Mental Wallpaper


This is a report of a DXM trip taken on Friday, February 27, 1998.

My first DXM trip was taken on January 31, 1998 (following a no-reaction DXM attempt the night before). Since then I have tripped with DXM about 3 times, generally at much lower doses than the trip tonight. Tonight I decided to push my personal envelope with a 1000 mg dose and see what the ìhigher plateausî were like.

These notes were begun while waiting for the effects to begin and were continued during the earliest stages of the effects. After the first few minutes of the trip, it became all but impossible to continue writing. After the effects had almost worn off at 3:00 a.m., I wrote a summary describing what had happened. That summary is appended to the notes.

About an hour before taking the DXM I had finished a meal of steamed vegetables, rice, and vegetable soup at a Chinese restaurant. It was not a heavy meal; nonetheless, as I took the DXM, there was some bulk in my stomach. I find that the amount of food in my stomach affects my reaction to the DXM (more food tends to delay and weaken the reaction); that is why I mention the above.

I wrote as follows:

8:05 p.m. - I took 1 gram (1000 mgs) of powdered DXM, drinking it down with orange juice.

8:24 - This is a weird business, this sitting around waiting to get high. With most substances I have used, you do it and the effect is quick - while youíre still doing it, youíre already high. You can judge how high you are and you can pull back or keep going. But with DXM you take the stuff and wait. Right now I still feel perfectly normal -- so normal that the temptation is to go do something, or even take some more to try to bring it on faster. And yet I know that would be foolish: the chemical is already coursing through my system even as I write these words, and the experience is already preordained. It is going to start, I just donít know exactly when, and once it does it will occupy my entire night. So I sit here, watching for signs - watching and waiting.

8:36 - Here it is. All of a sudden, ìwow.î Tingly all over; a subtle but definite alteration in thinking and awareness; everything suddenly brighter. I check the mirror: suddenly my eyes are very dilated; 10 minutes ago they werenít. No ìDXM hatî yet; no nausea. A pleasantly buzzing feeling.

8:40 - This is really coming on very fast tonight, maybe because I took a whole gram in pure powder form all at one sitting. In 4 minutes the effects have become much more pronounced. Iím very hot and feeling flushed. The music suddenly seems too loud. My eyes feel different. My head is buzzy and half spinning. Pressure up there too - that ìhatî feeling suddenly hitting, even as I write. Discoordination of hands/handwriting. That feeling that the body is suddenly switching off - everything is going to neutral - all the physical systems are going to low-power/disconnect/power-saver mode, while the consciousness pulls up and away through the top of the head. -And everything is bathed in light. All of this has happened in the past 5 - 10 minutes. It is now 8:45 p.m.

8:48 - Wow. Vision very blurry.
Very hot.
Pressure in head.
Sound is totally transformed.
Direction and balance and physical location - spatial sense - all are different. Iím completely in the grip of this stuff now. Only partially in the body.

8:55 - Can barely read the time on the cable-box anymore.
*Very* stoned.
In a very different place. Wouldnít want to try to move now.
Body disconnected and far away and - not important -

(At this point my handwriting had become illegible. My notes stopped and the following account was written later.)

This is being written at 3 a.m. Until about 12 midnight I was ìtripping hardî - harder than I ever have with DXM before - and until after 1:00 a.m. I was still very stoned, although more or less functional - by then the experience was in the range of an intense cannabis high. At 2:00 a.m. I was still feeling effects; even now there are some physical/coordination effects that linger, but I think most mental functioning is back to normal now.

No nausea tonight.

This was a very intense dissociative experience. It was almost chaotic. By 9:00 p.m. I was virtually immobile. Locomotion was managed as follows (if at all): I would stand up - hold out my arms for balance - reach for the nearest piece of furniture and hold on to it - then take a series of separated, halting steps, while holding onto something solid at all times.

My reasons for moving, like the movements themselves, were also confused and uncoordinated. Twice I got up to turn off the heat, each time forgetting that it wasnít on in the first place. Once I got up to go to the bathroom, only to realize when I got there that I didnít need to go. And at least once I got up for no apparent reason; the idea had occurred to me (I think) that I needed to get up just to prove to myself that I was still connected to my body, a proposition that seemed very dubious for much of the evening. I found myself standing confused in the middle of the room, thinking, ìWell, I guess I AM still able to work this thingî (meaning my body).

The whole experience was very chaotic and had aspects of a psychotic state, except that I always retained an awareness that it was drug-induced and was therefore temporary. This, I think, allowed the experience to remain emotionally neutral, almost like a clinical examination of self-induced psychosis; I was not scared or upset - in fact, I was fairly calm and serene throughout - and yet everything was chaotic and jumbled.

At some points I seemed to be wholly separated from my own identity. I was just ìconsciousnessî - ìawarenessî - ìthe awareness formerly pretending to act out the role of myself.î I never ìforgotî who I was (or had been pretending to be, since that was how my ego felt to me, like a mask I was wearing), but I ceased to identify with that persona. Thinking was intensely self-referential and metaphysical; many thoughts were about the *nature* of thinking, the *structure* of awareness - even about the *purpose* of awareness - the meaning of life. At some points life and death both seemed relative terms, like 2 points on a toggle switch that could be flipped back and forth repeatedly - alternate ìstates of beingî (contradictory by Western concepts) - you could choose to be or not to be, and then later you could choose to ìbeî again. All awareness and all consciousness seemed to be aspects of each other, or facets of one universal, single consciousness; the notion or perception in my mind seemed to be that we were all on some sort of ìjoint consciousness-missionî together, some sort of cosmic awareness project, and I just happened to be the momentary bubble of self-awareness where ìThe Consciousnessî was aware of itself at that particular moment or location in space-time. This all sounds very loony-swoony/loopy-doopy, but it really wasnít. There was none of that surging, oceanic, euphoric feeling typical of mystical experiences - I have had some experiences like that in the past that seemed revelatory to me, but this seemed different. It felt more like a detached, psycho-analytical, deranged, altered state of consciousness, and if I had to call it by a descriptive label, Iíd say it felt like a temporary breakdown of mental structures, almost like a temporary, ìlucidî psychotic episode or ìtemporary lucid derangementî. I call it ìlucid derangementî because at all times I was aware that the whole experience was drug-induced, that I had deliberately provoked it, that I wanted to observe it, and that it would presumably end eventually.

At some points dream and reality became interchangeable; illusions became real; reality became illusory; it was impossible to tell which was which, or where the boundary was between ìmyî mind or consciousness and the exterior world. They were interchangeable. Cosequently thinking became intensely disordered; for at least an hour I concluded that I was self-evidently insane and had always been that way, but had only been managing to conceal it until now. Yet, as noted above, even this conclusion seemed clinical and I was not unduly disturbed by it; at some level, I knew that it was induced by the drug.

My best description of how it felt was this: it was as if all the contents and pieces and structures of consciousness had come loose and were floating free of gravity in the middle of the room, like the floating shapes in a painting by Miro or Klee.

In addition, there were frequent visual hallucinations. Most of these were closed-eye hallucinations. If I grew weary of keeping my eyes open, I could close them and see vividly colored shapes, patterns, and images rotating and spinning. There were also intricate, evolving patterns of ìmental wallpaperî or ìheadpaperî, which seemed to form the background of all of my thoughts; these were fun to watch. Sometimes I could call these images up almost on purpose and let them float in my mind or in some mental space in such a way that they were in the same room with me. Sometimes I wasnít even sure if my eyes were open or closed, because the interior and exterior states had blurred together so much. Yet I always knew that at some level I was generating these shapes and that they werenít ìrealî. ìOh, isnít that neat. Instead of trying to look at the TV weathermanís satellite picture, I can hang an irregularly-shaped pink cube in the air, with black dots migrating across it, and a shimmering blue field behind it, and I can look at that for a while. I think Iíll let that hang and spin there right now.î

Also, sound was definitely ìflangingî. It was very hard to understand voices on TV and on the radio. It seemed as if every word was followed by echoes within echoes within echoes, giving everything a spooky, distorted quality. Voices seemed metallic.

ìFlangingî was also noticeable with light. Anything that shined or glowed left a trace or a sweep-pattern when I turned my head.

Finally, one of the most distinctive aspects of the experience was that time seemed to stop - or more precisely, it seemed as if I were somehow outside of time. At certain points it seemed as if I were trapped in some sort of perpetual ìstasis,î an endless moment, as if I had passed through a doorway that led out from the linear ìcorridorî of time into an open, unstructured ìnowhen,î like a vast void or field outside of time. This endless moment was characterized by mental disorder, odd sound and visual manifestations, intense psychological dislocation, and separation of the consciousness from the physical body and the ordinary ìselfî. In this lost, unbegun and unending moment, all the contents of the psyche were somehow sprung loose in disarray before me, with nothing really ìrealî and everything in my life, my mind, and the world just some version of a game - a game that, it seemed, hadnít yet been mastered or played very well. ìWell, we certainly havenít made the most of this consciousness excursion, have we? Maybe it was all a bad idea to begin with. Do you think you can do it any better from here on out?î - that was the ìtoneî or ìqualityî of the experience at certain points. I finally grew weary of being in this moment or place outside of the normal flow of time, and I began wondering when time would resume again. I was half-afraid that I had done something permanent and would never get back into the ìtime-corridorî again. When would this ìopen parenthesesî in the flow of time be closed?, I began worrying. I could not quite remember how time and space were *supposed* to feel, but I knew I had somehow temporarily sprung loose and was waiting for time to start again. Until then I was in some bright, light-washed, disordered, frozen ìelse-spaceî or ìelse-time.î

Just as this sense of weariness with the experience and worry about my own sanity finally became almost too much for me, the experience began to change. There was a definite transition back, and I remember thinking, ìOh, finally - thatís over. Iím me again.î Time started to move normally, I slipped back into my body, and I had the feeling that I was no longer high. But in truth I was still *quite* high; as soon as I tried to move around, I realized that I was at least still at the level of a very heavy cannabis high, or higher. It only felt ìnormalî compared to the intense experience that had just ended. I guess I may have experienced the transition back from one of the higher DXM plateaus to one of the lower ones. In any case there was a definite change in the nature or quality of the experience after midnight, and yet I was still quite stoned for another couple of hours or more.

All in all, it was an experience that could be very therapeutic and constructive or else very upsetting and panic-inducing, depending on your mindset and readiness going into it. For me it was positive, but also difficult. It gave me a lot to think about and work with, but I donít think Iíll be going back to that plateau very often. It is a ìspecial eventî type of trip.

-October Light

©1998 The Third Plateau
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