The majority of Gen Zers have left behind a digital trail of their former selves, as many social media platforms have been around for more than 10 years. My blog posts from 2000 would have been long gone had I not been meticulous about preserving my e-history.
I have first-hand accounts of my late teenage years, written as they happened; however, I did not straight-up publicize most of my more intimate moments and thoughts.
I was bullied during the last year of school but never published my experiences, knowing that my bully was hate-reading my blog. I also did not discuss the mess that ensued after my breakup with my first boyfriend, knowing that he was reading it. (It used to be easy to determine who my readers were by matching up their IP, which I had grabbed from old emails, with what the web tracker would log.) Instead, I had to disguise my anger and hurt as metaphorical posts.
But, this post is actually going to be about mind-altering substances! I did not start tripping as a teen, as many people did. I was already openly weird and drugs and felt that their involvement was unnecessary. It irked me how drugs absolved my friends of the outrageous things they’d say and do while under the influence.
HOW IS THIS NOT CHEATING?
Also, around the time I was bullied, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I initially rejected this diagnosis, as I had legitimate reasons to be depressed. Nevertheless, I was prescribed a few different antidepressants, including Celexa, Effexor, and Zoloft. Celexa in particular, made me go to sleep wishing for death. All my self-injury scars came from my short-lived Celexa phase. I tried explaining to the doctor how much worse the pills were making me feel, only to be told, “You’ll get worse before you get better.”
And I did because I stopped taking them. I went back to being sad, but without a keen interest in death. Another side effect the drug had on me was that it severed my relationship with my brother, who lived with me while I trudged through that ugly phase.
It’s been about 18 years since we last had a conversation. As I’ve learned, people only get a pass for how they behaved under the influence of drugs as long as the story is funny.
The idea of anti-depressants is to balance the chemicals in your brain so that you feel better. Or was the idea really to make shitloads of money? Plant-based psychedelics have been around for thousands of years. But, no, we’re supposed to trust this guy:
The father of modern anti-depressants: Dr. Roland Kuhn. He’s white, therefore he’s got a lot of credibility!
My brain in its natural state is quite dysfunctional, so I warmed up to the idea of an occasional drug-induced retreat from my thoughts. I had interacted with enough stoned people to see that the negative effects of marijuana were exaggerated. I was in my early 20s the first time I smoked the softest of soft drugs.
Since marijuana calmed me down in a way that all these physician-approved drugs failed to do, I became more receptive to branching out. This was also around the time I was good friends with Mr. Ayahuasca (who was first mentioned in this post) who, not surprisingly, had no reservations about trying other psychoactive drugs. I preferred to be well-prepared and immersed myself in the study of Ethnobotany, which is a fascinating subject, even for those who have no interest in drug experimentation.
Erowid was the educational platform of my choice. The “Psychoactive Vaults” are full of mind-bending accounts submitted by people who don’t know how to use spell-check.
Here are some actual titles from the vault:
Alpenglow Asphyxiation (written by “Kai the Orb Woman”)
Mainlining into Peaceful Transcendence
Entering the Cosmic Womb
Drinking Myself – As a Dolphin
The Puppeteer in the Swirling Prismatic Void
…and various references to multiple dimensions, with some people claiming to have entered the 20th dimension.
I only got as far to try Psilocybin, Mescaline, and Salvia.
Mescaline occurs naturally in a few varieties of cacti, including peyote, but for whatever reason, we ended up with two big bags of dried Peruvian Torches. Unlike with psilocybin mushrooms, one needs to consume a lot more than just 2 grams for the desired effects. 30 grams, in fact. Mr. Ayahuasca had the idea of grinding the dried cacti in a coffee grinder and then setting them in chocolate, except the chocolate never set. So, we each ended up eating a bowl of chocolate soup with bitter, gritty bits of dried cacti stirred in.
While we waited for the Peruvian Torches to respond, Mr. Ayahuasca suggested that we trip out at the mall. Not just any mall, but the biggest mall in BC.
If you think this is where the story gets good: you’re wrong. We stayed at the mall for more than an hour, trying to get free entertainment from mall-goers. Our last stop was in a toy store, where I felt as if I was finally starting to feel something. Mr. Ayahuasca make me second-guess myself when he insisted that he wasn’t feeling anything at all.
We then decided in front of the Lego section that the evening had been a write-off. Two hours after we had eaten our chocolate soups, Mr. Ayahuasca dropped me off at home.
Upon entering my dark bedroom, my eyes gravitated to the time illuminated by my alarm clock. When I looked away, the numbers displayed by the LED display trailed from the clock. I noticed how other light sources were streaking too. Maybe I was a little high after all?
I went to use the washroom. While washing my hands, I looked at my reflection in the mirror… and admired my comically large pupils:
I texted Mr. Ayahuasca, hoping he’d make it back home before he got high. He responded–likely while he was driving–and insisted his helping of the chocolate soup had been a dud. I later sent the above photo to him via IM, to show him that the Peruvian Torches were doing their thing. He responded with something like, “Aw, your eyebrow is furrowed with worry.”
If it took two hours for the effects to kick in, how fucked was I going to be in the next two hours? After the illusory palinopsia, came the sensation of a warm liquid repeatedly flush over my brain. I had to ride this high out on my own! But of course, this was small potatoes to someone who had spent five days in the Peruvian jungle shitting, vomiting, and cavorting with cosmic serpents.
I made it through the night, with minimal sleep. When I woke up, I had to cancel my plans for the day, which was going to work. Because I was still high.
“I’m sorry, I can’t come in to work today. I had some chocolate soup last night and it’s messing with my head.”
In all, the experience was neither completely horrifying nor pleasant. Every time I see melted chocolate, I think about that night. I do know now that if I were to give mescaline another try–or any other psychoactive plant–it would not be at the mall.
Many psychoactive plants haven’t been banned because they simply haven’t been a concern. Up until 2015, Salvia Divinorum was available for purchase legally. I bought a 1g baggie containing 10x of Salvia extract from Urban Shaman in Vancouver.
You only need a trace amount of Salvia to achieve a high. The first two pinches of the plant I smoked gave me a high similar to that of marijuana, only more intense. The onset of the high was immediate and lasted about five minutes.
So, when I found myself at home alone without any weed, I figured Salvia would be a suitable alternative.
Again, I had to experience tripping on an unfamiliar drug all alone. I understood immediately that my body was just a meaty vessel, and that the core of my being was entirely in my head.
And I was trapped in a time loop. And I looked into the mirror, again. What I saw wasn’t me: I was no longer occupying my body. I began to wonder whether my consciousness was going to be absorbed into something else. Or if it’d continue to float in the air like a ghost, controlling what used to be my body remotely.
With the time loop in place, I was convinced that normalcy was never returning. This made me a bit panicky, but at the same time, I decided that it made sense. Fifteen minutes later, my body had reabsorbed my mind. All the gibberish I had previously read on Erowid started to make sense.
Unlike Mescaline, Salvia had a profound effect on me, as my brain had been completely rewired for those fifteen minutes.
Then… there were Shrooms, which I’ll save for another day as this post reached tl;dr territory five paragraphs ago.