I need to get myself some better drugs.

Sadly, the only trustworthy person I know who has any LSD needs to find a new supplier, and most of my friends, while perfectly lovely people in most respects, are idiots when it comes to chemistry. I'm sure they can tell me what they think they have, but none of them actually know, and if any of them have ever properly tested the interesting stuff, I will eat my hat.

I can declare this interest in getting high openly, because I'm a freelance whatever, and a writer. There's a reason they don't drug test writers. It would be counterproductive. I've technically shown up to work high before, albeit it was because I was sick and NyQuil knocks me on my ass. Reactions are generally split between 'you're hilarious' and 'jesus, go home and go back to sleep'.

I would have gotten wasted in college like everyone else, but through most of my college career I had shitty friends that I didn't want to get tipsy in front of, never mind potentially go through the total collapse of my ego. Which might have happened back then; I was not a happy kid, and I wasn't quite done being a kid until I figured out how to stop listening to my goddamn mother. Somewhere in my twenties I also discovered that marijuana does fuck-all to me, and since I was in Arizona where nobody really had anything but an assortment of psychoactive desert scrub, that killed most of my later opportunities for fun.

These days I know plenty about getting actual medical-grade drugs off the internet. I specialize in things that have been approved by safety commissions in basically any country other than the US. I still don't really speak any Russian, but I read Cyrillic like a champ. You generally get what you order, on account of it's cheaper and easier to buy the actual drugs from Eastern Europe than to go to all the trouble of finding a substitute. That's not really fun, though; tinkering with my neurotransmitters keeps me functional, not entertained.

Back in the day, I had what was probably a healthy fear of mystery drugs doing random unpleasant things to my system. I am less concerned now that I once was. There seems to exist in my brain some kind of concierge service that reminds me, whenever appropriate, that I have taken a shitload of drugs and that as long as I am successfully breathing and have a regular pulse, I am probably fine, no matter how weird I feel. If I take something and I don't like it, I can just wait 8-12 hours for it to wear off, and not take any more of it. Nothing so far has ever made me feel any worse than my attempts at antidepressants or Vicodin, both of which came from legitimate doctors for legitimate medical reasons, and Lord knows those are not experiences I want to ever repeat.

So far the only thing I have access to that seems to work as advertised (mostly) is large amounts of dextromethorphan. The mechanism is similar to ketamine, which I can't find, but which I'd be game to try PO if I could. It's difficult getting anyone to describe what a "K-hole" is actually like, but if it's that thing where you lose radio contact with all your limbs and lie there while the heavy expanses of an alternate starfield creep over your consciousness and close softly around the nape of your neck, I am 100% okay with those. It happens on high doses of DXM. I expect I'd be fairly pissed if someone tried to shake me out of it, in fact, because then I'd lose my place in the dream and have to start over again once I got them to go away. Not really social drugs, dissociatives, but they can be both enjoyable and useful if you like knocking around the inside of your own head.

I've been pointed at this video, which I'm told is a good approximation of what an acid trip looks like, if a touch too intense. My first guess at how he made that was that it was databent, using the motion estimation data from the grocery store video with the frame rasters from some other piece of psychedelica, and intentionally deleting keyframes except at transitions. As it turns out, he actually did it by threading each individual frame through Google Deep Dream and then recompiling them into a video clip.

Deep Dream is iterative pareidolia in a box. I find that fascinating, because that's exactly what happens when I take loads of anything that attenuates my perceptions, except mine happen on a sort of jelly overlay through which I can see the real world, and I am somewhat less obsessed with dogs than DD seems to be. (Mine tend more towards scintillating abstracts and peacock feathers. It's a different kind of 'scintillating' than migraine auras; I'd call those 'strobing', à la 1960s pop art, but that wasn't around when the terminology first became common.) If I really try, and can find a quiet undistracted corner to sit in, I can access the edge of the state on purpose now that I've done it for really-reals on drugs.

I'd probably qualify for a diagnosis of HPPD except that 1) it's always happened to some degree, even in childhood long before I tried any hallucinogens, when I've been very tired, very sick or uncomfortable, and trying to ignore it all, and 2) while it's almost always latent, it's not continuous, and I can ignore it/make it go away, and 3) it doesn't bother me in the slightest.

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  1. On every psychedelic I've ever tried the most persistent visual hallucination seems to be that all the persistence of vision in my retina turns into a fascinating rainbow filigree sort of shrinkwrapped onto everything. Sometimes it becomes words but mostly it's, well, psychedelia -- paisleys and fractals in rainbow strobing. As such fireworks while on acid looked exactly the same as usual, however the SMOKE from the fireworks looked UNBELIEVABLE AMAZING.

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    1. I don't think I've ever gotten words. Which is odd, now that I think about it, because when I compose I see the typographical flow about as much as I hear the rhythm of the sentences. (That probably explains my interesting ideas about paragraphing and whitespace...) The *closed*-eye visuals were more strongly word-like, although nothing readable; a popular option was watching the rivers wave like stalks of wheat through endlessly-scrolling text. I worked in the campus computer lab at the time, so it was in a browser window, complete with blue and orange Firefox smudge at the top corner.

      I downed 600mg of DXM once, to see if I could wring proper hallucinations out of it. I got a load of Easter-colored jellyfish blooping lazily along the ceiling. I had to lie very still and stare very hard into the darkness before they faded in, and overall I thought it was a waste of the extra $6.

      My best guess at what brings it on is overenthusiastic edge detection and video howlaround. My brain hates having nothing to do. If less or less-reliable input is coming in from outside, it just starts plugging the output back into the system to prevent anything going idle. New signal or a change in task focus breaks the cycle and all the pretty iridescent overlays vanish.

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  2. The video is (to our neural network, anyway) nothing at all what an acid trip looks like. No visuals, no auditory tweaks, just... clarity. Not needing to wear corrective lenses of any kind. Hard, sharp edge definition that you could cut yourself on.

    And lots of laughing like a loon.

    Interestingly, neuroscience has discovered that LSD-25 suppresses synaesthesia for disproportionately long periods of time (several weeks at the very least).

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    1. Cite? I can find no Google results at all for LSD + syn(a)esthesia + suppression, and I would frankly be very surprised if it did anything of the sort, as LSD is known to bring on a form of temporary synesthesia in people who don't normally have it. The existence of HPPD as a diagnosis, in fact, suggests that it's possible to accidentally wire some of that into place permanently. There is debate on whether this is true synesthesia or something else; the theory is that it's triggered by either a large bolus of free serotonin or by the not-inconsiderable 5-HT(2A) agonist activity in combination with the release of dopamine. Straight-up serotonergic drugs are brutally unpleasant for me and do terrible things to my ability to think straight, so I'm not about to isolate any and experiment on myself.

      If you took so much all your neurotransmitters were depleted, I suppose you'd be off-kilter for quite a while afterwards. The only times I've ever lost access to synesthesia have been when something also made me lose access to all of the special Platinum Pro features of my brain -- antidepressants did it, and so do large doses of diphenhydramine over a length of time, which happened last year when spring exploded over a period of about three days when the last of the nine feet of fucking snow melted through. The problem, in retrospect, seems to have been that those things render me too stupid to pay attention to anything long enough to form any real impression, much less cross-reference anything between modalities. Both times I got everything back when I returned to baseline and regained my ability to think, which was a matter of days, not weeks.

      DXM is also a non-selective inhibitor of a load of other things, including serotonin. Not only does it not disrupt my synesthesia, it makes the insides of my own eyelids highly entertaining. It's a better show than MilkDrop, because it's never the wrong damn colors.

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    2. I first encountered it the hard way (I went without my usual sensory input for over a month - not very pleasant, but it did make oral surgery much easier to bear at the same time), then read about it in _Wednesday is Indigo Blue_ by Richard E. Cytowic. My personal hypothesis is that, seeing as how most people are synaesthetic to some extent (the Bouba-Kiki phenomenon) it may be a little from all three columns of data. Additionally, not everybody experiences synaesthetic sensory modalities while under the influence of LSD variants (even from known doses of known purity).

      There is a lot of anecdotal evidence about HPPD being induceable in the form of "permafry" (check out Erowid); I would be surprised if MAPS did not have documentation on this phenomenon, also.

      I have never been on antidepressants for any length of time, mostly anticonvulsants, phenothiazines, and thienobenzodiazepines so I cannot speak to your case I am afraid. What it does sound like, howeve, is that they seem to put you into a state where synaesthesia does not consciously register to you (many synaesthetes simply have no idea that everybody does not feel music and see sounds until they are told otherwise). Which is odd and interesting, to be sure - I wonder what networks start ignoring each other.

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    3. I'm not sure how other synesthetes process the phenomenon, but the way it comes across to me is not that I hear a song and literally hallucinate a field of blue. The best I can describe it is that it's much like Proust and his madeleines -- something goes into my head and reminds me of another thing so strongly that I can neither keep it from coming to mind, or unlink the two. It's not that the song literally "is" blue, it's that the experience of hearing the song also inescapably brings to mind the experience of seeing the color blue. I actually had no idea that that was what people were calling synesthesia for quite some time -- although that was plainly what it was, once it occurred to me to try to explain it on words -- in much the same way as it took me an embarrassingly long time to recognize that being able to flip through mental snapshots or video clips is what other people call a photographic memory. The common description doesn't match up very well with the process as I see it from the inside. I live in this head, and it's always looked like that in here.

      SSRI antidepressants and many antihistamines are broadly in the class of anticholinergic drugs, which stomp on the general transmitter acetylcholine like nobody's business. Benadryl doesn't so much unclog my sinuses as it eats extra holes in my brain to let the air through. I was unable to "recollect" the synesthetic match to the thing I was perceiving because I was generally unable to recollect the literal match to it, even if the literal match was "that time it was mentioned in conversation like five minutes ago". I have almost no episodic memory of the time I spent on SSRIs. Most of what I do have is of some of the more harrowing moments, where I had to look around and deduce what the hell was going on from scratch, because I was so disoriented I really had no idea. Prozac whammied me so badly I actually shambled down to the ER to get someone to do something about it. They asked me how many days I'd been taking it, and I couldn't tell them -- I had to count what was in the bottle, check the label, and subtract.

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    4. To a certain extent, I do as well. I have tried to draw and carry out photomanipulations that capture what some of it looks like to me; most of them fail but there have been one or two noteworthy successes. Expressing the weird emotional manipulations and phantom sensory impressions is, oddly, much easier, because they lend themselves to completely off-the-wall verbalizations that sound an awful lot like a very fun party with recreational pharmaceuticals.

      As for your reactions with SSRIs... wow.

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    5. SSRIs were the exact polar opposite of fun. Also the exact polar opposite of useful. I am now in physical possession of a set of medical records that explicitly say I am never to be given any of them ever again.

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    6. Back them up, fully and often.

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