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The Episode
August 17, 2011 3:17 PM   Subscribe

The Episode - "the complete, annotated, unabridged story of I how I went bat fucking crazy for three months"
posted by MetaMonkey (106 comments total) 81 users marked this as a favorite

 
Canadian sci fi writer Jan Lars Jensen also wrote a book about going temporarily insane called Nervous System.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:37 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's linked is a very long story, not for everybody. If you enjoy the tone of the following paragraph it might be worth your time.

The summer of my twentieth year on the planet obliterated every measure of good, evil, truth, beauty, reality, and fantasy I'd had before and makes everything that's happened since seem banal. It's the reason I will never believe in anything again, the reason I play music, and the reason the Acadia Hospital nursing staff thinks I'm a crackhead. There are probably three or four dozen people that won't talk to me to this day because of these events, and I am an local legend in Bar Harbor, Maine.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:42 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't finished reading the whole thing yet, but thank you for posting it. Looking past the hyperbole and self-indulgent prose I think it was something I needed. Cheers.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 3:45 PM on August 17, 2011


Every time I read something like this, I realize just how fucking lucky I was during my acid years.
posted by elizardbits at 3:45 PM on August 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Yeah I stalled out on page 3 or 4. I now understand why it takes the author an hour and a half to tell this story. It probably takes the author half an hour to tell a knock knock joke.
posted by Justinian at 3:47 PM on August 17, 2011 [19 favorites]


Amen, brother.
posted by carping demon at 3:48 PM on August 17, 2011


Yeah, I was probably about one bad weekend away from that kind of thing myself about 10 years ago. I remember one weekend I had done what later turned out to be MDA rather than MDMA all weekend, with random bumps of k to 'take the edge off' and stayed up from Friday through Monday morning at an afterparty that just never ended, and I was crying because I couldn't find my car keys and jacket and I was seeing dragons crawling up the walls and I needed be at work in 2 hours. (My first day working for the federal government, too!). I think maybe another day of partying like that and I would snapped completely. I ended up showing up to work, passing out during orientation and then claiming food poisoning and going home. I looked like warmed over death, I'm sure.
posted by empath at 3:51 PM on August 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you don't go to dreamland, dreamland comes to you. Think about all the things you've believed, unquestioning, while dreaming. When you dream, you are InstaFanatic about whatever ludicrous set of rules you're presented with. That's not a great place to be when you're awake, unless you're looking to start a religion.

*nods* so true.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:55 PM on August 17, 2011


I've finished the first essay, the prelude -- fun! I found myself wanting to copy out snippets to post in here but after wanting to cut/post four or five or whatever it became clear -- to me, anyways -- that this isn't just a blurb sort of piece, and doesn't at all need posted whatever bits/pieces I'd want to bring here. Fact is that MetaMonkey posted what I'd want to bring here IE posting the link to the whole damn thing.

Glad to read it, look forward to the rest.

Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin: "Looking past the hyperbole and self-indulgent prose I think it was something I needed. Cheers."

I guess I'm just not classy enough or English Major-y enough to detect excessive hyperbole and/or self-indulgent prose and/or if I do detect it it just doesn't take away from a great story written in large fun. I like this guy and I like how he writes and this looks -- to me -- like a ride worth getting on. In fact I'm already on the ride, just that I'm gonna ride with him is all, see where he goes to next, and what the scenery is, and his destinations ...
posted by dancestoblue at 3:58 PM on August 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


A fascinating tale that could do with a serious edit. Similar to a scenario that could be put together concerning about seven years of my own life ... with a lengthy three year epilogue as well.

Key point about losing-it-on-LSD tales (which is what this is, of course -- I think we need a name for this genre) is that they are indeed profound for the individuals enduring them -- likely the closest thing to a genuine experience of WAR (or something equivalently real-world intense) that they are likely to encounter in their waking lives, certainly without leaving town. And thus I find them fascinating -- folks elaborating on what amounts to one of (if not the) exclamation points of their lives. How can that not be engrossing?

But yeah, could do with some serious word-removal.
posted by philip-random at 3:58 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The fact that people do ridiculous amounts of drugs and survive makes me lament the fact that I've always been to scared to take drugs. Part of me will always believe that if I take acid just once I will be insane for the rest of my life.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:59 PM on August 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


Assuming he's not exaggerating about how long he stayed awake, it sounds like severe sleep deprivation was the secret ingredient that (in combination with the drugs) really pushed him over the edge. I guess there are reasons to be grateful for being a sleepy person -- back in my neo-hippie-ish college days, when friends would stay awake for 3 or 4 days on certain stimulants and other mind-altering substances, I could rarely manage more than 24 hours. How this guy managed to keep on partying 24/7 for a week or more after the most epic acid trip of his life is beyond me. Maybe mania can do that?
posted by treepour at 4:03 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man. Been there, done that. Can't find the t-shirt.

(actually I feel like a piker after reading that)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:05 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm partway through it, but damn is this guy super long-winded. Just tell your fucking story already, dude.

If you have a tripping story, it usually takes fifteen minutes to a half an hour to tell it in all its glory,

Hmm, let's see. I'll give it a couple of shots:

1.
I kept thinking the chair was Cindy or Cindy was the chair. It was a mistake to go into the bathroom on the third floor of Tewksbury. Maroon walls are not awesome on acid. Later, there was gothic script in the shadows on the ground near the crypt but I couldn't quite read it. When we went down to Blithewood for sunrise it was like we were the first two people ever. Then the birds came. Thousands and thousands of them, except they were Japanese fighter-spaceships. Then we went to bed but couldn't get to sleep even though we were exhausted.

2.
Emily kind of looked like a gnome, which was cool. The guesthouse was like a 50's diner but with more books and a better jukebox. The cows in the dark were pretty scary at first because of the sounds, but then they breathed on the back of my neck and it was all warm and kind of nice and not scary at all. At dawn we were above the fog and it was a bowl of steaming soup in the valley below us. Then we went to bed but couldn't get to sleep even though we were exhausted.

So yeah. More like 15 seconds to half-a-minute to tell a tripping story, then. Nobody would ever be even remotely interested in hearing more than that about someone else's trip.

This guy says he's a musician. Judging from his writing, I imagine he plays in bands where every song is 12 minutes of noodling punctuated by unnecessary "solos." Maybe jam, maybe prog, maybe indie noise, but definitely noodling and solos.
posted by dersins at 4:15 PM on August 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Part of me will always believe that if I take acid just once I will be insane for the rest of my life.

Part of me believed that until I did it once. It took a good twenty excursions before I finally found the kind of edge one could fall off, which leads to the following observation, which I dropped a while back at the dog-end of yet another psychedelic thread:

Doing psychedelics is like sightseeing in a beautiful place where you've heard rumors that there may be an unimaginably deep chasm somewhere nearby, but you're not sure because many of your companions insist it's just a rumor.

So at first, it's all pretty safe. You just don't go too close to where you think that edge might be. But over time, you get more brash. You keep looking for that edge, because the view is better there, of course. But it's a weird edge, enshrouded in mist. It takes very skilled, experienced footwork to actually find it.

Most of us [...] just find a spot where the view is good enough. But some us don't. And, assuming youth, recklessness, lack of respect for the "reality" of the situation, that means we eventually go too far, we fall off, often without realizing ... because first we get caught in an updraft. We're flying, we think ... but then we fall.

And it can be a very long, incomprehensibly deep fall.

But it usually doesn't kill us (drive us mad). It just shakes us the fuck up, smacks us around, it wounds us. Sometimes deeply. To the extent that what we're left with is something approaching post-traumatic-stress-syndrome -- a wound that takes a long time to heal, assuming it can ever be fully healed.

At least, that's how it was for me.

My happy ending goes something like this. It took more than a year before I'd really shaken the "shaking" I'd taken, the deep, gnawing, almost Lovecraftian existential dread I was haunted by in the aftermath of my "bad fall". But I did get over it to the extent that I was eventually doing psychedelics again, but I was wiser now, I was more cautious now. I now knew for sure that there was an edge and no, I couldn't tell you exactly where it was, but I could always sense it when I was getting close ... so I learned to stop right there, close to the edge, not over it. And over time, I kept edging closer such that, eventually, I was getting right to it. I had the footwork figured out. I could even catch the updrafts and float around a bit ... without going over.

That was amazing.

But that was almost two decades ago. Now I'm just glad to have had the experience, and the wisdom it gave me (for lack of a better word), and the tale to tell.

posted by philip-random at 4:17 PM on August 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


How this guy managed to keep on partying 24/7 for a week or more after the most epic acid trip of his life is beyond me. Maybe mania can do that?

With the right (wrong) group of friends and the right (wrong) collection of chemicals, its kind of easy. After a while, sleep deprivation becomes its own high. I never made it past 3 or 4 days, but I definitely had friends that stayed up for longer.
posted by empath at 4:18 PM on August 17, 2011


I'm into part 12 and the "trip" part is really just an instigator. It's not really a tripping story; it's about going bugfuck crazy for awhile, which the acid probably precipitated but after awhile was no longer part of the narrative.
posted by curious nu at 4:34 PM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just stumbled across this:
I've spent a lot of my life trying to describe how it works to be psychotic to people who've never done good acid. Trippers get it for the most part, I just say "like tripping but you never stop believing." Belief is a big part of it: all capacity for skepticism and doubt is gone. It's confirmation bias on crack. It's like being three years old with no parents to explain things or tell you when you're wrong.
I never went as far as he did down this path, but in my psychedelic days I did get to a point where belief started to take over in this way pernicious way. There were a few months in which I quietly "believed" in strong solipsism (e..g, that I was the only existing consciousness and I was dreaming the world) or, alternatively, that I could somehow help bring about an end of suffering in the world by getting rid of all of my possessions and wandering homelessly. I also sometimes "believed" that certain people in my life were real (as consciousnesses), but we were trapped in this dream-world together, and we were all half-consciously and secretly signaling to one another in some kind half-remembered, ancient code that we needed to remember that this is a dream and learn how to wake up from it. Oh, and I also sometimes thought of myself as a sort of prophet that could "wake" other people up and turn them onto this ancient wisdom I was in the processes of "remembering."

Fortunately, I also got sleep and remained interested enough in my classes to keep me from becoming completely untethered. Eventually I had my first full-blown panic attack on the most heroic dose I've ever done (I was convinced I'd truly lost my mind and would never get it back), and that was pretty much the end of my psychedelic detour away from reality.

Looking back, I guess I characterize that period as a drug-induced manic episode, not a psychosis. But, yes, belief had absolutely everything to do with it.
posted by treepour at 4:35 PM on August 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Nobody would ever be even remotely interested in hearing more than that about someone else's trip.

I and everyone else who greatly enjoys digging through the Erowid experience vault would like to disagree with you.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:38 PM on August 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


treepour: " There were a few months in which I quietly "believed" in strong solipsism (e..g, that I was the only existing consciousness and I was dreaming the world) or, alternatively, that I could somehow help bring about an end of suffering in the world by getting rid of all of my possessions and wandering homelessly. I also sometimes "believed" that certain people in my life were real (as consciousnesses), but we were trapped in this dream-world together, and we were all half-consciously and secretly signaling to one another in some kind half-remembered, ancient code that we needed to remember that this is a dream and learn how to wake up from it. Oh, and I also sometimes thought of myself as a sort of prophet that could "wake" other people up and turn them onto this ancient wisdom I was in the processes of "remembering.""

You mean to tell me that's *not* what's happening?
posted by dancestoblue at 4:41 PM on August 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Whoah, missed that thread, philip-random -- thanks for the link, and for the great descriptive comment.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:42 PM on August 17, 2011


One day I will write down the time I freaked out on 4 hits of blotter at a friend's house and then walked to the subway with a half pound of weed under my jacket. He threw me out. For good reason.

I had to stop reading after page three. This kind of stuff flips a switch in my head tthat makes me very uncomfortable. Sort of like a contact bad trip.
posted by Splunge at 4:58 PM on August 17, 2011


I and everyone else who greatly enjoys digging through the Erowid experience vault

People do this? On purpose? They actually seek out other people's banal psychedelic "revelations"? I mean, we all think we experience something deep and revelatory when we're tripping on whatever it is that we're tripping on, but in the cold light of day it's pretty obvious to most of us that while those "revelations" may feel deeply personal and significant, what they actually are is cliched and utterly boring. And those are our own. I can't imagine being interested in someone else's.
posted by dersins at 5:00 PM on August 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


This was interesting to me because it's a completely different form of madness than I'm acquainted with. I know several people who have been hospitalized for suicide attempts/suicidal thoughts and are either battling clinical depression or bipolar disorder. But I've never encountered anyone who actually had a complete break with reality.
posted by Hactar at 5:10 PM on August 17, 2011


but in the cold light of day it's pretty obvious to most of us that while those "revelations" may feel deeply personal and significant, what they actually are is cliched and utterly boring.

twarn't nothing cliche about the mini-Jawa-like creatures that surrounded me that time I sucked back a big garbage bag full of nitros-oxide whilst already quite high on LSD ... and it was the Summer Solstice and the desert sky was crystal clear all the way to the furthest edge of the Big Boom.

But I didn't actually see the mini-Jawa-like creatures, it was the two guys on top of the converted school bus who happened to be looking down at me. All I saw was the entirety of the Universe, in tune, a perfect harmony of which my soul was the highest, sheerest note.

And then I went and had a beer.
posted by philip-random at 5:11 PM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you know what it's like to transcend the illusion of time? It's fucking awesome.
That was funny.
posted by slackdog at 5:17 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


So yeah, having finished: this is not about drug trippin', it's about being crazy.

It also seems to be 20-odd parts. I'm kind of glad that isn't mentioned in the FPP because I probably would've skipped it entirely and missed out. Good thing you didn't read this until you had finished, too!

On the subject of crazy writings: The Center Cannot Hold.
posted by curious nu at 5:20 PM on August 17, 2011


This was interesting to me because it's a completely different form of madness than I'm acquainted with. I know several people who have been hospitalized for suicide attempts/suicidal thoughts and are either battling clinical depression or bipolar disorder. But I've never encountered anyone who actually had a complete break with reality.

Over 10 years ago I worked in a transitional housing for the chronically mentally ill. The majority of my clients had a history of some sort of psychotic disorder - schizophrenia, bi-polar with psychotic features, major depression with psychotic features, schizoaffective disorder. For the most part, they didn't share what was going on in their heads and most were sufficiently medicated so that their positive symptoms were pretty much in check - for example, they might hear voices, but they knew that the voices weren't real. One time though, I observed one of the more together clients descent into delusional psychosis. It was very unsettling.

She was a woman in her 50s. She had spent the majority of her life working as a nurse. She was lovely person to talk to - intelligent, thoughtful and pleasant to be around. She was, however, suffering some pretty dramatic side-effects from her medications. She swayed from side to side constantly and shuffled when she walked. She had a very hard time walking up in the morning and had very little energy to do much of anything during the day. Needless to say, she was frustrated and depressed about the side-effects of the meds.

The staff felt bad for her - here was this seemingly perfectly rational woman was so overmedicated that she couldn't even function. How could she get reintegrated into the community if she had no energy to do anything and had such dramatic uncontrollable body movements? Hospitals frequently discharged people to us who were completely overmedicated and this seemed to be a text-book case of it. We advocated to her doctors to change her medications and asked them to discontinue the antipsychotic she was on.

For the first week she seemed great - brighter, more energetic, less of the swaying & shuffling. Then, she came to me saying that she needed some emotional support. She was plagued with guilt about the death of a dear friend. Okay, I said, let's talk.

Out came this very elaborate delusional system involving her being part of a medical rescue team who worked with/against the Hells Angels. The Hells Angels (in her delusional system they ran everything and were in the highest branches of the government) would break into people's houses and hang them; her rescue team would come along shortly and revive them. They had fucked up with her friend, she said - they got to his home too late and were unable to revive him. His death was all her fault.

Fuck. This belief system was firm and all-encompassing; no amount of "reality testing"could make a dent in her delusions. She was terrified of the Hells Angels, told me that they were going to track her down and hang her - she was really suffering. We called the doctor and she went back on the antipsychotic medication, albeit at a lower dose.

It stayed with me for a few days like a mild case of the flu. I felt a little uncertain about my own reality. It was pretty disturbing.
posted by echolalia67 at 5:55 PM on August 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


For those who stopped within the first six chapters or so, the writing gets more to the point and cohesive as it goes on.
posted by codacorolla at 6:06 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


People do this? On purpose? They actually seek out other people's banal psychedelic "revelations"?

You'd prefer they read NY Times Best Sellers and the memoirs of ex-presidents? Shall we all mock your interests now and try to make you feel stupid and insignificant? Because that's what the world needs, right? More smug.
posted by jwhite1979 at 6:09 PM on August 17, 2011 [19 favorites]


complete, annotated, unabridged story

But I want it noooooooooow!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:27 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


God, you guys can be such joyless pedants. I thought his story was extremely compelling, and I loved his writing style and the level of detail he included. Thanks very much for posting this.
posted by dialetheia at 6:44 PM on August 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


I never thought my experiences were cliched. In fact they were pretty damn amazing.
posted by meta87 at 6:44 PM on August 17, 2011


From later in the essay:

My case is rare only in the fact that I did finally snap out of of this protracted psychosis, and can examine it from the perspective of sanity.

That's true - it's uncommon that a person can go from sane, to insane, to sane again and offer cogent commentary on the experience. It really is a great piece of writing.
posted by codacorolla at 6:49 PM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


tl;ra

(too long; read anyway)
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:07 PM on August 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


I loved reading this and I am looking forward to the novel.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:32 PM on August 17, 2011


in the cold light of day it's pretty obvious to most of us that while those "revelations" may feel deeply personal and significant, what they actually are is cliched and utterly boring

I don't know your background, but I kind of understand the attitude. I used to feel this way about, say, watching something like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Ha ha, drug humour, drug experience, whatever. Once you know the cliche, what more is there, right?

Once I experienced some of these things myself, though, I found these things -- both stories and depictions -- far less boring (well depictions if well done; otherwise frustrating). A little like travel in that way. Because from that point on, what started to happen is that I would catch little moments of "truth" -- not in terms of some kind of universal revelation but in authenticity of experience. I'm recognizing a moment. On top of this, a number of these stories are tremendous first hand accounts of endless terror and incalculable joy; I'd have to have some kind of heart of stone not to be moved by them. Which is why I'll never understand the utterly dismissive attitude some people have toward experiences that may look outwardly idiotic because they look outwardly idiotic. It strikes me as extremely and unnecessarily self-conscious and insecure. The experience is real enough, and it's the experience I'm interested in.

So yeah, I'm interested in people's accounts of, say, ego death, like I'm interested in others' accounts of Burma. I've been there, it was a pretty dramatic experience, I wonder what they made of it, if it left any scars, what there reflections are of it now, and if they wrote the piece soon after being there, I just want the fresh imagery, as raw as they can deliver it. Why wouldn't I find that interesting? Of course, I've met loads of people who are as interested in foreign locales as they are foreign experiences: not at all. I guess I won't see them on the road. No love lost either way, I'm sure.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:38 PM on August 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


Protip: Use of the footnote in modern lit died with David Foster Wallace. Use of it screams "Trying too hard!"

Seriously, young writers, just write - don't embellish with gaudy prose or ANY kind of device. Just use your own voice and keep it simple. This is the most effective way to develop as a writer. If you are good your voice will get stronger and your words will be secondary to the story your reader is lost in. The story is the point, not displaying the skill of the writer. When the skills of the writer aren't that polished it is glaringly obvious if they try too hard.
posted by tatnasty at 7:58 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nthing that I love good trip stories, and do not find them cliche except in a shallow way. Underneath there really are a lot of transformational experiences and it's fascinating to hear people relate them. This guy describes it exceptionally. It's so hard to convey ideas and experiences that at the time seem too big for words.

I'm only half way through, so I am not yet to the parts where he's crazy.
posted by polywomp at 8:01 PM on August 17, 2011


Protip: Use of the footnote in modern lit died with David Foster Wallace. Use of it screams "Trying too hard!"

Or, that as was obvious from the start but explicitly stated later, you are a Dave Barry fan.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:03 PM on August 17, 2011


Seriously, young writers, just write - don't embellish with gaudy prose or ANY kind of device. Just use your own voice and keep it simple. This is the most effective way to develop as a writer. If you are good your voice will get stronger and your words will be secondary to the story your reader is lost in. The story is the point, not displaying the skill of the writer. When the skills of the writer aren't that polished it is glaringly obvious if they try too hard.

If you're giving advice to some person in a Intro Fiction Workshop class, then I tentatively agree with you. This guy isn't a new writer, and his use of footnote is often quite funny and effective.
posted by codacorolla at 8:10 PM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


This story is the pivotal narrative turning point that it's easy to blame for me being the person I am instead of someone else.

I rest my case.
posted by tatnasty at 8:15 PM on August 17, 2011


God, you guys can be such joyless pedants. I thought his story was extremely compelling, and I loved his writing style and the level of detail he included. Thanks very much for posting this.

Totally agree. I found it engrossing and fascinating, and wouldn't want it to be any shorter at all. I had to stop at Part 9-- just after he's been committed-- because I had planned to do things with my evening other than read a memoir about psychosis, but I am certainly going to read the rest. It reminded me, sometimes very much so, of Mark Vonnegut's fantastic Eden Express, about his experience with psychosis in the 1960s.
posted by jokeefe at 8:15 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


People do this? On purpose? They actually seek out other people's banal psychedelic "revelations"?
You'd prefer they read NY Times Best Sellers and the memoirs of ex-presidents? Shall we all mock your interests now and try to make you feel stupid and insignificant? Because that's what the world needs, right? More smug.

Look, I've said it a thousand times, but I'm very, very sorry about that bad acid I took back in J-school that made me hallucinate that blathering self-congratulatory id people have come to accept as a "person" named Tom Friedman. I honestly thought everyone would've realized by now it's obviously a fucking joke, but people just keep accepting it as analysis or whatever.

Jesus, that was one helluva trip. At one point I was convinced I was on PBS, telling Charlie Rose that we had to invade Iraq just to send the message to the world that they should suck on this. I mean what kind of mental patient would say something like that on national TV? Couple tacos and some green tea sort of took the edge off it, but man that was one frazzled edge to walk . . .
posted by gompa at 8:32 PM on August 17, 2011


I want to chime in with my experience because there's a certain type of personality that will read a blog post like this and go out and try to score acid, and while the author does mention it's a cautionary tale, you really don't need to go to the extremes he did to have problems.

One of the scarier moments of my life was the first time a friend of mine took acid - things were going great at first. I made the mistake of referencing a time I had a bad trip - suddenly my friend got obsessed with the idea that she wasn't having enough fun, that more acid would make life fun, and she somehow managed to get her hands on the remaining strip of five, and did three of them (in addition to the two and a half to start).

This fucked her up so bad she stopped being able to speak. As the effects took hold, she opened up her pocketbook and started tearing apart everything she could find, she started destroying furniture, removing clothing, etc. and she ended up running out of the room and throwing her dorm room keys down a grate (it took half an hour to find her.)

After we found her again, she calmed down and was able to speak. We smoked a lot of weed - we went into my other friend's bedroom and I drew all over her and her friend with a yellow highlighter with a black-light turned on and it was pretty fucking awesome.

She of course didn't have a room to stay in so I took her back to my place.

One thing I learned that day is that yellow highlighter, when it sinks into skin, doesn't wash off easily. It took roughly a week before they stopped glowing when exposed to black-light, but as I didn't witness their showering habits, it's entirely possible they just might not have been bathing that often.

Big warning signs for a trip gone wrong are:
a) If the person you're with starts repeating the same sentence over and over or is fixated on one idea, bad shit is going to happen - talk to them and see if you can switch the subject to something more neutral (The author mentions this)
b) If you're starting to make absurd connections and read intent into every single thing, that's a sign that YOU are having the breakdown (the author mentions this too). If the newspaper is telling you that your friends are plotting to youtube, and your friend im's you a youtube video of a cat running when a traffic light turns green and you somehow interpret the youtube video as a sign that there is a conspiracy to isolate you from the rest of your friends while they have a drug fueled orgy, you need to find someone that has xanex or klonopin or weed (ideally you should have some supplied for just such an emergency) because shit is going to get bad if you stay awake being crazy.

Other bad ideas:
a) Don't trip by yourself. You're a lot more likely to freak out, and it's not as fun without other people.
b) Don't have anything scheduled for the day you trip or the day after - you're probably going to be useless and have a messed up sleep cycle if you drop during the week.
c) Minimize interaction with people who are not the core group of friends you're tripping with. People who haven't dropped don't know how to act and what not to say - even a task like ordering a pizza over the phone can take an hour and a half if you have a room full of tripping people, and even interacting with the pizza guy will be an anxiety provoking experience.
d) Don't try to force it - sometimes you won't get much of an effect other than feeling sped up, if you drop more acid or do deliberately acid trippy things the drug will turn on you. Even a plan like "I'm going to watch yellow submarine while I'm tripping" can go horribly wrong because you can only guide the trip, you can't drag it around like a puppy on a leash. A trip lasts long enough so that things WILL go wrong - it's very difficult to go 'off the grid' for half a day at a time, your phone will go off, you'll get an email, someone will knock on the door, etc. You can guide the trip by making sure there's fun stuff like paint and video games and crayons and trip-toys and cartoons and glowsticks and other cool stuff, and you can minimize the problems by turning off cellphones and not answering the door/email, but you can't control the world any more than you can control the trip - you must accept it.

I've outgrown LSD - I feel like it was a growing experience, and while I can't in good conscience recommend trying it, I also really can't understand the mindset of people who wouldn't try it, who fear the drug or who want to remain in control so much that they aren't willing to explore and experiment.
posted by Veritron at 8:33 PM on August 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is probably not the type of post where I'm supposed to cheer and go "Yay! Hometown Pride!" as this is set basically where I grew up. A few things should be noted about Bar Harbor (from a quasi-locals perspective). The Village Green has almost always (at least since the 70s) been infested with hippies beating on drums, druggies shrugging off their last escapade, and otherwise tourists only semi-blindly missing the miscreants all around. In the summer time - it increases in intensity and frequency. Keep in mind, the front doors of the police/fire station are quite literally twenty-five steps from the center of the park. The police know what is going down almost all the time - just they also let a ton slide... I'd elaborate why, but lets just say - Bar Harbor cops are far less concerned about drug use unless it gets out of hand... which it did in this fools case. Hell, the park is one of the most frequent locations for small scale drug transactions in Bar Harbor... The police know the troublemakers, and any and all affiliates of those trouble makers - especially the summer migrant workers - who have a tendency to get in way over their heads. It would seriously be tough, very tough, to actually get in any trouble for drugs or drug possession unless you actively pissed off someone.

Bar Harbor is a neat place - know the right (or wrong) people and you can probably get a cup of coffee, grab a few beers, smoke two joints, and drop a few hits of acid without having to walk more than 70 steps. I remember in the peak of my stupid adolescent phase, heading for home (all right, technically I grew up in Bass Harbor - opposite side of the island) and taking Eagle Lake Rd. home (which, you would pretty much have to) and having a single set of headlights go around my car - on either side. I remember it was normal and expected, except it was neither - and I knew that.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:40 PM on August 17, 2011


while those "revelations" may feel deeply personal and significant, what they actually are is cliched and utterly boring. And those are our own. I can't imagine being interested in someone else's.

Hmm. Interesting.
posted by grog at 8:52 PM on August 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


If things are starting to go pear shaped, watching tv can help. The more banal the better: informercials and home shopping network are the best.
posted by juv3nal at 8:54 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Protip: Use of the footnote in modern lit died with David Foster Wallace. Use of it screams "Trying too hard!"

Have you ever heard of Terry Pratchett?
posted by wayland at 8:56 PM on August 17, 2011


The only thing more tedious than clever inside-joke pseudonyms are footnotes about how clever the inside-joke pseudonyms are.
posted by theclaw at 9:01 PM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Protip: Use of the footnote in modern lit died with David Foster Wallace. Use of it screams "Trying too hard!"
I take it you're not a fan of House of Leaves? That book is at least 50% footnote, and it's 100% amazing.
posted by bloody_bonnie at 9:19 PM on August 17, 2011


If things are starting to go pear shaped, watching tv can help. The more banal the better: informercials and home shopping network are the best.

I can't speak for all humanity, but this strikes me as NOT GOOD advice having had at least one perfectly okay trip get rather derailed by some random late night TV I wandered upon. I think it was Saturday Night Live. The audience was laughing like mad. I didn't get the joke. Then someone turned the TV off and threw on some Ray Charles. That helped. And then the fireplace bricks turned into Ray Charles face and the entire end of the room was singing to me.

Then someone put on some ambient Brian Eno. That calmed me right down. Heaven on earth.
posted by philip-random at 9:26 PM on August 17, 2011


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is another great footnote-full book
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:40 PM on August 17, 2011


Just say no to sleep dep.
posted by wobh at 10:32 PM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just say no to sleep dep.

Yup, no dream time eventually means your dreams will impose themselves on your waking consciousness in the form of hallucinations. This is where delirium tremens comes from with hardcore alcoholics. They black out but they never dream ... until one day there's snakes of fire crawling up their legs.
posted by philip-random at 10:44 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I enjoy the footnotes. Especially since they are more of side notes, positioned right next to the reference point so I don't have to scroll down 'n shit.

Anyway, I'm only halfway through, but it's interesting reading. And I am sooooo not trying acid. Not that I planned on it, but holy cow anyway.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:51 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


this strikes me as NOT GOOD advice having had at least one perfectly okay trip get rather derailed by some random late night TV I wandered upon.

Yeah, I once got home after a bad trip and watched some televangelist, and it was literally the worst thing. Then I stumbled upon the Teletubbies for the first time and literally didn't know if I was actually watching something real or if I was imagining the whole thing. It was like they literally made a tv show for rescuing people from bad trips. A baby in the sun! Smiling! So amazing. I watched it for 6 hours. Or maybe 20 minutes, its hard to say.
posted by empath at 10:53 PM on August 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


literally.
posted by empath at 10:57 PM on August 17, 2011


I get the meta angle, impossibly long winded text in 16 parts like drug induced time dilation, neat.
posted by iamck at 11:01 PM on August 17, 2011


And I am sooooo not trying acid. Not that I planned on it, but holy cow anyway.

That guy was over the top from the get-go, taking monster doses and increasingly reckless chances. Some kind of crack up was inevitable. Taking his LSD experience to be the norm is akin to thinking everyone who gets on a bicycle is going to end up in heavy rush hour traffic, drafting big trucks and passing cars in the fast lane, then eventually having some horrible accident that requires months/years of recovery and rehab.

Bicycling doesn't need to be like that at all
.
posted by philip-random at 11:08 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nthing that this had little to nothing to do with acid, and a whole lot to do with not sleeping for 12 days. I've heard a few stories like these; all of them involved sleep deprivation.

It was still a good read.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:16 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


A good read, and an interesting story told in a workmanlike way. Not really 'long-winded' so much as a little meandering, though. Which suits the narrative, so: fine.

Makes me remember how close I got, occasionally, back in the good and bad old days, to losing my shit entirely that lost-in-language way during particularly long benders, except that I, luckily, had way more respect for psychedelics.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:17 PM on August 17, 2011


Oh, and I've also experienced the "suddenly great improvements in hand-eye coordination and reflexes" thing. It's weird, and neat.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:20 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Part of me will always believe that if I take acid just once I will be insane for the rest of my life.

Pay attention - very close attention - to that part of yourself; to that belief; listen to it; obey it.
posted by Vibrissae at 11:21 PM on August 17, 2011


be afraid. be very afraid. and vote republican
posted by philip-random at 11:29 PM on August 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've outgrown LSD - I feel like it was a growing experience, and while I can't in good conscience recommend trying it, I also really can't understand the mindset of people who wouldn't try it, who fear the drug or who want to remain in control so much that they aren't willing to explore and experiment.

Will Shakespeare never did acid; Pieter Brueghel never did acid; Gautama Buddha never did acid; e e cummings never did acid; Alban Berg never did acid; Jesus of Nazareth never did acid; William Blake never did acid; Nijinsky never did acid; J. S. Bach never did acid.

The point? A full life, with a mind that collapses the universe of the unknown into new, extraordinary realities, does not require acid. If you are afraid to take acid, don't take it; it's not a sign of weakness; it's a sign of knowing your limits - that's called wisdom.

I knew a guy who did acid every weekend; he was a good friend; he was a delight to be around. Once, over a beer, I told him that I felt like I was missing something, because I had heard about fantastic acid trips, etc. etc. My friend said: "of all the people I know, or have ever known, you are the one person I don't think needs to drop acid to create a new reality - you're already there.

I'm not saying this to trumpet myself, but to further make the point that we all have an ability to fly in ways that we never imagined. Some use drugs like LSD; that's fine if it works for them. Some don't use drugs, and that's OK, too. It has nothing to do with fearing loss of control; it has to do with knowing oneself.
posted by Vibrissae at 11:59 PM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


It took me over five hours to read the whole thing, and I thought it was a wonderfully terrifying story. Like Hactar mentioned, it's a completely different form of madness than I've ever encountered and I think that's what kept me reading. I also have no frame of reference when it comes to dropping acid, and am looking forward to reading some of the links upthread. Although probably not tonight. I'm too old to stay up this long (let alone 12 to 14 days - HOLY HELL!!).
posted by youngergirl44 at 12:08 AM on August 18, 2011


Acid isn't grass. You should never ever take it more than once in a week's time, and that's still a lot. The quality is lost if you do it often.

A good rule in general with mind-altering drugs is to always start the day sober. Have your head in good working order before you take anything. Then always find your way back to that head space before you go again.
posted by Goofyy at 12:33 AM on August 18, 2011


I can't speak for all humanity, but this strikes me as NOT GOOD advice having had at least one perfectly okay trip get rather derailed by some random late night TV I wandered upon.

Certainly, anyone's mileage can vary, but I'm specifically NOT advising TV as good use of trip time if things are going well. The point is that when things are going badly, they're often going badly because imaginings/hallucinations are running wild. TV by focusing your attention on a flat, 2d surface does something to mitigate that. And programs that are trying to sell you junk further that by being both dull and at the same time constantly trying to grab your attention. Anything with a story (even the news) is contraindicated because there's the chance you'll feel that the story is somehow about you, which, depending on the story, can make things worse.
posted by juv3nal at 2:51 AM on August 18, 2011


I stopped reading when he hadn't slept for like three days and dropped fifteen hits of acid on his arm by accident.

I've taken more than I wanted to a couple times and it was not fun. I've been to what felt like the edge of crazy on just lots of weed; my friends were worried they'd lost me to insanity that night. And then there was the night I had one thc cookie and piled a shroom on top of it around midnight... on the Friday night of a weekend con. No sleep that night what with being convinced I'd gone through a mirror to a fake world full of duplicates of everyone despite the advice of my bunnyzelle spirit guide. Who my ex still mistakenly blames for it, no dear, she told me NOT to do it but I did. Thankfully I crashed hard the next evening and was okay.

Sometimes I still get the IT'S ALL FAKE LET ME OUT thing going when I'm too high. But now that I don't live with roommates I loathe, I am high a lot less of the time.

Fifteen hits of acid and days of sleepdep. Fuck. I didn't want to know details of whatever particular hell he went to. I've been to the outskirts a couple times and it was bad enough. I don't seek out serious psychedelics; I have, to paraphrase Alan Watts, hung the fucking phone right the fuck up, and left it off the cradle until it ran out of charge.
posted by egypturnash at 5:40 AM on August 18, 2011


protip: stay off the internet until you come down.
posted by Theta States at 7:09 AM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Link stopped working this morning as I was reading through it! I'd finished part 4, hooked on the story, moving on to part 5, when it just crapped out! Disappointing, but favorited - I'll be back.
posted by rodmandirect at 7:28 AM on August 18, 2011


I admit I wanted to write this off as "yet another drug story", but this opening from part 3 is money:
One of the principles I live my life by is that I don't care what people say behind my back. If you say something nasty about me when I'm not around, my opinion is that the tree didn't make a peep. If you don't say it to my face, you either like me too much to hurt my feelings, which is fine, or you're afraid of me, which is also fine, or you're just not in a position to tell me to my face, which is perfect. The fact is people only have to like me enough to pay me, fuck me, and serve me beer,1 and if they have something else on their mind they're welcome to keep it to themselves or repeat it like a bad vacation story when I'm out of earshot.

This is not some enlightened realization about ego protection and emotional stability. This is something I trained myself to do out of necessity, since if I allowed myself to care about what people didn't say, I would have killed myself a decade ago.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:30 AM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Never mind, back up :)
posted by rodmandirect at 7:36 AM on August 18, 2011


I tried a few times, but a combination of the wildly overblown writing and not being able to relate to anything at all in the narrative made it unreadable to me. Every single thing he did just seemed idiotic, to the point that I just didn't care what happened next. Never having done any drugs and never having stayed up for more than 24 hours or so means this story isn't for me, I guess.

And to the few of you who seem to take offense at people not liking this guy's writing style... it's ok for us to have an opinion. It doesn't make us "joyless." We, or at least I, don't think any less of you for liking it, so please do us the same courtesy.
posted by Huck500 at 8:48 AM on August 18, 2011


Finished it. It was long. And I enjoyed it. I can understand his desire to share this story with the internet. Thanks for posting it.
posted by rodmandirect at 8:50 AM on August 18, 2011


Fascinating read but it took me forever to finish it. One thing I'm left wondering about, did the LSD induce his psychosis, or did the 14 days of insomnia induce his psychosis?


It's interesting that once he was able to get some quality REM sleep three months later, he literally woke up and all the delusions were just gone.
posted by smoothvirus at 9:21 AM on August 18, 2011


I was amused even at the time that I stayed up a bit too late last night reading this. Thanks for posting it.

One thing I'm left wondering about, did the LSD induce his psychosis, or did the 14 days of insomnia induce his psychosis?

There's a bit of chicken-and-egg there, I think. The lion's share weighs on the incredible length of time spent not sleeping, but insomnia of that length probably wouldn't have happened without the stupid amounts of chemical enhancement he was inundating himself with.

I especially enjoyed how aware he was in the concluding parts that his very survival of the experience came down to a lot of luck, from being a nice upper-middle-class white kid in a small town where, as mentioned up yonder, the police are relaxed about drug use among that population. And that if he'd been in a big city when he cracked right open or not from that kind of invisible privilege, that he'd much more likely simply have died. (Or otherwise gone irrecoverable.)

That he believes he didn't dream at all during his break even after starting to sleep again was also pretty fascinating to me. It certainly sounds like it makes sense--don't dream for too long, and your brain will just start dreaming all the time, which is going to be bad--but I'm wondering if there's evidence for that--greatly different sleep patterns among psychotics, etc. Or if that was just his unique experience and other psychotics dream regularly while asleep on top of their psychosis.
posted by Drastic at 9:39 AM on August 18, 2011


Somewhere around day four or five a heavy dose of Thorazine could perhaps have prevented his lapse into madness., or not, but it or something like that would have been the right thing at that time.

Great post by the way.
posted by caddis at 9:51 AM on August 18, 2011


That he believes he didn't dream at all during his break even after starting to sleep again was also pretty fascinating to me. It certainly sounds like it makes sense--don't dream for too long, and your brain will just start dreaming all the time, which is going to be bad--but I'm wondering if there's evidence for that--greatly different sleep patterns among psychotics, etc. Or if that was just his unique experience and other psychotics dream regularly while asleep on top of their psychosis.

It seems that there are many paths to the psychotic mind. Once you reach that place it's not always so easy to come back. I suspect that other psychotics dream regularly, but don't have any evidence to back that up.

The story reminds me of an episode of Star Trek: TNG.
posted by smoothvirus at 10:29 AM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that once he was able to get some quality REM sleep three months later, he literally woke up and all the delusions were just gone.

Sounds like a vastly expanded version of what a friend of mine went through one long summer afternoon into evening. There were three of us and we'd dropped rather large doses. For whatever reason, one guy (call him Dave) quickly took off on a bad side-trip that involved all manner of confusion, repetition, hallucination.

As time wore on and we other two eventually found ourselves more or less straight again, there Dave was still muttering and circling, making no sense at all ... which started to freak we "straight" guys out. What happens if he never comes back? and all that.

Anyway, long-story-short: Dave eventually lay down in a field and went into a REM state, eyelids flickering open and shut for maybe a minute, like something out of a horror film. Except I knew enough about sleep to know that REM was when the vivid dreaming happened. I turned to the other guy and said, "I think this is okay. I think this is what needs to happen." And sure enough, within maybe fifteen minutes, Dave was lucid again, AWAKE, with virtually no memory of what had been going down for the previous six or eight hours.
posted by philip-random at 10:52 AM on August 18, 2011


A decade or so ago I dated a woman who had a psychotic episode something like this. Watching her lose her sanity, over the span of just a few hours, was a singularly terrifying experience. Her body was still there, her voice was still there, and her personality was in there somewhere, but she wasn't there anymore, and the new program running in her head was not something you could relate to as a fellow human being.

It was like her pattern-recognition system had stuck on full throttle, and she had no way of filtering anything out. The whole world around her was full of messages and meanings, patterns, hidden identities, instructions from the divine; every thought sent her off in a new direction with full confidence, seemingly unaware that she had been just as confident about something totally different a moment ago. She kept looping back through similar chains of delusions, but she couldn't sustain any plan or idea for more than a few minutes before something new distracted her.

One thing I'm left wondering about, did the LSD induce his psychosis, or did the 14 days of insomnia induce his psychosis?

Staying awake for 14 days will make you crazy whether you have taken drugs or not. Of course I'm not sure how you would manage to stay awake that long *without* taking drugs... but on two occasions I've seen people lose their sense of perspective and develop bizarre delusions and paranoias after nothing more exotic than two or three nights without sleep. In this guy's story, it seems like taking acid is what made him think it was a good idea to stay awake all the time, but the staying awake is what actually made him crazy.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:54 AM on August 18, 2011


And to the few of you who seem to take offense at people not liking this guy's writing style... it's ok for us to have an opinion.

Well, of course it's OK. You are more than welcome to decide it's not your cup of tea and just click on by - no hard feelings whatsoever. What drives me crazy is when people come in and derail the whole thread with their biting "literary criticism" and big self-important pronouncements of how boring and cliche they thought it was and how they can't IMAGINE anyone reading this psychedelic drivel. When people do that, it's also OK for me to have an opinion, which is that they are behaving like joyless pedants. Sorry.
posted by dialetheia at 11:05 AM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Staying awake for 14 days will make you crazy whether you have taken drugs or not. Of course I'm not sure how you would manage to stay awake that long *without* taking drugs... but on two occasions I've seen people lose their sense of perspective and develop bizarre delusions and paranoias after nothing more exotic than two or three nights without sleep. In this guy's story, it seems like taking acid is what made him think it was a good idea to stay awake all the time, but the staying awake is what actually made him crazy.

That's what I think as well, 14 days of staying awake made him go psychotic but he never would have gone that far without taking LSD in the first place. He may have some physiological susceptibility to LSD because I've never heard of it keeping someone awake that long before. It's kind of like that somehow the LSD turned off the part of his brain that induces REM sleep, and without it he was just kind of "stuck" in the state that the LSD left him in.
posted by smoothvirus at 11:05 AM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This guy's like the Temple Grandin of crazy people. The parts about his admittance to the mental institution, the cigarette breaks and pervasive little triggers, the accompaniment of everyday life with the persistent belief in his own secret Mission; I've caught glimpses of those in my friend's stories but it's never been elaborated on.
posted by redsparkler at 11:41 AM on August 18, 2011


Especially the contrast of the Inpatient Progress Notes with the sidebar's footnotes; he gets enough of a grip on himself socially integrate, while still operating under a parallel set of delusions.
posted by redsparkler at 11:46 AM on August 18, 2011


the accompaniment of everyday life with the persistent belief in his own secret Mission; I've caught glimpses of those in my friend's stories but it's never been elaborated on.

It's that which keeps me going and maintains my delight in the world.
posted by Theta States at 11:47 AM on August 18, 2011


Huck500 And to the few of you who seem to take offense at people not liking this guy's writing style... it's ok for us to have an opinion. It doesn't make us "joyless." We, or at least I, don't think any less of you for liking it, so please do us the same courtesy.

I don't think anybody minds your opinion. What I hate is the assumption that banality is an objective feature of a certain kind of art, and that you have to have magic hipster glasses to see it. I'm not a big fan of this piece of writing. Like someone else said I thought the prose was a bit self-indulgent. But I can see why other people like it. It's funny and insightful. And even if I couldn't see why others like it I'm not going to act exasperated, like what I perceive as banality is some kind of moral crime. I have a good friend who acts like my love of James Taylor and Barbra Streisand is an offense against music. But I fucking like them. I think they're really good musicians. He hears cloying baby boomer bullshit, and I hear music that reminds me of the best parts of my childhood. He is free to mock me for listening to them, but he can't really be surprised when I tell him to fuck off.
posted by jwhite1979 at 11:53 AM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's what I think as well, 14 days of staying awake made him go psychotic but he never would have gone that far without taking LSD in the first place. He may have some physiological susceptibility to LSD because I've never heard of it keeping someone awake that long before. It's kind of like that somehow the LSD turned off the part of his brain that induces REM sleep, and without it he was just kind of "stuck" in the state that the LSD left him in.

Did everyone completely miss the very VERY frequent references to 'kiddie crack' AKA ritalin that were cropping up all the time? And if you keep in mind that he probably wasn't dictating every single time the substance came up, that leads to an awareness of a LARGE amount of amphetamine usage, plus (working with) two weeks of no sleep. The one mildly eventful but overall benign acid trip beforehand is rather dwarfed in comparison.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:20 PM on August 18, 2011


Did everyone completely miss the very VERY frequent references to 'kiddie crack' AKA ritalin that were cropping up all the time?

No, I didn't miss them, but to my recollection they were all along the lines of "I've used them" and not "I was using them during this interval", no?

I also wanted to call bullshit on the "I was technically still on acid five days later because I hadn't slept". That's just not true, and %100 sleep deprivation. Doesn't make it a not good story, I just hate seeing people perpetuate bad acid myths.
posted by neuromodulator at 12:25 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great story, super long, but he can take as long as it needs. That sort of detail is exactly why its so good.
posted by estuardo at 1:59 PM on August 18, 2011


I've got through about 6 chapters and I'm finding I really like his voice, it may be long winded but I find him to be a really amusing story teller. So much of the material is familiar - I've seen far too many friends' minds disintegrate around me and part of why it is so horrifying is because it is so unknowable and reading a detailed and articulate (but also slightly irreverent) account of it is really fascinating and actually really useful - it's a hard thing to discuss with someone who has been through this and it must have taken a lot of (dutch) courage to go scour his thoughts and emotions of the time to get this down.

I also wanted to call bullshit on the "I was technically still on acid five days later because I hadn't slept". That's just not true, and %100 sleep deprivation. Doesn't make it a not good story, I just hate seeing people perpetuate bad acid myths.

I don't think anything like this is so black and white - I think not getting the sleep you need can leave you in an uncertain state about the world, whether it's technically the acid or the sleep is almost irrelevant if you still feel like you're tripping and I think it might just be a turn of phrase that painted that picture more succinctly.
posted by pmcp at 3:31 PM on August 18, 2011


My grammar in that last post was awful...
posted by pmcp at 3:33 PM on August 18, 2011


I don't think anything like this is so black and white

Well, I do think it's possible I'm wrong. I'm not a doctor, etc. But is there anything that works this way? That's only processed by sleeping? Because I think it's just a theory he made up because sleep deprivation can feel similar. I've done acid many, many times, and I would always stay up until I felt sober because trying to sleep while too high is horribly uncomfortable.
posted by neuromodulator at 4:00 PM on August 18, 2011


Fair enough, but I know the feeling of not being quite able to kick myself out of the mindset of suspicion about reality until after a good night's sleep.
posted by pmcp at 4:18 PM on August 18, 2011


I also wanted to call bullshit on the "I was technically still on acid five days later because I hadn't slept". That's just not true, and %100 sleep deprivation.

If you get drunk and fall down and hit your head and three days later your head still hurts, do you blame it on the alcohol or on the fact that you have a bruise on your head? The alcohol certainly caused the fall, but the fact that you're still hurting doesn't mean you're still drunk.

I had no particular trouble sleeping after my most intense acid trip (other than the usual waiting ten or so hours after the initial "drop"). But then I woke up and I was definitely still feeling something -- not deranged psyche and hallucinations, more like a palpable dread based on the extremes of experience I'd encountered the night before. Which I would liken to the formerly drunk man's bruised head -- an injury caused by the drug in question, but not continuing to be informed by it. That is, the dread I was feeling was not the acid continuing to work its way through me, it was the "bruise" left over from the "fall" the acid had caused.

Which isn't to minimize the situation (because that bruise could be a brain injury sufficient to put the sufferer into a coma, just as the post-acid dread could be the onset of some kind of psychosis), just to clarify that past a certain point, it isn't the drug that's actually doing the affecting, it's the injury itself, either healing, or not.
posted by philip-random at 4:34 PM on August 18, 2011


Yeah, philip-random, my best guess as to what happened is that the stress of the acid trip: the lsd, his friend, the cops, his friend's dad, and shitting himself put him in some sort of hyper-wired stress mode that prevented him from sleeping. I think that's similar to what you're saying: the acid facilitated the traumatizing fear (if that's the right word for it), but it wasn't really the acid that was responsible, any more than the alcohol gave you a bruise on the forehead.
posted by neuromodulator at 5:05 PM on August 18, 2011


Yeah, you're right. neuromodulator, I award you five anti-bullshit points.
posted by pmcp at 2:53 AM on August 19, 2011


I was saying to my wife a couple of weeks ago how I regret never having taken acid. Having read this, not so much. An interesting and engaging read, thanks.
posted by chill at 5:20 AM on August 19, 2011


Just picking up on this since it was mentioned in the green. If you can't get enough of this guy, his essay on working for OkCupid & online dating in general is also worth reading.
posted by pharm at 4:11 PM on August 19, 2011


I am reliably informed that this FAQ for a non-existent game about fishing was written while on LSD. It has the advantage of being much shorter than the FPP link, but it is still funny.
posted by scalefree at 5:49 PM on August 19, 2011


I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this. Even the opening druggy stuff, which I really couldn't relate to and don't usually find at all engaging, was told in an entertaining way that was pretty accessible. I've never experienced mental illness like his, and his descriptions were really good. I've often thought of the brain as a massive pattern finding machine, and the descriptions of his psychosis kind of lent credence to that concept. They were also scary as hell.
posted by lriG rorriM at 6:49 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was really interesting, thanks for posting it.
posted by Diablevert at 8:19 PM on August 20, 2011


My entirely unscientific feeling about LSD is that the brain reacts to it somehow by altering the chemical balance, so that when the chemical goes away, the brain kind of overshoots in the opposite direction, which sets off a kind of oscillation that lasts for some time, and it might indeed take some sleep for things to settle down.

Leaving aside the fact that there is more to thought than chemical composition, ie memory and habits of thought, etc, which can stay changed well after the drug is gone.
posted by empath at 8:24 PM on August 20, 2011


My experience is that it takes more than just one night's sleep to entirely neutralize the "oscillation". After years of psychedelic mucking about, I finally had what I called my Three Day Plan.

Day One you'd do the drug, preferably not that late, preferably with the sun still shining, somewhere in nature, beautiful and complex. So as the sun was setting, the most intense part of your trip would be fading, and by the time you got to your normal bedtime, you'd be ready to sleep (or at least you wouldn't be staying for five or seven more hours).

Day Two was sort an afterglow day, particularly if you'd had a good trip (and for me, the vast majority of them were very good indeed). After a few hours sleep (I found I almost never really got my full seven-eight hours), you'd still have a little of the drug percolating around in you, which was nice. Smoke a little weed and it would be very nice indeed, an easy, lazy day to do not much except relax and smell roses. I'd usually go to bed early and have a good long night's sleep.

Day Three was what I came to call the hangover. Nothing brutal like an alcohol hangover, but still not exactly pleasant. It was mostly about absence. Everything seemed dull, uninspiring, like the previous two days had me overdrawn in the "life has meaning and it's a complex and beautiful thing" account. Not that I was depressed. I just wasn't enthused ... about anything.

Day Four I would finally be back to normal and, for a certain chunk of my life, ready and eager to drop again. Ah, the good ole daze.

*** final thought: if you're drinking alcohol while you're tripping, everything's different than I've described here. By the time the strongest of the acid's wearing off, you're either completely shit-faced or already well into your hangover. Alcohol + acid do not mix, unless you're in the Butthole Surfers.
posted by philip-random at 11:59 AM on August 21, 2011


I found I could get around 4 hours of sleep the night of, and felt normal the next day, except as accounted for by the lack of sleep.

I'd also try 3-4 beers towards the end of the night to help put me out, which is a nice way to come down.
posted by neuromodulator at 12:55 PM on August 22, 2011


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