Citation: Johnny Bananas. "Ego Death Through LSD: An Experience with LSD, MDMA, Cannabis & Alcohol (exp98101)". Erowid.org. Dec 12, 2012. erowid.org/exp/98101
This entire event transpired on the Saturday night before Halloween. I was visiting my cousin, James (not his real name) and his girlfriend, Sherry (not her real name) at their house about three hours away from where I live. I was planning to visit them for the weekend and together attend a very festive Halloween house party that had a phenomenal psychedelic-jam band playing there all night. I was excited; I knew it was going to be a great night with some great friends.
After suiting up in our costumes and arriving at the party/concert, we all decided to drop some acid before the music started. This was 30-something-th time for me so I was pretty comfortable with the drug and familiar with what to expect. However, having taken this specific batch of acid multiple times before, I decided I was comfortable enough with it to up the dosage to 2 hits – which was something I’ve never done before. I’ve taken a hit then taken another several hours after peaking, but never have stacked two together simultaneously. “I’ve got this shit,” I thought as I dropped the blotter paper in my mouth. “This is business as usual.”
While waiting for the L to kick in, I decided to just take a little dip of molly – not too much; 100mg seemed about right. I figured this would ease the tension I always get when waiting for the acid to hit. About an hour later, I was feeling GOLDEN! I had an amazing body high. I was jamming to the music and was completely perplexed by the setup of on-stage lighting effects. I was very familiar with what I was feeling. It was just more intense, but nothing uncomfortable or foreign. With these two hits of L paired with a smidge of molly, great music, a few beers and great friends and family all around me, I was on cloud nine. I was experiencing different dimensions of reality and different ways of experiencing music. I felt like nothing could have brought me down.
Shortly afterwards, a friend of mine who was there, Charles (not his real name), lit a blunt and passed it to me. He and I both shared it as we danced to the music. This is where I made a poor decision. I have an uneasy history with marijuana. I’m not an avid smoker, but the occasional times I DO decide to toke up, I will sometimes find myself dizzy, confused, stupid, and completely unaware of my surroundings. I didn’t know it then, but adding a hefty dose of cannabis to what was already in my system was a recipe for complete and utter chaos, ESPECIALLY with my history of becoming paranoid and irritable while under its influence. I should have known better.
About 5 minutes later, all I remembered was that I was completely overwhelmed with sensory input and was suddenly very ill-equipped to process reality now that I was high. I had become disoriented, confused, and very uneasy with my surroundings. “I’ve gotta get outta here,” I thought. “I need to get out in the open.” So I left the dance floor and escaped to the exterior of the house. I decided to retreat from the party and head back to the tent I had pitched in the close-by field. James and Sherry’s tent was right next to mine. I thought it would be best to just sit down in the grass, relax and just take it all in. It only got worse. I starting to forget where I was, who I was, how I got to where I was, what time it was, and even who I was with. This complete stupor was most likely a result of the cannabis, because in the past with taking just acid alone, I’ve stayed sharp. I may have been tripping, but at least I was still sharp and in tune with my surroundings. This time was different. I wasn’t just tripping. I was beginning to lose my entire grip on reality. The full moon was surrounded by swirling kaleidoscopic patterns of color. The trees around me were composed of fractal, geometric structures. Everything was FUCKED!
At this point, I panicked and managed to pull out my phone and dial James up for help. “James, you’ve gotta get out here! I’m having a bad trip and am starting to lose it!”
“Alright, I’ll be right there,” he reassured me.
James had always been there for me when I needed him. He was a mentor to me; someone I had looked up to for a long time. He is a very kind and open-minded individual, which is something I had always admired about him. He was also very experienced with LSD and knew how to navigate through its waters with ease. Shortly after I hung up the phone, he came out to check on me. I told him I was starting to lose it – that I was having trouble recalling where I was and who I was. At this point, he thought I was kidding around with him and playing a game.
“You KNOW who you are,” he replied. “You cannot be serious. C’mon, act like an adult, here.”
I began rattling off facts about myself. I told him my name, where I was born and who my parents were. At that moment, I began thinking about my family -- specifically my mother, my father, and my sister. While trying to remember my family and the memories I had with them, I think James was trying to explain the universe to me (I honestly cannot vividly remember). He was talking to me about atoms and energy and waves and LSD and thoughts and emotions. All the while, I was trying to hold on to the memories of my family that were slipping away from my mind. On one hand, I’m trying not to lose the memories of my family that are near and dear to me. On the other hand, my cousin was severely fucking with my head (which I don’t believe he was doing on purpose) trying to calm me down and explain things to me.
Nevertheless, I began FREAKING OUT! I somehow got it in my head that this man in front of me was evil and was attempting to steal my childhood memories of my family from me. In hindsight, what scared me the most was the fact that, at that point, I lost all connection with reality and no longer recognized James as my cousin. All I knew was that I was losing the memories of my family forever and the person talking to me was responsible for this. This was NOT okay with me! All I wanted was to feel my mother and father’s love one last time before I was sure I’d never see or remember them again. My fight or flight instinct kicked in. I remember swinging at him and wrestling around with him for a while. I tried booking it and taking off running, desperately attempting to get away from James so I can catch my memories before they were completely gone. He caught up to me and tackled me. I didn’t know it then, but he did this out of love and concern. He didn’t want me running off into the street or getting lost while completely blitzkrieged out of my gourd. When he tackled me, I thought I was getting attacked and was about to be beat to death. “Oh my god, this is it. I’m about to get killed. I’m going to die!” I thought.
I began screaming, “Help! Get off me! I don’t know you!” Almost as soon as those words left my mouth, I heard him trying to calm me down. “Shhhh. It’s okay. It’s okay. You’re just having a bad trip.” Right then a stranger ran up to me. He smiled, told me his name, and that everything was going to be alright. This kid was very calm and very welcoming. Just his presence alone made me feel calm again. I began talking with him and immediately started calmeding down. I explained to him that I was losing the memories of my family – that all I wanted was to feel their love one last time before they were gone forever (which I still believed by the way, I believed James was taking my family away from me). He told me to try and remember my parents; I couldn’t. I had very little memory of who I was and where I came from.
This is what is called ego-death: losing your sense of you. I had heard about it before, but had never experienced it for myself until that night. It was the most terrifying thing I had ever experienced. I was gone. I had no memories and no recollection of who I was. Everything and everyone was completely foreign to me. I began panicking even more. “Fuck!! I’m forgetting my family and my friends!!” I thought. “I must be dying!” I realized that if I was dying and losing my memories, then my parents were going to be gone forever. To this day, my parents are deeply religious. Up until I was 18 or so, I practiced Christianity with my parents. Although I was no longer religious or believed in the Christian doctrine, I had become convinced that I was losing my family because they were leaving me behind in this life because I wasn’t following in their religious footsteps. Don’t ask me how. Don’t ask me why, but that idea somehow was very plausible to me at the time...probably from the years and years the childhood, religious indoctrination I had lodged in my subconscious mind.
I was convinced that my family and all my memories of them were leaving me, and it was all because I went astray from the religious upbringing I was brought up under. I somehow thought I was going to be without them for the rest of my existence unless I could make them want to come back for me. I climbed the house’s pool fence in order to get as high up to the sky as I could. I reached out to the full moon and began desperately screaming, “NOOO! NOOOOOO!! DON’T LEAVE ME!!! MOM!! DAD!!! I’M SORRY! DON’T LEAVE ME!! JESUS!!!! JESUS!!! JESUS!!!! MOM!! DAD!!! I’M SO SORRY!!! DON’T LEAVE ME!!!”
I had never been more terrified in my life. Here I was in the middle of this party screaming out at the top of my lungs for Jesus, not because I suddenly believed in the trinity or wanted to become a Christian, but because I thought it was the only way my family and would accept me and return to me; to me, it was the only feasible way to get my memories of them back.
At this point, everyone at this party was either freaking out or just staring at me, either laughing hysterically or too shocked to know what to do.
Now feeling like I had lost my family, I felt as if I somehow transitioned into a world devoid of all love, compassion, warmth, and kindness. I just collapsed on the ground too fucked up to even remember I had taken 2 hits of acid and had smoked a blunt. I was convinced I was now dead and stuck in an eternal world without love or joy. At this point Charles came up to me to make sure I was alright. I was so fucked up, I didn’t even recognize him. All I saw were people in their Halloween costumes and believed everyone was out to get me...to kill or rape me. I completely freaked out and swung and Charles, hitting him right in the face. I took off running again.
I ran into James and explained to him that I just wanted to feel love again. I just wanted to feel the kind of compassion that my mother and father gave to me all throughout my life. I just wanted to be able to love others and be loved. He took me over to Sherry and had her comfort me. She hugged me and told me everything was going to be alright. I looked at her and recognized her as someone I knew, but not as my cousin’s girlfriend. All I knew was that I was being reassured by someone I vaguely recognized who really did genuinely care for me and love me as family. I felt like she helped pull me out of the dark space I was in. I started feeling relief. I didn’t know what to do other than to try to kiss her out of sheer gratitude. Almost as soon as I attempted this, I immediately was hit with the realization that I just tried to kiss someone that I shouldn’t have been trying to kiss. Looking back, I am sure I would have tried to kiss anyone, male or female, (probably even James or Charles) if he or she was the one who pulled me out of that dark state of mind. Sherry just happened to be the person that did just that and ended up getting caught in the crossfire of my nasty trip.
I think at this point, the kind stranger (who later introduced himself as Jared) stepped in and said, “Let’s go for a walk.” The next thing I knew, I was walking down an empty street with him trying to recollect what had just happened. I was trying to gather any memory of who I was and how I arrived at the place I was in. Just walking down this silent, empty street surrounded by green traffic lights was both peaceful and haunting. I was completely convinced that because my memory had completely been erased, I had died and was transitioning into my next stage of existence. I felt as if he and I were the only beings left in the lonely world we were walking together through. He told me he was my guide and that I would find my parents again soon. I kept telling him I was no longer myself but had died and was waiting to be born again into a new body. I was telling him of all the things I wished I could have done and all the things I wish I could have said to my friends and family before I died. I told him how selfish I was to my parents all through my childhood – how I never gave them back the love they so dearly deserved in return from me. I began weeping after suddenly realizing I could have given so much more back to the world before I died if I wasn’t so selfish. I didn’t care that I was being watched. At that point, I had nothing to prove to anyone; emotions just flowed freely through them and I wore them on my sleeve.
Jared then hit me with stunning news:
“You’re not dead,” he said. “You had just mixed LSD and marijuana to the point where you forgot everything you had even known. You are very alive, but your ego – your sense of self – is completely dead.”
Ironically enough, I had then looked up and gazed across the street to see a church with a giant cross lit up on the side of it.
“My parents are in there!!” I exclaimed. I didn’t realize or remember this then, but since a very young age, I had always associated the symbol of a cross with my mother. So seeing this giant, lighted cross somehow immediately convinced my subconscious mind that both my extremely religious mother and father, whom I thought I had lost forever, were in this church. Jared and I walked around the church for a bit. I don’t think he knew this, but I was looking for a way in. I told him that my parents were trapped in there and that I needed to get in the church to be reunited with them. He suggested instead that I sit down and evaluate my life – what I didn’t like about myself, what I wanted to change about myself, what I want out of life, and what I should do to mend my broken relationship with my parents.
We sat in front of this church for a while just facing the street. I sat thinking to myself with Jared by my side for what felt like hours. After a while, the LSD and marijuana began to subside. My memories began coming back to me. I was so relieved to know I hadn’t died and would be able to see my family again. Almost as soon as I became overjoyed with the awareness that I was alive and actually didn’t lose my memories, I began to remember everything had transpired that night.
“Oh fuck…I crashed a party, didn’t I?”
“yeah...” Jared said.
“Oh my god...oh my god...I attacked James!”
“He’s fine,” Jared reassured me. “You should just feel grateful you didn’t end up in jail, or worse, dead in the middle of the street.”
I took a while to gather my thoughts and attempt to meaningfully recollect everything that happened that night. I remembered struggling and wrestling with James not knowing he was James. I remembered attempting to kiss Sherry not knowing she was Sherry. I remembered screaming at the moon in terror and agony thinking it would keep the memories of my parents and my sister return to me.
“God, I’m pathetic,” I thought. “I made a complete basket case of myself in front of friends, family, and strangers. The only way I’m going to recover from this, is if I take a few lessons from this and learn from them.” That is exactly what I did and am still striving to do now. As I was coming back to Earth and regaining my footing with reality, I began asking myself, “Now what? Where do I go from here?”
It didn’t take long to realize the biggest lesson I was taught from that night was that my parents and I have a lot of unfinished business; I am not ready to lose either one of them yet. They both needed to know how much I truly love and care for them. The following morning, on the drive back to my house, I called both of them and told them I was thinking about both of them and that I loved them very much. Just doing that seemed to fill a big hole in my life. I can’t remember the last time I had said that to them.
I also learned (relearned actually) that the universe will fuck you sideways if you’re not willing to accept what it’s presenting to you and deal head on with personal issues that LSD forces you to see in yourself.
I learned that mixing marijuana with LSD is a bad idea...at least for me. It was a very unsettling feeling for me to be so sideways, I didn’t know who I was and what was real anymore. Never again, do I want to get to the point where I fail to recognize friends and family or become senselessly violent. This scared me because I am not a violent person in the least; I am usually very friendly to others.
Lastly, I learned that I am not invincible. This may sound silly, but until that night, I have always walked through life believing that nothing terribly bad could ever happen to me and that traumatic events always happened to “the other guy.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. I don’t care what anybody says. I died that night. I may not have died physically, but I got as close to death as I could ever imagine...to the point where I felt I had once been that way before I was born: without any sense of self or memory. I’m sure it would have been beautiful had I been expecting it and had been in that space under different circumstances.
After all was said and done, everyone I had negatively affected that night had forgiven me, even James, Sherry, and Chuck. I feel there were more people who felt sorry for me than there were people who were angry or scared of me. In fact, the following day, I came to find out that many of the party-goers thought it was one of the funniest, most epic meltdowns they had ever seen. Apparently, according to James, some people, at first, thought I was putting on a hilarious act when I was climbing the fence screaming with every fiber of my being. Although, it was very real for me, I am glad there was entertainment value for others that came out of it. For me, it was a valuable lesson the universe taught me.
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