Citation: Peregrine. "LSD Isn't Mania, but Blueberries are Nice: An Experience with LSD & Lamotrigine (Lamictal) (exp68733)". Erowid.org. May 16, 2012. erowid.org/exp/68733
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(note: I've removed all gendered pronouns and initials regarding those who were with me at the time; this is conscious, with apologies for any bad grammar as a result. I've referred to them by roles - Guide, partner, Synesthete, and Philosopher.)
First, a few facts about me that might shed some light on what happened; the rest is experiences, thoughts, and actions, but the facts are relevant here. I'm 22, diagnosed bipolar type II nearly two years ago, and taking 250 mg of Lamictal once per day. I am also on hormonal birth control (a monocyclic), though this was on the last day of my 'off' week. Other than the Lamictal, the LSD was the only foreign psychoactive that I introduced into my body that weekend. I wrote this about 34 hours after taking the LSD.
Why did I take LSD for the first time when the risks are large for bipolar folks? I was curious, honestly. My parents were very open about drug use - my sister took many things before going entirely sober - so I had no negative stigma to work through. I hoped to get some insight (in both the psychiatric and spiritual senses) into my illness, and to see what, if any, effects the LSD would have that I couldn't duplicate or find in a manic state. I got all of these things out of it, and more.
Before deciding to take LSD with trusted friends, I delved into research. I was particularly concerned about the interaction between Lamictal and LSD; I know (as much as I trust other peoples' experiences) that Depakote, another popular bipolar anticonvulsant, can attenuate the effects of LSD substantially, and I know that lithium can cause serious convulsions and grand mal seizures. Lamictal was approved for treating bipolar disorder in 2003, so there are very few writings of people taking it concurrently with LSD; in fact, I had a great deal of trouble finding any experiences of medicated bipolar patients taking LSD, because apparently most of them are perhaps wiser than I. The mechanism of action for Lamictal is unknown (though sodium channel mechanisms are suspected), but serotonin doesn't seem to be strongly affected, so I decided that it was probably not going to end too badly as long as I kept my mind free of fear, stress, and anxiety. Lamictal's half-life is short, so there was no question of going off it that weekend.
I was offered the chance to try LSD at the start of January; it took me nearly three weeks to make my decision. These weeks involved consulting with other (unmedicated) bipolars familiar with many drugs as well as my partner, who is not inclined to try such things. The other three people who were to travel with me were all more experienced than I, one of them quite experienced, and were all people I had known for more than four years, two of them my current housemates. This particular set of LSD had been tested already with many people, so we knew the batch was pure and of a reasonable strength - definitely a plus for me.
I am very thankful to Erowid for providing such a wealth of information; I was able to read up on experiences, side effects, time courses, and the like, and was able to mentally prepare myself. I do believe that going in without preparation would have probably been a disaster; as it was, things ended well, but there were some tense moments. The advice to breathe, let things go as they would, and remember at bad times that 'this, too, shall pass,' was exceptionally helpful.
We spent Friday and Saturday cleaning up the house and the chosen room to avoid bad associations. I'd been having a bad week at work, but I worked very hard to avoid stressing out and triggering a bipolar episode; this included stress relievers such as lots of hot showers, meditation, and deep breathing and also avoidance of stressors in general. My housemates prepared one bedroom for the trip - futons on the floor with bright Indian-patterned covers, pictures on the wall, music, colored lights, incense, and the lot. They took time to answer my questions - would I eat or drink? What would we do? - and asked me questions of their own - how much would I like to be guided? What kind of music did I prefer? I am quite grateful. It turned out that the non-housemate was ill that weekend and so avoided partaking, but came and sat with us as a sober Guide who was nonetheless very capable of seeming tripping when that was helpful. I found Guide's presence very soothing.
We opted to take the LSD at 1300 on Sunday. On Sunday morning, I awoke after a reasonable amount of sleep, made pancakes, and took a long hot shower to relax and focus myself. Although I understood that food might be problematic, my metabolism wants calories every few hours, so stocking up seemed like a wise choice. Based on my inexperience and possible medication interactions, I opted to take half of a hit to start with. I ended up taking the other half around 1500, after feeling no adverse effects but also being somewhat bored with the proceedings. I had lost sense of time at that point, so Guide helped bring me the other half after querying me over a half-hour period as to when I wanted more. I did keep a watch on my person - otherwise my clothing was loose and my hair up, as per advice - mostly on the off chance that I needed it to help regain my sense of time - but it was only occasionally helpful.
By about 1400 things were starting to go somewhere. I stared for some ten minutes at a piece of ramen left on the mattress, and began to realize things were more than just my imagination - something I was somewhat nervous about - when I lost the feeling of connectedness to my right arm. Things also started being very funny and oddly connected; very much like the feeling of free association that comes with bipolar mania, but without the speed and pressured speech. It was helpful to realize that the overlap of symptoms was present but the main drive behind them (energy and mood) wasn't. This helped me remove some negative feelings towards free association, which I think is a good thing. The music was very helpful - I'm strongly musical and would go insane without it in general life - and helped calm me down.
I started having some distress when we went to go explore the world of cheese. Synesthete, who appears to prefer using LSD to explore the senses, synesthesia, and the like, offered me some. I became quite distressed at the fact that I couldn't eat it. I had lost my sense of appetite - not a need to eat, but simply the awareness that eating was possible, let alone necessary - and I had forgotten how to chew and swallow, so I feared to eat lest I stop breathing (and trigger an asthma attack). Lying back on the futons on a pillow, next to Guide, I began to mildly freak out about the loss of chewing ability.
I became fully aware that the drug was doing something (not just my mind, but the LSD itself) when I noticed the walls throbbing and breathing. A batik hanging on the wall breathed in and out, swirling colors - it was beautiful but honestly at that time a bit much. I spent a lot of time staring out the window at the snow, noticing the rainbow patterns, and moving around to see if changing my physical position might help with my mental distress. I was aware at that point that if I let myself freak out any further I would probably trigger a very bad mood episode; the part of my brain that observes my behavior (that psychiatric insight again, I call it 'the observer') was tripping just as much as the rest of me, and was hence less help than I'd hoped. I tried to relax, keeping the advice in mind - let it go, go with the flow, and remember that this isn't infinite, though it may seem that way.
At some point Guide suggested that we try moving the mouse to show the screensaver on Guide's laptop, pictures of a bike trip. I found those exceptionally calming; I am very comforted by nature, and having seen the pictures before found them relaxing. My distress evaporated at that point and I began to lie back and enjoy the effects of the LSD. Philosopher's pictures on the wall, black and white prints from an art class, shaded back and forth from printer black and white to gelatin silver in various tones - truly beautiful - and I saw a chrysanthemum flowering on the white ceiling. Tracers began appearing, as well, and rainbow floaters - I spent time moving my hands to watch them. My sense of time was truly gone at this point; I watched my watch for pure amusement's sake, and felt that I had never done anything besides lie in the room and stare at beautiful things.
Our musical choices cycled - at one point Synesthete became unhappy because the music 'had knives,' so we switched to more ambient things. There was some Delirium, comforting because I knew the CD in and out, and other things that I was unfamiliar with - the Boards of Canada ('Aquarius' sticks in my mind - orange, yeah, that's right), as I was sitting on an orange pillow), Jethro Tull later on, and more. I mostly sat and watched things, reveling in a loss of sensation of time and a general feeling of intense euphoria. Certainly there were times when I was more or less euphoric, but I was never bored and, after the beginning, never distressed. I am quite thankful to my Guide and my housemates for making my first experience a trusting one.
Around 1800 I began to be hungry - well, somewhat. My stomach hurt (a key clue!), but I had no sense of food and thought I might live on sunbeams. The Guide and my own slight sense of self told me to go seek calories and try patiently to eat. I ran into my partner, who had been trying to avoid us all day, but found us entertaining and fun to play with. My partner fed me various things - juice, dried fruits, nuts, and made me smell spices and teas and describe my thoughts on them. We apparently amused each other, and I did get enough food into me. At some point I felt a slight desire to go back to the music room and did so, happy that I was able to affect my environment and avoid any distress.
Guide left around 2000, going home to rest and recuperate, after being satisfied that I was taking well to the LSD and was unlikely to have further issues. After some more time spent relaxing and briefly talking metaphysics and photography with Philosopher (who seems to be as quiet on LSD as otherwise, and particularly very introspective), I came to the realization that I wanted to be both Philosopher and Synesthete - Philosopher's introspection and thinking, Synesthete's exploration of the world with newfound senses. I spent much time staring at the ceiling and seeing beautiful rainbow patterns and knotwork. I wasn't convinced that this was the One Universal Answer, but I found myself at tears anyways because of the wonderful unearthly beauty of things. A quiet ecstasy.
Around 2100 Philosopher and Synesthete asked if I would be okay for the remainder of the trip, expecting that I was coming down somewhat; I was unconvinced of my coming down (though they were right, as I found by comparing effects to earlier experiences) - I believe they wanted to go someplace private and experience each other, which didn't bother me at all. They left me the room (Philosopher's, as it happened) and the music. I found myself a bit at a loss for musical choices, so I spent a lot of time staring at the floor-to-ceiling mirror in Philosopher's room. I had been warned about self-esteem and mirrors, and had avoided them earlier, but found now that they were a very powerful tool for me. The mirror showed me how much I cared for myself and shored up my self-esteem in new and wonderful ways - definitely a big help at the time and one that I hope stays with me.
At that point I began being a bit at a loss for activities, and so sought out my partner, asking for pretty pictures; I wanted to look at more pictures of nature. We eventually discussed synesthesia before adjourning with me to the kitchen, where we made delicious cookies and talked about my experiences thus far, what I had felt, and my hopes for the rest of the trip. I was very labile at that point, and could go anywhere mentally depending on what I heard and saw.
I was definitely still tripping - it had only been 10 hours - but I was coming down at this point, and it was much less pleasant than the upswing and middle plateau. I was tense all over, and therefore sore as though someone had beaten me with a baseball bat (perhaps due to my chronic pain syndrome?), and in particular my jaw (which I'd read about and hence wasn't particularly stressed by) was as tense as all - light massage and a hot shower helped with both, but sleep was more restorative. I spent a lot of time pacing and dancing to the music we put on - last.fm's Chill-Out station - as we made cookies. Synesthete came out, affirmed that I had done the right thing by seeking out my partner, and was ecstatic over the cookies (cardamom with chocolate).
Around 0100 I started thinking about sleep, as I had work the next day, and I took a hot shower with my partner in the bathroom with me for company. I had a lot of trouble sleeping, and ended up doing so around 0300 with the light on; I nearly had a bad experience involving seeing lots of eyes in the darkness, but I had heard that darkness triggers such things sometimes and my partner was clever enough to make me turn the lights back on. At 0400 I woke up and realized I'd slept, and fell asleep again, sleeping it off until 0800.
Today has been very strange - I feel half-awake, as in a dreamworld, due to lack of sleep, I think. Work was thankfully very rote, routine, and I had a lot of time to reflect and listen to music, which I did constantly from 0830 to 1500. I took a short nap, then saw my psychiatrist, who didn't appear to notice the lingering mental and physical effects. If he'd asked, I would have told him, but it seemed somewhat less relevant at that point, as the short nap had removed the last of the distressing physical symptoms.
At this point I am feeling physically a little abused - I ate a very large, vitamin-heavy dinner - but generally pretty okay. And my mind is quiet, at peace, and has learned what it wanted to know - I know the conditions when I would want to do this again, and perhaps I shall someday - and I am in general much more at peace with my disorder than I have been for a while. We'll see how the coming weeks and months go, but above all I am grateful that I tried LSD. I got what I wanted out of it, and I also got a lot more - inner strength proven and an absolutely wonderful trip. I can't say that it was incredibly good, and it definitely wasn't bad, but 'what a long strange trip it's been!' Next time, if there is a next time - more music I know well, nature (a cabin in the woods makes sense now), and more things to look at and listen to.
Thanks, world, people who make such things, my Guide, friends, partner, and all of you who wrote things that helped me prepare and achieve such a very incredible experience.
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