Yoda points, "That place… is strong with the dark side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. In you must go."
"What's in there?" asks Luke, warily
"Only what you take with you."
- Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
If Hollywood's taught me anything it's that if you see a door slowly creaking open or a strange gap between trees in a misty forest or a dark and creepy-looking cave - you don't go through! Right? On the other side of that entrance there's a heaping pile of dumbshits' bodies, that much we can be sure of. Nevertheless, in literature and film there's always a guy who tells everyone to wait where they are while he volunteers to be the next corpse.
Apparently I'm that guy.
I added more tracks conducive to contemplation and arranged them so that they should play during the time I expected the drug to be at it's peak. With this new playlist I sought to achieve some balance between succumbing to the infusion experience (allowing myself to be “a passenger”) and practicing mindfulness with a view towards doing some good work (therapeutically) on myself. I also added a 6 minute “sadness bomb” - a song that evoked such feelings to promote exploring sadness, pain, longing and loneliness during infusion. I wanted to make the acquaintance of whatever I kept deep inside me in the sub-basement below the cellar. The notion sounded both very interesting and stupidly bad and I vacillated most of the evening but curiosity prevailed.
As previously confided, I'm that foolish guy investigating the creepy door
The psychiatrist who administered my Ketamine treatments asked me how I felt about increasing the dosage. The doctor explained that he'd observed better results at doses that neared the 1mg/kg limit, which is the procedural (surgical) anesthetic dose of Ketamine meant to cause unconsciousness. For the previous infusions, I'd been given the standard dose which is .5mg/kg and he was suggesting around .6 which sounded fine to me.
I describe the anesthesia while conscious experience as feeling like I'm slowly being cocooned in cling wrap. Tactile sensation gradually fades, limbs soon feel weighted down until any movement is laborious and slow. I can also detect a faint plastic-like smell which I believe may be a sort of sensory memory from past surgical procedures. Ascribe it to suggestion perhaps, I thought I could feel the higher dose in the somatic effects of Ketamine.
As the Ketamine effects became more intense, I noticed a new uncomfortable sensation that's very tough to describe. It felt like a cold, steel wire was slowly being pulled through the inside of my body until it was taught, then given a vigorous pluck causing it vibrate which resulted in a sickening sensation. The sensation quickly faded. At first I thought it might be the onset of vertigo but a quick peek in the gap of my sleep mask showed the room wasn't spinning. When the feeling returned several times, I gave it a label: the “Twang”.
An image flickered in my mind whenever this Twang feeling arose. It appeared as a dark smudge – or maybe like a skid mark from a tire on a road. When I focused my attention, it became clearer but the sensation of that wire being dragged inside of me also grew stronger. To be sure, that was a disincentive to further investigation and yet... if I could just hold the image in mind, call it forward into clarity perhaps I – yes, I can pass through it.
Dissociative Experience – I Am A Stain
I don't see
I don't feel
Like every little moron I think nothing's real
So please relax
Take the pain
Laugh out loud when you forget your name
Good doesn't live and there's no evil here
Only this great power we misunderstand
- “Poledo”, Dinosaur Jr.
I melted. Once liquefied, I poured into this smudge image that my mind curiously labeled a stain and I became that: some ugly blemish on an otherwise evenly painted wall. I stared mutely out at the world watching people pass. At first, I was just an unnoticed smudge, nameless and emptied of all identity and memory but for the faintest inkling of once having been something more. Meaningless hollow minutes passed until someone paused, stooped over and took notice of me. The expression on his face twisted in displeasure and disgust and he tried rubbing me out. I wanted to call out to him, to make him aware that I am... but I had no voice with which to do so. Eventually, he sighed, discontinued wiping me away and instead, dragged a piece of furniture over to conceal me and my world fell into darkness.
Then it's light again and I could see another room. I'm still a stain but now I'm on the upholstery of a chair, I still feel hollow inside. When I'm noticed by someone, I'm regarded with displeasure, greeted with disagreeable expressions of annoyance, rejection and it filled the emptiness in me with feelings of being unattractive, unwanted, hated. Again, I tried to cry out, perhaps move a little but my brain “told” me - with complete conviction - that I had no limbs, no throat to carry a voice. I felt so utterly vulnerable and helpless, so hopelessly alone while absorbing every negative emotion emitted from the faces of those who passed by.
Eventually, every living person in the world passed me and shared a look of contempt or stole a quick scornful glance. Especially hurtful were the looks from people I knew. So I began to loathe my existence. The scenes changed, my location moved but my bleak solitude and pain was constant. There's nothing to mark the passage of time when you are a stain. I had a virtual eternity to spend as witness to the self-hating bits I harbor inside me, which now bubbled up from the rank muck of my mind, filling the hollowness.
At the end this experience, the Observer in me inquired inward what was the point of it all and the inner dialog answered something like, “So, you're a stain. It sucks. Feel it fully. And remember to share this, for someone else may understand it - as now you do.”
And I have no idea what that means.