neurosis

slowone at hush.ai slowone at hush.ai
Sat Oct 14 00:53:44 EDT 2006


I have always had a solitary streak. General sociability seemed 
shallow to me, moreover I drove away many people I liked before I 
even knew what I was doing. I cherished the peacefulness of time 
alone - but often felt my isolation eating at me like a corrosive 
acid.

I disappeared into books from age 5 through early adulthood. In my 
late teens, I had a sense that it was finally time to connect with 
people, to show myself and make my way in the world. I soon found 
that whenever I was doing something well, particularly in public, I 
froze. Whenever I felt something strong in myself, fear would 
immediately eat it away. If I felt desire, I'd shut down.  I 
couldn't decide what to do with my life - I hadn't asked to be 
born, so why should I choose a career? It was as if a firm decision 
to live eluded me.

Rather than dwell on this, I discovered early on that I could make 
myself feel good by using my brain and willpower, thinking 
meaningless wordy thoughts that seem to release endorphins. ("The 
opposite of anti-oxidants might be onti-accidents.") This helped me 
to remain aloof from others.

I convinced myself that the life of the mind is most important. 
Humanity will be extinct someday, so why get excited?  But I found 
myself looking in my mind for some answer that could bring me 
happiness.  Every now and then, I would think that I had found it 
in an idea that would acquire a buzzing momentum, with supporting 
lines of thought weaving around it like bees around a hive. But the 
next day I would find myself holding bits of dried moss instead of 
the
golden insight of a lifetime.

It wasn't until my mid-30's that I had a job lasting more than a 
year, although I pursued various frustrated creative activities, 
attempting or perhaps waiting to find meaning in life.

Several times in the early years of therapy I had acute 
claustrophobia, feeling as if buried in a coffin, needing to decide 
whether to calmly regulate my breathing in the hope of someone 
coming to free me, or to deliberately lose control, screaming and 
breaking fingers clawing at the splintering raw wood planks in 
front of me.  When this scenario had occurred to me in my 20's, I 
felt that waiting was easy, that someone would come, that with my 
supernaturally strong control I could ration my breath long enough.

I made a strong dose of T. iboga rootbark extract by soaking 
powdered rootbark in vodka and lime juice, then evaporating the 
alcohol. I drank the black liquid, an estimated dose of 25-30 
mg/kg. I vomited it about an hour later, having only experienced 
the first brief indications of a strong experience. My stomach 
lining felt sunburned afterward. Somewhat to my surprise, I was not 
motivated to try ibogaine again immediately, even though I soon 
acquired some in chemical form.

One evening at a party, a year later, I was feeling isolated as 
usual.
Suddenly, I had a novel sense that I was seeing my familiar 
surroundings for the last time.  I became concerned that this might 
be a premonition of death, perhaps even in a driving accident on 
the way home.  This motivated me to try ibogaine again.  I had left 
the sludgy rootbark soaking in vodka with lime juice, and now I 
poured off the dark liquid (3rd extraction) and slowly evaporated 
it to a black sticky substance, which I coaxed into capsules and 
swallowed.

The amount of ibogaine and other compounds was barely enough to 
affect my motor abilities (estimated 2-5 mg/kg), but I stayed 
curled in bed for a number of hours, exploring my thoughts. I was 
dimly aware of thoughts coming from different places in myself.  
Each place seemed the locus of a character-like shadowy 'being' 
with different functions.  I noticed different latency times 
between having and then classifying thoughts of different types. 
Some thoughts would dominate my attention, and consequently took 
longer to detect and label. These seemed to be more 'me', and they 
seemed to be a defence, intended to
screen out other thoughts. (Their slowness possibly resulting from 
habitual concentration on those particular ideas in order to block 
other subjects.)

Presently I realised that the source of the problem that I have 
always been trying to solve is me - not just one of the hordes of 
skills, stereotypes and memories (including scars) that I carry, 
but _me_, the very self who was trying but wasn't quite able to 
figure it out this time.

The next day, I continued puzzling, as if over a Zen problem, 
without expecting to solve anything just then.  My thinking had an 
unusual quality, it seemed as if I was intermittently letting 
myself think simple, logical things that I had consistently 
overlooked before.  Finally, while washing my hands, I realized 
that I was not the person who I thought I was. I looked up at the 
mirror in real surprise - and, having just experienced a sensation 
of two selves merging, saw that surprise on an unfamiliar face.

Then, as I was walking to a local park, I remembered a childhood 
episode when my mother, having broken a promise by denying she ever 
made it, in response to my outrage, yelled "You'll do the same to 
your children!" Although the situation was mundane, the idea that I 
would perpetuate the feelings that I was having in another person 
precpitated a nervous breakdown.

Rather than let myself grow into an adult that would perpetuate 
such torture, I worked with great psychic effort to disable myself 
and to conceal what I was doing from myself to make it sustainable. 
One thing that reinflamed my anger was that my parents would 
discount my protests at the way I was treated by claiming it would 
not matter when I was an adult. I was thus proving them wrong by 
treating myself as they did, and thereby mutilating myself so that 
it would clearly matter when I was an adult. Following their lead, 
I was discounting myself as a human being. "Man will be extinct in 
the end" was the ultimate philosophical form of my self-denial.

Looking at my life, I now understood how my watcher self always 
intervened when I had intense feelings - in the form of spontaneous 
compulsive behaviours that had always amazed me with their subtlety 
and their effectiveness at thwarting what I thought I wanted to 
accomplish. The best of the brains, talent, and force of will that 
nature had given me to excel with were unconsciously devoted
to failure. In cutting my cords of attachment to people, I became 
entangled in their raw and angry loops, numbing myself as best I 
could by staying in my head.

The process of intermittent thinking that led me to the discovery 
of my
'watcher' self in front of the mirror had an organic rhythm that I 
liken to birth, or to a snake shedding its skin: I was sliding out 
in prosaic increments as I weakly traversed each simple but 
strangely opaque piece of thinking, all in the midst of doing some 
errands. In a sense, a process of growth toward adulthood was 
resuming after a long pause.

After this revelation, I quickly succumbed to grandiosity, thinking 
that I was cured and could now join the world with full capacity. 
But three months later, I wrote:

    It seems that the insights I gained on the ibogaine only
    scratched the surface, that I am simply terrified of viewing
    the waste I have made of my life, and I'm not confident in
    ibogaine as a vehicle to cope with the terror - rather I
    wonder if the insights it might bring would just be a
    distraction; probably even the thought of using it helps keep
    me from facing myself.  (It is so easy to imagine meeting that
    self in the future, as if it were not present now.)

Several years have passed since I wrote the above. I have come a 
long way since then, but still feel like I'm struggling. I found 
higher doses of ibogaine (to 12.5 mg/kg) to bring on paralyzing 
anxiety. I like ayahuasca in community musical settings nowadays. I 
had a spiritual rebirth experience in the musical ayahuasca church 
Santo Daime that helped me feel reborn after my painful processing 
of the iboga message. 

I've enjoyed the ibogaine list and its predecessor for quite a 
while. A lot has happened here, rebirth and death inclusive. So 
here's another
person emerging from the shadows of those who don't tell their 
stories.





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