This is the story of how a very special #naturalmedicine changed my life for the better. It's my contribution to the natural medicine competition and dedicated to all out there that struggle with depression. There's light at the end of the tunnel.
November 2015. For the second time in my life I was stuck. Not able to go to work anymore. I felt such a failure. The history repeated itself. 9 years ago I got burned out. And it took me 7 months to recover enough to get back to my busy job as a communications advisor. What I didn't know now was that this time things would get even worse.
Almost three years ago, I was chronically tired, I spend my days feeling sick lying on the couch. Even watching Netflix or reading a book was too much for me because the lack of focus in my head. I had so much stress in my body that I had panic attacks during the day if I had to be on time for something that simple as my doctors appointment. Or at night before going to sleep. My heart would race so hard that I didn't think I was gonna wake up alive the next morning. I suffred from anxiety and was hyperventilating all the time. My legs hurt from all the tension I was holding on to, I slept for 4 hours a night and I had vertigo all the time alternated with periods of nausea. I was desperately in need for rest and peace of mind.
After 6 months of being sick and my situation not improving at all, my MD adviced me to take antidepressants. The thought that the suffering might stop just by taking a simple pill was very appealing. But deep in my heart, I knew it would only suppress the symptoms. There was some inner work for me to be done. I never believed in synthetic medicines.
If you want true healing you have to take a deep dive into the root causes. And that certainly is not easy.
Don't get me wrong, antidepressants can help and I'm not judging you if you choose to take them, they can be a lifesaver for some. But I knew that they were not the answer for me.
In the meantime I was experimenting with natural supplements like kurkuma, St. John's Wort, fish oil and GABA. Also meditating, walking in nature and doing positive affirmations was part of my daily routine.
I changed therapist for the third time in half a year. What a blessing this turned out to be. Thank God, this last therapist took me serious and I finally got the right diagnose: I was suffering from a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to the difficult childhood I had with physical and mental abuse, a brother that suffers from severe schizophrenia, an alcoholic father and my older brother that died in an accident at work when I was 15 years old. These were all suppressed traumas.
Finally I knew what was 'wrong' with me. After a few months of therapy, my therapist and I were talking about ayahuasca. It turned out he monthly guided ayahuasca ceremonies. Coincidence or not?
What is ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca, also called “hoasca,” “yagé” or “Mother Ayahuasca,” is an Amazonian entheogenic drink with a bitter taste and a brown-red color. It's a plant mixture that is capable of inducing altered states of consciousness, usually lasting between 4 to 8 hours after ingestion. Ranging from mildly stimulating to extremely visionary, ayahuasca is used primarily as a medicine and as a shamanic means of communication, typically in a ceremonial session under the guidance of an experienced drinker or shaman. It consists of a MAO-A inhibitor like Harmala or Caapi that enables the body to metabolize it and DMT, often Chakruna or Mimosa that is responsible for the psychedelic experience.
In the past few decade's ayahuasca is slowly gaining interest from Western society. A lot of people use ayahuasca to confront themselves with the richness of the mind, the infinity of the universe and their deepest fears. Their main purpose is to find healing. Also academic researchers in the field of psychotherapy have shown an increased interest. And the numbers of studies conducted on this brew are increasing every day and are showing promising results in treating serious disorders like depression, anxiety, PTSD and addictions.
Allowing the ayahuasca to help me
So all this sounds auspicious, right? Well... the last couple of years I've done my research. I saw a lot of documentaries that scared the hell out of me. I watched people met their most frightful demons during ceremonies, some had the worst 'bad trips' thinking they were gonna die in the middle of the jungle and there was a lot of purging, vomiting and crying going on.
Besides, mental illnesses like schizophrenia are running in my family. If you suffer from mental illnesses this can be a serious contradiction.
But at the same time I found myself in a hopeless situation. So I decided to make the jump; into the unknown. Hopefully on my way to healing. My first ayahuasca ceremony was in december 2016.
It was the most amazing journey ever, all about unconditional love. The lesson 'Mother ayahuasca' gave me was: you have a choice. You can choose fear or you can choose love. Either way it's fine, but choose what's helpful for you. It sounds really cliche, but this lesson touched every layer of my being. It penetrated my body, mind and soul. It was really life changing. It changed my perspective on how I looked at life's challenges. The days after the ceremony, I felt euphoric, everything went smooth, life was good. But unfortunately, these feelings didn't last long. After a week riding on my pink cloud, I got severely depressed again and two months later, when I didn't think I could sink any lower, I got to my lowest point.
I was slowly dying from inside. Every time a little piece of my soul crumbled. I was not myself anymore. My boyfriend said I had the strangest, empty look in my eyes at the time. He couldn't reach me anymore. Everything he said went past me. I was getting closer and closer to the thought of not wanting to live anymore. I was feeling numb all the time, or if I did feel something it was extreme pain and suffering. A feeling that was too overwhelming to live with. I hated myself, spend hours crying and crying. The question that haunted me was: why is this all happening to me?
I talked to my therapist about it. He didn't want to scare me, but judging on the look on his face, I saw he was really concerned. He thought I had a serious problem and I needed to do something about it real fast. He invited me to assist to his ayahuasca ceremony for the second time. The weekend was fully booked, but he promised me he would squeeze me in.
My second ayahuasca ceremony
March 2017. My second ayahuasca ceremony. The day of the ceremony I was getting really anxious about taking the ayahuasca again. I was afraid that I would end up in a bad trip. That the ayahuasca would show me things I couldn't handle. The first time was so amazing. This time for sure I would have a hard time. What if I got stuck by taking ayahuasca and never came out of this dark place? My mind and all these voices were taking over. I started panicking. This was the last thing I could use before entering my ceremony. I tried to calm myself down with a meditation. It didn't help. I called my therapist. Fortunately, he could calm me down a bit.
I assisted the ceremony without having a clear intention. I was feeling so lost. And at the same time I'd felt her magnitude the last time, her strength and her intelligence. She would know what I needed. What followed was beyond my wildest imagination.
I had the time of my life. As if 'Mother ayahuasca' knew I could really use a break, a holiday from all these thoughts, from all this suffering and from my mind doing overtime. She took me on a trip to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. Can you believe it? But before she did that, she teased me a little. She said to me: 'Dear, do you want to have a party?' And she handed me 2 samba balls. And as a way of playing tenderly with me, she took them away. I had to be patient, because she was working on me on a physical level. But soon, my party began. I had such a great time the rest of the ceremony. What a blast. What a relief! She taught me that life is a celebration. Like Audrey Hepburn said: "Life is like a party, dress for it". She made me realize that life is good, life is beautiful, life is fun. But I totally forgot about it being so caught up in my own minds dungeon. And she told me I'm the only one responsible for my life. It's my choice whether I want to celebrate life and make a party out of it. I'm the only one that gets to decide on how my life's gonna look like.
When I asked her: but how can I do that if all I can do right now is feeling sick and miserable all the time, only able to lay on the couch? Then, while I was lying down on the floor, my body started dancing out of the blue. I couldn't stand up, but I was having my own private party on my mattress with all these wonderful native American medicine songs the live band was playing. That was my answer. It's all about mindset. Even on my couch I can choose to have a party, a party with myself. A party in my head. It's a state of mind. And a choice!
The rest of the ceremony I had the biggest smile on my face, I was laughing, enjoying the music and myself. The months that followed things started to change for the better. I was not cured from my PTSD, I had my challenges and my problems to work through, but I danced through life! I was enjoying life again and I could see the magic and the wonders around me. I felt so light, that I lost 17 pounds in 4 months!
A year later
It's been over a year now. Ayahuasca was so beneficial to me that I partook in 20 ceremonies on my path to healing. It has been one hell of a journey! It was really hard and every time I was scared to hell to take this sacred medicine again. But it payed off. The depression stayed away. And I'm saying yes to life again. To all of it. The happy, pleasant feelings and emotions and the more heavy ones. I feel really proud of myself that I had the guts to try ayahuasca. I can tell you, it's not for pussies. Ayahuasca can really confront you. It takes courage to look in your inner mirror and face your shadows and your fears. I'm also glad that I didn't give in to take the antidepressants. And I did it the hard way.
It was the ayahuasca that has given me my life back. She was like the mother I wished I had. She gave me the warmth and love I missed as a child, she gave me the education I didn't get from my parents. I learned to set boundaries, I learned life's rules and to ride on life's waves. She taught me the skills to do so. First she had to deprogram me, I had to throw away all these beliefs, convictions and patterns I had developed during my whole lifetime. They were not true and certainly not serving me any longer. For a while I was in No Mans land. A limbo zone. I felt lost and confused. The world I knew quickly vanished and I had nothing to hold on to. I was on my way to my new belief system, to a new life that would suit me better. Ayahuasca is a real catalyst for your spiritual awakening. My transformation took place so fast, sometimes I could hardly keep up the pace. But because I was relying on my inner compass, I knew what was happening. So I could surrender and let go. And trust the process.
At the same time, I feel like I need to address something. Ayahuasca is the most beautiful and powerful plant teacher I know. She showed me the way. She didn't cure me in the traditional meaning of the word. She gave me a big push in the right direction. Like the saying goes: The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see. I had to commit to follow up her teachings and do the work afterwards. Besides ayahuasca I assisted many EMDR and regression therapy sessions, a lot of healing sessions and workshops, I read a lot about healing or the themes I was working on with ayahuasca like self love. I meditated a lot, changed my diet and visited a coach. So ayahuasca is no wonder pill you take and you lay back. You still have to do the work.
Right now I'm closing one of the most difficult chapters in my life. For now, I'm done working on myself so thoroughly digging up the past. I'm done with therapy and I said goodbye to my loved ayahuasca. I'm doing so well, that I'm making plans to return to work. I can't wait to get my new self out there and I'm looking forward to use all my insights, experiences and teachings to help others with their illness or challenges in life. And showing them how natural medicines, food, supplements and other great alternatives are available for us.
Until this day I thank the ayahuasca, I thank Mother Earth for taking care of me, carrying me when I couldn't and providing all these beautiful natural remedies. I feel more alive than ever.
Thank you for listening to my story. I hope I inspired you and that I showed you you can heal yourself with the help of natural medicines. It can be done. I did it and so can you! Many blessings to you all.
If you enjoyed this and/or you're interested in trying ayahuasca, you might like this article (too): 5 things you also kneed to know about ayahuasca