The day I went to Hell.

singularity-mind

A old friend from another website I used to frequent and I were having an interesting conversation earlier today on Facebook about my conversion to Catholicism on Easter. My friend converted two years ago (from Episcopalian) so of course he knows much more than I do.

Both of us love philosophical musing and talking about weird, metaphysical subjects so as conversations sometimes will, soon I was asking him if he believed in Hell (he does but doesn’t think it’s a hellfire and brimstone sort of place) and if he believes all narcissists will go there (he thinks they will and there’s no hope for any of them; I don’t think that’s necessarily the case unless they’re psychopathic or malignant).

I asked him what he thought hell was like and he replied that it was worse than a fire and brimstone hell because it would involve the lost soul forever drifting alone in between the galaxies, where there are no stars and no light…utterly alone, and lost for all eternity with no hope of finding their way back to…anything at all.

This suddenly brought back memories of a bad LSD trip I took many years ago, when I was in my 20s. I was never adventurous about taking recreational drugs and pretty much stuck with alcohol and pot, which seemed safe. I must have known on some level I didn’t have the right sort of temperament to react well to a strong psychedelic drug, so I never messed with them except for this one time.

Psychedelic drugs make you extremely suggestible, and heighten whatever mood you’re already in or exaggerate what you’re already worried about. This is why it’s recommended that if you decide to experiment with this class of recreationals, to only do it in a setting you’re comfortable in and have a trusted “trip sitter” who is not under the influence there just in case a freak-out occurs. As a person who was constantly on edge and a nervous wreck anyway (and I also took it with someone I didn’t know well), the outcome wasn’t going to be good (but it sure was interesting).

My trip memories came flooding back (not as a flashback, just a memory) so I described these memories to my Facebook friend today. Personally I think these drugs can be extremely dangerous because I think that, much like messing with the occult, they can open doors better left bolted shut, and reveal truths about the universe we may not be ready to know or ever should know. You can be shown things you can’t begin to understand and that lack of understanding will terrify you. Basically, they constitute a way to eat from a Tree of Knowledge that can really fuck your head up for a long time, even causing a psychotic break, or at the least just cause extreme discomfort for awhile.

At first I thought nothing was going to happen, because the weirdness didn’t kick in for almost half an hour. Then I started to shiver as if I was cold but I wasn’t cold. The shivering was coming from inside me. Everything became metallic. My surroundings developed sharp edges that gleamed like the edges of knives and the sounds around me sounded like metal and glass.

metallic_tree

We were outside. I watched a car zoom by and thought it looked and sounded funny–sort of like a cartoon–so I started laughing. I thought it was alive. I started rambling (probably incoherently) about why cars weren’t considered to be living things because they sure acted like living things and even had “systems”–the body covered with a metal skin, the engine (the heart), the transmission and electrical system (the nervous system), the various fluids that lubricated and made it run (blood and other bodily fluids), even a waste elimination system (the exhaust). And they had four “legs” that kept them moving. They could get sick and be “diagnosed.” Their inner workings seemed as complex to me as the inside of the human body. They even had quirks and “personalities.”

This early part of the trip was kind of fun but I was still disturbed by the metallic sound and cartoonish look of everything. The world seemed like it was screaming and shards of metal were slicing into my brain like razor blades. A fly landed on my arm and I screamed because I thought it was some kind of tiny machine that could see inside my soul. The fact that such “engineered insects” and even smaller nanomachines actually exist freaks me out more than a little.

artificial_insect
Creepy artificially engineered insect.

Then I had a bizarre thought that came out of nowhere. I “realized” that nothing was real–that everything and everyone I had ever known, everything I ever learned about or experienced, in fact every person and every experience I had ever had since the time I was born–none of it was real. Everything and everyone I knew was merely a creation of my own mind. (I understand some Eastern religious practices actually do believe this).

But if everything I saw and knew and experienced was nothing but a mental construct I created from my own mind, and nothing really existed, then where were my own thoughts coming from?

nothing_is_real

I was a singularity, a tiny speck of bright white consciousness, floating alone in the black void of deep space, light years away or an eternity away from any known universe. I felt utterly alone and lonely, and wondered why only my consciousness existed. I was overcome with profound sadness.

And then realized this meant I must be God. I was pure consciousness floating bodiless within an eternity of nothingness. I could create my reality out of nothing. If that was the case, I could create a whole new universe. As God, I was the consciousness that brought on the Big Bang. I thought about creating a new universe, one that would make me happy instead of so miserable, afraid and sad. But I was too afraid to create anything at all. What sort of “God” would be so scared and so powerless?

god_creating

I started to freak out. I remembered my past life, my job, my school, my friends, my family. I wanted to get back but didn’t know how. I had a massive panic attack so intense I thought I would die. Maybe I was already dead. Maybe I had never existed at all…who the hell was I? Where was I?

I was trapped in some weird time loop. Although I (think) I only had these realizations, thoughts and visions once, I had the unsettling feeling I had been through this exact experience many times before, and in fact this experience had been my only reality throughout all eternity. Everything else had been a dream. This was the only reality.

Gradually I began to come back to the world. My friend told me he was worried about me because all I had done was sit on the floor, backed into a corner of his kitchen, moaning and mumbling incoherently. He said my eyes looked like black pools of terror. He tried to give me some coffee but I had pushed him away. I didn’t remember doing that.

It was definitely an interesting experience but one I would never try again.

My Facebook friend and I started talking about the devil and whether he existed. Anyone who would think of themselves as God, even in a deluded drug induced state, was being influenced by Satan, who thought of himself as God or at least that he should have been God. I’m still not sure I believe in Satan, but this argument made a kind of sense. The overall feeling of my LSD experience was one of profound despair, terror, evil and separation from God.

blackhole2
Could this be Hell?

Being “God”–a singularity of consciousness amid an eternity of nothingness–was terrifying. I told my friend I thought perhaps I went to Hell and it was exactly as he had described: a place of nothingness between the galaxies or even outside any known universe, perhaps within a massive black hole, an eternal separation from all that was real, whether bad, good or in between.

I was never so glad to return to the mundane and too often very boring and painful reality of the earthly world I lived in, just one insignificant human among billions of others just like me. I actually appreciated all the little things that angered, upset or annoyed me, at least for a little while.

Looking back on that experience now, I think I actually was in hell. I think that, if Satan does exist, utter aloneness, terror and despair is what he feels (but don’t worry, I’m not Mick Jagger and have no sympathy for the devil). Satan is the Ultimate Narcissist, and still believes he is greater than God, the source of all that is–and he hates God for casting him out of heaven into that eternal black void of nothingness.

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Alaina’s epiphany

Alaina, one of my readers and a frequent commenter on this blog, wrote the incredible story of how she found God’s grace on a dark snowy night in Maine when she had lost all hope and was preparing to die.

dark_snowyroad

My epiphany wasn’t anywhere near as dramatic as Alaina’s–I could see her story as a novel or movie. I’m posting it not because of its drama though (God has a different plan for each of us–he appears in some lives more quietly) but because of how inspirational it is. My jaw was glued to the floor after reading it. I couldn’t help but think of the “Footprints” prayer.

Here is Alaina’s blog (about having PTSD). Please follow her!

On the night of January 14, 1990, I walked exactly 17 miles in a snowstorm down an isolated unplowed road not far from the coast of Maine, where I lived at that time. I know I walked exactly 17 miles because the next day, I followed my footprints in the snow in a car and that’s what the car’s odometer showed.

I had run out of the house to get away from my abusive husband, in terror for both my life and my sanity. I was emotionally very fragile, as a lot of things in my little world were unraveling at that time.

I half-ran, half-walked out of town until I got to the unplowed coastal road, where there was no traffic, no houses, no buildings of any kind, not even any electrical poles for many miles, just trees and more trees and lots of frozen snow and ice everywhere. When I got far enough outside of town to feel sure that no one could hear me, that’s when I began RAGING at God at the top of my lungs. About two and a half years had passed since I had left my job at Pat Robertson’s TV ministry, with my faith utterly destroyed, during that time when Robertson was running for President and the scandals of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart and other big TV ministers were making headlines. I had stopped believing in God then for all kinds of reasons and – if God DID exist – then I was extremely furious at Him!

I walked for hours through the dark night, with no streetlights or any other lights in sight, just a hazy sliver of moonlight shining through the snow clouds reflecting eerily off the white wilderness that surrounded me. As I walked and raged through the deepening snow, my face, feet, hands, and ears grew numb and my knees began to ache and throb so bad, I felt like I couldn’t take another step. And yet I kept going, having made up my mind to walk until I keeled over and died of exhaustion and hypothermia. That was my crazy plan, to die out there in the frozen wilderness at the ripe old age of 36. But FIRST, before I died, I wanted to tell God, if He really existed, exactly why I was so damn PISSED OFF at him!

So I yelled about all of the evil and horror and pain and disasters in the world. I yelled about children and tiny babies who suffer and die of cancer and other horrible diseases, I yelled about evil wars, I yelled about hurricanes and earthquakes and wild fires and tornadoes that kill and destroy, I yelled about rape and hate and trauma and abuse and mental illness and poverty and hunger and broken hearts and broken families. I yelled about every single thing I could think of to yell about that was wrong in the world, and I yelled about every single thing I could think of that had ever gone wrong in my life. I yelled and I yelled and I yelled at the God I did not believe in, with snow blowing in my frozen face and crunching under my aching feet and knees. I yelled and I yelled and I yelled until I finally yelled myself out. I had yelled about everything I could think of to yell about, there was nothing left inside me, not one damn thing.

At that point, feeling utterly empty and depleted, I kept walking, because there wasn’t anything else to do. And that was when my epiphany happened. It was as if a veil had been drawn back and I was given the temporary ability to see, feel, and sense what was already all around and within me, something too big and overwhelming to discern in ordinary time, with ordinary human senses. I did not see any visions, I did not hear any voices. But I felt: GOD. A huge presence, a great reality, as real and palpable to me as anything I have ever seen or felt or sensed in my entire life, before or since. God was simply THERE, in everything and through everything, part of all of reality, even, somehow, a part of me. And God’s huge, overwhelming presence was overwhelmingly perfect: perfect love, perfect goodness, perfect peace, perfect holiness.

storm_clouds

I was not given any answers to any of my questions, not a single one. There were no rebukes or rebuttals for anything I had yelled at Him through all those hours and miles. God just simply WAS, and God was perfectly GOOD, and God absolutely LOVED ME, unconditionally and completely, through and through, in spite of – and maybe because of? – everything that was “wrong” with me.

Not only that, but I got the very strong impression that God was letting me know that He understood, 100%, everything there was to understand about me. He “got” me. He “got” why I was the way I was, He understood why I did the things I did. God knew even those things about me that I did not know about myself, things that I have either forgotten or never known. God knew and understood and He loved me perfectly, faults and all!

Then I heard the sound of an approaching diesel engine. I did not want anyone to see me, because I knew I probably looked like hell – I had been sobbing during a lot of my yelling at God, and I have never been a pretty crier, my face gets all red and puffy and my nose runs. I have literally scared myself just by looking in a mirror after I cry. So, before the headlights of the approaching truck came around the corner, I slipped and slid off the road and hid behind a thick stand of trees.

The truck pulled up right beside me and stopped. Then I heard a male voice call my name.

It was an old Canadian lobster man by the name of Delwyn, a man I had just met and barely knew. He said he had wondered why I wasn’t at the AA meeting in town that night (although I had only recently started going there and wasn’t sure if I would continue). He said that all during the meeting he had a strong, nagging feeling that he needed to go look for me, that I was in trouble. When the meeting ended, as he was driving home, he noticed a lone set of footprints beside the road, heading out of town. So he had followed my footprints. Who would have guessed that my guardian angel would be an old weather-beaten lobster man?

He drove me to my home, and I have never had a drink of alcohol since that night.

However, I continued to be an agnostic-almost-atheist for the next 13 years. I did not come back to being a Christian until 2003!

grace

Alaina wanted me to put in a disclaimer about the possibility what happened to her could have been due to severe PTSD. I’ll just copy her next post.

I don’t know why my epiphany was so dramatic, maybe God took pity on me because of all the unusual amount of trauma I had lived through, who knows? And it’s crazy that I still did not call myself a Christian for the next 13 years, and even today I STILL have some doubts! Because honestly, nothing in my almost 62 years of living on this earth has ever seemed as real to me as this experience, and my second near-death experience that happened a little over 3 years later.

The problem is that I kept wondering if it was just me being crazy and imagining these extremely vivid occurrences, because… well, mental illness does run in my family, plus I had that 2-year post-traumatic breakdown when I was 14 – 16 years old – although, even during that time, I never once lost touch with consensual reality.

Still, it’s a terrible thing to go through so much trauma and to have such terrible PTSD as a result, that you get to a point where God could appear to you in a burning bush and you will be like, “Yeah, right, like I’m going to believe THIS is real. 🙂

But yes, to answer your question, feel free to use this as a post if you want, I am honored. Also, feel free to attach a disclaimer if you want to, about my mental health… However if you do that, you may also want to include the fact that after my last divorce was final in February 2003, I took my settlement money and checked myself into a mental health clinic, where I had to pay my way with cash, as I had lost my health insurance in the divorce. (I could have paid cash for a nice little house with that money, and I even had the house picked out – but I realized that having a nice house to live in, with me being so miserable that I wanted to die, was not going to do me any good, I needed some real HELP.)

Paul Meier, MD, is the founder of the psychiatric clinic that I went to, in Richardson, Texas. Dr. Meier, who I believe has several doctorates to his name and has been a psychiatrist for about 40 years, plus he has authored or co-authored over 80 books, many of which were best sellers, and he has been on the Oprah Show – Dr. Meier himself ordered a full battery of psychological and physical tests for me, and when he gave me the results of all of my tests, he said that I had severe PTSD and general depression and anxiety, and that I may also have something that he called Cyclothemia (However you spell it? It is a mild form of bipolar disorder, which my doctors since then have decided that I do NOT have, they say I only have the PTSD and depression/anxiety). Dr. Meier told me very definitely that, despite my almost two year incarceration in an insane asylum as a teenager, that I am NOT psychotic, I am NOT crazy, in fact he said that I am amazingly normal, considering my life history.

Dr. Meier is the one who told me that having a PTSD reaction to overwhelming extreme trauma is NORMAL, just as it is normal to bleed if you are stabbed.

So, yes… I realize there is always the possibility that the two most profound and vivid experiences of my entire life were somehow a result of something going briefly haywire in my brain. But I have been certified SANE, and I see a therapist regularly who also says I am sane.