Citation: Jon. "Janus in a Red Gelcap: An Experience with DXM (exp54765)". Erowid.org. Jun 16, 2007. erowid.org/exp/54765
I'm a reasonably experienced user of DXM at the first and second plateaus. I've had perhaps 30-40 trips at those levels (mostly second plateau) over the past 2 years. I'd found that on these plateaus, I'd get a good feeling of stimulation and sometimes mild euphoria (first plateau), and an excellent capability to 'think outside the box' on the second plateau, albeit with marked sensory side effects.
FYI, the 'thinking outside the box' effect is rather useful to me, given that I'm a biomedical researcher, and planning my future experiments can require some rather odd thinking modalities. Of course, I write down these ideas and then review them after becoming sober. Quite frankly, many of them have seemed brilliant, and I'm starting to try them out in the lab. In any event...
Let me tell you about my previous DXM experiences...
I've tried the second plateau, 4.5 mg/kg and 6.9 mg/kg, over 30 times the past 2 years, and have had slightly different effects with both. At both dosages, there's 'flanging' of audio input, meaning all the sound I hear sounds like it's buzzing slightly. I've had a little bit of awkwardness in walking, especially at the higher dose. Both dosages had given me interesting effects in my thinking, sometimes causing me to arrive at rather odd conclusions, some of which have been helpful in my line of work (yes, research is a bizarre field to be in).
The higher second plateau dose (6.9 mg/kg) would give me a 'threshold' sensation of dissociation, where all sensory input would go away (at least until I opened my eyes, at which point things went back closer to reality). I figured that the dissociated state there was like what the third plateau would be like. I can't exactly say that I was right.
What happens during a third plateau trip is best described as any sensation or familiarity of the outside world going away. Things that make me feel corporeal and human, the things that ground me in reality, are for the most part gone from my mind. All that we can think of are the thoughts in our head, and those thoughts aren't always pleasant. Mind you, the facts of reality are still in our heads, we just can't believe they apply to us when we try to think of them.
Many people claim to have had pretty benign experiences on this plateau, and often rather fun ones, involving entertaining and mystical hallucinations, and having the cares and worries about the real world temporarily washed away. That's a definitely plausible idea, given what DXM does psychologically at these dosages.
Previously, I'd had several good experiences at my above mentioned 6.9 mg/kg dose at the second plateau. I'd figured a third plateau dose (for me, 9.6 mg/kg) would have been similarly pleasant, albeit stronger. 'Stronger' was only starting to describe how my third plateau trip would feel.
I took my dose of 600mg (9.6 mg/kg at my weight of 140 lbs.) around 6 PM. Felt nothing for quite a while (DXM takes a notoriously long time to kick in). Around 8:30 PM, I started to feel the effects of a first plateau trip. By 9 PM, it definitely felt like a second plateau trip. DXM tends to act as a mild diuretic on me (i.e. makes me pee), so I got up and used the facilities before my walking abilities got any worse. I then sat down on my bed, reclining back somewhat, and then the second plateau effects quickly began to increase in intensity, at which point I'd realized I was very quickly approaching the 'threshold' of the third plateau. For maximum effect, I turned off my light and loosely put a bedsheet over myself to block out the streetlamp light pouring through my blinds from outside.
Then, it happened. Mr. White described the 'threshold' as all sensory input going away, though since I'd seen this at 6.9 mg/kg, I was completely expecting this part when I'd happened. In fact, just like at that higher second plateau dose, I could ground myself back into reality simply by opening my eyes. Also, I'd started to feel a bit euphoric, kind of like I would at a first plateau dose (but not in the second plateau). I was thinking, 'Cool!', and was expecting a pretty damn fun ride for the next few hours.
Afterwards, things changed a bit, when I noticed not just all sensory input going away, but also all of my thoughts relevant to reality going away with them. I'd still open my eyes and be grounded back into reality in a sensory manner (and in fact could quite easily recall my name, where I was, my address, the address and phone number of my parents, where I went to college, etc. etc.). And I could ground my thoughts back into reality, but that was getting damn hard at that point, since I could recite the facts in my head but couldn't quite convince myself that they really applied in the scope of the bigger picture. But still, this was being not just interesting, but also fun.
Strangely, due to the same phenomena above, this fun ride quickly began to change in character (roughly around 10 PM). Below, I'm going to list some of the thoughts I was thinking, as well as things I was doing, as the trip went on:
1. Thought, 'I wonder if this is how it feels when you die...' (Interestingly, that thought was sort of a subconscious reason I'd decided to explore at this plateau, as I'd just been through a preliminary diagnosis of a cancer with a median survival duration of about 5 years.)
2. Started thinking, 'WOW this is intense. INTENSE. I'm never going to forget about THIS one!!!'
3. Even external sensory input became difficult to interpret. It was still there, but didn't do such a good job of grounding me in reality. At this point, I'd realized that all hell was about to break loose, although I knew it'd be over within a few hours and I had nothing to truly worry about.
4. Started entering a mild sense of panic about death. Not about death, per se. Not even about Heaven and Hell (even the concept of Hell being simply that of an absence of God). I started to think that even in the presence of God, the eternal soul, if there is one, wouldn't be able to stand being around forever. At least my soul wouldn't. In real life, I'm high-strung and impatient, so this concern was perhaps relevant. Oddly, this thought has bothered me time to time in my sober life, though the thoughts of the real world would keep me occupied enough for me not to care so much about that existential quandary.
5. Second existential quandary - 'If the soul isn't eternal, then how does it feel to not have a soul? We can't even perceive the state of non-living!!! And non-living inherently can't be perceived! So if we don't exist, we don't perceive and... AAAAAHHHHH!!!' Again, I have thought about this on a regular basis in sober life as well, it's just that the question had gotten super-glued in my brain at this time.
6. Third existential quandary... 'Why am I me??? How does it feel like to be someone else? How do I even know I have eyes and senses - Do mirrors lie?? Is this reality just my own imagination? Holy shit what if life is like the Matrix!!!' I'd tried grounding myself in reality by saying to myself my name, location, date of birth, etc., but as you can probably guess, that made things a lot worse. This is why I hated being a skeptic by nature. =)
7. At this point (it was now around 11:15 PM), I'd realized I had to use the facilities again. This was gonna be fun. I managed to get up out of my bed, and hold on for dear life onto various objects while making my way down the hall to the bathroom. I wasn't too distressed by my actual physical incoordination, as I realized this is exactly how I feel every morning when I wake up at 7 AM, before I have my cup of coffee. Or rather, 4 cups. (My sleep phase is severely delayed by nature, so waking up at 7 AM and going through my morning routine feels just like a 'normal' person waking up at 2 AM trying to do the same.)
8. I was afraid that the same existential dilemma seen in (6) was going to reiterate itself if I saw my face in the bathroom mirror. Fortunately, my vision was too blurry for that to happen. (I wasn't wearing my contacts or glasses, anyways, and without those I'm blind as a bat to begin with.) Sat down on the toilet (even though I'm a guy, I didn't trust myself with doing the duty while standing up in that state of mind), and did said duty. Which took a while, mind you, as DXM not only acts as a diuretic, but also has the cruel second effect of increasing urinary retention. The whole time I was on the can, which was quite a while mind you, I was thinking of the same existential dilemmas above. And about how this felt like one of those difficult dreams where you think the same way, but was in real life. Also, thought of how I couldn't believe I actually entered the third plateau of DXM to begin with, having been, most of my life, pretty 'straight-edge'.
9. Returned to my bed. Started wondering if I had actually in fact gone to the bathroom in the first place. Well, in any event, I didn't feel like peeing anymore, so it was a moot point. Ahh, memory inhibition.
10. Started realizing that this trip had become a very profound exploration of existentialism, but that sort of exploration probably wasn't such a good idea, given that I tend to explore it in sober life, anyways, and the only thing keeping me from really flying off my rockers there are other facts that I normally interpret as the here-and-now reality. Facts which I couldn't really integrate at this point.
11. As chaotic existential thoughts flew about my head, I'd tried to come up with a general archetype to describe the whole experience, as I'd figured I wouldn't be able to recall too much of it the next day (which happens to be as I write this). Came up with the idea that it felt like 'my ego and very sense of existence being turned into jello and then God shredding up that jello with a cheese grater'. I wasn't sure at the time how that exactly described my trip, and I'm still not sure now how it was relevant, especially given how I remember other aspects of the trip fairly well.
12. Started thinking again about how intense the trip is/was. Realized I was getting pretty tired (physically and psychologically), and how I wanted it all to end soon.
13. Thankfully, the trip noticeably began to come down around 11:45 PM. Just a few minutes later, around midnight, I'd crossed down the 'threshold' and it definitely felt like I was 'only' on the second plateau. As my sobriety progressively returned, I flipped open my laptop computer to check my email and chat a bit over IM, things I thought would help put me back into the real world. By 1:00 AM, I felt like I was crossing down into the first plateau. The thought of 'that was INTENSE!!!' was still firmly engraved in my brain. Went to the kitchen and replenished some energy by eating some leftover French toast from that morning (French toast is tasty any time of the day, BTW). By 2 AM, I still wasn't 100% sober, but I'd decided I was way too tired and collapsed into bed, falling asleep almost instantly. Fortunately, my dreams weren't weird or anything.
14. Woke up the next (i.e., this) morning at 10 AM, then realized I was way too tired to actually get out of bed. Not depressed, just very tired. Thank God it was (is) a Saturday. I finally dragged myself out at 2:30 PM and went about my day otherwise normally. So that's what they mean by a DXM 'hangover'. Strangely (as you can tell above), I recall a reasonably large amount of the trip right now, which is apparently very unusual. I can still comprehend the disturbing thoughts that were in my head during that trip (as they're not very unusual thoughts for me to begin with), but at this point they seem less relevant, 'on the back burner', if you will. That might change in 5 years, but for now it's not a problem.
So in short, I'd say that DXM is a completely different drug between the lower and upper plateaus (1/2 and 3/4, respectively). I can't say it was either a euphoric trip or a dysphoric (bad) one. The quality of the trip transcended any such 'earthly' term. What I can say is that my experience was profound, in a mainly disturbing way. I am not sure if I am glad I did this, nor am I sure I wish I didn't do this... or if it will prepare me for an inevitable death (hey, even if I didn't have cancer, death would still be inevitable!!!). All I can safely say about that is that it happened, and that's that.
I really doubt I'll go this far again (in any event, it's not like I thought of anything new in this trip, it did nothing but amplify the thoughts that are normally in my head). My future DXM trips will likely stay in the first and second plateaus, and also, I'll probably lay off the stuff (at any plateau) for a few months, if only for physiological reasons.
Oh yeah, fortunately, unlike some other users of DXM (especially in the Coricidin form) who have had disturbing or dysphoric trips, I don't have a negative (i.e. vomitrocious) response to seeing DXM caplets or syrups. I can look at them just fine (and probably take them the next time I have a cough), though they do inspire in me a newfound sense of respect and awe, if not outright fear.
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