Amsterdamned: Why taking 20x the recommended dose of ‘shrooms may ruin your night
Amsterdamned: Why taking 20x the recommended dose of ‘shrooms may ruin your night
- The following is a cautionary tale.
- You’d think I’d mention a lot more about Amsterdam than what I’ve put here. But there’s an infinite supply of information on the city and the truth is I can’t even think about Amsterdam without my mind focusing on what must be one of the most fucked up experiences of my life: An extremely bad trip on Psilocybin mushrooms. First things first: I am not a druggie. All I do normally is beer and Vodka. I’ve never touched anything hard and only very occasionally take weed – and that’s when someone else is buying. So why the hell did I do this? Well listening to my brother’s antics on what was undoubtedly a much lower weaker dose, it all sounded like a good laugh, what with everything being funny and all. So why not? But I should back up and give a little background first.
In Amsterdam there are Coffee shops and Smart shops. From the Coffee shops you can buy hash cookies, joints etc, while the Smart shops are rarer and sell the harder stuff. As of December 1st2008, the Dutch Government officially outlawed the sale of Psilocybin mushrooms following the suicide of a girl who jumped to her death while on a bad trip. It followed a string of related incidents. But in reality the legal ban wasn’t as hard as it seemed. The law simply prevented the import and explicit advertising of mushrooms – Smart shops could still sell their existing stocks. As there was a large advance warning of the laws introduction it isn’t surprising that outlets made sure to stock up on literally years of supplies, so that even in February 2010, you could still find them.
Interestingly though, the technical illegality of mushrooms hasn’t applied to the equally potent Psilocybin truffles – which are still perfectly legal. When you go into a Smart shop now, the Truffles are clearly advertised and graded from one to five ‘Saturn’s’ by the following criteria: Visual effect, Energy Effect, Body Effect, Brain effect. Therefore the Psilocybe Mexicana ‘Flesh of the God’ can easily be seen as an ideal choice for first time trippers due to its relatively low ratings. On the other hand, the maxed out given to thePsilocybe Pajeteras ‘Dragons Dynamite’ would appear to indicate that this particular type of fungal mind-fuck is only for extra calloused druggies and Jimmy Hendrix fans who never left the 60’s. It’s easy to follow information, and each truffle comes in a detailed commercial pack regarding dosage etc. I was about to get the Flesh of the Gods, but then asked about mushrooms and was told there were some out the back. I guess I figured this would be my only chance to ever acquire them legally and I could do the truffles any time in the future. I was presented with a small plastic bag of a dried Mexican variety – 20 grams for 20€. Unlike the packaged truffles these looked pretty street. Acquiring how much to take, the women told me as a first time user I should take 10 grams worth, then if I felt nothing after an hour and a half, to take the other ten grams. She also told me that I should or shouldn’t take in vitamin C depending on if I wanted the trip to continue as it’d quickly kill the buzz. Later I’d find out all this information was bullshit. There will be people reading who’ll be laughing at this point.
Back in our 3 person Flying Pig Hostel room I ate half the bag – 10 grams worth. I’d been told they tasted awful but to me they were just flavorless, dry and extremely chewy – not that terrible. An hour and a half passed and nothing happened, but I decided to wait a bit longer. It was about 6pm and my friends Karo and Laura were constantly asking me if I felt anything yet with looks of gleeful anticipation. They weren’t joining me on this trip, and thank god. Still nothing. I got on Karos laptop and went to Skype where I started having a video conversation with my brother in Switzerland. I explained to him that I’d taken the shrooms but was feeling nothing, but he had no explanation and we talked for about another ten minutes. I should have been googling safe mushroom dosages. Bored and Frusterated, I took the other 10 grams. A minute later, the first 10 grams hit me.
I was still talking to my brother when I simply started laughing – like really fucking laughing – as in keeling over on the floor in a loud uncontrollable laughing fit. Something was really fucking hilarious. I can’t remember what. At this point it became apparent something was up, my brother enjoyed the show via skype for a bit before saying bye, while Karo and Laura also found hilarity in my mental state. In between waves of laughter I tried to explain that everything was now very, very funny but I didn’t know why. I soon had legitimate reasons; My small suitcase on the floor had grown a face and was practically beaming at me with a big goofy grin. Rather like the enchanted décor from Beauty and the Beast. It seemed to really like me. This simply fueled more laughter as I then attempted to communicate with the suitcase by tentatively introducing myself. It kept smiling but then I saw it mime the words, Hi, my name’s Camera! By this stage I had my friends in laughing fits as I enthusiastically tried to explain what was going on. Looking around, it seemed a pile of clothes on the floor were also smiling up at me. Colors were starting to turn funny, everything had a green or red tint to it and every shape had a wavy edge. Suddenly I believed there was a donkey walking around in the area outside our room, and I simply HAD to check it out. I slowly opened the door and crept outside in a cartoon-like manner, telling the girls to sshhhhh. Turning around the corner there was – no shit – a pink Donkey, which winked at me before simply vanishing through the wall in a cloud of pink smoke. I let out an almighty WOOOOOOOOWand then tiptoed back into the room. And this was just the beginning.
Now things started to get uncomfortably weird. More and more shit was going on. Laura and Karo periodically grew enormous when they stood up or shrunk down to midget proportions when sitting down. Their faces had strange fluorescent shadows flickering and changing color constantly. Musical aural hallucinations started to kick in, gradually getting louder and louder. Meanwhile the doorknob kept melting off the door like candle wax ala a Salvador Dali clock, before reforming and repeating the process again. It was like having all the cheat sheets to artistic inspiration.This kept me transfixed for a while but soon it became apparent that the walls were also beginning to melt. The smiling bag and laundry pile had a lot of new friends as well, but they weren’t all smiling. Some things like Karo’s Mac book looked downright hostile. To say my mind felt funny would be the understatement of the century. It wasn’t like being drunk, but rather a bizarre dream that had manifested itself. Alice down the rabbit hell I thought. I was starting to get nervous, but deep down knew that none of it was real and that things would eventually go back to normal. I also let the girls know I was concerned about how absolutely overwhelming everything had become.
In the real world, Karo had looked up several internet sources on mushrooms and announced – slightly giggling – that I’d taken TEN TIMES the recommended first time dose. They say a trip is influenced by your emotions, where good emotions equal a good trip and bad emotions equal a bad trip. It would have been better if Karo had told me I’d just won a million dollars. So when I instead received this scary revelation, it hit me like a bullet and things went very bad, very fast. I was suddenly terrified and afraid for my life. I thought I was going to be stuck like this forever. Full of anxiety and with the second 10grams now coming into effect and compounding with the first lot, my trip now trully turned to hell. Despite feeling an aversion to appetite and thirst, I started guzzling two litres of orange juice to counter the trip. It had no effect. Now the walls were doing all sorts of things, alternatively melting, closing in and expanding. So was the ceiling. One second it was 50 meters high, the next it rushed back down to normal. The Windows were growling and looked like they wanted to eat me. I tried looking away from it all by burying my head under a pillow but even the grain on the sheet was moving round doing all sorts of crazy shit that I can’t even explain. Closing my eyes didn’t help either. Everything had a face or was doing something incredibly abnormal. It was as if the movies The Ring, Yellow Submarine, Requiem for a Dream and every fucked up thing on earth had been put it in a blender – the blender being my mind. I was freaking out. But I still had control and knew that this all would all recede at some point soon. But if this was the scariest part of the trip, the next part was the craziest.
As a guy who’s been drunk enough times to find that a good shower always sobered me up, I figured it might just help me in this situation also, and at the very least couldn’t hurt. Most fortunately, we had booked a private room on the very top floor which was currently deserted and the shower rooms were all free. Through the blaze of hallucinations I told Laura and she assisted me to one of the private shower rooms. I hadn’t lost my mind just yet, even having the presence of mind to leave my boxers on as Laura helped me get undressed and put on the shower as if I were a toddler. But shortly after I slumped under the hot water I was gone. I was at the apex of the trip. My mind had left the building, leaving behind a truly insane person, nothing like myself though I can recall virtually everything that happened. It’s a sensation I can’t explain and never ever want to experience again.
I spent the nest 2-3 hours in the shower. From the outside I was a blabbering, delirious, paranoid cerebral train wreak, with eyes dilated like saucers and clutching fanatically at (and occasionally chewing on) the removable shower faucet. But in my mind I was some sort of God. Random thoughts entered my head like bullets at which point I spat them out verbally at the rate of a Gatling cannon. It wasn’t a choice – it was a convulsive reflex which I couldn’t stop. My mind was operating inside out. God knows how much outrageous shit I said, things about girls, weird sex shit, religion, aliens, deeply suppressed unconscious thoughts and memories, and normally dormant prejudices: it all came out. Fortunately I didn’t dwell on any one subject for more than 4 seconds before it was replaced by another. Random beliefs flew into my head that I instantly perceived as 100% true. I’m a billionaire, I can fly, I’m more enlightened than Eckhart Tolle, I’m Hugh Hefner, Once I finish having this shower I’m really going to enjoy flying and spending all this money, I can bite through this steel shower faucet . Fortunately I never left the shower to try any of them out for real as I was also gripped by intense paranoia. Other than Karo and Laura I was horrified by the prospect of seeing anyone else and became terrified whenever I thought someone else was coming up the stairs, at which point my friends tried to reassure me that it was only us 3. But my friends didn’t completely appear as themselves either – while a tiny part of me knew it was them – every time I blinked they morphed into different girls I’d slept with, something which simultaneously amused, frightened and confused me. One second I’d be talking to the apparition about something deeply intimate and personal, then in an blink they’d change and I’d be face to face with someone else. At one stage one of these girls started feeding me pizza in the shower, something which I didn’t feel like doing but was somehow convinced to go along with.
Then the trip started to wear off quickly. It was a disorientating, confusing, bizarre feeling having ones mind do a complete mental shift back to normal. The best thing I could relate it to was coming out of the effects of an IV sedation I’d once been given for a serious dental operation. I’d spent the entire procedure conscious, but also in a trance of euphoric relaxation and pleasure. Coming out of that was groggy, unpleasant and strange – but this was worse. Karo and Laura finally coaxed me from the shower, roughly dried me off and led me groggily back to our room where I got into my bed. The Hallucinations had receded almost entirely and the room was still swaying – but it was getting slower and slower and slower and then, finally, it all stopped.
I lay in bed for the next few minutes not daring to believe the ordeal was over. I thought I’d woken from a nightmare within a dream, but was still waiting to wake up properly. I looked around the room and though it felt vaguely familiar I couldn’t piece together if I was home or somewhere else. Then I saw Laura and Karo at the long end of the room on Karos bed, looking at me terrified as if I were a monster. I’ve never seen anyone look at me this way before. I didn’t like it at all. I started pacing the room spluttering questions. Where are we? What the hell just happened? What did I do? It dawned on myself and the girls I was finally back to reality. I also suddenly recalled the trip in its entirety and was instantly mortified beyond belief at some of the shit that had come out of my mouth. Fortunately I hadn’t harmed anyone or done anything too indecent, they explained that rather it was the sight of me -but not me – seemingly possessed with crazy dilated pupils, which had been really scary. It also turned out that the pizza I was eating in the shower was real. As it was, Karo had called a friend who’d also experienced a bad trip and recommended they force some food into me: I’d been maniacally eating soggy, saturated pizza in my boxers in the corner of a running shower (I couldn’t be convinced to come out or turn the water off). An image of Gollum with a fish comes to mind. The whole experience lasted six hours. It was about 12:30pm but no one was going out to town after that episode. Emotionally drained, we all went to bed.
I feared that this experience would ruin my friendship with the girls but fortunately as we were already best of friends it didn’t and things went back to being cool. Now the subject is approached in hues of nervous laughter and exclamations of WOW YOU WERE FUCKED UP LOL. So why did I take the time to chronicle this immensely stupid adventure. Mostly as a therapeutic exercise for myself I think, and I feel like getting it all out here has helped me. The whole story may sound amusing, but to me the experience of completely losing ones mind was simply put, traumatic. I spent alot of the trip gripped by unimaginable fear and it’s a sensation I can recall with vivid clarity. I’ve always believed in the Greek proverb Know Thyself, and I doubt I’ll ever experience as bigger antithesis to those words again. But there’s a second more obvious reason to this tale: Do your goddamn homework with this shit. That goes for any drug, or anything potentially dangerous. That I actually thought taking 20 grams of psilocybin mushrooms was going to lead to a pleasant beginners trip is a travesty. At absolute max I should have done no more than 5 grams. And the recommended dose was 1. I could blame the inept staff member at the store, but I’m not some dipshit socialist hippy with no sense of personal responsibility. The truth is I could have found out any of this information in an instant if I’d looked. And for a guy who frequently googles stuff as banal as an after-thought , this ranks as one of the stupidest thing I’ve done. Lesson learned.