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mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
10/31/17 11:10 PM
Hi everyone,

My lovely friend Benjamin already posted on behalf of me "hospitalized..." but I wanted to make my own so that I could give and receive updates easily.

I am an intensive vipassana practitioner (2hrs a day and 4 sits in the past year). I have been messing around with mushrooms about once a month since this spring, for insight. 
I took these mushrooms in Thailand  about   "10 days ago. Within maybe 20min, I started to feel unpleasant sensations in my arm (the usual location of my anxiety reaction) and reacted negatively right away. After a few hours of waiting in agony for the trip to end, I decided to go home and suddenly had a craving to die. I didn't have any idea of suicide but I had a pleasant thought of "this is my time to die now, and I will be enlightened".
i got home, lay down and got into a full psychosis, images dancing around in my head. I at times thought I was dead (but only my ego was dead at the time), and was happy about this. And then again some unpleasant reactions, leading to paranoia "this death is not pleasant". I was going to let myself lay there and just "die", but then I remembered Goenka "you must be equanimous with death otherwise you will be reborn with more sankaras. I then freaked out and panicked that I had to stay alive. My friend reassured me I was just tripping and I was fine. But the remainder of the trip was unpleasant. And a full sleepless night.
for subsequent days after that, it was a sway back and forth between major depression followed and harmful thoughts, and elation and impulsive thoughts I.e. Run away into the forest and meditate until I become enlightened.
i finally checked myself into a hospital for a few days where I was medicated for psychosis and anxiety.
Now I am home in Canada and still on meds.  Yesterday was my first night of sleep, thanks to clonazepam. I am still extremely moody. Sometimes I feel an unpleasant pounding energy in my body , most uncomfortably in my head. I had been assuming these all came from my crazy reactions on the trip but it only occurred to me just now that maybe, a lot of these sankaras existed previously, and were just surfaced my the mushrooms. If I feel these sensations I feel like running away and am miserable. But sometimes I feel almost no sensations and enter into a mania, sometimes a "high", and get fixed on more impulsive ideas (still such as meditating my way to enlightenment).i feel so much more unconscious than I have become since entering in the path. I can't concentrate on anything, And since my senses have shut down, my thoughts are on overdrive. I am talking like 3 thoughts every  second. I am paranoid about many things (I have always been a worrier), i.e. That I will be psychotic forever , that I won't be able  to practice in the future, that I will never feel again (I feel numb)that I will become a crazy impulsive person. 
Right now to calm my racing thoughts I am trying to do Anapana. Sometimes it takes even an hour before I can be really calm.sometimes I feel so miserable I cannot even do anything except meditate because my thoughts bring me down. 

i sought medical help and they said I do not require hospitalization. The psychiatrist thinks it's just mushroom induced psychosis.

i guess ... can anyone relate to this? Or have any insight? I have been seeking advice from as many people as possible. I've been advised to stay on meds, stay AWAY from insight meditation , do anapana. And keep doing yoga. And keep remaining in the world rather than shutting it out. If anyone has anymore advice I am open.
I know it's quite heavy! Here it is. Thank you all

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
10/31/17 11:36 PM as a reply to es pro.
i was hospitalized in similar circumstances.

for 'normal people' 90% of their thinking is garbage. in psychosis / mental illness it's like 99%. stop reacting to your thoughts. Goenka's advice is good here - observe, do not react. this is also a good exercise to see how thoughts create emotions and vice versa.

try different activities that require complex coordination, for example:
- ping pong,
- swimming,
- dancing,
- playing a computer game you like.

after such activity reflect on how many thoughts you had before / during / after. pick an activity that silences the story-telling the most, since that's what's creating your suffering now.

i also found this technique useful: when you notice a thought that creates an unpleasant emotional state, imagine an opposite thought. for example: "i'll be like this forever", you can counter this with imagining you are back to normal and that people you like smile at you and congratulate you for your resiliency and mental balance. this should jam the negative loops a bit.

very good method is asking your 'worrier' for evidence. "i'll be like this forever' - where's the proof? no proof? is it useful to worry about something that might not happen? hm...

this will pass, just take it easy and keep it simple emoticon

PS
don't make important life decisions and don't spend money.

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
11/1/17 4:22 AM as a reply to es pro.
Hi Es Pro,

I offer the following advice having experienced something similar a few years ago after taking too large a dose of LSD, however please note that I am not a health care practioner and have no formal training for these kinds of situations.

In my case, after the acute psychosis wore off and I was allowed to go home, I also struggled with anxieties, strange thoughts and feelings of unreality which lingered for a few weeks. Please know that this is normal. You have had an experience that has thrown your normal way of being on its head and it may take some weeks before you can calm down and resume being embedded in your usual mode of interacting with the world. Do not pay heed to the thoughts that 'there is no going back to normal' - those thoughts are a predictable result of these kinds of bad trips and are simply not true. 

My advice for the time being would be to cool off on the formal meditation. Definitely no vipassana practise, and to be honest, I would probably avoid any kind of regimented breath, or other concentration practise either. Those kinds of practises are still capable of 'disembodying' you, and that is not the kind of territory which it is appropriate for you to be in right now.  You should also try to refrain from philosophising on the 'deeper' meanings of your various experiences for now (there will be time for that later where you will have a more objective perspective anyway). In the meantime, focus on remaining grounded in your physical body and the world.

If you must do some kind of meditative practise, do gentle grounding excercise such as counting objects in the room, or paying attention to what you can smell or feel... Also in the interest of remaining grounded, allow yourself to indulge in worldy pleasures (Excluding drugs or alcoohol of course!)... Eat rich foods, masturbate, or do any other kinds of activities that remind of your physical body and its place in the world. Light excercise might be good for this purpose as well.

Of course continue to take your medications and follow the advice of any health-care professionals. 

I wish you all the best Es Pro - know that this uncomftorable state is temporary! 

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
11/1/17 6:40 AM as a reply to O'lorin.
Great advice above, I would add (though it's probably already implied), it's probably best to stay away from religious or spiritual books, videos, practices in general - especially more 'new age' and 'psychedelic' stuff, but also meditation, Buddhism, Christianity, etc. In these paranoid states of mind you can all too easily pick out faulty ideas and conclusions from them that can further perpetuate the problem, they won't 'fix you' as you might want to by consuming them, only time and self-care will do that. There are therapists around who know this kind of territory and it can help talking it through.

There's also a UK charity who operate worldwide over the web called the Spiritual Crisis Network (http://spiritualcrisisnetwork.uk/) who get contacted by people having crises when experimenting with psychedelics all the time. If things get bad and you want to reach out to someone they can be contacted by email.

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
11/1/17 10:08 AM as a reply to es pro.
I do not think you are psychotic.  I do not think you need medication - though Klonopin is fine and wont mess with your rationality. 

In meditation we examine the objects and feelings that pass through the mind and train ourselves to let them pass with out caring about them or identifying with them.  At first, it seems impossible and then slowly you get better and better at it and let more and more dramatic seeming stuff pass through with out reaction.  

You are already really good at that from all your practice.  If you take drugs, you speed up this process alot and you end up having shit moving through the mind that you are not trained to let go of yet.  You went so far ahead that now you think the nonsense is important and scary and pyschotic.  It is just the same nonsense as before and the solution is to just let it pass through.  

Sticks and stones can break your bones, but mental nonsense cant actually hurt you. 


My Advice - (worth what you paid for it! ) 
First, you need to find a way to be just normal.  When my kids are throwing a tantrum all I have to do is change the subject and they forget all about the thing that was destroying them moments ago.  The same can be true for you.  Just change the subject from meditation and spirituality for a while.  Do some serious physical exercise and get involved in something that you care about.  I suggest volunteering at a womens shelter - see what real trouble is - or do whatever speaks to you.   It should involve other people and have nothing to do with the mind or religion.   In about a month, your mind will settle down and then you can go back to very simple breath meditation.   Do not take drugs anymore for at least 3 years and then dont take hallucinagens.

Remember,  Freedom is ultimately about letting yourself love.  (that is what humans do when free of constraint) Getting a dog is about the same as 10 years of meditation.  None of it matters at all. 

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
11/1/17 11:45 AM as a reply to es pro.
Hi guys,thank you so much for all the advice. I will definitely take some time to process it all and sort through it.
does anyone have any ideas on the sleep issue? I really hate taking pills for this stuff because there's clearly an underlying problem I am pushing down , but at this point do you think it's best to take it when I need it? 

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
11/1/17 11:55 AM as a reply to es pro.
My bad experience was about 35 years ago (I was 16), so this is a bit of a long view.  I wasn't going to respond since it's a little less encouraging than the first few responses that say "it will all be OK in a couple of weeks".  Subsequent  responses have gotten a bit more edgy so here's the facts of my story.  Apologies in advance if it rambles.

I think the residual effects of my experience were less acute than what you describe but it completely upset my ability to judge what was normal.  More to the point I felt like I was still high or otherwise broken and therefore didn't trust my perceptions.  I did not get medical help, I just dealt with it.  I did not have a meditation practice at the time.  The fear and uncertainty were not constant but ebbed and flowed.  It never just got "better".  Over a period of a few years I rebuilt confidence in my perceptions, established new ground rules for normal and found resilence in the face of experiences that challenged my expectations.  I even managed to enjoy life during that period, but there is no doubt it wasn't always easy.  

Insight meditation is a new thing for me so I can't even guess how it would have worked at that point in life.  I suspect it would have been really hard.  It might also have been really rewarding.  Having the language of vipassana available I can say that, in retrospect, vibrations and lack of solidity were significant aspects of the destabilization I felt for those few years.  I guess it also true that reestablishing a baseline of normality involved developing skills to ignore the 3Cs and find solidity .   A dharma opportunity wasted?  The answer depends on how hardcore you are.  I certainly feel like I am in the right place today, probably never to be enlightened because I am a dharma-wuss but happy to walk the path anyway.  

Advice:  Be patient. I really hope you are better in a few weeks but if not don't freak out.  The world doesn't need to seem the same as it used to, that's just not the way life works.  I'll reiterate Lewis' admonition about being careful about ideas; a couple of years in to my repair job I took a class in religious studies from this nihilist professor - set me back quite a bit.  Seth is right, dogs are freaking magic.  I've learned so much about love from my pooch it's absurd; but beware, people will look at you really funny if you try to explain it.  As for meditation, my gut no-attainments-dharma-wuss says you're young; take a break.  Much of what you've gained that will be useful for vipassana won't go away, it'll just on the back of the shelf and you can rediscover it.  Don't wait 35 years though, only a fool would do that emoticon

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
11/1/17 12:09 PM as a reply to es pro.
I had a similar experience -- too many mushrooms in Amsterdam. All the same thoughts as you , worries I would be crazy forever, extreme anxiety, panic attacks that lasted days.  Basically, I and I think you, had a panic attack on shrooms and now you have PTSD from it with accompanying generalized anxiety and panic. 

Get the book "The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook" by Edmond Bourne. That book saved my life. Read it. Follow the exercises to a T. You'll be good in a few weeks/months. 

The good news is that anxiety is very treatable. And yes, take the drugs if needed. 

Now seriously, buy the fucking book. 

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
11/2/17 6:48 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
I suggest volunteering at a womens shelter - see what real trouble is - or do whatever speaks to you.   

This will really wake you up... +1!

Resolve to get well and give yourself a reasonable timeline, but 'NOW!' works wonders... emoticon

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
11/2/17 9:18 AM as a reply to es pro.
I really hope things work out for you!

Here's the advice/help that my dharma teacher gave me after going through some very difficult experiences and destabilisation with reality after taking a lot of Ayahuasca and a general long period of becoming completely lost in life. Along with some other things I've picked up along the way.

1) Formally recite (outloud or to yourself) the 5 precepts every morning (at the start of the sitting practice is best). The precepts are like an algorithm for purifying the mind and making it safe. They're super important and very powerful and not to be simply dismissed. The more you do it with sincerity the more your mind will begin to highlight areas of your life or incidents of the previous days where they weren't kept, and hopefully give some insight into the cause-and-effect of that

2) Formally recite (outloud or to yourself) the refuge to the buddha/dharma/sangha, if you feel that closeness to the path. The refuges can really help bring the mind to a state of safety and stability too. Refuge!

2.2) Set the intention for what your practice will be. Dedicate the benefits to all beings everywhere and yourself.

3) Do some short formal metta practice before getting into the sitting practice... 5-10 minutes. Start with yourself or a trusted teacher/benefactor

4) 5-10 minutes of very slow and relaxing belly breathing can really help settle the mind and body and reduce anxiety. I had a lot of anxiety and taking this step seriously, trying to slow my body down, really helped. I think the phrase she said to me was "Anxiety is physiologically incompatible with deep slow breathing".

5) Service and volunteer stuff really helps. And even if you can't join some official volunteer position, you can practice doing more normal activities with a service mindset (eg cleaning not just as a practical thing but a deliberate act of service, etc).

6) Be with nature/sky/earth/water/fire/plants/animals/elements


Emphasis on this period of your life on stability, settling, grounding, compassion, cut out anything you can that is a source of stress or unwholesomeness that serves no benefit. Various forms of entertainment or media or social experienes might fall into this category.

I've also found tong len (give/receive, breathing in other people's suffering and breathing out healing moonlight) to be really helpful, as well as to recite/memorise and contemplate/trytopractice the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation. Something about these two practices helps set my attitude straight.

Good luck!



The Eight Verses of Thought Transformation:

1.
With the thought of attaining enlightenment
For the welfare of all beings,
Who are more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel, 
I will constantly practice holding them dear.

2.
Whenever I am with others
I will practice seeing myself as the lowest of all,
 And from the very depth of my heart
I will respectfully hold others as supreme.

3.
In all actions I will examine my mind,
And the moment a disturbing attitude arises
Endangering myself and others,
I will firmly confront and avert it.

4.
Whenever I meet a person of bad nature
Who is overwhelmed by negative energy and intense suffering,
I will hold such a rare one dear,
As if I had found a precious treasure.

5.
When others, out of jealousy,
Mistreat me with abuse, slander, and so on,
I will practice accepting defeat
And offering the victory to them.

6.
When someone I have benefited
And in whom I have placed great trust
Hurts me very badly,
I will practice seeing that person as my supreme teacher.

7.
In short, I will offer directly and indirectly
Every benefit and happiness to all beings, my mothers.
I will practice in secret taking upon myself
All their harmful actions and sufferings.

8.
Without these practices being defiled by the stains of the eight worldly concerns,
By perceiving all phenomena as illusory,
I will practice without grasping to release all beings
From the bondage of the disturbing unsubdued mind and karma.

(The eight worldly concerns: Gain and loss, happiness and unhappiness,
Fame and insignificance, praise and blame—
These are what we call “the eight worldly concerns.”
from Advice on Abandoning the Eight Worldly Concerns by Nyala Pema Dündul)

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
11/2/17 9:50 AM as a reply to es pro.
Wow, I really appreciate the advice from everyone, thank you. I need to compile something from all of this

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
11/3/17 9:38 AM as a reply to es pro.
Generate Operate Destroy:
I stumbled upon this and thought it might be of use

http://maryshutan.com/category/top-down-awakening/

Excellent article, thanks for that.

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
11/4/17 2:16 AM as a reply to C P M.
Not much to add beyond really liking this thread. I get maybe one call or email per year from someone who has struggled for some period of time after psychedelics, so it is nice to see those seasoned in this giving practical advice born of personal knowledge to each other.

I do remember being at a major Buddhist gathering and seeing a friend there who was a long-time serious accomplished meditation practitioner putting the pieces of their brain back together as best they could from a mushroom trip they had gone on some 10 days earlier. They were still often hiding under tables at that point, but they got better.

Best wishes,

Daniel

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
7/20/20 12:13 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Not much to add beyond really liking this thread. I get maybe one call or email per year from someone who has struggled for some period of time after psychedelics, so it is nice to see those seasoned in this giving practical advice born of personal knowledge to each other.

I do remember being at a major Buddhist gathering and seeing a friend there who was a long-time serious accomplished meditation practitioner putting the pieces of their brain back together as best they could from a mushroom trip they had gone on some 10 days earlier. They were still often hiding under tables at that point, but they got better.

Best wishes,

Daniel

es pro: 

Daniel Ingram

but they got better.

there's your compilation keystone.

love, tim

RE: mushroom induced psychosis
Answer
7/21/20 11:05 AM as a reply to es pro.
I wouldn't advise yoga. At least for awhile, too arousing!