This is a long story. It has two perspectives.
(1) I woke up one morning, took a moderate dose of LSD, had a psychotic break that lasted three days, and have continuing psychological issues as a result of the experience.
(2) We are all being constantly expelled from Divine Source, like loose clay from a spinning potter’s wheel, and enter deeper into illusion the further from Source we are flung. There was no LSD, there is no me, I am alone and lost, forever.
I will mainly stick to the first perspective, since we’re not in a place where explaining things from the second perspective can really make much sense to us. But keeping both in mind is important for understanding the story.
May 2016. I’d had some psychedelic experience at this point, but only with one substance (Salvia divinorum) ingested in a non-traditional and probably inadvisable method (smoking). I’d had my fair share of traumatic experiences with it, but nothing that would stop me from exploring (so far). In fact, the terror that I constantly felt at the hands of Salvia was one of the main motivators for me to try different psychedelics. I’d heard such beautiful stories of love and connection from LSD trips, and I wanted to experience that too.
I had tried 50ug (half a tab) a few days before, to test it out. I had noticed my vision become sharper, and seen some nice patterns in the carpets; but it was accompanied by a fairly strong and persistent sense of paranoia, and discomfort. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but the terror of Salvia was somehow still present, and this fear was the more prevalent facet of this first, relatively gentle, trip.
After asking for advice online, some suggested that trying a full dose (100ug) would do the trick; the paranoia would pass, and I would get to experience the beauty and love in all its glory.
So a few days later, I woke up from my alarm at 7:30am, and took a tab, holding it on my tongue. The memory is extremely hazy. I possibly recall a slightly bitter taste to the tab, but probably nothing more than the ink or paper of the tab. I think I dozed for another half an hour or so, which further blurs the memory.
I got up and made some breakfast. I showered, and watched some TV. I think it was Always Sunny. The first thing I noticed was that I was finding everything exceptionally funny. More funny than usual. I enjoyed it and relaxed into my body – which is when I started feeling the body load. Sort of like a heaviness; a slick, clinging pull, as if I had been covered by some sort of astral tar.
The intensity ramped up at around 10am. I suddenly noticed fractals in the curtains. I was seeing open eye visuals. This meant this was going to be a wild ride. The fractals spread to the carpet – and then the walls. And then they were everywhere. Waves of twisting, convulsing patterns flowed through everything.
Almost at exactly the same time, my thoughts started becoming fractals too. After all, if fractals were taking over my external world, why wouldn’t they take over my thoughts? Every thought became connected to every other, and looped round and round. What made thoughts different? They were all just the same thing, over and over, asking themselves the answer to their own questions.
I turned the TV off and watched the room breathing.
The thoughts started to become oppressive. Everything immediately began escalating. Minor worries became mortal dread. How long was this paranoia supposed to last? I thought it should have passed by now… Wait, what do I have to go on? Some random person’s word on the internet? How could I ever know when this is going to end? It’s probably going to go on forever. Oh… now I’ve thought that, it will.
I realised I had to draw some kind of line somewhere, so I wouldn’t be lost in this fractal storm forever. I decided my paranoia would definitely pass at 11:30am. So this meant that the clock became extremely important. I was checking it often, watching the minutes tick towards my relief. I paced around the flat as I waited for the time to come. I tried watching things, or putting on music, but everything was too intense; everything brought out the fractals. There was no escape. So I just paced and watched the clock.
Which is untouchable… invisible…
With this realisation, it dissipates like smoke.
A moment lasts an eternity. The clock is no longer moving. I can’t bear to look at it any more.
I have to keep time moving somehow. I don’t want to be stuck in eternity. But I know that movement can’t exist without time! So if I keep moving around my flat, time will go forward. I put a blanket around my shoulders because my temperature is fluctuating wildly. As I wander around I occasionally take it off, and put it back on. Then I have the horrifying realisation that this motion is merging into itself. Am I taking the blanket off, or putting it back on?
I am walking backwards. The blanket is put back on my shoulders when I take it off.
I am stuck in a time loop.
Every motion occurs both forwards and backwards at the same time. And when I think I’ve identified which way is forwards and which is backwards, I remember the ultimate relativity of these concepts, and everything reverses again.
I have no control over my body. I am moving backwards and forwards in time simultaneously.
I check my phone – or retreat from checking my phone – to see that time is going slower and slower. I realise I’m going to have to define time, create it second by second. I start to open my stopwatch app to construct the seconds, but in a moment of horror realise what eternity awaits me in there, the realms of nothingness I will have to dive into and claw together for an infinity of moments, and I stop myself. I am not brave enough for that.
The other option, of course, is to pretend.
Pretend that time is real, that it moves forward on its own.
I pretend that I’m not at the wavefront of creation, a tiny machine elf patching together the most insignificant and microscopic aspects of reality for eternity. I pretend that I’m me, and that ‘me’ is just casually, blissfully enjoying the normal flow of time.
This begins an epic battle between the two perspectives that I presented at the beginning of this story. (1) You took LSD, this is a hallucination. (2) This is all real, the idea of LSD is just a pretty story.
I know that (2) is the truth. I also know that if I don’t buy into (1) a little bit, I will “go crazy” in this reality. I have the option to leave, or stay. Staying requires a constant fight, a constant reinforcing of the illusion of reality. Leaving means truly leaving. Leaving everything. Dying, departing my body, my life and identity. Becoming one with source and truth, leaving behind a gibbering mess or perhaps just a corpse – no way to know for sure and I would be far past the capacity to care anyway.
I decide to stay.
But building the illusion is difficult.
Building the illusion
I have no evidence that I took LSD. None whatsoever. If I go into my drugs bag and look at the sheet, there should be a tab missing. But I have no way of knowing for sure if I really did take a tab from that sheet – maybe it was already missing one? All I have is my memory to rely on, and that doesn’t mean shit.
I have no evidence that I am me. I recall my name, and with some effort I can recall bits of my past. But again, where is the substance of these ‘facts’? I remember my childhood in Norway, but I can’t feel it, I can’t live it, I can’t see it in front of me. How do I know it’s my memory? I have to convince myself, somehow, that I’m a Thing.
As I am pacing and chanting my name, and the names of my loved ones, I occasionally falter. I am struggling to walk now. Suddenly my whole left side gives out and I stumble. I realise I am having a stroke; but I fight it. Then my face goes numb and starts to twitch – I’m having a seizure! I fight it. I feel my heart start to struggle, and start to give up. I fight it. I see a cascade of potential futures, where I fall, break my leg, collapse in a seizure… I have to pull myself out of each one, back onto a tightrope where I remain in this story.
I write on a piece of paper “You have taken LSD. You will be absolutely fine at 7:30pm.” This is a crucial part of my delusion that the trip will end – my only hope of relief.
OK, I’m really doing this, I’m really going to create this illusion. Alright.
I go to check the sheet of LSD in my drug bag. It takes an eternity to walk over there. I feel myself being buffeted from all sides like I’m in a storm.
There appears to be one tab missing from the sheet. I feel a surface level sort of relief come over me – somewhat hollow. I still know that this means nothing, and is still just an illusion. I have more work to do.
I look up LSD on the internet, to prove to myself that this is a real thing that does in fact Exist, and has the power to take me out of Source. It appears that LSD is supposed to be a nice drug. Everyone seems to be having a pretty good time with it. Why would I create this drug as a route back to reality? Doesn’t really make any sense.
I consider messaging friends to ask for their help. But I realise they don’t exist, and if I messaged or called them I’d have to piece them together as part of this grand illusion. Too much terror.
I eventually work up the courage to send a message to B – but he’s busy, and this doesn’t help me build the illusion of a dual reality. I consider calling H at work, but I can’t bear the idea of constructing spoken conversation.
I go on Reddit, looking for help. I search for “Bad LSD Trip” and find a few posts – but the words on the screen don’t make any sense, and the letters spill into place from outside of my vision. When they sit in words they buzz and twist, changing shade and shape. I can barely read.
I manage to read a helpful post – some of the words are comforting, but some of them send me further into a panic, especially as I know I’ve created them. It feels like an alternate version of myself from somewhere else is trying to help me get to grips with this illusory reality, and it eventually becomes too much.
I sit down and try to draw. It doesn’t help, so I go back to pacing.
The party at the end of the universe
I have my first moment of calm since the experience began. I lie on the bed and listen to music. My mind is still whirling, and I realise that B and H are the only people in the universe who really exist to me. I see the three of us living together forever, becoming a psychedelic whole, merging into god, having experienced every timeline and possibility together. We are at the party at the end of the universe, we are all together, close to the final merge that will bring every aspect of existence together again, ready to begin the eternal cycle once more.
The party is about ultimate bliss. Music is pounding, drugs are everywhere, lights and smoke and people and beings fill the space, yet an enormous emptiness surrounds us. I experience our new beginning, our merging; partially as an observer, almost like a vision; but partially as a part of this experience, a building block in creating the real thing. I was filled with terror, realising this was our doom, and our destiny. Nothing matters. My body was shaking with ecstasy and distress. The good was constantly mirrored by bad, and more. The bad took over, and I found myself pacing around the room again.
I eventually send a message to H, and her words are comforting, but her journey back home takes another eternity. Each moment lasts twice as long as the previous. I am despairing at the thought that I will have to piece her existence together. As I hear her coming in the door, the mix of pure terror and meaning is mesmerising. Is a monster approaching? Or an angel?
It’s H. She looks concerned, but hugs me. I feel true relief for the first time. I ask her to keep telling me everything is OK, and to tell me that 7:30pm is when everything will be fine.
What followed was a constant see-saw between feeling relief when she was reassuring, and utter panic when she was doubtful. Questions like “How much did you take” and “How do you know it’s supposed to end at 7:30?” predictably spin me around. I start to feel like she’s only ever responding to me, rather than producing unique conversation – this makes the illusion difficult to carry on.
7:30pm. I feel no different. But I know this is the time where I have to start pretending that everything is fine. I start lying to H, saying that I’m feeling better. I’m an actor now, putting on a show. But walking is still a struggle, my temperature is still wildly variable. Each moment still feels like an experience of infinity, like I’m creating each single one and forcing myself to forget again and again.
Being totally focussed on H is turning out to not be so helpful. Trying to have normal conversations is so difficult when I don’t have any memory of the previous day or week – everything is muddled together. Her concern boosts my panic.
Our conversations are shaping both the past and future, considering they’re more real than my memories or dreams.
As my past gets gradually pieced together, I also see our future. I see the parts of H that hate me. I see many many timelines where we divorce. It seems inevitable. I try to cling to the one where she stays. It’s hard.
Eating is difficult. I have no appetite. Every mouthful is overwhelming; I have no memory of taste, so I’m experiencing everything for the first time. Taste is a feeling; a smell, a colour, an experience, a new universe. Mushrooms are earth and dirt, slow and strong. Rosemary is deep and green, unstable and passionate. Onions are sharp; laughing.
Drinking is difficult. My feeling of thirst is intense, yet when I drink I realise I can’t pinpoint where the thirst is, or where it goes. Every time I drink, I feel like I’m drowning: I see the liquid in the glass, beyond my mouth, and it stretches into infinity, becoming an ocean pouring down my throat and into my lungs. I am in the eternal sea, the depths surrounding me. All concepts are linked; and drinking water links me, in some ways, to the archetype that is eternally drowning in some vast, lonely ocean.
We watch TV together while I try my best to appear normal. You guessed it: it’s difficult. Every single word spoken on the TV is relevant to me, personally. Whole sentences make absolute sense as a message from god, directly to me, regarding my present situation. Telling me what I need to do, who I am, why I’m here. I have to live through every single form of existence, for eternity, go through every single experience, good and bad; because I am “that which experiences,” and it can be no other way. I spend a few hours watching the TV, battling with this concept. I don’t want to experience the bad. I don’t want to drown in the eternal ocean. I don’t want to be crushed by the weight of the universe. I would rather not experience.
I hide in the bathroom, tired of pretending to be normal. I decide I need to go towards the most blissful timelines. I enter some kind of erotic trance, where all forms of pleasure merge. My bowels and bladder relax at the same time as I feel an orgasm building. It’s the pinnacle of bliss – well, almost. I never quite reach true release, as is the nature of things.
I am leaning against the wall of the bathroom while this happens, and H finds me in trance, my heart beating wildly. She brings me out of it, her hand is resting on my chest, a worried look on her face. I concentrate on my breathing and bring my heart rate down. She gets me to lie down. I feel like I’m back at the party at the end of the universe. When she joins me in bed, I lie still but try to influence the timeline to move towards something sexual. It doesn’t work, and she falls asleep.
I know I won’t sleep. But I try.
H has left the TV on while she dozed off, and again I’m receiving messages about the end of the universe from it. It’s telling me exactly what will happen in the moments before the end; finding a secret in a secure safe in a building. But the secret will mean nothing and the universe will end and start over again, and no one will ever be free of the cycle.
During the night I have frequent shaking fits, as I feel the ecstasy and terror of infinity approaching me again. I see myself on my deathbed, see infinite bodies laid out on their own deathbeds, laid out against the universe, merging the experience of death and orgasm. The image of my death becomes clearer – I see family gathered around me, hear the faint beeping of machines tethered to my nearly lifeless body, and feel my vision fade.
My shaking transfers to the bed, and then to the world around me. It’s the apocalypse! I see fires glowing through the window, hear screams and shouts, a strange mix of joy and terror. I push the apocalypse away, and do this every time it comes back up during the night.
Whenever I hear someone coming up the stairs in our apartment block, I know I can make it be B, I can make it that B is in the same state of mind as I am, that he is coming to me so we can be together at the end. I know I can make it so all three of us can go to eternity together.
But I decide to keep him away. I fantasise about the time we shared a bed together. I start feeling his body – realising eventually that I’m masturbating – and realise that I’m time-travelling and playing with him back during that real event. There was still, however, an element of illusion to it. This time-travel didn’t feel entirely real. Looking back, this is perhaps where the story of (1) really started to take hold.
As the night passes, I watch the dawn light cross the room, waiting for the moment that I can stop trying to sleep. I realise that in my whole life, I have never truly slept. It is not possible for a conscious being to every truly be unconscious; just like how the colour red can never be anything other than red. Sleeping is an illusion – part of the story of (1) that is required for us to exist outside of Source.
I have to keep H alive through the night by breathing with her. When I don’t focus on my breathing, she starts to splutter and suffocate. I have to keep going. I see visions of futures where she is old and dying on the bed. I see her bloated corpse. I see blood slipping from her mouth, pouring onto the bed, merging with her hair.
H waking up is glorious. She’s alive, and we made it through the night, and all my work was not for nothing. My thoughts are still a jumble. We watch the morning news together; I’m still receiving divine messages. Donald Trump is my fault. Nazis are my fault. I am very confused, and scared.
I decide I have to force myself to go to work; it’s my only hope of building up the illusion of (1). Saying goodbye to H is heartbreaking. It feels like an infinite goodbye. Every goodbye that has ever been. The last goodbye.
Leaving the flat is (yup) difficult. As I’m closing the door behind me I smell burning. Did I leave something on? I refuse to go back and check because I know this would be the beginning of an infinite regress. I have to build the illusion! Nothing is burning.
There is a man hoovering the lobby, and I think about saying good morning, but don’t. As I’m leaving out the front door I have images of Donald Trump and Nazis flood my mind, and I realise I have to change things! I turn around to go back and say good morning, when I see that he’s heading towards the door. I rush back and hold it open awkwardly, as he struggles through with his hoover.
The world seems no better, just more complex and terrifying.
The bus journey to work was intense. I was very quickly transported out of my ego and given a view of what reality really was. An endless journey towards infinity in every possible direction, dimension and form. I realised that the universe was being created and destroyed in every instant. That there was infinite meaning in everything and at the same time no meaning in anything. That time was forever and didn’t exist all at once. That we were all in an infinite, never-ending spiral of existence for ever and ever, we had all always existed forever and would continue existing forever, thinking we were working towards something, working towards an end or goal of some kind, but always destined or doomed to forget and start over, forever just existing in a swirling, mindless Mandelbrot fractal, hell and heaven all together, but forever trapped in an existence we couldn’t possibly ever comprehend.
It may sound wonderful, but I struggled to see the positive, knowing that I was destined to forget that I was in a spiral of existence, experiencing moments for eternity with no hope of an end or resolution.
I would occasionally look at the other people on the bus and catch them glancing at me. I might have been whispering to myself. I was starting to experience everything as a Mandelbrot set; colour, sound, movement. I could almost anticipate when the next loud sound would come, because it fit into my deterministic fractal pattern. Time dilation was still strong, as every time the bus slowed down I felt like time was also slowing. Every stop was an eternity.
I felt like I was travelling through different time periods; seeing a medieval Manchester at one moment and a distant future the next.
I almost missed my stop. Getting off the bus I had the most profound moment of realisation yet, having being thrown into the swirl of daily human activity. I saw all of existence crushed into this tiny pocket of fact, that all this movement was a Mandelbrot set forever circling the drain, never going anywhere, just existing forever, with the illusion of hope.
It was probably the worst moment of my life, but certainly also the one with the most clarity.
At work, in the lab, every conversation was difficult. It felt like I was creating the direction of the discussion, creating past and future as I saw fit when I was talking to people. I was flitting between timelines and getting confused. I spoke to A and K with my heart in my mouth, worrying they’d notice I was acting strange. K told me how she’d been in a bus crash on the way in and I felt my world crumbling apart, as I remembered how many times I had seen timelines of my own bus crashing that morning.
The conversation produced all the timelines. I could make it that the driver of the car was dead. It was like Schrödinger’s cat; I was the observer, with ultimate power.
This theme carried on into the lab, where I stood for around an hour watching the Hilton building out the window, willing a plane to hit into it to prove my ability to manipulate time and space. If the plane hit the tower, this would be the one Bad Thing that would be enough for me to live a happy and safe life for the rest of time. So I tried my hardest to make it happen.
This theme of a bad thing having to outbalance the good kept coming up. When I was working in the lab, I kept thinking, is this mistake enough? How about this one? Spilling some chemicals? Stumbling slightly? Being a bit distant with colleagues? Are these enough mistakes to make the rest of my life happy?
I started hearing voices in my head, mostly B’s telling me what to do. I was hearing endless voices and messages from all around, from the radio, from random noises, from my own mind, from my actions and actions of others.
I was still convinced of my powers over time and space, so I tried giving one of my co-workers an orgasm. At the time it felt like I had done it, I was 100% convinced I had telekinetic powers and that now this co-worker would have a thing for me. I kept giving her extra glances and smiles. I was convinced I had unlocked the power to become the most fanciable and attractive version of myself possible. Looking back, this has potential to be hilarious; if there wasn’t also a good chance that I massively creeped people out.
The day was long and I dozed at my desk for a while, but still stuck in this endless penumbra of not-quite-sleep. Another eternity.
I met with H and her friends after work for a beer (I had promised her this the day before in an effort to ensure this was the best timeline). I tried to become the best version of myself I could be. I was sociable and enjoyed a beer as best I could. I was looking forward to getting home. I’m sure I seemed normal on the outside but my mind was still reeling. On the bus back I upset H by telling her that I could manipulate time. I decided to stop talking about it.
I don’t remember much of that evening. I perhaps slept a little in the night but was still stuck in thought loops, still stuck looking at the clock for eternity and watching the light track across the room. Keeping H breathing.
It took a few more days to feel like I wasn’t surfing the wave of creation. It took a couple more weeks before I felt like I was sleeping normally again. I would still have moments where the hopeless feeling of eternity would overwhelm me, but I could fight them back and feel sane again.
But that feeling of realisation, of ultimate knowledge, that we are all stuck in an eternal spiral, an eternal wave of existence with no hope for anything else, will always stay with me.
The truth is powerful
I still experience relapses. I am still confused. I am a player in this illusion, who sometimes feels like he doesn’t want to be in it any more. That he doesn’t like this play as much as he thought he would, and wants to go back home. And I know that you know what I’m talking about. You feel that way too.
Deep down, as deep as you can go, we know that we are all spokes in some monumental cosmic wheel, enjoying our little puppet shows because we can’t handle the powerful and ultimately inescapable truth:
There is no LSD.