How DMT Saved Me From Nihilism

Image by Activedia on Pixabay

I enjoy discovering and trying new things. Curiosity is one of my most notable character traits.

My motive for trying DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) was no different: I was curious. I’d read quite a few trip reports, and was astounded by how bizarre and vivid the descriptions were.

I was well aware that on DMT, I could be faced with anything from a blissful experience of infinity to a plunge into a painfully clear nightmare.

What is DMT?

N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (also known as DMT and “the Spirit Molecule”) is a naturally-occurring psychedelic substance. Though its effects are short-lived, they can be powerfully immersive and life-altering.

When vaporized or smoked, the onset of DMT is very rapid. Some users report being transported into indescribable alternate dimensions or spiritual realms, where they can interact with beings which appear to be sentient.

On DMT, I could be faced with anything

I was well aware that on DMT, I could be faced with anything from a blissful experience of infinity to a plunge into a painfully clear nightmare.

In his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Rick Strassman records the experiences of 60 volunteers he injected with DMT. Strassman is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico, and he was conducting DEA-approved clinical research.

Some volunteers’ experiences were horrifically negative. For instance, one volunteer reported fearing for his life; he felt as if there were two crocodiles on him, “crushing” him and “anally raping” him.

Another volunteer, however, had an overwhelmingly positive experience:

The ecstasy was so great that my body could not contain it. Almost out of necessity, I felt my awareness rush out, leaving its physical container behind.

My philosophical outlook prior to taking DMT

Prior to my first DMT experience, I’d been suffering with symptoms of depression for years, but I wasn’t seeking a resolution to my psychological difficulties.

In fact, at the time, I embraced existential nihilism. The idea of the universe having intrinsic meaning seemed philosophically unsupportable to me. I actually considered such an outlook unhealthy.

From my point of view, life was primarily cruel. I felt I shouldn’t resent the universe for my depression, nor expect it to present answers or cures.

My first attempt at inhaling vaporized DMT

Anyone who has ever tried inhaling vaporized DMT will know that this is both notoriously difficult and unpleasant.

DMT combusts at a high temperature. The burning sensation it creates in your the throat makes it near-impossible not to cough and gag, especially if you are a non-smoker. The taste is comparable to burning hair and plastic.

When I took my first hit, I was sitting with a friend in my living room. He had agreed “test the water” with me by trialing a single hit.

I attempted to inhale, and found myself struggling to breathe in the smoke.

The onset of my first DMT trip

In my experience, when you smoke a substance, you can generally expect a slight delay before its effects are properly felt.

The effects of DMT, however, were instantly apparent from the point at which I inhaled. Trying to describe a DMT trip is much like trying to hold water in your hands, but I will try to convey as much as possible.

My mind became very quiet. It felt as if the air had been sucked out of the room, and a thin layer of familiar reality was being peeled away from all my senses.

As I tried to narrate what I was experiencing to my friend, my voice began to sound somehow detached from my body. Simultaneously, the room was rapidly altering.

To begin with, the edges and colors of everything became more prominent. It felt like I was no longer seeing the room through human eyes, but downloading all the visual information around me in ultra high resolution.

A moment later, the room began to divide itself into smaller and smaller pieces. This produced a striking mosaic effect. Next, the room completely dissolved.

A recreation of the striking mosaic effect. (GIF created by the author)

At this stage, it made no difference whether I kept my eyes open or closed. The room had gone from my perception, and I was thrown into a very different visual realm.

The colors and shapes in this realm were much brighter than the reality I knew. I saw what I can only describe as rapidly moving, intricate nets of light energy. They interacted with each other, and also, it felt, with me.

I was stunned — both by the drug’s rapid onset, and by the idea that my brain could generate such complex visuals.

Meanwhile, the movement of these nets of light energy was alien, and yet entrancing. It seemed as though they were lifeforms communicating with me via their elaborate maneuvers.

Image by geralt on Pixabay

They made me feel welcome, as if guiding me with a universal, maternal love. Prior to taking DMT, I would have laughed at such a cliche, ‘hippie’-sounding statement. Little did I anticipate that after taking the substance, I would never look at the world the same way again.

Coming back to earth

After my first DMT trip, returning to my known reality was fairly reassuring, although a large part of me wished the extraordinary experience could have continued for a while longer.

For the following week, I felt somewhat magically elated, as well as free from the symptoms of my general anxiety disorder.

My second, and most intense, DMT experience

The second experience took place with another good friend of mine. For privacy purposes, we will call him Marco.

Marco and I had driven to my house, and we didn’t have anything specific planned for the night. However, my increasing curiosity about DMT had been playing on my mind for most of the day.

I told Marco a little about how my first DMT experience felt, and asked if he would mind if I tried some. I asked if he could trip sit me, as DMT only has a short duration (10–15 minutes). I let him know that if he wanted to try the substance himself afterwards, then he would be welcome to.

Marco agreed, and so I prepared the DMT, feeling quite excited for the ride ahead.

I began with a threshold dose and then continued to take more small hits, working my way up into a more deeply altered state.

I could feel every millimeter of my bone structure and vessels, particularly within my facial region.

To begin with, it was similar to my first trip. Edges jumped out, the contrast turned up, and some objects that looked relatively bland would almost glimmer, becoming much more vivid in color.

Next, I felt like I was downloading my body in the form of uncompressed data. It was as if my skin had dissolved. Beneath it, I could feel every millimeter of my bone structure and blood vessels, particularly within my facial region.

Once again, my known reality was being stripped away from my eyes. Instead, I was watching a new visual reality replace my current one, and I was viewing it from an emerging ‘third eye’ on my forehead.

As this ‘third eye’ began to fully open, my bodily structure dissipated until I was both bodiless and in a vacuum.

Photo by Activedia on Pixabay

Visually, what was taking place was incredibly rapid and high resolution. To begin with, I saw light formations and elaborate fractals which resembled my first trip. The dominant color seemed to be purple, although this would shift very often.

Next, I felt like I was being pulled through various wormholes into different universes. Each universe had a very different theme. Some seemed to have entities that were made from machinery and complex clockwork, while yet others seemed to be made out of computer code.

At times, I also saw something that looked like a single cell expanding into increasingly complex life forms. But before I could absorb much of any realm I visited, I would be shown something entirely new.

Love sank into me on a level deeper than human. In each universe, the fractals, patterns and entities looked as if they were dancing for me. It was like a cosmic performance for one small, single mind.

Although everything was visually very alien to me, I once again felt like I was being led by a (now familiar) loving, maternal entity.

It seemed as if her purpose was to show me infinite possibilities of unfathomable complexity. It was as if she was saying: “Come here, let me show you this. Don’t be stunned. Look. Pay attention.”

My mind was overcome by the infinite possibilities I was being shown. Love sank into me on a level deeper than human. In each universe, the fractals, patterns and entities looked as if they were dancing for me. It was like a cosmic performance for one small, single mind.

The last realm I was taken to was pure nirvana. It felt like I was in some kind of temple, surrounded by blinding light. This was the final stage, where I experienced absolute peace.

Although I wanted to stay in that realm longer, my pre-DMT body began to gradually reconnect with my senses. Sadly, at that point, it felt somewhat like I was leaving my home.

Marco’s experience

The other amazing part of this story is that Marco also decided to partake in DMT with me that evening. After he ‘came back’ from his trip, he turned around and looked at me with a stunned expression.

In anticipation, I thought to myself: “Did you just go where I went?”

Marco then told me he’d been taken to a place that he also described as “nirvana”.

The rest of the evening felt very tranquil. Prior to the experience, Marco had been suffering with fairly severe symptoms of caffeine withdrawal, as well as ADD symptoms that were making him feel restless and somewhat shaky.

Post-DMT, however, he was able to sit and stand completely still. In addition, after the experience, Marco made many practical and positive changes in his life — such as beginning to eat more healthily, and work out at the gym more regularly.

I have no way of knowing how much those changes can be attributed to his DMT experience, but we both agree that taking DMT was life-changing for the pair of us.


I feel extremely grateful that DMT challenged my nihilism. Particularly after my second trip, it helped me realize that cynical, pessimistic outlooks on life set a low standard in a universe of infinite possibility.



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