by Kris Reeder
My history is not one of substance abuse, yet is one steeped in life-abuse in general. I was raised in a loving middle class family where my parents both worked, my father working two jobs to get ahead. I was taught how to best use my time, and emerged being multi-tasked and very creative. My drive was achievement, gaining support from my family for my positive results.
In 1969 at 19 years old, however, my youthful exuberance was to be crushed, literally and physically by a serious car accident. I was in a coma for three days, my pituitary and adrenals affected by a severe head injury, the affects to drag on for the next 35 years; “drag on” being the operative words. I literally rolled out of bed, hit the floor on my knees and dragged myself up each and every morning. It took complete will power to make it through college, to complete each day of my teaching career, and to begin the next day all over again. That simple will power has been a driving factor in my over-achieving life.
In 1997 after the shocking results of a blood test, I was faced with the reality that I could no longer continue this learned life-style. I left a good paying job, sold my house in Lake Tahoe and escaped to Mexico, where I lived for six months. Initially the sedentary life almost drove me nuts. There was nothing to “do.” Nothing to accomplish. After a few months I learned how to sit on the beach and watch the surfers. But then as life progressed and seasons changed, April rolled around and my companion and I realized quickly that it was time to travel north, humidity prompting us back to civilization!
We settled in Montana, bought a beautiful place on acreage, a place that fit the description of “fixer-upper”, and the high-achiever mode kicked in again. Soon it was time to find work, and I landed a job managing an electronics plant: no low-key work for me!
The stress became a way of life once again. I stayed over-time, worked my breaks and lunch, and my little plant became noted for its quality and on-time delivery. My life had reverted back to pre-Mexico pace in a snap.
In the meantime numerous symptoms of hormonal dysfunction began to kick in again both emotionally and physically. Severe hot flashes, night sweats and anxiety attacks dogged me. Constant mind chatter limited my sleep to 3-4 hours a night. No herbs or diet seemed to affect the tension I carried. At times I was aware that I was holding my breath. Even in the beauty of my Montana paradise, I’d find myself thinking, thinking, planning, planning, relentlessly.
Then my friend’s husband had the Ibogaine experience and it changed his life. You could see it in his whole being. I bought Daniel Pinchback’s book, “Breaking Open The Head” and began reading. I looked up every website I could find about Ibogaine and read countless testimonials. Somehow I intuited that this experience was something I needed, that it would somehow change my life. I hadn’t any idea how it would affect me, or what I would encounter, not being an opiate addict, but I was willing to try it.
Two of my friends and I set a date and meet in Mexico at the Ibogaine Clinic run by Drs. Martin and Ana. We were amped up and ready for our Ibogaine trip. The date we’d picked landed us right in the middle of the facility change, the first clinic being vacated on Friday, our treatment on Saturday, and the new facility being set up on Sunday. We were forced to take the treatment in the Oasis Motel. That was accepted yet due to the move, our time for treatment was gradually pushed further and further into the afternoon, then the early evening. We were ready, antsy to begin.
One of my companions went first with the test dosage and the other two of us waited anxiously. Finally it was my turn. Forty-five minutes later I was laying comfortably in bed, with the strict instructions not to move my head after the final dosage was given. I’m not one to care about nausea as I’m a vomit expert, not bordering on bulimia, but experienced in ridding myself of whatever I wish, kind of Caeser-style, eat what you want and eliminate the cake on the top… Sorry, but true.
Anyway, finally I lay in my sweats, hooked up to all the gadgetry of EKGs et al, waiting for my special tripping psycho-active druggie experience. And as expected the Iboga buzz began, pulsing louder and louder through the light passing stream and chirping birds in the headphones. Then all too soon my body began the sickening feeling of one of those “I-can’t-believe-I-drank-that-much” evenings. The experience came to mind, when back in ’87 I had 12 shots of Tequila in about 1-½ hours. That night my alcohol poisoned body vibrated and ached all in one nauseated cotton-stuffed blob. The swirlies were getting the best of me and I prayed to die. I promised that I’d NEVER drink again! EVER!
On Iboga I was having the exact same feeling. Then from the depths of my bowels my digestive system revolted. (And I was the one making fun of up chucking!) God Almighty! My stomach emptied itself of every little drop in wave after wave of the most incredible force. I’d have won the Gold Medal in barfing, I’m sure. I felt completely at the mercy of Iboga as both ends emptied their contents. No time for humility. It was simply a fact of Iboga. Thank God I remembered to fetch the trash can and place it perfectly just in case.
Finally wretched to the enth-degree, I rolled over and froze in place; feeling my stomach’s emptiness, cotton-dry. I’d even felt it pulling itself inside out, almost like grabbing the bottom of a bag and drawing it upward. It was quite the physical to-do.
Then with the intensity to rival my last experience, the visions began to strobe. The movie screen (the insides of my eyelids) split into a top filmstrip and a bottom filmstrip, both playing different personal movies. The top one was in a turquoise-yellow hue and the bottom was black and white. Both were strobing so quickly I couldn’t decipher the people, but they were of groups in a social aspect, having fun. My eyes were looking straight ahead, and when I tried to focus, the whole picture faded away and another took its place. I found myself frustrated because I wanted to know who the people were and what they were doing.
So much information flashed before me, I couldn’t take it all in. Filmstrip on top of filmstrip, over and over, some different, some the same. At one point I noted that there was a background: three filmstrips going on at once: the top, the bottom and one actually behind the others. It was awhile before I noticed that. It amazed me that the mind filtered the information, the background initially eliminated from my perception. My body was suspended and my mind was moving at warp speed with all these heavy thoughts.
All this time the pictures were strobing, yet moving sequentially like a movie. I saw a group of people: an extended family of about 20 people having a barbeque. They were laughing and talking and very animated, however I heard no sound, only the Iboga buzz-pulse. Their clothes were of the 50’s vintage. Someone was taking movie pictures panning slowly over the crowd. I saw the background trees and bushes, buildings. I was observing/panning with the movie camera, like I was taking the pictures, but I knew I wasn’t. I was only observing; there, but detached. Then I looked down at the brick patio and immediately was sitting looking up. I got the distinct feeling that I was about four years old. I recognized the patio in the house where I grew up. With that realization I began to recognize my aunts and uncles, youthful and out of my current timeframe.
I heard my first auditory. Someone said crossly, “Get over here!” I opened my eyes to see if someone in the room had said that. No one was there. I closed my eyes and was again in the same picture.
Soon the picture faded out and a background landscape of ocean waves looked so real that I opened my eyes to see if I was really there. Then it too began to switch from mountains and pine trees to desert, to ocean, slowly at first and then picking up speed, finally strobing quickly with the filmstrips beginning again. No rest for the wicked…
It was at this time that I realized that my right eye was seeing an on-going movie and my left eye was seeing another, with the background still evident between the fading in and out. I’d switched from top/bottom to right/left. The visual was speeded up and I felt fatigued mentally. It seemed like I was fading in and out of parallel realities. I just wanted to recognize someone, but details eluded me. In my frustration, my focus reverted to my physical state.
I lay there feeling an intense vibration from the cellular level. A vibration to rival my anxiety attacks just before the all-consuming hot flashes. This was accompanied by the “why-did-I-drink-so-much” swirly sensation. It was so uncomfortable that I was overcome and began making metal excuses to drop out. I fought the flight feelings because I didn’t want to waste the visual experience.
At this point I said, “Dear Guides and Guardian Angels, please protect me.” A bright star formed instantly at the top center of my vision. A golden light intensified and then like a streak, penetrated my third eye. My whole being was jolted with the “Whoa!” experience. I gave silent thanks and returned to the visuals, feeling full and protected.
The background became black and I thought, “There’s a big building flying in the air!” It looked like a skyscraper turned sideways, the top of the building pointing to the left, and it moved slowly across the sky. “Oh, no,” I thought, “It’s a spaceship!” Its color was a light beige with square relief-like protrusions. There were lots of little bugs flying around it, and then I realized that they were small craft docking and leaving the mother ship. Space felt like infinity and was polluted, with many dark brown particles floating, motionless and suspended. It was almost like a photon belt or something. There were numerous small moons illuminating the surrounding area and I realized that I was in a craft myself. The mother ship moved silently and smoothly across my line of vision from right to left and then completely out of sight. This vision repeated itself three times during my experience.
As this passed the people visions began again. I became aware that there were three or four scenes that were repeated again and again. Like I was being shown something important and “they” were giving me another chance to make sense of it. However, it didn’t seem to work that way. I remained clueless without revelation.
One of the pictures that repeated itself was from the 50’s-60’s era; of a woman in her thirties wearing a sleeveless checked blouse with peddle pushers. She was sitting with her back to me, but was turned around watching and smiling. Later, I realized that it was my aunt Libby who had died when I was 12.
At one point I actually felt the hemispheres of my brain. It was like they were on a scale, balancing back and forth. The weight seemed lopsided to the right. My head was listing to the right and I opened my eyes to see if it was really leaning, but it wasn’t. When I thought about it, practically the whole trip my head was weighted to the right. It kind of made me nauseous. Later I wondered if it was due to my car accident and the concussion on my right lobe.
After about four hours the buzzing lessened and the visions tapered off into only a few flashes from time to time. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. I lay almost in a lucid dream-state, comfortable, sort of linking this experience to my normal sleeping habits of getting a maximum of 4 hours per night, yet still having a functional amount of energy.
During the trip I had hot flashes accompanied by the anxiety attacks that started in my lower torso and moved in a vibrational sense up to my head. These usually culminate in sweats, but during this experience I only had two minor sweats. Interestingly, the “anxiety” attacks felt just like coming on to Ibogaine. Since my mind normally has a lot of chatter, the post-Iboga coming down experience wasn’t much different than my pre-Iboga life.
Since Iboga I have experienced a profound change. A grounding and calmness has washed over me. There is absolutely no tension, even at work. The edge has been softened. The day after I returned home, I called in sick for the first time in three years. I took the day off because I wanted to. The over-achiever has relaxed, relishing in enjoying life in the moment, not planning and having to “do.”
The third night, I slept all night long. No mind chatter, no tunes running through my head to keep me up. Since then (it’s been two weeks now) I’ve returned to normal sleeping habits: 8 hours.
From just the fact of the vanishing tension, and the sleep-filled nights, I’d have to say the Iboga experience has been life-changing.
I’ve been told that the visions will reveal more to me as time goes on, and I await the insight. Since the treatment, the cravings have significantly lessened. Aldohol doesn’t taste the same. I plan on taking advantage of that. I will continue to monitor the Iboga affects.
This definitely was a life changing experience. I intuit that I’ll discover more as time goes on. Thank you Doctors Martin and Ana for your heartfelt assistance.