Citation: Dankskank. "A Therapy-Oriented Session for Healing: An Experience with Ketamine (exp107760)". Erowid.org. Feb 20, 2018. erowid.org/exp/107760
||(powder / crystals)
The background to the trip seems undeniably essential to the content of the experience. That said, some of the details of my life are deeply painful, shame-drenched and terrifying to talk about in earnest and despite the anonymity and relative distance afforded by saying these things in a trip report, some of the particulars are so socially taboo that I can't even think about typing them without becoming emotional. For that reason, I'm trying to share as much as I can without being excessively vague, because my purpose in writing this report is for the benefit of anyone else who's walking a similar path and who may find any use whatsoever in hearing about my experience. This is a long report, so I've tried to break it up into thematic paragraphs. The first half is dedicated more to the trip itself as well as the more pleasant to neutral elements. The second half is more focused on the painful psychological realizations.
I grew up in an unhealthy and abusive family. Compared to other stories I've heard, the abuse I faced was next to nothing, but as anyone who has woken up to the reality of abuse can attest, it doesn't have to leave a mark on the body to leave the deepest of marks on the soul. My teenaged years were especially hellish, as I relied upon a number of unhealthy and self-destructive coping mechanisms and actively created an environment of considerable emotional and intellectual dysfunction in my own mind- I hated myself, hated most other people and tried to make an identity out of being a rejected, worthless and evil person; if you thought I was such a piece of shit, then fine. Fuck it. I'll show you what a wretched piece of trash I can be.
It wasn't long before I ended up in the hands of the legal system, facing felony charges and two years of probation. The most destructive elements of my maladaptive behaviors have pretty much always centered around sexuality and that's what landed me in hot water. Thankfully, in 2008 I had my first mushroom trip and, had it not been for the redemptive power of that experience, I'm shamefully suspicious that I would have ended up in jail, having committed an act of sexual victimization against another person, and wouldn't be typing this report right now. Since 2008, my life has been explicitly re-routed from my prior concerns and aspirations to those of authentic spiritual and psychological growth/healing, against the backdrop of the fierce nightmare that is late stage American capitalism as an impoverished student (currently age 25). I'm both a victim and a victimizer. I've done things that have harmed others and I've done almost all that I can to right those wrongs and make amends and have dedicated my life to achieving a state of sanity that will keep me from acting out my wounds in harmful ways. This journey has been far from perfect and I can't pretend to be saint. Neither can I pretend to have achieved a state beyond doubt (as is evidenced by this report)- there's nothing I fear more than the possibility that I may never succeed in achieving the sanity I aspire to. Nevertheless, I have done and will continue to do whatever I can.
(200mg insufflated in four, approximately equally lines, over the course of about fifteen minutes. Alone on the sofa of my apartment, later interrupted briefly by my roommates coming home.)
Last night, I experienced some of the most difficult things to speak about I've ever encountered on any substance. The combination of intense changes in perception (dissociation, alteration of self sense and body sense) in combination with some of the more subtle perceptual and cognitive changes, including the low-key visual hallucinations, makes this experience more multi-faceted and ambiguous (dreamlike and hard to follow) than almost any other trip I've ever been on. In so many ways, the comparison to a dream is the most appropriate- even more so than the comparison with smoked DMT, largely because of the absence of all of the standard (traditional) psychedelic imagery I've come to expect from DMT, mushrooms, etc. The visionary aspect, largely leaving the open-eyed world untouched (through strongly foreign and seeming more like a backwater ghetto on some isolated and uninteresting level of consciousness than the normal, all-encompassing center of my waking conscious experience), produced subtle visual stimuli which I tried to follow and coax into greater manifestation in my mind's eye.
Some moving textures and occasionally shapes and lights seemed to be the most clear manifestations I could pick out and recall. The music in the background (Terry Riley's Shri Camel and Poppy Nogood) made for an amazing backdrop/catalyst in what I was experiencing visually but it was the cognitive changes that really did me in. From what I'm able to put into words, the sense of dissociation I experienced included a fairly thorough obliteration of my usual sense of “self”, though I still had some sense of my body and was able to move my hands, tongue and throat (the drip hit me several times and made me wish I had used an alternate ROA), I felt completely non-localized as a being however. My sense of consciousness was my only real focal point and it was becoming deeply enmeshed with what I was perceiving
My sense of consciousness was my only real focal point and it was becoming deeply enmeshed with what I was perceiving
, in a sense, melting and blending with the universe, my thoughts and my visions. I was both intrigued and wanted to let myself be washed away completely but also slightly hesitant, feeling as if I were dissolving almost too much. This was a new kind of 'ego-death' for me. As much as this felt slightly similar to the 'selflessness' of DMT, shrooms, etc. It was also markedly different and this is where I have the greatest difficulty in articulating exactly how they were dissimilar.
I think one element was a clear absence of the normal feelings of elation and ecstasy that normally accompany 'selflessness' (in a Buddhist sense) on the natural psychedelics. Normally I think/feel “everything is completely the same- all phenomena, despite being different are also one” and along with that perception, I feel that my normal, isolated and limited sense of self is equally illusory and it makes me existentially giddy- I'm intoxicated by the lack of boundaries and definition and certainty that normally accompany the sense of “I” that I normally feel. With K, however, the emotional element was much more neutral. I felt very good and was enjoying my experience, but I definitely didn't feel the same transcendental kind of ecstasy and stimulation that normally accompany mushrooms, DMT, etc. For me. Come to think of it, I was feeling a strong amount of sedation in combination with dissociation and anesthetization (GO FIGURE).
As I usually feel when I'm on any psychedelic, I felt like some of the things I was perceiving must be the sort of ms-dos code going on behind the scenes of the user interface of normal consciousness- like I was getting to see the mechanisms at work under the surface of the universe. But it becomes impossible to describe what happened to my sense of self and the thoughts I began to have about death as the trip wore on. Normally, when I trip on non-ketamine substances, death has nothing but a fascinating quality to me- I can contemplate my mortality with excitement at the fact that one day I'll get to experience death and, as far as I'm concerned, it will be a hell of an adventure. (I sometimes question the sincerity of this attitude because in my normal consciousness, I feel as if my death would often be a welcome relief because at least then, I could just let go and stop worrying about all of my problems. Though I've never been anywhere near actively suicidal and would rarely even entertain the thought, I know I fear my life problems much more than whatever may lie in wait at the gates of death.) This must've been the transitioning point, leading me to the heavier and less pleasant side of the trip.
Haunting by the constant back and forth of embracing and running from the darkness and the predatory archetype as well as its relation to attracting controlling 'others' (i.e. Bigger predators)
At some point, I began to feel very viscerally the unreality of my experience and began to wonder how real “real life” really is when I can alter my consciousness so radically with any number of methods. I began to wonder how much control I really had as the authority of both my life and my conscious experience and, unlike other psychedelics where I normally feel empowered and limitless (I could make my life into absolutely anything I want it to be), I began to feel doubtful and potentially trapped in this narrative that has cyclically repeated itself in my life- the struggle between good and evil. It feels like I've been alternating between fascination with and embrace of the darkness and revulsion with and flight from that very same darkness. By darkness, in my case, I mean my predatory nature- the part of me that hungers for control of other people and gets off on the idea of others being made to suffer in sexually sadistic ways. Waking up to the reality and seriousness of my mental health in 2008, I did everything I could to repress as much of my destructive inclination and everything related to my past traumas because I was terrified of not only the prospect of hurting someone, ending up in jail, but also the pain of my childhood and its potential to trigger the rest of my destructive tendencies.
“Why the fuck is this my life? What the fuck good does this do anyone? Why can't I get away from this horrible mess and just live a normal life as a sane person?!” I felt so much resentment and confused desperation as I contemplated these things, especially considering the spiritual teachings that came to mind as I leveled these questions at myself and at God (in a not so Christian and not never anthropomorphic sense)- “This is your journey to wholeness. This is your unique path to freedom. You're becoming a deeper, wiser person through facing these demons- this is how everyone grows spiritually. A 'normal' life is just a life of sleep and ignorance.” So many of these things felt flimsy and contrived in the face of the highly-psychedelically charged threat of repeating this cycle of embracing evil and running from it over and over again for the rest of my life, constantly questioning myself and my choices in the hopes of integrating my shadow (in the Jungian sense) without either being completely consumed by it nor simply shutting the door on it, trying to pretend it away. This fear gave way to my anxiety about my present legal status.
Having recently put myself in a situation where I may have completely screwed myself legally (because of both drugs and sex- neither of which harmed any other person in any way I should add), this has come to the surface of two different trip sessions now (I think because of the ambiguity of my situation and not being able to find out for certain if I'm screwed or not). I felt deeply insecure and unsettled about the prospect of ending back up in the controlling hands of the legal system as well as the consequences that would ripple through my personal life (with my roommates, my parents, my student loan lenders, etc.). My normal attitude about drugs (a conscientious rebel against fundamental human injustice/cognitive liberty advocate, fighting against a corruptly misguided system) felt like superficial posturing in the face of the very real threat of legal consequences I may face while engaged in so many illegal activities at once, and especially because of the indefensible and highly stigmatized nature of the sexual element. On top of it all, if I get in trouble, it wouldn't be because I was hurting people with my drug use, it would be because I, in earnest desperation to be a sane and beneficial member of society, sought alternative therapy to fill in the gaps where orthodox methods (of which I've diligently applied several) had failed.
Branching off of the fear of the legal system, I began to feel terrified about answering to other people's definitions of sanity, when so many people are profoundly damaged, misguided/corrupt and insane (clinically, emotionally, morally) themselves and, given the painful nature of dealing with one's honest inner world, so many people hide from facing how deeply damaged they are. I know I can scarcely trust myself on some of my mental health issues because my self-deception has gotten the best of me more times that I can count. Just the same, how can I trust anyone else, especially other people who haven't done at least the same amount of soul work (psychological exploration) I've done. I've been to multiple therapists, I was a devoted attendee of 12 step meetings, I lived in a Buddhist meditation center for 2 years, I'm working on my undergrad in psychology on the official side of the spectrum and I've been doing my own self-directed research in the field of psychology on the unofficial side of the spectrum since 2008 AND, of course, I'm a slightly more than casual psychonaut with a growing number of experiences devoted explicitly toward self-knowledge and healing. These thought processes and the ensuing anxiety and horror I began to feel in thinking like this led to the next bundle of emotional-cognitive territories.
I began to feel like I was on the verge of an emotional breakdown because I felt so completely overwhelmed by the responsibility of my life. I felt completely alone, helpless and entirely unable to seek legitimate help from anyone because they could only (at best) mislead me in their ignorance and further stunt me in my journey toward wholeness just by virtue of not having the answer themselves, or (at worst), they would vilify me and lock me away for good, taking away my responsibility (and my freedom) completely by institutionalizing me and leaving me to rot without any other concern than the protection of the “normal” law-abiding people who weren't straying too far from their economically viable social roles nor asking dangerous questions that challenged the status quo of consensus reality (established religion, science, morality, politics, etc.). I felt like I was completely unqualified and incapable of being in charge of my life but if I couldn't pull it together and figure my whole life out on my own, someone with power and authority would take my freedom away from me completely.
Finally, I ended up in the last bit of nightmarish emotional upheaval, feeling how desperately I needed to be taken care of- how much I was drowning in the wound of toxic self-reliance and responsibility. I wanted more than anything for ANYONE to be able to help me, to take care of me to give me the relief of not having to have all the answers and not be the one responsible for all of the mistakes I've made (and will continue to make) in simply learning how to live a healthy, honest and fulfilling life. As I was feeling all of this, viscerally, I wanted to bawl and scream and cry my eyes out because I could feel how deeply I was scarred by these traumas- I could tell that I'd unearthed a vast mine of repressed nightmares, horrors and unexpressed griefs, reaching all the way back through my childhood, having grown up unable to rely on my parents as either nurturers or role-models.
Again, in the Jungian sense, this was the crown jewel in the heart of my personal shadow, staring me directly in the face, with emotional presence unlike anything I'm normally able to achieve when I try to dig around in my old wounds in a sober state of consciousness. And yet, despite feeling like I could just reach out and touch those screaming wounds, I could feel a palpable psychic boundary surrounding the full extent of those feelings
despite feeling like I could just reach out and touch those screaming wounds, I could feel a palpable psychic boundary surrounding the full extent of those feelings
of pain, worthlessness, and horror. I couldn't, no matter how hard I tried, get a single tear to come to my eyes. It was like all of those feelings that should have been tearing my body apart with their raw, primal fury were rushing up against an invisible barrier, muffled so strongly that I could only feel vague intimations and suggestions of the true extent of the pain. I've run into the same emotional barriers on mushrooms and MDMA in trying to get to this particular goldmine of psychic damage and in combination with this experience, I'm beginning to wonder what good all of this drug-aided therapeutic work is really doing.
In some ways, I feel as if I've gained an unparalleled amount of clarity in my understanding of my woundedness through my psychonautical practice- seeing all of my various complexes and traumas in a more holistic and thorough light, but at the same time, I'm relatively certain that the exposure element (just feeling these horrible feelings I've spent years and years running from- earnestly grieving the nightmare that my childhood/adolescence really was) is the most needed element of healing I could experience. Over the years in recovery and the pursuit of healing, I've come to feel that so much of my unhealthy sexual patterns, my intimacy issues, my lack of identity, my power/authority issues (all of which, I'm coming to find are densely interconnected) are symptomatic fireworks on the surface of my psyche, distracting from (or altering like distress flares) the mountain of un-dealt-with trauma that permeates such a significant portion of my identity.
My trip faded out slowly in this general territory as I drifted to sleep. In reflecting on it now (the next day), I see how some of my fears and thought-processes were exaggerated by the potency of the drug. I'm also highly aware of the reality of the work I have ahead of me, though I feel encouraged by my progress so far.
(Tl;dr- my unresolved psychological traumas gave me a really intense ketamine trip and I didn't even make it all the way into a proper k-hole!)
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