Addiction, Depression, and Iboga: How 2 Ceremonies Changed My Life

Tabernanthe iboga shrub


by Jeanie Blend

on July 22, 2014

My name is Jeanie. I am a 35 years old and from the Midwest. In January of 2011 I took iboga for the first time. This is my testimonial about how I got to the point of finding iboga, what happened during my journey and how my life changed on every level after my experience.

My life wasn’t going quite right. At a very young age I suffered from depression, anxiety and that feeling of not fitting in. Somewhere along the lines I turned to pills, any pharmaceuticals I could get my hands on just to try to escape and cover up that pain.

I always had that victim mentality before iboga, that I was just the product of how I was raised, things that have happened to me and my environment. I wanted to put the blame on everyone else including my parents, siblings, bosses, co-workers and peers. The depression I suffered from was very deep. I just could not be happy. I tried everything. I tried going to counseling and psychiatrists. I was labeled by the medical field as depressed, bi-polar and even having ADD. Those labels seemed to make my depression worse. I thought it was just in my genes and a chemical imbalance that I had no control over. I tried every antidepressant and mood stabilizer on the market and nothing worked. The meds never helped, usually they just made me worse due to all of the negative side effects. Eventually I found that opiates seemed to help escape and Adderall gave me energy and began to rely on those more and more in my late twenties and early thirties. This caused an addiction problem and made my depression even worse. So I tried a traditional rehab that also focused on people with a dual diagnosis of depression and to make a long story short, the results weren’t what I hoped for. So that led me to start searching for another way.

I was on the internet one day and I began searching for herbal remedies for opiate withdrawals because I was getting off a drug called Suboxone (an opioid that doctors prescribe people to get off of other opiates). I tried getting off of Suboxone a year prior to this point in a traditional rehab. I went for thirty days, and months later, I felt awful still. I felt like I couldn’t function so I ended up getting back on a small dose. When I googled herbal remedies for opiate withdrawals, Iboga came up. I thought it was weird that I never heard about it before. I did a lot of research and decided to give it a try, it was my last resort. I began looking into different places and I knew I wanted to go to a facility that guides you through your journey. I didn’t want to lay in a hospital bed with a blindfold on. I began saving up for my treatment and in January of 2011 I made that trip.

I like to start off by saying that every single person has a different experience with Iboga. With some people the experience is more visual and with others it is more of a deep introspective thinking that takes place. But this is what happened to me. Its not good to have expectations about exactly how your own journey will go because we’ve all dealt with different things in our life. Every person is unique. So when I first started feeling the Iboga, I felt all of the physical symptoms that you probably heard about on the internet like some nausea, vomiting, dizziness, cold hands and feet, a little sweating and my heart was beating faster. The nausea and dizziness went a away and I was able to lay down and relax and I just let the Iboga do its work. My first journey was more of a detox since I had opiates in my system. The iboga took my withdrawals away, I was amazed. In the following days I still had some restlessness and some insomnia but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. So my first experience wasn’t exactly clear. I had visions of a doorway, kind of like a tunnel into something that was greater that I wanted to figure out. But I really believe that the iboga was concentrating on getting my body clean, like there was a war going on in my body between the opiates and the iboga was definitely winning. This lasted most of the night and then I was able to relax and sleep for a couple days after that to regain my strength.

A few days later I took Iboga one more time. This helped with any residual withdrawals I was feeling and I was able to go a lot deeper mentally and spiritually speaking. I was guided to my brother. I have a younger brother that passed away a few years ago due to drugs and alcohol. I had a list of questions prepared and my brother was the one that was answering my questions. It was like he was standing right in front of me, but I had my eyes closed. Some people are guided to their own soul, but having a vision of my brother answering life questions for me like my life plan and what steps to take next in life, was more than I could’ve hoped for. I had this feeling of closure and accepted his death, which was something that troubled me for years.

During my journey, I also addressed other issues that were bothering me for years. I used to really get into government conspiracy theories and I had so much fear and anger with the government, large corporations like Monsanto and Big Oil and also the medical/pharmaceutical field. I worried so much about what we were doing to the earth and what we’re doing to it’s people, plants, trees and animals. During my journey I had a vision of the earth. I heard this crystal clear voice say, “This is Mother Earth and she goes through cycles. This has happened many times before and it will happen many times in the future. No matter what the earth will be okay, but it is a way for Mother Earth to renew.” That message helped me let my fear and anger go because it was nothing that was helping me right now. I can’t control the government and I can’t control Big Oil or Big Pharma. There are things out of my control that I have to accept in order to be happy. Once I practiced acceptance these things were no longer problems, just facts to deal with accordingly.

The morning came and I went to my room to rest. The day after my journey was a very powerful time for me. It wasn’t so much visual, more of like day dreaming type of pictures in my head. This deep thinking happened all day long. I was observing these thoughts and not reliving them. I remember seeing myself as a teenager and some of the bullying that happened to me. Teenagers and children can be so cruel and I really let that shape my trust in other people. I let it cause me to be very distrusting of others, I became more of an introvert, more of a loner. This is where my fear of not fitting in and not being perfect stemmed from. It was really interesting seeing myself like I never have before. I loved that little girl, she was a very kindhearted soul. I began thinking of myself in that way from that day forward. It was like ten years of therapy in one night, or even better. I know you may hear that a lot and some people may be skeptical, but I really believe it. That day I was thinking back to when my brother was answering my questions the night before and I asked myself, “Wait, am I really in the spiritual world talking to my brother or is this just a figment of my imagination?” I stopped myself right then and said, “You know what, it doesn’t matter. Either way this is helping me.” I went into it with an open mind and without distractions. I put that aside and focused on the task at hand because I wanted to get better.

The day after my journey I thought a lot about my parent’s divorce when I was a teenager and I realized that ever since they got divorced I kind of felt homesick. Everyday life changed so much. Family get-togethers and holidays were never the same. I lost comfort and security. When I was a teenager I felt like I had two parents that were very selfish, focusing on themselves and ignoring their children. I had resentments there that I didn’t even know I had. I also realized that because of these feelings, I was searching for my own family to start. I came to the conclusion that day that my parents were doing the best they could. Their intention was certainly not to hurt me. Also, I had to happy and secure with myself before I could move on and start my own family. My attempts at relationships up until that point were so co-dependent…what a realization within the matter of hours.

Iboga helped me have this new connection with my soul and I felt pure love. It’s so hard to describe into words because its an experience. It was exactly what I needed. Iboga was a tool that I used to help myself. It was my jump start into wellness. I am proud of myself for doing it. It was difficult at times but I have never looked back. Life is too short to not be happy.

Something that many people don’t really touch on is what happened after going home. I describe the time after iboga as an “adjustment period”. You have changed so much but the world back home didn’t change. I stopped trying to explain my experience to people that either didn’t believe me or didn’t really care. I just focused on positivity and putting the things I learned into practice and making a habit of this new way of thinking. I never let myself get into that victim mentality anymore. I know that I’m a very strong, independent individual and whenever I start to feel sorry for myself, that is when problems happen. That’s when I start this way of thinking that I have no power or control over myself and all these things are happening to me and they’re making my life bad. I never felt that way anymore. I used to place the blame everywhere else, but for once in my life, I took responsibility for my own happiness. I realized it could be very simple, it’s a choice. Whenever I started thinking negatively I would switch my train of thought. I would start to think about all the things in life I am blessed with and it would pull me out of a bad mood so fast.

Another thing that really helped me when I went back home was to start taking care of myself. I really wanted to because I loved myself in a new way. I wanted to give myself the best chance I could at feeling amazing. This was a very important part for me when I got back home, also in order to heal faster from the damage done to my body by the medications. So I started exercising, eating healthy, drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. For once in my life I was exercising because I wanted to feel good, not because I wanted to lose weight and not because I cared about how I looked to the rest of the world. This increased my endorphins and elevated my mood and got my metabolism back on track. I cannot say enough about how much doing these 4 things helped me.

Today I no longer live in the past. It is just my own interpretation anyways and it doesn’t exist anymore. All of the woulda, shoulda, coulda’s will not help me today. I no longer live in the future. It is just an expectation and it only causes fear, worrying and anxiety. None of those things help me. Today I can just be present.

So its now over three and a half years since my iboga experience and gosh is life so different compared to just 4 years ago. One thing I learned about my life plan is that if I am helping people, I feel great. It is rewarding and a real passion of mine. So me, a few trained iboga providers, and a doctor (all of which are my family now), started our own iboga center. I am the director of guest services at an iboga treatment center and I get to help people everyday. People that were in the same boat as me, wondering about iboga and if it is right for them. How beautiful my life is today!