Tag Archives: bad trip

My Bad Trip on LSD

Standard
LSD

LSD (Photo credit: Max Sparber)

Acid is a mysterious, strange, and unpredictable drug.  I know a varied audience of mixed background and belief will read what I write, so it’s so important not to lie.  There are times when one takes acid, or any other drug for that matter, and it feels in that moment as if it’s the greatest, most euphoric, meaningful experience of your life.  However, there is no guarantee of this happening consistently.

Drugs are the ultimate Russian roulette of the mind.  For the extreme magnification of ecstasy, meaning and inner revelation that can come from drug experiences, there is also the extreme opposite.  When one has a bad drug experience it is REALLY terrible.  There have been many people who have never returned home to the cocoon of sanity after having a bad trip or a number of bad trips on LSD.  This is the great deception.  For further thoughts on why I believe a great force of evil is behind the lure of drugs, read this post:http://benjaminbradfordwhite.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/satan-is-a-drug-dealer…-reflections-on-genesis-225-37/

Syd Barrett, who was the original singer in the band, Pink Floyd, was an example of a man who completely lost his mind on LSD and psychedelics.  Many have said that he was also schizophrenic.  I’m not sure whether that is true or not, but I do know that the guy did an ungodly amount of acid in a very short period of time.  He became like a walking vegetable by the time that the end of 1967 rolled around.

Just as the Pink Floyd were becoming an international hit on the music scene, Syd Barrett tripped himself into oblivion.  Here we can see him on “American Bandstand” being interviewed by the late, great Dick Clark:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MMMN0VZmYw

You can see from this old piece of film that there was a “look in his eye, like black holes in the sky” as the lyric about him from “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” stated in 1975.

It’s strange to say it now, but around the time of the summer of 1998, I became enthralled with the story of Syd Barrett and his brain’s demise in the midst of psychedelic pop stardom.  I found books and archives about him.  I listened to his solo music after he had gone off his rocker.  I mostly listened to “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, Pink Floyd’s seminal first album, where Syd was at his creative height.

I suppose it was a combination of anger, marginalization by friends, estrangement from my parents, and bewilderment towards the existence of God that led me towards wanting to “ride the edge” of sanity.  As the summer of 1998 kicked in… my summer before senior year of high school, I delved into the most extreme use of psychedelics ever.  I quit my job at Tai-Wah restaurant, and pledged to “trip” my way through the summer.  I hadn’t viewed yet into the wisdom of Solomon, when he said, “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”  (Ecclesiastes 1:14)

Quite the contrary, I believed that my pursuit was full of meaning at the time.  Somehow I believed I would come out on the other end a changed person… for the better.  The words of the ancient prophet Isaiah didn’t ring in my ears; “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20)  I suppose, in ignorance, I believed that everything I was about to encounter was good, full of radiant light and sweet to the taste.  All of my experiences on psychedelics had been good thus far, and I didn’t think I would go too far like Syd Barrett did.  I would just skim the crest of the cliff of craziness.

At this point, I was playing drum set in a steel drum band with a group of my friends.  The band was loosely affiliated with our High School, but we played almost all of our events outside of the school.

The greatest gig we ever did was playing at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s annual summer art parade.  It was a sunny, hot and humid Ohio day~ ninety degrees and clear skies.  David Wilt was in the band.  At this time he was my regular supplier of psychedelic drugs.  He had hits of blotter acid with him, and I bought a few from him.  We egged each other on that we ought to take it before we played in the parade.  Of course it didn’t take much to convince each other, David took a hit, and I took 2, about an hour before we were going to play.  At this point, even David was more sensible than me.  He didn’t want to be too out of it while we played in the parade.  I wanted to be completely delirious.

We had all our instruments on a long, rectangular float.  As we set everything up I began to feel my body going numb.  Our band’s director, Mark Bush, asked me if I wanted to play the drum set or push the float in the parade.  I mumbled in spaced-out confusion, “Uhhhh…  yeah man I think I’ll push the float man.”

This parade was the craziest parade I’ve ever seen, especially because of my state of mind.  There were people walking around on stilts with wild, colorful masks and streamers flowing behind them in the wind.  The masks were representative of many different cultures of the world:  Chinese dragons, Indian elephants, African tribal witch doctors, and native American eagles.  The colors were of starburst yellow, purple indigo, crimson red, electric orange, and many more.

We made our way into the parade.  I was pushing one end of the float and a girl, Darby Plum was on the other end of this rectangular apparatus.  As we moved on in the parade and played our Caribbean style, Jamaican, reggae-funk, the acid started to beat down in my brain.  Right in the middle of the parade, I was experiencing what is called the “peak” of my trip, where the effects of the drug were the strongest.

I literally felt like I was in Candy Land, all of these freaky people on stilts with masks on making a child-like visual landscape before my wild eyes, I was enthralled beyond description.  There were moments where I literally stopped in the middle of the parade, just to stare at all that was happening around me.  Yet I also had a duty, to push this float.  A simple duty it would seem, but there were times when the float would reach a 45 degree angle, with Darby Plum doing her job pushing on the other side, and me standing there, a long haired hipped-out kid with his tie-dye shirt on, staring at these gallivanting masked minions which practically seemed to be staring into my soul.  I barely was able to do my job of pushing this float through the parade, because I kept stopping to stare at all that was going on.  I had the whole band on my case too, saying, “C’mon Benny!  What are you doing?  Push the float!!!”

So we made it to the end of the parade, and I don’t really remember much of what happened after.  This was one of the best LSD experiences I ever had, because the visual display and happy feeling at the parade was so positive.  Granted, I did an embarrassing job of pushing the float along, but I wasn’t in any way traumatized by the experience.  This is the great trickery that lurks within the pursuit of drug “enlightenment”.  One has experiences that lead them into perpetual beguilement.  I was thinking to myself, “Man, LSD is the greatest thing that exists!  I can’t wait to have another trip!”  But one can never predict the situation they will find themselves in.

But much like a mountain climber who wants to defy the odds and reach a higher peak of danger, I wanted to go deeper into the rabbit hole…  I was about to have my first bad trip…

It was a dark and dreary July evening.  My friend Mitchell had come over to my house to help me record guitar tracks on a song that I had been working on for 3 months… the only song I had recorded in the past 3 months…  an 8 minute opus called “Trilogy”.  Again, I was the kind of guy that wrote 4 or 5 songs a month at least back then, and psychedelic drugs had put me on a weird tailspin, giving me a deep, confusing case of writers’ block.

I had scored 2 hits of acid the week before at an infamous hole full of hardcore hippies and drug dealers called “Nelson’s Ledges”.  These were where the hard-core druggies spent a lot of time.  I went there to jump off of a 15-foot cliff into the deep water below, and had run into some space pirate hippies that sold me two hits of what they called “Wizard of Oz” blotter acid.  They told me it was really strong, and recommended taking only one hit.

While Mitchell and I were recording, I popped both hits on my tongue.  Within 30 minutes, I began to feel the numbing effects and body buzz taking over my entire anatomy, and it was peculiar, because it normally had taken an hour before.  Mitchell was finishing up his guitar tracks.  At one point, he looked at me and said, “Are you alright man?  You look kind of freaked out!”  I tried to ignore the fear that this statement had instilled in me, but I was alarmed that this LSD was stronger than I was ready for.

The next memory I had was being at a party, about an hour later.  This party was full of drunken people that had once been friends of mine.  Because of my heavier drug use, they had distanced themselves from me.  I remember a moment when Braden Sipes came up to talk to me.  He was drunk and mocking me, saying, “So Benny, how you been buddy?  You been “TOKING IT UP” lately huh?  Hahaha…”  The words seemed to echo and his face distorted as he said it.  All around him, shadow mites of darkness swirled around in a tornado of madness.  I barked back at him;  ”DON’T MOCK ME OR I’LL STRANGLE YOU RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!!!”

It was as if a phantom had entered into me in that moment.  Some kind of demon of a dark force of which I knew nothing of.  I only know that this moment of anger seemed to overtake my entire brain and body at that moment, and I had no awareness of who I was.  Braden stared back at me in fear for a moment, and then walked away…

The trip continued, and is a blur in my memory.  I know that the effects of the LSD went completely haywire.  I was in a dark fantasy world of which I had no control, nor escape.  The people I saw contorted into minions…  the very air I breathed seemed to be filled with acidic poison.  The back of my brain felt like it was melting off of my head.  I didn’t know then that LSD physically made your brain hemorrhage.  I only felt completely out of control.  I remembered reading of Mephistopheles in the legend of Faust.  Had I been overcome by some dark angel like him?  Would I ever make it out of this state of mind, or was I doomed to wear a straightjacket in a little white room for the rest of my life?

The profound, dark thoughts seemed to overcome my mind like a swarm of wasps…

The next memory I had was 3 hours later, being in my parents’ living room.  It was midnight, and somehow, my friend, Duane, had come to keep me company.  We were watching a re-run of the show, “The Wonder Years” on TV.  Whatever I thought in my mind, the main character of the show, Kevin Arnold, would become before my very eyes.  I thought of the Ku Klux Klan for some weird reason, and he grew a hood on the TV.  I thought of a werewolf, and he turned into one before my very eyes.  I told Duane, “I’m freaking out man!  I can’t control my mind…  I hate this man!”

Duane looked at me in bewilderment.  He was tired from smoking pot earlier, and told me he had to go home.  After all, it was midnight and he had a curfew to keep.  I begged him to stay with me and not leave me alone.  ”Duane, please man.  You can’t go.  I will die man, I WILL DIE!”

Nonetheless, Duane had to obey his parents’ rules.  He went home.  I was left to myself and the effects of this evil drug.

I looked on the ground in my parents living room as I sat there alone, and afraid out of my mind…  What appeared to be glowing ravens engulfed in fire began to appear in a pattern all over the floor and the walls.  They were intertwined in a pattern of hieroglyphics.  I looked on my hand and they were imprinted all over me as well.  I felt for certain that I was about to die and these patterns I was seeing represented all the horrible things I had done.  I sensed that a swift judgment was about to come upon me.  I was doomed… cursed.  There was no way out and I would leave this life condemned forever.

I tried to make my way through the night.  I had no one I could reach out to…  at least not that I was aware of…  I so desperately wanted to call my girlfriend Harmony, but it was 2 a.m.  I was sitting there in my bed freaking out, seeing the scroll of my life laid out before me in an interconnected life pattern that engulfed all of reality and nature.

The Goo Goo Dolls song “Iris” was high on the charts in those days, and it’s chorus accurately described this profound alienation:

And I don’t want the world to see me

Cause I don’t think that they’d understand

When everything’s made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

I just wanted someone, anyone to be there for me.  I was too afraid to reach out to a higher power of any sort.  I felt too condemned, too dirty, too crazy and broken.  I wrote Harmony a long letter, describing my fear.  That carried me until 3 a.m.  Then I pulled out a VHS tape that contained the movie, “Forrest Gump”.  I began watching the 3 hour long feature to try and calm my fretful heart and mind.  From the moment where the feather began to lilt in the wind in the opening credits I was pulled into this movie like never before.  I cried practically the entire time it was on.  I was afraid for my soul…

As the sun arose at around 5:57 a.m. and the feather lilted in the air during the closing credits of “Forrest Gump”, I realized that the acid was finally beginning to wear down, and my wearied body would finally be able to sleep.  I cried as I watched the sunrise, and had a moment where I was simply thankful to be alive, and sane.

I had no understanding or knowledge of any religion or spirituality at this time.  But this profound feeling was very real.  I learned only years later that I was experiencing something on earth that Jesus talked often about…  This video is a very grim, but accurate picture of the way hell is truly described in the ancient scriptures:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxCKxxRU_s8

Advertisements

My Near Death Experience on Psilocybin Mushrooms

Standard
Dried Psilocybe cubensis magic mushrooms.

Dried Psilocybe cubensis magic mushrooms. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One would have thought that one bad trip would have deterred me forever from the dark, uncontrollable mystic realm of the psychedelic trip world.  Because I had survived without slipping into insanity, I would jump and fall down the rabbit hole again.  The next time would be more severe than ever…  the most intense trip I had ever had.

“Intergalactic” by the Beastie Boys slammed the billboard charts of August of 1998, as the summer of my Junior Year came to a psychedelic dénouement.  Don’t get me wrong, I was into the Beastie Boys.  But I had an entirely different soundtrack playing behind the hazy, multi-colored, chaotic mind-trip of that summer.

There were songs I listened to then that seemed to make perfect sense to me at the time.  I read the lyrics and listen to the melodies now, and can remember this revelatory feeling I felt then.  However, they seem to be strange, nonsensical riddles to me today.

I loved songs like:

Matilda Mother, a lilting nursery rhyme rocker by Syd Barrett and the Pink Floyd:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFgYdFkRA3I

A Day in the Life, a view of the newspaper headlines through the lens of psychedelic eyes by John Lennon and the Beatles:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xljFT44Y1Y

I Am the Walrus, a nonsense song that gives a window into the madness of tripping by John Lennon and the Beatles:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDfXo_jRFbI&feature=related

and Burning of the Midnight Lamp, a song which I always took to describe the insomnia that came with an intense drug experience by the Jimi Hendrix Experience:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rEBz–bWVY&feature=related

One song was “Mountains of the Moon” off of the Grateful Dead’s palindrome sprinkled 1969 album, “Aoxomoxoa”, which can be heard here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MiOKj84cOk.  Some of the lyrics state:

Cold mountain water, the jade merchants daughter,

Mountains of the moon, electra bow and bend to me.

Hi ho the carrion crow fol de rol de riddle

Hi ho the carrion crow bow and bend to me.

Today, I know that there are a great variety of influences in these lyrics, and they are a strewn together array of poetic suggestions.  The line about “Mountains of the Moon” may have reffered to Edgar Allan Poe, and “Electra” may have referred to the Greek goddess.

But as I listened to these words sung by the late Jerry Garcia in August of 1998, especially after the bad trip I had on LSD, they would make me weep.  My drug exploits were described in the words.  I wanted the “Mountains of the moon” to bow and bend to me.  I wanted to control the universe, or at least my universe.  I didn’t want to be controlled by any authority, no higher power, no institution, no parental figure, and no teacher.  I wanted to be my own authority, and create my own reality, my own sphere of belief and understanding.  I only realize now how misdirected my pursuit was.  If I could step into a time machine and speed into the past I would yell into the ears of the young, broken 17 year-old that I was.  I would exclaim, “Stop it man!  You don’t need to go any further!”  But you see, I had no idea the depths of insanity and despair that I was headed towards.  There was, however, a merciful omniscient One beyond the clouds who knew of where my journey would end.  He was about to give me the greatest glimpse of beauty and freedom that I had ever seen, and right at the moment when I least deserved it.

For some reason, I was able to deceive myself into thinking that the chemical nature of LSD was the reason why I had a bad experience.  I was persuaded that more natural substances were safer, because they grew from the earth.  One of these substances was the chemical “psilocybin”, which is found in magic mushrooms.

These mushrooms normally grow on cow dung, but are also grown by dedicated individuals that desire to cultivate a more potent species.

We had hippie friends, a couple named “Adam” and his girlfriend “Zen” who grew these mushrooms in their home and sold them.  I had bought a batch of mushrooms from them earlier in the summer, which had grey caps and faded white stems.  They weren’t a potent batch, and I decided to eat about an eighth of an ounce of them right away.  What ensued was a wild body buzz and a case of the unstoppable giggles that I couldn’t control.  I would stare at myself in the mirror for fifteen minutes at a time, puffing out my cheeks and watching my face inflate like a balloon, and then laughing and falling about myself.

I had convinced myself that mushrooms were the cleanest, safest trip.  I had danced with LSD and the demonic for awhile, probably about twenty trips or more, and the last one had been a view into hell itself.  In my mind, mushrooms were different.  I was convinced that they were a positive drug, more natural, and only gave one colorful, cheery hallucinations.  I had no idea of the deep, Lewis Carroll vortex that I was about to plummet into.

Not long after my bad LSD trip, a week after to be exact, I scored a quarter ounce of mushrooms from Adam and Zen.  They had home grown this batch using hydroponic growing methods, and Adam warned me, “Look man, don’t take a lot of these at once, alright?  They’re a lot stronger than normal!”  They certainly looked different than the other grey mushrooms I had bought from them, they had red caps, and the stems were bright white, and gooey.  The mushrooms were moist to the point of almost being slimy.  I assured Adam, “yeah man, no worries.  I’ll take a low dose.”

The next day, I woke up in the morning with this large bag of dangerous shrooms in my nightstand drawer.  My parents had left early to visit a mall somewhere in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.  I had the day free and the overwhelming urge to trip on these psilocybin fungi.  Something dark, oppressive and heavy possessed me to eat a large amount of these red-capped mushrooms, mostly small ones, which had a more concentrated amount of psilocybin than the larger caps.  By the time I was done eating them I had made it through about sixty-six percent of the quarter ounce bag.  I had shunned the advice of Adam to eat a lower dose.  On top of that, I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet!  The realization of this alarmed me and I quickly ate sixteen saltine crackers, then I licked my fingers, and drank a glass of water.

I would often do impulsive things like this without a plan for my day.  I only knew that I was about to trip completely out of my mind, and that was my only agenda for the day.  I quickly phoned up my friend, Riley, who had acquired an interest in psychedelic experiences like me.  “Hey Riley, how’s it going man?”  I said on the phone.  “Good Benny, what’s up buddy?”  Riley vibrantly answered.  Riley had an intense personality, and could quickly go from being a vibrant, positive person to being angry and throwing things across the room.  “Dude…”  I said, “I just ate a butt-load of these red-capped mushrooms that Adam and Zen sold me, and am about to trip my brains out.  C’mon over and let’s hang out bro!  You can call up Adam and Zen…  and maybe take some too and we could trip together?”  Riley was always up for a chaotic experience, and replied, “Sure Benny, call em’ up and set up a time to meet, I’ll be by to pick ya’ up in 10 minutes man!”

I got a hold of Adam and Zen, and they agreed to meet us in Cuyahoga Falls at the Best Buy Department Store parking lot with a bag of these mystic, red-capped shrooms for Riley to take.  I even offered Riley some of mine, but Riley wanted some for himself, so we set up the deal and were on our way.

As we entered the Freeway ramp onto Route 8 South going towards Akron, Ohio, I began to start tripping.  The funny thing was, it had only taken Riley 7 minutes to pick me up, and maybe another 10 minutes to get to the freeway ramp.  I had eaten the mushrooms about 25 minutes before, and I was already tripping, and getting uncontrollably high.  I don’t remember anything that I said to Riley on the drive, just that he was amused by my crazy comments.

We arrived at the Best Buy in Cuyahoga Falls, and Riley bought an eighth of these cursed mushrooms from Adam and Zen.  We decided to go in and look around at Best Buy for a bit.  This was 1998, and Best Buy stores had signs depicting the music artists, bands and movie stars who topped the charts of popularity.  These apparatuses hung in the air from the ceiling.  I looked at these signs, and the skin from the faces of these people, which looked like demonic aliens from another world, began to melt off of the signs and drip into the aisles below.  I turned my head slowly towards Riley, and said, “I don’t feel so good man.  Do I look ok to you?”  Riley laughed, and it sounded like Dracula’s laugh to me.  He responded, “It’s funny man, but right when you said that, your face turned completely green!”

I don’t remember the car ride to Riley’s place. I do know that we got to his house and he immediately ate some of these red-capped psilocybin mind-destroyers.  He ate about half the amount that I did.  By this point I was in total hysterics.  I couldn’t walk without losing motor control and falling on the ground.  I would go from uncontrollably laughing to manic crying and sorrow.  Riley was becoming afraid of what these mushrooms were about to do to him!

I talked to Riley’s cat, Oscar, for awhile, and thought that he could see inside of my soul.  I looked at Riley’s carpet and saw what appeared to be life-size bacteria swarming around and multiplying.  The magnifying glass on the world below was getting larger than I could take.  I went into the bathroom and saw a swirling carousel of angry little fairies swarming around my head.

Fast forward a mind-time-lapse into an hour later…

We were outside.  The sun was shining with myriad clouds in the sky.  I began to have my “peak” experience on this horrible, intractable mind explosion.  I went to a realm of every color.  I went to the land of purple, where Riley looked like some sort of indigo monster from hell, and creatures of a violet tint scattered all around the grass around me.  I also experienced orange, yellow, red and blue realms.  I looked out into the grass and saw a silhouette shadow of a tormented man’s soul reach up from under the ground into the sky, seemingly longing to touch the edge of heaven’s gate or some form of luminescent light, a relief from torture.  But he was just as quickly sucked back underground to continue in his vexation.  I didn’t have any beliefs at the time, but I somehow knew that this man’s soul, and this affliction, was eternal.

I picked up the phone to call my girlfriend Harmony.  Our relationship had become so estranged.  I had to make things right.  I spoke out loud to Riley, in as intoxicated an accent as I’ve ever had, “Dude, if she doesn’t answer the phone I’m going to die!”

The phone rang once…  I paced facing the southeast, and murmuring statements of hope and promise.  “I love this girl, I know she’ll answer, I know she’ll be there!”  I looked like I belonged in a mental ward.  The phone rang the second time…  I paced towards the northwest, becoming the manic opposite of the contra-positive direction, I yelled out, “I know she won’t answer, I’ll die, I know I will!  I’m doomed!”

I paced back and forth four times as the phone rang in what seemed to be synchronicity.  Harmony’s answering machine picked up.  I yelled out to Riley and the universe, “That’s it.  I’m dead…”

I literally dropped to the ground with my arms folded across my chest like a corpse.  Riley told me about it later.  He said that my face went completely pale and he thought I was dead for good.

When I hit the ground, I lapsed out of time and space.  I saw the sky fold up like a book and there was a black abyss beyond it.  I felt my soul leave my body and was sucked up beyond the clouds.  I had no concept of the duration of this, and everything felt eternal, like a dream.  Visions of the end of my life also flashed before my eyes like a 24-hour movie in seconds of time.  I saw Harmony and my family crying as I was carried out of Riley’s yard in a stretcher towards an ambulance.  The entire scene of my death was played out before my very eyes. I do then recall seeing a man in a robe, holding a staff.  He met me in the air, and he waved his hand and sent me back down.  I actually saw my body lying there, as cold as a cadaver, as I sped back towards it as if I was falling from a skyscraper directly back into it.

I took a deep breath of life giving air and gasped.  I immediately sat up cross legged, and I desperately began to pray to whoever was out there.  This all happened right in front of Riley’s eyes, and he told me about it later.  I looked up into the sky and began to cry.  “Is there a purpose for me?”  I yelled up.  “If there is, give me a sign, please!”  As I said this the wind blew across my face.  I looked into the clouds, and they parted.  A glimmer of sunlight shone on me, and I could’ve sworn that I saw a vague outline of a face behind the clouds.  I felt this wave of comfort come over me, and cried more.  I had long hair pulled behind my ears and my tie-died shirt on, sitting cross-legged in a field and crying.  I couldn’t hear any audible voice, but I could hear this phrase in my heart, that I needed to “play music, and love people…”  The omnipotent force left me and I knew what I had to do.  I had to turn my life around and make everything right.  I had just encountered the God of the Universe.

Years later, I would read passages like Psalm 139:7-12, which would describe this experience:

I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

Even at my lowest moment of fear, degradation and ignorance, the Lord of the Universe desired to show Himself to me.  I can’t describe this any other way, except to say that He is completely, totally loving.  It’s amazing that He just wants Himself to be known.  He won’t force Himself on anyone, but His beauty is breathtaking, life-changing and filled with wonder.

After this encounter, I ran into Riley’s house, and found anything in his fridge that could purge this poison out of me.  I chugged a half-finished 2-Liter bottle of root beer.  I took two slices of leftover pizza and scarfed them down.  Riley followed me inside, trying to calm me down.  He was beginning to trip himself as well, and after the experience I had a fear began to overtake him.  “Benny, calm down man!”  He said.

An hour and a half later, Riley would call the ambulance on himself, because he was afraid that he was dying.  He actually told me that for one moment of about 7 seconds, he had flatlined in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

“I need to call my parents and have them pick me up man!”  I yelled out at him.  “Where is your phone?!”  It’s as if an insane bout of conscience had overtaken me, and all of a sudden I wanted to change everything in my life.  Riley reluctantly gave me his phone.  I called my parents and my mom answered.

“Ma!”  I exclaimed.

“Ben!  Where are you?  Are you ok?”  My Mom instinctively answered.

“No I’m not ok Mom.  I need you to pick me up at Riley’s house!  I’m freaking out on drugs Mom, I need you to come and get me!”  I babbled on.

“Ben!  Oh my God!  Where are you?”

“At Riley’s house!  Uhhhh…  Dude, Riley!  Where is your house!”  I yelled.

“What’s the address of the house?”  My Mom emphatically asked.

“Dude, Riley!  What is the address of your house?”  I yelled at Riley.

“I don’t know!”  Riley responded.  The mushrooms had started to invade his mind.

“You don’t know the address to your house man?!”  I yelled back.

“Ummmm…  It’s ummm…  ‘Callender Drive’!”  Riley responded in inebriated confusion.

“Callender Drive Mom!”  I said on the phone.

“What’s the house number?”  My Mom urgently asked.

“Dude, Riley, what’s the house number?”  I asked Riley.

“I don’t know man!”  Riley yelled back, laughing an unstable cackle as he said it.

I don’t remember much after that, though I know that Riley began to freak out and go into the worst trip of his life.  I looked out the window and saw my parents with their grey 1991 Cadillac coming down Callender drive slowly, and looking for me.  I ran out of the house barefoot into the street.  I got in the backseat of the car with my Mom and fell into her arms.  I felt as if I was two years old again.  I began to cry and ask my Dad if everything would be ok.  He assured me as if he was the father I had as a youth again, “Ben, everything’s going to be ok.  You’re just freaking out.  It’s the drugs…”  We had a conversation about the mushrooms I had ingested, and they took me to the hospital.

At the hospital, a female Asian doctor had a conversation with me.  “Are you still hallucinating?”  She asked, as hair seemingly grew out of every orifice of her face.  “Uhhh…  yes…”  I replied back with fear.

We ended up back at the house that night.  After a good hearty meal of beef and vegetable soup and bread, I passed out for hours.  I just couldn’t stop crying and mourning over all the terrible things I had done to myself and to others.  I swore that I would get sober.  No more pot, no more booze, no more psychedelics.  I would turn over a new leaf.  The overwhelming realization that there was a God out there who was looking down on me entered my mind, and would never leave me again.  I had no idea who this God was.  What did He want from me?  Was it just a figment of my imagination?  He seemed so real, and yet I didn’t know if I could reach out to Him again.  I would not forget that feeling I had sitting cross-legged in the grass and talking to Him.  It was a memory that would haunt me in the months to come, as things spiraled further down…

Secret Acid Man

Standard
postcard - drugs - LSD Acid Guy (b&w)

postcard – drugs – LSD Acid Guy (b&w) (Photo credit: Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL))

After my second bad trip I was badly shaken.  I would spend many moments in frantic tears, mourning the innocence of my childhood, the regrets of all my lies, the fractured relationship with my parents, the tattered remains of my relationship with my girlfriend Harmony, and all the missed moments to simply love and be loved.  I wanted to flee from drug usage and never turn back.  I wanted to become sober and remain that way for the rest of my waking life.

The words of Fuel’s “Shimmer” blared on the radio in the Fall of 1998.  The end of the chorus spoke the lyrics; “All that shimmers in this world is sure to fade, away again”.

Every addict has sobering moments.  Chris Farley of the great era of SNL in the early nineties played a lesser-known character that would always say he was going to get sober, and then inevitably would get drunk or high again.  This is a clip of that skit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sSnkqpVSBY.  This depicted the inconsistency of “sobering moments”.  Drug addicts seem to have no perception of what “rock bottom” really is.  One could ride the edge of insanity, end up near death or in prison, and still crave the feeling of being high or drunk.  It’s a deeply ingrained mentality and a way of life.  Addicts truly deceive themselves into thinking that they’re not hurting anyone but them.  They don’t realize that they’re shattering the lives of everyone who loves and cares for them because of their self-destruction.  What they’re doing resembles suicidal behavior, because they truly begin to think that they are worthless.  “No one will miss me if I overdose or die.”  A drug addict will reason.  “I might as well stay high to avoid the pain.”

I was a true addict.

Two weeks into my stint with complete sobriety, I was sitting at Arabica coffee house in Hudson, Ohio, having a cigarette and drinking a coffee.  My girlfriend Harmony showed up to meet with me.  I was happy to see her.  Things were going better between us since I had been sober.  I looked into her eyes and noticed something this particular day.

“Harmony, your eyes look red.”  I said to her.

“Ummm, yeah whatever.”  Harmony responded.  She was never good at keeping things from me.

“Harmony did you just smoke weed?”

“Well yeah I did Ben…”

We got into a huge fight.  I told her that I was going to go and get high again, and it was her fault.  It would never take long for me to find a friend to pull me back down the hole.  I tracked down an acquaintance, Clint Thorusen, who had a bunch of weed on him.  He smoked a couple of pipes full with me, and I was back.  Stoner Benny lived on.

A couple weeks before, after my traumatic experience on magic mushrooms, I had asked Harmony to stay sober with me, and she had reluctantly agreed.  Obviously she wasn’t ready to stay sober.  I obviously wasn’t either.  It wasn’t even fair of me to expect her to keep a promise to me, because I had lied my teeth off to her for our entire relationship.

Rewind back 5 months into April of 1998…

Harmony was always afraid of my LSD use, so after my first few trips and trying to pressure her into taking it, she made me promise her that I would never do it again.  I lied to her and agreed.

In the months that followed, I did LSD once or twice a week.  I never told Harmony about it.  When she would notice that I was acting stranger than usual, I would just tell her that I had smoked some really strong pot.  There were a few times that she asked me if I was tripping.  I would just lie to her face.  Drugs make a person a more effective liar sometimes, especially the harder drugs, because they sear your conscience like a hot iron.  But even the most effective liars eventually get found out, “for there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17)

One night I took some LSD, and went to a party at Dana Smith’s house, where Harmony was.  At this time, I was always seeing how far I could ride the edge of this lie I was keeping up with.  This particular night I don’t even remember, but I know that I was acting completely out of my head, and it was obvious that it was more than alcohol or THC floating in my skull.  Harmony got really angry with me for the way I was acting.

The next memory I have is being at home, coming off of my trip.  I called Dana’s number at about 2:30am.  Her parents’ were out of town and Harmony was staying there for the night.  These were the days before cell phones as well, so people only had land-lines.  Dana answered the phone and put Harmony on.  I was welling up with guilt as I tried to find the courage for what I was about to admit.  Harmony got on the phone, “What the **** do you want?”  She barked at me.  “Ummmm, how are you doing?”  I sheepishly responded.

“Look Ben, if you don’t have something really important to say to me, I’m getting off of the phone.”  She replied angrily.

“I’ve got something to tell you Harmony.  Just please don’t hang up on me.”

I then admitted that I was currently on LSD, and had been dropping acid regularly for the past few months.  Harmony completely flipped out on me.  Our trust had been broken.  She kept hanging up on me as I tried to reason with her in my psychedelic stupor.  At one point, she finally hung up and I kept calling back, only to get a busy tone. (these don’t exist anymore either, but used to be the sound you’d hear when someone left their phone off of the hook!)

At this time, I was an impulsive drug user and liar.  I was also an impulsive romantic.

I snuck out of my house at 3:30 am, tripping on acid, and began what would be a 2-mile long run across town to where Dana’s house was.  I may have been sixteen years old for almost a whole year, but I didn’t yet have my license because I was a lazy pot-head.  I couldn’t drive, so I jogged across town.

There I was, a long-haired hippie kid, high out of his mind, jogging 2 miles across town, jumping behind bushes and trees when a car would pass by, afraid that the cops would catch me past curfew.  The drug made this trek seem like a surreal nightmare.  Every shadow that I passed by seemed like a monster, and every street lamp a neon, celestial galaxy vortex that could suck me in at any moment.  I was determined to make it to Dana’s house and talk to Harmony.

I finally arrived and knocked on the door.  Harmony came outside.  She was stoned and drunk.  I was still on acid.  We tried to talk things out and they got progressively worse.  As the sun began to creep up on the suburban Ohio horizon, we broke up.

Yet it wasn’t long before Harmony and I got back together after that.

Fast-forward a few months into the fall of 1998.  After my stint with sobriety, I had fallen back into doing drugs again.  Harmony and I were still together, but things were rockier than ever.

One night, as I was coming off of some combination of various poisons, I received a call from Harmony.

“Hey Ben!”  She said rather enthusiastically.

“What’s up crazy girl.”  I responded in a stupor.  “Crazy girl” was a nickname I always used for her.

Harmony went on to explain to me that she had gotten drunk and fallen asleep next to this guy the night before, his name was James Sooner.  He was an angry, muscular dude.  She assured me that she hadn’t kissed him or anything.  I couldn’t believe it.  We got into the biggest fight ever, and broke up for what seemed like the last time.

It was the Fall of my Senior Year of High School.  At this time, I was sure that Harmony and I would never break up.  She was my closest friend and I had hopes that we would be together to the end.  Breaking up with her sent me into an uncontrollable depression.  I would spend nights sobbing my eyes out and trying to get high enough to forget the pain.  I wrote songs and poems about her, declaring that I hated her and never wanted to speak to her again.

When an emotionally traumatic event occurs in an addict’s life, it triggers a greater dependence on their drug and alcohol habit to cope with it.  Breaking up with Harmony would send me into a more severe era of drug abuse than ever before.

The Last Bad Trip on Shrooms

Standard

It was two days after homecoming, where my girlfriend Jamie and I had skipped out to take a light dose of the psilocybin mushrooms we had purchased a half-ounce of.  Jamie was back at her boarding school in Pennsylvania, and I was left with more than three-eighths of an ounce of these stinky brown fungi (shrooms smell like feet and taste like poop, for those that don’t know).

Before long into that evening, I was around a group of wily friends.  Brandon, my black friend who had a sweet afro with an afro-pick in it, and loved George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, and Alex, my friend from Greece who grew hydroponic marijuana in his closet and could have been a professional graffiti tagging artist.  These guys were heavy into the drug scene, just as I was.  It was an inevitable recipe for disaster that I was around them with a large amount of psychedelics.

We were hanging out with a group of various friends, and before long, I took Brandon and Alex aside and told them I had a large bag of mushrooms.  “Hey guys, do you want to take a dose with me tonight?”  I asked them.  I couldn’t resist for long.  They both agreed and came with me into a room away from everyone.  I pulled out the massive amount of boomers from my pocket.

“Holy crap man, that’s a lot of mushrooms Benny!”  Alex exclaimed in a British-Greek accent.

“Yeah dude, let’s just take part of em’.”  Brandon added.

“No man…”  I said, wanting to be shocking and extreme as always… “Let’s do them all…”

I always had a way of persuading people towards insanity.  “The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.” (Prov. 24:9)  Even though Alex and Brandon wanted to do a smaller amount of mushrooms, I forced my opinion on them, and we divvied out three massive doses of these unpredictable spores.  We were each going to eat about an eighth and a half, or three-sixteenths, or six thirty-seconds, or twelve sixty-fourths of an ounce.  Before they or I could change our minds, we had already ingested the mushrooms, and we were on our way into the crazy wilderness of our minds in the summer evening.

We soon smoked dope after ingesting these dastardly cow poop growths, so I don’t remember much of what happened immediately after.  The next memory I had was driving in Alex’s car.  Alex drove a little gray 1990 Ford Fiesta, and he had tagged the ceiling with all sorts of permanent marker graffiti artwork.  I looked up at the ceiling of his car and the lines started to swarm and merge together.  I looked out at the road in the foggy Ohio evening and saw the yellow lines in the middle begin to twist and turn in snake-like, serpentine locomotion.  I exclaimed at Alex; “I think these boomers are kicking in strong man!”  He glared back at me with a maniacal glance; “Oh yeah Bennnny!”  They were starting to take over Brandon’s mind as well as he giggled uncontrollably.

The next thing I knew we were at some party.  The moon was full in the foggy sky, and it felt like we were in a horror movie.  Life patterns squirmed on the grassy ground, filled with phantoms of death and fear.  My mood began to sink into a malaise.  All of a sudden I realized I hadn’t seen Brandon in awhile.  “Where’s Brandon man?”  I muttered in a complete stupor to everyone around me as they stared at me.  Then I looked out into the grassy field and saw the outline of Brandon’s afro.  I ran to him as if I had found a long lost friend after twenty years of separation.  “Hey Brandon, are you ok?”  I yelled in worry.  “I don’t know Ben, I’m just not happy.  I feel like I’m in hell.”  Brandon replied.

As soon as fear, worry, or objects of conscience are introduced into a trip, the whole thing goes sour.  This is why psychedelics are truly evil.  In my mind, they are the expensive chocolate in the Devil’s candy store.  You have to abandon your moral compass to enjoy the experience.  When you do that, it leads to violence, hedonism, sexual permissiveness, manipulation, lying, and more.  But Brandon had just done the thing that would make this trip go sour.  He had introduced the fear of an eternal afterlife apart from God into the mix.  Deep down, I was afraid of the same fate, because God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.  They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.  For, ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (Romans 1:18-20)  I may have been ignorant of God’s true loving character, but I was not ignorant of the fact that the life I was leading was totally wrong, and that I was paying consequences for it.

The next memory I have was being at Alex’s grandma’s house.  Alex was completely unhinged and roaming around the house babbling in Greek and English, trying his best not to let the intense high overtake him.  I began to mention serious things about death and God, because I was growing weary.  He stared me in the eye and yelled at me; “Shut the f*** up man!  Don’t talk about that right now!”  This made my fear worse.  Brandon had roamed off again into some unknown corridor of Alex’s grandma’s house.  Alex continued to roam around babbling, trying to fend off the madness that was impending.  I saw a spider on the wall that seemed about half the size of my body, and seemed to stare into my soul as the fear grew.  I panicked and felt as though I was dead, dropping to the floor.  I scrambled and ran for the phone (this was 1999 and we used land-line phones still).  Alex was cursing me, telling me to stop it and calm down.  I dialed my parents’ number, and much like the bad trip on mushrooms in the summer of 1998, I fumbled through telling them that I was freaking out.  I told them where I was and pleaded with them to pick me up.

I don’t remember my parents arriving.  I don’t remember the drive home.  I do remember watching a family movie on the Hallmark channel that night, and it was the scariest movie I had ever seen, because the old man’s face on the TV’s skin was melting off and he looked like Satan.  Everything looked like the devil’s territory that night, as the foggy moon melted away in the sky.  At one point, sitting in my parents’ living room, I looked in the carpet and saw a being with a gargoyle-like head began to emerge from out of the ground.  This being, seemingly male, had serpents flowing in and out of his belly.  I harkened back to thinking of my friend who had done so much acid, that he saw Satan pop out of the ground and rip out his heart.  My entire body received a chill like never before.  I swore in that moment that I would never touch psychedelics again.

I was like a desperate little child that night.  I begged my parents to camp out in the living room with me in sleeping bags, for fear that I would freak out and trip into a permanent nightmare.  I was afraid that the proverb I would later read would come true, that “the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.” (Prov. 24:20)  I was so afraid to die at this point that my fear began to shape my life in a different direction.  It may seem a paradox to many, but it is true that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.”  (Psalm 111:10)  At this young age of seventeen I may not yet have truly “feared the Lord”, but I was beginning to fear my mortality in an intense way, and it was magnified by taking psychoactive drugs.  It wasn’t the drugs themselves that were causing the fear.  I was having normal thoughts about life and the drugs intensified them and made them potential catalysts for insanity.