Citation: BillPill. "Ten Years for Panic Disorder: An Experience with DXM (ID 66438)". Erowid.org. Apr 14, 2012. erowid.org/exp/66438
Ten years on DXM
I believe that the following is in the spirit of the Vaults of Erowid because it outlines an experience with a drug which is poorly understood and deserves further research. I have no single experience upon which to report. Rather I have numerous encounters with dextromethorphan which I wish to share.
I have a panic disorder which normally is not controlled by medication. I have found that Dextromethorphan, hereafter referred to as DXM, can control some of my panic disorder. DXM allows me to live more normally than I could otherwise. My anxiety is kept at a relatively low level. I must note that this is not for everyone which you can deduce from what follows.
One observation I might make on the refractory panic disorder (refractory: resisting ordinary treatment or cure) is that there are a lot of off label treatments which I receive to control the panic disorder. Typically, I am treated with anti-convulsents. My docs are striking off into the unknown to treat me so why should I not take things into my own hands and do the same. This is where information on other substances is invaluable in the search for better treatment beyond what the docs will provide. I am taking many NMDA antagonists to control depression and anxiety. DXM is one more on the heap of my many NMDA antagonists. Perhaps there is a correlation here in the flattening of my anxiety. I am exploring this on my own to lift myself out of the hell that I experience daily which is not treated effectively.
Now on to the drug itself:
I have no desire to be on drugs on a daily basis. I have no reason to be detached from reality by this pharmacotherapy. Unfortunately, I need this. DXM came into my life to provide benefits, costs, and perhaps permanent damage.
On to my experiences:
I have experienced flashes of a reality I experienced before the medication. It is an odd experience to look back from an immersion in drugs for a panic disorder to suddenly see an unmuddied view of the world. These fleeting flashes are such a pleasure to see. I find it unusual in the usual rush towards using drugs that I am running away and finding that eyepiece through DXM to see a the world outside of my immersion in drugs.
There are costs to factor into the DXM experience. I have an episode that highlights one of the down sides of DXM (I typically take one gram of DXM a day):
In one instance I lost control of some of my motor nerves. My legs would spasm and not respond to normal efforts to operate them. I repeatedly tried to stand and my legs simply did not operate properly. I also had the unfortunate experience of having my tongue repeatedly stick out and have my lips pull back. I finally managed to stand up and walk around a bit. I walked out on the patio behind my house. Suddenly I lost control of my legs and pitched face first into a brick patio. I tried to stand again and pitched into some flowers and bricks.
After crawling back into the house, I did not realize the damage done because DXM can act as a painkiller. The next day I was a mess. I had scrapes all over my face and my glasses were scratched.
There are different effects when one takes DXM over a long period of time. DXM has an unpredictable cycle of effects. There is the loss of muscle control with embarrassment of unstable steps, moments of impaired speech, and periods of pure pleasure. There is no knowing what to expect from week to week. However, there is a way of learning to live with the uncertainty of the cycles. Over time you can learn how to detect which cycle you are in and prepare to cope with the episode accordingly.
There are cycles where I experience pure pleasure maybe best explained as a feeling of a narcotic suffusing the blood stream spreading a warm feeling. Maybe there is a sense of pleasure which accompanies the hit of DXM in my bloodstream. During these times I feel like I am falling back into a warm pool of water with a complete release of anxiety and care. I experience a kind of euphoria. On SSRI’s I went through months of a low level of mania. It was a remarkable period in my life but unsustainable. I encountered serotonin syndrome in the end and had to abandon that period of using DXM It was an amazing time, I took about a gram a day and slept for three hours a night. I experienced music in a totally different way with a sort of ecstasy in following melodies. Unfortunately, at the end of this period of such increased activity and pleasure I stopped using DXM for the reason I sighted above. After the cessation I experienced a severe bought of depression which cost me deeply.
On to select experiences which diverge from the panic disorder and depression:
A good trip:
Weight: 200 lbs
One morning when I had consumed two grams of DXM on the way to work I saw a vision of the God Nataraja (a South Indian avatar of Shiva) dancing on the Chicago skyline. It was a profound experience. I had the lifting feeling of being included in the dance of time as Nataraja drummed the world into existence. In retrospect I believe that this had something to do with the coming of dawn. Nataraja danced around me in a figure two hundred feet tall. The blue black of his skin was memorable in its intensity. I remember wanting to see him as much as possible and followed him down the street. Fortunately it was around 4:00 AM and there was no one on the street to interfere with my dancing along. I felt like I was included in the dance. He was beautiful and awe inspiring. I was so happy to be in His presence. Unfortunately He faded at sunrise roughly after 5:00 AM. I faded out of the trip quickly and found some orientation. I was able to get to the Ell at roughly 6:00 AM to get to work. I wasn’t shaken by the experience. I was quickly able to put it into context and accept it as a treasured moment. I was able to go through the rest of my day feeling happy and free. I am sorry that there are not more details, some I forgot and some I will keep to myself.
To those whose beliefs I may have trampled upon, I sincerely apologize for any feelings of blasphemy or disrespect. The experience followed weeks of praying and meditation. You may take what I saw as the product of a very strong suggestion. It is also important to note that I had been taking one gram of DXM daily for weeks before this and I was in a borderline manic state. Consequently, I believe I was open to hallucination from far more than DXM. The last thought I have is that I was malnourished at the time, sleeping two to three hours a day, undergoing tremendous stress at work, and had all of the basic shamanistic components (reading, praying, and so on) to trigger a much more conventional spiritual journey. I am astonished that I did not lose my job during this time. It remains a treasured experience for me for which I am thankful.
A bad trip:
Weight: 230 lbs
I had an incident where I consumed two grams of DXM and I was taking 14 milligrams of Klonopin daily for my panic disorder. I took seven milligrams of Klonopin at 6:00 AM and seven milligrams of Klonopin at 6:00 PM of the first day. I took roughly one gram of DXM up to midnight of the first day. The first day was largely inconsequential. I felt the need to stay up throughout the night. At around 3:00 AM, I consumed two more grams of DXM. I experienced some double vision, euphoria, impaired speech, and diminished cognitive faculties (reduced memory and impaired logic). It was about 9:00 AM of the second day and I had a doctor’s appointment. I noticed that my speech impairment had passed and took another gram of DXM because I thought the visit would be dull. Clearly at this point my judgment was impaired for two reasons: do not take DXM at high doses to alleviate boredom it is far too demanding from the point of view of managing a trip and do not see your physician on high levels of DXM for obvious reasons.
I took my seven milligrams of Klonopin that morning along with my regular meds which included SSRI’s and anticonvulsants. The meds included Lamictal, Effexor, and Lyrica.
I reached the doctor’s office and there was a backlog. Once again feeling bored, I sought out more DXM and found it in the hospital pharmacy. I took three grams of DXM at roughly 11:00 AM of the second day. I was allowed to wait in a “Quiet Room”. The room was dimly lit and admitted only one person at a time. I listened to my IPod and experienced such ecstasy. Every song was so profound to me. I listened to some Russian ballads and lapsed into thinking in Russian (Yes I speak the language.). I felt so uplifted I cannot communicate the experience. Colors became vivid to a delicious degree. The blues and greens poured out happiness on me. I was finally called to the doctor’s room and began talking to him.
I lost consciousness on the examining table. I was in respiratory arrest and paramedics were called immediately. The building was not connected to the main hospital so paramedics are part of the procedure. I was put on Oxygen and transported to the ER. I woke up during a CAT scan. I had hit my head falling off of the examining table.
I have frequently read about reaching different plateaus with DXM. I have never experienced DXM in this way. What I can say is that when I came to while being examined is that I was so thoroughly saturated with DXM that I cannot imagine going higher on DXM. I did not know what I was. I only knew that I was something taking in images. As I was slid from gurney to gurney, I started to become aware that I existed. My ego had coalesced. I saw people around me and I had an urge which translated to a desire to talk after some period of time. Unfortunately, I did not know how to talk at that point. I went in and out of consciousness into the evening. I felt euphoric and thought I was a god in my conscious moments.
I was transferred to the ICU. At about 12:30 to 1:00 AM of the third day I became fully conscious. I was still tripping pretty hard. There was a woman of Russian origin who checked in on me. I felt so safe, I was spluttering in semi-coherent Russian believing that I had come home. My former wife is Russian.
I have some powerful feelings coming away from this experience. I was incredibly lucky that I had the best trip sitters in the world. The compassionate paramedics, physicians, and other medical staff saved my life. I would have died from respiratory arrest if they had not taken action. I was unforgivably foolish for letting the DXM dull my wits and to allow myself to make decisions regarding using higher levels of DXM.
DXM plays a positive role in managing my Panic Disorder. I would encourage the manufacturers of DXM to take a look at the possibilities of the substance. There are many people suffering with refractory panic disorders and I believe that analogues of DXM are worth researching to provide relief from the symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Experience Reports are the writings and opinions of the individual authors who submit them.
Some of the activities described are dangerous and/or illegal and none are recommended by Erowid Center.