Recovering from a traumatic psychedelic trip is an incredibly personal journey that you must, for the most part, go on alone. This is a large part of what makes it so difficult – during a time when you deeply crave support and empathy, many people simply can’t understand what you’re going through and many more will be highly judgmental of it. When I was healing, all I wanted was for someone to tell me everything would be okay, but truthfully, I myself was the only one who tell me that, because I myself had to decide it. Society is set up in a way that often allows us to avoid having to do things alone, but it’s not until you put yourself on a solitary journey that you realize your raw strength and power to affect your own life.
You trip was a gift for you. As you venture down the path of recovery, you’ll likely learn to hear your inner voice, become stronger than you ever imagined, and view your authentic self as a priceless asset. Right now, your inner guidance may be quite difficult to hear, but the only way to make it louder is to start trying to listen. During this process, the best thing to do is to keep your thoughts and experience close to home rather than telling a lot of people people. This is a delicate time, and other people’s opinions, perspectives, and advice can start to muddle and confuse that tiny inner voice that you are just starting to hear.
Finding a trip ally
As you begin to heal, it can be incredibly helpful to find an ally with whom you can discuss your experience, feelings, and concerns. This person’s role should not be that of a therapist for you, and they should never tell you what to do. Instead, they should simply serve as a non-judgmental listening ear or shoulder to cry on, so that in the darkest or most confusing moments, you know that you have someone to turn to for support. Ideally, your ally should be someone who is experienced with psychedelics but, at the very least, someone who you know you can rely on.
When I was going through my own recovery process, I felt incredibly alone, and no one I knew at the time had experienced quite what I had gone through. When I finally met someone with a level of psychedelic understanding and experience that made me feel normal, a rush of relief flooded into my body. The truth is that your experience is not uncommon, and you will get through it – having someone to remind you of that and pull you back into reality can be the difference between taking months instead of years to heal. In large part, that it my goal with this site.
When looking for an ally, look for someone who is experienced with psychedelics and probably more so than you – this will help you to trust them when they say that things will be okay. You will know that they truly know what they’re talking about. If you don’t know anyone like this in your daily life, consider turning to someone who has been there for you in the past with a nonjudgmental attitude of love and care. Opening up and sharing your experience with someone who will judge or be alarmed by a traumatic trip or use of psychedelics in general is only a step backwards. When you do find your ally, be sure that they understand why you’re coming to them: you might say that you are trying to practice listening to your own internal voice, but that you would like some support for when things get particularly rough.
Talking to the rest of them
Outside of your ally, I recommend refraining from telling anyone (especially those who will be particularly concerned, like a parent) about your experience. Using psychedelics let alone having a bad trip can give you a stigma with people who are inexperienced with psychedelics and can spark undue concern that turns into a relationship hindrance later. When someone finds out about your trip, they typically won’t see the subtle progress that you make towards understanding and healing everyday, so they will go on believing that you are in a fragile state for much longer than necessary. As with any personal issue, it’s best to put aside the desire for sympathy and comfort and keep the details contained.
If the effects of the trauma are affecting the way you act or conduct your daily life, someone may ask you what’s going on. In this case, it’s best to make vague statements that let the person know that you are going through something difficult and highly personal which you’re not intending to discuss at this time. You might say something like, “I’m just going through a rough patch right now, but I’ll get through it,” with a smile. A statement like this will confirm the person’s feelings but let them know that they don’t need to press further.
If people question you about your mood or apparent emotional state, always remember that you don’t have to give them the full story – a personal difficulty is your story, and you decide when to tell it. When people do ask, it’s best to confirm but diffuse their concern. Saying, “Nope, I’m fine,” will just cause them to press you more because they know it’s not true. When paired with a genuine smile, making a simple statement like, “Everyone has ups and downs, right?” can do the trick. When you don’t offer any more detail, the concerned person will likely get the message. Understand that, most of the time, people have good intentions when they ask you about your apparent emotional state, so always treat them with kindness rather than being cold or defensive.
Talking to health professionals
Discussing your bad trip with health professionals can be difficult to judge. During my healing process, I worked with both a traditional psychologist and a regressive therapist, and I had very different experiences with both. When talking with my psychologist, I found that, while he wasn’t judgmental of my decision to use psychedelics, he seemed particularly preoccupied with ensuring that I didn’t ever use them again. This made me uncomfortable because his agenda seemed to take center stage above the immediate emotional problems I was facing. My experience with my regression therapist was quite different: she took a more understanding and open-minded approach to my experience, which I attribute to the fact that regression work deals with the subconscious mind, just like psychedelics.
If you feel like working with a health professional is a good choice for you, it’s important to be discerning when you choose the individual to work with. You may need to “shop around” in order to find the right person, and there’s no harm in doing so. Most mental health professionals offer an initial visit free of charge, and you can simply let them know that it’s not a good fit for you. Often, picking the right person to work with comes down to the vibe they give you, how they make you feel when you talk to them, and the nuances of who they are as an individual.
When trying to pick a health professional, understand that they too are humans with their own biases, personal experiences, and beliefs. Try to perceive the nuances of each professional and gauge how they might react before deciding to open up to them. It can often be better to work with a wholistic health professional or hypnotist who is well-versed in the complexities of the subconscious mind rather than a working with a bread-and-butter doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist. While working with these types of professionals can be great in certain contexts, they tend to be less well-versed in psychedelic experiences across the board.
Talking about your experience can be extremely helpful in a later stage of the healing process, helping to neutralize the sting and bringing you closer to other people who’ve had similar experiences with psychedelics. Later on, talking about having a traumatic psychedelic trip won’t cause the same level of stigma because people will see that you’re doing okay, and they’ll be less alarmed. It’s important to wait until the time is right for you personally before you begin to open up about your experience and healing journey.
The practices in this article are meant to help you protect yourself, your feelings, and your inner guidance from distractions and confusion at an early stage of healing – when you’re just beginning the journey. At this point, you’re working on getting your bearings, taking an inventory of yourself, making sense of how to proceed, and learning to listen to your own inner voice or intuition. As you move through the process, the pain will melt, the confusion will turn into wisdom, and the anxiety will get under control. At that point, you’ll begin to feel good about opening up and sharing.