love me will be more than willing. It is okay to need people. It is okay to not be okay. It is how you handle not being okay that matters.
It is impossible to fully describe how empowering, powerful, moving, humbling, transformative and life changing this trip was for me. In short, my takeaways from this journey are that I need to start treating myself how I treat my friends, because I am a wonderful friend. If I wasn’t, I would not have so many amazing and loving people in my life. Music is everything. Love is everything. I am loved, I do love, I am love. I need to be kinder to myself. Ego and self-love, are in fact, different things. Self-love is not selfishness. The way to beat your demons is not with anger. Facing them head on does not need to be malicious, spiteful, or hateful. My demons are a part of me and therefore I must love them like I love myself, approach them calmly, and work with them to free myself of them forever. This trip was by no means a cure-all, but it has given me endless things to think about and work on and towards. Once you get the message, hang up the phone.
I wrote a quick journal entry at the end of the night right before bed. I thought it was incredibly sweet and would love to share it:
“I love singing!!!
And mushrooms. And Missy.
actually learn guitar
love on your demons
instead of feeling like you need to “tackle” them
facing things doesn’t need to be angry or scary
You can have a nice, rational and loving conversation w/ them and just tell them to go away please! :)
I love you”
I fell asleep with a smile on my face for the first time that I can remember.
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