Cacti - T. pachanoi
Citation: Anopseudonym. "Metamorphosis: An Experience with Cacti - T. pachanoi (exp78714)". Erowid.org. Apr 7, 2010. erowid.org/exp/78714
First of all, I'd like to offer some background information. What you might want to know that for most of my life I have suffered from mental illness. In case you are yourself suffering from mental illness or less severe mental difficulties, you may benefit particularly from this report. In my opinion, psychedelics are the best medicines against mental illness, psychosis excluded: when used properly, they're not only the most effective, but also the least adverse. It is true that antidepressants have many physical side effects, partly because they are usually used daily, rather than, for instance, once every month or a few times per year. But these are nothing compared to their mental side effects: antidepressants work by blunting consciousness, psychedelics by expanding consciousness
My recurrent depressions and anxieties became particularly problematic at the age of 13, and ever since have become worse and worse over the years. As the symptoms varied, I have tried psychotherapy, dietary supplements, medication, meditation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, binaural beats, lucid dreaming, tai chi, dancing, hypnosis, and suicide, in that order; nothing really worked. So it remained, until March 2008, when I tried psilocybe and was not only suddenly healed from my depression, but actually felt happy for the first time in my life for several months, and blissful for the first weeks — all this simply by being shocked into the sudden awareness of the wonders of life. Yet, though on the night I used the psilocybe I was in a rare mood of contentment, my state had been severe just a week ago, so severe that I actually got my psychotherapist a headache by the end of the session. Now, I had become another person literally overnight!
I felt as though I had come into another world, and the troubles of my depression suddenly seemed infinitely far away. I seized the day, and soon it became hard to believe it had ever been otherwise. I enjoyed life with such a passion that even after all I had gone through, it felt almost more than I deserved. Thus began the richest period of my life as I monthly used another dosage of psilocybe to remain healthy — until psilocybe became banned in the Netherlands, and I relapsed once more into depression. It was my most painful episode ever, so painful that even if I still had access to psilocybe, there would not be a single moment I could use it without going through hell. This time, the depression was worse than ever, and in January 2009 I combined an overdose of benzodiazepine with a high dose of alcohol, and slit my left wrist.
When I failed, I decided to give up on suicide, no longer trusting it. Overdose hadn't worked, many other methods were also unsafe. The only methods that are really safe are very painful, and I didn't dare to try those. Meanwhile, however, another solution had presented itself: San Pedro. There were only a few psychedelics I trusted: psilocybe, LSD, and mescaline, because these have been most extensively researched. However, I had no idea where to find either LSD or mescaline. Then it occurred to me that psychedelic cacti, which contain mescaline as their primary psychoactive, might be available on Azarius — and so they were!
I knew that it would be tough. I had just gone through months of severe depression, which had caused me to become detached from myself; using an entheogen would confront me with myself more than ever. All the feelings I had coped with would reemerge to the surface. When I knew there was a solution, I was very brave. When the first batch of cacti arrived, I moved mountains just to get myself to feel just somewhat better, just enough so that I could deal with the purification of the cacti's purgatory. Just a day's remission would be enough. Trusting the cacti and knowing they could change me, with the foresight of using them, I could find that strength that I could otherwise not have found. Or so I thought, until the day broke that I had arranged with my best friend. Or rather, when I woke up in the middle of the night with Metallica's 'My Apocalypse' playing over and over in my head. I wisely delayed the experience for another week.
In the meantime, to play it safe, I asked my doctor for some benzodiazepine, as I had used everything in my attempt to kill myself — something I wisely omitted to say. I said I would need it for a 'demanding experience.' I told him I had had panic attacks in the past, and felt I might have one again soon. My doctor concurred, luckily not going further into the question of what I'd need them for. I was actually almost sure I would not use them, even if I did have a panic attack, as that would limit the efficacy of the cacti; it was more a talisman than anything else, to silence the inane thoughts of 'what-if' that tend to come with severe anxieties. Panic attacks tend to make one deluded that one is in mortal danger, that one might get a heart attack, stop breathing, or go mad. The next week, the day before I would use the cacti, I meditated for four hours, and practiced tai chi in the park for another hour. I was ready. Not ready as a tourist on a plane for a mediterranean holiday: ready as a warrior at the dawn of a brutal battle.
Brutal it became. So brutal, that despite my intentions I did not dare to leave my room when the cacti started working. I was shaking, and my heart beat very quickly, and my body felt very tense. I was, fortunately, familiar with these effects, and let them be. I still refused to use the calmative, but it was calming just to know I always could. It was a good thing my best friend was there, and that she was willing to give me a hug now and then when I needed it. The dosage of the San Pedro tea was actually milder than I had expected, but my state of mind was not. When the visuals finally came, they were lurid, gory, violent. I had visions of monsters, of people being sliced to pieces on railway tracks, of my best friend having part of her head cut off. But when the battle was over, the enemy within had suffered a great defeat. The experience had, nonetheless, been a disappointment, as it had lasted for only 6 hours, rather than 12 as it normally does; but I wasn't ready for a higher dosage, whereas now, having become stronger during the experience, I was.
Once again, I had to put off the experience for a week, this time because my friend, which I'll call Samantha, felt uncertain herself. But I knew it was not desirable to delay. It had been two months since my last experience, and once again my mental health was deteriorating. This might seem like a sign of dependence, but I'm dependent on it only as a diabetic is to insulin. Psychedelics are not addictive, as any dependable source will tell you. After a week delay, symptoms of depression were starting to recur in full force, and the day I'd arranged to use the cacti (this time a high dosage), I actually had an attack of catatonia. This was my first attack of catatonia in the presence of another person, actually. In depression, catatonia means feeling so apathetic as to have trouble moving or speaking; the subject eventually freezes into a state of total inertia, like a statue, and becomes dissociated, depersonalized. Just as I was sinking into this state, however, Samantha managed to save me from it by giving me a hug. I contemplated that, while it was not in itself a good sign, perhaps the catatonia had come just at the right moment, as it allowed me to let go of my thoughts.
I considered delaying yet another week, but not for long. I also considered cutting my carotids, fearing that I'd never get better again, but not for long. No, it had been long, long enough. I'd been delaying this on and on since July 2008, ten months ago at the time, and it had only gotten worse and worse. It was now or never.
I remembered words from the motion picture Doom: 'You got to face your demons sometime.' I shook off the feeling of despair, steeled myself, and took out one of the 20-centimeter-long cactus. We started cutting one half of it in slices and peeled them. As expected, Samantha turned out to be much faster than I, and eventually even faster than I could swallow the cactus, which tasted extremely bitter. The first effects were anticipatory, of psychological nature. By preparing myself by looking for any changes in my perception, my perception did change. Within a few minutes, colors became more vivid, patterns more esthetic, but I knew this was not because of the drug. That was at about 18:00.
I began the experience with an hour of the deepest meditation I'd had in a long time, using binaural beats. I was aware of every thought that occurred to me, and of almost every breath I took. Soon tensions started to occur. Heart palpitations. Muscular rigidity. Slight trembling. It was a wise choice to begin with meditation, as this gave me the chance to remove these tensions before they escalated. Samantha slept in the meantime, having had little sleep that night, and having little to do as I meditated. Meanwhile, I struggled with my demons as the San Pedro started to have its effect. I gave myself the suggestion that I breathed out any negative energy I might feel, while breathing in positive energy. After an hour, I woke Samantha, and asked if we could go to the nearby nature's reserve. I knew walking would calm me down. When we went out, the effects now became quite evident as I looked up to the sky, the immensity of which I now became deeply aware. Tremendous, I thought, remembering the word a friend of mine had used for the feeling of awe he would at times feel for the vastness of the universe.
Anxiety, however, got a firmer grip on me, and I wished to quicken my pace. Samantha, however, in her childlike inquisitiveness often stopped to inspect something that had caught her attention — to smell at a flowering tree, to blow into a dandelion. It would have encouraged me to do the same and take in all the beauty around me as much as possible, but I was agitated, and her frequent stops sometimes annoyed me, as I knew walking helped against the agitation. I eventually calmed down, and felt the need to sit down as we came to a bench. It was then that all the elements of nature came to one within me; the whirling of birdsong which interlaced into a symphony of the woods; of the leaves that winded round and round each branch, the smooth grey and white tones of serene clouds rolling one above the other, the glorious fire of the sun that flowed into different forms every second as it blazed through the epic cloudscape; and the breathing of my body, still terrified with awe, the stillest ghostly touch of air in its gentlest warmth. Hearing, sight, touch, emotion, smell thought were joined to one ocean of awareness.
As we walked on, it seemed that the environment kept on growing until every step through it became a universe of its own. When I closed my eyes, the landscapes were still there, but morphing, and, the longer I kept my eyes closed, morphing further and further into more and more abstract forms as the memories of the surroundings faded. Branches wreathed in leaves grew and budded and curled until they turned into spiraling fractals. My awareness of emotions was most intense. But at some point, I became aware of how, the more I thought about what I felt, the less I felt. I became suddenly aware of how all my feelings of emptiness stemmed from the mere thought that I felt empty, and I said at once to Samantha, 'My emptiness was actually self-consciousness.' I forced myself to stay as much as possible in my experience, and knew that I had to find the strength to do this even when this experience would be over.
At some point, we found a path, and followed it into a tiny grove by the riverside. There, I lay down with my arms wide apart. At this point, I felt an ever deepening sense of unity with the earth and the universe, and reflected on the connectedness of all things. When I first came in the nature's reserve, because of my natural social phobia I kept feeling paranoid whenever I came close to a passerby; by the time I left the reserve, I felt friendship towards them, and actually greeted someone. During my depression, I had cultivated a deep hatred for society; it seemed that now, I was at least in part cured of that. I had isolated myself from almost everyone but Samantha, but now feel I might perhaps venture to come out of that isolation to some extent.
Much of the transformation I underwent owing to the cacti happened only the next days, and is still happening as I am training myself to become as present of mind as possible. As a result, I can still feel the effects to some extent. After all the depersonalization, I finally have my feelings back. I am hoping to use a higher dosage soon, one which will have an effect on longer term. The higher the dosage, the deeper and more permanent the effect. I would advise San Pedro to any who are open to it, but it must not be taken too lightly, of course. I felt fear — but also so much joy in return.
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