My bad experience with psychedelics and how I healed

This site is dedicated to helping you heal from a bad experience with psychedelics. “Bad trips” are extremely common. Even though they may only last for minutes or hours, they can have an immensely powerful, negative effect on a person’s life. Many of the site out there don’t provide balanced, in-depth resources for people dealing with a bad experience with psychedelics, like LSD, DMT, mushrooms, etc. Most sites are heavily biased towards preventing people from “doing drugs,” or encouraging people to use psychedelics. Other sites are crowd-sourced, offering a smattering of different opinions with no real focus. I don’t view these sites as bad or wrong, just incomplete.

My goal with this site is to provide exactly the resource I would’ve wanted after my bad experience with psychedelics from a human perspective. This site isn’t anti-psychedelics, because I believe they are some of the best teachers out there. For that reason, I am so thankful for my bad experience with psychedelics, even though it turned my life upside down for several years.

If you’ve recently had a bad trip or are just wondering what a bad experience with psychedelics can be like, let me tell you my story:

How I got started with psychedelics

From the moment that loopy, yellow flowers began to trace their way onto the walls and ceiling of my first college apartment, I knew nothing would ever be the same.

About forty-five minutes earlier, a guy I had been seeing for a few short months – whose personality was as whacky as his brown mop-hair – had dropped a tiny piece of paper into my steamy cup of peach tea as we sat outside along the main drag of our collegetown. It was a brisk morning in September or October, and I was naïve. For years, I had been drawn to the idea of LSD and the hippie culture that surrounded it in its heyday. Here I was, finally getting my chance. What I didn’t know and what no one ever could is the how truly wild the ride can be. It sort of slaps you in the face before you have a chance to see what’s even coming.

My journey with psychedelics started with a love of plants. As soon as I timidly ventured outside, freshly off the peak of my first trip, I felt the presence of great, green beings who I had never noticed but who were all around me and always had been. Bush after bush of blooming purple asters drew me in and in and in. I got lost for what felt like forever in the complexities and geometries of one single lavender-colored flower that, on an ordinary day, I might not’ve given a second thought. As an art student, the color relationships between the bright purple petals and honey yellow centers and pure red ladybugs that clung to the quivering blossoms felt more profound than those of any priceless painting.

At that moment, I felt like I finally understood all of art and all of beauty and everything that every artist had ever meant.

The shy, confused, staunch-atheist girl I had once been melted. She evaporated like an ice sculpture thrown out the window of a moving train onto hot desert sand. I rejoiced. There was so much more than I had previously believed. Trip after blissful, wonderful trip confirmed it over and over again. To me, acid was like Fräulein Maria, spinning exuberantly in the Austrian Alps and teaching me how to sing with nothing but loving warmth and grace.

Me, around the blissful time of my early psychedelic life

If there’s one thing psychedelics, though, it’s that psychedelics don’t play around. Terence McKenna, a sort of prophet of mushrooms and DMT, used to say that these substances have a clipboard. Every time you come to see them, they’re evaluating you. “Hmm,” they say, “She’s back again.” They check off boxes: Why is she back? Has she improved at all in her normal life? How many times has she come here? Sometimes, you don’t pass the test.

My bad experience with psychedelics

Think of psychedelics as the best teachers in the entire world, but they’re old-school. They don’t put up with nonsense or cheating. They’re not always going to give you a feel-good lesson that puts your mind at ease. Many people don’t understand this when they have a bad experience with psychedelics: these substances will always give you exactly the lesson you need. Such was the case when I plopped a tiny, plastic spoonful of bitter white powder on my tongue and washed it down with a gulp of water. After about an hour, the 4aco DMT we had taken didn’t appear to be doing anything, so (for some unknown and ill-advised reason) speeding things up with a few hits of acid seemed to be the right idea.

Just a few hours earlier, I had been wrapped up in a fuzzy, red wine colored jacket on my balcony listening to Led Zeppelin. I was soaring in a nicotine-induced serenity that made me feel as though absolutely everything was right in my little world. Now, though, I was in the middle of a terribly intense trip. All hell was breaking lose. It was like the entire contents of my brain and memory had been taken out as movie stills and blended on high in a Vitamix. Thoughts and images whirled past me like aggressive, colorful confetti: there one second and gone the next. I couldn’t hold onto any thoughts at all, and I was terrified.

Soon, we were in a domed, emerald-green room with living geometric patterns that covered the floor, ceiling, and walls as one continuous textile, rug, or wallpaper. When I later heard Terence McKenna describe an underground, domed room that is a motif in his DMT trips, I knew that was exactly where I was. In this room, it felt like the backs of our heads were open. Thoughts were free flowing between the two of us. I kept thinking “Can you hear me?”

“Yes!” he responded via thought.

I opened my eyes. He smiled and nodded at me. I was unbelievably excited and unbelievably scared. I just couldn’t get over the idea of communicating with him through thought alone.

Soon, I was experiencing these strange structures made of fine filaments, very much like the tiny, stringy muscles of the iris. There were several different structures, each with its own unique geometry and desaturated colors. At times, I would see all the structures together in one view from high above. Other times, I would see each one up close. Each one of them had their own strange, unsettling sound and corresponding title. It was a lot like Vger from the 1979 Star Trek movie. I felt like I had known of the structures for as long as I had existed, yet I had never seen them. Were they part of my DNA? Was I looking at my DNA? Chromosomes? Genes? Nerves? Irises?

That vision faded into a colorful, living landscape of blue and orange jewel-tones. He was there too, wearing a wizard’s robe that had images of stars and planets and morphed into the ground he was standing on. A link was formed between us. He began to transmit some kind of ancient and esoteric information that fascinated me completely. I felt as though I was being given special knowledge that the living aren’t supposed to consciously know. I was excited… and scared.

After the transmission, we were standing at a marriage altar of sorts. He produced a magic bouquet out of thin air and presented it to me with pride. This was a binding ceremony, a sort of cosmic wedding. As I realized that, I began to feel very afraid. I said no no no no… He instantly knew that I didn’t want him as my partner.

Outside of our heads, the dynamic changed. Things went cold, and he shrank away from me, feeling rejected. He said he’d better leave and go back to his place, but I wouldn’t let him because we were so high. At that point, we ceased to be in love and just became, well, two people who were unknown to each other yet stuck together in the middle of a dramatic and seismically emotional journey through the deepest landscapes of the mind. He went in the kitchen to collect himself. I grew terrified because I couldn’t hear his thoughts as loudly anymore. I went to get him in the kitchen. I screamed at the top of my lungs and melted to the ground. He made me shut up and got really serious. He told me that if I did that again, somebody would call the cops on us. I stopped.

At that point, I became so psychotically afraid that he was going to kill me. I was convinced that I couldn’t go back to reality knowing that telepathy was possible and knowing all that ancient knowledge. I was convinced that I had heard of this happening: your S.O. would get you to marry them in the 4th dimension or something. Then, I thought, you would be in an odd sort of artificial higher dimensional limbo place filled with strange colors and shapes, telepathically communicating and together forever. I thought the only thing left was for him to actually kill us so that we would go to that place fully. I was so scared.

I wanted to talk to my mom. I couldn’t imagine the pain of her finding me dead with some stupid guy in my apartment. He wouldn’t let me talk to her, which made things worse. Looking back, I probably would’ve said extremely strange things that would’ve alarmed her. I wanted to go outside, to know that I wasn’t trapped, waiting to die. He wouldn’t let me, and that made me even more scared. Again, looking back, that was the right thing. I probably would’ve bolted the second we got outside.

I just continually begged, “Please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me.”

The trip had me unshakably convinced that he was going to kill us both. This is the power of letting yourself spiral into a bad experience with psychedelics: ideas can become so real and grow so tall in your mind that they become like an unstoppable, illogical freight train.

It didn’t matter how many times he said, “I’m not going to kill you.” I couldn’t trust him.

How the trip got better

The best thing he did was to play the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was so familiar and comforting. It was something I could hold onto. But at the same time, he started touching me to the rhythms of the music. I became convinced that the Beatles had encoded a secret technique for programming people within the rhythms of their songs. I thought he was using these rhythms to make some sort of contract with my soul. The theme of my utter terror was that I would end up in a binding soul contract against my will.

He was trying to get me to calm down and be less anxious, but I could never shake the feeling that I was ultimately going to die.

He told me “Don’t you want to explore your mind? Don’t you want to be creative and brave and see the psychedelic world? Or do you want to be just an idiot who doesn’t know any of this and lives life in ignorance?”

As he said these things, I saw myself stripped of the divine spark, just the shell of a person with a few attributes now made meaningless and empty. I was so afraid of that becoming my reality. I felt like the “codes” he was putting into my spine had the power to make it so. I begged and pleaded that no, I wanted to explore and be brave and be creative and spiritual. It’s sad to me, looking back and seeing that I believed he could take that away from me. I believe the trip was teaching me what what life would be like without a divine spark and soul. What it would be like to be a lifeless character.

Eventually, at the end of the album, the song All You Need Is Love came on. I took it as instructions. I focused on love and feeling love for him in spite of all this. Feeling more calm, I just settled down. I was essentially waiting to die. Though it may sound morbid, that is exactly what I needed. The sun was coming up, and I was coming down, but the terror and trauma of the night before was still heavy in my heart.

The aftermath

For a week or so after that, I was okay. Our relationship was as good as ever. It seemed that we both had decided to forget the way we had been made strangers during the trip. I flew to visit my father, and I was in a fantastic mood – bubbly, happy, excited, soaring. I felt completely groovy, and I dressed a to reflect that. I was so outgoing relative to my normal self. When I got back and joyfully reunited with my tripping partner, everything seemed the same.

We decided he should go get a haircut. When we went to the barbershop, I was sitting there waiting for him and, all of the sudden, my mood dropped. It was like all of the happy brain chemicals drained completely out of me. I couldn’t feel happy, positive, or anything. I looked around, trying unsuccessfully to see beauty in my surroundings. I felt cold, lifeless, like I couldn’t appreciate any beauty or feel any loving feelings. I panicked, severely.

I started feeling strange sensations all over my body, intense tingles that traveled to different limbs and locations. I had no idea what was happening, but I thought I was certainly dying. I was so scared and panicked. My left arm felt strange, my heart felt strange. I thought I was having a stroke. I made him take me to the hospital, and he tried to cheer me up and get me to calm down. Finally, after the nurses triaged me and just sent me back out to the waiting room, I noticed their lack of concern. I calmed down, realizing that I had just been having an anxiety attack… or something.

A crutch

After that first panic episode, I started vaping nicotine constantly, blindly leaping into an addiction because it was the only thing that made me feel calm or normal or that things would be okay. I loved the physical act of vaping, the way it made me feel, the taste of the flavored vape juice. During this time, I had problems sleeping and constant anxiety. I felt like I was just going nuts. All I wanted to do was get back to the normal, pre-trip me who at least had some semblance of stability in her life. I felt like I had messed up my brain chemistry, and that I was now somewhat damaged.

If you’re experiencing any of these problems after a bad experience with psychedelics (links open in a new tab):

Over time, I learned to control the anxiety attacks, although they were always there, like aggressively growing weeds in the garden of my mind. I was out there everyday, more of a soldier than a gardener, keeping watch and yanking up the weeds as soon as they poked through the dirt. Despite being able to divert anxiety, I still didn’t feel like I was making real progress. I decided that I needed to end things with my tripping partner because, after that last event, I couldn’t trust him anymore, even when I tried. I couldn’t forget that ceremony or the thought of rituals performed on me against my will. If you’re in a similar situation, you can read my post about what to do when a trip messes up a relationship.

Around the same time, I also decided to quit vaping – I tried to go cold turkey one day. That made me feel psychotic and suicidal, which I never feel. I heard voices. I felt possessed. I went to a friend’s house and cried and cried in his arms. Instead of going cold turkey, I decided to work my way down, decreasing how much I vaped every single day until I didn’t need it anymore. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. At the same time, though, I’m glad to have had the experience of addiction and gotten through it.

Healing takes hold

As time progressed, I learned to control the anxiety fairly well. The more I learned about spirituality, the more I healed. While training to be a Certified Yoga Teacher, I met multiple people who had gone through a similarly bad experience with psychedelics. It was so healing to be able to talk about the trip and the problems I had been suffering as a result of it. Soon, one of the women in the program introduced to a hypnotherapist who I quickly began working with.

Together, we worked to uncover what was really going on within me: years of repressed trauma. Having a bad experience with psychedelics is often circumstantial, but one that induces absolute terror is usually the result of something deeper. Through hypnosis and dream analysis, we eventually dredged up the fact that I had been sexually abused during my childhood. As more and more of my past came out of repression, I felt more and more free. The panic attacks completely melted away, and I felt like a new person. It’s important to look into past trauma as a potential cause of a bad trip. This is certainly not the case for everyone, but it’s common and worth looking into. My case was particularly severe, but the presence of any unresolved trauma can hold you back in life

Me, doing great in 2019!

Another major step along my journey was the decision to start writing this site. It’s been so healing to release all of this knowledge, information, and wisdom out of my head and set it free in the physical world. Writing is something that I recommend in nearly every healing guide, and that’s because of how much it’s helped me. It will have all been worth it to me if this site helps just one person heal from their bad experience with psychedelics faster than they would’ve alone. I hope it helps you.

If you’ve recently had a bad experience with psychedelics here are some more resources:

If you’d like individual guidance healing from your bad experience with psychedelics, I’m happy to do private sessions. Please contact me.

xoxo,

Olivia

acosmichaven@gmail.com