I am a United States Marine war veteran from Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq in 2003. I suffer from PTSD from my time in Iraq. I also have childhood PTSD from the physical, mental and verbal abuse I suffered at the hands of my parents and outer family.
I was raised in an extremely religious house. My parents were Muslims and everything we did growing up was somehow connected to religion. From as early as I can remember I was taught to fear God and that if I ever did anything wrong I would go to hell. We were not allowed to have any friends and we were to NEVER talk to any girls. My father would beat us kids when we read the Quran if we forgot a letter or could not read a line. If we said our prayer too fast my dad would beat us as we prayed.
At 15, after one night of particularly bad beatings, I snapped and walked out of the front door and ran away. I had nowhere to go and ended up homeless living on the streets in Detroit. I slept in the woods and under park benches, anywhere as long as it was not home. I started slicing my arms open and burning cigarettes into my arm and forehead.
I ended up having a mental breakdown and was admitted to a mental hospital around 16 years of age. That was where I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder — back then it was known as manic-depression. Once I had checked out of the mental hospital, I continued to remain homeless and would go from friends’ couches to random strangers houses to sleeping in people’s cars etc. I had another breakdown and was again put in another mental hospital. By now I was 17 and I was dating a girl who started letting me sneak in to sleep inside her house rather than the freezing cold snow etc. Her family ended up going on vacation one time and I was caught by the police inside her house and was charged with home invasion. I bailed out but had nowhere to sleep and once again started sneaking into my girlfriend’s house. Her dad found out and called the police and they dragged me to jail for a second home invasion for which I was sentenced to 1.5 years in jail. In jail I was put in solitary because of my mental health issues and because I was regularly cutting my arms open.
I ended up getting out of jail early after graduating from a bootcamp program, however, I found it impossible to get a job or find a place to stay. At that time I decided I needed to get my life together and I joined the Marines. I joined in 2000, and in March 2003 my unit was sent to Iraq to be part of the first wave of troops to cross the border once the invasion began. It was a very stressful time as we were the first troops there and had no idea what to expect and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. My unit was doing convoy security for trucks taking supplies up to the front lines of the war. Our vehicles would get shot at all the time, and sometimes people would jump out from behind bridges and shoot with RPG’s etc. It was extremely stressful and is one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life but I am glad I went.
When I came back to the States I started having trouble adjusting to civilian life. I found out years later that I was suffering from PTSD on top of my mental health issues and I was having problems with anger and aggression and also extreme anxiety. I started having problems going into big crowds and loud noises like popping sounds would put me on edge. I ended up moving to Orlando and tried to get my life together once again.
I had a friend that got me a job and I then met my future wife. She was very kind to me, and through her kindness I started realizing that I needed to get my PTSD and bipolar disorder under control. At the age of 30 I went to a psychiatrist and psychologist and started medications along with weekly counseling sessions. I did this for the next three years and had many ups and downs a long with another mental breakdown. I sliced my arms open once again which I had not done in many years so I was feeling very unstable. At this time I was on four different medications for my bipolar and PTSD: Risperidone, Lamotrigine, Busprione and Wellbutrin. Even with all that I was still having issues with depression and anger and would have constant ups and downs.
Then my life forever changed and I was introduced to the world of psychedelics. My brother got some psilocybin and I told him, ‘Hey, lets do some for fun,’ so we got a couple of grams each and ingested them. That night I went into a deep spiritual journey, which showed me how I have been living my life and the impact I have on people around me. In that one night, and ever since, I have become a changed person and have for the first time got my mental health issues under control. My wife has told me that I have completely changed along with my psychologist (who is aware of my taking psilocybin) and my psychiatrist (who has no idea, but acknowledges my transformation). I had a fractured relationship with my parents, which I immediately repaired.
Since then I have started taking psilocybin about once a month to give me a reset. I’ve found that my depression has been gone ever since I started taking psychedelics, along with my anger, which was most important. My kids have benefited from it because I no longer get frustrated or annoyed like I used to, my marriage has benefited greatly, even my co workers and managers have commented on the change in me in this past year. My wife and I also believe in the medicinal value of psilocybin. We believe that mushrooms help promote the growth of fresh healthy brain cells and we hope this can help me with my bipolar and PTSD.
In short, I am a strong supporter of psilocybin and the medicinal benefits it has. As a war veteran with PTSD and a person who suffers from mental health issues I can say that for the first time ever I feel optimistic about the future and it’s through the help of psilocybin. I hope to come off anti-depressants altogether and once clean of that go to Peru and do ayahuasca there.
I have now gone back to college to get a degree in psychology. I want to leave my job in the tech field and become a counselor and help those with similar issues, specifically war veterans returning from combat and kids of child abuse. Through psychedelics I have realized how important it is to give back to those in need.