Citation: Sophomoreslump. "Half Good Trip, Half Bad: An Experience with Mushrooms (exp112708)". Erowid.org. Jul 2, 2020. erowid.org/exp/112708
The first time I tripped, I mainly wanted the recreational experience. This time I planned to use it as a tool. My sophomore year of college was not going as I planned.
I had struggled in a major way with self-image issues and depression during my final year of high school, but freshman year of college I felt like a new person. At the end of that year, I kicked off the summer with my first trip. It was incredibly positive and through August I felt truly invincible.
However, once I returned to college sophomore year, I realized my mental state was less stable than previously thought. Highly susceptible to external conditions, I tumbled down a self-reinforcing spiral of self-deprecation, unwillingness to render myself vulnerable and socialize, increasing amounts of time spent on the internet…
I knew I needed to trip as soon as possible, as a recovery tool. I finally felt like I was in a positive enough place to handle shrooms during my spring break. As soon as I was home and away from school I felt much better. Of course, I was very aware of the lurking shroud of unhappiness that awaited me at the end of the week.
However, I felt assured that
1. Tripping would fix everything (or at least show me how to fix everything) once and for all, and so I shouldn’t be so worried about returning to school.
2. Ingesting shrooms was a portal into a wonderland. Bad trips, heard via word of mouth or read about, were the result of naïve individuals who paid no respect to “set and setting.”
Believing I was handling mushrooms with the reverence they deserved, I ensured that I would be in as perfect of a setting as possible. I made plans to camp, to be completely immersed in nature for 24 hours before tripping. Nature has always been the most comforting setting for me. I spent some of my favorites memories of my youth in the woods: hiking, exploring, sitting, talking. My first trip took place deep inside a National Park, and it was idyllic even before I began to trip.
Unfortunately, the plans I had made to camp with my friends were cancelled due to rain. My friends were unaffected. They didn’t feel nature held the same significance to the success of their trips, and were equally happy to hike a local mountain for the day. As I’ve said, the transition from college to home was a huge improvement in my mindset. Still, I was worried that simply being on a hike wouldn’t be enough to distance me from the stress and anxiety I felt in my everyday life.
I met the two friends I planned to trip with around nine in the morning. We divvied shrooms up on the scale, and I used 2.5g, the same amount I had during my first spectacular trip the previous year. I inserted the shrooms into my turkey, cheese, lettuce, and mayo sandwich.
As we began the hike up the mountain, which L assured us was straightforward and takes about an hour, M suggested we eat our shrooms-sandwiches. I explained that I didn’t want to start tripping while we still had a strenuous hike, and especially not if we weren’t in a place I could stop and sit down (I had spent the majority of my first trip sitting in a clearing, talking with friends, listening to music, and thinking).
Yet after about ten minutes of hiking, L and M ingested. I felt somewhat annoyed, mostly at the fact that they didn’t have to fine-tune their trip as much as I did. After about forty-five minutes, it was clear that L was feeling onset effects of the mushrooms, even if he claimed it was too subtle to be sure. Around this time it was also clear that we were lost.
I began to feel frustrated. This wasn’t supposed to happen. It was almost noon, and I had wanted to be done with my trip and down the mountain before it even started to get dark (I was worried darkness was another potential bad-trip trigger). Instead, I hadn’t even eaten my shrooms yet, and we didn’t know where we were.
Fortunately, we were able to get reception, and I found a trail map online. Once we determined where we were, I decided to stop indulging my anxiety and negativity, and to eat my sandwich. I was incredibly hungry, which may have played a part. My sandwich was delicious even with the bitter shrooms.
As we neared the top of the mountain, about half an hour after my sandwich, I began to feel the effects of the shrooms. I noticed the patterns of the trees, sunlight, and shadows. Enhanced, supersaturated, two-dimensional. I rubbed my fingers together, felt the supersensitive flickers of moisture, temperature, texture, and pleasure. As I began to move more and more autonomously, fully immersed in the nature around me, I marveled at the way my legs and feet effortlessly maneuvered up the rocks and dirt. I felt capable and experienced. I felt like a traveler returning to the site of complex and fantastic expedition, now with the knowledge that he was in control, and that he knew what to expect.
Like replaying a video game level. There’s the pit. There’s the monster. There’s the painting-like visuals. There’s the growing sense of calm as I navigate through familiar territory.
We passed a jogger coming down from the top of the mountain, and I could barely keep from exploding into laughter. When we reached the top, I looked out at the horizon. It was beautiful and enormous, but something was a little off. I lay down on the rocky ground and felt the grass between my fingers, used my supervision to inspect the intricate details of fallen leaves. It wasn’t like the first time as much as I would have liked, but I still felt happy and excited and sure that the shrooms were working. Unfortunately, M was sure that he wasn’t tripping at all, feeling as if he had simply taken a few hits off a joint. L said he had some visual distortion, but didn’t feel like he was really tripping the way he had before.
The fact that my friends weren’t tripping as hard as I was felt like a layer of comfort had been peeled off of my cocoon. Instead of sharing the experience, I felt alone. I also felt frustrated. How could the shrooms not be working for them? Either they just refused to admit they were tripping, or I must be exaggerating.
The next part is more difficult for me to remember. I think of it as the Transition. No, my trip had not yet replicated the perfection of my first trip, but it was still excellent. I felt calm, happy, and empowered. Yet over what must have been about fifteen minutes this slipped further and further away.
I told my friends I needed some time alone. I couldn’t articulate exactly what I was feeling, and I was terrified of saying aloud that I might be having a bad trip, for fear of making it real. I stumbled off, back the way we came, and wound up sitting beside some shrubbery. I made sure I could still see my friends, who I viewed as an anchor, but was far enough away that I could limit the amount of external stimuli I was exposed to.
It was at this point that I wrote in my journal, “Tripping very different from last time. It’s a ½ good ½ bad trip.” Teetering on the brink, I fought against anxiety and paranoia. In retrospect, I think part of the darkness was because of my anger that I wasn’t I feeling the confident euphoria of my first trip.
I don’t know how to describe the way the trip changed back to a positive experience. It was like tearing apart a wishbone. As much as I like to attribute the fact that I came away successful to my willpower, there was a good deal of luck involved. Somehow, I found myself accepting the reality of the situation, and then I wrote, “You have to be in a really good place to have a really good trip.” And like that, it was over. Fifteen minutes of purgatory, and then I was through.
After, there were some really beautiful moments. Sitting on the rocks with my friends, talking about how we wanted to drink that night, figuring out how to get a hold of alcohol. The absurdity of the world was never more apparent to me. It had been five years we had to develop an entire plan around drinking together. At this point we were halfway through college, we were grown. I was the wisest man in the world, and I couldn’t buy a bottle of vodka. It was so incredibly funny.
And the way I saw the day, just today, as this infinite blank space. We could do whatever we wanted. We were enjoying ourselves now, and we had a lot more time to spend on the mountain, and then we would go our separate ways in the evening, and then we would reconvene at night for another experience together. And that was just one day out of thousands more to come.
Ultimately I was glad to have tripped, even if it wasn’t heavenly and didn’t produce miraculous effects. Most productively, it taught me to be extremely honest with myself regarding an appropriately relaxed mindset to trip in.
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