Shifting My Suicidal Mindset With Ayahuasca, Rapé and Sananga – Embracing Death With Plant Medicine

Now when I have suicidal thoughts, I try my best to shift the focus on accepting an INTERNAL death, rather than feeling like I need to take some drastic action to end my physical existence.”

There is currently a lot of positive movement in my life, a lot of meaningful connections and realizations being made, and I’m overall just feeling so grateful to have made the decision to do Ayahuasca in December 2018. Now, two years later, my experience at Dreamglade has helped me quit my job to work on my mental health, start my own business (that’s currently on hiatus), become a certified Kundalini Yoga instructor, and join a social change organization, all of which has been teaching me the healing powers and importance of community (way better than any traditional therapy I’ve ever done). I’m feeling more fulfilled and stable than ever before, largely in part to learning how to repeatedly surrender to the unknown and change my relationship with pain through cultivating deeper connections with the Earth and my own natural cycles. Plant medicine helps a lot with that, and this new perception I’ve developed since the Ayahuasca retreat has no joke gotten me through the pandemic and this crazy time in history. Not to mention make peace with my dad’s death and build resilience and patience to feel capable of mentally handling life’s difficulties. As I do more and more healing work to untangle the programming that got me to where I am today, I see how Western culture and the polarities of my upbringing contributed SO MUCH to my bipolar tendencies. Now that I finally have a break to get to know myself, I’m finding that for me, it’s all about learning how to manage my energy and shift mindsets and patterns to rewire my brain.

A huge pattern for me is suicidal thoughts and ideation, which is so common for bipolar minds since we feel so deeply, and the pain to keep living can become unbearable. There’s no ceiling to the mental pain we can inflict on ourselves, whereas if you break an arm for instance you generally know that the physical pain is temporary and it’s gonna heal. Around the time I got diagnosed, I was feeling constant pressure from wedding planning, work, and life in general that these thoughts became so overwhelming I was actually making plans to do the deed. It’s a huge part of why I took the plunge and bought tickets to Peru. For me, I was ready to die and I was terrified I wasn’t long for this world if I didn’t make a drastic change. I was about to get married, and I knew I had to learn to manage these thoughts because I couldn’t do that to my husband, dog, and any potential future children. Ayahuasca was a last resort, and I’m SO GLAD IT WORKED. My internal landscape has been permanently transformed in a way I never thought possible. Integration has taken a while, but I’m starting to notice profound positive changes in how I show up in the world.

Ayahuasca is also called the vine of “small death,” and I owe my intensely life changing ego death experience at Dreamglade to the decision of opening myself up to doing kambo, rapé and sananga. I won’t go into what these medicines all are, but you can click on their names to read about them. You can also check out our kambo experience here. All of these plant medicines have vastly shifted my perception of pain and increased my resilience to my bipolar episodes, helping me stay grounded, empty my mind, and create space for the universe to step in. They not only remind me that life is a miracle, but also that death is an important part of the cycle of nature, and it’s to be embraced. Even though it’s super hard to do (at least for me because I’ve had a TON of resistance). But thankfully, after a couple years, now when I have suicidal thoughts, I try my best to shift the focus on accepting an INTERNAL death, rather than feeling like I need to take some drastic action to end my physical existence. I ask “What part of me has to die? To be reborn? What is lashing out that I still can’t let go of?” I guess this is process.

One of the reasons I’m most grateful for the internet is because I feel like the healing and integration happening with me, right now, is SO supported by having access to rapé and sananga. Our brains get so wired with bullshit throughout our lives that repetition is necessary to break all these bonds to suffering that become our comfort zone over time. It’s an absolute DREAM to be able to do them on a consistent basis. This is my little kit! I named my kuripe Raul after the shaman at Dreamglade ;_; You can hear one of his icaros here…so glad someone posted this on Soundcloud.

Got the rapé at Rainbowbridge.love (Promo Code RAINBOWHEALING for 10% OFF)

I see now that the weed actually made my bipolar worse, offering a temporary numbing solution but messing with my energy to contribute to rapid cycling patterns. As my awareness has increased, I notice how quickly I reach for my pipe when I’m feeling uncomfortable energy in my body.”

I used to smoke a lot of weed, but last month I developed a sore throat with occasional earaches. I took this as a sign that I probably needed to stop smoking. I’ve been doing a lot of embodiment exercises, yoga, meditation and the rapé daily (sometimes morning and night), but I was still giving in to the weed habit. As my awareness has increased, I’ve noticed how quickly I would reach for my pipe when I’m feeling uncomfortable energy in my body, either to soothe the mania or depression. I see now that the weed actually made it worse, offering a temporary numbing solution but messing with my energy to contribute to rapid cycling patterns. It works for some people, but I’ve definitely read it’s not great for bipolar minds… something I never wanted to admit to myself until now.

I’m grateful for this neverending sore throat because I keep getting messages of “you need to stop smoking weed.” I tried my best to, but the other day ended up doing it again… and ended up going to the doctor yesterday since my throat and ears were so bad. After the exam, he said I looked perfect. Just as I thought…energetic. Of course I could do edibles but… what this whole thing is making me realize is that I had actually gotten addicted to weed which I never thought would happen. I really don’t want to live like that anymore. My body is done with that, and I’d rather come into my personal power than rely on getting “high.” My mania is already a natural drug anyway. What now feels more productive for me is shifting that relationship to pain and discomfort and learn to stay grounded and connected to the Earth to not get swept up in whatever energy is coursing through me from my moods.

“Imagine if we forced the trees to not shed their leaves in the winter, what would happen? They would be stuck with a bunch of leaves they don’t need and be unable to adapt for the next season.”

– Kai Njeri

Growing up in America, I feel like I was taught to create unrealistic expectations for myself, and because those expectations would never be met, I’d just wallow in self pity, hating myself for not being able to make shit happen. We have also been taught to fear death and the natural cycles of life which are honored in other cultures. Just like the seasons, the moon, and everything else in nature… we have to die eventually, along with certain parts of ourselves. Otherwise, we’d have no space for anything new! One of my friends from Shakti Rising said the other day, “Imagine if we forced the trees to not shed their leaves in the winter, what would happen? They would be stuck with a bunch of leaves they don’t need and be unable to adapt for the next season.” Seriously. From everything I’ve experienced and have committed myself to experiencing… embracing death is the best way to peace.

Which is why I am SO grateful for the plant medicine! Rapé is like jungle snuff that you inhale through the nose, an herbal blend made by various indigenous cultures in South America. You can read all about it here, what it is, benefits, all that. The one I have is an Ayahuasca blend, which has been MONUMENTAL in continuing the healing work with Mama Aya that was started in 2018. When my friend told me she found a site where you could get this, I actually cried. If interested, you can order it here from Rainbow Bridge. Proceeds support the indigenous cultures they work with, their customer service is incredible and rapé blends top notch… I’d highly highly recommend ordering from them. If you’re feeling called, please use the promo code RAINBOWHEALING for 10% off!! 😀

I’m dying because I just saw that they now have these HUMMINGBIRD KURIPES!!! Even though I absolutely love my lil shaman… hummingbirds are my spirit animal so I couldn’t resist ordering a new one, especially because they have a new Ayahuasca blend! So excited to try it!! 😀 I’ve been doing the rapé pretty consistently since December, and it’s enhanced my dreams and really helps me feel connected to Mother Ayahuasca. And talk about embracing death…When this stuff is taken with intention, I can attest — It’s absolutely life changing. Every day when I inhale through the left nostril, I meditate on what I need to let go from my life, and on the right, I meditate on what needs to be reborn… the newness that will take up the space of that death.

To me, life is now a ceremony. Because why not? This shit is magical.”

Amy also recently gave me a vial of sananga, which we did together in Peru at the retreat. I told her that I had been using it whenever I had a weed craving, which helped so much. These cleansing eye drops make your eyes sting for about 5 min, but they leave you with clearer vision, an empty mind, and often soothing messages. Here’s a conversation we had the other day that I don’t want to forget. She has such a beautiful way of condensing information, whereas I word vomit all the time. I love how she recognized that I was working on “not being afraid myself anymore” which is exactly it… pretty messed up how easy it is to get caught up in that type of self hatred.

The exact part of that Little Witch Academia episode unfortunately isn’t on Youtube, but this wonderful analysis of it is!!! 😀 I was blown away by how beautifully Trigger handled an exploration of the inner psyche. Definitely worth watching…one of my absolute favorite LWA episodes. (This show changed my life btw, highly recommended especially if you’re into that magic vs technology kinda thing)

Anyway, I remember taking that sananga at the retreat two years ago before the ceremony that changed me forever. It made me feel deeply in my soul that pain is temporary, and that learning how to move through it with grace was the answer to regaining my power. Now, continuing these plant medicine rituals, I find that to be absolutely true. I’ve even got Eddy starting to see the point of them when previously he thought I was insane. He’s been having a ton of physical aches and pains from working at the computer, and taking the sananga and rapé was able to shift his focus on his physical pain to the pain of the plant medicine… but in a good way. If only more people were more open to this! Mother Earth really does have all the answers we need…

When we went to do Ayahuasca, we were told that she always gives you what you need, but not always what you want. They said it was important to not have any expectations and to PAY ATTENTION to what she was trying to tell us. I remember back then thinking “HOW DO YOU NOT HAVE EXPECTATIONS?!” And I see now that the way to do it is to listen. Listen deeply for what the universe is trying to tell you…what each MOMENT is trying to tell you. It’s all there, it’s all within us, because we ARE the universe. Everything is so deeply, unfathomably connected, and the more I repeatedly feel this IN MY SOUL, the more I find that it’s absolute truth.

To me, LIFE ITSELF is a ceremony. The more I am able to deeply listen, the more I find that every moment truly is a teacher, and the more meaningful and profound this adventure becomes. I think… maybe I’m starting to get it 😉

Not Waving But Drowning

Not Waving but Drowning 

BY STEVIE SMITH

Nobody heard him, the dead man,   
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought   
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,   
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always   
(Still the dead one lay moaning)   
I was much too far out all my life   
And not waving but drowning.

Just watched Queen’s Gambit. I am in love and resonate with so much of it… even if it slightly brings me shame. But change is possible, and it’s left me empowered. Just read an article that pointed out how the show snuck in the work of female artists who tended to be overshadowed by men. This poem by Stevie Smith is one of them. Super relate.

For so much of my life I felt like I told the people around me that I was drowning, repeatedly, but everyone just said I was so happy and bubbly all the time. They wanted to see in me what they chose to see for themselves. What served them the best.

I am so grateful to have found a few wonderful people, including my husband, who were able to actually hear me. But others aren’t as lucky…

It’s important to listen.

It’s also important to express how you feel. Asking for help increases the chances of finding those who will listen.

Constant Discovery, My New Treatment

On Monday I had a long talk with Jen because I was a crying mess in the 40 Days To Optimal Health group and Red Tent last Friday, plus I missed my appointment with her in the morning because I was so out of it. I’ve been having difficulty planning and teaching my yoga classes while in a depressive low…something I was worried about but didn’t think I’d have to deal with until now because I’m actually in it.

I also had a long talk with her after my ER incident and we talked about meds, and the potentiality of me getting off my meds, but she said she hadn’t actually expected me to. After I was prescribed Lamictal though, I was pretty worried about getting that fatal rash it’s known for because I had already experienced some rare side effect and was afraid that…maybe I’m just unlucky. I don’t want that rash. I also found out that one of my bipolar friends was hospitalized on Lamictal for it making her too manic, and I don’t want that either. Honestly I’m starting to feel in my gut that part of my purpose is to learn how to fight this thing WITHOUT medication. So this was a serious talk on Monday about what she thinks I should do to stabilize myself without it. Thankfully she’s helped a lot of people get off their meds, so she knows what she’s talking about.

She said she wants me in CONSTANT DISCOVERY, and I think it just really hit me what that means. We only grow up once, which is why whatever comes our way we’re doing the best with what we got, cuz no one really knows what they’re doing. It’s all about building experience, and we build experience by going through things, making memories, and storing those memories within our hearts. Whenever we react to something, it’s like an opportunity to really DISCOVER what our past self is trying to tell us about the patterns we have built. Every time we react to something…it’s a chance to get to see ourselves, MEET ourselves, and the person we are becoming. This is what “constant discovery” now means to me, and I’m truly excited to go on this journey. Because it really takes the pressure off.

I see now that before my diagnosis, I was always expecting myself to do something. Be something. Build certain skills. Get certain jobs. Get a certain amount of followers. But these unrealistic expectations kept building and building the pressure until I was crippled and incapacitated beneath it all. I was trying to do too much while trying to “figure out what was wrong with me.” When I was diagnosed, I feel like puzzle pieces started clicking into place, but that was 2 years ago and I feel like I’m still discovering what that diagnosis even means. And I see now that what it really is is an opportunity…this opportunity for discovery, now knowing that I share symptoms with this bipolar population. It’s given me a chance to heal, now knowing roughly what to expect. This hit me today too…this kinda letting go of the pressure I was feeling before…knowing I’m committing to this constant discovery of myself.

As I was walking Han this morning I got choked up walking past Amy’s old apartment and remembering her coming out of her parking lot to pick me up. And I thought about Bre’s text to me yesterday saying she felt “haunted” and she proceeded to tell me her memories of when we saw this amazing meteor shower a couple years ago. When I was hit with these memories this morning I realized that this is how it is…we collect memories and they come up and affect us when we least expect it. Not even bad memories…but good ones. They remind us of what we perceive as “better times” even though we’re always struggling…there’s a melancholy to them…this simultaneous joy that it happened, but sadness that it’s over, and that’s just the existence we face. It made me even sadder this morning thinking of that…missing the past…and realizing that everyone feels this way. But that’s when this constant discovery really hit home for me…this “only growing up once.” When I was really manic in my early 20s life was a blur…my whole 5 year college relationship I can barely even remember. It’s now that I’m really choosing to commit to this form of self treatment, self discovery, that I’m allowing to slow down to see how these memories actually affected me. Changed me. And created patterns within me that affect how I live today.

Jen also mentioned pattern disruption, which is basically just rewiring your brain. Choosing to do something different when you can catch that you’re doing the same thing you normally do. So she told me when I start to isolate myself that I really need to reach out to my community…say that I’m starting to enter a low or high and get support for it. Enter a conversation about what it actually means, where it’s actually coming from…like detective work to really get to know myself, rather than falling completely in the hole and starting to wallow.

This is gonna be really difficult, cuz it’s going against my natural instincts. But if it means really getting to know myself and I can frame it in that way…it actually sounds pretty cool and interesting. It’s like getting to know a new friend 🙂 It’s a constant unfolding, and the more I embrace this, the more my brain patterns will shift…the key is patience, consistency and commitment. In this same vein I’m choosing to commit to more consistent journaling and I’m gonna try and rewire my art habits…get used to expressing myself and my emotions…using it as an outlet. It actually makes me nauseous just thinking about how tough that’s gonna be but that’s why I gotta do it. Sigh 😦 It’s what I’ve been avoiding for years…but that means it’ll be worth it. There are probably a lot of answers waiting for me in my art.

Constant discovery right?

This Is About Trust

So far, being off meds for me is about trust. You have to recognize that you’re in a depressive low, accept that this is just part of you, and learn how to be ok with it. Don’t allow the negative thoughts to take over, like “I’m never gonna finish that thing I’m working on!” Because even though it seems so simple…that’s referencing the FUTURE. And the future is ALWAYS unknown. We think by worrying, we’re predicting some terrible outcome to prevent that outcome actually happening. Isn’t that psychotic?

Rather than do that, we gotta just live in the present. And listening to your intuition is SO important because THAT’S what you have to trust. First of all, if you know that worrying so much about a thing will help you get it done, then you WILL get it done. So why not just take out the worrying and live in the present, enjoying life instead?! Just TRUST that everything will be ok. Because it will be. It’s ridiculous.

I feel like I’ve somehow known all of this for a while but am also just learning it now.

Today I was relaxing in the park looking around at people also relaxing at the park…just literally sitting there and doing nothing…and I’m like “why did I always think every single person around me was doing such amazing things everyday?” My jealousy and FOMO used to be the WORST! It really is only now because of the quarantine that I’m realizing that I actually CAN be satisfied with my life.

I was telling Eddy that being home so much reminds me of being a kid before I knew how to drive. I used to be frustrated at how distracted I was by the world and people around me saying “I wish I could go to back to before I had any friends!” Simply meaning…to a simpler time when I felt less obligations to the people around me. THIS IS IT. And it really isn’t bad. I’m learning so much about myself and realizing…all of this is an EXPERIENCE!! So why not savor that experience? That’s what I’m trying to do now, and my old self is slightly resisting but not by much…

I feel like I’m about to evolve. Hopefully.

One Day At A Time — 50 First Dates

Just watched 50 First Dates because I’m trying to learn how to relax and give myself time to just do things that I enjoy.

Today I had a long conversation with Mary where we talked so much about mental health. I’ve never been able to talk to anyone so candidly about it other than Eddy, so it was refreshing. I cried a lot but was able to release a lot too.

I forgot exactly what I said to her, but it showed her that I was really building awareness with my behavior and really starting to understand that I was born being the way that I am…and that’s ok. It just means I have to live WITH it, because it’s not going anywhere. I have to learn to WALK WITH IT. I can’t let it overtake me. I have to separate it. Be NEXT to it.

What struck me with 50 First Dates today is that, when Henry starts making Lucy the videos to remind her what happened every morning, she has to WAKE UP EVERY MORNING and ACCEPT that about herself. Accept this horrible truth that her brain is broken from an accident…and I feel like that’s basically the truth for all of us. Yes I seem to have this “condition,” but we ALL have our own inner demons that we wrestle with everyday. And we have to accept that about ourselves and CHOOSE TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT. EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s rough…and I guess some days will be tougher than others…but that’s really the only choice we have.

This movie really gets me.