For a total of 12 years (beginning in 2004) I battled with general anxiety and depression and took an insane variety of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant pharmaceuticals (all of which either didn’t help, made me feel like a zombie, made me feel better but disconnected, or left me feeling worse than I did before as soon as I stopped taking them). I had been to hundreds of hours of therapy and spent countless hours reading self-help books using all different approaches and methods. I had ups and downs over the years, and after a steady improvement I weaned off an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication with the support of my psychiatrist January of 2012.
July 2013 I had my first panic attack since I was 18, and after that my anxiety escalated tremendously. It felt like everything started to make me panic, and I started to slowly lose my confidence and ability to function in every day life. From suffering and feeling massive anxiety throughout my whole wedding day, to panicking on chair lifts snowboarding, developing anxiety on airplanes and boats, I started to lose the ability to do things I once enjoyed. Worse yet, “every day” normal things started to fall apart from getting in elevators (as a wedding planner I ride in elevators ALL of the time), not being able to be a passenger in car, being scared of getting sick after eating, and much more, I felt like the walls were closing in on me. I was physically and mentally sick with anxiety ALL OF THE TIME. I had multiple weddings where I sat outside an elevator for 10 minutes trying to “will” myself to get in, only to end up carrying my emergency kits up and down many flights of stairs. Nothing helped, and the anxiety led me to an onslaught of severe depression and dependency on my husband, Eric. I felt like the only thing I was good at was faking it. There was rarely a day that went by that I didn’t crawl into a ball in my bedroom and sob uncontrollably from depression. But as soon as I was in front of other people, especially at work, I could lock it up and put on the best fake smile around, which only made me feel worse.
I developed an extreme identity of self-loathing and was unable to control my emotions. I took every comment personally and blamed myself for everything that happened. About once a week someone would tell me to “eat a cheeseburger” or that I was too skinny, and while I would laugh it off, it left me feeling crushed and insecure that people thought I was ugly.
I knew things were starting to unravel pretty badly when I started having suicidal thoughts. Often. It got so bad that I had to ask Eric to take the gun out of the house because I really didn’t know what I was capable of when I was in those dark moments. However, rationally and logically, I knew EVERYTHING. I knew to be positive, and to not say the word “cant” and all of those most important tools to change these horrific mental habits, but I somehow lacked the ability to convert them into usable feelings and thoughts. And I knew I wasn’t a quitter.
Fast forward to months and months of researching of learning that psychedelics have an unbelievable success rate in curing anxiety, depression, PTSD and other mental struggles when used in the correct setting. I followed people like Amber Lyon and Aubrey Marcus and discovered the medicine, Iboga, which is the bark of a root from Africa that has been used medicinally for hundreds, if not thousands of years. I then found the Iboga Wellness Center in Costa Rica and researched and talked to them for months before booking a psycho-spiritual session with them for January 13-20th, 2015.
Iboga is a very spiritual medicine, and from the moment I booked the trip in November 2014 I knew I made the right decision. And then, from the moment I arrived to Costa Rica, I could feel the medicine was working on me. During my stay I did two sessions with Iboga, which we call “journeys” which last about 10 hours each, and the results were nothing short of life-saving. From the two journeys I had, I had visions that showed me where all of my anxiety, depression, insecurity and self-loathing stemmed form when I was 9 years old. It showed me that I was beautiful, that I loved myself, and that I had EVERYTHING I needed to overcome all of my struggles and fears, and that I could do it. It let me take all of the knowledge that I had, and finally convert it into usable emotions and thoughts. Iboga is not a magic plant that solves all of your problems, but rather a tool that gives you the insight to conquer your demons. It was by far the toughest week I have ever gone through, but it was the most rewarding, life changing week of my life and I would do it over a million times.
So many of us battle these demons of self-loathing, insecurity, anxiety and depression, and we bury them deep inside as not to show weakness….I know, I was the best at it. Upon hearing my story, many people who know me thought, “No way…she always seemed so happy.”
While challenges still and will always continue arise, I now know I have the tools and strength to over come them. For the first time in my life I can say that I am genuinely happy and it feels incredible!