Mushrooms - P. cubensis & MDMA (Ecstasy)
Citation: RedLeader. "Redefining Happiness: An Experience with Mushrooms - P. cubensis & MDMA (Ecstasy) (exp66417)". Erowid.org. Dec 10, 2007. erowid.org/exp/66417
Background: I am a 23 year old American male currently living in overseas as a graduate student in a research science. I weigh 59kg and am mildly sensitive to most drugs. I consider myself to be a fairly level-headed and rational person and I am currently in average mental health. I am in good physical health, take daily vitamins, and spend ample time working out and being active. As of writing this, I am not taking any prescription medicines. I have been dealing with bouts of depression and anxiety over the past few months due to a difficult breakup seven months ago and a demanding academic workload, but things have been going slightly better over the past few weeks.
My previous drug history includes alcohol, cannabis, crack/powder cocaine, psilocybin mushrooms, LSA, LSD, Salvia, MDMA, a host of mostly ineffective “legal highs” and a few popular pharmaceuticals, such as Adderall, Xanax, Vicadin, etc.
Preface: This report documents an experience that I had five days ago (11 October 2007), during which I combined 3.5g psilocybin mushrooms (P. Cubensis) and 1 pill of MDMA while attending a rave. Though no stranger to either of these substances, this was my first time trying them in combination. I write this in attempt to accurately and descriptively capture as many of my thoughts, emotions, and feelings from the night as I can. And as much of this night I spent with my mind on overdrive, naturally this essay will be somewhat lengthy. With that said, hopefully my quality can match my quantity and that I can effectively lead my readers through this very powerful experience without it becoming superfluous. At times, this report may deviate from a direct recap of my experience to include descriptions of personal issues with which am currently struggling. These deviations are relevant, though, as much of my thoughts comprising them are direct results of what I was thinking about during the experience, which was unquestionably effected by the psychoactives.
Being an avid trance enthusiast and opportunistic-raver, news that one of the world’s most famous DJs was coming to my city had me anticipating this night for over a month. It had been over a year since I had been to a proper rave, and almost as long since I did any type of potent psychedelic. So naturally I felt like a kid counting down the days until Christmas. Unfortunately, though, as I have only been living in my current city for a few months, I have not yet been able to line up a trustworthy MDMA source. Hence I was forced to resort to a backup plan, and so it happened to be psilocybin mushrooms. Not that it was a bad backup plan, though, as I have had several beautiful experiences with mushrooms. But still, this was a world-class rave and I was admittedly disappointed that MDMA was not on my plate. I assumed that there would be plenty of MDMA at the club, and though I was not sure at the time how I felt about combining it with mushrooms, I figured that I would play it by ear if presented with an opportunity to score.
*note: The following timestamps are approximations/best guesses.
T=0min: The walk to the venue was about twenty minutes, which gave me enough time to thoroughly chew up and swallow the 3.5 grams of P. Cubensis mushrooms (I actually am atypical in that I don‘t mind the taste of straight mushrooms at all. I rarely even need a drink to wash them down). This particular nightclub has a very strict dress (and image) code, and I knew plenty of people who had been previously rejected at the door for stupid, superficial reasons. So naturally I was a bit nervous about showing up alone, as I was not really in the mood for bouncers and their questions. But considering this was a huge event on this particular night and I already had purchased a ticket, I felt like I would not likely have any trouble. Still, though, I knew that I would be taking a risk, as in the case that I was rejected, not only would I not get to see the show, but the mushrooms would be about to kick in, and I wouldn’t be in a very good headspace.
T+20min: I am allowed into the venue without any pressure at all. Actually, this brought about a nice sigh-of-relief that put me in a good mindset in which to begin. I look around, seeing if anybody that I know has arrived yet, but that does not appear to be the case. So I decided to purchase a beer (I find that having one beer while coming up on mushrooms helps me battle the nervous energy and feelings of anxiety, which I don’t find to be very comfortable at all) and check out the supporting resident DJ. I must note that this particular club is world-class when it comes to sound and lighting, so it provides an absolutely phenomenal backdrop for a psychoactive experience.
T+40min: Finished the beer. Still nothing happening yet. I ran into someone who I knew from University. We speak for about five minutes before he has to go.
T+1h: I’m starting to get a bit worried, as I still don’t feel anything, and usually mushrooms hit me between 35 and 50 minutes. I walk to a bathroom in an area that I’ll call ‘Raver’s Corner,’ which contains a bunch of couches and lounge areas, and is frequented by those who are on drugs. I was thinking that some time away from the noise might help me better assess if I do actually have any alerts yet. And after washing my hands, I noticed that the water did have that crystal-clear feel and look to it, and I felt slightly like some energy was manifesting itself in my lower body. I returned to the main floor for a little bit longer, listening to the music as the body buzz kicked in slightly more.
T+1h15min: I return to Raver’s Corner and take a seat. In not too much time, a guy to my right introduces himself to me as S and we strike up a prototypical first conversation. In not too much time, we reach the topic of drugs and after he tells me that he’s taken 3 ecstasy pills already, I mention how I am disappointed that my mushrooms unfortunately are starting off rather weak. Shortly thereafter, S offers me a single MDMA pill for free. Because of my increasing jealously of the increasing number of people around me rolling off their faces, it took me all of two seconds to accept his offer.
T+1h20min: ½ of an ecstasy pill down the hatch. Continue talking with S and two others S knows.
T+1h30min: ½ of an ecstasy pill down the hatch. I usually take MDMA like this. No serious rhyme or reason for it, other than I’ve convinced myself that this way prolongs the initial euphoria of the early peak.
T+1h35min: Feeling very awake. Definitely an objective alert, much more than anything before. But from what? This is way too quick for MDMA to kick in, so either the pill was something else (which I highly doubt as S seemed trustworthy and I witnessed him take one) or the mushrooms were finally coming around. After a few more minutes of talking with S and his friends, I had myself convinced that these were effects of the psilocybin. I was developing a body buzz that definitely felt more “tingly” than “floaty” and I could feel my throat slightly tightening, which often happens to me with mushrooms. I tell S that I have to go. I thank him and force him to accept some money for his generosity. He genuinely seems to understand why, and I head off to the main area in attempt to speed up my effects. I was happy to know that after 90 minutes of essentially being baseline, my night was starting.
Now I have done mushrooms once before when surrounded by people rolling, and like that time, I found it very easy to join the collective consciousness of the ravers. It was almost as the setting was pushing the effects of the mushrooms to the euphoric/giggly/carefree edge of the mushroom spectrum, and as the body buzz isn’t a whole lot different, I was almost pretending that I was already rolling. And I figured that everyone around me assumed that I was rolling (after all, my pupils were huge and I was clutching my water). In any case, though the mushrooms had taken a solid 90 minutes to kick in, they were now beginning to show their force. I stayed on the main floor for another 15 minutes enjoying the body buzz of the mushrooms and feeling my thoughts begin to speed up.
T+2h15min: Even though I haven’t any overt indications to back me up, I feel like I just “know” that the MDMA is hitting me. Not just because the timeframe is right, but also because my euphoria seems more natural and less responsive. What I mean by this is that before I was feeling excited because I could feel myself getting physically higher, and in turn, that likely meant even better times ahead. But now, I had the prototypical dumb grin on my face, I felt inclined to match smiles with other people, and I was no longer consciously trying to push my happiness forward. It felt very good to be back in such a mindset.
As I continued to enjoy the rush of both drugs, I started thinking a lot about the life path that I am walking down right now. My university degrees are pointing me toward some white-collar job and its inevitable that many people will assume that there’s no much more to me than corporate greed and an elitist attitude. In the past, I’ve been teased (sometimes casually, sometimes with actual convictions behind it) about the academic/professional route that I’ve taken, and people don’t often believe my arguments that contrast their accusations. Truth be told, I actually do study what I do because I find it fascinating, not because it will make me money or make people ‘think I’m smart.’ And it really troubles me knowing that a lot of great people that I meet in life don’t believe that I can remain a good person at heart while heading down the corporate path. Now when I’m sober, I often worry about myself, as even though I have no desire for wealth or ego right now, I know that I am just a human being, and there’s always the suggestion that I could change over time. But while under the influence, I actually, for a brief moment, felt very sad about the retrospect/prospect of people misjudging me. The sadness did not last, though.
As I stood there in the center of the rave, I experienced a moment of clarity about myself. I knew that as long as I could remember how I was feeling at the moment, I would never let myself be corrupted. I’d listen to raver music on my headphones while at work. I’d wear my crazy jewelry hidden away under my formal attire. No matter where I ended up in the real world, I’d always have that constant rhythm-of-life mental backbone that I’ve had ever since I started opening my mind years ago. I knew that as long as I kept having experiences like this every now and then, I would remain a good person at heart and forever an exception to stereotypes. And even more, I stopped worrying about the people who might not believe me and started focusing on the subset of humanity that would. Looking at the people near me, exchanging prolonged glances with those in similar mental states as me, I knew that at least the people around me would understand perfectly how I felt. And at the moment, that made me even happier to be where I was. The “comfort blanket” of the people who phenomenally understood what it was like to rave was, well, comfortable.
I saw myself ten years down the road, still young and full of vitality, but more settled down in my life and my interests and passions more honed. I saw myself spending much of my paycheck on building my own private rave temple in my future basement. A spacious (and soundproof) room full of lights, speakers, monitors, and comfy couches. I saw people who I felt understood me smiling, dancing and bonding. I saw myself learning to spin records and holding eye contact with my friends as the music I played climaxed. In retrospect it’s a bit of a skewed image, but I saw myself not as a man throwing a party, but instead as a philanthropist in the truest form. I was helping people remain safe and mentally healthy, keeping them all away from the demons of the standardizations and routines of a professional world, and the personal and emotional sacrifices of the corporate workplace. Sure, in retrospect, this wasn’t different than the ‘if only everyone in the world rolled at the same time…’ fantasies, but it the moment, it’s hard not to find even those appealing.
T+2h30min: I returned to Raver’s Corner and took a seat. At this point, the venue was becoming very crowded and it was downright obvious that at least a third of the people there were on some form of drug. And it made me feel comfortable that the venue staff was turning the other way from massage circles, people playing with water, and even people who were obviously bugged out of their minds. I greeted the people around me, accepted a free bottle of water from a stranger, and laid back on the couch.
I realized how, despite all of the elaborate analysis that I do about how ecstasy effects my mental processes, ecstasy also is so physically amazing. How it makes everything just feel and appear so crystal clear, how a slight breeze can be translated into a wave of pleasure, how water going down my throat feels so good, etc. But with the mushrooms going on as well, the floaty and silkiness and of the ecstasy was coupled with the core buzzing of the mushrooms, resulting in quite pleasant a combination. And, also to my good fortune, the ecstasy was helping me stay loose, as I often get kind of physically tense and feel less adept with my limbs while on mushrooms.
But it’s not just the personal act of enjoying this high that makes the experience so euphoric, but also the collective consciousness plays a very strong role. As someone who has suffered a lot of anxiety in the past due to self-esteem issues and fears about other people’s thoughts and perceptions, I find raves to be the most pleasant setting I’ve ever experienced. The concept that everybody around me is also experiencing the positive feelings that I am and has so much instantaneous love for humanity means that these people are likely feeling nothing but positive emotions because of me. And it’s comforting to be able to let my guard down because of this and not be afraid to talk with new people.
Catching the reader up a bit on my recent personal history, I have also been battling some mental demons in recent months concerning past regrets and inerasable memories. About eight months ago, I went through a terrible breakup with a woman who I thought was the future love-of-my-life, and immediately thereafter fell into a very dark state-of-mind. During the following burdening months, I found myself drinking a lot, abusing Xanax, and going foolishly out of my way to get cocaine. And with irresponsible drug (ab)use came irresponsible choices, decisions and moral compromises. And even though I won’t expand on the ways that I let myself down, I will say that I have many regrets from the past year of my life, and I am tortured by the reality that these regrets will likely stay with me for years to come. Sure, a bad period of my life, but in my current attempt to better my self-image and come to believe that I really am a good person at heart, dealing with bad memories is a humungous hurdle.
One consequence of my regrets is the dilemma of keeping secrets verses revealing shameful things about myself to others. I often think about, for example, if I were to meet the perfect woman tomorrow, I would be met with the dilemma of having to either hide my shameful things from her or hope that she would still be interested in me after hearing everything. Sure, everybody goes through dilemmas like that, but I think I tend to overanalyze it. One of the bad things about being someone who has flirted with addictions is that it tends to make you very emotionally sensitive. Sure, emotional sensitivity can make the good times so much better (and I feel like my good times have been so much better once I started living more crazily), but there are negatives that have to be accepted as well. And the idea that this dilemma will be with me as long as I have a desire to date is petrifying - it really is. Even though I am convinced that I wouldn’t go back in time if given the opportunity, it’s tough trading away some of my innocence.
And I sat there on that couch thinking about this, but for the first time in a positive light. I knew going into the night that sooner or later I was going to have to tackle this issue on my mushroom trip, but the MDMA really did come as a blessing. Needless to say, it had me convinced that it was not actually about regrets and personal images that I was worried, but instead just about honesty and openness. Now I emphasize that it’s not this simple in normal time as these thoughts were brought about the drugs, but I’ll share them anyway. I was convinced that if I met somebody new, even if I was 100% open and revealing about everything, if I could accurately convey to her the beauty that I had in my heart (not due to but definitely accentuated by the drugs), then I wouldn’t have reason to even worry.
I know that much of the mushroom and/or ecstasy experience is ineffable, but at the time I felt so confident about myself, as I knew that I was privy to that ineffability. Again, ecstasy just makes me so happy and confident, and with the openness and desire to connect with other humans on the deepest levels that I feel from mushrooms, together they had me feeling like I possessed volumes and volumes of unwritten knowledge about life and love. Knowledge that, no matter how hard on myself I was, I had to admit was potent, appealing, and something I had to offer that many others didn’t.
Looking around me, seeing mostly everybody in Raver’s Corner starring off into their own distances and remaining motionless, I could feel how everyone else’s minds were flying as fast as mine. The notion that others were feeling great about themselves too and were possibly helping sort their lives out made me quite elated for them. That we were a bunch of strangers, visibly from different countries, cultures, and social normatives, but all experiencing an important night of our lives was incredible. We all sit there thinking and taking things in, but occasionally break to share water or simply to smile at each other. It really seemed hedonistic, idealistic, and yet somehow also actually happening in reality. There we were, Raver’s Corner, a tiny little hub of humanity that was, in that very moment, as pure as life could get.
T+3h: And all along, one of the best DJs in the world is, for our convenience, just a few steps away. And even though the drug combination was downright intense, I had no trouble temporarily shutting my mind off for an occasional trip up for sensual overdrive. At this point, the famous DJ was in the middle of his set, and I went to watch for a good thirty minutes. And it was amazing, both due to what he actually was playing and also because of the great response he was getting.
T+3h30min: Still feeling as high as ever. I notice that if I drink a large amount of water at once (maybe a third of a liter) I get a rush of physical euphoria. I try not to do this too much, but it is an observation.
I return to my seat and start thinking about humanity again, and how my current positive mindset contrasts with positive mindsets of people not necessarily on drugs, but who get through their days better than I do. And I boiled it down to my understanding of the difference between ‘happiness’ and ‘euphoria’ (a theme I have thought about before, but never with this much attention).
Essentially, happiness is what makes us realize that we are human beings. Euphoria is what allows us to understand how we are unique as individuals. Okay, I’ll be more specific. Happiness is about what one might expect - riding horses on the beach, getting married, petting a puppy, hearing “I love you“, etc. Prototypical stuff that everyone is raised to like and want. Part of human nature and such. Euphoria, on the other hand, well euphoria is sexual climax, being humbled by a gorgeous view, using psychoactive substances, getting mentally stuck inside of the music that one hears, etc. Everyone pretty much reacts to the happiness stuff in similar ways - butterflies in the stomach, chills up and down the spine, etc. But it’s about how one react to the euphoric things that let one know who one really is, as I feel that this spectrum of euphoric reactions is far more expansive.
Ask me why I like any of the euphoric things I do, and I am going to talk your ear off forever (case in point, this report). But ask me why I like happiness, well, my answer will be pretty much “well, I mean, I’m human and we humans like that stuff.” A good amount of people, I believe, live lives in which they just want some illusion of “happiness,” not actively creating their own recipes for good feelings but instead trying to follow predetermined models for ‘a happy life’ and don’t ever bother to understand or develop their own personal relationship euphoria. And while those may be moderately happy people, well, they’re missing out. It’s my basic belief that pursuing euphoria AND having a solid philosophical or moral understanding as to why one is pursuing euphoria is a large goal for a small subset of people. And sure, maybe while I am not as ‘happy’ as those I pass on the street, I might have the better understanding of my emotions and what could cause them to be maximized.
It doesn’t have to be about taking drugs, as drugs are simply just the easiest example to cite (and the one that I can personally relate to, as nothing else has been able to effect me nearly as strongly). I think that this is what people are getting at when they say that they’re attracted to people who have passion. And to those who have never done psychedelics, it’s hard to accept that passion, and especially attractive passion, can come from them. And that’s fine, but I’d still like to hope that at least some people can be open-minded enough to consider the possibility. I know that the thoughts and feelings that I was experiencing there in the middle of a few thousand ravers, and how much deeper it all was making me understand my view of humanity and human relations (and in a more positive light as well), were passionate, and I’d like to hope that such introspection and personal development has made me a better person.
The good feelings from MDMA or psilocybin (as opposed to good feelings from more socially acceptable practices) are like mountains to molehills. But then again MDMA or psilocybin can also make molehills appear as beautiful creations. I know that a lot of people are critical of drug use and furthermore are skeptical about their contributions to personal happiness. And though I am not going to forcefully try and separate people from their established beliefs, I do feel bad for all of the people who will grow old never knowing just how good the good times can get, how deep the deep thoughts can be, and why people like me will put these glowsticks around our necks, lollypops in our mouths, and then sit there absolutely motionless on a couch for an hour.
And maybe we only stress out about our own regrets, and the shameful moments from the past of those we care about, because we’re too caught up in a ‘happiness is the goal of life’ attitude. Hypothetically, I'm walking down the beach with that special someone, but it still bothers me that she’s got skeletons in the closet. I want to ‘take in the moment’ and be ‘lost‘, but it cannot happen. Despite the fact that we have a long conversation earlier about both of our closet skeletons, and she seemed totally accepting of any and all of my admittances, I still cannot help but think about those she mentioned. And I worry that she is secretly bothered by mine, but is essentially ‘sucking it up.’ I can't be completely accepting because stuff gets to me. I want the ‘live with no regrets’ approach to life, but even though she cannot ever erase those bad decisions from the past, and even though in the current day she wants to more than anything, well they still bother me. And now I turn on myself, getting sad by the fact that I cannot force myself to let it go. I am upset that I'm walking down the beach in such a ‘happy’ setting, but I am not feeling that happiness. Will I ever be able to let go of the past and feel it? Will it ever be like it is in the movies?
So I look at my past and sure, I regret things. But I need to stop getting caught up in them. I mean, I don't really, personally, phenomenally remember what it's like to feel 'in love' or what I felt during whatever long walks on the beach that I have taken. Ya, I can want to feel that stuff again and get upset that it's fading from my memory, but why? Even though it's been a long time now, I still remember every detail about the first time that I took a psychedelic or my first real rave. Sights, sounds, emotions, how I changed, etc. Put music on that I can connect, and it's all so easily accessible. Once I felt euphoria, I never forgot it. It never fades away. It's always in my back pocket. It doesn’t change or become more and more different in recollection over the years. It’s as crystal-clear as anything in my life. So whose to say that my regrets, which have nothing to do with the experience I’ve been describing, need to be things that my mind wants to try and remember perfectly? In truth, my mind likely exaggerates them and makes them worse over time. I attach labels and stereotypes to my actions and let society then scorn me for what I have done. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and the truth is that likely at those times, it was not as bad as I remember.
So that's really what I should be working on right now. Personally, trying to exactly draw up how I can reconstruct some classical things (love, family, human relations, etc.) with my ‘euphoria over happiness’ understanding of the world. I mean, raves and sunsets are amazing, but we're human beings and it is in our nature to find partners, reproduce, and connect with each other. And I feel like once I really figure out how to cover such 'human' things with my understanding of euphoria, then I finally will live a skeletons-in-the-closet free life, and it will be the most powerful thing that I will have ever felt when it happens.
Because that’s what true love should be - not psychological battles about who says “I love you” first, but instead about learning about the euphoric drives and passions of another human being. The latter will bring two people so much closer. And when one does one’s best to understand another’s quest for bigger and better rushes, one can also understand that inevitable hiccups that occur along the way. It’s actually good for people to make what we must perceive as mistakes, as we learn from them. It’s all part of the quest for a meaningful and life without restraint. And when one can separate the sin from the sinner, one can then understand that it’s instead just a person and an action.
T+4h-6h: I starting coming down during this period. Sure, it was kind of disappointing, but as others around me were also noticeably fatigued and crashing, I didn’t feel so bad. I chatted up with a few random people and watched a bit of the closing resident DJ’s set. Nothing much to report physically here other than that typical feeling of being noticeably fatigued, but your heart still pounding and your eyes still wide open.
T+6h: The rave ended. I left the club to discover that it was morning. The sun had already come up and morning traffic was moving by. So I started my walk home. It was kind of funny actually, as a couple hundred crashing ravers were mixing with the couple hundred early morning runners, bikers and commuters all over the city. Anyway, I began to experience horrible stomach cramps, which made the walk rather unpleasant. I did arrive home at around 6:00am and was asleep by 7:00am. And, in impressive fashion, I actually made it to my 12:00pm lecture.
Epilogue: Overall, I enjoyed the psilocybin-MDMA combination and would not hesitate to try it again, perhaps even at higher doses. Typically, when I take mushrooms, I go back and forth between positive and negative mind space. But the ecstasy definitely gave me a nice cushion against any mushroom negativity. So while I didn’t get to experience unadulterated MDMA euphoria per se, I got taken for a pleasant ride by the positive side of the mushrooms and was chauffeured by the empathetic and physically-blissful elements of the ecstasy.
Looking back, simply based on how much I thought about and how much I was able to write in the follow-up is indicative of the combination being effective, even if the mushroom trip was more implicit. Sure, ecstasy makes me ecstatic, and the whole water-playing, massaging and bonding is fun. It feels great physically, it feels great mentally, and it feels almost better knowing that others are feeling it too. But it’s ultimately more of a fun drug and social lubricant for me instead of something that really penetrates deep into my mind. The mushroom combination made my mind understand the MDMA experience through much more analytic means. And this allowed me to not only enjoy the ecstasy in the moment, but to really think how I could capture and hold onto the ecstasy experience and keep it closer to me for a longer time.
Even though I felt like I understood a lot about rave mentality before this night, I know that I learned even more. This was the first time that I went to a rave where the focus I felt was not on the music and the lights, but instead on the collective consciousness. And it’s kind of silly actually, as it was such a famous DJ. But still, like many others I met/witnessed, I spent a predominant amount of my time away from the main floor and huddled in the corner with others also off of their faces. And to me, it was instead as if the music was a complex recording device meant to amplify the retention of what was experienced in the Corner. Before, it was as if I went to be blown away by the sensual overload, and the collective consciousness helped intensify that. And sure, that’s true if it’s what you come for. But, and I think as directly attributable to the psilocybin, the idea of a rave being a mental overload about preserving good qualities of humanity is comparatively powerful.
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