Tag Archives: drugs and alcohol

Ramblings About How I Cured My Depression

Since Robin William’s suicide I’ve been thinking a bit more about depression and my own relationship with it. It’s always been a very important topic for me. I used to be very depressed to the point where I made plans to kill myself and I think once when I was about twelve I even walked out the door with the intention of following through with it.

One day in seventh grade I remember telling half the class that I wished I was dead. Someone told me that wasn’t cool to joke about and I insisted that I was not joking and I genuinely wished I was dead. I never heard back about that. No one mentioned it to the teacher as far as I know, or if they did, she didn’t bother to address it.

The depression felt absolutely inescapable. For many years I envisioned my adult life as nothing more than going to work, coming home and watching television by myself. My greatest dream in life was to have 500 channels to distract me from how much I hated life. Having a successful career or even a loving girlfriend seemed completely unrealistic for me.

Then I went through a magical transformation in my late teens. It didn’t feel like I overcame a chemical disorder in my brain. It felt like reality itself had altered, like the whole universe had changed shape and meaning, as though God had finally presented Himself to me. If I went back in time to tell myself how happy I would be in my adult life, there’s no chance I would have believed it. I was so deep in depression that I wasn’t able to even accept that this kind of happiness and satisfaction was possible in human beings.

I think that may be one of the keys. A depressed person must first accept that happiness, true happiness and satisfaction absolutely is possible. But how do you communicate that? Just telling someone that it’s possible isn’t going to do it because it’s a feeling and belief that lies much deeper than our logical reasoning.

For so many years I’ve wanted to try to explain how I did it but it seems like every year that goes by it gets harder to frame into words and I lose the sense of what it felt like to be depressed.

What I do know is that I made a conscious choice to stop being depressed. I know that’s offensive to many people, but I truly believe it. However, I also remember when people would tell me that I could just choose to be happy. That didn’t help me. Just insisting that happiness is a choice is not doing anything to help people with depression.

On the other hand, insisting that depression is all chemical, calling it a disease, telling people that they are helpless, and implying that the cure can only be done through a doctor, I believe is even more damaging. I think that attitude was a big part of what kept me trapped for most of my childhood. There were actual authorities on the subject telling me that I was helpless, making me believe that there was nothing I could do to affect my own life.

I know that there are many chemical and biological reasons for depression. It frequently seems like a disease to both the sufferer and the medical professionals, but I feel that reminding people of that is an extremely counter-productive approach. People should feel empowered to make changes. Calling it a disease strips people of that power.

I never went to counselors for my depression or even really talked about it beyond that one day in seventh grade. I’m certainly not suggesting that people be that closeted about it, but in a way, I think it helped me by not telling anyone. I was never put in counseling and never prescribed drugs. I came out of my depression completely on my own. I think that counseling may really have helped me get out of it earlier, but I am convinced that taking regular pharmaceuticals may have helped temporarily but would ultimately have made me even more trapped in my negative perspectives.

However, my depression left me right around the same time that I got deep into marijuana and psychedelic use and started selling drugs. You could argue that the mushrooms, LSD and other psychedelics I took at that time changed the chemical makeup of my brain and allowed me to find a better life. There’s probably some truth to that, but at the same time I’ve known many depressed people who smoke weed and take psychedelics and see no improvement. In a very small number of cases it even seemed to make it worse. So simply going out and having fun with recreational drugs is not going to cure depression.

So what was it that really ended my depression? It’s hard for me to know for sure, but I think it had to do with me just kind of giving up on a lot of stuff. Again, not something I would recommend for someone fighting depression. But in all honesty, I kind of gave up on life. Specifically, I gave up on trying to find a girlfriend, but also, in general I gave up on my drive to be happy and fulfilled. Instead, I decided to just start smoking pot until I forgot how sad I was. I figured when the marijuana stopped killing the pain I would start drinking and if that didn’t do it I’d move on to coke and eventually heroin if that’s what it took to to make myself feel good.

I hesitate to tell this story because it sounds like absolutely horrendous advice to give to someone with depression. And it would be. In no way am I advising folks to take this approach.

On the other hand, it’s what worked for me. Life is such a strange, backward, counter-intuitive experience. Perhaps realizing that was part of my solution. I had to recognize that there is no logical road map for life and there never will be. Each and every person must carve their own path.

There were other things during that time that I think kept me safe from dangerous drug addiction. I got some minor drug addictions to marijuana and tobacco and may have felt myself becoming addicted to a couple other things like a form of speed that was still legal, but nothing that would kill me.

But I think what it came down to was that I was willing to make the decision to end my depression. I was willing to make the sacrifices. I was willing to give up all respect from my family and society as I went down my path of illicit drug use. I was okay with the risks. I knew I might go to prison or wind up dead in a ditch. I accepted that. At the time I didn’t realize how safe marijuana and mushrooms really were so I always felt like I was taking this huge risk. I think that sense of risk helped tremendously. Even though the fear was unpleasant at the time, the next day, after facing my fears of trying that new mystery drug, I felt empowered, like I’d overcome something, even if I hadn’t enjoyed the high. In the long run I think that was a major player in the end of my depression.

Another thing I think, was simply the marijuana community in Bellingham, Washington. That was just a unique and happy coincidence that the small-time drug dealers and users in that town were such supportive and caring individuals who accepted me for who I was without judgement. I guess that’s one solid piece of advice I can give in all this rambling: surround yourself with people who support you and accept you for who you are. Reject the others… but reject them compassionately.

On the other hand, you also want to surround yourself with people who are honest with you, who aren’t going to lie to you to protect your feelings. For me, I am happiest and most comfortable around people who I know aren’t going to sugar-coat things. If I catch someone lying, even if it’s coming from a place of love, I lose trust in that person and I lose a measure of self-respect. If I see them being brutally honest with someone, even if they’re being harsh, that can make more comfortable knowing they probably aren’t harboring unspoken judgments.

Is that good advice? I don’t know. It seems so counter-intuitive. Many folks insist that you should be supportive and make people feel good even if that means not being totally straight with them. That doesn’t work for me but it might for other people. But I wonder if many people who take that attitude are also suffering depression. It does seem kind of rare to see someone who is ruthlessly honest and straightforward who is also suffering from deep depression, but maybe that’s just my own perceptions fucking with me.

But maybe the best advice I can give is to experiment. Don’t just accept your depression lying down. Try new things. Try new ways of looking at life. Get to know new kinds of people. Gauge how all this makes you feel over time and keep experimenting. If something helps you feel empowered or like there’s a beacon of hope, then explore it further, even if it doesn’t directly help your depression. Search for new and different ways to truly convince yourself that escape is possible and that you deserve that escape, and that your friends, family and society are all rooting for you.

On the other hand, I’m no psychologist or counselor. I’m just one dude who happened to cure his own depression and is now writing a rambling, disorganized blog post about it. Who knows if I have any idea what I’m talking about.

LSD Still Awesome

Effects of LSD 100% Positive in New Swiss Study, LSD Still Awesome.

This is a little article a friend posted the other day to facebook that sparked my interest, but I wasn’t going to write about it until the other day when a friend of mine told me “%80 of drug users are assholes”. He had known that I was a big fan of psychedelics and for this last year or so that I’ve known him, has never mentioned his distaste for people like me. It seemed strange considering how often we hang out.

So naturally I asked, “So am I one of the assholes then or am I one of the exceptions?” but instead of addressing the question he just said, “way to make it all about you, Kalin.” But that seems like a reasonable question. If I were to say that %80 of Christians are assholes (which I don’t believe despite how deeply atheist I am) I think it would be reasonable for my Christian friends to want to know if I see them as one of the exceptions. I asked him again and he still refused to answer, making me think that perhaps he does see me as an asshole and has some other reason for hanging out with me. (Edit: It has come to my attention that I was a little harsh here. He did in fact answer by saying “I wouldn’t be friends with you if I thought you were an asshole,” but it didn’t really register at the time and it somehow didn’t feel like an answer since I was surprisingly emotional at this point in the conversation. But since I don’t want to get in the habit of agonizing over old blog posts, I’m not going to change anything in this post, but I will say that since then, he’s made it clear that he supports legalization of drugs in general, which is what really matters to me.)

Then the subject changed and we started talking about whether or not a bystander has an obligation to help someone in need. He told me that if he saw someone dying and had the opportunity to help, that he probably would not. It made me ask myself how he might define the term ‘asshole’.

He believes that people in our society are far too concerned about death, that there are actually worse things, that our obsession with preventing death prevents us from enjoying life and that death is something that we need to accept as a part of life. (Okay, he didn’t actually say all that but I needed to expand on his statement a little so people could understand where he’s coming from.)

So I said, “I completely agree, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to use that as an excuse to just stand by and watch someone die.”

“It’s not an excuse. It’s a reason. That’s why I wouldn’t save someone from drowning.”

Ironically I was right in the middle of writing a true story about something that had happened to a friend of mine, where he was punished rather harshly for smoking marijuana. I had been in complete support of his punishment, but years later realized that I did not have any problem whatsoever with marijuana and that my desire to see him punished resulted from nothing more than a sadistic desire to see someone suffer.

But the reason I figured that out about myself was because I took psychedelics and spent the time to focus on learning about myself and my past. My friend, of course, has never tried any of these drugs that he has such a problem with. However, he has told me that he’s had sexual fantasies involving death. I can’t fault him for that, but what I do have a problem with is that he is not connecting with his own thoughts and feelings enough, that he’s not honest with himself about it. Instead, he allows this sadism to bleed into his real-world opinions and then denies it to himself. His decision to not help someone who is dying has nothing to do with helping society to understand death, and instead is motivated by a simple desire to watch people die.

So I certainly can’t fault him for having sadistic fantasies because most of us become sadistic at some point in our lives, but people need to be aware of how those fantasies affect the real world.

So I guess I wandered off on a tangent there. My original subject was supposed to be about psychedelics and how much they mean to me because they helped me to get to know myself, to recognize my sadistic tendencies so that I could manage them, but more importantly, to help me recognize all the good parts of me and embrace them and to see those things in others. I don’t think I can even begin to describe the benefits that psychedelics have had for me but it annoys me that people claim they are so dangerous and horrible and give examples of people doing terribly irresponsible things with them. This is like judging automobiles based on drunk people who don’t wear their seat-belt. (But don’t get me wrong. I still think automobiles are bad, but that’s more because they are destroying our planet than because they kill people.) Of course things are going to go wrong with anything this powerful. That does not give society the right to take it away from those of us who can benefit from it, particularly when that benefit involves profound life-changing experiences that make you a better person, help you to understand your life and your place in the world,ol and at least in my case, can allow you to put an end to chronic depression.

As the article states, it’s not a good idea to take them without researching them and ensuring you have a safe, positive setting. I would also add the need to be extremely careful about mixing them with prescription drugs, particularly antidepressants.

So anyway, I guess I’ll conclude this rambling blog post by saying that yes, I am pro-psychedelic and I’m not ashamed to say it.

Happiness Is A Choice

This Is Scientific Proof That Happiness Is A Choice.

This is an article I found that sparked my thinking about this concept. I don’t like the idea of ‘proof’ since I don’t think there is such a thing as proof since there is always the chance something in our reasoning is incorrect and I think it’s dangerous to think of things in absolutes like that. However, I do truly believe that happiness is a choice. Furthermore I believe many other things in life that people believe they are stuck with are also choices. I know that’s an offensive thing to say but I don’t say it because I want to hurt the feelings of people with chronic depression, attention-deficit disorder, insomnia or members of the gay community, but I say this to empower people. I do not understand why so many people take so much comfort in this idea that they are helpless to change who they are…

…well, I heard a theory once. I believe her name was Carolynn Myss or something like that–but I may be confusing her with someone else, but I rented this video of a speech she gave about people hanging onto their pain and emotional and physical injuries. She described this concept of “social currency”, the idea that people hold onto their problems in order to gain that sympathy that they crave from society, that they make subconscious choices that undermine their attempts to heal so they can prove that they are helpless, that they are just a victim, to gain that sympathy from people and to feel comfortable in their place in life.

I see overweight people with unhealthy lifestyles who fall and hurt themselves, get headaches and regularly feel ill and tired, then wonder why they have such bad luck and imply that they are somehow cursed instead of admitting that their unhealthy lifestyle is affecting their health. They get offended when people don’t show sympathy or recommend changes they could make to improve their health. It’s so simple to drink enough water or balance your protein intake yet they refuse to do it and roll their eyes when someone suggests that one thing affects another, just insistent that they are powerless.

It seems like when I was a kid we still had people in the gay community considering the idea that they had made a choice, saying “well, maybe when I was a little kid I just saw the way this society works and the way men and women treat each other and I saw the overpopulation and this static, plastic society we live in and I just decided I wanted something better for my life and it just stuck in my head and it became a part of me over time. I don’t know. It’s hard to tell.” But now they won’t even consider the idea, and anyone who suggests that there’s an element of choice in our sexuality is just an asshole, hate-monger republican. This attitude, I think, makes the whole situation worse for the gay community, increasing their sense of helplessness and increasing homophobia and decreasing individuals and society’s ability to understand their own sexuality.

Instead, I believe in choice. I was NOT born this way. When I was born my brain was unformed, as I heard in some documentary about childbirth. When we are born, our brains are simpler than just about any other mammal. Everything we are, everything that makes us human beings is formed after we are born, through our environment and our choices. Nothing is completely out of our control. You can show me scientific evidence of how wrong I am, because I’m sure there is lots, but all that will do is empower you to be powerless and meanwhile those of us who believe in choice, will be capable of figuring out ways around our problems, to deal with them, eliminate them, or turn them to our advantage.

When I was a kid I was very depressed, and granted, part of it was school. Just being trapped in a classroom every day without ever given an opportunity to feel like I was actually accomplishing anything or feel like I had a choice, that was much of what made me depressed, but the core of my depression came from me. I could have dealt with it if I’d had the courage to step outside of my comfort zone and be the person I wanted to be instead of embracing the idea that this was just who I was and I’d be depressed forever. I remember watching Herman’s Head and thinking that’s all I wanted out of life, was 500 channels on the TV and if I was lucky I could find a girlfriend who didn’t get mad at me for looking at porn. That was the extent of my ambitions. Today I have accomplished all of my childhood goals plus so much more.

When I was 18 I started smoking pot, and I don’t want to imply that marijuana cured my chronic depression but it did open pathways in my mind that allowed me to think about life and the universe in a totally different manner. It allowed me to accept the fact that I’m just a human of flesh and blood and that my life really isn’t worth a whole lot, which sounds depressing but in my situation it was freeing and empowering, knowing that if I had an accident and killed myself, it would not be a travesty. I started taking risks in life and started going out to enjoy myself. Instead of blindly following society’s standards I started selling weed and making friends, many of whom are still good friends today, putting an end to the loneliness that had plagued me my whole life.

I recall after I’d been in the drug community for maybe a year or so, around early 1998, and I broke up with my girlfriend for unrelated reasons and I had this night where my depression came back. It was really weird as I still did not have a solid understanding of how my mind worked. I don’t remember what exactly happened that night but I remember taking a large dose of mushrooms by myself, as I was still under the mistaken impression, inspired by my old DARE classes, that drugs just “make” you happy, like they can just kill the sadness the way ibuprofen kills physical pain. Of course, this is a dangerous fallacy but something many drug users fall into. So I took shrooms by myself and walked to the graveyard where I had happily tripped  with friends a few times before. It was a mile or two away and as I walked I became more and more depressed and dejected, thinking of how all of society hated me for being a drug user, how I had not yet become open about it with my family and of course about how I’d finally had to end it with my girlfriend who I cared about very deeply but just wasn’t sexually attracted to anymore.

I think that may have been the night when I started to really understand that pot and shrooms tend to act as enhancements to the feelings you already have and do not change your emotions. I tried and tried to get into the trip like I usually could when I was out with my friends. The more I tried to make myself happy, the more depressed I became. So I decided to just go the opposite, explore the depression and just become as miserable and unhappy as I possibly could, thinking that at the very least, in the future, I would be able to tell myself “well, at least it’s not as bad as that night I went to the graveyard by myself on shrooms”. It rapidly became a horrible experience and I remember sitting on someone’s tomb, smoking bowls, dwelling on my ex-girlfriend, dwelling on my lack of accomplishments in my high-school years, dwelling on how my writing wasn’t progressing as I’d hoped, and dwelling on how I’d decided to become one of the most hated members of society, a drug user and beginning drug dealer. I told myself how worthless I was, how everyone hated me for who I was, how politicians campaign on their desire to destroy my life because society blames people like me for all their problems. I felt like I’d sink into this pit of tears and horribleness but I was so angry at my mind, so angry at my depression that I just pushed harder, saying fine, if I’m gonna be depressed, I might as well go all the fucking way with it.

Then I hit a wall, a place where I found that could not get any worse, a place that started to finally make sense and it was something that could not be put into words, an understanding of how the human mind works, how our emotions drive us, how they were created through millions of years of randomness and evolution to serve certain purposes but were not specifically designed and don’t always make sense. I learned more about myself that night, high on shrooms, alone in a graveyard than I think I ever have on any night before or since.

And all that depression reformed itself into a thoughtfulness, a revelation that I wish I could put into words. What I was feeling ceased to be depression and became a new perspective and a desire to make a positive change in my life… but not the kind of change that society demanded of me, the kind of change I wanted for myself.

I remember walking back from the graveyard after I had peaked and wondering what the hell had made me so depressed just a couple hours earlier. I saw the cars passing by and thought about the internal combustion engine and how spectacular it is that human beings could create something like that, how we could take charge over physics and our environment to benefit everyone (not that I think automobiles are such an awesome invention now. That’s just what I was thinking at the time.)

And I got back home and started listening to Weird Al Yankovic thinking that my life would never be the same, that I would never again feel that low, never again feel so helpless, feeling like I had finally, after all these years, made a conscious choice to take control of my mind and soul and that I finally had the power to be the person I want to be.

Anyway… I’ve been rambling. I wanted to talk about how people use this “born this way” attitude to justify being an asshole or being closed minded, saying “I can’t help it I’m a music snob” when they say hurtful things about your choice in music, just as an example, or in some cases, when they’re just a selfish asshole but instead I went off on my own little story. I keep wanting to remind my readers that I do not edit these posts any more. I just write and get my thoughts out without worrying about it, instead trying to have a free-flow of ideas, so as a result, shit like this happens.

But back to the point of the story: that you can’t just wake up and decide, “Okay, I’m gonna be happy today” and just make it happen. Maybe that’s what many people think we mean by “happiness is a choice”. But no, it’s much more complicated than that. Sometimes you need the courage to leap off that emotional cliff, the courage to give up everything you believe in and everything you think makes you you in exchange for the things you’ve always wanted but thought you didn’t deserve or otherwise could never have. You might argue that it was not my choice, that it was the shrooms and the weed that saved me, that my brain was simply missing whatever chemicals those drugs provided, but I do not believe that. I think those shrooms could have just as easily done harm, could have sent me in the opposite, unhealthy direction if I had chosen to allow that to happen… on the other hand, I don’t think I would have realized these things until many years later if I had not been experimenting with drugs.

So if you want to be happy, you have to get off your ass and do what you need to do to make it happen. Research the science behind happiness, explore your mind. Figure it out. Don’t just listen to Lady Gaga and tell yourself you were ‘born this way’ and give up. We all have it in us to change who we are and become better, happier people if we put forth the effort and make the decision to make it happen.

My First Mairjuana Smoke

I took the following from a draft of an autobiography I tried writing around 2004 that turned out to be too preachy and crazy to do anything with. There were only a few salvageable passages and this is one of them. The first time I ever smoked marijuana. A magical day.

Around 1995, halfway through high-school, I bought a Phil Collins album but have rarely listened to it over the years. However, one song truly caught my soul: Both Sides of the Story, and the line, “Sleeping with an empty bottle is a sad and an empty hearted man, but what he really needs is a job and a little respect and to get out while he can,” has always stuck with me. I thought Phil Collins had figured out the secret to understanding life and the universe, and somehow condensed it into one sentence: “We always need to hear both sides of the story.” Shortly after buying the album I wrote a story based on a line, which I also called, Both Sides of the Story.

I had a friend at school during this time who was willing to admit to me that he smoked pot. I believe that up to this point, people viewed me as too straight-edge to talk about something like this, but since I’d started writing, I’d gained more self-confidence and loosened up some of my attitudes about things. At first I looked down on him for smoking weed, as I still had this preconception that only fools do drugs and that it wrecks your life and makes you lazy etc, etc. However, I supported legalization, because as brainwashed as I was back then, I still didn’t see the point of imprisoning people when they’re not hurting anybody but themselves.

At one point I told the stories about mailbox bashing and driving around with a laundry basket full of water balloons, soaking pedestrians. I hadn’t done any of this stuff in a long time, but talked highly of it, and how much fun it was. I was quite surprised when he told me those things didn’t sound like fun to him at all. I figured since he smoked pot, he would be antisocial in other ways.

“I just don’t enjoy doing things that hurt other people,” he said, and shrugged it off.

So this statement changed me somehow. At first it baffled me how someone who smoked so much marijuana, which was supposed to make you stupid, could throw out such a simply profound and intelligent statement, and pass it off as simple common sense. It was so simple, yet somehow I had never looked at my actions in quite the way he presented them.

So I rethought my whole outlook on drugs. Perhaps they caused a person to slack off and become stupid… (except this didn’t seem to be the case with my friend as he got better grades than me.) but drugs didn’t make you a bad person.

And with the advice of good old Phil Collins, when my friend dropped me a note in class, asking me to ditch (I saved the note all these years and scanned it for you here) I decided I needed to see both sides of the story.

We are kidnapping you as soon as we can escape from this class. We promise we won't hurt or abuse you!
I still have this note in my box of mementos in my closet.

So we drove to a friends house, and at first we smoked off a joint. I was highly nervous, but my friends were so calm and non-chalant about it that they reassured me that we wouldn’t be caught. I took some hits, but couldn’t keep any down, coughing with the slightest inhale. We tried shotgunning (taking a hit from a person’s exhale, so the smoke is diluted) but nothing worked for me. I coughed everything out, no matter what we attempted.

(Around this same time Bill Clinton was claiming that he’d tried pot but didn’t inhale, then changed his story to say he inhaled but coughed it out. To his credit, he wasn’t lying. He was being totally honest; he was just totally ignorant of how marijuana works. Taking it into your lungs is all you need to get the effect. If you cough it out, it doesn’t have much less of an effect than taking a successful hit. I can totally picture Bill Clinton being totally stoned, probably shoving food into his face, laughing, and carrying on, all the while having no clue that anything’s different.)

So we went back to school . I kept saying, “I’m not feeling anything,” and they kept saying, “we can tell you’re stoned.”

I sat in the back seat, and one of the two said, “Hey, you wanna put Kalin in a bubble?” He put his fist to his hand and turned back toward me and began blowing, like he was blowing up a balloon. They actually had the joke coordinated pretty well, the driver flipping off the radio just as the other tied the imaginary balloon. They then pretended to have a conversation with exaggerated hand movements, moving their lips silently.

I kept saying, “Okay, very funny. I know this isn’t real.” But somehow it felt real, just the same. Then after persisting in the joke for several silent minutes, he turned again and popped the balloon, screaming “BANG!”

We went back to class, and found ourselves doing research in the library. I decided to just slack off and hang out. I kept saying that I didn’t feel anything, and my buddy was getting nervous that someone might hear. I was so confused. I’d expected demons or ecstacy or a profound vision. This strangeness… this differing perspective was not at all what I’d expected… the world looked a bit different somehow… but still I insisted I hadn’t gotten stoned.

My friend was so nervous of getting caught now that we were back at school, as I seemed to be talking about it quite openly. I wanted to stand up and tell everyone in the library, “Hey, marijuana isn’t evil. I thought it was all along and I just discovered it isn’t. It doesn’t rape children and it doesn’t blow up your brain, and it doesn’t bring any sort of irresistible ecstasy. It’s just a thing. That’s all it is. Just a thing.” But unfortunately, I didn’t do that.

Then it was lunchtime, and I ordered my regular meal, and sat with a bunch of friends, mostly girls. I always ate with similar groups of friends at school, but never had tremendously active parts of the conversation. I felt they saw me as background.

But today was different. I was more comfortable with everything. I scarfed down my sandwich, then got up to buy more food. I got up twice more during the lunch period for more food. I kept talking about how much I love to eat, but didn’t mention to anyone that I had just smoked pot. In fact, I didn’t even consider the idea that it was affecting my actions until much later. I started talking, and I don’t remember about what. It could have been profound intellectualism or nonsense, but more than likely it was a combination of the two; I don’t really remember. But I do remember how it seemed like these girls were hanging on every word I said. I remember a couple had been in very bad moods when they sat down but by the end of the lunch period, they were laughing and carrying on in this conversation that for once, was centered around me.

For many months after this experience, I thought I hadn’t gotten high. I thought it had no affect on me. However, I found myself with an increase of self-confidence after the experience. School became easier. My grades improved. My social skills improved. I allowed myself to relax a little.

And of course, I almost immediately began to apply my new found perspective to my writing.

Psilocybin Shrooms are Good for You

A friend emailed me the other day with a link to a couple new studies demonstrating that psilocybin mushrooms can have profoundly positive effects on personality. For me this is a “well, duh” situation, but it’s nice to have scientific evidence for the facts us hippies have known for so long. The first one has some quotes like this:

The earlier study had found positive psychological changes — documented by both participants and their family members and other associates — in calmness, happiness and kindness.

People became more curious and more interested in new ideas and experiences and in trying new things. “It ended up being the best experience of my life,” says 67-year-old retiree Maria Estevez.

“I was just able to drop ego totally and experience the world without all those filters”

Estevez says that she, too, has become more open and empathetic since taking psilocybin.

The other study had this to say:

Fourteen months after participating in the study, 94% of those who received the drug said the experiment was one of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 39% said it was the single most meaningful experience.

their friends, family member and colleagues also reported that the psilocybin experience had made the participants calmer, happier and kinder.

many of Griffiths’ participants said they were left with the sense that they understood themselves and others better and therefore had greater compassion and patience.

I felt these same kind of effects twelve years ago when I first started using drugs. First it was the marijuana, when I was 18, which helped calm my mind and helped me focus in school, allowing my GPA to jump dramatically, within just a couple months of starting smoking. It helped me put an end to my teenage depression and almost immediately cured my chronic bowel issues, which I suspect were mostly stress related.

Then I tried mushrooms and the positive effects were even more profound. I remember before experimenting with these drugs I judged people primarily by their choice in music rather than the content of their character. I was selfish. I was a nice guy, but I was only nice because I knew it would benefit me in the long run. Mushrooms and marijuana helped me to find a deeper meaning behind being a decent person.

Most importantly though, these drugs helped me understand myself and how my emotions worked. There’s nothing else that can compare to this in terms of psychological and emotional benefits. I recall how lazy I was before using these drugs, wanting nothing more than to watch TV and eat junk food for the rest of my life, caring little about contributing to society or making positive changes. When I was a teenager I never imagined I could be as successful or as passionate or in as good of physical shape as I am now because there was no way for me to conceive of the myriad of ways I could make my brain work. Drugs, and specifically mushrooms, were pivotal in opening these pathways, allowing me to take full control of my life.

The studies mentioned empathy, and without a doubt the increased mental understanding that these drugs bring can notably improve a person’s ability to understand and care about others, but for me what’s most profound is the way I feel they’ve helped me to become more successful and intelligent. I’ve written three novels and a plethora of short stories. I’ve gotten emails from people telling me that my stories changed their lives. I’ve built web applications that have been used by millions of people. I truly believe that the drugs I’ve used and the careful way I’ve used them is one of the main reasons I’ve been able to be successful. I’m not even really trying, to be honest. All this time I’ve felt as though I’ve just been screwing around having fun, because I absolutely love writing code, almost as much as I love writing stories. While everyone else out there is struggling to feed their families, stressed out and hating their jobs, the only thing I have to get upset about in my own life, other than girls and relationships, is the fact that the job recruiters won’t stop emailing me trying to get me to come in for interviews.

So… I don’t know… I think it’s important for me to stop and appreciate the advantages I have in this world as a result of the drugs I’ve done. Sometimes I forget that many people have not had these experiences and do not have this kind of connection to their deeper self.

Does Marijuana Increase Intelligence?

So a few years ago I had a boss who was a devoted muslim and we would carpool back and forth to work, so we had time to talk about random things. One day he told me that he supported insurance companies forcing businesses to fire drug users. He claimed that taking away people’s jobs would punish them enough to convince them not to do drugs. I didn’t know how to respond, but did start talking about marijuana and he quickly backtracked to say that he did not consider marijuana to be a drug and that he supported legalization. A day later, I came up with a response (I always come up with the perfect thing to say a day after the conversation). I would have pointed out that many people use drugs because their life sucks, and taking away their right to have a job, feed their family and contribute to society is not going to change the core reasons for their drug use, and certainly will not instill them with respect for society.

A week or two later we somehow started talking about marijuana and he asked me straight up if I smoked. I was worried that he would have issues with that. I knew he supported legalization, but suspected that he saw it in the same way he believed divorce should be legal. Like it’s evil and wrong, but it’s just not practical to outlaw it.

But I certainly can’t lie about something like that. “Yeah, I smoke weed,” I replied.

And his reaction quite surprised me. “Oh, wonderful,” he said. “You have no idea how glad I am to hear that.”

“Why?” I asked. “Do you smoke pot?”

“Oh, no, of course not. But I used to, so I certainly know how much benefit marijuana is in a programming environment, and since the company is running so low on money and it’s getting down to crunch time with the code we’re writing, it’s just really nice to know that I’m working with someone who has that mental advantage.”

“You think marijuana makes people better programmers?” I asked with a laugh. “Like it makes us smarter?”

“Well, yeah, of course.”

“You’re serious?”

“Yeah, isn’t it obvious?”


“I mean, look at yourself,” he said. “On days when you don’t smoke pot, doesn’t your mind work slower? Isn’t it harder to code, to run all those processes through your mind? You get lost when you haven’t smoked, don’t you? You can’t focus, and if you do, you get tunnel-vision and only see the part you’re working on and can’t recognize how it interacts with the rest of the program. It’s so much harder to see the big picture.”

“Yeah…” I said. “I guess so.” I tried to think and it occurred to me that since I’d started programming four years earlier, I hadn’t gone more than 16 hours without smoking pot, so I really didn’t know what it was like to write code without it. I thought back to high-school and about how my grades had gone up and my stress levels dramatically dropped after I started smoking pot, but had always assumed that was a result of the fact that I was happier and more comfortable with myself and not directly because of the marijuana.

“That’s why people who don’t smoke pot are so much more likely to make show-stopper mistakes and overlook architectural-level design flaws. I pay attention to everyone I work with and have found it’s pretty consistent that the pot smokers are just generally better programmers. You obviously reinforce that idea. And when I first started programming, it was just a couple months after the first time I smoked pot, and I smoked every day for a year and I loved programming. The whole program architecture would seem like some beautiful picture I was painting. Then after a year I decided to quit smoking, and within a day or two, my intelligence dropped and writing simple functions became a total pain. I told myself I had just gotten used to the THC and that it would just take time for my brain to focus again. But that was two years ago, and I’m still waiting to re-gain that intelligence I had while I was smoking pot, and I’m finally realizing it’s never going to happen. I mean, I think I’m still a pretty good programmer, but not as good as I could be if I was a smoker.”

“So why aren’t you smoking then?”

“Because it harmed my relationship with God. When I was smoking pot I was always interested in all sorts of things other than my religion, and I realized that Allah is what’s truly important. I’m happier now that I’ve replaced marijuana with religion, but I’m not smarter, and I feel like I’m a little less capable of doing my job.”

So in the years since this conversation, I’ve been keeping tabs on my co-workers and whether or not they smoke pot and how good of programmers they are. However, I haven’t been able to come to any absolute conclusions about his theory because I’m so frequently working on components that are segregated from the rest of the program, and it seems like almost everyone I meet who actually writes code is at least a casual pot smoker. Also I think my own biases are probably going to cloud any judgments I may have. Also, I live in liberal Seattle, where marijuana is rather popular. However, from what I’ve seen, there does seem to be at least a little merit to what he said, though it doesn’t seem as dramatic as he seemed to think. I think any effects from marijuana are probably related to stress reduction rather than literal intelligence.

I think what really happened to my friend to cause him to feel less intelligent was not the fact that he quit marijuana, but the fact that he started religion.


However, here’s a study showing that certain cannibinoids increase brain-cell production in rats.

Here’s another one done with humans showing that moderate marijuana smokers had slightly higher increases in IQ test scores than the non-smokers. In my opinion not enough to draw a conclusion other than marijuana doesn’t seem to make you stupid. But we also need to account for the fact that there is a huge social stigma that pot smokers are stupid. Intro to psych classes teach us that people who are repeatedly told they are stupid are far more likely to become so, and no one in society is told they are stupid more often than pot smokers. It seems like we either have no problem overcoming this psychological phenomenon, or marijuana really does increase intelligence dramatically enough to counteract the effects of the social stigma.

About my new story, The Pee Martini

Today I posted yet another true story The Pee Martini, under my ‘Silly and Pointless’ category, about a time that I accidentally drank a whole bunch of pee. This was back in 1999, and I was a little crazier than I am now in terms of the drugs and alcohol I would do. In this story I seem to be portrayed as a bit of an angry alcoholic, swearing at my friends and calling them bastards because I couldn’t find my vodka, but I’m really not like that normally… or if I am, it’s mostly in good fun and only with friends. Coincidentally a buddy the other day was saying something like “It’s taboo for guys to show affection for each other, so we gotta tell our friends they’re douche-bags instead.” It’s all in good fun, one of my stories that really doesn’t have much of a point beyond being a funny story.

My Latest Salvia Trip Story

So I smoked some salvia divinorum the other day and thought I’d write a salvia trip story about the salvia effects I experienced since the most popular page on my site for search engines seems to be my post about my old robo tripping days. I was out at the bar and had a few gin and tonics then went back to a friend’s house. Just after sitting down, someone offered me a hit of salvia divinorum and passed me a pipe. I hadn’t smoked salvia in five, six, maybe seven years, but remember it as being the most intense high I’d ever experienced. That time I remember being somewhat aware of the fact that I was in a room, except all the objects within the room, like the people, furniture and walls were all moving independently of each other and swirling as though in the Wizard of Oz tornado, but I was still aware that they were objects and I was still in a place.

This time, I simply grabbed the pipe without thinking about it and took a single, reasonably sized hit and held it in for a few seconds as you’re supposed to do with salvia. Then reality simply disintegrated, and suddenly I felt like I was back at the bar, but I knew I wasn’t really there, and at the same time I was in the hallway outside the apartment and at the same time I was inside the apartment as well as in process of moving inside the apartment, but I didn’t really know what any of those places were. I kept thinking there was a place I was supposed to be, a place that existed at a specific location in physical space as well as time, and I needed to traverse time and space in order to get to this place, but at the same time, I knew I was already there, in this colorful, comfortable apartment, I just needed to really get there. I heard my buddies talking, though I couldn’t make out anything they were saying, but somehow interpreted their words as being descriptions of the locations in time and space that I was traveling through, as though they were providing me a road map to where I needed to be.

Then everything became layers upon layers of reality, and I realized that I was going to be traveling on this journey regardless of how much work I put into it so it was okay for me to just relax and float through the layers, knowing that I would wind up where I needed to be and that my buddies would be there waiting for me. I saw the room again, but saw multiple copies of the room moving repeatedly from the upper left of my vision to the lower right, then repeating. As time passed, the copies of the room moved slower and the number of copies slowly diminished until there was just one and I slowly realized I was a physical being again. Once I remembered I had a body and I was anchored to time and the physical realm, it still took me a minute or two before I could really talk or do anything other than lean my head back and let my tongue go limp.

In the end I wouldn’t describe the experience as particularly pleasurable, though I’m definitely glad I did it. It’s more of an interesting experience rather than a euphoric one. I find it fascinating that the human mind can become that confused and out of touch, as though you’ve literally left your body and you have no idea who or even what you are. It’s like all forms of logic are gone and all you’re left with is vague but basic concepts that you can’t quite grasp, but in the end there’s very little danger (assuming you’re in a safe place where you can’t fall and hurt yourself and have a sober buddy) and you always come back within just a few minutes with no harm done.

So I think this experience tops the one from half a decade ago. Over the years I’ve done mushrooms, acid, ecstacy, DMT, DXM, and some other mystery psychedelics, but none come close to being as powerful as salvia. Thankfully this stuff is totally legal still, possibly because it is so powerful and not really euphoric, so it’s probably not too addictive. Twice a decade, for me, seems like just about enough to remind me that this reality that we all take for granted is just a fragile interpretation of a universe that is far more complex and intense than we can imagine.

Pain Killers Comparison Chart – Painkiller Summary

I was looking for some names for painkillers that sounded like they might still be in use ten thousand years from now for a story I’m writing and I came upon this page and thought I’d quote it for other reasons:

Pain Killers Comparison Chart – Painkiller Summary.

I found this to be an interesting example of the type of thing that drives me toward anarchism. How do people see law enforcement as such a good thing when it’s involved in this kind of cruelty?

The inclusion of high amounts of acetaminophen with all these medications is a rather CRUEL attempt by the pharmaceutical companies to prevent abuse, since overdosing will result in the destruction of the liver. I would describe this, at best, as “not very nice”. The Puritanical ethic at work, destroying livers, and lives.
“Let’s kill off all the druggies.” This is way beyond cynical.

Knowing that these drugs are abused, and then filling them up with the poisonous acetaminophen, is criminal malfeasance by the drug companies.

Robitussin High – another true story

I just posted another one of my true stories that happened back around 1998 when I was drinking a lot of Robitussin to get high. A Wes Craven Romance, about seeing Scream 2 while ridiculously high on Robitussin and pot. Robitussin was one of my favorite drugs, though only when mixed with weed. I’d tried mushrooms numerous times and done acid a few times as well, but there was something magical and enlightening about a good, strong Robitussin high. For about a year I would drink a bottle almost once a week on my day off, or I would alternate, taking mushrooms one saturday and then Robitussin the next week. It helped me to see numerous revelations about life and love and peace and helped me to find myself as a person. The thoughts that ran through my mind, at the time, were some of the deepest and most complex I had ever experienced, though mixed with the occasional ludicrous delusion.

But every time I drank a bottle, it became more and more disgusting. I read somewhere that Robitussin, mushrooms and acid are all self-limiting, as in they are the opposite of addictive. The more you take them, the less you desire to do them again. I’m not sure about others, but that was certainly the case with me. Now I haven’t gotten a Robitussin high in almost ten years, and the same is true for acid. I still do mushrooms every couple years, but I have to talk myself into it every time, even though I almost always have a good trip and usually feel re-invigorated and motivated for days after.

I should give a disclaimer, however. I’m not trying to imply that Robitussin and other highs are all fun and games. I’ve seen people projectile vomit from Robitussin, temporarily lose their ability to communicate, and one friend who even convinced himself he was dead. It definately hinders your ability to operate machinery. If you do Robitussin to get high, be sure to do your research first. There are websites where people describe their trips and the dangers. Like most drugs, don’t go to the mall. Get out into nature instead, though be certain you are safe. No rock climbing for example 🙂 Make sure you have a non-buzz-kill sober guy for your first time and remember to listen to him. Also heed the warnings about mixing with maoi inhibitors, don’t buy the cough-medicine that has ingredients other than dextromethorphan-hydrobromide (dxm) and never forget that you’re high and not thinking clearly.

Now, for your viewing enjoyment, some random people tripping on Robo… ah this brings back happy memories.



Getting high on Robitussin on a road trip
Robitussin Road trip.
Kalin on a Robitussin high
Me during a Robitussin high

These images are of me and another buddy, over ten years ago, chugging our 4 oz bottles of Robitussin to get high during a long road trip. Don’t worry; the driver is totally sober. I posted this on my old website and blurred out my friend’s face because I figured he wouldn’t want it on the internet, and he got kind of mad at me for thinking he would be ashamed of it.

“If you don’t believe drugs have done good things for us, do me a favor. Go home tonight; take all your albums, all your tapes and all your CDs and burn ’em. Cuz you know what? The musicians who made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years: Real fucking high on drugs.” – Bill Hicks