Citation: KX. "Quality is Subjective: An Experience with LSD (exp5485)". Erowid.org. Jan 16, 2002. erowid.org/exp/5485
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Apart from the occasional caffeine (which has little effect on me) and a few half-glasses of champagne at various special events, and some demerol in hospitals on two occasions, I had no experience with psychoactives prior to trying LSD. Stimulants and depressants are simply not appealing to me and opiates are far too risky. As long as I have known about them (probably since one of those 'Just Say No' lectures that public schools were constantly having in the 80s) LSD (and by extension all psychedelics) have been intriguing to me. I vaguely remember at some point in 8th or 9th grade thinking 'if only LSD did not cause brain damage it would be the perfect drug, and even I would try it'.
Roll the clock forward about 10 years. I have recently started reading Hunter Thompson and listening to an increasing amount of psychedelic music (both 1st generation stuff and newer things like the Butthole Surfers and the Cramps). Naturally, I sought out information on these fascinating substances which had inspired so much great music and literature. Before long, I had learned that, while certainly not 'safe' (what is?), the risks of LSD were almost entirely of the psychological nature. The point is, between the time at which I decided I was going to try LSD and the time I actually tried it I spent about 7 months researching and generally preparing myself mentally for it. This definitely payed off... when I later described some of the most impressive moments of the trip to my friend who acted as guide (and who has had a lot of experience, having taken acid a few hundred times), she was suprised that I had enjoyed it at all. I loved it, paranoia, loss of self, loss of linear time and all. I was not anxious to try it again immediately, but I will almost certainly use it again in the future; I could easily see myself using it once or twice a year indefinitely.
The experience itself:
I arrived the day before and slept on the couch. the next morning I awoke around 10 and took a long shower, followed by a light breakfast (I cannot remember precisely what). We sat and talked for a little while with her boyfriend, then got the acid from te refrigerator and divided it up. It was difficult to tell how much I took because we only had leftover edges from a sheet, but in retrospect it is clear that she had a prett good idea of how much was actually there. At any rate, I had about four pieces; she had two. After eating it (I swallowed the paper after a minute or so, which her boyriend then warned me not to do - it made his stomach upset...) her boyfriend left for work and we sat and talked aout nothing in particular, looked at some Maurice Sendak books, and waited. And waited. After about 20 minutes I was just beginning to feel it. Nothing was actually different, but there was an increasing sense of anticipation: SOMETHING was about to happen. We moved to the living room and put on some music. Some buddhist chants she had downloaded a few weeks before... nice background music, though somewhat humorous on a meta level: here we are, full of acid listening to buddhist chants in her living room. I found the idea of that strangely amusing. Something was happening, all right.
I guess it took about an hour before it really kicked in, but I can't be sure. I tend to be kind of analytical, so she had hidden all of the clocks in the house beforehand and I had placed my watch safely out of reach. The wait was definitely on the long side, though. Then, without much warning, I could feel it starting to pick up: sort of waves of electricity traveling up my body. She was obviously farther along than I, and asked if I wanted more or not (we had previously discussed whether to go for a lot right off or do a bit at a time so I didn't get more than I felt comfortable with; it ended up being somewhere in between, as my initial dose was probably about the same as an average tab). I said 'sure' and she went to the kitchen to get it. I stood up and took a few steps toward the wall. All of a sudden, everything started to twist into a sort of counterclockwise nautilus spiral, which was centered somewhere above and to the left of my head. This was not visual (though there was initially a slight, brief distortion); it was only a nearly overpowering feeling. I looked at the prints and drawings that were hanging on the wall and thought something along the lines of 'I am HERE. This is it.' About this time, she returned with three more pieces which I put in my mouth and sucked on for maybe five minutes. I had not tasted anything from the first dose I took (which I attribute to the fact that I held it for about five minutes before taking it and my palms were slightly sweaty), but this one had a definite flavor. Despite her boyfriend's assertion that it tasted unpleasant, I enjoyed it. Interestingly enough, it tasted a bit like the acid (of a very different type) that dentists use to soften a tooth before filling it - a taste most people probably dislike.
Now that we were fully taking off, I soon remembered that we had planned on drawing. We got out crayons and paper and made a 'book', which took somewhere between 15 minutes and an hour. When we were tired of drawing, we sat for a few minutes on the floor and did not do much of anything. Neither of us were having any significant visuals. Light seemed a little brighter and more 'pure' and sometimes moved on its own. Distances were distorted. There were no heavy colors or patterns, however, and nothing was significantly distorted. That is not to say that the trip was at all mild up to this point, however. It was simply not going on in the visual domain. Most of the changes were in perception, thought processes, and so forth. Very subjective, very hard to put into words. And, while I did not SEE any distortions or trails or the like, I certainly FELT them.
We were still sitting on the floor comparing notes when suddenly I snapped back to normalcy. It was almost instant and almost complete. Here I was sitting on the floor, perfectly sober. And there was the couch over there, a few feet away. I suddenly know that I had to get over there quickly while I still had the chance. I muttered something to that effect and stood up, stepped across the floor (only one step... but what a step it was) and dropped onto the couch.
...ceiling, acoustic tiling. Tunneling upward.... the second dose must be kicking in...
'I... I think I might be a while... if you... want to read a book or something...'
... picture on the wall is... alive... shapes crawling into themselves...
I am siting on the couch. It is a bit darker outside than it was last time I noticed. Everything around me is still more or less solid, but it seems very distant. The computer is on, and some of the colors are leaking off of the screen onto the side of the monitor, but the picture itself is the only thing in the room that seems to be completely noral. Strange.
I am looking across the room. I do not know how long I have been here. I can feel my body and the couch flowing into each other, a strangely comforting sensation. I am alone in the room, but I know that someone is in the other room, and will be back soon. Or is that me? Am I really just a reflection of what I am looking at? I can feel my presence start to leak out into the couch, like water from a plastic bottle with a leak in the bottom. The level of my existance is falling down my body; only my eyes and teeth are left. Just before everything else disappears completely into the couch, I remember reading 'The Psychedelic Experience' earlier that week, and recognize that this is, in its eccentric way, the 'pure whit elight' that Leary was talking about. Thinking this makes me quickly flow back up out of the couch into myself, much to my chagrin. I suppose that the act of thinking reminded me that I exist. I begin to flow out again, but it does not go much lower than my chest, and I end up laying back on the couch and just enjoying being around.
How long has it been since then? Minutes? Hours? Someone says something to me and a large stuffed bee attached to a keychain lands on my chest and looks at me. I look back. It is a friendly bee. I like it.
It is definitely nighttime now; the windows are dark. We have been playing Atari 2600 games on the computer for some time now. Or rather, I have been watching her play. I occasionally try to control the action a bit, but mostly I am content to watch. There is a game called 'Bobby is going home'. Bobby is jumping across puts and dodging viscious greek letters(!). The sky is purple, and the sun is flying around the sky in a figure 8 pattern. Bobby reaches the edge of the screen and moves to the next: the sun becomes a giant bird! I am now convinced that the atari 2600 was designed by and for acid users.
I am walking to the kitchen to get a drink of water. The observing part of my brain realizes how absurd te entire situation is. It thinks of Peter Fonda: the perfect icon of the ridiculousness of LSD. For a brief moment I am standing behind myself watching: I AM Peter Fonda. I get my water, set it on a shelf, forget where it is, return, find it, drink it. We go to the bedroom to look at the ceiling, which is a sort of lumpy stucco. On the way, we notice a poster which depicts farm animals picketing. All of them are carrying signs except for the duck, who has a small red banner. We are sure that this is very important, but cannot decide why. I look at myself in the mirror and... there I am! And I can even move my mouth and eyes! I am happy to see this.
We have watched the ceiling for a while but we are both feeling restless. It has been quite a few hours now, and she is clearly overmost of it. I am still feeling strange, but I am definitely over the peak. We decide that, despite the cold and the icy streets, we are going to walk round outside a little bit.
Out in the hallway. Bare white walls. No furniture except for a salvaged church pew with a life-sized cast of a tombstone sitting on it. We reach the front door and she tries to open it. Nothing. It is frozen. My mind races: the night before her boyfriend was late getting home from work and we had locked the keys in the apartment. We were stuck out in the rain for two hours. Now we want to get back out and we are locked IN! The perfect symmetry! I am overcome by the humor of the situation. am I laughing? I feel as though I am splitting apart from the waist up, becoming multiple images, like a photograph taken under strobe lights. But none of the motion is actually happening, is it? Is it?
The door finally opens - it was frozen shut - and we leave the house. I loo0k at the snow underneath the drainspout and admite the pefect fractal curve of crystals that are formed where water dripped onto it and froze. We walk down the street. The cold is severe, and I am starting to lose track of my body. Am I here? We walk down another street, but time is beginning to come apart. I am no longer experiencing my existance as a steady stream. It is a series of three basic images: looking forward, looking sideways, looking down at my feet. Each step I take the image changes in a cycle. This goes on forever, quite literally.
We are at a bus stop. A bus pulls up and the images speed up. I slide back into normal time and we decide not to get on the bus. I slide back to the ccling images, but there are more of them, closer together. We are in a richer neighborhood now. It is very dark, and all of the houses seem abandoned. We do not stay long. We are back on the main street, heading to the apartment. We pass a gas station. There is a large van filled with police. I feel unmoved: this is just the part where I act normal. We walk past and nobody pays the slightest bit of attention. I feel as if I am not actually connected to my body, but am in fact floating inside of it and trying to steer it around. She mentions something she read about that very sensation, though I had not mentioned it to her. 'I know exactly what you mean' I say loudly. The man walking his dog past us looks at me disapprovingly. 'But he doesn't,' I say, trying hard not to burst out laughing.
We are at an intersection. I cannot tell when and where the traffic is, but she is nearly back to normal and has no trouble negotiating the street crossing. As I step out into the road, however, I realize that I am no longer connected to my body at all: it is walking off across the road without me. Horror: what if I cannot catch up with it? The cars are coming! My body is almost across the street, but my consciousness is still standing right in the middle of it. I dash to the curb and, more or less, back into my body. I am not connected to it yet, but I have caught it and I fo not think it is going anywhere again. Sure enough, net time we cross a street, I only lag behind it slightly the first step or two. I am getting the hang of driving it around again.
Back in the apartment. We are both getting tired, but there is no chance of sleeping yet. It is probably only 8 or 9 pm, anyway. We wander about, trying to decide what to do. It is cold. I am still shaken from beign outside. We want to watch a movie, but can't decide what. Finally we choose 'Heavenly Creatures', a personal favorite of each of us. Her copy is a pre-releasse bootleg in an unmarked tape. We heat up some vegan pizza-pocket type things (she is vegan; I hardly eat much meat, but thrive on cheese and find most vegan food of this kind a bit bland, so I am not overly aggressive about eating it) and start the tape. Soon we are both deeply absorbed in the movie. However, the way she relates to it is, naturally, quite different from the way I relate to it. Slowly but surely I begin to feel isolated. I begin to notice that whenever any of the characters on the screen are hostile, the picture becomes grainy and their faces begin to deform. Soon, not only are there distortions whenever characters are hostile or angry, but hissing sounds as well. And the angrier they get, the worse my food tastes. When they are happy, the food tastes better, the picture is clear, and there is no distortion or hissing. I begin to notice that the characters who are most grusomely deformed are men. And then it dawns on me: the distortions are not because of the LSD! No, what is really happening is that the tape was specially prepared in order to imprint me with some kind of anti-male, anti-heterosexual personality! That is why it the tape was not labeled. I begin to feel very uncomfortable. On the screen, people begin to grow horns and their faces twist into hideous grimaces. About halfway into the movie, there is a scene in which the main character loses her virginity to a particularly unpleasant, rattish man. As he is about to reach orgasm... the tape breaks! We stop the vcr and rewind it a bit to see if that will help, but there is no picture when we play. We rewind some more: still no picture. The tape is blank.
We have not gotten the tape to work, despite 15 minutes or so of sitting and looking at the VCR. I get up to go to the bathroom. Once in the bathroom, I look into the mirror. Throughout the trip, I have had menthol lip balm on, and it has made me unable to feel (and therefore, unable to remember the existance of ) the lower half of my face. Off an on, I have felt that my facial expressions are actually the facial expressions of people I am looking at, but happening on my face. This is an opportunity to test that. I look in the mirror. There I am, just like last time. I think to myself 'I am not sure exactly who I am, but I am sure that whoever I am I like it a lot.'
A few hours have gone by. I am much closer to baseline now. Just tired, and my thought patterns are strange. Her boyfriend comes home and we sit and talk for a while. He reads our book. We keep him awake until about 2am, at which point we are all exhausted. They go to bed, and I turn off the lights and lie down on the couch. As I am about to close my eyes, I notice that the pattern on the couch is not just a pattern: it is a flaming, one eyed bird, and it is swooping down at me out of the cushion. I look at it for a moment, trying to decide whether or not we will be friends. I finally determine that we will get along, and close my eyes.
Mild closed-eye visuals as I fall asleep: moire patterns, kalidescope patterns, flying down chrome tunnels. At one point I am standing inside a strange house, looking out the window on the front door. Outside the window, there is a porch with a chair on it. On the chair sits a decaying corpse wearing a moth-eaten suit. I soon decide that I do not ilike this and go back to the tunnels and patterns.
About an hour later, I wake up. There is a scratching sound: mice in the walls! And... my mostly uneaten vegan pizza is still sitting on a plate by the couch. If the mice decide the y want to eat it, they might crawl over me to get to it! I must move it away!
That is a basic account of what I can remember off the top of my head. It has been nearly three months, and I have been consistently much happier, much more able to focus, much more aware of the world around me, much more sure of who I am. I have always been pretty strong in all of these respects (though I am occasionally depressed for a week or two, as are most people I know), but since taking acid I feel as though they have all solidified. I know exactly who I am and where I am. While I might not be satisfied with everyhting in my life or th world, I am happy to be in it, as trite as that sounds. I waited until I was in an especially good state mentally before taking the acid, and I believe that it did a lot help imprint tthat state of mind into my personality much more deeply than it already was. For all the talk about LSD changing people's lives and personalities, I found that - much like hypnosis - it only created potential; the actual change was mad eby my own psyche. To draw upon the overused but very effective Huxley metaphor, LSD opens a door in your mind. But it does not make you walk through that door; that is up to you.
Would I do LSD again? most definitely, if the opportunity to do it in a comfortable, safe manner presented itself. I would also be curious to try performing routine activities (shopping for food; visiting a busy mall; going to a movie) under low doses once or twice. At some point I am interested in trying DMT (which was the drug that I first began researching before deciding on LSD). Despite the fact that some of the later parts of that first trip were not what most people would consider pleasant, and were certainly not fun, I did not consider them 'negative' experiences at the time nor do I now. The only thing that I would really be unhappy about repeating would be crossing the street the first time.
I would not outright recommend LSD to anyone. Moreso than most drugs, it is a very complex descision. I HAVE recommended that a couple of my friends who have not yet tried it but have some interest should spend some time reading about it and working at becoming comfortable with themselves before they even consider taking it. Sure, it is possible to just go out and do it without any trouble, but I cannot imagine that it would be nearly as satisfying, at east the first time. I think that it is incredibly important to have someone who you trust to guide you on your first trip. This has been said many times, but once more couldn't hurt.
One of the things that really helped me deal with some of the more uncomfortable moments was my firm belief that therre is no such thing as a 'bad' trip. A trip can be uncomfortable or downright frightening, but that is only 'bad' if the tripper interprets it that way. Some of the 'worst' experiences I've heard about from friends sound like some of the 'best' experiences I had (melting into the couch, for example - many other inexperienced people I have talked to were not at all comfortable when similar things happened to them). At least for me, remembering that 'good' and 'bad' are just human inventions that have no real bearing on the experience kept me from struggling against the uncomfortable moments, which is important.
If you go into it with the right mindset, I think acid can be one of the most positive and profound experiences a person can have, whether it is a 'good' trip or not.
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