So I am 19 years old and fucked up on mushrooms in my dorm room, and in the next hour I am going to call my mother to tell her that I found God. In the next few months, I am going to fail out of school. In the next few years, I am going to become the stunning display of skin and bones in front of you, but before that, I was 19 years old and fucked up on mushrooms in my dorm room.
When I was a freshman in college, I did a lot of drugs with my roommate. A lot. All of them. We started this particular mushrooms night playing video games but at some point, I decided that the apartment style dorm room that we shared with 6 other dudes was messy and needed to be cleaned.
“Our dorm is messy and needs to be cleaned” I said to Cory, my pupils dilated and eyes darting back and forth.
“Our dorm is messy and needs to be cleaned,” Cory mulled the statement over in his head. “That is true. It does.”
“A lot of things in my life need to be cleaned,” I responded, then went and brushed my teeth.
So, during the first few months of college, I had spent more time trying to see what drugs I could find than going to or thinking about my classes. I stayed in my room as much as possible. I stopped showering because what was the point? And I felt depressed from the moment I woke up until the moment I smoked my first bowl, which was usually the first thing I did in the morning. Ok, early afternoon. This doesn’t leave time for cleaning or being a human being or any of those sorts of things that we are told we are supposed to do because we are part of “society” or whatever. It especially doesn’t leave time for going to class or studying or any of the things that college students are supposed to be doing.
With my toothbrush in my mouth, I noticed how dirty the mirror was. Toothpaste stains. Shaving cream. Soap scum. So I grabbed the disinfectant wipes and went to town. Until I saw how gross the sink itself was. I abandoned the mirror, chewing on my toothbrush, and scrubbed at the sink. It would be easier with better cleaning supplies.
“How’s it going?” Cory asked.
“Cleaning supplies.” I said, toothbrush still in my mouth. They were in the closet. But we moved the arm chair in front of the closet for a party. I’d have to rearrange the furniture. I should be wearing shoes.
“You should take out the toothbrush. You might fall and choke or something.” Cory was still was holding the controller, listening to the menu music and staring at the colors in the background change.
Here, with so much that needed doing, I started to feel overwhelmed. This is a feeling that I got a lot.
Before this, I had tried taking myself out of the dorm. Free day at the art institute. Just myself and a journal to write down things. I described a lot of artwork. Then I noticed. People were staring at me in every exhibit I went to. And whispering about me. They were accusing me of things. Of wanting to steal the artwork maybe? Or they could tell that I was doing nothing with my life. They knew I had been cutting all of my classes for three weeks. I felt claustrophobic, overheated, terrified. I found a quiet corner with no people, took some deep breaths, then took a cab back to my dorm. This started happening any time I went out.
I thought about the effort it would take to move the chair and get the cleaning supplies and clean the house. I panicked and instead went to my bedroom, to a chill out in the space I had created called: The Ocean.
Yes, I named a part of my room. I was a 19 year old stoner, cut me some slack.
The Ocean was the space under my bed, which I had lofted about four feet off the ground, that was sectioned off with curtains and filled with comforters, pillows, and blue rope lights. It was sealed off and had access to the window, so this is mostly where I would smoke weed.
I laid on my back, looking at the slats that held my bed, and wondered about where the universe came from, like you do when you are tripping on mushrooms. And I wondered about the big bang. And I wondered about why my hands felt the way that they did. And, eventually, I thought about God. I didn’t believe in God, I don’t believe in God. But at that time, everything seemed to be out of my control. At that time, there had to be some sort of master plan that had me acting the way I was. And maybe it was the mushrooms, but I decided that the only solution to both the universe’s existence and the absolute downward spiral my life had taken was the existence of God. After all, trust in the lord and lean not with your own understanding, or something.
I had first noticed something was wrong with me when I was still in high school. I spent weeks feeling horrifically, world shatteringly depressed. I thought about death a lot, about if anything would happen on the other side. I thought about pills and booze and falling asleep and never waking up. I thought that death would have been a nice escape. Then I’d be too excited, staying up and out all night just driving and smoking cigarettes and spending every last dime I made on food I didn’t eat or clothes I didn’t wear. I’d go out and steal things from the mall just to see how much I could take. And I knew all of this was wrong, and I knew that there was a problem, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t know who to talk to.
I was ashamed.
I was ashamed that there being something wrong with me meant that I was less of a person. I was sure that if I mentioned that I felt down, someone would tell me that it was just teenage angst or that I just needed to cheer up or that I was hurting people by being negative and that it was my own fault and my own problem. So I said nothing. And I buried my feelings and I drank until I puked as often as I could, and I started smoking pot as often as I could and eventually I started snorting coke just to make my nose feel numb and then my body feel numb and then my brain feel numb so that I wouldn’t feel so bad about feeling bad. Lead us not to temptation, but deliver us from our emotions.
And in the ocean, on mushrooms, thinking about God, I felt ashamed again. Ashamed about where I had landed now. Ashamed that I knew the few days I would spend sober would make me feel like shit again. I would be depressed or over excited in a way that’s impossible to maintain. Ashamed that I was failing out of college, that I was losing my friends, the friends that didn’t like to get fucked up every day, that I was losing who I was. Ashamed of my sins. And I thought about God and the universe and my head and I figured that the only way to make sense of any of this was to put it in his hands. Or whatever church folk say.
A week later, a freshman psychology student would “diagnose” me with depression while sitting at my desk. A week after that, I’d go to the doctor with a cold and ask about anti-depressants. He would say it sounded more like bi-polar disorder and say to go talk to a psychologist. Two and a half months after that, after I moved back in to my parents’ house after being kicked out of college, I would get officially diagnosed and put on Lithium. Years and years later and I still have to deal with long bouts of depression and keeping “dangerous behavior” in check. And sometimes I still feel ashamed. But most times I don’t. Because that’s just how it is now and ever shall be. World without end.
But there, in the ocean, tripping on mushrooms and thinking about God, I decided to believe. And maybe for a little bit, that’s what let me hear that something was wrong. Maybe the idea that there was a plan let me stop being ashamed for long enough to take a step in the right direction.
I left the ocean when I started to feel the come down. I told my roommate what happened. That I found God in my room.
“Oh.” He said.
“I think I should tell my mom.” I said.
“Don’t do that.”
I called my mom. Right away I told her I had “found God.” She laughed.
“Oh yeah? Where was he?”
I almost said “I found him under my bed,” or “I found him in the ocean.” But I was only sort of still fucked up on mushrooms. Instead, I quickly made up an excuse to get off the phone. We never talked about that moment again.
I spent the next few weeks reminding myself that I found God. That I believed now, saying it to myself every so often, trying to create a habit, but it never stuck. Still, little by little, I started to change, started to get clean and get help. And so maybe it was God’s precious blood, or maybe it was The Ocean’s precious waters, but that night, something was there to help me wash away my sins.
Wyl Villacres is your best friend from Chicago. He is the senior editor for Chicago Literati and the managing editor of your heart <3. His essays and stories have been featured in Big Truths, WhiskeyPaper, and Wyvern Lit, among reputable others. You should visit him at http://wylvillacres.net/and on the Twitter machine: http://twitter.com/wyllinois.