Re-Post: Shrooms: A Good Trip and a Bad Trip

This is the story about the first and the last time I ate magic mushrooms.

It was Halloween, some time ago when I tasted my first magic mushroom. A friend of mine had invited me to a party at his friend's house nestled in the forested hills somewhere near North Bend, Oregon. As the sun was coming down the five of us made our way to the back room where we each took hold of a piece of pizza on top of which lay two or so grayish, dried mushrooms. We ate our slices, some in silence and some with childish glee. My nerves were peaked but I was committed to the experience and I ate my slice with all its foul flavors. As it hit my tongue I was compelled not to continue but I forced it down, the pizza barely masking its rotten impression.

It took a little while for the shroom's effects to manifest itself but as it did I felt my stomach churning and eyes widening. I stood up from the couch and ran into the bathroom. I puked a couple of times in the toilet and again tasted the nasty dirt-rotten mushrooms. As I recovered I was taken aback by two consecutive thoughts. The first was that there was now a slight green filter to everything and the man in the mirror was a version of myself that I recognized but in a new and fascinating way. The next thought was that I felt much better and a wave of euphoria and calm washed over me. I smiled at the tinted green version of myself and made my way back to the living room.

The rest of the evening I only remember in bits and pieces of sensory information. I remember the delicious maple syrup smell of the fog machine that would fill the room highlighting the three-dimensional space, the smoke undulating around faux spider webs, pumpkins, and skeletons. I remember laughing with friends and watching the carpet moving under my feet. At one point an old Christmas movie came on and I remember it being very interesting which I'm sure is only due to the significance inducing properties of the shrooms. One of my favorite activities was being outside where we reveled in the splendor of a bonfire celebrating our primal humanity and lighting fireworks. The place, activities and especially the people helped create an experience worth having.

Sometime later, I was with a completely different set of friends, a different place, and ate a different type of mushroom. This time a few work friends and I decided to eat mushrooms and hang out. The only activity that somehow we all agreed upon was watching the movie The Labyrinth. After eating the mushrooms, which were equally disgusting to the first ones, we sat in the living room a started watching the movie. My stomach churned again but I do not remember puking or anything turning green. The entire experience went by in a slow motion hell of David Bowie and Jim Henson muppets flashing in and out of my mind. As I watched the movie my mind would wander back and forth through past memories of watching the movie, predicting the next scene and then remembering past scenes in a time-bending nonsensical rollercoaster I could not escape.

As time went on my mind began attempting to make sense of what was occurring but as my rationality was impaired I couldn't continue a thought long enough to work out what was happening or what to do while watching random clips of an insanely abstract movie. I wasn't in control and as my panic grew worse I decided to simply close my eyes and try to sleep. This did not help much as the visuals did not stop behind my closed eyes. Clips of The Labyrinth continued to play in my head as a consuming inner voice continued to attempt to rationalize the experience. Eventually, I remembered that I had taken shrooms, that I would be alright and that the only way out was to ride the roller-coaster. I let my mind meander and soon the whirring thoughts turned into a bound up mess in a feeling I can only describe as grilling. It felt like my brain had been placed on a bbq grill to slow cook until crispy.

I am glad for the experiences and I learned more about what it is that magic mushrooms can do. I am skeptical of those that have only good things to say about mushrooms and those who blame the user for their bad experiences. I do agree that the way I experienced the shrooms in each situation played a role in the positive and negative outcomes and that mindset, setting and activities are important factors. I also agree that these things should not be done glibly or thought of as party drugs as the results are variable and the chemicals are unregulated. Ingesting organic psychedelics is not for everyone and the outcomes are unpredictable.

Ultimately I did not come to any realizations or epiphanies about my life or the universe. Maybe I was in a "bad place" when I took the shrooms the second time or maybe I took too much or had a bad reaction chemically. Either way, I learned something about how the mind can change when introduced to outside chemicals and how you can really only understand something by doing it.