Citation: Ginger. "Drifting Mind's Eye Hallucinations: An Experience with Diphenhydramine & Codeine (exp21708)". Erowid.org. Jun 25, 2007. erowid.org/exp/21708
Over the past few months, I've clocked up a fair amount of experience with diphenhydramine. I can't really say why - I've never found the experience to be particularly good. I guess it's a good way to just waste time, or to take a good break from the stresses of everyday life.
A bit of background: I'm a third year (university) student in the UK. For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by hypnagogic hallucinations - the strange non-sequitous thought patterns and ideas and sounds that pop in to my head as I fall asleep. Most people get them from time to time. I've been using Nytol to help me sleep on and off for a couple of years now, and I always noticed that it would provoke much more lucid and consistent hypnagogic hallucinations as I fell asleep under its influence. I investigated the active ingredient, diphenhydramine, on the internet and found (not much to my surprise) that it's something of a psychoactive in larger doses.
I'm going to describe two particularly significant experiences that I've had with the drug (out of about 7 or so), namely my first and my last, because they are particularly indicative of its nature. The first time I did it was in early December, 2002. I had come back from a class one dark Wednesday afternoon at about 5pm, and I had decided to do my first experiment with the drug then, because I didn't have anything else to do until the Thursday evening. I took 4 of the Nytol One-A-Night pills (50mg diphenhydramine each, making 200mg) and intended to take four more if I felt like it in about an hour. I sat down at the computer and played some games.
Unfortunately, after about 30 minutes, my friend G came in. Now when G gets started talking at me, he doesn't stop for some time, and this was no exception. I hadn't told any of my housemates about what I was doing, and I certainly didn't want to tell G there and then, so I talked to him for a while. Gradually, I began to feel quite stoned and detached from the world around me - quite a nice feeling, and inside myself I was quietly chuckling to myself about the amusing situation I'd landed myself in, descending into some trip while pretending to be totally sober.
Soon I could barely be bothered to talk back to G, and just ummed and erred. I was beginning to notice faint grey flickers coming out of objects and a subtle twitching in the periphery of my vision (this was about 90 minutes after taking the first dose).
Finally, G left. At some point during his visit, another friend, R, popped in and let me know that she'd be cooking dinner for us that night, which sounded good at the time. Anyway, as soon as G left, I took the next 4 Nytols, bringing my dose up to 400mg (albeit separated by about 2 hours). I was feeling really pretty stoned by this stage - the feeling was quite a pleasant detachment or 'padding' from the real world around me, and the twitching and flickering in my vision was mildly entertaining.
I lay down on my bed and closed my eyes. It didn't feel like I was in danger of falling asleep - it was as though I was already asleep with my eyes open, and closing them at this stage wouldn't make a difference. I needed to go to the toilet a couple of times, and found that I could walk just as normal (in fact at this low dose my coordination was almost unchanged, as a quick go at Street Fighter 2 confirmed) and there was not really any hint of the 'heavy limbs' that most people seem to report.
I remember a variety of hallucinations: I stared at the wall for a while at one point, and then realised after a few seconds that I was looking at a bright red and yellow spreadsheet. As soon as I noticed this, I was back to the wall again. I remember looking at the ceiling and seeing (and hearing!) loads of spiders crawling over it, but I wasn't at all bothered by them - I knew they were hallucinations, and I was impressed by how real they seemed. These seem to be the two types of hallucinations one gets on diphenhydramine: insects, both visual and auditory, and 'drifting mind's eye' hallucinations, where my thoughts wonder off into some dream-land that I *see* with my mind's eye, and I completely forget about/don't notice what Ií m looking at with my real eyes.
Anyway, after a while, my friend R came to tell me that dinner was ready but by this time, I felt there was absolutely no way I'd be able to socialise or eat, so I told her I was feeling really ill (I explained to her some weeks later what was had really happened). I eventually decided to get to bed properly at about 12 midnight, after been strewn across my bed for the past few hours. But the experience wasn't over. I woke up fairly early the next day feeling really quite refreshed (I would've expected to be knocked out for ages on that dose of sleeping pills, but it didn't seem to be a problem). I got up and got something to eat. I had to go to a special dinner later that day, but as the day wore on, I started realising that I wasn't feeling normal at all. In fact, I gradually began to feel more and more anxious until I was teetering on the brink of a full-blown panic attack.
I kept changing my mind about whether I was going to call in sick for this dinner, or actually go. I really didn't want to deal with anyone at all. In the end, I decided to go, and once I'd got a few drinks in me, I ended up calming down and having a really great time.
Now I should say that I was on anti-depressants at the time (Efexor) and this may have had something to do with the panic attack. I have, however, noticed that nearly every time I've done large doses of diphenhydramine, the next day has, quite subtley, been hell. It's either panic attacks, or complete and utter miserable apathy for *everything*. Even though I knew to expect it on several of the later experiments, it's been so subtle yet so overwhelming that it's very hard to attribute the depression or anxiety to the diphenhydramine. Occasionally, the symptoms can continue on into the next day.
Ok, now I was pretty happy after this first experience. I felt that I had taken a risk with a new drug and it had paid off. I had had an experience which could have been pretty unpleasant, but it had turned out to be pretty interesting and fun, so I wanted to do it again soon. I did it several more times over the Christmas break and after new year, but the most important experience was my last one, which was the biggest dose and most dramatic.
I'd begun to play around with extracted codeine since new year, and wanted to see what would happen if I took the codeine under the influence of diphenhydramine. I hoped that it would add a happy color to the otherwise emotionally bland open-eye dreams of diphenhydramine. It was 12 midday one saturday in mid february. I had taken to crushing up the Nytol tablets and mixing them into some water, to get them to take effect more quickly, and this I did with 14 tablets, bringing the dose to 700mg, the largest I'd done. I waited for about 40 minutes for the familiar stonedness to come on, and downed the bitter codeine solution (8 pills of 8mg each went into the extraction - not sure how much codeine made it into the final solution, but this would normally be enough to get me pleasantly high). I remember it was, even at this stage, hard to read and write, such was my memory loss.
The typical diphenhydramine effects came in - the vision twitches, red and green blobs shifting and twitching around on all the plain surfaces. For the first time, I noticed that my arms were getting heavy as many people had previously reported. My throat got dry and swallowing became hard, but none of this was bothering me yet. Then there are two notes in my log:
can'r remember whati wsa goingto say
hearing hynsect noise in my'mm
Now the next thing I remember, I opened my eyes to find myself sitting on the floor with vomit dripping off my thigh onto the floor. I looked over to see that my chair had fallen over on its side, and the computer keyboard was dangling by its chord off the edge of the desk. For some reason, the chair didn't surprise me at all but I was a little afraid that the keyboard's chord might have been damaged in the fall, so I put it back on the desk and checked it still worked, after cleaning up the vomit.
I faintly remember, probably from when I had my eyes closed, that my friend F was knocking on the door and calling my name. He later told me that he had heard a huge crashing noise in my room (presumably me falling off the chair). I didn't think to answer the door, though.
Anyway, I changed out of my vomit dirtied clothes and got in to bed. I cannot remember a single thing from the rest of that day, and very little of that weekend at all...
Well that's pretty much put me off diphenhydramine for good. While I sometimes think about doing it again, that complete memory loss bothers me. I was never afraid of what happened, and am still not now, but I've decided that the diphenhydramine experience is really not that pleasant. I've had my affair with it, and it's time for it to end.
I remember several times on experiences that I felt very frustrated because there was *nothing to do*. I didn't have the memory necessary for reading or writing. I didn't want to talk. I was bored of computer games. Music wasn't interesting, and certainly not improved. And worst of all, and really pay attention to this: I cannot sleep on a high dose of diphenhydramine. It's incredible that a drug that is such an effect sleep aid at 50mg can make me so utterly, frustratingly, tediously restless at higher doses. I can try to lie down and close my eyes, but my calf, bicep and jaw muscles will need constant flexing (and there is a fair amount of bruxism in the experience normally). I guess that's the main thing I want to say about this: diphenhydramine experiences are frustrating tedious; I really need to have a working memory to be able to enjoy anything.
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