I once took a drug that changed my life, and not in a good way… Some people learn not to touch the stove by burning their own hand, but other people, smarter people, learn by watching their stupid brother burn himself. Please, let me be your stupid brother and learn from my mistakes. I experimented heavily with Salvia Divinorum, and I fear that I’ll never enjoy another peaceful night in my own mind because of it.
I had been smoking weed for a few years, and enjoyed an occasional magic mushroom experience, but never found myself beyond repair (and believe me, we took the whole mushroom thing pretty far). I had been reading books by all of the psychedelic pioneers, and many of my heroes had taken acid, mescaline, peyote, DMT, and even my own father often boasts of his own hallucinogenic glory days. So, being an artist, I thought of drug use as an investment in my future. I thought I’d take a fast track to wisdom… “Turn on, tune in, and drop out”, right?
In my head, I was going to glide up to heaven, shake hands with God, dance in the cosmic energy, and then come back down with sexy long hair, a beard, and a couple of platinum records on the wall. In reality, I got fucked up in a van, rolled around on the floor drooling and moaning incoherently, and have spent the last four years of my life trying to recover from it. I’m unemployed, considerably confused, and perpetually frightened by the noise in my head.
Salvia is a quick trip, the main effects lasting only several minutes, but in that short span, you are transported to a dimension beyond normal experience. Sometimes, while tripping, my body would divide down the middle, like something you’d see a cell do in biology class. It would divide until I became the whole universe (a somewhat uncomfortable sensation). Or other times, the music I was listening to would take the form of a young tree or vine, and it would grow in accord with the melodies as they progressed. These experiences, though short lived, always felt timeless and vast, and I'd come down feeling very tired and aged. Still, something in that madness kept calling me back, and I took Salvia several hundred times before I finally broke down and quit.
Whenever I entered a salvia dream, I’d have this sense that my whole life as I’d known it was just a joke. A voice would mock me (this me) for having identified thusly. “Haha,” it would laugh, “Back again, are we?” and I’d have the sense that Salvia’s dimension was the true reality, eternally beyond our earthly lives. It felt like the place where all souls exist.
One night, I ended up taking a massive dose, hundreds of times what I'd been using until then… I was drunk, and the part of me that hates myself took control... I loaded a bowl to the brim, and before I could turn back, my whole life began to collapse.
Everything I’d ever seen, every word I knew, and even words that I didn’t know, words in other languages, all came rushing to the surface. It was like a grand, cosmic parade in which I saw, heard, felt and knew everything that ever was. The entire history of man, every detail of my childhood, the great symphonies, and every star in the sky, it was all there, floating around like debris in a vast deluge. And all at once, it began to collapse inward on itself as if a black hole had formed.
While I watched everything disappear into darkness, I had two great regrets. I wished that I had known sooner about how it had all been a dream, and I wished that I had shown more of my heart to those who I truly loved. I felt sorry for my mom. And then it was dark.
I experienced darkness for an eternity, a lifetime spent in solitary confinement, and then a million million million more.
Eventually, I perceived blueness, and I’d later come to know it as the color of a nearby wall. Then, brownness came back into existence, and that was the table I had collapsed onto. After several eons in the blue-and-brown reality, I got the sense that there was something more to be remembered… Something I had once known, but had forgotten about... And then my arms began to separate from the brown table and became their own entity. In this manner, my world was slowly rebuilt, although many things took months and years to be remembered.
Still today, years later, I have the sense that there are words I once knew, people I’d met, and abilities I had possessed that I’ll never recover. I suffer regular panic attacks over these missing pieces.
Any time my body feels slightly off kilter, a little too cold, hungry, sick or just itchy, my heart begins to race and I worry that I’ll be thrown back into Salvia’s domain. I went completely sober for years, sought the advice of psychiatrists, and traveled the world looking for resolution, but I have yet to find it.
I have trouble believing whether this world is real or not, and it’s cost me the joy of living here. I have a very short attention span, and cannot enjoy certain things I once loved. Reading, for example, is very difficult, as I frequently find myself repeating sentences again and again, understanding each word individually, but failing to see the meaning of them combined. Beyond that, I have developed a lazy eye, occasional muscle spasms, recurring hallucinations, irregular heartbeats, and insomnia. I end up in the emergency room several times a year because I’m constantly convinced that I’m dying...
In short, I have suffered immensely. More than I ever knew possible.
When I opened by saying that some people learn by burning themselves on a stove, I was making light of the situation. What would be closer to the truth is to say that some people hang themselves by a rope and die, but that you needn’t try it, because your stupid brother already did. Please, learn from my experience and never chose this path for yourself. If nothing else, I hope to gain your betterment from my pain.
When I search for “Salvia Divinorum and Brain Damage” on the Internet (and I do so often), the only articles I find are posted by the same assholes who sell this drug to kids, and obviously, they think that it's perfectly safe. So, my purpose in writing tonight was to add a new voice to the discussion, and to possibly prevent somebody else from hurting themselves as I have.
Please, live boldly, take risks, and explore the world in which you are so blessed to be living. But don’t waste your time on worn-out paths that have been shown to lead nowhere. The drug path has been walked a thousand times, and we’re all locked up in hospital wards wishing we could take it back. So, don’t waste your time. Follow health, knowledge, spirit and truth. I hope you’ll find something worth leading others to, and that you’ll share it with the world.
I say this to you with love, as only your stupid brother can: do better than I have.