The foolishness of suggesting we do mushrooms on a Monday night escaped me, because at 4pm I’d already drank most of my thickly liquored margarita.
A week of Melbourne lockdown number 6, the hard afternoon light pouring through the balcony doors and a too-early taste of tequila was all it took to make a psychedelic trip on the workiest work night of the week feel like an inspired idea.
I’d forgotten and then remembered, that a friend had gifted me an abundance of mushroom caps for some free and sunny afternoon that hadn’t eventuated, and I’d been storing the baggie of grey capsules in our freezer, for weeks my housemate had assumed they were probiotics. “Oh, they’re the mushrooms caps” she exclaimed as my I dolled them out, exactly like probiotics.
Approximately one hour later we were yelling like school children at passers-by from our second-floor balcony. “Cute dog!” we shrieked at a Lycra clad couple and their oodle, “I’m jealous” a woman on a bike yelled back at us as we bid her good evening. We were clearly humming and yet, looking at each other we exclaimed “god, these are just not working”. So we downed another each.
Warm and sweet and euphoric, the trip started out like a honey bath. The kind of state you wish you could return to in almost any sober moment that doesn’t meet your expectations. I lay on the couch with my housemate and giggled at her incandescent beauty in the blue light of the tv.
But it wasn’t long before her beautiful face began to melt and reform like a wax candle and I slid to the floor and rolled into a ball, whisper-chanting “nononono, this is too much.”
It’s hard to unplait the braid of sensory overwhelm that was occurring, I can only think that it must be what it’s like to be a newborn baby. Regular things, like the folk music playing on a low volume, felt overwhelming and yet it was impossible to work out how to turn it off. My brain had lost the ability to conjure and follow a process, how do you walk? How do you walk over there to turn the music off? How do you tell your housemate to turn it off because you’ve forgotten how to walk?
I was an oyster that shrinks to the touch but can’t move away.
Having given up on walking altogether, I eventually crawled to the bathroom, perhaps because it was cold, bright, hard. And the soft, dark warm of the lounge-room was cloying.
For the next hour-ish (it felt like years, a lifetime) I sat on the cool tiled floor of the bathroom and my brain bloomed and shrunk and folded in on itself, like some kind of taut ballerina. I kept pulling myself up on the rim of sink, white knuckled, to stare at my face in the mirror and run my fingers through my hair.
Again, the untangling and articulating feels inferior, but mostly I was thinking about how I’d lost my mind. Like a ring your boyfriend gave you that you lost while swimming in the ocean. It’s gone and the sea isn’t giving it back.
At some point, alongside the loss of my mind emerged this absolute certainty that I was dying. I crawled into the bath and began running cold water on my legs, my feet. On and off. I clung to the tiled edge of the tub, occasionally calling out to my housemate, “I’m dying” and she’d appear like a cartoon mouse on fast forward. Moving between trying to yank me out of the bath and feeding me a burger she’d uber eatsed to the house earlier.
My thoughts were a rolling three beat of:
1. I’m dying
2. Amy Winehouse died, and
3. Mum and dad will be so disappointed in me for dying in a bathtub on a Monday night.
I think this lasted for about an hour, but the concept of time disappeared with my mind (and my life) and so, I felt I had always been dying in the bathtub.
My brain was so sure, so deeply and irredeemably convinced that death was impending that it literally may as well have been.
The odd mixture of terror and certainty (fear is so often accompanied by the unknown) has led me to brashly classify this as a near death experience (NDE). A nocebo NDE if you will. For all intents and purposes I was dying. I saw the other side and Amy Winehouse was there.
The trip was fleetingly transformative in a way that these things tend to be. For days afterwards I was incandescent with having brushed up against something new and scary.
Which was nice, because as you get older that happens less and less.
But like anything you don’t tend to, the colour fades in the sun. You move away from the thing that felt so likely to change you forever and life becomes mundane again.
It would seem you can’t exist in a constant state of revelatory awe.
But like skydiving or climbing a very tall mountain, these little punctuations of hardness, of feeling that you might die (or at the very least vomit), is what sugars the medicine.
And so, 10/10 would do it again.