How I Used Psychedelics to Help Overcome Severe Anxiety
My Experiences With LSD, Mushrooms, and Music
I first took Welsh magic mushrooms when I was 20 years old. It was the year 2000 and I was woken up in my first floor flat by the sound of a Mark Three Ford Escort doors slamming shut. I only had to glance out the window to see some friends with bags of freshly picked Welsh magic mushrooms. My world was about to be turned upside down. People were going to take their trips at different times, and I should have waited for the later mushroom tea. But I was eager to try, so I was told that it was a good thing that I hadn’t eaten anything for breakfast, it’s always considered to be better to take mushrooms on an empty stomach. My empty stomach was soon to be introduced to more than what Terence McKenna would refer to as a heroic dose of magic mushrooms. Instead of drinking 15 grams of fresh mushrooms with some fruit juice, and having a nice introduction to the world of psychedelics, we stewed hundreds of mushrooms into a thick jelly (mixed with soil and grass) and served it in half pint measures. Half-a-pint of this magical jelly juice was well over the five grams of dried mushrooms—75 grams of fresh mushrooms—that is considered to be a heroic dose. I was told to down all the gloopy mixture as quickly as possible as to avoid the bad taste. It was to be a brutal experience; one which I’ll never forget.
My guide would be a guy I knew who was named Fatboy by all of his friends. He had taken mushrooms before but had never taken such a grand dose. His recurring sentence during this horrendous session was to be ‘It’s not meant to be like this!’ Not the most reassuring sentence when your mind is about to be exposed to an extra dimension of physical reality. This experience started with Tekken Tag on the PlayStation 2 playing in the background as we waited to come up. I was expecting gentle waves but instead, there was suddenly a panda fighting a bear in my living room. The next five hours were filled with intense hallucinations. I spent most of the time with my eyes closed, opening them was a dangerous affair. My TV became a leopard skinned funky gangster, Paul McCartney was ever present, rushing directly into my third eye, and then came hours of colourful vomiting.
My girlfriend at the time had recently been to an Anne Summers party and had come home with a pack of cards containing pictures of naked men. She had thrown them about the floor and I became extremely aware of my bedroom floor being covered in giant cocks. When the terror ended, I had not learnt anything about my inner being, in fact, there was barely anything spiritual about that experience. I phoned my girlfriend afterwards and cried with fresh regret. The entire event had been a real disappointment and I wouldn’t dare take psychedelics again for over ten years.
My second experience was in Amsterdam in 2011 with dried Hawaiian mushrooms, of which I took a one-and-a-half gram dose. That experience was a much nicer time. I had developed severe anxiety with OCD tendencies, and I had read of the benefits of psilocybin for dealing with mental health issues. But all that actually happened was I became a bed for five hours, though I had no sickly feelings at all. I was very careful on this occasion to take an appropriate dose. Over the next few years, I would go picking mushrooms in the valleys every season. One year I found an abundance on the usual hillside just north of Cardiff. It’s a joy to go mushroom picking in South Wales, we have a beautiful country. My mushroom haul was huge that season, I decided that it was time to fully explore the effects of psychedelic mushrooms. I dried out all the mushrooms and in the end, I had around 100 grams dried. This was all for music and mindfulness.
So my third experience was going to be months of psychedelia with a constructed playlist for each session. Music is truly sublime while you are tripping, everybody's heard this said, but it has to be experienced to be truly understood. I spent weeks looking for music, videos, poetry, anything that would be appropriate to experience on mushrooms. "Anthem of the Sun" by the Grateful Dead, "Feather Float" by the Japanese Soundscapers OOIOO, "666" by Aphrodites Child, and "Maggot Brain" by Funkadelic became my first tripping playlist. The experience was wild, every note reverberated through my consciousness it was spiritual hedonism of the highest order. But the visuals would take over the feeling of undiluted love and so the next time I would trip in the dark with only music playing. My first couple of trips during this period were relatively easy going two-gram events which would reach a peak and then settle kindly. But I wasn’t learning much more than it’s pleasurable to listen to music on mushrooms.
I decided to up the dose and go further into the mushroom realm. I would take Allen Ginsberg and Rudyard Kipling in with me in case I needed to be lifted, but reading isn’t easy when you’re full of magic mushrooms. Hazy nights listening to the Doors, hanging out inside a positive bubble of pure love, writing endless songs which were to be lost in the moment but induced orgasmic chemicals in my brain. By the end of my psychedelic marathon, I felt sick if I even saw a dried mushroom. My body had decided that all of this poisoning should be stopped by making me repulsed by mushrooms. Clever! I decided that I had experienced enough wonder and that there was little left to understand with the help of mushrooms.
It would be a while until I stumbled upon anything psychedelic again. When I did, it was LSD. If I were to be asked ‘what’s the difference between the effects of magic mushrooms and LSD?’ I would say a lot, but mainly that mushrooms feel earthly and dirty, whilst LSD feels universal and clean. I don’t necessarily mean to insult magic mushrooms, but they usually taste like shit and cause stomach aches, where LSD seems to relieve pain (maybe by distracting your other senses) and is often taken via a tasteless liquid coated piece of thin card which you stick underneath your tongue. LSD allowed me to overcome a lifetime of crippling anxiety. Like most people, I originally turned to drugs as a way to escape my mental health issues. Cannabis allowed me to control my anxiety and function like a normal human, mushrooms helped me to understand love and music, whereas LSD allowed me to see the universe and reality from a unique perspective, and in doing so, helped me understand my deepest fears and assisted me in finishing a process of psychological mourning for the child I once was.
LSD gave me self-respect, personal motivation, and took away any fear of mortality. I see how small and insignificant we all are, and not in a negative way. It is truly amazing how lucky we are to be at the centre of our individual universes. Sure, you may suffer hard times, even death, but by viewing the bigger picture one is able to see that it’s all just carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen swilling about and the result is somehow the beautiful dance of life. LSD helps you see the bigger picture. Everybody needs to experience LSD, but it should be advised that you do such a thing when your life is fairly stable, around people you trust, and with the intention of connecting to a larger reality, rather than disconnecting from your current reality.
My time taking psychedelics has passed by now, and the world is much brighter for me. It has made me feel sadness for those who will never have an opportunity to explore their own mind with the use of one of the most intriguing chemical compounds in the world. Once someone experiences LSD, they understand something that the others will never know.
I should make one very important note. I used LSD in combination within a healthy routine. I slept well, I ate healthy, and I exercised regularly. All of these things are important for a healthy mind. You don’t beat anxiety without a good routine.