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First of all I would like to say I am sharing this personal experience because I think this insight can help others suffering from anxiety. This post does not represent in any way the opinion of AnxietySocialNet as an institution. It is purely my subjective account of my experience on my first Ayahuasca experience. Even though I am the founder of Anxiety Social Net I am also a user like any other and as such I want to share this personal experience with the community. There are certainly some risks especially for people taking medications or with a history of mental illness; you should consult your physician before trying any type of new therapeutic approach.
I've been meaning to talk about my experiences with psychedelics for a while, since they've been of great help for my own anxiety. For the last 2 years I’ve been seeing the general unconformity from ASN users with traditional approaches (especially with the psychiatric approach) and I really feel that I cannot withhold anymore the information I've been gathering in regards to anxiety and psychedelics. It is my brief that responsible use of psychedelics in the right setting may hold the key for real long term results in the treatment of anxiety, several new studies are confirming what I know from my own experience and it is time for me to take action and share this information with this community which I love and respect.
As some of you may know I've been suffering from anxiety pretty much since I can recall. In the last 4 years I had a few breakthroughs and things have been much better for me in many ways. Today I can function and perform most daily tasks than once were for me the most unthinkable nightmares. This is manly related to other psychedelic experiences I had and plan to also share them here in the future. But the truth is I am far from being a stranger to anxiety. Over the years my severe social anxiety which I mostly overcome has transformed itself into a manageable generalized anxiety with a very strong phobia of public speaking and the occasional anxiety attack. I am currently traveling in Uruguay with my girlfriend and very happy. I had experience with sacred plants in the past mostly recreational use, but have never been to a ceremony and had never taken Ayahuasca before. It also worth mention that I am not affiliated to any church, I do believe in God but not in organized religion.
Ayahuasca also known as yagé is a traditional South American psychedelic brew. Preparation ingredients may differ depending on the area and the shaman involved. The active compound on Ayahuasca is DMT and the brew usually contains also a MAOI inhibitor that has the purpose of making DMT active when ingested orally. Ayahuasca is also used sometimes as a purgative medicine for its cleansing properties. While consuming Ayahuasca people have spiritual awakenings it is common also for them to learn new ways to interpret everyday events and past traumatic experiences. Vomiting (the purge) is very common while using Ayahuasca and it’s considered as an integral part of the healing process by many shamans.
This is just a very basic introduction to very extensive subject if you are interested you should do your own research especially if you are planning to partake in a ceremony or take Ayahuasca. A good place to start would be MAPS Here you can read about the latest scientific studies done on Ayahuasca and other sacred plants.
I first heard about Ayahuasca thanks to my childhood friend Rafael, He had been a member of Nueva Aurora and experienced many ceremonies over the years and he told me I can get a lot out of it. Since I hold him on the highest regards and trust his criteria I started taking some serious interest in the matter. The whole idea of a ritual with strangers around and the possibility of vomiting in front of them really terrorized me. I was also afraid that I might need to do public speaking, but after a few weeks thinking about the issue (and doing heavy research) my curiosity got the better of me and I decided I wanted to do it and see what I can learn from the experience.
I prepared for the ceremony 4 days before hand by changing to a vegetarian diet and avoiding coffee sugar and any type of medicine that can interact with DMT, (I stopped using Citalopram over two years ago, so that was not an issue read Warnings here) I also had very little food in the morning of the day of the ceremony.
At around 8 o clock my friend and I got to the place where the ceremony was being held, everybody was dress in white and made me feel most welcome. After working myself up all week about the taste of the brew and vomiting issue I was pretty weary of what the ceremony have install for me and extremely anxious, I remember thinking it may not be such a good idea to participate in those conditions, but I told myself “that’s why you are here for, right?”.
Everybody was already in place; the room had a very nice ambience with candles and a few dream catchers hanging onn the walls. Participants were sitting in a cycle, woman and man at opposite sides. Bags for vomiting where given to each person. The shaman Santos Victorino came and started explaining the basics on Ayahuasca and giving some advice for the preparation. I don’t recall exactly all what he said but the words were much appropriate, particularly he talked to us about owning our feelings and emotions and take responsibility for them. He also told us that once the bad energies and conflicts come out (in the form of regurgitations, sweating and crying) you will need a “weapon” to cast the “demons” away and that weapon was 3 words: love, strength and light. I am ashamed to admit the cynic in me smiled at those new age statements, little I knew I was going to really need those three.
Right after the instructions everybody got their cup filled, and we proceed to drink the brew. To my surprise the brew was not nearly as disgusting as I was expecting it to be. Immediately after that the music started, it was very positive and beautiful.
Around 20 minutes later I started feeling strange and realized I was starting to feel the effects, those who wanted a second cup were standing in line and so I joined, since my friend told me before that 2 cups were required to feel the full effects of the Ayahuasca. I got back to my chair and sat, a few moments later started feeling more relaxed.
It is very hard to explain this experience with words. I’d probably need a much wider article, but I really want to focus on the parts that are most relevant. By the moment the brew took effect I was not anxious no more and I was feeling pretty good, enough is to say that at some point I almost cried from happiness and this is an experience that certainly never happened to me before. The music was amazing and I was really experiencing love in its purest form. I am pretty aware of how that sounds, and all I can say is that the cynic in me was open mouthed and in complete owe. The feelings of comfort continue to grow and that lasted for around 30 minutes more or less. I was pretty sure I was one of the fortunate souls that never vomit while taking Ayahuasca.
Much to my surprise things changed and in the space of a few seconds my inner world got real dark really fast. Probably it was because of the change in music; from a very happy tune in Portuguese, I was suddenly immersed into some kind of monk chants that scared the heck out of me. The feeling of sudden anxiety and despair was unbearable, I was trying to calm myself to no avail and I repeated to myself the three magic words many times to no avail. In the space of a few seconds I realized I was going to puke. I will never know how I succeeded to grab the bag in time, but thank god I did. I have to admit that for a second there I thought I was going to lose it and it really felt like I was going to die right there. I remember being mad at the shaman for putting this unbearable music and I remember thinking also “two cups was too much”.
Ironically the 3 magic words proposed by the shaman got me through this moment of profound despair. Right after it I started thinking about the metaphoric meaning of it all; I’ve been working myself up all week (as I always do in front of anxiety situations) about how this ritual is going to be and how I am going to deal with the purge. I was so horrified with the idea of vomiting and feeling vulnerable around other people and the truth is that it was a horrible experience, but the thing is, it passed, like any other horrible anxiety causing situation I ever dealt with, and bizarre as it may sound, 20 minutes after, I was wondering if I was going to vomit again and really wishing to do so. It was such an amazing experience because it really felt as if all the anxiety accumulated inside my body just expulsed from my insides.
These ideas are not new to me, I understood them before, but to live this whole episode in the space of 5 minutes it was such an experiential way to learn how anxiety works and how pointless it is. Let’s face it - horrible things are going to happen in life and you will have to deal with them, either you like it or not. The point I am trying to make here is that like anything else in life, these things are going to occur to us but ultimately they will be a part of our past. The one thing I am sure of is that there is nothing more empowering than conquering our fears and asking for seconds.
I really hope this experience helps others. I cannot stress enough how important it is to do research before assisting this type of ceremony and consult your physician in case you are using any type of medication. If you are planning to partake in this kind of ceremony (which I do not recommend nor indorse here) it is critical to know where you are going to do it and who are the people responsible for the ceremony. I have heard some real horror stories about unprofessional and unmoral shamans and practitioners and you really don’t want to make things worse for yourself.
Since this experience I been into a 3 day ayauaska retreat also with great results, I will post soon my other experiences, stay tunned!
I am open for discussions, sugestions, corrections or anything you want to share :)
By Salomon Ptasevich
Last week I had a chance to see the latest Iron Man movie, and to my surprise the new Tony Stark seems to be suffering from what appears to be panic attacks, night terrors and PTSD. In multiple scenes we can see him struggling with his anxiety and he even has a full-blown panic attack near the beginning of the movie.
I find it really refreshing to see that one of the most self-confident characters on the screen today has been touched by a mental health issue. I think this shows a trend of acceptance of mental health as something that can affect anybody and this will certainly help to raise awareness in the younger generation.
Many times I see that new ASN users are really surprised by the fact that there are others that suffer from anxiety as well. Many are unaware of what anxiety is at all.
Another thing I really liked about the fact that Stark has an anxiety disorder is the way that this disorder is actually used as a device for the development of the character. It helps to humanize him and make him more likable.
On the contrary, I was very disappointed with Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and the way the movie depicts people with mental health disorders. I think it was completely exaggerated, unrealistic and stigmatizing. In this case I will say that unfortunately not every movie that talks about mental health helps reduce the stigma related with mental health.
On a final note I will say that Stark seems to get rid of his anxiety real fast and easily, which as we know is kind of over optimistic, but hey, what are were you expecting? He is “Iron Man” after all
What are your thoughts on this movie and others dealing with mental health illnesses? What do you think about Stark’s new anxiety?
Don’t forget to join ASN and start sharing your experiences with other people who understand!
Future Plans for AnxietySocialNety (ASN)
When AnxietySocialNet (ASN) made its debut, one of its primary objectives was to provide support to the individuals whose lives were clouded by their silent struggles against anxiety related disorders. Almost a year since its launch, this aim has been met, and ASN continues to build up strength with each new member and contribution from the community.
Within ASN, members have been discussing their fears, symptoms and experiences, and it's been reassuring when the advice and exchanges have proven helpful. Whereas in the past, sufferers felt alone, they now realize there are many out there in the same boat, who are willing to reach out with support and encouragement.
To continue on the path of providing support to our members, we are working on launching a new dimension to ASN, the Therapist Program.
What are the goals of “Therapist Program”?
Since the start, ASN has leaned towards creating an environment of peer-to-peer support. It is our core belief that personal stories and shared experiences can provide an important level of moral support. Yet, we also understand that this approach may not work for everyone, and in many cases, it is important to seek outside expert help. Just as there is no substitute for peer-to-peer support, there is also no substitute for trained and professional therapy.
Depression and anxiety manifest themselves in different ways, and symptoms may be dissimilar, even from person to person. The roots of an individual's problems are sometimes deep seeded, and a non-specialist may not always be able to provide the necessary depth of understanding or support.
The "Therapist Program" will be a great tool for those looking for therapy within ASN. It will provide ASN users with the possibility of choosing a therapist in a much more social way.
We hope that by additionally launching the “Therapist Program” ASN can expand our support and value to our community members. We believe the program will deepen the effectiveness of ASN in providing a range of helpful advice and help show us alternative pathways to recovery.
What changes can you expect with the launch of “Therapist Program”?
Current and future members will continue to enjoy membership at no charge. Professional Therapists, however, will be able to register under the ASN Therapist Program, paying a monthly fee which covers their participation as Therapists, as well as being able to get referrals on the ASN network.
While the listed therapists are free to respond to members in the Q & A section, they will be unable to view the other interactions or diaries of members. Members may choose to get in touch with the therapists and interact with them on ASN and offline as well.
What if you are not interested in therapy?
Well, that’s all right! While our aim is to ensure that this feature is available for those seeking therapy, the section will be featured in a discreet way. The Therapists will have their own wall, so their interaction will not appear in the regular newsfeed. Those looking for a therapist will be able to click on the “Therapist Wall” and choose to get in touch and interact with them.
Can I be contacted directly by a therapist?
None of our listed professional therapist will be permitted to view the personal details of members, nor will they be able to send them personal messages. They will be able to interact with regular users only if that user adds them as a friend first.
How would our Therapist Program differ from a regular therapist directory?
ASN is creating the first integrated social network for patients and therapists, and this is the principal difference. Their profiles will appear as a listing, with their details, as well as their stance and qualifications, experience, location etc. One of the unique features will be that the therapist profiles will have the option of “ASN likes” so therapists can be judged by the community.
By being able to see the therapist's blogs, status updates and interactions, members will be able to make more informed decisions on who would be the best therapist for them. This would be a step beyond merely consulting a therapist with no prior information about them.
Are the therapists' credentials verified by ASN?
Yes, we will manually verify every therapist. Many directories claim that their therapists are verified but after a closer look at their Terms of Service they deny every responsibility. It would be difficult to know if a therapist has, at any time, had his license revoked. We will verify this detail upon signing them up, however we cannot guarantee their continued credentials. The listed therapists will not be featured as verified, and it rests with the patients themselves to check the veracity of therapist credentials.
When will the changes go live?
This program is still under development, with plans to go live with the Therapist Program within the next 6 months, around November 2012.
Still have questions? Contact us.
Salomon Ptasevich, ASN Founder
My name is Solomon Ptasevich, I am former anxiety sufferer who overcome anxiety and depression, I remember that in the worse time of my anxiety I went to the net to find a place to know people who understand what was going on with me, I went to the anxiety forums but i realized they where very impersonal, there people shared only INFORMATION on anxiety but not the FEELINGS, I created this site to be a place where people can share their emotions freely and perhaps help each other, and learn by means of seeing other people succeed and develop, I really believe that there are ways to overcome anxiety, I will share some of my experiences on this diary, in case this can help anyone that was in my situation.
More to come...