c. 1999

I have been pondering and hesitating for more than a week, about what I would write about my ibogaine experience. It became a complicated, maybe even embarrassing story. I decided to tell nearly all I can remember. It all started more than two weeks ago now. I will do my best to be as honest as possible, first I thought to tell you just my story, but since things influence each other, I have to tell you about some related events. I still do not know, if I acted in the right way, maybe you people can give me more clarity.

We, that is my wife, three friends and my brother had the opportunity to get ibogaine and take it with an experienced guide. The guide just watched over the initiate, took care in case of vomiting, and helped with going to the toilet. And generally made sure everything was ok.

There was no ritual or anything like that. We happen to live in a bit isolated spot and decided to do this at our home, we took it one after another over the course of a week. My wife was the first one to take it on a monday. I was second and took 15 mg/kg body weight on thursday night. We stayed sober for 12 hours before and drank in that time as little as possible. After I took it, I waited maybe 15 minutes and went to lay down on a bed, in a room prepared for this (dark, also by day), quite soon I felt the ibogaine taking effect. We had all had some experience with it before. Previously we had some of the root bark and experimented with small amounts (2gr). A few month ago I took a bigger amount as an enema, which resulted in a long, and intense experience, without any stomachtrouble/vomitting. I soon realized that this was going to be a much stronger experience than even that had been. It was like falling into it, my body seemed in the distance, it could not really bother me. My mind went with an incredible speed through uncountable visions. I was told before not to try to hold on to any visions, but I soon understood this would have been impossible anyway. I just let go, even enjoyed the traveling through the landscapes of my mind/memory, it could be compared with embarking on a spaceship and travel through known and unknown spaces. This lasted about six hours, before I landed. I had to go to the toilet then. When I walked to the toilet, I did have a little trouble with my balance, but managed to make it and return to the bed without too much difficulty.

The movements made me vomit a bit. Strange enough there were hardly any memories. I laid down again, still high. I stayed on the bed, digesting what had happened, feeling elevated, impressed, not tired, no hunger, thirst, actually no need for anything, just contentment. This mood lasted for days. I started eating a little the second day, but the first days I ate just because I have to eat to stay well, I am a skinny man, with little reserves and do feel dizzy after not eating for only a day. I did not notice any weakness, even though I ate so little. Usually I do smoke some hash everyday. I don’t feel it is an addiction for me and I have no intention of stopping. Cannabis is my favorite plant ally, already for 25 years on the road with me. It is the warm coat in an often cold world for me.

After the ibogaine, I didn’t smoke for days, just no need, even no interest. Durring the next few days, a few memories of the first six hours popped up in unexpected moments, that seemed not to have any connection to the memories, like when I was in the bath or in the car. I remembered having talked to my father, although he is dead for more than 25 years. I am from an orthodox protestant family and having a liberal and inquisitive mind beginning from a young age, I never could deal with him. I ran away from home at the age of 17, promising myself never to go back there and be independent from then on. He suddenly died after 2 years, which made my “never” more definite than I could expect myself. I only know my father in a hierarchical setting, but the ibogaine time I met him and we talk like equals, I don’t remember the words, but do remember the feeling of it. It was even friendly, like me saying, “You see! What was all the fuss about, look here on this plane, we can both see the same truth.” He agreed and his rigid attitude of the past seemed of no importance. We felt equal, for the first time in my life.

Another memory: I saw two very dark eyes, unusually dark eyes. First only eyes, than a face shaped around them. Suddenly I knew these were the eyes of my sister, also her face, although the face was white, like powdered white and seemed like that of a 12/14 year old. Again I have to explain this a little. I was born, one of a twin, we were numbers 5 and 6. My parents didn’t expect twins. Only after my brother was born, there happened to be another one. my mother took care of my brother and my sister, then 10 years old, the one with the eyes, took care of me, which caused a strong bond between us. I care more for her, than for my mother. It surprised me to see her face of so many years back, I did not know it was still in my mind.

I also do remember a vision, in which I got a view of valley of the Ganges, in the foothills of the Himalayan. It was a view like a bird would get. I know that valley well, it looked like it is. Higher up in the valley the landscape changed into unknown, unreal hilly landscape. The earth seemed to have an orange glow, a glow I remember which was there on other moments during the iboga event. A glow, like coals in the dark, I remember there was a lot of dark colors in the visions, I had an idea that this was caused by being in a dark room. The darkness had no threat in it. There was a moment when I felt/saw my body, not very clear, as a black shadow in a dark, brownish, glowing space. There was a huge being standing next to me, his gown looked most like that of a monk of the middle ages, with a dark pink/purple color. A piece of his dress was worn as a cap and hid his face. Where the face should have been, I noticed dark emptiness, or is it the shadow of the cap, that hides the face, I wonder. Although there is no face, I feel distinctly a presence, first I felt a bit scared by this silent giant, that was watching me. I felt like I was being measured, judged. Than there came a feeling of soft compassion from him, and I was no longer scared. I got a feeling this being was fair and I felt a little relieved. I don’t know who it was. Now that I look back on him, he reminds me of the hermit, a tarot card I once saw, that is all I can say about him, the only association that comes up, maybe it has nothing to do with it.

With this vision there were beings, animal like, sometimes bat like creatures passing by, in the corners of my eye. I think I had that feeling of beings passing more often, but can’t remember it. The only other image I could remember were the faces of men, with a dark complexion, I couldn’t figure out where they were from, but I thought maybe a bit like inca’s, or south/east asia or maybe an unknown race. I had a feeling as if i could look straight through my eyelids. It seemed so real that I even checked it out. At one point I saw telephones next to me, I opened my eyes to see them, but no phones. Still the impression of seeing through my eyelids persisted, I seemed to see the room with my eyes closed.

This is about all I remember of these first hours. By early morning the fastness and overwhelmingness of the inner visions slowed down. Although it was so overwhelming, it seemed to me that I was on two planes. The one of the visions, the “other” world, and the ordinary daily world. I could think and talk like normal on the ordinary plane, wile in the background, the other world was still there. And as soon as I closed my eyes, the focus of my attention would effortlessly go to the “other” world. Slowly my attention stayed more and more in the ordinary world. A seemingly absurd thought came to my mind; it seemed to me that cause and effect don’t have to follow each other in the ordinary order (first the cause, than the effect). Could an effect take place before its cause? When I took iboga root powder I got a related thought/sense; maybe time and space are not as real as we usually assume, in which case indeed an effect can take place before the cause.

From the following morning up to now, I feel like I have been mentally rearranged in a thorough way, but I can’t remember and can’t put my finger on the cause. Here is an effect of which the cause in not knowable for me, I am so curious what has happened.

At 12 o’clock on the following morning, I had to watch my youngest son, who was playing outside. Our house is surrounded by water and he is nearly two years old, so we have to keep him out of the water. It was a sunny day and when I walked out, it was too bright for me, I couldn’t look without protecting my eyes with my hands. I went back in after about a half hour and laid down in the dark room on the bed. I stayed their most of the time till the next morning. I could hardly sleep that night, it didn’t bother me, I felt content and digested the past time. It is now more than 14 days since and still I feel something unexplainable, maybe like my point of view has shifted.

For the next week I got up in the morning in an excellent mood, bright and energetic, even though things around me were not so easy. The next day a friend of ours took the ibogaine. On Saturday my brother was going to take it. He is a full-blown junkie (heroin addict). He has followed the classic addict road to ruin. Gone to different institutions to break the addiction, stayed clean for a while just to start it all over again. He has lost his house, his family, his possessions and his self-respect along the road. I hoped this would help him out. He arrived on Friday night and finished his last bit of smack (so he told us). We warned him about the danger of taking smack in combination with ibogaine. He was to take the ibogaine in the morning, as soon as the first withdrawal effects started to show. By nine o’clock I went to see him. He was sound asleep and he looked bad, very skinny, like he was from a concentration camp. I woke him and asked him what he wanted. He said he wanted to sleep for a few more hours, so I left him and went back after a few hours. He was still sleepy. We asked him why there were no signs of withdrawal and he said that in his case it sometimes took 24 hours. We were surprised and he said that that surprised others also. So we decided to wait till the next morning. He spent the rest of the day and night sleeping in a caravan that I had prepared for him. On Sunday morning there was still no withdrawal, so we waited a while more. Then there seemed to be the first signs of withdrawal. This was 31 hours after his last dose of heroin, or so he told us. He took the ibogaine. We had doubts about his weight, we thought it was probably less than what he told us and decided to give him 18 mg/kg instead of 22. If necessary he could take a little more later. He went to the bed and strange enough went to sleep again. He kept sleeping for maybe two hours, than our guide called me, “your brother is breathing strangely!” I could hear from his voice something seemed seriously wrong. I ran to the room and found my brother moaning, with a deep animal like sound, his body was stretched and stiff, eyes wide open, pupils fixed, very pale lips. His breathing stopped or became unnoticeable, heartbeat the same. Thank God, I am a nurse and knew at least something to do. Thoughts ran through my mind, Was he dying? What to do? What will this cause?

I tried to revive him, but the first attempt seemed of no help. I tried again and this time he started breathing by himself, He came back to his senses and wondered what happened, He did not believe something happened, we told him we were going to call a doctor, which he thought was nonsense “I am all right, nothing wrong with me” he exclaimed. He went back to sleep and we saw the same thing repeating itself. I slapped him in the face to keep him awake, which helped. This kept happening every now and then, although not as deep and scary as the first time. Every time I slapped him awake, not a thought over action, more an impulse, but it worked. My wife said I was to rough with him. We decided it was too dangerous to keep him home and called a doctor. He sent us to the hospital, where they just checked his blood pressure and the oxygen in the blood.

They gave us another address to go to. I called them first, but they could not do anything, and gave us another number. I called this number and they told us to call our own doctor again, which is where we started. We gave up, took him home again. Junkies were clearly not very popular. We called our doctor again, he went calling also but could not get any help either. So he came over and we talked it over. He called an specialist who prescribed methadone. All this was on Sunday evening/night. I didn’t tell the doctor or hospital about the ibogaine, and I still don’t know if that was wise of me. I understood ibogaine wasn’t dangerous by itself and was afraid if things went wrong it might harm the whole ibogaine thing.

My first thought was that all this trouble was caused by his weak condition, or that his chemical balance might be disturbed, just malnutrition. Later I mailed the story to a friend on the net, who suggested he might have used heroin shortly before the ibogaine, which seems more and more likley to have been the case to me. It took me hours to get the methadone, and by the time I came home it was 2’o clock at night, and since he seemed to be doing better, we never did give him the methadone.

The breathing problems were less serious and his body seemed to be handling. In between he slept, unaware of the breath problems. He said there were no hallucinations, insisted the ibogaine did not work at all. He seemed to have lost all decorum, during the attacks he sometimes let everything go (bowels and bladder), but hardly troubled to get clean again. I had to force him to change his clothing. Later he started vomiting, unbelievable amounts for someone who had been sober for such a long time, all liquid. This vomiting lasted for three days. The first night I kept him in my sleeping room, to keep an eye on him. Monday morning I shifted him back to the caravan. By this time I felt worn-out. We started to give him food and drinks, vitamin pills etc… to improve his condition. We have a big family and with him dirtying everything, the washing machine worked full-time. It was more or less like having a huge baby around. All he did the next days was sleep. On Tuesday he suddenly appeared in the living room and told us he was going to work the next day. He has a job in a hospital, and has a 14 day holiday, he just promised to work one morning. He wanted me to take him to the train station, this seemed ridicules to me. I told him he couldn’t work in this condition and that I wouldn’t take him anywhere. He got angry and said he would leave anyway. I called the hospital, explained the situation (I worked there also, and know the people, they also know his problem). Very nice people, even though they knew about his problems, they offered him a job and even arranged a house for him, this was when he was clean after an unfinished therapy. I gave my brother the phone, he talked with them, they told him to get better, and that he could stay away till then (with payment) and come back then. Maybe this was too much intervention on my part. He got angry and left walking. I expected him to collapse on the road, it is about 4 km walk to the station. I though that might even be good, someone would find him and than they would have to take him into a hospital. I was worn-out and left it like this.

The last month before the ibogaine experience he did not open his door for anyone. I gave him a prepaid cellular, to be able to stay in touch with him and to prepare for the ibogaine session. But he also didn’t answer the phone.

So fter a day we tried to call him, a friend went to his house, but no answer, seemed he went back to his old habits. Then on Friday afternoon he came walking into my office in the town where he lives also. He looked like the psychiatric problems we see on the streets here, two different indoor shoes, his elbows and ankles wounded, like he had been falling. He said he lost track and only came to his senses this morning, it was clear to me that his senses still were not ok. He often asked the same questions. Coincidentally the other friends that took the ibogaine were their also, and they asked him things also. He said it was the most impressing week in his life. He also claimed not to have used anything this week, not even had the intention or need to take something. I asked him if he had money and he showed me quite a bit, which I thought was a good sign. One of the people there got a bit cross with him, and asked him how he could walk in like nothing had happened? “You used your brother and now you behave like this?” he said. My brother claimed he had no memory at all, what did he do wrong? I reminded him about something that happened long before the session. An incident where he was loaned the use of a house of a man that was a bit angry with him now. At that time he had sold the furniture, tv etc… although he got use of the furnished house for free. Again he claimed not to remember it. I don’t know what to believe now.

Another week has passed since, I have not seen him again, I went to his house and called him by phone, all no use.

This is my story, I do not know if I did the right thing. Maybe I wanted too much for him to be healed. Should I have talked about the ibogaine to the doctor? Should I have dealt with him more softly? Was it ok to call the hospital where he works or was that to much interference with his private life?

All together, I am impressed by ibogaine, never met a drug like this, so powerful, benign, healing. There are moment when I feel bigger, stronger. But the incident with my brother scared me.

By Dev