Name: Richard Huguenot

Age: 31

Occupation: Dental hygienist

Why did you decide to try psychedelics?

I had just broken up with my girlfriend of several years. I was depressed and didn’t want to feel my emotions, so I took a large dose of mushrooms as an escape.

How did you learn about psychedelics?

I had heard about psychedelics from friends and family members. I’d also taken mushrooms once before and had a positive experience.

Which psychedelics did you use?

Psilocybin mushrooms.

Who guided you through your experience?

Nobody. I was alone in my apartment.

How did you source the drug?

Through a friend.

How did you prepare for the experience?

I made sure I was alone in a comfortable environment and that I didn’t have any obligations. Other than that, I didn’t prepare in any special way.

How would you describe your experience?

I decided to take mushrooms on a whim one evening. I was depressed after a bad breakup and thought a mushroom trip might be an enjoyable escape. I took 5 grams of dried mushrooms, which is about 1.5x a standard dose.

My trip began on a positive note. I was doing the dishes when the mushrooms kicked in. I started hallucinating streams of multicolored soap bubbles flying around the apartment, which was enjoyable.

Once I’d finished doing the dishes I went to sit on the couch. From there, things started to fall apart pretty quickly.

I was on the couch looking at my forearm when I thought I saw a spot on my skin. It was barely perceptible, but the longer I looked at it, the more I was sure that there was something there.

My thoughts began spiraling. Within a few minutes, I was convinced that I had a rare illness, and I felt certain that I was going to die.

I also got caught in a thought loop that went as follows:

“I should go get this checked out tomorrow. But what if the doctor doesn’t find anything? There’s no way to be 100% certain that I don’t have an illness. But doctors know what they’re doing, right? I should go get this checked out tomorrow.”

That series of thoughts ran on repeat for what felt like hours. I didn’t know how to escape it, and every time I cycled through it again, my anxiety would worsen. I ended up in a cold sweat, sitting on my bed with my arms around my knees.

I sat there in a continuous panic for several hours. Eventually, the mushrooms wore off.

What did you do for integration afterward?

Nothing. I didn’t know about integration at the time.

How long did the effects last after your session was over?

I was severely anxious for about six weeks after my trip. Eventually, I began to deal with my anxiety in a productive way and things got better.

How is your life different after taking a psychedelic?

My trip ended up being good for me in the long run.

I’ve been anxious my whole life, but before taking mushrooms, I always brushed my anxiety aside or ignored it. I was never self-aware enough to examine my emotional state.

I don’t think mushrooms made me anxious. I think they uncovered my existing anxiety. I felt it fully during my trip, to the point where I could no longer ignore it.

It wasn’t just during my trip, either. I continued to feel anxious afterward and I eventually sought therapy, which is one of the best things I’ve done for my mental health. I don’t think I would have started therapy without having such a bad trip.

Ironically, I think my bad trip was exactly what I needed at the time. It forced me to deal with my negative emotions in a healthy way instead of avoiding them.

If you could go back, what would you have done differently? Or what will you do differently next time?

I’ve taken psychedelics several times since my bad mushroom experience. I’m a lot more careful with set and setting. I never trip when I’m in a negative mental space and I rarely take psychedelics alone. I prefer to have close friends with me.