Citation: Anne Coulter. "I Was Awake for the Nightmares: An Experience with Zolpidem (Ambien), Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) & Valerian (exp76645)". Erowid.org. Jul 20, 2021. erowid.org/exp/76645
Current medications: 300mg Wellbutrin, 30mg Adderall XR.
Previous recreational drug experience: Marijuana, Salvia, Mushrooms, MDMA, MDA, LSD, LSA, Painkillers (various), downers (various), DXM, Benadryl, uppers (various), Ambien.
At that time I thought that my pervious recreational Benadryl use had given me enough experience to be able to comfortably deal with deliriants. It did not come close to preparing me for this.
Set: I was tired from the day but still slightly amped from the Adderall that I had taken a little after noon. In the previous week or so I had been having bizarre and very disturbing dreams that I believe reflected my general frustration with the fact that my life had not been going as planned. I was very depressed and had recently dropped out of college after my first semester, despite a 3.9 GPA. A few months prior to this experience, I had been hospitalized for an amphetamine overdose (in retrospect I’m not so sure if it was entirely accidental).
Setting: Thursday night, around eleven o’clock, my room in the suburbs of an insulated northeastern college bubble town.
Note: chronology is an estimate
I wanted to go to sleep but could not because of the Adderall. I decided to take one of my mom’s Ambien to help me get to sleep.
11:00 Ingested 1, 10 mg Ambien pill.
I sat at my computer in my room and read articles on Wikipedia, waiting for the effects to come on. I don’t know why I did not go to bed, maybe I already knew what I was going to do. After a few minutes a kid I had met at school before I dropped out IMed me and we started conversing.
11:20 I began to feel very mildly sedated. I noticed that typing required more effort and thought. Instead of being able to rely on muscle memory I had to consciously tell my fingers which keys to push and I had a little trouble following the conversation.
11:30 I was definitely feeling more heavily sedated. I started feeling slightly dissociated, almost like a very low level DXM trip with fewer visual distortions. I thought to myself that I would probably go to bed soon. I also experienced a little numbness, and even forgot that I was holding a cup of water a few times.
I looked up from typing for a second and as I did, I realized that depth perception and perspective in general seemed a little off. Nothing major, it just seemed a bit like the lines of perspective did not all go to the same vanishing point, like in a Picasso but to a much lesser degree. It is at this point that I decided that I didn’t really feel like going to sleep, I decided to experiment a bit (famous last words?)
Valerian, I had used it before in combination with Melatonin and Vitamin B6 for dream potentiation and I remembered it being very mildly psychedelic and giving faint tracers especially in darkness. I also remembered that I still had some Valerian root extract left over from my investigations. Perfect. I went to my medicine cabinet and got 5, 450mg capsules out.
11:30 Ingested 5, 450mg capsules of Valerian root extract.
While in my bathroom I noticed a bottle of generic diphenhydramine HCl. I had used Benadryl recreationally in the past on numerous occasions and I remembered strange deliriant like hallucinations with higher doses. “What the hell?” I thought, “I’m already abusing two nontraditional last resort drugs” I was feeling like a crack head anyway and so I just did it. I already had a bit of a tolerance from recently abusing Benadryl but I knew that I was about to feel the Valerian so I only took 100mg.
11:30 Ingested 4, 25 mg pills diphenhydramine HCl.
I walked back to my room, now feeling nervous. I lay down on my bed and waited. I knew quite a bit about pharmacological chemistry, psychology, and cognitive science (while at home I had been taking several classes at a nearby university including a graduate level human cognition class) and I knew myself, so I suspected that some very uncomfortable feelings would come up during this “trip.” After a few minutes of lying there waiting, out of some weird subconscious masochist need I decided then and there that tonight was going to be intense, terrifying but intense. I got up and resolutely walked to the bathroom to get more drugs. As I looked into the dark room I saw an apparition hovering in the darkness in the instant before I turned on the light. It looked like a thick translucent cloud in the shape of a rippling curtain and it was very similar in texture and color to the grayish blue lights you see when you apply pressure to your own closed eyes. I took one more Ambien, four more Benadryl, and grabbed the bottles of Benadryl and Valerian to bring back to my room now. I was now feeling moderately inebriated, though still coordinated enough to have no trouble walking back.
11:40 Ingested 1, 10mg pill Ambien. 4, 25 mg pills diphenhydramine HCl.
I lay down on my bed and turned off the lights. I could faintly make out the outlines of my room in the dim light coming in under my door and through my window. Almost immediately I noticed the same cloudy mist. This time it was taking up my entire field of vision though not obscuring it. For the rest of the night this mist covered everything and gave it an unreal, dreamy quality. The mist quickly grew thicker and I could see it flowing in currents and patters almost like a grayish green ethereal Aurora Borealis except with very different kinds of patterns, and moving much more quickly and in a very jerky, rough way. This jerky quality of the mist made it look as if everything was in a film played at a low frame rate, an affect that characterized the entire experience. The mist would concentrate itself in the center of my vision, and when I looked at the dim outline of my swivel chair, it interacted with the chair, circling around it in a current that eventually formed a cone around the column of the chair. I noticed spindly almost crystalline like structures branching off of the upper parts of the chair. When I closed my eyes I noticed a very vivid residual image of my room. (As the night wore on, the open-eyed image would eventually become so ethereal and the closed-eyed one so vivid, as to render them virtually indistinguishable.)
The entire time in my room I had been growing steadily more dissociated, so that by this point I was roughly at the level of a higher second plateau DXM trip. I turned on the lights and looked around. Everything seemed basically normal, just a bit off perspective with a dreamlike “unreal” quality and the low frame rate effect, all of which seemed to be induced by the mist. I looked at my wall and happened to notice that the Clockwork Orange poster (showing a silhouette of Alex and his friends walking towards you) looked exactly like a hologram. It was three dimensional, had green and orange tinges, and the figures strutted back and forth as I moved my head back and forth. I looked at my other poster with similar results. When I looked back however, the outlines of the figures in the Clockwork Orange poster were vibrating at a high frequency. The vibrations were subtle at first, but very soon the variation became so large that the characters seemed fuzzy and slightly fogy, much like the room.
After this point I have no linear concept of memory. The following I remember in small, disconnected, dream portions. In fact, I thought that all of this was a bad dream until I spoke to my dad the next day. With traditional psychedelics like acid and mushrooms, I get visuals but they are always (or almost always) clearly just visual distortions. They are not real, they are not fully formed or defined. They do not sit with me in my kitchen and carry out a coherent conversation with me. With these it was different. Everything seemed dreamlike, so, a dreamlike figure seemed just as real as anything else. With no reality-based frame of reference it became impossible distinguish between these true hallucinations and reality and so I passed out of this world and into a state of delirium.
After the intensity of the vibrating started to increase, it came to a point where the figures seemed to be vibrating so much, that they now had the ability to move independently of the poster. I remember seeing the figures step out of the poster and into my room. They looked completely, solidly, real but at the same time not at all, almost as if they were copies of people. I could sense that they were not Human by their shadowy texture and color and by the way they moved. They did not walk or even really move at all, rather it was as if I was watching a series of still frames in sequence. They would jerkily step around, and often appear somewhere else without warning. I remember hearing voices in my head, some of them whispered, some of them cried, some of them screamed. I do not remember what they said, only that it made me feel sad and terrified. The figures from the poster were no longer in my room, but when I turned I saw a grey man sitting on my desk. I then remember the voices swelling to an overwhelming roar and I honestly thought that I was going insane and that my personality was splitting into several distinct parts, each with its own voice, and each yelling to be heard above the rest. For some reason I desperately cried out “how many of you are there?” at which point they answered collectively “We are four. We are each you.”
“We are four. We are each you.”
They then proceeded to run through a list of forgotten actions from my early childhood, every mean thing that I had ever been ashamed of doing. Each time they listed an action, one of the four would come forward as if to say “when you did that, that was me. I was the part of you that did that awful thing.”
The next thing I remember I was walking into my kitchen. As I stepped in, my older brother stepped out of a shadowy corner. I was happy to see him, my brother does not live at home and I was excited that he was back. We started talking and eventually I decided to walk out of the kitchen and back toward my room for some reason. I remember turning to say goodnight and looking back at him. I paused. Something was not right. He was expressionless and silent. He looked strange, almost two dimensional, and he would only move when I moved. When I stepped toward him, he seemed to rock back on hinges and move behind the doorway into the shadows, when I stepped back, he would rock back into place and appear to be normal. I spent a few seconds repeatedly stepping back and forth and watching him swing like some demonic cardboard cutout. Disconcerted, I turned around to go to my room only to find him silently leaning against the wall next to me, staring blankly at me. I walked around the house trying to get away from this strange, lifeless, shadowy incarnation of my brother, but everywhere I turned, there he would be, leaning stiffly and unmoving, staring blankly. “Why are you doing this?” I asked him. “You’re not even real, go away!” I yelled. At this point I ran into my Dad who, apparently, was real and had been woken by my screaming at the air at 3 am. Fortunately he thought I was sleepwalking and having a nightmare and told me to go back to sleep. For a few blessed seconds after meeting my dad, I returned to reality, albeit, a very confused and very sedated reality. But as soon as my dad walked out of sight I immediately slipped back into the dream world again. The next thing I remember was that I was trying to walk into my parent’s room, (possibly to get help?) when en route I saw a procession of shadowy figures coming out of the closet that sits by the entrance to their room. The only one I remember looked vaguely like an East Indian acquaintance of mine. “What the fuck are you doing in my parents’ closet at three in the morning?” I asked him. He did not answer; instead, he raised his right hand as if in greeting and began to flail and jerk it back and forth very quickly, while wearing the same blank expression I had seen on my brother’s face. His right arm did not move in a natural way at all, rather, it flopped around as if all the bones in it had been shattered by the force of his flailing. Of all the things I saw that night, the two images I will never forget are those of that horrible, unnatural flailing, and the one of my brother’s lifeless, two-dimensional body, rocking back and forth in reaction to my movements.
When I woke up the next morning I still was getting residual images when I closed my eyes (though to a much lesser degree than the night before). I also had a horrible headache that lasted the entire day. This was extremely PAINFUL and a bad E crash has nothing on it. Finally, at around 5 the next day, I decided to smoke some weed, partially because people were smoking me out, and partially because I wanted to get rid of the pain. Even though the weed was nothing special, (some ok hydro) the high was very strong and very strange. I started perceiving things in a low frame rate again, felt very disoriented, and even numb a few times. The day after that I had a slight headache but nothing to bad and that night, I saw a fainter version of that mist again as I was trying to fall asleep. This was without a doubt, the most terrifying experience of my life. I am now afraid of the dark.
COPYRIGHTS: All reports are copyright Erowid and you agree not to download or analyze the report data without contacting Erowid Center and receiving permission first.
Experience Reports are the writings and opinions of the individual authors who submit them.
Some of the activities described are dangerous and/or illegal and none are recommended by Erowid Center.