Citation: Xenoc. "Suddenly, I Was Seeing Bugs Everywhere: An Experience with Sleep Deprivation, Dextroamphetamine, MDMA, Nitrous Oxide & Zopiclone (exp28943)". Erowid.org. Jan 17, 2004. erowid.org/exp/28943
I could easily drag this report into pages and pages full of details about what I saw and how I felt, but I will try to keep this reasonably short.
To begin, my work is very intense at times. During release phases, I have often had to work 85-100 hour weeks in order to meet deadlines. As I'm sure many could guess, amphetamine abuse [dextroamphetamine] to achieve these superhuman hours was common. At the time of this experience, I had been up for what I estimate to be approximately 4 days. However, I will say that my knowledge of the event is very spotty... much of what I will say in the following paragraphs is pieced together from the information I have received from others.
This experience occurred while I was out of town visiting a friend at his apartment. The timeline of what happened is very mismatched in my head, but I will point out that the most noticeable negative symptoms that I recall were basically mini schizophrenic episodes, something I'd describe as being in two places at once, or more accurately flipping between two or more realities involuntarily, which, from what I'm told, resulted in me saying some very strange stuff to my friends at inappropriate times.
In all my research I will say that I believe the substance at fault is MDMA. I know I took a much higher dose than I ever have before, although I do not remember this. What I have decided is that I was taking it and then forgetting I took it, taking more, forgetting I took it, taking it... ad infinitum. It was very common at this point for me to completely lose track of short-term memory. At some point I took a sleeping pill, Zopiclone, which is chemically similar to Ambien (Zolpidem). I would say this did nothing but worsen the situation if anything.
This was nothing, however, compared to what was about to happen. I was pretty much worthless, at least from a judgment standpoint, at this time. I should have gone to sleep, I'm sure.
It seemed like a 15 minute window, but who knows -- I was okay, albeit rolling and stupid and schizo, but otherwise okay, and then suddenly, I was seeing bugs everywhere. Thousands of them, around every corner, on every surface -- every object morphed into some sort of malicious insect. This was something I managed to endure for several hours before really freaking out. I knew it wasn't real, but it was so visually terrifying that it was hard to keep my cool. The turning point was upon doing a whippet (nitrous oxide)... like I said, my judgement was gone. I had felt my sanity slipping and for some reason I thought nitrous would help -- who knows why.
I recall watching the spiders on the bed nearby as I inhaled the gas -- and as soon as I felt the whippet, I watched them begin to multiply and spawn and grow larger and move faster. I ripped the balloon out of my mouth and started smacking the bed with it, I'm told: it was at this point was when my sense of reality started to slip.
On a side note, I have had other hallucinogenic experiences -- I think anyone who has knows the dream-like quality of trips... it's distinct, and as far as memories go, it is one clear way to distinguish drug-induced experiences from reality. The noteworthy element of this experience was its *utter lack* of the dreamlike feeling. There was literally no deviation from reality that could provide any sort of indication that what I was seeing was not real. It looked real, it felt real, and my mind regards it as real, despite the fact that I know it wasn't. I believe the obvious conclusion, since none of the substances I ingested are known to induce such acute hallucinations, is that this was a psychotic episode, more specifically a case of amphetamine psychosis. This type of psychosis is often described as short-term paranoid schizophrenia, which basically describes my experience perfectly.
Anyway, it was clear from this point forward that the frightening nature of my surroundings was directly correlated with how frightened I was. It got progressively worse as I got more and more terrified -- at a certain point I would actually say I went into shock, for I had come to terms with watching spiders grow out of my skin as something I could not do anything about, and was 'beyond fear' if that makes any sense. I had not become desensitized, but the opposite, activating the body's natural defense mechanisms, which turned off my sensation of acute terror.
The experience became progressively more and more intense. I know there are several occasions that my mind has suppressed. I have learned of these from those who were following me around the apartment as I sprayed clear coat paint all over the place (thinking I was killing bugs with bug spray) and yelled nonsensical things to the tune of 'why me' and 'when is it going to stop', etc. I recall that I started to see ghost-like figures, stationary, watching me, some menacing, some not.
The general theme of the experience was basically as such: No matter what I did or where I hid -- there was something terrifying right there with me, and these things became increasingly awful. There was no safety, not even in my girlfriend's arms, who I apparently pushed forcefully into a wall because I saw a bug with wings on her back. I have literally no memory of this at all, but she was scared to be around me after that, from what she told me.
This is not to say that there wasn't an element of fascination to all of this. No drug could ever rival this sort of trip -- if one could harness the contents of my subconscious and make them into a movie, they'd have an instant blockbuster. I saw horrors that make Aliens seem like a movie for children.
Eventually, I was taken to the hospital. It had been approximately eight hours of pure terror. I no longer could make the distinction between reality and psychosis-induced visuals. I spent minutes on end trying to convince the doctor there was a worm growing out of my leg. Oddly enough, I calmed down in the hospital and the visions started to disappear. Upon regaining a bit of my sanity, I realized that I thought these things were real, but I couldn't figure out how I had convinced myself of this. It was a very peculiar feeling.
Sleep was all I needed, I guess. I slept for 3 hours in the hospital bed, and upon waking up the visuals were basically gone.
This experience will never leave me, however. It's been 6 months and I still harbor paranoid fears of insects and spiders. Additionally, I acquired a mild case of HPPD (Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder), often seeing floaters or after-images burnt into my vision -- and on the rare occasions that I stay awake all night, this worsens: objects begin to creep around in my peripheral vision, walls have 'crawling' surfaces, etc. From what I understand, this may be with me my whole life -- but it really isn't bad enough to inhibit my ability to live -- just enough to never let me forget. I'll probably never touch E again... no euphoria could ever be worth this kind of living nightmare.
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