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Reality is an Illusion

This weekend my boyfriend and I ate some mushrooms.

This weekend my boyfriend and I ate some mushrooms. We "did 'shrooms". It was my first time. I have tried mushrooms before but they have never worked on me, and I took it very lightly, this eating of psychedelic plant matter; much more lightly than I should have because I thought they wouldn't work on me.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

My boyfriend has eaten mushrooms before, and the way he planned out our trips was almost textbook. The weather had to be sunny, we had to have enough daylight left, we had to have not very much food in our stomachs, we had to be well-rested and in a safe place and comfortable, and we had to have nothing planned for 'the day of' and the day after, and of course, we had to have actual possession of the mushrooms. All of these elements came together on Saturday. So, with a shrug and a smile, I started eating mushrooms, chasing them with a chocolate shake from Dick's. We ate mushrooms of the p. cubensis variety, and they were dried. We ate both the stems and the caps. Starting with a half-portion, we finished quickly and went out onto the porch to enjoy the weather.

We waited for 20 minutes, nothing happened. We decided to eat the other halves of our portions. While we were eating them, we both felt our highs coming on, but we finished our portions anyway and then decided to go to the park.

On the way to the park I felt strange. Definitely high. This must have been about 40 minutes after ingesting the first bits. When we got to the park, instead of the quiet setting we normally enjoy, a Saturday farmer's-market was set up and it seemed that Hempfest was having some sort of a cookout gathering, and lots of families were playing as well. In other words, it was a fucking zoo of people. We spread our blanket under an apple tree and looked at the sky. For about 3 minutes. My high was zooming up on me, taking me over, making me feel nauseated. I sat up and announced that we had to go back home (his house.) I was terrified - I was too high, too fast- I just wanted it to STOP and I knew that this was only the beginning. Oh what I wouldn't have given to just be high on weed. I was fully aware of how powerful this trip was going be and it was like being on a rollercoaster, at the top of the first, giant hill, looking down into a black abyss and not being able to get off, and not being at all sure that you were going to come out the other side.

And so it began.

Somehow we made it back to my boyfriend's house, and I crawled into his bed, and stared at the wall - it was 80 minutes after eating the first mushrooms. I absolutely could NOT take any additional stimulation. The facets of the psychedelic high were providing more visuals than I could focus on - it was like a thousand, no, tens of thousands of pieces of different pictures were flashing before my eyes every minute. I had read about mushroom highs and how they lasted for up to 8 hours and I was full-on terrified that I would have to exist through another six hours of this. I just wanted it to STOP. I had waves of terror crashing over me, my stomach was completely nauseated and I only realized that I had to throw up after I dry-heaved in bed. I made it to the toilet in time but only the tiniest bit of mushrooms (and chocolate shake - ugh) came up. I went to lie down again. The visuals were intensifying and the angles in the room looked off. The walls appeared to be breathing. I tried to close my eyes but that made things worse - dark grey and black monstrous images bared their teeth at me and tried to bite; menacing figures in black and red joined hands and I was floating above them and they raised their moon-like visages toward me, taking malevolent notice. It was not somewhere I wanted to be, so I kept my eyes open as much as I could. I tried not to blink.

My boyfriend was having his own trip, and it was a good one. He was high, but he was powerful enough, and had done this enough, to be able to control his trip. I was having a very intense, bad trip however, and he was scared for me. I was scared for me too. He said afterward that my pupils were so big that my eyes looked black. I believe it. Waves of terror washed over me, waves of horrifying feeling, waves of nausea, waves of blackest black crashed my world into a million pieces and I had to look at them all. My ego disappeared. My self as I knew it was just gone.

My mind was blown for a good two hours. I was desperately trying to fight the bleakness, trying not to voice my abject horror, but finally I had to say the words and risk giving them power. "I'm having a bad trip". I asked how much longer it would last and my boyfriend told me I had probably peaked already and was coming out of the visuals phase. It turned out that was a bit optimistic but it gave me hope and I continued to fight my way through the trip. The visuals intensified and I began to see 2 and 3 and 4 of things - I began to have very clear pictures of my boyfriend's face even with my eyes closed; with them open I would see him, and next to him I could see, like a photo, his face. The world, and by world I mean the bedroom with its blank walls and drawn blinds, looked like a kaleidoscope, only not in my control.

The whole time I was tripping out of my mind I would occasionally take in giant gulps of air - like my mind needed so much more oxygen to keep up with the new information it was receiving. I would gasp huge lungfuls of air at odd intervals but my body wasn't doing anything physical at all. I had a break-through thought process about reality and I wondered how anyone could go back to "reality" once they had seen through it the way I was seeing through it then. It's true, too. Reality IS an illusion. There; that's my one revelation for the year, the decade. If I get another one like that before I die I'll consider myself lucky. This trip was "the full meal deal" as far as psychedelic trips go.

I have to stress that my boyfriend was trying to do what was best for me. He wavered between trying to focus my attention on something, anything, to get me out of my headtrip, and just letting me power my way through it. He asked me if I had a movie that made me feel better, or that comforted me, or if I wanted to listen to music. I cringed at the thought of having any additional visual or mental or aural stimulation at all. I simply could NOT handle one more thing. Even having him talking to me was more than I could take. Any kind of outside interference caused me mental anguish. So when, at some point during the first 2 hours, my boyfriend got up and, with arms outstretched and a giant smile on his beautiful face announced in a big, booming voice, "Let me entertain you!" my face crumpled and I held up my hands in front of my eyes and cringed and whined. It was funny later.

After the first 2 hours I got my first wave of goodness. I opened my eyes wide and said, "Ohhhh, I GET IT". The wave was promptly replaced with one of horror, but now I had a glimpse of the future and I had faith that the good feelings would return. I knew I had peaked and was beginning to regain control of my trip. My boyfriend lay down beside me and said the magic words, "You can always choose to be in the moment." He told me later that he had been telling me this all along, but this was the first time I actually heard him and was able to follow what he was saying with action.

I snapped into reality and stayed there, holding my psychedelic "powers" at bay, occasionally lapsing into them just to see if I still could and having fun with them now that I was aware of my control. I watched my fingers and noted the tracers but this was mundane compared to what had been going on previously. It was more like I was confirming that I could see the tracers - kind of an 'oh yeah, so that's what folks talk about' verification.

We got dressed and went out onto the porch to look at the sky, the neighborhood and the foliage. Yes, the colors seemed brighter, but the visual trip was waning for me at this point and the feelings were coming on strong. Nobody told me that my whole body would feel high, but that's exactly what was happening. I had a whole-body high like no other I've ever felt. We sat in chairs and I felt tremendous love for everything, and everything was just good. We held hands and I felt such a connection with my boyfriend. It was as if we were floating together, on the same magic carpet. I was ecstatic.

After sitting on the porch for a while (about 20 minutes) I wanted to experience other stimulations. We were like children on Christmas, like kittens playing with string, we held hands and laughed at each other and with each other. We were affectionate with one another, petting each other's arms and caressing our faces as we gazed into each other's eyes. We made tea and it was delicious. I asked if we could listen to music and he chose the perfect music for our trip, and it floated us along on a chill bass beat as we continued to trip. We sat, listening to music, sipping tea, feeling our connection and holding hands for a long time. Our emotions were very close to the surface. We laughed often, and frequently the laughter turned to tears of joy and we were constantly wiping our faces with tissue, our sleeves, our hands. Everything seemed funny and we giggled and guffawed and roared and snorted with uncontrollable laughter.

After 4 hours things quieted down a lot. We had worked through the intense psychedelic trip and then the body-high and giggles. I still felt "odd" but I was very aware of my surroundings and was fully in control of myself. The sun went down and we had a chill rest of the evening. It was 11pm before we could sleep however, as our minds were still whirling at a mile a minute for a few more hours after everything else calmed down. So in all, it was an almost 8 hour trip, but the last 4 hours were just coming down and talking about ideas and discussing what had happened and sharing our experiences.

The next day we ate well and rested and read books together and had a low-key day. We were expecting waves of depression to come crashing over our heads but they never materialized. I think we got off lightly.

Would I do it again?

I don't know why I had such an intense trip, or why it was so bad. One theory is that it was my first time and I couldn't control it. Another is that I simply ate too many mushroom bits, but that doesn't seem right because my boyfriend ate just as many (seriously, he ate one, then I ate one, then he ate one, then I ate one) and I outweigh him by 30lbs. The only difference between his ingestion and mine is that he had a vanilla shake. Maybe chocolate exacerbates the effects? A third theory is that it could have been that I had taken a naproxen pill earlier in the day to combat some arthritis pain after a run and had an adverse psilocybin - naproxen interaction.

So would I do it again?

Maybe. Maybe a long time from now. Certainly not this year. At the ripe old age of 36 I had my very first psychedelic trip and it blew my mind and opened some doors to reality that I never even questioned the existence of previously. I really wonder how much more I could have handled without winding up in a padded cell for the rest of my life. There are risks one takes when one doesn't know any better, and risks one takes when one does. Now that I know what the risk is, will I dare it again?

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