Imagine you are out in the pouring rain and have a constant feeling of wanting to go home, but no matter where you are, you are never home, even inside your physical home it is still raining and it is not your home.
You are mentally homeless or as the world calls it: depressed.
It turns out I have been having this feeling for a while. Maybe a few years, maybe longer, but as every day goes by I feel like every attempt I make is pointless in making this feeling go away.
Sometimes it feels like something is stuck in your throat and you feel physical pain that you can’t explain why.
You want to be alone, but not lonely, you want friends but you hate socializing, you want success but you have no desire to be productive and you become lost inside your own conscience.
I would sometimes try to do things, make to do lists and try to complete then, then to only find myself in my bed spending maybe 10h hours a day or more there.
Every moment of your existence is filled with guilt. You are not sure where it really comes from, however I was guilty for running out of breaths when trying to take my son to the playground, I was guilty for not playing with him longer because I felt dizzy and had no energy to come up with games. I was guilty for knowing so many people appreciated me online, some of them even sending me huge offline tips and I didn’t know how to formulate a simple sentence to thank them. Just saying “Thank you” seemed so boring. What if they thought I didn’t appreciate them. I had to come up with a better phrase to reply to them, but my creativity was dead. I had nothing. So I would shut off the computer and go lay back in my bed, hoping that I could come up with something nicer and more elaborate to say to them but I never did. My emails piled up and so did my guilt and the list of things to do.
I was guilty I felt like a piece of shit for not being able to shoot any sort of creative footage where I actually liked seeing myself in it for people that had preordered videos. So guess what I would do, go back to my bed and hope that tomorrow I would feel more “beautiful” to shoot something creative. But tomorrow never came. The guilt kept consuming me even more and the only way I knew how to solve it, was go hide in my bed.
I know this sounds completely absurd to someone that has never had those feelings. I agree with you. It totally is! I wish I could snap out of it and be creative again but it’s like my switch is broken.
I wanted to go online so bad and cam, but I had no creative ideas. I found my house uninspiring and felt like I had exhausted every idea online. I would dwell on tippers leaving because of something I did or my shows being too repetitive and boring. My usual remedy to fix this… go back to my bed.
Every time I saw the computer I was filled with anxiety and more guilt so I decided to just not try anymore. I had lost hope. I had given up.
Interestingly depression is not the feeling of being sad and then you go do one nice thing for yourself and BAM you are out of it. It’s much worse. You lose your hope and purpose in life, and that is a much harder feeling to deal with than being sad.
I am not looking for pity. I completely understand I HAVE to do it myself, step by step, bit by bit, one habit at a time.
I started seeing a psychiatrist after my ex left us never to be in touch again and I was prescribed antidepressants. My memory is pretty foggy so I believe it was about a year ago.
I had this hope in me maybe the meds would make me feel less tired, maybe I could finally stop the guilt and the anxiety and the self sabotage I was doing to myself. They didn’t. I took 3 different brands giving it a few months for each of them and aside from nausea, diarrhea and the brain zaps they made me feel like I was a piece of wood with no emotions left in me. I would still go lay in my bed but I had less guilt about it. My feeling of wanting to do nothing was still there I just didn’t give a shit about it. In retrospect it was a bit better than I was but the lack of hope was still there. I could have been hit by a bus and I didn’t care. They were not helping me.
But I had a baby to support, I needed to be strong for him. So I continued psychotherapy even if I thought it feel like it was helping much.
I ate very healthy, I forced myself to go to the gym three times a week and join classes to try to meet new people. I had previously worked nights for years and my social circle was non existent. But I never felt I connected with anyone. Socializing was exhausting and it gave me so much anxiety.
I tried supplements, turmeric, st John’s wart, folic acid and everything I could read online that was easily accessible to me but It was like riding a boat that has a hole at the bottom.
I so badly wanted to find hope again, find my creativity, find my purpose in life. I started looking into more alternative medicine. For those that know me: I have a background in molecular and cell biology so I try to research everything from a scientific point of view before believing some mumbo jumbo that worked for John Dow’s grandma.
I started researching treatment resistant depression and I came across a few things;
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was one of them. Aside from having memory loss effects the research I did was not entirely conclusive that it worked for everyone.
Ketamine injections were another FDA approved method which was reported as being highly successful. However it sounded like each injection cost around $500 and you need multiple injections over a large period of time to complete treatment. I looked up if there was any local clinics here in Mexico that offered it with zero information. Also they can become addictive. Hmm…
more info about ketamine here: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketamine-for-major-depression-new-tool-new-questions-2019052216673
I decided to dig deeper. Maybe there was something else that was accessible to me that I could try to get out of this constant feeling of hell I was living.
I came across some scientific papers listing that psychedelics greatly improved people with treatment resistant depression, anxiety and PTSD. The only problem: they were illegal. Also I had never bought any illegal drugs in my life (not even weed) and had no idea how to get a hold of them.
However psychedelics have been used by humans for their reality-altering properties for thousands of years. Fungi have inhabited the earth for more than 400 million years, and early ritualistic use of hallucinogenic mushrooms may date as far back as 9,000 years ago. And yet the human race is still alive so these substances have likely impacted our evolution as a species in some ways.
However there is a certain taboo around them ingrained in our culture by the first European Crusades wiping out any knowledge the indigenous populations had of these substances, then the modern government banning them from consumption or treatment of any diseases.
Currently, the government also does not fund any psychedelic research, so funding is left in the hands of private organizations like the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
I came across one in particular named Ayahuasca that had the best effects on treating depression with no chance of addiction. It uses DMT which is found in our bodies naturally and it is believed to be used in dreaming. However DMT on it’s pure form cannot be absorbed by our bodies so this brew has a MAO inhibitor that facilitates the absorption of DMT. It is a plant mix that has originated from the Amazons and it has been proved to help depression better than some of the pharmaceuticals that the doctors prescribe today. It also improves inflammation which has been directly linked to depression
For the really nerdy types you can read more here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4773875/
Apparently it’s a brew and it’s supposed to taste really bad. It takes 30 min to feel the effects and vomiting can happen. At this point after trying SSRI’s and feeling like a complete zombie on them, vomiting was the last thing I was worried about. However there is a possibility to have a bad trip on them and the experience is not exactly pleasant, but in the long term people reported more positive results than negative in their treatment of depression.
I decided to find a place that offered this brew as apparently even one dose of it can generally improve depression as much as years of intensive psychotherapy and antidepressants.
The problem was, where do I find a place that offers this. Google came up with a few retreats in Costa Rica that cost $5000 for a few days, where you had to book months or a year in advance. These were mainly marketed to celebrities and had a very commercial way of administering ayahuasca. At this point I didn’t care how much it cost, I just wanted to try anything that could get me out of this constant living torture. They seemed to respond slow to my emails and there was no straight up booking system. They just told me they were booked until next year.
Another was Peru where ayahuasca is native, however a google search produced a few bad stories about people being infused with tobacco and dying from poisoning. Having a small child to take care of with no one else in my life, death was not an option so I put the ayahuasca trip in the back-burner and decided to just focus on the same coping mechanisms as I had used in the past.
It wasn’t until one day I hit rock bottom. Someone stole my wallet (with all my cards and ID’s including my permit to stay in Mexico) and car keys at a grocery store (HEB), cleaning out my banks before I had a chance to cancel all my debit and credit cards. The worst part wasn’t that the money was gone, it was how I was left alone to wait for over 3h with a crying and hungry baby until I could get someone to drive me home. The store did nothing to help us. I was scared someone would come back to steal my car as the keys were gone but the car was still in the parking lot.
I dropped my baby home and tried to get back and tow my car to a safe place as soon as I could. Well that obviously took hours. Then a particular Mexican bank (cough… Santander) treated me like It was my fault and I was told by one of the workers at the branch I should be more careful with my wallet, instead of them helping me as their client. They even wanted to charge me for getting a new card and would not issue free photocopies of my account when asked to have it as proof for the police. I just want a copy of my statement. How hard is it?
I was very lost and powerless and had no idea what to do. Usually someone in a western country calls the police immediately and reports the incident. The credit card companies investigate, police investigates and money is returned.
Well…reading up stories where police has commited various crimes in Mexico added to my stress and I felt completely vulnerable. There’s a general distrust in police by everyone I had spoken to. I often heard stories of cops demanding money to the victim and arresting them if they refuse to pay them, making up false claims about crimes that were never committed.
Despite that I decided I wanted to try to do what the law said and went to the police station to report the crime. I was very nervous and was expecting a long interrogation and possible verbal abuse. After all my own bank employee treated me as the criminal, imagine what the police would do.
To my surprise the police were the most pleasant people I had to deal with in this whole chain of people I asked for help. It was an office in a very rough part of town but the employees were very polite and explained to me the process very clearly. I was happy to finally not get any verbal abuse from someone that works in a place of authority.
I went home that night. It was close to midnight, I had not eaten almost all day, I was so shaken from what had happened and that was the breaking point.
The next day I go to immigration to get a new permanent card. It should be easy as they have me on the system right? Wrong! I could not leave the country because my card was stolen and it would take months to get a new one. The people at immigration were very rude and told me to google how to get a new one. Oh and their office was closed on a working day, actually make that two working days, because their system was down.
Mexico is not all bad, I swear! I know my latest stories portray it as a very grey place. I think part of it is the state I am in right now but FUCK bureaucracy!
Mexicans, you need to fix that shit if you want to move forward with things!
Being back now in a deeper hole than I was before I decided to look up Ayahuasca one more time. Maybe there was somewhere local I could find that didn’t require me to fly to a foreign country. I found a few places locally but they all seemed to be run by hippies that would get together one night in a place they did not choose to share even when asked over the phone where it was and what the conditions were like, so I boycotted the idea to trying it there. It wasn’t until I came up with a place that had almost 100 reviews on google almost all positive. It seemed to be a “healing spa hotel”.
It definitely looked a lot more appealing than meeting up with a bunch of strangers in the dark in an unknown place. I called the owner of the hotel and he seemed pleasant and answered all my questions in a professional manner. I specifically asked him what was in the brew and he told me it was only the authentic ayahuasca plant mix from the Amazon. I told him I was not going to drink anything that was done with derivatives or any other psychedelics.
I messaged a trusted friend the location, their phone number in case there was an emergency and decided to drive away to this place. I also was not on any medications that could impact the efficacy of the drug and had not consumed any foods with tyramine which could interact badly with the MAO inhibitors so I felt confident it was going to be ok even if this was my first time trying anything that wasn’t alcohol or caffeine. Once I tried smoking marijuana and it had no effect on me, so I guess that doesn’t count.
I got there at 7:30 pm. The place was not a hotel but some guy’s house. It was very cold and it had just stopped raining and the garden was very wet. I went to the washroom and it was pretty filthy with an almost disintegrated wet roll of toilet paper left on the toilet seat.
Since this place was sold to me as a ‘hotel’ I was quite surprised to see it was just a run down house.
Not the best first impression but hey, I decided to be open minded and was hopeful the ayauaska experience would be better.
The owner started chatting with me and he seemed like a pleasant guy.
It turns out I was the only one there and there was no guests in the ‘hotel’ so I was allowed to use one of their rooms which was very basic but I was still happy they offered that because he told me they would not include a room in the ayahuasca experience.
Hours go by and there’s still no one there. He told me there would be 15 people that night. I was starting to feel a bit uneasy. What was this place and who was this guy? It all seemed weird that no one was showing up.
After a few hours his girlfriend arrives. She seemed like a pleasant person and was chatting with me. She told me not to be scared and that she tried it before and it opened her mind. Ok it was nice to hear some reassurance but there was no other guests yet.
Hours go by and it was now 11 pm. At this point I was freezing because there was no heat in this place and the night was very cold (yes it gets cold in Mexico)
Shortly after, a few people joined. It turns out it was only me and two others that were joining the “ceremony” and not 15 as it was mentioned. But hey, maybe less people will be better.
One was a 70 year old lady, she was friendly and told me her daughters has tried Ayahuasca at the same place and it helped them a lot. Their daughters were there too and chatted with me and told me not to be scared as it helped them tremendously after the first ceremony they had done. They had to go home and were just there to drop off their mom. This felt reassuring to hear.
The other guest was a 27 year old guy. He was very quiet and didn’t want to share much about himself. They were both from Mexico City.
I was starting to be happy the wait was finally over and that we would start soon, but I was wrong again.
We had to wait for 2 more “shamans” and the owner and his girlfriend would be there as sober guides too so 4 in total.
During this time the owner shows me a clear bottle that looked like someone had filled it with chocolate milk and left it for 30 years. He told me it was the “Ayahuasca”. Given the fact I had never tried it before but did enough research to know it was a brown color I started feeling more at ease about the experience.
The two other “shamans” arrive and the ceremony didn’t start until 12:30 am or maybe 1 am. I am not entirely sure of the time as I had left my phone in the room and I have no watch.
They lit a fire in the wet garden and we all sat around it. I was asked to go behind a tree on the other side of the garden to drink the ‘medicine” because it had to be administered in the dark for it to work.
I had never heard of that from the research I did, but hey… I had been waiting since 7:30pm in the cold for this and previously drove 3h to get there , I wasn’t going to turn it down.
The “shaman” asks me to eat dirt from the ground before drinking. I was very skeptical of this so asked him why. He said my Mexican ancestors always had to thank the earth before they became one with the plant Ayahuasca. I started thinking… Wait a minute. Ayahuasca was not used in Mexico. It comes from the Amazon. What do your Mexican ancestors and eating dirt have to do with this? (I didn’t tell him this) I didn’t fight it and drank the tea. It was a generous portion that tasted like water. There was absolutely NO TASTE or smell like my research suggested. So I go back to my spot by the fire and the other two participants went back and drank the same tea.
I asked the owner why it tasted like water?
At this very moment he proceeded to tell me that it was the “Mexican Ayahuasca” not the Amazon one which I specifically asked him about.
I was very upset I was given something I didn’t agree to but I didn’t want to freak out the other two participants so I politely asked the shamans what were the ingredients. They all kept giving different answers and were very bothered by my question.
I was told to just relax and let the “medicine’ do its job. I felt violated and angry but I tried to relax and see what would happen. I had already drank it, so freaking out wouldn’t help the situation. All I could do was hope for the best to not have a bad trip on it.
The owners who were supposed to be two of the guides drank it too which I thought was very unprofessional. I am not sure if the two “shamans” that were late did. The owner previously told me him and his girlfriend would be sober to be there for us in case we needed any help.
Am hour go by, I wasn’t feeling much. I was told it would hit in 30-40 min. I asked the owner’s girlfriend. She told me to just keep waiting and told me maybe I should not have come if I was so impatient. Strange response since they are supposed to guide us not shame us for asking questions.
2 hours go by… Again. I felt nothing. Then 3 then 4… Absolutely nothing aside from feeling so tired since I had been up at 7 am that day and hadn’t eaten much.
I got up and I see both owners standing and doing weird movements which seemed like they were tripping on something. The other 2 participants were not doing much. There was no crying, no laughing, no talking, no puking as the research suggested. They just seemed tired just like I did.
At this point I took advantage of the room they offered me to sleep and left after 4.5h of drinking the mysterious water like “Ayahuasca” which was giving no effects whatsoever.
I was mad I got taken advantage but was too tired to think about if so I just went to bed and crashed and tried to make the best out of the bed.
It was daylight . I slept for maybe 2.5h but at this point I wanted to get the hell out of there.
I came out of the room and greeted everyone else and asked the other participants how it went.
The old lady told me and the owners she feels more at peace but she didn’t describe it as a trip. She didn’t really look like she was tripping either the 4.5h I saw her. She wasn’t complaining and it was as if they were scared to say anything negative about their experience. A lot of locals believe in superstitions and see these guys as sacred healers and if they complain they may upset god. This is the only reason why I think no one mentioned anything.
The other guy said he was feeling ok but left it at that. He was the quiet guy remember.
I told the owners I didn’t feel anything and they seemed very irritated at me. I got up from the table and started cleaning my yoga mat which had been covered in mud from me laying on the wet grass during the “ceremony”
The quiet guy helped me to hose it down and he whispered “I didn’t feel a thing too”. So I told him why don’t you say something? He said ‘he didn’t want to be confrontational’
The owner at this point was determined to get me to smoke DMT or as he called it “changa”. I told him I didn’t smoke and I was interested only in the Ayahuasca which he never gave me.
He then started telling me I was not the right person for “spiritual enlightening” because I was fixated on this brand called “Ayahuasca” and apparently every psychedelic does that same thing because of the DMT, even peyote, changa and mushrooms. I told him mushrooms don’t contain DMT and they may be all psychedelics but they affect the brain slightly different. He was even more irritated by my talk and I decided to just drop the conversation there. No point in arguing with ignorant.
After a few minutes of “how’s the weather” conversations to change the topic, the owner still asks me to try changa. He kept saying it would make me feel amazing and it was very quick. It would last 20 min and then I would be totally sober again. He asked me at least 10 times, while continually saying I had to let go and be more open. This was in front of everyone there and it felt as if I was the bad guy.
When I arrived at the “hotel” the previews day I met a guy that had tried the changa and he spoke very highly of what it did for him. It didn’t seem like he was lying and he seemed pleasant to talk to.
I was not scared the owner would do anything physically to harm me. He was annoying and lied about ayahusca but didn’t give off the vibe of a sexual abuser. Also I guess part of me wanted to see some change from the crippling depression that lead me to want to try Ayahuasca in the first place, so against all logic, I gave in and took a few puffs of what was supposed to be DMT.
I found the smoke very unpleasant and tried my best inhaling it but it just gave me a very intense headache. I took maybe 5 puffs and for each of them I was being screamed I was not doing it right and only if I opened up to it it and stopped thinking with my “science” brain it would work.
By then I was quite frustrated so I told him I was done trying it while still choking on the smoke. He then proceeds to spray a bottle of perfume in my mouth. That was just disgusting!
Again I felt nothing from the smoke either just had to spit out the “perfume” spray he sprayed in my mouth. Come to think about it maybe I should have just left and not tried anything else this guy offered me.
He then proceeds to ask me if I was religious. I said no I don’t believe in organized religion but I believe we have to nurture our spiritual selves to be truly healthy and happy. He tells me people like me will never find the light because we are too stubborn and don’t accept the ‘higher forces” powers and now my life would just keep sliding down in a dark hole and I would never get out of it. Great motivational speak Mr “shaman”!
I wasn’t even going to argue at this point so I told him he had the right to believe what he wants but I refused to continue the conversation.
He then left with his girlfriend to get breakfast ready for us. I picked up my stuff and left.
All I can say is WTF!
I am back home now. I feel nothing different aside from the fact that I was conned out of several hundreds of dollars especially when my bank accounts were already low to begin with.
Live and learn!