Citation: pharmofile. "A Case of Mistaken Identity: An Experience with DOI (exp54224)". Erowid.org. Jun 29, 2006. erowid.org/exp/54224
||(powder / crystals)
Set and setting:
A beautiful warm sunny day. I took the day off of work in order to experiment and enjoy the spring weather. My intent was to take something moderately visual, and then go outside in the park if I felt okay. I was also looking for some insight into intrapersonal relationships.
During the previous night S and I had decided that we wanted to get started by noon to make full use of the daylight, but we let the entire morning pass before making any preparations. By the time we had picked up some groceries, had large sandwiches for lunch, and walked to a friend's house to use his scale, it was already 13:30 and we were feeling rushed.
We decided to take 2C-I. I had acquired some the previous year, and had not yet had a chance to try it out. Looking through the bags of chemicals, I didn't see any marked '2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenethylamine' as expected, but several of the bags had been marked with alternative names so that was not too surprising. Finally I found the one with iodine in it: 1-(4-iodo-2,5-dimethoxyphenyl)propane-2-amine.
I scribbled down a drawing, and it looked about right. I carefully weighed out the powder. 15.9 mg for me, and 16.8 mg for S. The powder was clumpy and stuck to everything as if it was statically charged.
14:20 - We ingest the powder with a glass of water and start walking back home with the dinner supplies.
14:45 - Back at the house, I note the first effect: a lightheaded feeling.
14:50 - There is a greatly increased sense of touch, and it is very sensual. I am surprised that I am feeling the effects so quickly, since the 2C-I reports generally mention a wait of an hour or two before the effects are felt.
15:20 - Touch has become so intense that it is bordering on the unpleasant, and it creates explosions of color when my eyes are closed. My stomach is feeling gurgly and unhappy.
15:25 - The colors in the room are radiant primary shades, and remind me of LSD.
15:30 - The experience is considerably more intense than I would have expected from this much 2C-I based on the reports. I move to the couch to sit by myself and wait for things to settle down a bit. Suddenly I begin to vomit, but I manage to make it to the toilet in time. I am violently sick, and continue to retch until there is nothing left in me. I have crampy pains all through my stomach.
(remaining times are approximate)
I try to walk around, but I am having difficulty seeing. The world is disappearing behind flashes of light and color. S asks if I want to go outside, but the experience is only becoming more intense, so I decline. I slump onto the kitchen floor, holding on to him. Every speck of dust on the floor is magnified into a filthy ball of dirt. The unwashed dishes and the garbage reek. I look at S, and see his face glowing baby blue. Am I just imagining that or is there something seriously wrong with him? I can't tell.
Did I make a mistake? I weighed the chemical so carefully, but this is far, far more intense than I expected from other people's reports. Maybe I am having an overly strong reaction to it?
When I close my eyes, I am confronted by horrific images. I have seen violent images before while tripping, and they never bothered me. These images are different though. Rapid-fire repeating sequences of bodies exploding and shredding, mixtures of excrement and food squirting from unnatural places, combined with aggressive sexual imagery. Why am I seeing this? I don't want to, and I can't imagine where it is coming from - I have never seen anything so loathsome in my life. I can't seem to escape.
S asks if I am okay and whether I made a mistake. I remember that 2C-I lasts for six to eight hours. I tell him that I will make it, and that I just need to wait it out. I realize that even if I was not ok, I would not be capable of turning the phone back on and calling for help. The images intrude again. Even when my eyes are open, they are so present in my mind that I cannot avoid them.
I mentally hunker down to wait it out. I imagine myself curled up in a ball. Or maybe I really am curled up in a ball. I can't tell anymore what is in my head and what is really going on. I remember my childhood, and the protection I felt from my mother. I think of my sister, and the bond between us. I feel them protecting me, shielding me from what is happening.
S is obviously troubled, and asks again if I am okay. I can't talk straight. After a word or two I slip back into a dream state. I am in a weird area. It feels like I am sliding along the edges of some sort of hyperdimensional geometric figure. At each corner there is someone to talk to, someone I recognize, but as soon as I start on a conversation, I am pulled sideways towards another corner. I strongly sense that I have done this before - that I am continuing these conversations, a few words at a time, whenever I dream. I find my mother and sister at two adjacent corners, and decide that they are such good friends because they are close together in this space. I find S as well, several times, and we talk about our relationship - the good things, the bad things. Or am I really talking to him?
I open my eyes but I can't make out anything except S's face. It is still blue, but now reminds me of drawings of Shiva. Or of a child. Or both, at the same time.
When I close my eyes, I am in a field of yellow energy. Streamers of blue light flow in from all sides, towards a figure that is both a human head and a squat obelisk. An ominously low but loud tone sounds through my head. I am certain that I am in the presence of a god, and that I should not be looking at this, but I cannot look away. Tears come to my eyes, but I am transfixed by the image.
When I open my eyes, I can once again recognize that I am in the kitchen, so some of the intensity has gone. There are still bright flashes of light. My body is in intense pain - it feels as if every nerve is being scraped across sandpaper. I wince, but as soon as my eyes are closed, the violent imagery returns. I am shaking.
S squeezes my arm. The flashes are gone, and so is some of the body pain. I stand up unsteadily. The kitchen smells are unbearable, and I start to feel nauseous, so I stagger into the living room and sit down. I look at the clock on the wall, but I have a hard time understanding what it means. I finally remember how it works, and count the hour marks to figure out what time it is. About 20:30. I look around the room a bit, but something is bothering me. I look at the clock again. Why is it so late? What happened to the last five hours? I only remember enough things to fill up maybe thirty minutes. Did I pass out?
20:30 - Another unwelcome thought occurs - it has now been six hours since I took this stuff (mental arithmetic takes full concentration), and I am still farther gone than at any other time in my life. It was supposed to be almost over by now..? Why not?
At least I can look around by now, and that is very enjoyable. I have seen plenty of visuals in which the surface of objects warped and slithered around, but this is something else. The room appears as if it was entirely composed of cubes of transparent jello approximately 3 inches large, all wiggling. S looks strangely pixelated by this effect. Everything leaves long tracers. Even the tracers leave tracers. Curved, thin lines of colored light arc around the room.
I look out the window towards the garden, but quickly wish that I hadn't. The tiny spider that hangs around near the window has multiplied into thirty or so large, hairy, quivering spiders, all looking for ways to enter the house.
The Persian carpet on the floor has taken on a life of its own. I try walking on it, and it feels like I am walking on the surface of a hairy, stormy, sea. It is beautiful to watch.
I try my hand at drawing with some colored pencils. Every stroke across the page results in an explosion of colored sparks that swirl through the air above the paper. I try drawing a small animal, and the lines animate themselves into a living creature in front of my eyes. I only have to follow its contours to record it on paper. If only drawing was always so easy!
When I wave my fingers through the air, they leave not only tracers but lines and beads of colored light behind. I try to play with the lines, and find that I can mold them like clay into figures. I wish there was something so fun and intuitive when working with computer graphics.
21:30 - The light is starting to fade outside. I don't want to go into the garden, because I don't want the neighbors to see me like this.
We decide to go upstairs and look at the park in front of the house from the safety of indoors. Negotiating the stairs is not such a difficult challenge to my balance as I would have expected. Unfortunately, my fear of spiders has found another outlet, as the entire stairway appears to me to be covered in a thick matting of spider webs and baby spiders. I know the spiders aren't really there, but I can't force myself to walk through them. I ask S to walk ahead of me, imagining him to be breaking through the webs, and that allows me to make it up the stairs without further problems.
The park looks lovely - much more colorful than usual. For some reason, I keep noticing patches of fluorescent orange and dark blue wherever I look. Those are the signal colors for the local police, so I keep imagining that the park is filled with patrol cars. We head back downstairs to listen to music and play around some more with the beautiful visual effects.
23:30 - I am relaxing on the couch when I realize that it has been nine hours since we took this, and there is still no sign that it will be ending anytime soon. What is going on? We were supposed to have friends over tomorrow at noon. Will we even be in a state to talk to them? We still can't say more than a couple of words to each other.
The ambient music playing in the room has gained a disturbing undertone. Suddenly I am overcome with nausea and a feeling like I am sliding out of reality. My head begins to pound, the floor heaves up at me, and I am strongly reminded of the hours I spent huddling on the kitchen floor. S notices that something has happened and asks what it is. I can't think of the words to explain it, so I attempt to draw a graph of a pattern showing multiple, decreasing peaks of activity. I think he understands.
My stomach is in knots. The visuals are impossible to enjoy if I am in so much pain. I want this to be over. Why is it taking so long? I sit on the couch, concentrating on my breathing, and trying not to throw up again.
S manages to fall asleep. I close my eyes, but the grotesque imagery has returned. I sit riveted to the couch, unwilling to close my eyes, wishing for it to be over.
02:00 - My stomach feels slightly better, but I am too queasy to lie down. S has been taking quick naps. After the first one, he said that he felt better. He keeps me company as I try to shut out the thoughts and images that are haunting me. I ask him to put some recognizable music on so that I can at least tell that time is passing by. The music sounds so distorted that I have to focus on it to tell what is playing, even though it is a personal favorite.
06:00 - Six hours until our friends are supposed to arrive, and I am still a wreck. S says that he feels almost back to normal. Why don't I? The room is still made of liquid, as far as my eyes can tell. I still can't talk coherently. I still feel like I am a fraction of a second away from puking my lungs up. Worst of all, I still can't get to sleep. Every few hours, the intensity of the experience peaks again, and I am thrust back into my personal hell.
09:00 - It is obvious that I will not be better before the friends arrive, so we decide to call off the meeting. I feel guilty. S is back to normal, but I am ruining the day by being stuck in this experience.
He looks for ways to cheer me up and get my mind off of the situation. He tries to play a computer game, but the motion, color, and sound only increase my nausea. He tries to give me a back massage to relax some of the muscles that have been tense all night, but touch is too intense a feeling to endure. He reads some of the morning newspaper to me, but that results in depressing thoughts.
10:00 - We flip through a book with pretty nature pictures in it. I feel some relief from the nausea, finally. I try to get to sleep, but am immediately jolted fully awake by the horror-movie thoughts and closed-eye images. S has more energy than he knows what to do with, and embarks on an extensive round of cleaning. The smells of the cleaning agents floods my senses.
11:00 - S suggests that I should really try to drink something, since I haven't had anything to eat or drink in nearly a day. I have some chamomile tea, which despite a very pungent aroma, goes down with ease. I guess I was thirsty. Maybe I should try some food as well, but we have nothing simple in the house, and I can't bear the thought of S leaving to go to the store.
14:00 - I'm feeling decent. The room is wavering but no longer liquid. My houseplants look like they want to walk across the room and eat me, but I can rationalize this away. My stomach has been gurgling nonstop for hours. I decide it is a good time to ask S to go get me some fruit crackers.
14:10 - He was only gone for ten minutes, but I was on the edge of panic at his absence. The nausea has returned in force. The food he brought back smells so strongly that I cannot stand it. The sounds of him eating remind me of being sick, and I have to ask him to stop.
15:30 - I am so very very ready for this to be over, but it just keeps going. Another peak of intensity, another round of nausea. The conscious breathing to stave off a bout of puking is losing its effectiveness. I move towards the toilet, expecting to vomit at any moment.
The cold tile feels soothing. I lie down on it.
16:30 - S wakes me up. I managed to sleep! The visuals are gone. Finally. The nausea has also been reduced. I feel chilled, but am unwilling to move away from the tiles that gave me such relief. S manages to convince me to try sleeping on the bed, and as I pull the blanket up over myself, I am already falling asleep.
20:00 - I ache all over. The muscles in my body must have been tensed during the whole experience. Thinking is difficult. I manage to eat something, and spend most of the evening sleeping.
The next day was spent being extremely lazy. There was plenty to do around the house, but I had no desire to do anything but eat. I had a tremendous appetite.
Once my body was feeling better, I began to piece together what had happened and jot down notes. The initial error had been made the previous year. When acquiring the research chemicals I had been careless about determining what was available and thought that I was getting 2C-I. When preparing for this experience, I had looked for the iodine-containing substance, expecting it to be 2C-I. I had quickly drawn out the nonstandard formula, but had missed the small difference between 2C-I and the actual substance: DOI. I also realized that I had survived a very large dose. In PIHKAL the dose range for DOI is given as 1.5 to 3 mg, but I had taken nearly 16 mg.
In the days immediately following the experience, I was furious at myself for making such a stupid mistake and endangering myself and S. I was also sure that I would never again try any psychedelic. Not only was I terrified of the thought of seeing those images, but I also lacked any confidence in my ability to identify and weigh out chemicals for myself or others.
Vivid memories of the violent images lasted for weeks.
It is now two months later, and I have tempered my initial feelings. I can look back on the experience and see more than just a terrifying, painful nightmare. It was a slap-in-the-face reality check on the dangers involved, my ability to make mistakes, and the usefulness of having someone sober nearby who can monitor the situation. There were a couple of relatively good hours in the late evening that contained what are likely the most beautiful visuals I will ever encounter, but they seem to have been merely a consolation for an otherwise miserable 24 hours.
=== Addendum, October 2016 ===
It has now been ten years since this happened, and I thought it might be interesting to describe the longer-term effects that the experience had on me.
In the year that followed, I thought often about the violent imagery that I had seen. Was I a naturally violent person? Were these my real urges that I was somehow suppressing? I did have a quick temper sometimes but I considered myself to be generally peaceful. Was my brain telling me what it really wanted to do to others in a fight? These thoughts were deeply distressing, and I found myself over-reacting to any suggestion that I was being combative towards others.
My friends regularly invited me to join them in an afternoon of psychedelic exploration, but the mere thought of it made me feel queasy and I had to refuse. I still had lingering guilt about mistaking DOI for 2C-I, since I had access to all of the information I needed to avoid such mistakes but had been too rushed to double-check. Even if I triple-checked this time, what if my mind ended up in the same violent place again? I couldn't take the chance. My friends always seemed to have a good time and I felt a gulf of misunderstanding between us when I tried to explain my unease. There was also a strong pang of homesickness when I listened to them, a feeling that I would never be able to return to those worlds of light, color, and laughter that had dominated my earlier experiences.
Slowly, I started considering other perspectives on what had happened instead of looking for the worst in myself. The major breakthrough came when I realized that the imagery didn't have to come from my own subconscious desires but could be the result of my daily environment. At the time, I was working for a defense contractor. It was an exciting job with good pay and friendly coworkers, but I also had to come to terms with the fact that my career was based around training people to kill other people.
There is a lot of dark humor in military circles, and it began to wear on me, as did the euphemistic phrases that we used to avoid thinking about the human costs. I didn't want this, I realized. I didn't want to spend my life as an agent of destruction. My mind was trying to show me something that day, but it wasn't what I initially thought. I wasn't being shown my own violent tendencies. I was being shown what was happening to others: people who I would never meet but who would be killed as a result of my work.
This experienced marked a turning point in my life in many ways large and small. I changed careers, trading my defense job for one in medical science, where every day I can improve the lives of others when they need it most. I'm more tolerant of mistakes (both my own and others'), but also interested in finding better approaches to preventing them. The amazing visual display that day spurred me towards creating art at every opportunity I am given, and sharing that art with others.
It was a difficult experience. Very difficult. I would never wish to go through it again, but I am also grateful because it shaped who I have become.
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