The Bad Trip in Amsterdam – Part 2: Losing Control

Damrak Street during day Amsterdam

This is part 2 in a series of posts about a trip to Amsterdam, part 1 can be found here.

Part 2: Losing Control

If you ever have a good idea and it includes taking drugs, then stop. Take a moment to think. It’s not a good idea.

Our “good idea” was so perfect that it didn’t warrant discussion. Wake up, eat breakfast. Early morning joint. Head to a smart shop. Buy some magic mushrooms. Go to a coffee shop, another joint. Have lunch, then back to the hotel to take the mushrooms.

That was the plan. But it all went horribly wrong.

We were smart, or so we thought. We’d read all the appropriate information on the Internet. We knew all about set and setting.

When a person is on drugs, their experience is influenced both by their mindset (set) and their environment (setting).

If you’re a negative person and you take drugs with the mindset that you’ll have a bad time, chances are you will. If you don’t have the correct mindset, your trip won’t be correct.

If you take drugs in the middle of a dark, scary forest, it will have an effect on your experience and again make it a bad one. Bad setting, bad trip.

To ensure we had the best of settings we decided to take the mushrooms in our hotel room. The room would give us a place where we could feel comfortable, helping us to feel confident and positive about our experience.

Being in a comfortable place would help us to ensure nothing could go wrong, so that a bad trip wouldn’t happen. One of us would take the mushrooms and the other would watch, so that if there was a problem the sober one of us could help out.

The perfect plan, well researched and sensible. But as soon as we smoked that first morning spliff with breakfast, we were fucked.

We stumbled over to a smart shop and perused the magic mushrooms, buying ourselves a packet we were sure we’d enjoy. So far so good. Next we headed to a cafe for our pre-lunch joint.

Glancing over the menu something popped out at me. Cannabis cake. I’d had it before and it had made me feel nice and mellow so I decided, sure, why not? I’m on holiday! We ordered the cake with some tea.

Chris smoked a joint as I munched down on the cake. A little dry, but not bad. If only I knew then what I know now. The barista had fucked up. He thought that we both wanted a slice of cake. When it arrived at our table, it was in two small slices. I assumed it was just cake for me but in two pieces. I was wrong. I shoved the double dose of the cannabis cake into my mouth, unaware of the reaction it would give me later.

We headed for lunch, and I waited for the cake to kick in. Usually it takes a few hours. Once we’d eaten we continued to follow our plan, heading back to the hotel where we would take the magic mushrooms.

Which takes me back to walking down Amsterdam’s main street.

I’m skipping along merrily when I realise that I can’t remember where I was five seconds ago. I must have been walking down the street because that’s what I’m doing now, yet somehow I can’t remember. Strange. Then it dawns on me: the drugs have kicked in.

I stop. Brilliant! The drugs have kicked in! I smile and shout to my friend, “The space cakes have just hit me!” We keep walking. With each step my mind is going more and more haywire. My smile fades. The drugs take hold.

First it feels like my mind is echoing. Whenever I take a step forward it’s like I’m experiencing that step dozens of times. The world around me seems to be going in slow motion and my senses disconnect.

I stop Chris, “Wait a second, this doesn’t feel right.” I can’t hear my own voice, but I know that I’m speaking. When Chris speaks back to me it’s like he’s speaking from underwater. Yet when I focus on his voice it’s like he’s inside my ear.

It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced. We keep walking back to the hotel, increasing our pace. It feels like I’m running at full speed, my head floating above my body.

Suddenly a thought pops into my mind. A strange paranoid imagining. Maybe Amsterdam has been hit by a chemical weapon. A terrorist attack. Maybe that’s why I feel so strange. What if we’re dying and we don’t know it?

My brain can’t rationalise that it’s the drugs. It couldn’t be, could it? It must be something else! Why would these strange sensations be connected to the drugs I’ve taken? It has to be something else!

I move on to another ridiculous conclusion. The reason I feel so weird is because we’ve already taken the magic mushrooms. The effects of the mushrooms must have made us forget that we’ve taken them. Duh!

By now I’m starting to panic. I shout at Chris, although he’s only a foot away from me. “Did we take the magic mushrooms?!!!” He looks back at me confused, a little shocked. I sound so convincing that I’m even fooling him.

“I don’t know, did we?! Shit! Check your bag!” I look in my bag, fumbling to open it. Palms sweating. I peer inside and there they are. The mushrooms. We didn’t take them after all. Phew.

But when I look at the mushrooms, I can’t comprehend that they’re there. They seem to be so far away, like I’m looking through a telescope. I forget what I’m looking at. I forget what I’m doing. Why am I looking in my bag again? Hell, I pretty much forget who I am. So I just keep walking.

After a few steps, a voice explodes into my ear. It’s Chris. “Well? Did we take the mushrooms?” I can’t remember.

I look in my bag again. “No, we didn’t take them.” The information wasn’t a comfort. My heart was starting to beat fast, panic rising. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. So I said the thing you’d say in such a situation. “I can’t breathe!” Chris shook his head. “Of course you can breathe, just relax.”

I couldn’t relax. The hotel was still a half mile away. Worse, we had to walk through Amsterdam’s large, busy train station to get there.

I slid through the people in a blur, breathing heavily. I focused on somehow getting back to the hotel room with my sanity intact.

As we neared the building, I started to worry about going through the lobby. What if they can see I’m stoned? What if they don’t let me in? What if they call the police? We had stupidly chosen to stay in one of Amsterdam’s best hotels, not the usual place for two young stoners. We were going to stick out.

Seeing the hotel far in the distance, my panic increased. “We need to get through the lobby quickly! Get the card for the elevator out of your pocket so it’s ready!” Chris looked at me, “We’re still miles away, we don’t need the key card yet.” “GET THE FUCKING CARD OUT OF YOUR POCKET!”

I started to worry that he wouldn’t get it out in time, that we would be stuck waiting beside the elevator with the hotel staff watching us. Still, the hotel was around a quarter of a mile away, there was plenty of time. In my head though there was no time. “Get it out! Get it out!” I screamed, now hysterical. Chris obliged.

Soon we pushed our way through the hotel lobby, I tried to act normal but I no longer understood the concept of the word. My complete focus was on trying to blend in, which just made me stick out. I was concentrating so much on walking that I’d forgotten how to walk.

I inched my way over the carpet like a tortoise, making no eye contact with anybody, my eyes focused on the elevator. Hands straight beside my sides, not moving. Like a robot.

Finally we’d made it, we were in. The doors were closing – no, wait they were opening again. Why the fuck are they opening again?

Two well-dressed older women stepped into the elevator. Big smiles. “Good afternoon,” they said. We mumbled a reply. The elevator started to move upwards and one of the women spoke again, “Nice weather today, isn’t it?”

I felt like screaming. She must know I’m stoned, I must look so out of it. What do I say? Just act normal, act normal. I took a long, loud breath and held it. Cheeks puffed out wide. I watched the floor number going upwards. 1-2-3-4-5…

Hours later, our floor arrived. I jumped out through the elevator doors, sprinting along the hotel hall towards our bedroom. Chris opened the door and I pushed past him in desperation. The room was something I needed. The safe setting. The place to calm me down.

I sat on the edge of the bed, taking my jacket off. It felt like I had six arms. Like I was taking off ten jackets. My thoughts echoing.

Collapsing on the bed, I let out a deep sigh. Relief. We were back to our perfect setting, now I could enjoy myself.

But really, my bad trip had just begun.

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