A furry I never met helped me conquer my fear of death.

Video

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Tony Barrett, aka “Dogbomb”

On the morning of April 5th, a beloved, longtime member of the furry community, Tony Barrett, aka “Dogbomb,” who had been diagnosed with ALS ( amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) over a year earlier, made the difficult decision to end his own life via physician assisted suicide (he lives in Arizona, where assisted suicide is legal for sufferers of terminal illnesses).

ALS is 100 percent fatal, and “Dogbomb” (as I will be referring to him here) had been experiencing a rapid decline in his quality of life. He was having difficulty walking, and even breathing and swallowing. ALS is a devastating and disfiguring disease that currently has no cure. It normally kills within a few years (2 to 10 years being average), although in rare cases, it can take much longer (astrophysicist Stephen Hawking was first diagnosed with ALS in 1963, and he didn’t succumb to it for 55 years!)

I never met Dogbomb, but he’s a member of the same furry community my son has been active in since about 2009. He’s evidently hugely popular within the community because of his positive, upbeat attitude, even in the face of such a devastating diagnosis and grim prognosis. Since Dogbomb was first diagnosed in early 2018, he has organized marches and walks to raise funds for ALS research and has become a huge inspiration to people both within and outside of the furry community. He’s older than most of his fellow furries, who tend to be mostly Millennials, and has taken on a kind of older brother or mentoring role to many of them, who are in turn inspired by his love of life, enthusiasm, positive attitude, and passion for activities that help find a cure for ALS.

That’s enough background.  I read Dogbomb’s story on Twitter the other night completely by accident, and then I stumbled on this short animation created by one of Dogbomb’s close friends (“Jib Kodi”), made just after Dogbomb publicly announced he would be ending his life. I don’t think there’s any need to explain what this video means, other than that it’s about the power of friendship and the furry community’s unwavering support as Dogbomb commences his journey out of this world and into the next. Notice the “Run to Fight ALS” shirts some of the characters are wearing.

 

This little animation made me totally lose it for almost an hour. Not just a few tears, but full blown sobbing. This wasn’t actually unpleasant at all, but cathartic. Like a good emotional enema, I felt like my soul had been cleansed.

Later, I tried to figure out why I had reacted so intensely. I didn’t know this man, I never fought ALS or knew anyone who had, I’m not a member of the furry community, and yet…this little video grabbed my heart, turned it inside out, and twisted it hard!

For years I’ve been terrified of dying. Not just the suffering and pain that often precedes death, but a fear of death itself. It’s really a fear of the unknown. No matter how strong one’s faith, no one knows for certain what will happen after they die. I don’t have all that many years left, maybe two or three decades at most. Maybe less than that. My fear of death, rather than dissipating as I grow older as it seems to do for most people, has intensified. This is a real problem, since death isn’t something that I can avoid. I can delay it, but one day it’s going to happen whether I want it to or not.

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Dogbomb’s Twitter icon (artist unknown)

Dogbomb was a man who, though not very old, did not fear death. He stared his own mortality in the face and said fuck you to it, and then grabbed its icy hand and told it some jokes. Dogbomb was a man who I have been told always smiled at everyone, and was always willing to listen to others’ troubles, even when he had much worse problems of his own and knew his illness was terminal.

Rather than sink into self pity, crawl into his bed, and wait for death to take him, he stayed active, organized events and marches to raise funds to find cures and new treatments for the disease that was killing him. He got countless others involved and did a lot of good for sufferers of ALS. At the very least, he gave them hope and inspired them.

And finally, he decided he was going to die his own way, not ALS’s way. He died willingly in a loving and supportive environment among his closest family and friends. If dying joyfully is a thing, Dogbomb did it.

And now, after being so inspired and moved by Dogbomb’s story, I can finally understand those who say that death can be a beautiful and uplifting thing, a beginning rather than an end, the start of a new journey — and not something dark and morbid that we should fear.  For someone with ALS or another painful or physically crippling disease, death also means freedom for a soul that had been  trapped in what had become nothing more than a burdensome flesh prison.

Dogbomb wrote one last tweet on the morning of his death:

“Dogbomb has left the building. I love y’all!”

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Screenshot of Dogbomb riding into the sunset from an animation by Jib Kodi

I can’t say my fear of death is cured, but I’m getting there. Dogbomb’s beautiful life of service to others, and courageous (and joyful) passing has helped me with that.

Here is where you can make a donation to the ALS Association.

*****

Further reading:

My Son is “Furry” — Got a Problem With That?  (posted 9/20/14)

Fear of Death

The Ultimate Dissociative Experience

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The ultimate dissociative experience.

Death is an uncomfortable subject for most of us, but at some point, we are all going to have to come to terms with it. Here’s a post I wrote a while back describing what that process is like for me.

Lucky Otters Haven

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Death isn’t something I like to think about, much less write about.  In fact, it’s my biggest fear (outside of the death of one of my children).  Oh, I know all the pat arguments and rationalizations that it’s not so bad–death is a part of life, death is nothing to be afraid of, if you’re a good Christian you will go to Heaven and there will be no fear, nothing at all will happen so there will be no fear, even the idea that death is beautiful.

I woke this morning, as I often do, thinking about how much I fear my own death.  I think this is a little obsessive-compulsiveness on my part, and probably something I should talk about more in therapy.   The mental health field has a name for the irrational or excessive fear of death: thanatophobia.    So far I’ve only talked to God…

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On losing my dad.

It’s hard to believe my dad has been gone for over a year (he passed away on June 6th last year). In honor of Father’s Day, I’m reblogging this post I wrote three days after he died.

I never really grieved properly, and may never be able to. We hadn’t been close during the last decade or so of his life. Mostly I feel a bittersweet sadness when I think of him. I hope wherever he is, he is happy. Sometimes I talk to him and I feel like he hears me. For all the problems we had and the distance that had grown between us, I never stopped loving him.

Lucky Otters Haven

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Me and my father, Summer 1983, Dallas, Texas.

I’ve experienced a strange array of emotions since my father’s death on Monday, June 6th. To be more accurate, I haven’t felt too much emotion at all. I used this event to take two days off from work, but not really to grieve, just to reminisce and remember the good times my father and I had together. And yes, there were many good times.

I know the things I’ve written about my parents in this blog haven’t been too flattering, but that’s because of the subject matter of this blog. Essentially, I write it for myself and nobody else. I feel no shame in saying the things I have said, none of which were untrue. And I never identified them or used any real names. I can’t deny they simply were were not very good parents, but for this post, I’ll just…

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The ultimate dissociative experience.

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Death isn’t something I like to think about, much less write about.  In fact, it’s my biggest fear (outside of the death of one of my children).  Oh, I know all the pat arguments and rationalizations that it’s not so bad–death is a part of life, death is nothing to be afraid of, if you’re a good Christian you will go to Heaven and there will be no fear, nothing at all will happen so there will be no fear, even the idea that death is beautiful.

I woke this morning, as I often do, thinking about how much I fear my own death.  I think this is a little obsessive-compulsiveness on my part, and probably something I should talk about more in therapy.   The mental health field has a name for the irrational or excessive fear of death: thanatophobia.    So far I’ve only talked to God about my phobia but I feel like He isn’t listening.     People in my age group (50’s) say they’re beginning to come to terms with the prospect of death, but so far, for me, that hasn’t happened.  I get more scared every year.

Maybe death terrifies me because it entails complete ego loss–it’s the ultimate dissociative experience, and as someone who has had massive panic attacks usually instigated by dissociative experiences (feeling out my body, feeling like things are dreamlike or unreal, etc.) it would be natural for me to be afraid of what it might feel like.   It’s like someone who had a bad drug trip and is mentally unstable to begin with being slipped some acid when they’re unaware of it–and never being able to return to reality.

I don’t like to write about death, because even thinking about it too long makes me extremely anxious.  But I need to write about it, and need to talk about it with others, and maybe find comfort in the fact that others have the same sense of trepidation and worry.  Maybe I’m not alone in my fear of death and dying.   So I’m going to plow on. Writing about it surely can’t hurt.

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I’ve been told by many Christians that, if I am strong in my faith, that there is nothing to fear, because I can be sure of my place in Heaven after I die.   But this makes things even worse for me, because I do have doubts in my faith and I am not at certain I am going to Heaven, or even that there is a Heaven.   No matter how much I pray for perfect faith, I can’t seem to make my mind rid itself of its many doubts.   There are just some things about Christianity I can’t make myself believe or at least not question.  Again, maybe it’s my obsessive-compulsiveness.   As someone who is afraid to trust anyone and is hypervigilant, it’s even hard for me to completely trust God and not worry about what will happen to me after I die. I look at others–even narc abuse survivors who should be as hypervigilant as I am–who seem to have attained perfect faith and I marvel at this. How do they do it?

Although it’s hard for me to believe that if I question Christianity or what the Bible says, that God will send me to burn in Hell for eternity even if I’m otherwise a good person (that seems like a terribly cruel, narcissistic God to me), how do I know for sure God isn’t like that?  Maybe God is really that cruel and narcissistic, but in that case, why would I want to even spend eternity in Heaven, trapped there with sanctimonious, self righteous, insufferable believers? (I’m not saying all believers are like that, but I’ve met more than a few who are).  In that case, maybe Heaven would be more like Hell.     But Hell…well, I definitely don’t want to go there.

But Christianity is only one way to look at the issue of death.  Let’s face it.   No matter how sure you are in your faith, whatever it is, none of us really knows what’s going to happen after we die.   What if the New Agers are right and what happens is you look back and see yourself lying on the hospital bed, pavement, or whatever, see your own broken, bleeding, or used-up body there, and then watch as they pull the sheet over your head?  What if you are swooshed at light-speed down a long tunnel toward “the light” and meet angels and see otherworldly landscapes and other inexplicable things?   Or what if you float around the earth as a disembodied spirit, revisiting your friends and relatives you left behind?   People who have reported NDE’s (near death experiences) have said that at some point they become aware they have died (that’s usually when they “come back”) and most say it’s very disorienting and even scary at first, because their bodies just aren’t there.   All of these things, no matter how pleasant others have said they are, strike terror in me, because they sound like dissociative experiences that you can never escape from.   I’ve struggled with episodes of dissociation my entire life, but no matter how terrifying they became, I always knew I’d “return” and the experience would probably only last a few minutes.   Does something happen after you die where you’re no longer afraid of such things, or do you just learn to deal with it?

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Maybe this is true, but I wish I could believe it.

What if the atheists and existentialists are right and nothing happens after you die?  What if you simply cease to exist?   While I find that prospect extremely depressing,  it actually causes me the least anxiety.   Eternal sleep and unconsciousness doesn’t seem so bad to me.  If you’re aware of nothing, well, there’s nothing to be afraid of or get depressed about, is there?  But I still don’t like the idea that this life is ultimately meaningless.   What is all the struggle for then?

Reincarnation doesn’t seem so bad, and actually does make some logical sense to my scientifically-leaning brain, but it flies in the face of being a Christian.   I don’t know of any Christians who acknowledge that reincarnation is a possibility after death.  But why couldn’t it be? As a Catholic, we believe in the concept of purgatory, a place of purification (not punishment) after death.  But no one can explain what purgatory might be like.  Maybe living additional lives is what purgatory actually means?   Again…we just don’t know.

'It's not that I'm afraid of dying, Doctor... It's just that I don't want to be there when it happens!'

‘It’s not that I’m afraid of dying, Doctor… It’s just that I don’t want to be there when it happens!’

Maybe we just go back to wherever we were before we were born, and have amnesia for this life. Or maybe it’s like eternal dreaming (that doesn’t sound too bad). Again, we don’t know.

Besides the inevitable experience of death, which seems bad enough, I’m terrified by the prospect of dying.   I’m in my 50’s, and figure I might (realistically) have about another two or three decades of life left.   To someone my age, that doesn’t seem so long.  Twenty years ago was 1996; thirty years ago was 1986.   That means that in that same amount of time, going forward, I will probably be leaving my body permanently, but before that, I may well suffer either unbelievable pain or a few moments of sheer terror.   Few people just die peacefully in their sleep or just suddenly keel over while out on the golf course (that’s the way a 90 year old great uncle of mine died).   Most suffer first, either for months (as in a long illness) or a few seconds (as in an accident).   I’m terrified of both.  I know there’s no way to get out of this life alive, so the inevitable is going to happen, and there’s not a whole lot of time left before it does. Even worse, each year time seems to hurtle forward twice as fast as the year before. What seemed like “a long time ago” to me twenty years ago now seems like the blink of an eye.

As someone who tends to overthink everything,  I probably think about death and dying way too much.  I know I should just stop and enjoy life while I still have it.   But the more I try not to think about it, the more I seem to.   It’s like that game where you try not to think about an elephant.  I pray about this all the time but it hasn’t helped very much.    I just keep feeling guilty because  no matter how hard I try, I can’t embrace my Christianity with perfect faith.   I have no guarantee I’m going to Heaven.   I keep questioning everything and then I worry about going to hell.  Or being eternally dissociated, which to me would be hell.  Or just worrying about the intolerable suffering that will precede my exit from this planet.    Maybe I need to talk to my therapist about this because it seems like it could be a form of undiagnosed OCD.

Further Reading:
My Fear of Death

My greatest fear.

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I just read this heartbreaking post, in which a mother commemorates the one month anniversary of her 24-year old son’s death (he had been involved in a terrible auto accident not long before he died that left him unconscious and brain dead).

The article triggered me.  I too have a 24 year old son.  Losing him–or my daughter who is going to be 23 next month–is my #1 greatest fear.    My son lives about 800 miles away and of course has a life of his own, so I can’t keep an eye on him or keep him safe like I could when he was a little boy.    My daughter lives nearby, but once again, she’s an adult and I can’t protect her anymore.   Both of them drive, and thinking of what could happen to either of them on the road sends shivers of fear up and down my spine.   I worry constantly about both of them.  I want to know that they are safe.  Some people think I’m a little neurotic about it, but I can’t help being a worrywart.

Bad things happen in this world.   Sometimes they happen very close to home. Sometimes they even happen to your own child.     There are so many uncertainties in life.  Any of us could be taken at any time, for any reason.

If this happened to one of my children, I can’t even imagine being able to stay sane.  I don’t think I’d even want to live anymore.    I honestly don’t know how parents who have lost a child do it.  How they go on.  How they continue to make coffee, eat dinner, go to work, see a movie.  Even, at some point, be able to smile and laugh again.

A child should never die before a parent.   Not ever.  But it happens sometimes.

My heart goes out to this brave blogger, this mother of a beautiful young man named Anthony who was taken way too soon, the victim of one of those unexpected, tragic things that sometimes happen without warning.     I hope she knows that by posting this, she is in the thoughts and prayers of many.  I’m also sure Anthony is still right there with her, smiling down on her from Heaven with the angels.    I will keep her in my prayers.

My bucket list (we all need one).

I’m reblogging this old post, mostly because Danny over at Dream Big wanted to see my bucket list (he just posted his) and wants to comment, but comments are disabled for posts that old. I did have to change #10, since the original #10 is no longer something I want to do. Getting over my fear of death seems like a good replacement, LOL!

Go visit Danny’s bucket list here: http://dreambigdreamoften.co/2016/02/20/14-adventures-i-want-to-complete-before-i-die/

Lucky Otters Haven

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These are the things I want to do before I die. Of course, these are subject to change and new ones will come along!

1. Write and publish a book about everything I’ve learned from growing up in a narcissistic family and being married to a narcissistic husband.

2. Write a bestselling novel or self help book based on my own experiences.

2. Be able to quit my day job and make an income from this (or another) blog.

3. Go to an exotic or remote country, preferably tropical.

4. Sing in a karaoke contest. (People say I have a decent voice but it’s one of those things I never developed)

5. Learn a musical instrument.

6. Get married again someday to a supportive, fun-loving, non-narcissistic man, who likes to travel and is good at home projects too.

7. Buy a Bengal cat.

8. Buy a small but quaint home…

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Fear of death.

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Fear of death, called Thanatophobia, is a common fear, especially in younger people, who under normal circumstances have their entire lives ahead of them and don’t have to worry about the inevitable event happening any time soon.

Of course, the grim reaper can claim anyone at any time. There are no guarantees in life, and even if you’re a gleaming example of perfect health in your prime and never take dumb risks, a concrete block could crash down on your head while leaving your house tomorrow morning. But the likelihood of sudden (or even protracted) death when you’re young is small, so the young can afford to fear death, as long as their fear isn’t so overpowering it makes it impossible for them to enjoy their time being alive.

It’s been said that the older we get, the less we fear death. In the very old (and those who have been suffering with chronic illness for a long time, including terminally ill children), death is even welcomed and looked forward to. That’s understandable, especially if you believe, as most people do, that the afterlife will be better than this world. Unless you fear going to Hell, you probably shouldn’t be afraid of passing on to the “other side,” whatever it may be. Even if the atheists are right and there’s nothing at all after this life, well, what’s so terrible about that? It’s like an eternal sleep and you won’t be aware of anything so not being able to wake up won’t bother you.

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I think people fear death for three reasons:

1. Fear of the unknown.
Humans have an instinctive fear of the unknown, and no matter how much faith you have that you are going to heaven when you die, the bottom line is, no one really knows what happens. And that’s scary. I think that on a deep level, even the most religious people with the strongest faith still struggle with the knowledge that one day–a day that could be tomorrow or in 50 years–they will pass into something that’s a complete unknown.

Not only that, dying is an act that is always experienced alone. No matter how supportive a family or friends you have, no matter how many people surround you with their love as you prepare to die, no matter how much comfort is given by loved ones to the dying person, they are not going to be joining you on that journey. Other than God and the angels (if you are a believer), you are going to be taking that journey into the unknown all by yourself. Even if you die with others, such as in an accident, your journey to the other side is yours alone. Their journeys may be very different from yours.

2. Fear of the process of dying.
I think for many, it’s not so much death they fear, but the way they are going to die. Are they going to get cancer, be hit by a truck, be murdered by a burglar on meth, or suffer a sudden massive heart attack? There really is no pleasant way to die. It’s almost always either quick and terrifying; or long and incredibly painful. If you spend too much time thinking about the fact that one of these two things is going to happen to you before you die and it is not going to be pleasant, you can drive yourself crazy. That’s why it’s much better to focus on living a good, fulfilling life and not think too much about the way you might be leaving earth someday.

Some people think that by choosing the method in which they die, they have some control over the dying process and thereby make it less scary. That’s why right-to-die organizations and assisted suicide exists. If you have terminal cancer and know your death is going to be protracted and painful, why not just take some pills or hang yourself instead? Sure, it won’t be pleasant, but at least it might be quick. While this reasoning is understandable, many religions object to this because suicide, even suicide when you are going to die anyway, is considered a grave sin and God will make you accountable after death. But other people don’t believe this and think that God, if he exists, wouldn’t want them to suffer needlessly. Again, there’s really no sure way to know. I doubt I’d ever do it though, since I’m one of those who thinks God would make me accountable.

3. Fear of Hell.
Most Christians (and people who follow other Abrahamic religions like traditional Judaism and Islam) believe in some form of Hell and that some of us are going there after we die. Some Christians believe that all you need to do is accept Jesus as your personal savior and you are automatically saved and admitted to heaven. Others believe works on earth as well as grace are important. A few liberal Protestant denominations believe Hell is a state of mind (a separation from God) rather than an actual place, or they don’t believe in it at all. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists believe if we are not pleasing to God, we will simply be annihilated after we die (much more palatable, imo, than the concept of eternal torment). I’ve always had problems with the concept of Hell and simply find the idea that God will be sending good Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, Unitarians, and liberal Christians (the kind who don’t believe in Hell) to be tortured for all eternity extremely disagreeable. Not everyone, especially skeptical types like me who tend to need concrete evidence before they believe anything, is able to blindly embrace the idea of a savior or the words of the Bible (which can and have been interpreted in different ways) and even if they are willing to believe, some simply can’t. Should they be consigned to eternal torment for not being able to believe something because they think about everything too much?

Let me stop here before this turns into a religious post. That’s not my intent. My point here is that many people are afraid of going to Hell, even those who don’t really believe in in it. But there’s really no way to know if there is one, is there? There’s really no way to know what will happen after we die, or if anything will happen at all.

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How I wish I could have this attitude!

As I stated earlier, as people age, they tend to come to terms with the inevitability of death, even the inevitability of the process of dying, as they become aware they have many more years behind them than they have in front of them.

But what happens if, like me, you’re in your fifties and are still afraid of death? I’m well aware I probably have, at best, another 30 or so years left to live. Forty or fifty more years is highly unlikely though possible. Twenty years isn’t a lot, but for someone my age, that’s far more likely than living another forty or fifty years.

When I think about how short a time 20 or 30 years really is, it fills me with terror. I know I think about death way too much and should be focusing more on living a fulfilling life. It’s a waste of life to dwell on the unpleasant fact that one day I will die and may suffer a horrible, painful death too. How does one come to terms with the fact they are going to die and it isn’t even that long a time away? How does one get to the point of actually looking forward to death? I know some Christians reading this are going to be thinking, “well, if you were really saved [I consider myself to be], you would have no doubt you are going to heaven.” But no matter how much I pray about it, I still have doubts. I don’t think that’s likely to change either, because I’m the type of person who questions everything. Even my faith. The bottom line is, I simply don’t know what’s going to happen when I die, or when it’s going to happen, except that it’s going to happen. As the saying goes, none of us get out of here alive.

DMT, healing, spirituality and ego death.

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Example of the type of visuals you might see in the beginning of a DMT trip.

Disclaimer: I do not recommend or condone taking illegal drugs, nor do I recommend tampering with occult or new age practices such as attempting to open the Third Eye (which really does exist as far as I’m concerned) since I do think it could potentially open doors for evil spirits to gain access to your soul. Still, the intensely psychedelic chemical known as DMT (dimethyltryptamine), which is produced naturally by the human pineal gland (and is present in almost all plants and animals), has fascinating implications for treating or curing personality disorders, including NPD. So read on, even if (like me) you never want to mess with it.

I’m an obsessive kind of person who gets intensely interested in certain topics and reads as much as I can about them while my intense interest lasts (another reason I thought I was an Aspie for so long).
Over the past week or so, I’ve been reading up a lot about DMT (dimethyltryptamine), a naturally produced hallucinogen that has several unique properties: (1) it’s naturally produced in the human brain (by the pineal gland, which corresponds to the “third eye”) during birth, death (and accounts for NDE’s), and while we dream; (2) it occurs in almost all living things, including ourselves, and therefore is widely available although it’s hard to extract and synthesize and is also the most illegal drug there is (except in places where it is sanctioned for shamanic use, such as Peru, where it’s drank in ayahuasca tea); (3) In almost all “trip reports” of DMT users report “coming back” feeling completely humbled and with a renewed appreciation for life and our connection with the universe and with others; and (4) the trip lasts only about 10 minutes! It’s also been known to cure drug addiction (!) and alcoholism. DMT itself is non addictive, as are all psychedelics.
DMT is the most intense psychedelic known.

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The DMT molecule.

Unlike most other psychedelics, you do not lose your sense of judgment and rationality during the experience. Although you’re completely out of touch with reality (as we know it) and you won’t remember you’ve taken a drug at all, your cognitive functioning remains intact so you are able to learn from the experience–if you can remember it.

Is DMT really a drug at all? I’m not so sure after reading what I have on Erowid.org and watching a number of videos and reading articles and trip reports. I think it’s a chemical that causes you to become aware of other dimensions and realities, and the “hallucinations” are actually quite real–ways of seeing the universe with the Third Eye (the pineal gland) rather than the physical eyes.
I’ve always been fascinated by trip reports for some reason, even though the only drug I’ve ever taken regularly (besides alcohol) is weed.

I’m not encouraging anyone to take illegal drugs, and personally, while one part of me longs for this experience, I doubt I could handle it. I just know I’d be one of those people who’d totally freak out. From everything I’ve read, the trip is INCREDIBLY intense–much more so than with any other hallucinogen. Even with LSD (which I really disliked the one time I took it) you still have some tenuous grip on reality and some ability to ground yourself/control the trip. You don’t forget the fact that you are tripping, and can usually remind yourself of that to avoid a really bad trip.

But with DMT (which is usually smoked) you are completely out of control and find yourself so out of touch with 3-dimensional reality you don’t even remember you have taken a drug, and believe things have always been this way and always will be, and what you’re seeing is your new reality. You can’t remember who you are, where you are, what your name is, or even what you are. Yet your cognitive abilities remain intact!

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Delicate DMT crystals.

What a DMT trip is like.
From my readings, it seems the entire experience goes something like this for almost everyone who’s tried it.

1. you smoke about 2-3 hits which is enough to get the full effect; 3 if you want to “break through” (which I’ll explain in a minute). Usually you can’t smoke more because the trip comes on so rapidly and by the time you’d be ready for a 4th hit you are in hyperspace and have no idea what you just did or where you came from or who you are.

2. almost immediately you start seeing intricate, colorful, geometric patterns, fractals, grids, and other psychedelia constantly moving and shifting into new configurations. Some of the visuals you see are impossible in 3 dimensional reality because they are showing you other dimensions. Sometimes you can get a similar effect during hypnagogic hallucinations that happen just as you fall asleep. But we rarely remember those and they’re fleeting. Apparently (though it’s not proven), DMT is released by the brain when we dream, and we only remember the dreams that are most like reality (usually, the ones that happen toward the morning) but actually most of the dreams we have earlier in the night or in deep REM sleep are very similar to a DMT trip. Also, like a dream, it’s very difficult to remember the trip after “coming to”–it fades or dissolves very similar to a dream. DMT is also released during near death experiences (NDE’s).

3. Early in the trip, if you have smoked enough, you pass through a kind of membrane that is similar to a lotus flower. Once you “break through” you will be in a place where impossible things happen and time and space don’t exist the same way they do in the physical world. Time either stops, or the person feels like they spend years or even eons in this place. Most people report a feeling of familiarity, as if they have been there many times before (maybe remembering their own birth or time spent in dreams?) Objects have more than three dimensions and almost everyone reports a feeling of meeting other entities who communicate with them. They could be demons, angels, or aliens, or sometimes are disembodied entities who don’t actually speak at all, but the user feels like someone or something is communicating with them. Sometimes these entities offer gifts–objects so incredibly intricate and beautiful they defy the imagination and can’t possibly exist in our own 3 dimensions. Profound insights are revealed. You are warned to not allow your astonishment (and you will be astonished) to keep you from paying attention to what you are being shown. At some point the user is told their time is limited and they begin to slowly feel reality come back.

There is no way to ground yourself in any way during these experiences; you must completely give into it and in fact you have no other choice. If you go into such a trip with any trepidation, the experience could be the most terrifying thing that ever happened to you.

other_realities

But even when the experience is terrifying, most people say later they’re glad they experienced it, because they were able to take away some realization of unbelievable profundity and say theywere humbled by the experience and see life and their relationships in a completely new way after returning. People have been cured of PTSD, drug addictions, and other psychological disorders by using DMT only one time. Some people are also able to recall long-forgotten childhood memories during the trip.

The stories I’ve read are so similar in nature (although each person receives a different insight or message or communicates with different entities) that I think the trip is to an actual place, not just something created by the mind. Shamans in South America and Mexico have been using it for ages and many people come to these shamanic healing sessions and leave a changed person.

During the intense trip, there is often a cleansing of both body and soul. Participants have reported severe nausea and vomiting (which could be due to slight poisoning) followed by diarrhea, but there is also emotional cleansing and catharsis with participants screaming and crying as they shed their egos and forget who or what they are. Sometimes spontaneous orgasm is even reported. Almost all these participants, although they appear to have suffered severely during the trip, feel great the next day, as if they’ve been reborn. Some say they are forever changed for the better, and the one experience they had doesn’t lead to a desire to do it again, because there’s simply no need to anymore.

To get a small idea of what a DMT trip is like, here’s an excellent simulation that includes commentary by Terence McKenna.

As one commenter who’s tried DMT under the video pointed out, this simulation is accurate but only about .000000001% what the real experience is like! I don’t think I want to try it! 😮

Implications for healing NPD and other personality disorders.
Since DMT has been effective on people with PTSD and other physical and psychological disorders and addictions to drugs and alchohol, I wonder if it could be effective on someone with NPD, even deeply ingrained or malignant NPD. NPD is itself a type of addiction and in many respects it does resemble addiction to a drug, the drug being narcissistic supply.

On DMT a person experiences complete ego death, to the point they don’t even know if they exist or what they are or where they come from. But even with a bad experience, the user (if they don’t go psychotic) is changed for the better. People who were overly concerned with acquisition or materialism or money before their experience come back with different priorities, and more caring for themselves and others. They realize there is much more to the universe than themselves or their image, or the material things they can attain. They realize how insignificant they are and yet at the same time how much power they have (but power in a truly confident sense, not a narcissistic one). They feel more connected to the spiritual. Some atheists have suddenly come to believe in God. People emerging from the DMT trip are able to see beauty and goodness in the world and in others for the first time since early childhood, and sometimes memories of early childhood are aroused and purged during the trip. Some people report they suddenly can feel empathy and caring for others they never felt before.

shaman_ayahuasca
South American shaman offering cup of ayahuasca.

For anyone interested in the implications of the beneficial uses for DMT, I highly recommend reading the FAQ and trip reports for DMT over at Erowid.org. There is a book called “DMT: The Spirit Molecule” by Dr. Richard Strassman. A man called Terence McKenna also has many interesting Youtube videos where he describes his own trips and the properties of DMT. He doesn’t seem any the worse for wear.

Why is it illegal?
DMT is a Class 1 drug in the United States (and most other countries), which means it’s highly illegal and carries severe charges for possession, distribution, or synthesis. There’s a reason why this drug is illegal even though it occurs naturally in all of us–it’s intense and otherworldly beyond anyone’s wildest imagination and probably would cure many disorders instantaneously (well, within the 10-15 minutes the trip takes) and the pharmaceutical companies would lose money on their synthetic antidepressants and sedative drugs that don’t cure but simply maintain a person so they can function. If made legal, unconventional therapists or practitioners of alternative medicine might use it on a patient during a session and the drug companies would go out of business! (So would traditional therapists, for that matter.)

Again, I’m not recommending that anyone do illegal drugs or take something so intense as DMT. It’s very hard to obtain in smokable form or extract yourself anyway. But I think the implications here are fascinating and possibly earth-shattering for people with NPD and other personality disorders.

The dark side of DMT.

bad_trip

There are several drawbacks to using DMT (besides the severe nausea and vomiting some people report). People with NPD and a few other personality disorders (such as Schizoid or Obsessive Compulsive PD) might have a more unpleasant trip than the non-disordered, due to how closed off from themselves and unwilling to “let go” they are. But in the end, that unpleasantness could actually be a good thing. Long term psychodynamic therapy for people with NPD is extremely unpleasant too. There’s no way around it–the cure is going to be unpleasant, whether it’s in the form of 10 years of therapy, or a ten minute DMT trip.

DMT/ayahuasca aren’t drugs that should EVER be used for recreational purposes, if at all. They aren’t fun drugs so you and your buddies can “get high.” They may have healing, religious, or shamanic purposes if used responsibly, and preferably under supervision or at least with a responsible trip sitter. They have had some success not only with people with certain physical and mental illnesses such as PTSD, but with the terminally ill to help them come to terms with impending death and what the experience of dying will be like. Terminally ill patients given DMT usually become less afraid of death and dying. DMT is a serious drug meant only for sacred or teaching purposes and should never be used for recreation.

They can also open you up to evil or malicious entities who take advantage of the psychic door that’s opened during a trip. There are ways you can protect yourself. Here’s a very good article about the darker side of using DMT/ayahuasca (and other psychedelics) and how to avoid encountering dark spirits who might want to take something from you.

I read on one Christian website about a born again Christian who claims he was actually saved during a DMT trip, and still uses it occasionally to communicate directly with Jesus/God, but only with his sober pastor present, who apparently condones his use. I can’t say what my own faith’s stance is on using psychedelic substances for enlightenment, but as far as I know, it’s not condemned anywhere in the Bible. Of course, Adam and Eve’s “Tree of Knowledge” could well have been a psychedelic plant and their ingestion led to the Fall…so who knows? Deliberately ingesting psychedelic drugs could also be considered a form of sorcery, so if you have religious misgivings about it, you should probably stay away, even if only to avoid a bad trip caused by your fear of having one! Suggestibility while on any psychedelic substance is high, so if you believe you will run into demons or evil entities, then that’s what you’ll probably see.

DMT won’t kill you, but there’s always the small possibility of developing PTSD or even psychotic conditions due to suffering a particularly intense bad trip. There is no sure way to say for sure you won’t be a casualty. I can’t stress enough how potent this drug is.

A dream journal as an alternative.
One way around having to obtain or take DMT could be to keep a dream diary and begin to record and pay attention to your dreams and what they are telling you. Wake yourself up earlier in the night, when the dreams are of the more intense, DMT-type variety that are probably blocked off by the conscious mind to protect yourself. It’s been speculated the reason both DMT trips and dreams are so easily forgotten when we wake up or “come to” is because both stir up repressed memories and buried information in the unconscious mind that would freak the person out if they became conscious of it, or cause a severe depression. A person with NPD is especially cut off from their unconscious mind and repressed memories.
At some point I’ll be writing a longer post about dreams and how keeping a dream journal and recording dreams can help people with personality disorders and PTSD.

I feel like I’m a bad friend.

bad_friend

Tonight on a whim I looked up an old Facebook friend I hadn’t talked to since 2012 (we had been close from 2009-2011) and was shocked and very upset to learn that she died this past September of Merkel cell carcinoma. She’d had to have part of her jaw and her lips removed and I even saw her post that first announced her terminal cancer diagnosis. She asked for prayers.

I never knew. I never bothered to check in on her until tonight and felt just awful about not having been there at all for her while she was in so much pain and dying. I left a post on her wall (which is still up) telling her to rest in peace and how sorry I was. What else can you say to a dead friend you abandoned? Sure, she was only a Facebook friend but I still feel like an insensitive heel.

About two years ago, another casual friend, someone I had actually known through work who ran a blog about living in poverty in the United States, and who was known to have suffered from major depression, committed suicide. I hadn’t talked to her in several months, and it was her husband who posted about her death on her wall. I learned this horrible news THE DAY AFTER she killed herself. All I could do was offer some kind words to her bereaved husband, who had loved her very much and was understandably devastated. I felt ashamed at not having talked to this woman during the months prior to her suicide and was almost too embarrassed to say anything to her husband.

I always seem to find out bad news about friends and people I used to know on Facebook, which is another reason I don’t like Facebook too much.

But neither of these things are as terrible as the way I treated a close friend of mine from back in the 1980s. Robert was gay and he was one of my best friends for several years. We used to have a blast together, and were even roommates for awhile. I remember planning his 21st birthday party and how much fun it turned out to be (and I hate parties!)

But Robert was also promiscuous and brought strange men home while we were roommates. He also developed schizophrenia around this time, and due to both his bringing men I didn’t know to the apartment and his declining mental condition, I had no other choice but to move out. We continued to remain in touch occasionally even after I married, but over time, as friendships do when lives go in different directions, we lost contact and stopped speaking.

betrayal

Just after my son was born in 1991, I received a phone call from Robert’s sister. She told me Robert was in the hospital and very close to death. He had AIDS and had lost his vision and his mind, and was no longer able to feed himself and had to be cared for like an infant. It occurred to me he probably already had AIDS during the time I knew him. I was shocked at the news and promised to come visit him in the hospital, but I never did. In all honesty, I was afraid to see him like that and chickened out, even though I had intended to go.

He died two weeks later. His sister called again and invited me to the funeral. Again, I didn’t attend because of the guilt I felt over having abandoned him and never visited him in the hospital.

I realized later how selfish this was of me, only caring about my own needs and feeling like seeing him like that would be too upsetting and just plain weird. My friend needed me when he was dying and I let him down. I never forgave myself for that and still pray for God to forgive me for my selfishness. I’m sure He has, but I never really forgave myself.

That’s why I feel like I’m a terrible friend and maybe don’t deserve to have any.

I am Broken now ….(long post I’m sorry)

My friend and fellow blogger, who is trying to get ready to say goobye to his beloved wife, who is dying of cancer.

Please offer your prayers and support for Butch, his wife and their beloved son.

My heart is breaking right now.

Here was the post Butch posted the previous day, “I’m Losing My Wife.”