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Some summers ago..
I decided to do mushrooms at a place called Wasaga beach. Wasaga beach is basically a place in Canada people go to, to party. It's lined up with different attractions and full of drunk college kids. Myself and some people I went to university with rented out a house on the beach, walking distance from all the commotion. We all got a room and prepared for a weekend full of partying. The first morning, we woke up and had a great big breakfast. The drinking began for most except me and a friend who decided we were going to take some shrooms. We had about 3.5 grams each first thing after breakfast. This was around noon. After some time passed, my friend started to feel the effects describing to me mandala-like patterns she was seeing on her hand. I was jealous of these effects as I still had no sign of anything remotely psychedelic.
Some friends decided they were going mini-putting (miniature golf) and invited us to come. She decided to stay but I, not yet feeling anything, thought it would be a fun thing to do while tripping. Lets just say this was when I was hit in the face with the importance of set and setting (check out my piece on Self Care and Substance Use for more information).
The walk there wasn't bad as I was just starting to feel something and we were still away from the busyness of the beach. The water coming in looked beautiful and the hot sand felt good on my feet. It wasn't until we reached the busy side of the beach the experience started to go down hill. At first, things began to become a little uncomfortable, but I was still in control of myself. I managed to play a couple of rounds of mini-putt and still hold myself together before it became unbearable for me to contain any laughter. The floors began to turn green and pink and the patterns were swirling in and out of each other. I couldn't help but find all this hysterical. I eventually realized upon my turn to play that I forgot the purpose of the game. I eventually decided to just put it to rest and let them finish the game while I basked in the visuals. This didn't last long before I realized I was surrounded by children and parents likely questioning my odd behavior knowing I was under the influence of SOMETHING. This led to a downward spiral that lasted for the rest of the day. I started realizing that I was NOT on the same page as everyone else around me.
In a desperate need to cling onto something familiar I called my friend who was at the house also on shrooms. But the only words I could make out were "I'm lost." At this point my thoughts were looping and I as just left in a state of confusion as to what I was feeling, where I was, and what I was doing. All I knew is that I was "lost." What I meant was disconnected from my surroundings but of course she thought I meant lost from the group. Still all I could say was "I'm lost..." Eventually she found her way to our group and by this point I was crying and laughing hysterically to the point I did not know which emotion I was feeling. I kept asking the group if I was laughing or crying. I kept being told I was doing both, which created even more confusion and panic in me, since I didn't believe it was possible to be doing both at the same time and relied on them to tell me which emotion I was feeling.
Eventually, my friend and I began to walk back to the house away from the crowds of people. I started to calm down but then was stricken with unresolved emotions of a break up I had a few months back. This was the first time I actually felt distressed over the break up in a month or so. I was in such a state of confusion that I was searching for something familiar to ground me, and the person I was closest too most recently was my ex at that time. I spent a great deal of this walk crying and upon returning to the house, retreated to a bedroom where I could be alone.
The rest of the day/night was a roller-coaster ride of emotions. For a while, my experience lightened up and I spent some time laughing at the small spots in the roof rearranging themselves to make different patterns. This sparked some laughter in me but didn't last. Eventually the visuals died down and emotions took over. I spent some time in front of a mirror, examining my short hair, my clothing, things I associate to be me. This I recognized as ego and at this time did not feel connected to it. It made me think about everyone downstairs partying and how disconnected I felt from them as well. This feeling of disconnection became painful and eventually led to thoughts of suicide. I knew this wasn't me to think this way however, and knew I wasn't going to actually act upon these. For a moment I thought I knew what it felt like to be depressed and empathized with those who deal with these thoughts and emotions on a regular basis. I didn't think it was fair that people had to endure this kind of pain. I spent some time looking out the window down at those partying and felt a sort of resentment towards them for being able to be happy when there is so much pain in the world. I eventually made it back to the bed and let my brain and body flood with emotions. I felt as if I were feeling all of the pain the ego of man has brought upon the world. It's hard to remember everything that came to me during those moments but there is one particular experience I cannot forget...
I had a moment where I felt the pain of a baby elephant who's mother was killed by poachers. It was left waiting for it's mother's return, hungry and in desperate need of care. It cried, and I cried with it. We cried loud hoping the mother would hear, but we both knew she wasn't coming back. That is the most pain I ever felt in my entire life. So much to the point I knew it was not my own.
I eventually stopped crying and started to feel more of the pleasant effects again. I made my way downstairs and sat on the couch trying to remember what band sung a song who's lyrics came to me near the end of my time in the room. "It's all perspective in the end..if each star is a sun dying and burning one by one, inside this massive cosmic black far too expansive just to grasp. And knowing we created time and this grand theory of an end, well then it's really just a theory maybe things have always been". Turns out its a song called "Failures," by a band known as 'I The Mighty.' For some reason these lyrics seemed so profound to me at this moment I couldn't stop playing them in my mind. This became what grounded me and brought me back to a sense of "normalcy." Oddly enough, this song isn't even something I associate with this experience much and for the most part forgot this had even occurred. I think the emotions felt during this experience were just so strong and intense, that it's easy to forget the more uplifting moments I had as well.
All in all, why I describe this experience as my worst and best is not because of the combination of "good" and "bad" moments. Rather, that the feelings of pain, loneliness, and desperation I felt throughout the experience is unique to anything I have ever felt in my entire life. To the point that I am glad I felt it. When people talk about psychedelic induced "ego death" they usually think of being freed from one's sense of identity and immersed with their surroundings in a positive euphoric way. This showed me that an "ego death" can be as painful as it can be ecstatic. About a year ago I learn't about the "Weeping Buddha." For those who haven't heard of this, its a wooden carving of Buddha weeping into his hands. If you pay close attention the hands covering his face and the wrinkle in his forehead make up a smile. There are many stories associated with this statue, the most common being about a battle between two masked warriors. The older warrior won the battle killing the younger, only to find out it was his lost son. Regardless of the story told, the weeping Buddha is said to signify Buddha crying for the suffering of the world and internalizing the angst to lessen the sorrow of others. I find this deeply resonates with what I felt throughout the experience, and that overall this experience has made me much more aware of the amount of pain a living being can feel.
This is the start of a psychedelic integration series I will be writing. The point of writing these is mainly for myself to be able to review my past psychedelic experiences. My goal is that by doing so, I can reintegrate the lessons from these experiences into my life, and maybe even (re)discover something new or forgotten. I am posting these in order too help "find the others," by generating dialogue around challenging psychedelic experiences. Keep updated with new stories to come.