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Pure and Consuming Terror
by nerl
Citation:   nerl. "Pure and Consuming Terror: An Experience with LSD (exp116144)". Mar 9, 2022.

1 hit oral LSD (blotter / tab)
This story starts in my bedroom, a fairly cold, damp and small space. It wasn't the best room, but it was mine and I loved it. At the time I had been having a hard couple of weeks with my mental health, suffering from some fairly severe anxiety and stress issues. I have suffered with anxiety all of my grown life, but it gets more severe during times of high stress. At the time work was very stressful. In addition, my country was under strict social restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All these factors combined make for a very bad situation to be taking psychedelics, but at the time I underestimated the power of LSD and did not respect it as I should have.

I decided in the morning to take some of the LSD I had bought online a few months ago, after a particularly difficult night. This was motivated by past positive experiences I have had with psychedelics (mostly psilocybin), which had really changed my world view and helped a lot with my longer term mental health issues. I was aiming to get some clarity on the causes for my anxieties
I was aiming to get some clarity on the causes for my anxieties
, and potentially to access some difficult truths that I was in denial about that I could use to improve my mental health.

I took the tab (unknown strength) in the late morning, as I knew LSD lasts a long time and I wanted it to be done at a reasonable time for sleeping. I stuck it on my tongue and let it sit for a while, then chewed it up and swallowed. At the time I didn't think much of it, I just watched some miscellaneous videos on my computer.

+1h00 I was starting to feel the effects. I felt a bit "wobbly" and strange, and the music I was listening to at the time started to really feel very intense and almost take over my mind. At this point I would describe the feeling as fairly positive. I put on some of my favourite music on my phone and went to lie down on my bed and listen to it. I was still alone in my room. I lived in a shared household at the time, and my plan was largely to keep to myself - I hadn't informed anyone else I was going to be tripping.

+3h00 I had been listening to the music for a long time, and had been really entranced by it. I was experiencing intense visuals which were very geometrical and consisted of thousands of infinitely tessellating fractals. It was really very beautiful but also incredibly intense. At this point I felt inspired to go and create some art, so I got out my sketchpad and a pen and started jotting down endless geometric patterns, combined with many many human eyes. I was just allowing my brain to take the wheel with the drawing, almost moving the pen on autopilot slowly. At some point I went to the toilet as I had been drinking a lot of water and it was making its way through me. I remember feeling a bit anxious about this as I didn't want my housemates to notice my state, and the bathroom felt very creepy to be in. I think I was stuck in the bathroom for about 15 minutes as I was struggling to function properly. I continued with the drawing for around half an hour and then headed back to bed to listen to some relaxing music as I felt a little overwhelmed.

+4h00 I don't remember much of what happened between the drawing and now, but I remember this very vividly. I sat on the corner of my bed, and suddenly out of nowhere I just "knew" that I was dead. I was suddenly, 100%, unequivocally convinced that I had died in my bed and I was now experiencing some sort of afterlife. At this point I was still experiencing strong visuals but they were almost in the background of my mind as a feeling of sheer panic set in. My perception of time slowed down to a sheer standstill and I was completely overwhelmed by anxiety. I was shaking and sweating. I looked at myself in the mirror in my room, and it felt like I was looking at someone else. I kind of knew logically that it was me, but it didn't feel like me - it's hard to explain. I felt completely dissociated from my body, and my physical form felt more like a curiosity. At this point I was completely and utterly out of my depth.

+4h15 From now on I was just in a state of complete living nightmare. I went and sat in a spot in my room where the heating unit was, leaning against it and covering myself in a blanket. The physically sensation of heat was giving me a very faint kind of grounding, but I still was 100% convinced that I was not alive and that this was me forever now.
The physically sensation of heat was giving me a very faint kind of grounding, but I still was 100% convinced that I was not alive and that this was me forever now.

+5h30 At this point I had just been sitting against the heater for around 1h (these times are vague estimates as my perception of time was very warped, everything was incredibly slow). I was trying to calm myself down by watching random calming videos on YouTube and eating some snacks. However I was still in a state of complete fear and panic. I cannot even describe this feeling, it is completely incomparable to any level of fear I have ever experienced in my life. I did not fear death, I feared the infinity of potential suffering that could exist. I feared the feeling of experiencing this fear for an eternity, and being unable to ever escape it - I could not even kill myself to end it, as I was already dead. My poor brain had just completely melted into a soup of one pure, raw emotion - fear. My vision was completely tunneled, I was shaking and my legs were spasming. I would imagine my heart rate was high at this point but I did not check. I periodically checked myself in the mirror to check if my pupils were dilated and almost try convince myself that I was high, but I still could not shake the absolute certainty of the feeling that I was dead. In fact, at this point I had the feeling that I had died 1000 times over, and I'm not even sure what that means or where that came from.

+9h00 At this point I had been stuck in a cycle of lying in bed, leaning against my heater, and occasionally using my computer to access some relaxing/nature based videos to try and soothe myself. I was urinating very frequently as I had been drinking a very high amount of water as I for some reason felt like it would help me. In hindsight, I may have given myself some mild form of hyponatremia which would have only added to my negative experience. Every time I went to the toilet I was terrified, I found the room so so scary as it was very dark and dingy, and also it did not feel private from my housemates. I had severe anxiety about my housemates finding out about everything when they came into my room and found my body. I think this situation of being alone and feeling worried about others finding out about the trip was a major cause of all the anxiety I experienced during this trip.

The visuals were largely over at this point, with just some residual minor disturbances to my vision. This however did not give me any mental relief. I still felt like I was dead and I had been sent to hell. This hell for me was experiencing this feeling of completely overwhelming anxiety forever. The anxiety fed anxiety about being anxious, and formed a vicious cycle that I did not have the mental fortitude to break.

+18h Not much changed over the 9hours from the last paragraph. I felt completely overwhelmed by fear and was stuck in a constant loop of the bathroom, my bed, the heater, and trying to sooth myself with various online resources. At this point I had not had any human contact in around 24hours or more and I felt completely insane. I did not feel like this experience would ever end. I researched the duration of LSD (I had done this beforehand too, I was at least always fairly responsible with research) and saw that I was well over the expected duration for intense effects. In hindsight, I was no longer really tripping (except for some minor after effects), but I was in fact trapped in what was at this point essentially a ~14h nonstop panic attack.
I was in fact trapped in what was at this point essentially a ~14h nonstop panic attack.
I was completely exhausted but completely unable to sleep, my mind was running at 10000km/h and only focused on these things: I was dead, I was insane, I was terrified. Time was passing incredibly slowly as I was in a constant state of fight or flight.

It was now very early morning of the next day and I needed to urinate again. This time I decided I simply could not face going into the bathroom so I grabbed a blanket and rolled it up and left the house. It was raining outside, and I walked ~2km to a park (not the nearest park at all, just one I remembered from a few years back). I had intended to sit in the park with the blanket, but when I got there I realised this made no sense. I climbed up a muddy slope into some trees in the park (nearly slipping many times as the ground was wet) and urinated in the bushes. I stood there for maybe 15 more minutes and then headed back home. It took me a while to get back home, and when I did I went straight back to my bedroom. The experience of being outside was a bit nicer as the cold rain was a bit grounding, but at this point I felt so completely disconnected from my body that I felt like I was playing a 3rd person video game. When back in my room, I started to get more worried about how I was feeling and started to think about options.

+20h At this point I felt like I had three options:
1) Jump out of my bedroom window and see what happened. It was high enough to kill me, but I was convinced I was already dead, so I wasn't sure what would happen.
2) Go outside and call and ambulance. This was terrifying to me though as I was worried that if I was alive they would strap me down in a mental asylum and I would be trapped in this state of mind forever as I would never have the opportunity to end my life, which was far preferable to feeling like this until I died of old age.
3) Ask my friends or parents for help.

I knew at this point that I was not in a mental place or strong enough to do anything on my own. I had some points where I felt a little more connected with reality, and some less. Pervasive throughout this whole experience was the continuing pure terror.

+20h30 I decided that I did not want to jump out of my window as something very primal inside me (I guess my survival instinct) was against this, even though it felt logical at the time to do it. I then decided to throw out all of my illegal substances and go outside and call an ambulance. However when I got outside to call the ambulance, the fear of being imprisoned in an insane asylum forever was too overwhelming and after thinking about it for around half an hour I returned to my bedroom.

+21h30 At this point after thinking some more I decided that I had to speak to my housemate. I went out and found him and explained what was happening to him. At the time I had a very strong feeling that he did not really exist, and was just a figment of my imagination, but I figured there was no harm in speaking to him. He was helpful and comforted me but did not really know how to handle the situation. We watched some stuff on TV but I had trouble concentrating due to my mind being consumed by anxiety. I repeatedly asked my housemate to reassure me that he was real, and he did (and reassured me I would be fine), but I still assumed that this is just what the version of him that existed in my own personal hell would say to trick me. I was feeling slightly more relaxed having had some human contact, but still a solid 9/10 on the scale of fear.

+24h After sitting my with housemate for a few hours I realised that this was not going to cut it. He tried to convince me to go to hospital, but I was strongly against it due to the aforementioned fears. I instead opted to call my parents, however I had to get him to explain what happened on the phone as I was sobbing too much and felt completely paralyzed and unable to speak. My parents were very concerned and agreed to come and get me and take me home with them.

+28h At this point I had survived the journey home with my parents, who were mostly just worried about me at this point. I was finally starting to calm down as I was able to notice more that my trip was coming to an end and that as the anxiety started to fade I started to feel more normal. I eventually finally managed to sleep for a bit.

I will end the time based prompts here and talk a bit more about the aftermath. For a few days after this experience, I struggled getting to sleep at all. Any slight thought about the nature of reality would trigger these feelings of me being dead and everything being not real and part of my personal hell again. I felt very dissociated from my body for this period. I had little appetite, and did not have that many bodily sensations in general. These were I guess just the aftermath of the extremely long panic attacks and traumatic experience. Over the course of the next few days, the recurrent panic attacks became less frequent and severe. At first I had to sleep in the same bed as someone else, but after around 3 days I started being able to sleep alone.

For the first week or so afterwards I had to have someone in the same building as me at all times or I would immediately have a panic attack (for the first 3-4 days they had to be in the same room). Over the course of the next few weeks I built up confidence being alone in a room and/or building for longer periods of time, until I could spend large portions of the day alone. I went to the doctor's and was prescribed medication to help me sleep and help with anxiety. I also started therapy after a couple of weeks.

The trauma of the experience caused me to develop some agoraphobia. As previously mentioned, this started off being a matter of being unable to be alone in any capacity. After a few weeks, it was more just a case of struggling to go outside. After a month I was able to go outside on my own for some period of time, but still struggled with public and busy places. Over the course of the next few months I gained confidence with being able to live more independently.

Over the course of the next year, I gradually conquered the agoraphobia and panic attacks. After around 6 months I was capable of living independently and was able to move out. I still had a few lapses where I had to travel back to my parents for a few weeks, but these became less frequent and severe until they stopped occurring about a year after the initial experience.

To this day I still suffer with a very mild form of agoraphobia to do with being in places which are very far away from home, or civilisation, but I am confident I will conquer this too with time.
I am confident I will conquer this too with time.

This experience completely changed my life. It was traumatic and I would never wish it on anyone. I would urge everyone to respect the power of these drugs and make sure they take them only in a safe and good space, and make sure they have a plan for if the trip heads south. In hindsight I have gained some positive things from it - my capacity for handling traumatic experiences is much much higher now, and it forced me to come clean to my parents about my lifelong mental health issues and seek traditional treatment for these.

I still have occasionally moments of panic and writing this was very difficult as it caused me to relive some of these memories. The feeling of being alive and reality "existing" gradually came back, but took a long time to be something that didn't bother me. I still have no proof that I am alive, or that anything exists - but I have the philosophy that it does not matter, as I am capable of enjoying whatever my existence may be. If I am stuck in a personal hell, it's not so bad! I have quite a lot of fun and my life is pretty enjoyable these days. For anyone who has experienced anything like this, it does get better - and please be open with those who care about you and let them help you heal. Life can be great, even if this takes a year or so from you.

Exp Year: 2021ExpID: 116144
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: 21
Published: Mar 9, 2022Views: 6,386
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LSD (2) : Alone (16), Therapeutic Intent or Outcome (49), Post Trip Problems (8), Bad Trips (6)

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