Citation: Thomas. "Testing the Waters, Dipping Into the Void: An Experience with Psilocybe cubensis (Amazonian) (exp112388)". Erowid.org. Sep 25, 2018. erowid.org/exp/112388
*This is an edited and heavily elaborated version of a report of my first experience with dried psilocybin mushrooms that I shared on an online forum.
My own background:
I am a 23 year-old art student. I have been interested in psychedelics (especially psilocybin, mescaline and DMT) since I was an early teenager. During my teens I have luckily been wise enough to refrain from trying these substances, as I felt it would be irresponsible, given that my brain was still developing (and not being reasonably sure that I didn't have any severe latent mental disorders).
I did let curiosity get the best of me with regards to cannabis when I was 15, but that experience quickly taught me that I was indeed still much too young and irresponsible to experiment with mind-altering substances. Still ignorant of the significance of dosage, I smoked what must have been about 0.5 grams or more of very potent, high THC/low CBD ''Bubble Gum'' strain Dutch cannabis. I had a full-on hallucinatory experience that was way beyond my expectations, and that I frankly could not handle. I was already a sensitive person inclined towards anxiety, and this experience triggered a 1-2 year long bout of generalized anxiety that involved daily panic attacks and near-constant depersonalization. With time and enough research, I learned how to get out of it (mainly by letting go), and managed to recover fully by the time I was 18.
Since cannabis was so prevalent around me at the time, it was around this age (18) that I experimented with daily cannabis smoking for a few months at a time, both for recreation and as self-medication for sleeping troubles, with nearly no ill-effects. I had grown up, learned how to control my anxiety, and understood the significance of dosage (and the importance of a higher CBD content as opposed to merely THC).
By the time I was 19 I quit altogether though. I had started to consider it a waste of time and money, and fell deeply in love with a girl who never was too much into it. She never asked or demanded me to quit, but it somehow didn't feel right to me anymore. Looking back, on some level I was 'addicted' to this person. She provided me with insight, wonder and happiness that I had never experienced up until that moment. We moved in together after a year or so.
Aside from the occasional drinking that most people my age do, I then lost all interest in psychoactive substances for a couple of years. I simply studied and lived together with the aforementioned person. We broke up about a year ago when I was 22 though, which was an intensely traumatic experience for me, as it did not go smoothly at all and involved a lot of toxic and hurtful behavior from both sides.
The following year I had been slowly recovering, but I still avoided her or any memory of her as much as possible, which isn't exactly healthy. I also lost a lot of my motivation to make art, and felt rather disillusioned, dull and grey in general. I did try daily meditation for a couple of months, and it did help, but not quite as much as I would have liked.
This is when my interest in psychedelics kind of started to resurface. When I was a teenager these substances were more interesting from an artistic, mystical and recreational point of view, but now I started looking at them from a more therapeutic perspective.
I feel that I have recently been on the way up again, feeling more inspired, social and hopeful, and even capable of entering a new relationship again, rather than hopping from one fling to the other as I had been doing earlier. But still I feel as if I could use a good resetting of my brain. I have been looking for a way to work through the trauma of this messy breakup, of my negative thought patterns, of my lack of ambition... a way to rediscover a child-like appreciation of the beautiful things in life.
Me and 3 friends had decided to go tripping together already a month before, but because of troubles scheduling it took a long time to make it happen, and even then the event nearly didn't go through - one person got sick, and yet another barely slept. Because of this, the person who had recently been sick decided to stay as a sober sitter, and the person who barely slept napped a bit longer before we all met, which sort of gave the whole thing a somewhat hasty feeling. We'd all been wanting to do it for so long that there was something of a ''let's get it over with'' feeling, I think.
The idea was to take the mushrooms around 4pm or so, after meeting at 1pm and doing some chatting and having tea and meditating and what have you - but we ended up meeting at 4:30pm and already taking the mushrooms around 5:30pm. Not a big deal, but I personally mostly missed some more time to relax and perhaps to prepare some food for during and after the trip and whatnot. I just somehow felt a tad rushed.
We were at my friend's balcony, which was somewhat shaped like a little shed. It was a very cosy place, with removable glass windows that we kept closed, as it was beautifully rainy and stormy. We had a nice view of a little forest, and plenty of fresh fruits available, as well as music.
One friend ate 1.5 grams of amazonian cubensis, one ate 0.5 grams of thai cubensis, and I ate a meagerly 0.3 grams of amazonian cubensis, as the grower himself told me that since it was my first time it would be good to make sure I'm not overly sensitive, and to take more after an hour if I notice little effects. Looking back I somewhat regret listening to this. (The taste was incredibly neutral by the way - I had no problem eating the mushrooms as-is.)
After about half an hour I noticed an increased sharpness and appreciation of beauty in my vision, and I was feeling very giggly and emotionally exposed. My hands and feet also felt incredibly cold. Every single object or song had the capacity of transforming my mood quite radically. It was mostly very mild and positive at this point. I really enjoyed petting my friend's dog, who seemed like some kind of kind, wise, natural creature - much more emotionally mature than any human. It was nice to get lost in his fur, or to look at the beautiful patterns the wind created in the trees.
However, the friend who ate 0.5 of the (apparently incredibly strong) thai cubensis started tripping very soon after eating - she got intense visuals already after only half an hour, and was taken by surprise by the body load. She had lots of experience taking LSD, and wasn't expecting psilocybin to be so different. And this is where things started to go a little bit south for me, as I saw her as a bit of a psychedelic guide or authority of sorts, and hearing her say stuff like 'Is this normal? I only took so little!' and 'I feel like I'm dying' and seeing her stare at us with this absolutely horrified look on her face was not at all good for my own mental state.
My other friend who took the 1.5 grams had been very calm and giggling with me, but at this point, about an hour in, she decided to put earbuds in and isolate herself in her room with her dog. At this point our sober sitter was taking care of the other friend who was clearly having some difficulties and was constantly comparing everything to LSD and saying that LSD was much more fun and much better and what have you. I found this to be rather irritating, and I actually felt like I was having some difficulties myself at this point, but since my friend was in so much deeper I felt she needed the attention of our sober friend much more.
since my friend was in so much deeper I felt she needed the attention of our sober friend much more.
This is when I really started to feel more and more seasick, 'poisoned' and feverish. I also started to have a strange change in my perception where I felt as if I was an incredibly tiny creature. My friends and all of my surroundings started to feel like giant skyscraper-sized objects towering over me, as I was lying down. I felt incredibly anxious, nauseous, painful, and profoundly alone. I started to slip into a thought loop of feeling like I'd never related to anyone, that I hadn't had a 'best friend' in ages, that I'm not even sure if I'm that close with my own girlfriend, et cetera, et cetera. Having been an agnostic my entire life, I felt nothing religious, and just slipped back into these horrific childhood feelings of intense nothingness. When I was a child I often had trouble sleeping and had these strange obsessive thoughts about death and infinity, that I thought I was over by now.
I felt like I was the void. A completely cold, mechanical void. My life merely seemed like one of billions or even trillions - completely irrelevant, superficial, and meaningless. I felt as if I was dead, and as if my life was the most boring movie that I was somehow simply forced to suffer through. I couldn't just turn my own life off - I was doomed to suffer through the most trashy, superficial, meaningless reality show that I didn't have the slightest interest in watching, until I would die. It's hard to describe that feeling of being in this void. I'm not sure if it was actually some half-way ego death and the remnants of my ego were still strong enough to make it uncomfortable as it was trying to hold on, perhaps. Either way it felt like I was in limbo.
It is important to note I didn't notice any particularly classically 'trippy' effects at this point, all the discomfort was mainly in my body and in my feelings - my vision and hearing was relatively normal. There were no fractals, no breathing walls, or anything like that. I just felt like I was melting, and I experienced a bit of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome with everything seeming incredibly huge. The main discomfort was in my own dysphoria. I felt so profoundly meaningless, hollow and alone...
Luckily, my sober friend started talking to me, and I gradually started to feel a human connection again. I was still rather anxious and uncomfortable, but it no longer felt like the hellish halfway-void that I was experiencing just moments before. I started sobering up soon after, and spent most of the evening still feeling very mixed and tense, but after I went back home, talked to my girlfriend and went to bed, I felt oddly cleansed and calm. The 'main' part of the experience was surprisingly short, maybe about 2 hours only. The come-up and come-down were barely noticeable.
After-effects, insights and intentions for the future:
It is currently around 11PM on the day after the trip as I'm typing this, and I must say I feel quite fine. I've enjoyed walking around, and seem to feel an increased appreciation of nature. Earlier today I still felt a little tense and anxious, but I don't regret the experience by any means.
There's a few things that weren't ideal in my opinion: I think I took much too low of a dose, one that was annoyingly in-between and made me overly analytical of my body and my sensations. I was constantly wondering if I was tripping or not, and this kind of state feels rather conducive to panic and anxiety.
I was constantly wondering if I was tripping or not, and this kind of state feels rather conducive to panic and anxiety.
If I had taken a higher dose I would have just accepted that I was tripping and I don't think I would have been analyzing it so much. I also think the group was too big, looking back. There were too many people doing different things, and it was distracting. Finally I realized that I really shouldn't let others be in control of the music. It is much too important and personal. I wanted to listen to classical music, or organic, funny and ambient synthesizers, but instead my friends were playing rather tinny, autotuned, generic poppy music that felt incredibly inappropriate to me for the occasion. Especially in my sensitive halfway-tripping state it was quite irritating.
I mainly learned a lot about how to handle mushrooms, how they strip me of any emotional defenses, and about group dynamics and how to be more vocal about my own needs. I definitely did not go nearly deep enough for any lasting positive changes, and I have a feeling that if the experience had lasted longer I could have investigated the negative feelings a bit further. In the future I should probably also keep my therapeutic goals in mind a bit more before tripping, as I feel that I had somehow kind of forgotten why I was trying this. Although of course the therapeutic intention was the biggest reason, there was also a significant element of simple curiosity involved.
As for now, I will take a couple of weeks off to give my body and mind some rest, and try again later at a higher dose, probably around 1.5 grams, in a better setting. Ideally I'd have just one sober sitter, my own music, and just no rush during the day itself.
All in all the experience was an interesting and gentle dip into the world of psilocybin, having had a taste of both the positive and the negative. I can definitely see the therapeutic potential - I just need to change some parameters a bit to bring that potential out some more. I have a strong feeling this won't be my last venture into the healing world of psychedelics.
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