Dishes piled up on my desk next to my unread textbooks. A bowl with dried cheese from two-day old Panera and a shriveled-up piece of pumpkin bread was sitting in my windowsill. Two cups stained red from wine sat in the sink, ogling my roommate every time she boiled her drinking water. I couldn’t muster the strength to do the dishes, so I let them collect dust.
Slept-in pajamas and coats that belong on hangers littered the floor of my room while the trash can overflowed with granola bar wrappers and used cotton rounds. The socks I took off while I was in bed were thrown across the room in every direction. A pink striped sock in the corner, a solid black sock near my closet, and two brown hiking socks: one on my desk and the other in the center of my room, turned inside-out. At least I was putting my used underwear in the laundry bag.
My books and papers were cluttered on my desk, underneath the plates and bowls from past meals. There was barely enough space, but just enough, to set down my computer so I could sit down and work on nothing in particular. Maybe so I could type poems about my ex-boyfriend’s Chinese girlfriend. Maybe so I could type a poem about him leaving me crying into a bottle of wine the night before.
I texted around asking for a drug dealer the day after I attempted suicide. I asked friends, acquaintances, and past hookups only to find one person who had something—LSD. I’d never done it before and was told to steer clear of it because of the medication I’m taking for depression, but I threw all rationality into the trash and used my last 18 dollars to buy a tab. 18 dollars? Yes. There was a delivery fee.
I walked outside, wearing a coat on top of my white robe and Crocs on my feet, only to walk to the wrong car. I stood next to the driver’s side window and looked in at three boys my age: “are you Jaishon?” I asked after the driver rolled down the window.
“No,” he said, confused. His friends began to laugh as I walked away, and I pulled out my phone only to find out that Jaishon would be driving an orange Honda. Not even twenty seconds later, he pulled up to my building and I walked over to the car. He handed me the tab, wrapped in foil and tucked inside an Under Armour sweatshirt tag.
“Did you get my Venmo?” I asked him.
“Yep!” he said. He told me to enjoy the acid and I took that as an invitation to get out of his car.
“I’m going to trip on acid tomorrow at 1:30. I don’t want to have a bad trip and I’d like for you to be here to make sure I don’t die,” I texted my ex-boyfriend. He didn’t respond. He didn’t look at the message until days later, actually.
I woke up the next day and went to my classes, surprisingly. They were my two workshop classes on Tuesday, fiction and nonfiction writing, respectively. I preferred the nonfiction only because the class discussions were interesting enough to make leaving my apartment worth the walk.
I left class that day and fully intended to trip on acid as soon as I got back to my dorm. I knew from past friends and the LSD subreddit that a trip takes about eight hours before you could fall asleep again. So, if I took it at 1:30, that would leave me time to fall asleep and be able to make it into class on Wednesday.
I got back to my filthy apartment, excited to hallucinate and forget who I was for a few hours. I prepared very well. I plugged in my computer to the outlet near my bed so I could watch animated movies in bed. I waited outside the microwave for three minutes while I cooked popcorn, put it in a bowl and brought it back into my room. I filled my cup with water just in case I got cottonmouth. I finally put on some comfy clothes and turned off the lights to create the perfect environment in which to trip balls.
I opened the piece of tin foil inside of the sweatshirt tag and took out the little white piece of paper. I put it on my tongue and took a selfie to…document the process. I walked around for a little bit and waited the full 15 minutes before I swallowed the piece of paper. I was past the point of no return.
I slid into bed and browsed Netflix for the perfect movie to watch. Trolls? No. Boss Baby? Hell no. I ultimately decided on a classic: Coraline. Sure, I was worried I was going to have a bad trip from the dark themes and images in that movie. It’s a creepy film. But if I’m being honest, I was hoping I would have a bad trip.
I was hoping shadows would consume me and I would become scarred for life with images from a past acid trip; maybe if I was lucky, I would hallucinate dark figures in the corner of my room and scream until my roommate knocked on my door asking what was wrong, she was trying to study.
None of that happened, though. I sat in bed watching Coraline crawl through the tunnel to another world and felt nothing. I didn’t feel scared, I didn’t feel amazed, I didn’t feel anything. I had a tiny head high—meaning I felt the room spin a bit in the middle of the movie. I mostly just began to get a headache that was worsened every time I lifted my eyes from the screen.
After the movie was over, and I was convinced that my head was going to explode, I turned on Incredibles 2. It’s a great film, regardless of the fact that I was supposed to be high. Instead I laid in bed, pale as a sheet and holding my head in the singular position in which it didn’t hurt and I could still see the screen. I stayed like that for the duration of Mrs. Incredible’s journey of self-discovery and while she figured out what it means to be a mother.
Somehow, I fell asleep after the film was over and woke up with an even worse headache. I’d call it a migraine. I worried that my SSRI’s were fucking with my serotonin receptors so much that my brain was in pain. That’s possible, right?
I took to Reddit to answer my question: did I take acid? I’m a big proponent of using the Internet, and Reddit’s forum-like qualities made it so much easier than finding a similar case on Google and hoping that their symptoms match up with mine. I posted to r/LSD and outlined the facts: it was an untested tab, I had a splitting headache, and I never hallucinated. I barely even felt high. As expected, nearly twenty people commented telling me that I was sold a research chemical and what I took was definitely not acid.
At this point, I was left with zero options. I just had to wait out the headache and hope I didn’t cause permanent brain damage. But what also happened while I was holding my head in my hands was this: I didn’t want to die anymore. I was worried that I just permanently fucked up my brain; who would care about that if they wanted to die. I no longer felt the need to text my ex-boyfriend, either. I took a good, hard look at my room and decided it needed a deep clean. A vacuuming, too, if I’m honest.
The best part about the fake acid I was sold is that it sparked creativity in me that I haven’t felt in ages. I haven’t felt like a writer in months, because guess what, I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t reading, either. I was sitting around with a fountain pen tattooed on me, thinking to myself: “Why do I even call myself a writer? Why did I get this tattoo?”
I took my computer into my lap and started typing. I started typing a piece that would later come to be a huge hit on my blog and (I think) in my nonfiction writing class. I would keep writing, too. I didn’t stop until 1 AM that night and I was satisfied with my draft. It was the first draft I had written in months. Sure, it was about him. Sure, it wasn’t a happy piece. But it was something.
The following day, I woke up and gathered all of the dishes scattered across my room. I took them into the kitchen and washed them, one by one, getting rid of the evidence of my two-week long depression. I went back in my room and started picking up my socks. I picked up my jackets that were strewn across the floor of my room and I put them on hangers. I organized the papers on my desk to reveal a space that I could work on when I came back from class. I made my bed, I washed my laundry, and I stopped checking my phone every five minutes for the text from him that he would never send.
I’m not going to try acid again. Mostly because I don’t know any dealers of the stuff, but also because I don’t want to. I took it in the first place with the hopes that I would forget who I was and experience a bad trip to punish myself. I wanted to feel horrible. I wanted to feel scared of shadows on the wall, and I wanted to look at Coraline’s button eyes and scream out of sheer terror.
That didn’t happen. Instead, I got a pounding headache from a research chemical that I don’t know the name of that probably fucked with my brain irreparably. I’m okay with that. Because when I came to, I wanted to live. I didn’t want to try and hang myself in the doorway, and I sure as hell didn’t want to keep living in a pig sty.
Bad acid motivated me to be better to myself. It sparked my creativity. It gave me a headache that I’m still feeling reverberations from three weeks later. But most importantly, it cured my two-week long depression.