My Paradise Lost
Citation: Atropos. "My Paradise Lost: An Experience with LSD (exp102779)". Erowid.org. Jun 23, 2021. erowid.org/exp/102779
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Over a period of five years, I tried many different herbs and chemicals in my pursuit of my two oxymoronic goals: ultimate truth, and ultimate fantasy. I was convinced (and in retrospect, deluded) that I could find both of these things, if I just took the right drug in the right place and time. I tried cannabis dozens of times (sometimes wisely and respectfully, sometimes irresponsibly with serious consequences), ketamine, psilocybin, salvia, and copious amounts of tobacco and alcohol to fill in the cracks. LSD was the holy grail among all of these substances, and finally when I was 19 I found a connection that could get me some. After years of searching, I secured four tabs. My plan had been to take two myself, and then take one with my closest friend so we could explore a lesser experience together.
Foolishly, I did not stick to my plan. I paid a high price for my arrogance, but that same price also bought me wisdom that has since been invaluable.
Aside from the impatience, my mental set was good: excited, unburdened (it was summer vacation from university) and optimistic. I dropped the two tabs I’d planned to hold myself to in the comfort of my own home at about 10:30 PM, after my mother had gone to bed and after a brief 10 minute meditation to center myself. Then I waited eagerly for the come up.
The first sensation was a sort of warm, metallic, tight feeling in the base of my throat, along with full-body energy. I felt as though my extremities were becoming somewhat fuzzy, and my breathing grew shallower. I felt flushed, and my mood elevated.
It had only been about 45 minutes since I’d taken my two tabs, but I suddenly wanted to ensure that I had an intense, high-level trip to fully plumb the depths of my subconscious (and, hopefully, the outer reaches of the universe). So, I took a third tab, rationalizing that I could just give the last one to my friend to use on his own.
I was clearly already not in my right mind, the LSD creating a mania that was impairing both my judgment and personality. Under all normal circumstances, the thought of cheating a friend out of anything I had promised would have been abhorrent to me, but I thought nothing of screwing my soul-brother out of the trip he had paid for. Unfortunately, any cognitive dissonance was completely washed away as the first OEV’s started to appear.
I was standing in my office, which is adjacent to my small bedroom. The office has several large shelves of books, and a medium-sized wooden desk that supports my computer and monitor. As I stood in the middle of this space, I noticed that purple and yellow patterns, somewhat like fingerprints, were appearing before my eyes in the darkness. They twisted and flittered about in ways that reminded me of bacterium, swimming through bodily fluids with their flagellum. My mood continued to rise, and I began to giggle with pleasure and wonder at what I was seeing. I had never experienced OEV’s this powerful before, and I lay down on the hardwood floor to stare up at the darkness and let the visions progress.
After an indeterminate amount of time spent giggling on the floor, with the visuals becoming more and more vivid, colorful, and fractal, I decided to put some music on. I was heavily into Japanese Rock at the time, and selected the song “Blue Train” by Asian Kung-Fu Generation from my computer. I was still fairly cognizant, so getting the song playing was not overly difficult so long as I maintained concentration. As the first iconic chords began to play, I leaned back in my swivel chair and let myself go into the music.
I experienced no synesthesia, but the music completely absorbed me. I felt as though I were mentally surfing the sounds, and I took great pleasure in focusing on particular instruments and following them while excluding all the others. I discovered new aspects of the song that I had never noticed before, and felt exceptionally proud of myself for both my observations and how well I was handling the drug. I felt sure that hours had passed, and glanced at the computer clock: 11:40.
I felt a twinge of disquiet, but of an extremely inappropriate nature. I wasn’t tripping hard enough! I recalled the general patterns of trips, and by my estimate, I would be approaching the peak in only another half hour or so. If I was still this cognizant, then it was clear that I was resisting the drug. I resolved to make the third, and fatal, mistake: I took the fourth tab.
After dropping, there was a short plateau. I moved from the office to the living room and turned on the TV, to find something interesting to watch and see how my mind reacted. I found a children’s theater production of “Gulliver’s Travels,” and for the next half an hour I watched, fascinated by the fantastical imagery in the film and enjoying the warm body sensations I was experiencing. I squirmed on the couch, feeling the fabric on my face, my hands, my stomach, my feet… I was unable to control myself and sit still. Touching was simply too powerful of a sensation.
The short film ended, and I turned the television off, unsure of what to do next. At this point, I believe that the third tab was in full swing and the fourth was on the way up. I was starting to lose track of my thoughts. They would race through my mind in recursive loops, but generally following the same theme: “acid is incredible.”
I drifted into my bedroom and began to explore. My room, normally a tiny space consumed by a twin bed and a dresser, now seemed to be enormous. I nearly got lost stumbling the two steps from the threshold to my bed, and flopped onto it with an explosion of giggles.
It was full dark in my room, but my night vision seemed exceptionally clear aside from the roiling colored patterns. I noted this and resolved to go to the bathroom and see if my pupils had become dilated, as I had heard they do when using LSD. But first, I grabbed a small stuffed companion: a six-inch high “dust bunny” from the Studio Ghibli film “My Neighbor Totoro,” nothing more than a fuzzy black ball with large googly eyes. I had bought three on a trip to Japan, and had given two away as gifts, keeping the third for myself. Now I was glad I did: he was going to be my trip buddy.
My “friend” and I went to the bathroom, and turned on the light. I stared, amused, at my reflection in the mirror, holding the dust bunny in one hand and having it look into the mirror as well. I let out a short burst of laughter: we looked like quite the pair of stoners. My pupils were so dilated I could no longer see my irises. My eyes were like my stuffed companion’s: black orbs on a white background. I surmised that this dilation was probably responsible for my enhanced night vision, and felt quite pleased with myself for this deduction.
I wanted to experience a new sensation, and taste and smell seemed like excellent candidates. I stumbled downstairs to the kitchen and found a container of honey roasted peanuts. Their flavor was beyond intense: it was cloyingly sweet, in an artificial manner, and beyond that sweetness was a wholesome nutty flavor that completely seduced me. I stood by the refrigerator, eating peanuts one by one with exquisite slowness.
Then I heard a scream.
Under ordinary circumstances, I would have thought nothing of it. My neighborhood is close to downtown Chicago, a mere bus ride away from Michigan Avenue. At night young people were out at the bars, and they often make a commotion. But in my altered state, this (probably gleeful) scream sounded like the howl of a banshee. I froze, nearly literally: my internal temperature suddenly plummeted and I began to shiver.
I looked at my tripping companion, and his large eyes now seemed worried. I concurred that things were not as jolly at they had been merely seconds (or was it minutes? Hours? Time was becoming increasingly hard to comprehend) ago, and we beat a hasty retreat to the bedroom. I got under the covers, shuddering violently, and tried to ride out the bad vibes.
But it only got worse. The shivering did not end, and the visuals were becoming first tiresome, then disturbing. My room was growing larger and larger, and I was seized with a horrifying mixture of agoraphobia and claustrophobia. I had to get out… and I had to stay in. Neither and both were critically important. Then I began to experience aural hallucinations: I heard hoofbeats, drawing closer and closer. I became convinced that the Headless Horseman, an old childhood demon, was coming for me, and he was bringing a posse. He would ride in through my window any second now: my frying brain could see him now, laughing with hellish, malevolent glee, riding hard to take my soul.
I had my last coherent, rational thought at that moment. I needed to call my friend who had given me the acid, and tell him that I was having a bad trip. Over the phone, he would surely be able to talk me down. I summoned up all the trip reports I had read, trying to reassure myself that I had only taken a drug and that it would eventually end.
Then my mind was overwhelmed, dragged down by a riptide of psychedelic fury. I can only presume that at that point, the fourth tab peaked alongside its three siblings. At this point, I have no idea how much time passed, and I am amazed I can still recall everything that happened. But I was completely psychotic, and no longer able to differentiate my thoughts from reality. My ego was breaking down, and what would be raised up in its place would be complete megalomania.
I had a simple thought, that rang out in my mind like a clear bell in early morning: go take a shower. I went downstairs to the bathroom, stripped, and turned on the shower. The sound of the water and the heat of the steam eased my shivering, and I sighed with relief. I stepped into the shower.
Then I began to spit. Large amounts of phlegm were being expectorated with each spit, but I no longer understood this to be a side effect of LSD. Instead, I thought that I was purging out my very essence: everything that was me was coming out in this spits, and with each one my physical body was diminishing. I was regressing, becoming smaller in body and mind with each spit: I was returning to the womb. I suddenly understood, with perfect clarity, that this had happened many, many times before. I was repeating a cycle, like the phoenix, of death and rebirth, and it always happened when I was nineteen. I would find acid, take it, and revert to an infant, only to grow up and repeat the cycle again.
I was repeating a cycle, like the phoenix, of death and rebirth, and it always happened when I was nineteen. I would find acid, take it, and revert to an infant, only to grow up and repeat the cycle again.
As I continued this regression, I began to have intense flashbacks to my actual childhood. I recalled sitting in the bathtub, probably no older than three, playing with a measuring cup in the water and smiling up at my beloved mother. I remembered the first birthday celebration I attended for a friend, eating a chocolate cupcake with white frosting while sitting on a small plastic chair with several other toddlers. I recalled standing up in my crib, reaching out to my father as he bent down to pick me up.
The regression continued, past my birth, and I realized with a shock that my timeline actually extended to before my birth. I entered the role of my father, wearing his trademark blue bathrobe, wandering the house late at night, with my wife (mother?) with child, sleeping uneasily. Then time went forward again, and I came to my present self again, sitting in the shower and huddling against the faucet.
I was filled with an incredible sensation, an overwhelming feeling of power and destiny. I had faced my cycle, the LSD recursion, and now I had a choice: I could live the cycle again, or step outside of it. If I moved beyond it, then my fate would be entirely of my own choosing: I would begin a new life, free from all negativity, with all my closest friends, for as long as I wished. I saw past the veil of existence and into the truth. I was an enlightened being, a Buddha! No, more than that: I was omnipotent, immortal, and free from the chains of my human body. I could shape the universe to my will, and the cosmos would bow before me, if only I seized this power and would let go of my petty fear and puny mortality.
I left the shower, shrugged on my robe, and strode out of the house. I left through the front door, and saw the first edges of dawn were appearing. As expected: I had advanced time forward so that the sun would witness my rebirth. I walked down the middle of my street, my robe open, feeling the cool spring breeze upon my naked skin, and shouted to the sky for the joy of it. I was God, made flesh and now allowed to ascend to My divine being once more. I would rule in heaven alongside my chosen companions, and together we would forge a new covenant with reality! I resolved to head straight to my soul brother’s house, awaken his latent spirit, and together we would awaken the others. I decided I would continue to walk, as an ordinary being, although if I wanted to I could shed my human form and fly. But not yet: it was enjoyable, to be human in flesh yet divine in spirit, the height of ecstasy. I approached the busy thoroughfare of Ashland avenue, where cars were zipping by.
I confess that I do not know if there is a God, or any creation spirits in the universe at all, but some force from either within my deluded mind or without convinced me to turn around and not walk out into Chicago traffic in the middle of the night. My “awakened” consciousness rolled with it, deciding on a whim that it was too soon to awaken anyone, and to return to my mortal abode for a time to better understand my new powers and destiny. So I turned around, and escaped certain injury or death.
I walked in my wide-open front door, still raving loudly about how everything was so clear, so wonderfully magnificent, and that I was the Lord incarnate. My mother came downstairs, sleepy and confused, asking me what was happening, what was wrong, why I had left the front door open.
I goggled at her, then laughed cruelly. She looked so frail and old, standing there in the hallway with her hand closing the top of her robe. She looked like my mother, but I knew that she was not actually there. She was a manifestation of my decaying mortal mind, trying feebly to restrain my ever-expanding consciousness.
A mental artifact, nothing more. She did not deserve the slightest acknowledgement. I pushed past her and headed upstairs, continuing to shout and gesticulate. My mother followed me, her voice becoming more and more worried and frantic. She said that I wasn’t making any sense, and that I was scaring her. She asked me what was happening, and if I was all right.
She looked like my mother, but I knew that she was not actually there. She was a manifestation of my decaying mortal mind, trying feebly to restrain my ever-expanding consciousness.
This construct of my cowardly old mind was starting to irritate me. It was playing dumb, trying to distract me from my ascension. I dealt with it briskly: I told it that had taken four tabs of LSD, and it had awakened my innate divinity. I was a God, and you were a construct of my old mortal consciousness I had no further use for. I dismissed the construct and decided to head out to the porch, perhaps the roof, to take in the coming dawn.
The construct that looked like my mother barred my path, screaming. It said I was frightening her, that it wanted to know why I had taken acid, who had given it to me, that I could not leave. I regarded this old part of my life with a mixture of amusement and contempt. How could I have tolerated such a shrewish, cowardly part of myself for so long? I commanded it out of my way, and shoved forward to the door.
My mother fought me to stop me from going outside, and in the scrabble I hurt her hand and wrist on the door. I am much larger than my mother, and stronger, but thankfully I was so intoxicated that I could bring no real strength to bear on her. Once again I was saved from horror by providence or sheer luck: if I had been more focused, I could have seriously hurt her.
As it was, I was bemused to find that this construct of my former self was still quite powerful, able to repel my godhood. I decided that I still had too much of my mortal self clinging to my soul, and had to be rid of it. I stumbled back downstairs to the shower, to continue purging. On the way I pulled a potted plant down off the banister on the stairway, and it fell ten feet to the kitchen floor below. I took a few moments to sit in the dirt and play with it, my robe lost somewhere on the stairs. Then I headed into the shower.
I stood under the shower, chuckling at the remarkable power of the human spirit. “Truly, it’s all perception,” I said to myself, and it clicked: that was the final piece I needed to understand. It was all perception! Each human perceives the world in their own unique way, and in their perceiving it, they create it. It was just like how, in physics, mere observation of atomic phenomena alters the state of the observed: perception of reality defined reality. Depending on how I perceived things, I could literally change the universe!
There was a knock from outside my mind.
“Sir? Come out of the shower and get dressed. This is the police.”
“OK, in a minute,” I reply, amused at this latest attempt by my former unenlightened shadow to nip my ascendancy in the bud. Now it was taking on the form of that impersonal authority, the “police,” to “control” me. Well, I wasn’t going to fall for that. I would shut them out of my perception, and the figments would be banished. I stood in the shower.
Another knock. “Sir, come out now and get dressed.”
“I will when it pleases me to do so,” I replied, and then decided that it pleased me to do so now. These artifacts of consciousness were really getting out of hand. I had to get them under control.
I stepped out of the shower, dried off, and emerged naked from the bathroom. Two policemen appeared to be in the kitchen; the light was now on. The figment that looked like my mother was sitting at the kitchen table, staring horrified at my godhood.
“Sir, put some pants on.”
“I don’t think I’d like that. I’m fine naked, thank you.”
“Sir, put some pants on or we’ll put pants on for you.”
I shrugged. “It’s all perception,” I muttered, and put pants on, to appease the figments. They had a certain, powerful insistence to them that I found hard to deny.
“Sir, put shoes on.”
“I’d really prefer not to.” The figments insisted. I put shoes on, and said, “it’s all perception.”
“Sir, put your hands behind your back. We’re going to cuff you.”
“Oh, I really don’t think I will. This has gone far enough: I order you to disappear.”
“Sir, put your hands behind your back, or we will have to force you to do so.”
I considered defying them again, but I was beginning to feel more and more tired. And dizzy. Things were starting to lose definition. “It’s all perception,” I muttered, and put my hands behind my back. They cuffed me and took me out of the house.
At this point my memory deteriorates. I remember lying facedown in what I can only presume was an ambulance, my hands cuffed, swaying with the turns. I remember being wheeled in a gurney, and hearing two nurses speaking in disgusted tones: “what happened to him?” “Oh, he took a bunch of acid.” “Acid? What a loser! This isn’t the 70’s anymore!” This may or may not have actually happened.
I am in a bed, strapped with to the bed cuffs. The cuffs are poorly fastened: I burst from them and try to sit up. Orderlies shove me back down.
I am lying on a moving platform, going into a dark tunnel.
I am back in the bed, and hooked up to a heart monitor. A doctor is muttering and kicking the machine. I find this ridiculous: that’s an expensive piece of equipment. “Hey, take it easy man, it’s not the machine’s fault,” I say.
The doctor is gone. A nurse is telling me that I have to urinate into a cup. I tell them I can’t, I don’t need to pee. “Sir, we need a urine sample. Pee into the cup or we will need to insert you with a catheter.” I tell them that this is unnecessary, and that the urine sample is not necessary either, I simply took a few tabs of LSD and achieved godhood. I am duly given a catheter, sans anesthesia. The pain is intense, yet distant. “It’s all perception,” I mumble.
I am alone. The catheter is painful. My straps are loosened again. I remove them and begin to attempt to remove the catheter. A doctor sees me and begins to babble in a heavy accent, “no no no! There is a balloon inside of you, you cannot take it out!” I find this utterly ridiculous, as a Foley catheter would use a balloon on the OUTSIDE of the penis, and there is clearly not one there. This doctor is a quack. I tell him so, and continue to attempt to remove the catheter. Orderlies are summoned again.
I come to. My mind has, somehow, become my own again. I remember, vaguely, the precise moment when my logical human brain was supplanted and I became a megalomaniacal psychopath. I mostly feel relief that the experience has ended. I got what I had wanted, an intense psychedelic experience, but it was so much more than I had bargained for. I had read about things like “loss of ego,” “delusions,” and “reactions similar to schizophrenia,” but I had had no comprehension of what those things were like to experience.
I turned to my right and saw my mother sitting there, smiling sadly at her stupid, stupid son. I grinned, the abashed grin of a dog who shat on the floor, and said, “I really fucked up, didn’t I mum?”
She burst into tears. She thought I was going to be insane forever, but now she had her son back.
A few hours later I was released from the hospital. It seems that the LSD had caused me to run a slight fever, and since I had done nothing but take hot showers and had not drunk any water, the dizziness and black out could be explained by simple dehydration and minor hyperthermia. The dark tunnel I had seen was an MRI machine, but it had showed no problems. As expected: LSD is not a physically dangerous drug.
I was not charged with any crime, and was only liable for the ambulance ride and the deductible on insurance. On this score, I was very lucky as well. My mother eventually trusted me again, although rebuilding that trust was a long process. There are emotional scars I left on her that will never heal; I carry a few myself, mostly of guilt for hurting her and a sort of psychic PTSD. Sometimes I remember how close I was to getting myself killed, or wonder if that psychosis had not ended, and I feel a terrible dread and fear that clings to me like cobwebs for hours.
In the end, my ultimate realization that everything is “perception” was absolutely true. But now that I can once again bring a sober mind to bear on the experience, I understand that my revelation was only partly understood. It is true that human experience, and reality, is strongly influenced by our perceptions. An optimistic outlook can powerfully alter a circumstance to make a difficult issue solvable. Likewise, a pessimistic one could make a solvable problem appear to be impossible.
But just because perception affects reality doesn’t mean that perception DICTATES reality. Humans can and will impose perceptions upon reality that are warped, and can thus perceive reality incorrectly. We can perceive seven dollars when there are actually six, but we are no richer for doing so. My LSD experience completely dissolved this boundary for me, and I believe that merely imposing my will on reality made my perceptions true. But this is wrong: will power is merely the beginning of changing reality. After will, must come action. THAT is how perception shapes reality: when we not only will for change, but also act. I can will my thirst away, but only a drink can quench it. I can will to be successful, but only hard work can make it happen. I can will words onto the page, but I must use my fingers to impose that will and create something from nothing.
It has been four years since this experience, and I have only used psychoactive substances a handful of times since. I learned what I needed to learn, and no longer want to run from my life. I try to seize it, and forge my destiny the real way: through will, through work, and through love.
|Exp Year: 2009
|Age at time of experience: 19
|Published: Jun 23, 2021
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|Meditation (128), LSD (2) : Train Wrecks & Trip Disasters (7), Bad Trips (6), First Times (2), General (1), Mystical Experiences (9), Families (41), Music Discussion (22), Various (28)
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Experience Reports are the writings and opinions of the authors who submit them. Some of the activities described are dangerous and/or illegal and none are recommended by Erowid Center.
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