The Covid-19 pandemic has surfaced a lot of my personal struggles with mental health. I deal with depression, anxiety, problems with self worth, and suicidal thoughts. During most of my adolescence I pushed it down with drugs and alcohol but when my dad died my use accelerated to a point where I spun out and hit rock bottom two years ago. Oddly enough hitting that rock bottom may have been the best thing to ever happen to me. Through self revelation, a lot of therapy, and consistent hard work got me to a point where I can honestly say I’m the happiest I have ever been. Then the pandemic happened. My support group was discontinued indefinitely, the same group that helped me get sober and find inner peace for the first time in my life. I also sprained my ankle so my new addiction for running was put on pause. Not to mention the sudden halt of the economy hurt my pocket and crushed my dreams of overcoming some financial hurdles that I planned on finally getting over in this next year. Not only was the world around me suffering, my own personal life was crumbling before my eyes. My self esteem had taken some serious shots and I was up against the ropes.
I knew that I needed to make a change but my current circumstances in quarantine kept me from going to my two strongest forms of refuge in therapy and exercise. Though I have had a rough go the month prior I am lucky enough to work for a company that has let me continue to work remotely at home but that being said I was also in the process of being furloughed for a week with no pay and unable to use paid time off. The reason was if the collective workforce take one week off the company could take a smaller financial blow and save many people from being laid off in the future. I chose to use my week off from work to get centered and search for some inner peace that I drastically needed. After weighing my options, I looked towards the last place I had thought I would, drugs; more specifically hallucinogens. It had been over a decade since I have done acid or mushrooms but after some research and self reflection I felt that I was in the right place mentally to be able to do them again. It was the first time since College I have had this much time off giving me time to recover and not worry about the corporate world that I have been yearning to escape from. My sobriety has been the greatest gift I have given myself, it redefined my identity, and gave me new purpose but the current world events were eroding my inner strength to the point where alcohol and hard drugs sounded like a great option to dull this emptiness growing inside me. I knew I needed help and I took a risk and got some psilocybin mushrooms from a friend and started creating a controlled environment in my home to create the best atmosphere for a good trip.
Me and my roommate planned to eat the mushrooms that Monday night and go for a walk to the park by our house. I wanted to take that route because there was an overpass over the freeway. I thought the passing cars and lights would be cool to see. We would then come back to house, listen to music, and watch movies. Days prior I had cleaned my room, called family, and made sure that anything big that could be lingering in my head like bills or other personal matters were taken care of. I ordered a pizza and when it arrived I realized this was it. I put my dosage (3.5-4 grams) on a piece of cheese pizza and ate it all at once, we sat around for thirty minutes, and waited for it to kick in. This was around 6:30 pm. The sun was setting and we had decided to embark on our walk to the park while there was still light out. As we left the house we brought masks, water, and our other roommate who was sober to help us not get lost. At this point it had been 45 minutes to an hour after we had eaten the mushrooms and still had not had any serious effects.
The park is about a mile from our house and in the middle of our stroll it hit me me like a bus. We stood under a pink street light and a car passed us and out of nowhere for me it seemed like time had stopped. The world hit pause. I heard nothing and told my friends I needed to stop and collect myself. We stood on the corner and after I mustered my strength I realized I was fine and we could continue. When we got to the park the dark had set in and there were only us and teenage hooligans roaming the walkways on their bikes. We sat on a bench and I looked down and saw the floor turning into inkblots morphing into different shapes and configurations under my feet like a fucked up Rorschach test. I looked around and the dark trees swayed in the wind making shapes that towered over me. The though of work and the corporate machine that had ran my life for so long had started to creep in so I focused on my surroundings to not totally freak out. The neighborhood setting made me think about the pillbox homes, nuclear families, and the system that runs our lives to be ordinary made me wonder “Is that a life I really want? Is that worth it?” We used the restroom and after had relieved myself I realized that I was close to a freak out and we needed a change of scenery. I thought “why did we ever leave our cozy little apartment?” I craved it’s safety and in that moment I realized that how blessed I was to have a place called home. In recovery one of the biggest tools that has helped me has been practicing gratitude, instead of worrying about what’s going wrong in my life I started being thankful for what’s going right. I never had been that thankful for the roof over head until that moment and knew once I got back I would have a better appreciation for what I had.
The walk back was treacherous, I was beginning to peak, and my paranoia was growing to scary levels. Looking into peoples homes was creepy because everyone was watching TV and everything morphed on the sets and the homes changed to odd colors. The cars and people were all scary because everything was out of my control and unpredictable. We got back to my apartment right before I hit the summit of the trip. I sat on the couch and my roommate put on Netflix, the concept of an Xbox and television weirded me out then I went to my room. This is when I hit full tilt, the art I have hanging up came alive and all I could do was lie in the fetal position. After being filled with so much fear on our walk this was the first time I felt safe. As I melted into my bed I thought about my life as a whole and the changes I had made recently in regards to my sobriety as well as my quest for inner peace. I realized that I’m just a small part of a bigger story but that doesn’t discount my worth or what I mean to the universe. One of my biggest fears is that life is meaningless and no one cares enough to realize how fucking ridiculous our society is in regards to the human condition.
I figured out how to put on one of my favorite albums of the last decade (Travis Scott’s Astroworld) while began to meditate and pray in bed. (Weird I know).
Over the last year I have began to delve into the philosophy of Christianity, which is odd because growing up Catholic strayed me away from it, and I swore against ever going back but in recovery the concept of a higher power was a buoy in a sea of depression. The biggest premise of the whole religion is the concept of “forgiveness.” Growing up in a strict household I always carried this immense guilt that consumed my thoughts, I always thought I was a bad person, and for the first time I realized I wasn’t evil or sinful.
I was just human.
Created with faults but beautiful because of them.
My ego was shattered and I was humbled to realize that I am but a small part of planet earth, I have to let go of the steering wheel. I have to let fate happen and not be afraid of failure. Instead of praying asking for things I just kept saying things I was thankful for in my life and how far I’ve come. After that I laid back and enjoyed the ride, I watched the characters in my posters walk around as if they were alive. The paintings that I had done flowed in colorful swirls and patterns bubbling faded hues just to reappear in brighter tones. That’s when the thought hit me “I don’t have to work for a whole week” and a breath of relief filled my body. I was at ease, I had found the peace and grounding that I had searched for.
Then the giggles hit.
All I wanted was to watch Star Wars at that point but I didn’t know how to work the TV, Xbox, or Netflix for that matter. Everything I thought of was hilarious. I sheepishly knocked on my room mates and asked for help, I could barely speak but we both laughed about my request “Tyler can you put Star Wars on?” I ended up settling in on the couch under a blanket and we watched Avengers: Infinity War. My cousin came out of his room where he was tripping too listening to music going through the same crazy parade of mental imagery I was experiencing. We sat around, watched a movie we both love, and talked. God, aliens, our family history, our lives; it was all on the table. We gave each other a hug and bonded like we hadn’t bonded in a long time; this trip was a gift. By the time the movie was over, the trip was done, and by now it was midnight.
I don’t condone drugs because frankly drugs almost ruined my life but my feelings towards hallucinogens are hot and cold. I rarely use them and in a controlled environment when you set an intention they can be very useful helping you realize things from a new perspective. But beware if you are in a bad state of mind, going through really distressful grief, around the wrong people, in the wrong setting, or doing them just to get fucked up you run the risk of having a bad trip. I got lucky, this experience couldn’t have gone better. I needed to disconnect and do some soul searching to dig deeper into who I am. My life changes had been emboldened and I was empowered by the idea that I am on the right track. My fear of life being meaningless was questioned and instead of being challenged by mortality I finally embraced it. I am temporary like everything on this planet and instead of viewing it as a tragedy I see that as a beautiful drama. The sun will rise and fall without me but I will not get lost in the story because we are all one.