The Trip That
Keeps on Giving
By Nina Fern
Nina chronicles her thoughts as she copes during a traumatic psilocybin trip that takes her down an unwanted memory lane. A sequel and standalone to Trip, Trippin, Tripped.
Take a seat, light a J. 15 minute read.
Was I tasting psilocybin? That was weeks ago.
I was looking out at the homeless from my comfortable bed at The Proper Hotel. I could smell the dirt, neglect and illness. It seemed worse than just a few months ago. Where were these Silicon Valley billionaires? This was their city. Then came tears.
My hypersensitivity was at an all time high.
Oh hi Trauma, I thought I was done with you.
Trauma, remember Happy?
I was happy being the reigning princess of my breezy closet room. I was never bored singing to my stuffed animals and plotting out my future. There was zero doubt that it was happening and it would be epic.
A few feet outside of my door, Mom slept on the floor, coping with her demons. Not that I knew what they were.
My brothers shared a room. It was filled with football equipment and smelled like dirt, neglect and unaddressed illness. I pretended not to notice but I felt it every time I came out of the closet room.
Beyond the side door, which was our front door and a few feet from where Mom slept, was the garbage dump. A thick vile smell that kicked up every so often. I worried all the time I would be dying early inhaling this dump. I did my best to ignore the circling birds when I went to the bus stop. I could feel their squawking in my bones.
It was the house of suffering. All of us in our own corners. Suffering and coping in our own ways that were never discussed. Mom would say ‘You’ll figure it out.’ That’s all she had. It was a given – there was no help.
Mom made us accept everything. “Accept the things you cannot change, change what you can, know the difference, blah, blah, blah.” How was she so tolerant? Her sister lived a nice life a few blocks away and never helped Mom in a meaningful way. I couldn’t understand this relationship. They spoke a few times a day when my aunt came to collect worship. The ranking system was clear. The top could do and say whatever they wanted. The bottom was lucky to be in their presence, because they had an illusion of needing these people for something. Mom asked her for help once and was turned down. She never asked for help again, only from God. The only thing that kept me calm about this dynamic was that I knew my aunt would get hers one day. And she did — in spades.
Oh btw, there is no graduation. I left in December.
Eventually, guilt forced me out of my closet room. I got the tiny amount of child support pulled dealing with Dad, the most irrational man alive. It was the first time I had a true angry moment. I dropped the act of perfect worshipping daughter and spoke my truth about the evil I saw playing out and how I really felt about it. He reminded me who had the power and hell came down. And then he was gone (for years). I was in shock. Dismissed, just like that. Then came reality.
I was hungry for real food. I was scared shit every time I stole clothes. Scared at school where violence was cool. I couldn’t love my boyfriend the way he deserved. Insecurity overwhelmed me. Everything overwhelmed me. I needed to surround myself with good things and thoughts — real ones. And I had to right this wrong I inflicted on my Mom, getting this money pulled, or I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. Mom and I never discussed this heated episode with my Dad, but I noticed afterward she mentally checked out and just prayed. I couldn’t blame her. I felt shame living in this defeated house and I was sinking along with it. Four more years of a slightly different version of this was not going to be an option for me. It was my turn to figure it out. I walked out of high school without a backwards glance and went to work. No one noticed for months. Who was more absent, Mom or the school? It didn’t matter. I was better off.
Nice to meet you Fight or Flight. Lets bolt.
Ohio Gozaimasu. I’ll take 5 million at 25.
It took everything out of me. Performing. The lies around my age and college degree ate at me like flesh eating disease and I avoided talking about myself at all costs. Thank God for the cannabis keeping me calm, cool and collected. I stole an insane amount of posh clothes and worked on my New York accent. I pored over encyclopedias learning about different countries for the complex land of foreign exchange and emerging markets. I somehow understood it insanely well. My brain was functioning beyond high and I recognized how my entire being shifted on its own. When I was ready, I swung my sword and hit the jackpot. Then I flew… all the way to the top and left all the shit below me. I took care of my Mom with money. I tried not to notice it wasn’t enough – I tried not to notice I still felt guilty. I wasn’t that story any longer and I would never go back. I was traumatized.
It was a magical time. My mind was filled with meaning as I learned about the world, its personalities and how it all clicks together. I became disciplined and cherished my routine of walking for coffee, working hard, enjoying life, and then turning off without distraction to recharge. I was proud of what I accomplished and how I was accomplishing it. I enjoyed working and the intimate relationships that had as much to do with loyalty, trust and respect as it did money. Everything looked good, the food was amazing, and the events were exhilarating. Everyone was happy and laughing, even when we were unhappy and stressed. Speaking up was part of the job and if you yelled? Well, even better. It was considered normal and there were rarely hard feelings. We were a kickass team and I had role models. What a feeling. Too bad no one knew anything about me.
Adrenaline Rush meet Imposter Syndrome. I’ll come back when I have time.
A new mandatory background check exposed it all. My Big Boss was both shocked and didn’t care. We talked about my lack of formal education once and never again. As far as I knew, he never mentioned it to anyone. I was never treated differently or paid unfairly. If we had a disagreement, I never once worried Big Boss would hold it over my head, and he never did. There was trust and respect in this relationship and it didn’t have an expiration date — I knew that. I finally understood my worth and I was no longer an imposter. I worked for the first time with a clear head and it was indeed epic. I felt safety and freedom – I felt really strong. The truth set me free. Thank you background check.
Enjoy it while you can Mind, Body isn’t satisfied with this ending.
2010 to 2015
Cannabis legalization, just in time.
I didn’t just fall face first on concrete. It happened after crazy eyes handed me my drink, right? Maybe not… but right? I told myself no, he was up there on the neighborhood ranking system and it was easier to stick to good thoughts. Until I saw him again – and he couldn’t look me in the eye – and what did I sense? Squirming… I knew. Too much time had passed to say anything. Stay quiet Nina, you have a checkered past. You don’t deserve rights.
Welcome back Trauma, Flight or Flight and Imposter Syndrome. Body is officially in charge and she’s in a fucking rage.
The Bay Area
Where did all the good cannabis go?
It was hard to concentrate wearing the smell of the homeless. This city made me so mad and sad. Even the cannabis didn’t help, what was up with that? Why did I take this trip so soon after the psilocybin debacle?
I never booked this trip. I’m not going.
I returned home to realize I was still majorly tripping. I never imagined psilocybin or anything could create such psychological warfare on my mind. Especially weeks later.
My bedroom was taken over by the homeless from the street of The Proper Hotel. The street was in my room, my penthouse bedroom was on the street. My sanctuary was ruined. Multiple times a day I saw this scene in my bedroom accompanied by thoughts of my past as all of the years of my mental compensation just poof…unraveled. This type of mental mind fuck was not what I had in mind when I took that first pill and listened to music all day.
My past was ugly without my rose colored glasses. I saw a neglected, highly sensitive girl coping by tuning in and tuning out. I was furious looking at this scene. I went back in time and threw anger on everything. Zero communication. Asking and questioning was considered complaining and ungrateful. Silence was considered peace. Hidden from the Jewish community when I didn’t have a title. Paraded around like a show pony when I did have one. Man, I fucking despised everything about that. Who was better than who based on…what? Success practically put me in my grave. Why did that get a high rank exactly? Oh, that was my own sick ranking system.
What was the point of going back in time? I moved on from this almost thirty years ago. But did I? Its been quietly replaying in the background for two years now — since social media triggered it all. I was upset watching the modern ranking system dismiss and destroy young self-esteems daily. Looking in the eyes of my young, overachieving friends knowing how defeated they felt already. They wanted to be appreciated for their minds, they weren’t made for performing. How would they keep up? The daily harassment was everywhere. Turn one thing off, it pops up somewhere else. I remembered when the walls caved in at every angle. Seeing this play out on social media broke my heart daily. I hated myself daily for contributing to it. I felt silence and rage everywhere. It may have been a different generation, story and angles but we were sharing the same feelings. All of us on top of each other and nothing good happening. And so much, too much noise. PTSD and depression hugged me night after night.
Ok psilocybin, I’m begging. Can it be over now? I’m officially uncomfortable.
My body and mind were in shock. I reached out for help in the psychedelic community. And there was the next generation of low level scammers propped up by social media. There was no real help. The ranking systems morphed into scheming systems — some dangerous ones. Not that I didn’t already know this. It was in every space.
I’m done. Leave me alone.
Everytime I cried, I felt God. How long would this last? It was taking a toll. I didn’t know how to move the concrete I was swimming in. I thought of my friends that suffered from depression and was in awe how they bounced back from this. They were true superheroes. I thought of the times they disappeared or cancelled at the last second and sent them love. I thought of how I could better serve others and mentally took note of what made me feel better and what didn’t. I couldn’t help but know even though we never spoke about it, this is what my Mom was feeling when she was crying on the floor, stuck alone in concrete with PTSD, three different children, not a dime or a mattress. She may have been depressed, but she was was also giggly, smart and always a well wisher. We were always laughing together. I saw Mom on the floor in my bedroom. She was undervalued by everyone —including me. She needed what I needed now — emotional support.
I see you, finally. I’m terribly sorry.
Possible side effects: disgust and hate toward innocent strangers.
I was at a dinner sitting between the tech people. I knew to smoke a joint beforehand. They talked about the path of ‘influencing’ to get to who they ultimately wanted to reach. It sounded so calculated and idiotic — and pushed my every button. What empty ranking system appointed this asshole to save the world and fuck with all the people on the way? Oh right, his childish friends. He barely glanced at my website. Nodded like he needed only .05 seconds to take in my hard work. He flaunted his ability to forward it to his Big Swinging Dick friends that I would never, ever google. The table hung on their every word as I was subjected to this verbal masturbation coupled with a round of fake orgasms to the person as fucked up as me. I lit the match and was ready to verbally torch the table with how I really felt about the evil way people conduct business and us dummies making them billionaires. I remembered the last time I spoke my truth in a rage like this and luckily blew out the match. Like Roadrunner, I slipped out of the dinner just in time. What was happening to me? Was this even my truth? Where was quiet Nina? I felt like I was on drugs. I would never judge an addict after this. Ever. I took an official timeout. I had to figure this out.
Change of plan. No more trips. We’re doing staycations.
I stayed close to my friends who would tell me honestly about the state I was in. Me being so out of sorts was a new dynamic for us. It was real and deep and next level. We would take walks, and I cried at numerous kitchen counters. They would listen and agreed with the injustices I couldn’t get past, but it didn’t get under their skin like it did mine. I was hypersensitive to everything on regular days and the mushrooms put it over the top. What would happen to me? Would I have to live in the woods with the hippies? Oh please no. I didn’t belong there either. I started doing the proper research. Psilocybin, serotonin and the highly sensitive person. I didn’t have an answer but it was making sense to what was happening. Understanding things was the game changer. I was getting more comfortable, kind and patient with myself – and the world again.
He said, “Don’t mind me, I’m tripping on your dress.” I said, “Don’t mind me. I’m in the middle of a 2 month traumatizing trip.”
A random man at Butterfly Soho had many of the answers. The psilocybin was getting reactivated by the cannabis. I was dealing with it in the worst possible set and setting (city life) without any guidance (should be with a therapist). I would have to deal with each issue it brought up before I reintroduced cannabis again. He promised me this was a positive drug. I heard God. It was time to deal with life without cannabis. I wasn’t surprised. I had an inkling this day was coming. This whole year was leading up to it. Come to think of it, it was also leading up to anger.
People came out of the woodwork for my cannabis start-up. Talented people with depth and values. I knew how it would go from here. I was on the shitty but very right road. It was time to get creative and figure this whole thing out a new way.
Come along Psilocybin, I have the power now.
How would I work around this new perma-mushroom state? Was I even in a mushroom state or was I in a Nina state without the heavy mental compensation lifting. Did it even matter? I stopped myself in flow and looked in the mirror. How could I make this woman whole so she could take a seat at the table with her friends?
Empathy, meet my friend Anger.
I was working on my next newsletter with John. I had to come clean just in case I was psycho. Psilocybin didn’t give me the choice to be contained any longer. I told him about the microdosing leaving homeless in my bed. No judgement… he told me my job was to keep wishing them to be free of suffering instead of repulsed by the outward impression. Every time I saw the homeless in my room I went over “hey…. how are you?” I gave them my full attention, time, and wished them well from the bottom of heart. It felt productive. I could do something for them and for me. They began to disappear slowly but not completely. John gave me the tools for the homeless, but it was really for my life. Dealing with empathy has always been my downfall. It almost always took me to anger, until at the last second I managed to sidestep it into something positive. I would have rethought that move had I known this much anger would be waiting for me.
Lets part here Fight or Flight. Self-care is taking over.
I liked dealing with anger. I tuned in and felt where it was lodged in me and I felt it when it came out. It felt sooo good and natural. Just like that first exhale of cannabis. Just like the roar in Taryn’s class. Just like the years in finance, when speaking up was encouraged. My self-care routine was at its best. My communication skills were shockingly strong. Any fear of vulnerability was murdered by psilocybin.
I finally realized that anger was normal and not a defect. How could I rid the fear it may get me in horrible trouble? How could I wear my anger well?
I was going to Portland to interview Jeremy. We spoke about my mushroom trip beforehand. His company’s reputation was too pristine and I didn’t want to mar it. I knew my mushroom story wasn’t ending. It had taken on a life of its own from my little newsletter. He had to realize I may not be the psychedelic communities favorite person in the near future. I wasn’t love from magic mushrooms. I accepted I was ball of anger, to which he replied, ‘YES!’ I told him about the homeless and how I was nervous to travel for too long. Imagine if I was in finance talking about a bad mushroom trip? I would have been escorted out. Jeremy listened, gave me time and thought. We would continue this and talk about possible solutions. I knew we would. We hung up very connected.
I woke up high but not. I thought about cannabis culture and how this is what they meant when they say it will heal the world. I was forced to be vulnerable and the right help came from the right places. Extraordinary people being good humans simply because we were authentically connected. It was intimate, private and I had a sense of loyalty for all of them. Truly, we only need each other.
I felt God everywhere.
I was in the Proper Hotel perched on the third floor like a princess. My brother slept in his room, with the sickness/homeless on the ground. Mom was on the ground, but as a presence. My other brother, a passerby. They supported me by giving me the rest I needed. No one knocked on my closet room door. No one ever mentioned they heard my singing. No one complained I was the only one with my own room and sanctuary. I was awarded the only luxury of the house — a window air conditioner — out of nowhere. That air conditioner let me live in a beautiful breeze and drowned out all the noise. I was never berated for playing with fire and getting the child support pulled. Mom let me rest and charge my sword because she believed in me, just like I believed in myself. They were proud when I hit my mark. Mom told me over and over again, I deserved it. I had to be poked enough to come out fighting and learn what I was capable of. Just like psilocybin poked me. Psilocybin taught me I had to learn how to use anger as a natural and positive guide instead of something to avoid. I wasn’t safe in the corner reserved for hypersensitive any longer. I was supersensitive and that had a special kind of power — I knew that.
Not so fast, You.
Microdosing magic mushrooms sounded so ‘friendly’ and I should have known better to do more research. Didn’t I market my teen self like a bandit? Didn’t I unintentionally hurt people along the way? It didn’t make me a bad person, but I paid a severe price for it. It got me from A to B and also filled me with inescapable fear and low self-worth. It got in the way of too many good things in and outside of work. I looked at all of the people I was angry with. I saw my past and past mistakes in all of them. I wasn’t angry with them at all. I had extreme empathy for them and I was frustrated sensing the hell they were going to experience. It was a long way down their ranking system and it was also their turn. I learned in my bones there was no getting away with it — any of it. I sent them my best intentions and wished them well from the bottom of my heart. We may be connected but their story is not my story, I paid those dues.
I looked back. I grew up treated like a princess. I got lucky with the most altruistic Mom in the world. There was no ranking high enough.
I took a seat on the ground next to Mom and wished all the Princes and Princesses in my kingdom well and made sure they knew they deserved it all.
Later Shame. Self-Compassion and Self-Forgiveness are taking over.
I smoked the best joint in Portland. When I came home the homeless were gone and replaced with a new energy. Psilocybin may be positive after all.
I felt God everywhere.