Life is a Trip

· 4 min read

I tore a square from a perforated sheet of paper artfully decorated with imagery of the Buddha and placed it under my tongue. Earlier, I had tested to confirm the presence of an indole — specifically lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD-25 — and the absence of substances that may kill me. I was about to undergo my first psychedelic experience.

At the time, I was living in the hellscape that is chronic stress, anxiety, paranoia, and depression. I had done my research. This was a far cry from the optimal conditions to embark on a psychedelic journey but I had a calling and I needed to answer it.

Most of my six hour experience was that of survival — a game I was all too familiar with — but this time I was playing hard mode. I was forced to breathe through it and live in the present moment. I had no other option if I were to survive. Nothing else mattered because in the present moment — and only the present moment — I was okay.

It may sound like a quintessential “bad trip” but there were also moments of beauty, clarity, and deep truth. This experience revealed so much about myself and the way my mind works and it only left me more curious.

My first exposure to the existence of LSD was in my seventh grade health class. “This seems pretty cool — too bad it’s illegal,” I thought. I was a good kid. Thoughts of psychedelics largely laid dormant over the next seventeen years but my calling would thump progressively louder. My curiosity led me closer but my fears and mastery of self-suppression won every time.

I was self-educated on dosage, effects, set and setting, test kits, and possible interactions with medications and other drugs. I had learned about psychedelic use dating back to ancient times, the history of psychedelics in psychiatry in the 1950s and 1960s, and their potential for healing. I was already doing everything else to manage my mental health but far too stubborn to take antidepressants. Besides, they interact negatively with psychedelics and I really wanted to have that experience.

I dosed myself with various psychedelics roughly once every second month for the following three years, picking up little nuggets of wisdom along the way. I entered each experience with a set of intentions I wished to address and held great respect to the power of the substances I consumed. Experience had revealed how quickly they could rock me off my center and I was not messing around.

I had the veil of fear lift at some point during most experiences. I knew that what lied on the other side was love, compassion, happiness, and pleasure, but I kept succumbing to the fear. I knew it was all a choice. I could see it so clearly, but I still hadn’t quite figured out how to live from a positive state more permanently. I had thirty years of defense mechanisms to break free of and I was ready.

I gradually increased the frequency of which I dosed and entered each experience with the intent to lean into the fear as it came up. Tripping on Saturday, processing on Sunday, and working through it in therapy on Tuesday became part of my weekly routine. Elements of a painful past would still rise, but it was different now. I could just sit there with a smug face and throw up two cosmic middle fingers to it all.

I felt a shift. For the first time in my life, I was truly proud of myself. I knew I’d soon be in a position where the risk of continuing this path would outweigh the rewards. It was time to have some fun.

I went through a short-lived solo quarantined party phase. I had planned to continue until the day I left but my body and mind were telling me that time with these substances was over, at least for now. I got the message and I needed to hang up the phone.

Psychedelics opened me up to a new set of mental constructs and helped me connect with my authentic self. I still drift away as I get caught in the daily grind but they helped bring awareness to what that looks like and tools for reconnecting without the use of psychoactive chemicals.

I hope to explore deeper in the future but it is clear that they have no place in this next chapter of my life. I need some time to integrate the lessons I’ve learned. My mind is clear and my heart is pure. I have work to do.