Citation: LucidStudies. "Death Changed My Life: An Experience with Mescaline & Cannabis (exp77494)". Erowid.org. Oct 7, 2009. erowid.org/exp/77494
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This is the story of how I lost my mind. No, this is the story of when I finally realized that I had lost my mind some time ago. I was blind to the truth until this day came. A mind is sort of like a set of car keys: Vitally important, yet surprisingly easy to lose.
This was the third time I had taken synthetic mescaline. The first time I had tried 280 milligrams of the hydrochloride salt, which gave me a moderate experience, about 8 hours long, with vomiting about 3 hours in. I had also tried 100 milligrams of the mescaline sulfate salt, which created a lightly stimulating body high with a subtle shift in time perception, but no visuals or nausea. The most distinctive characteristics of the substance these first two times were a prevalence of cognitive effects over visuals, and a contrast between anxiety early on in the experience, with contentment during the later stages. I hung up the telephone at 1:00, knowing that my friends, M and M2, would be due at my house within the hour.
1:30: My girlfriend assists me in reading out of a Jewish Orthodox daily prayer book, at my request, as I wanted to prepare myself spiritually for the day ahead. We recite together the prayer of the traveler followed by the shehecheyanu, wishing God to guide me on my travels. Afterward, I felt peaceful and optimistic. Then I measured my pulse so I could monitor its rise if need be. It is a little fast today, about 85 BPM. No substances have been taken; I must just be a little excited.
1:50: My friends arrive. I have explained my plans to them and to her. I will be taking a combination of hydrochloride and sulfate salts, but I don’t have enough mescaline to share with everyone else present. I will offer M and M2, instead, some 2C-B. They will recreate and babysit for me.
2:00: M has had 2C-B only once before, at 15mg. M2 has not yet tried it. His last psychedelic experience was with 5-MeO-DMT, and today he is not in the mood for anything quite so intense. I give 20mg of 2C-B to M, and 15 to M2. Then I swallow four capsules of mescaline, totaling 330mg of powder: 240 of the hydrochloride salt and 90 of the sulfate salt.
2:05: We put on the final album of George Carlin as we wait for our respective powders to take effect.
2:20: The mood is grimly humorous, thanks to Mr. Carlin. I am talking about a dentist’s appointment that I had recently, where I was injected with a mix of marcaine and epinephrine that made my face swollen and numb and my heartbeat accelerated for several hours.
2:25: M sees a pinkish hue to certain parts of the room. I am surprised how early the visuals are starting for him. All three of us feel a body high, but the effects otherwise remain mild.
2:30: We feel a rising tension as the effects build up. We agree that at this point we need music rather than comedy. A familiar album that we all enjoy goes on.
2:35: Nausea is slowly building up for me, along with some tension in the neck and shoulders.
2:45: I feel like I can’t sit still. Fingers are tingling. Pulse is speeding up a little bit. Heart feels heavy. Music is intense. A general atmosphere of apprehension. No noticeable visuals.
2:50: Tremendous warmth in my stomach. Occasionally I burp and taste the chemical; it’s not too pleasant tasting. Nausea is subtle but persistent. Music is physically intense to listen to.
3:00: I am frustrated by the in-between-ness of my state, the inability to break through to a full hallucinogenic experience, and the lack of visuals.
3:08: M feels like he could handle more. I hand him a 5mg capsule of 2C-B, raising his total dose to 25mg. M2 says that the ceiling is coming alive. It looks to him like a coral reef waving around underwater. Then he states that the ceiling looks like a carpet. Both M and M2 are seeing some trails. M’s face is starting to feel numb.
3:15: M feels a little more removed from reality than normal…. Like he’s watching everything on a screen. I have a strong body rush, and mild intensification of color and sound.
3:20: I feel like I could handle a larger dose. I am still seeing almost no visuals at all, and feel ready for a full-on trip. I hold up a pill containing an extra 50 milligrams of mescaline sulfate and wonder out loud, “Should I take this too?” “Go for it, mate” comes a voice somewhere in the room. I swallow the capsule with a glass of water.
3:25: The nausea just died down a little. It irritates me because I want to get the vomiting out of the way. I say to myself ‘So what? I’ll deal with it when it becomes an issue again’. I smoke a hit of organic kush (powerful stuff- taking it at a time like this was probably a mistake) and I sit down in my chair, figuring that I’ll just listen to some music and relax.
3:30: BOOM. The kush hits me. The mescaline redose hits me. I’m torn, like a plane whose wings have been riddled with gunshots. I’m no longer soaring, I’m going down. Within a few instants, things are not alright anymore. Something is going very, very not - alright.
3:35: A blood pressure cuff goes on my arm. Heart is racing faster than ever before. Cannot perceive time to know how fast the ‘beep-beep-beep’ is beeping. But it could outrun any cheetah in the jungle.
The cycle ends. The cuff reads 180. One Hundred And Eighty Beats. Per. Minute. Blood Pressure is ONE EIGHTY. Eyes peeled open wide in terror. Angry. Stunned disbelief. Primitive fear. The realization a heart attack could spontaneously occur at any moment. And then the fear of death became the essence of death itself. And the essence of death became real. And then I was dead. No longer in control. Actually believing, BELIEVING that I really was dead. Not almost dead, not thinking about death or wondering if I might be dead. Dead. Real death. And it all. Seems. So. Real.
I throw the blood pressure cuff onto the couch. Stand up. Expressionless. Eyes open way too wide, shaking, look in the direction of my friends.
“I’ll see you guys in about six hours, when I’m alive again.” They giggle incredulously, failing to understand. I leave the room.
I wander around the apartment, agitated. What do I do now? Why did I do this to myself? Why? Why why why why why? How could God allow me to be dead NOW? I’m too young to die! Why? The concept of time is flitting in and out of existence. My memory is only a memory. Everything is falling apart.
I am in the living room. Friends gone from me now. My girlfriend has become aware of my agitation. And she is almost as scared as I am. Nobody can understand this fear like I can. But it spreads to everyone else like a contagion.
“How fast is your pulse? One Eighty? My God! Over one sixty means you need to be sitting down! Sit down! Don’t argue, sit down RIGHT NOW!”
This has become a certified disaster, like a volcanic eruption spewing flaming tornados across a continent.
I am in the bedroom now. Crippled. Splayed out on the bed, mumbling. Scaring the shit out of Her. For half an hour straight, all I can say is:
“I’m dead. I’m fucking dead. Fuck. FUCK! I’m fucking dead. I’m a ghost. I’m a spirit and I’m trapped in the land of the dead. How will God judge me? Will I ever come back again and be the person I used to be? Where will he send me? I’m dead! I’m fucking dead! Why? WHY did this have to happen to me? I’m too young! I’m too young to be dead! But I’m fucking dead! Fuck! Fuck fuck fuck I’m fucking dead!!!”
She told me that I wasn’t dead. She made me look right into her eyes and told me, ‘You’re not dead! Look at me! You just took too many drugs! You’re going to be fine, you’re not dead!’
“Why won’t you believe me? I AM dead! I’m really fucking dead! Should I be in a hospital? I think dead people belong in a hospital or a morgue. Should I go to a hospital and then go to a morgue? Because I think I’m dying and I know that I’m definitely fucking dead!”
“Look! Heart racing so very fast! Sweat pouring! How can I survive this? What if my heart explodes?”
It won’t explode, She tells me.
“But what if it does? What if my chest cavity just bursts open wide and a monster jumps out, like the dream sequence at the beginning of Aliens?”
“Why do people think I’m smart? All these friends tell me that I know so much… everybody at work thinks I’m so damned good at what I do. Everyone thinks I know so much about chemicals. Look at what I do to myself! I’m not smart, I’m stupid!”
“Honey, sometimes smart people just do stupid things,” She says.
I tell her, “Do one thing for me. Just tell me how I can un-take that last pill. I can be alive again if I just go back and un-take that one pill.”
When I am told that there is no way to un-take what I already took, it makes me furious. She goes into the study to have a stern talk with my friends. I tell her not to, insisting that it was my fault, not theirs, and hoping she won’t ruin their trips as well. She goes to bitch at them anyway. I lay on the bed and hyperventilate. Then I bolt up to my feet and run into the study and supersede her, saying “Why did you encourage me to take that last pill and that hit of pot? Look at me now, I’m fucking dead! Nice job, guys…”
I need to vomit. That is the only thing that will cure me. But I can’t do it yet. Even fingers down my throat in the bathroom doesn’t work… I can’t purge until my body is ready.
I demand a recording device and go into the bathroom alone. “I need to invent a religion now.” I am warned that being L. Ron Hubbard is not an allowable activity in this apartment. I don’t care. I have to try. Having seen the face of death, I feel like it is my job to create meaning for those who are still alive. But the things I say into the recorder have meaning only to myself. I sound passionate, but all I can really seem to express is that people are fragile. Because it is dawning on me that I am fragile, far more fragile than I ever gave myself credit for, that I do have limits and that it always is possible for any one of us to die. All it takes is a strong gust of breeze and, like dust, a person’s spirit is scattered, every molecule parting, drifting. In a split second, a person’s life disperses, waiting to be found later, in some other form, little bits and pieces, lost on the coasts of some distant, sandy shore. The pages turn and God laughs as we all just fall apart.
Madness flows freely from every orifice in the room which comes throbbingly alive as it drips and burns and flows in elliptical chaos all around me. I breathe unsteadily as I stand there, everywhere but really in no place at all. The stars are burning out of the sky and a billion years of repressed anger and cold regret are dripping down upon us, covering us all. The world breathes and aches and tumbles down a stairwell onto a rickety wooden floor. Fire burns all around me and freezes into ice that chills me to my frozen core. The ice burns the fire that melts inside me. The room is full of water, awash with inches or miles of some slowly drifting unknown ancient mold.
(And yes, being surrounded in shifting waters is completely normal… if you’re a fish! But I’m not one! Or at least I wasn’t one yesterday! What does it mean for ME to be surrounded? What does death mean? And was I really ever alive at all?)
Every wood grain shows a face and every face has been there all along. Every bird is twittering. Every light is blinking. Every couch lays down on itself for a nap and falls asleep and never wakes up again. Every piece of wood splinters and breaks and the faces cry from smooth, firm eyelids until they can cry no more. The stars are still dripping and death is still here singing songs with us all. Will I someday find the pieces of my mind that now lay scattered across the beaches, sitting in tiny fragments upon every sandy shore?
(And how many wolves does a tooth have inside its mouth, anyway?)
The chickens have flown completely out of their coops. Their wings are flapping and their eyes are burning and their feathers are disintegrating and exploding and exploding. And exploding. And time is gone and death and madness loop across existence for years that stretch on endlessly, infinity multiplied by itself an infinite number of times and every year within it saturated with madness, once, twice, and then a few times more. Unimaginable, unmistakable, this is true madness, which is truly infinite- it doesn’t sit still but stretches out wide, twirling shaking unlimited and unrestrained and unrestrainable. Totally uncountable. Not manageable at all. Like the pieces of my mind that still lay splintered and scattered across the tops of every table that has ever been discarded upon the banks of any sandy shore. The chickens have run completely amok, their teeth are chomping and flapping, clattering and clambering, struggling to emerge from a tiny hole at the bottom of a great and ancient wooden door. Eager to swallow the world into their greedy mouths (beaks (?entrances?)).~
What is happening? What just happened? What? Please??
Sometime around 4:30 or 5:00 I find myself back in the living room. Yellow-gray foamy liquid is leaving my throat and splashing into the bottom of a trash can. Finally. When the fluid leaves my body, my heart slows down and relief floods back into my veins. I feel infinitely better within instants of the purge. And slowly- VERY slowly- I find my life beginning to piece itself back together, and I begin to regain control. It was only at this point that I realized I was very much alive.
After that I was surprisingly free to do anything I wanted for the rest of the day. My girlfriend, M, M2 and I actually packed into a car and went out to an art fair that was about a mile away from our house. We walked through the tall, bright grasses and looked at paintings and sculptures and more paintings and the people who were selling them. The air was fresh; there was no scent of terror. We talked and walked and split up and joined up again and fed our senses with pleasing imagery; the nicer the picture we passed by, the longer we would stop to enjoy it.
We came back home around 7. I watched TV. I got calls from a couple of people around 7:45 and was able to speak perfectly fine as I talked to them. I could easily act like everything was normal, everything was fine. But was it? I had argued with Her on the way back home, in the car. She has become worried for my safety and my sanity. Hell, I have! I watched videos with my friends. And though I sat there and processed the images, inside I was disinterested. What really gripped me were the questions of:
What is going on inside my head?
What just happened today? What did it mean?
What exactly am I doing to myself?
How does stuff like this really work in the brain?
Sure, I can say it is a ‘norepinephrine agonist’ and look up an article explaining what that’s supposed to mean, but what did it actually DO to me? And what will the consequences be of having taken something like this?
M2’s 15mg 2C-B trip wore off around 8:00. M’s 25mg trip lasted until about 9:00 or 9:30. They both left and went home at about 9:45. I was still mildly effected by the mescaline at midnight and beyond. Brightened colors and emotional sensitivity did not leave all that day. In fact, the changes had not left me completely the next day either, or the day after that. I did not start writing this report until nearly a month after it had happened, nor have I touched a psychedelic since that time. And I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my brain does not work quite the same way now as it used to. That change had started before mescaline, but this experience made it clear to me: Something about the fundamental nature of my reality has begun to change. Slowly, I adjust, but I do not know if I will ever be the same again, or what it means that I have allowed myself to be changed so utterly.
And so I leave the psychedelics alone for now. I am starting to realize that my effort should be to take not what substances seem like the most fun, but the ones that will actually be most progressive for my life. Even if the only things that help me recover and improve are rest and exercise. I do not need any more madness in my life. I am still struck by the realization that although we all exhibit day to day that we are strong, all it really takes is a moment of weakness and a strong gust of breeze for us to disperse into the dust we were made from and fade away forever. God has given us the keys to life and death, heaven, hell and everything in between… But I’m afraid we are still just children. We have only just begun to learn what happens when the keys to the brain are turned. And behind some doors lie things so great and terrible that the world is not ready for them to be poured out upon its surface.
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