Psychedelics and Anxiety
Anxiety and Psychedelic drugs:
People suffer from anxiety in different ways. For me, it’s a sense that I am losing control. Losing control over a situation or control over my reaction to a situation. The anxiety manifests itself with a churning of my stomach, slight shaking, inability to speak clearly and of course, a racing heart. I typically feel hyper aware of my surroundings as well as the way I believe others percieve me as a person. I rarely have a full blown panic attack but it usually feels like I am just on the verge of one of those crippling melt downs that make you want to hide from the world. However, I do not let my anxiety prevent me from living my life and I force myself into high stress, anxiety inducing situations daily and I think that my ability to live a normal life is important. But sometimes I do things that are borderline masochistic.
If you’ve never experimented with psychedelic drugs its important to know that they do not affect you the way they are portrayed to affect you in pop culture and the media. Seeing vivid colors and hallucinations are certainly part of the experience but what happens in your mind is a much more prominent feature of a good trip. In myexperience, tripping usually involves several hours of intensely introspective thought and evaluations of my personal values all while trying to desperately maintainmy grip on reality. Different pyschedelic drugs affect me in unique ways. There is a spectrum of intensity that probably ranges from weed (smoking), being the mostmild, and DMT being the most intense. In between there’s psilocibin mushrooms, LSD, and edible pot which can seriously fuck your life up for a few hours if you eat toomuch. Never underestimate the power of edible cannibis. One time I ate a very potent pot brownie and tried to drive home just as it was kicking in. I drove nearly thirty miles out of my way because I couldn’t turn right. I’m not Derek Zoolander, I was just REKT!
I have only smoked DMT one time and it was mind blowing experience to say the least but I have taken LSD and magic mushrooms on several occassions, notably at music festivals where the temperatures are hot, the crowds are large and the anxiety levels are already high for people who like order and control. If you’ve ever been to a major music festival like Bonnaroo or Coachella then you know that drugs are as big a part of the experience as the music. There might be people who go to weekend long music festivals that never ingest any mind altering substances but that’s like taking a trip to Vegas and never stepping foot in a casino. If you’re not planning to journey to the edge of the universe, why are you there?
My first experience with psychedelic drugs in this type of setting actually wasn’t at a music festival but it was close enough. I was in Morrison, Colorado to see the String Cheese Incident play at Red Rocks Ampitheatre. I had just got out of the U.S. Air Force and was on a 10 day trip through the mountains with a couple of pyschonauts that I barely knew. We had spent the better part of the past week living on Cliff Bars and LSD in Rocky Mountain National Park. When I got to the venue for the show, to my surprise and amazement there were people openly doing drugs everywhere I looked and the local police didn’t care at all. I was born and raised in the Midwest so this we a little shocking to me, in a good way. It was like a scene out of the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The first person I saw afer we parked in the North Lot was a guy in a Hawaiian shirt offering people whiffs of Ether. I didn’t take him up on his offer.
We met a neo hippie couple from Kansas City who were selling craft beers and pot brownies for a reasonable price so we spent some time with them the afternoon before the show. They both worked odd jobs year round to support their road trip habit and I admired their ability to be seemingly happy living such a simple life. I imagine that that after the need to be in control, most of my anxiety comes from my insatiable desire to be successful and never really feeling like I am. Success is subjective, though and
I guess if you’re happy, no matter how much money youre worth, youre successful and that’s why I admired the hippie couple. I still chase that mindset while failing every day to
live up to it, but I digress.
About an hour before the show started we all decided to dose up on LSD. I had never taken acid before in such a chaotic environment and was decidely nervous but my friend handed me a Sour Patch Kid with
two hits of liquid LSD and I ate it. Later, as we headed in to the ampitheatre I remember being very hungry because I had spent the past 3 days hiking through the mountains eating nothing but pot brownies and Cliff Bars. When I got to in to the venue for the show the acid began to kick in. I ran up the stairs to my seat in the 60th row and quickly realized my mistake as the lack of food and sleep hit me like a sack of bricks. I got the feeling you get when you have low blood sugar and it combined with the rapidly increasing effects of the LSD to give me a full blown panic attack. So there I was, in the middle of a crowd of over 10,000 people, high on acid
having an anxiety attack. #blessed
I made my way to the mezzinine at the top of the stairs and spent the majority of the band’s first set pacing back and forth. You can see the Denver skyline in the far distance just above and behind the Red Rocks stage. At one point I tried to stop and enjoy the show but the view from behind the stage looked like the ocean. I was not used to the hallucinations from LSD and it seemed so realistic that I didn’t consider I was tripping. It began to think there was a tsunami coming towards me and my anxiety levels went even higher. I managed to keep myself relatively calm by pacing back and forth and due to the fact that the band was playing some of my favorite songs. After about an hour I was starting to feel quite a bit better until I saw a guy about my age, pale as a ghost, rush up to a cop near the stairs and tell him he was in serious need of medical attention. He was screaming desperately and appeared to be overdosing on something. My anxiety and worry came back, rushing over me like I assume that tsunami would have, had it been real. I tried to search the crowd for my friends but that was a futile effort. I bought some alcohol hoping a big, cold beer might help soothe my nerves but my anxiety was so severe I couldn’t swallow it. I resigned myself to leaning over the railing, pretending to enjoy the show while thinking it was my last hours on earth. By the end of the show I was exhausted but able to compose myself and find my friends. They were still tripping and had taken molly during the show so they were having the time of their lives. We met this hippie named Tyler who spent 9 months a year hopping trains and digging through dumpsters for food.
He invited us to a party in Boulder which is about a 45 minute drive from Morrison. We drove the whole way still tripping but made it without incident.
Boulder is a small college down nestled right at the base of the Rocky Mountains. It’s a beautiful city but its affluent and pretentious. While we were in Boulder my anxiety levels plummeted
and I think it was due to the relatively peaceful feeling of being surrounded by mountains. We met a few cool people and went to several house parties near the University of Colorado. The highlight of the night was
chasing a large, brown rabbit through the university quad and dosing it with three hits of LSD. I can’t imgagine the night that rabbit had but it almost definitely tops any night I have
At the end of the day, if you suffer from anxiety I wouldn’t recommend taking psychedelic drugs. The feeling of losing control of your surroundings and yourself are enough to drive you
over the edge. If you like to push yourself to your limits or you’re just in to self punishment, doing acid at a concert can be fun and is at least good for an interesting story.
Just don’t lose perspective and bring a surfboard because you never know when you’re going to have to take on a tsunami.