Photo by Jason Pratt

Photo by Jason Pratt

Jacob was finally fed up with his debilitating social anxiety. As a successful businessman with a wife and kids, he had achieved what most people would call success, but for some reason his anxiety levels and social awkwardness seemed to be getting worse by the year. Having exhausted conventional treatment routes, Jacob started investigating alternative approaches—including the use of psychedelics.

Jacob had never tried psychedelics before in his life. He considered himself a logical rationalist with a self-described “zero tolerance for woo-woo,” so when his search for social anxiety treatment lead him to a psychospiritual retreat center in Mexico, referred to him by Psychedelic Times, he felt completely out of his element. But Jacob was willing to try anything, so he dove in.

Psychedelic Times had the chance to speak with Jacob (whose name has been changed to maintain anonymity) about his journey to Medicine Heart in Rosarito, Mexico, and the uncanny healing he experienced there.

Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Jacob. What brought you to seek out psychedelics in the first place?

Social anxiety was the driver for me seeking this out. In the business that I run, I wear lots of hats as a president, designer, manufacturer, bookkeeper, and sales manager. It’s a lot of stress. I got to the point where I was having anxiety attacks on the way to work just because I had to call somebody. My entire life, I had social anxiety, but it started to become really magnified to the point of being unmanageable. I have a 24 year old daughter and two sons that are 5 and 7 now, and I started to see some of my patterns reemerging in my eldest son—wanting to participate but not being able to participate. My hope was that, by addressing my own issues…I could perhaps help him.

How did you come to decide on psychedelic treatment?

I’d never experienced psychedelics before. I had done therapy through the years, and it just didn’t go anywhere, and I was hearing more and more things about psychedelics in the mainstream media. Being out here in sunny Florida, I wondered where I could even source someone who was knowledgeable. I didn’t just want to go find a bag of something and jump in; I was looking for some experienced guidance on this. I looked into ayahuasca and Peruvian centers, but I was worried it might not work for me. I’m 55 years old, and thought, “This is not the time for the subtle approach; I want to go nuclear.” I ended up on Medicine Heart, a place in Mexico that does a lot of iboga addiction detox work but also psychospiritual work with 5-MeO-DMT extracted from the Bufo alvarius toad. I spoke with them and a week later, I had my flight booked to go visit them.

An interesting thing about their program down there is…the stuff that they’re doing…goes so far beyond just the chemistry. Before this trip, on a scale of spiritual understanding from 1-100, I would have been a 2. In my initial Skype calls with the facilitators, I told them flat out, ‘This is about chemistry. The rest of this is woo-woo.” Coming out of it, the chemistry was crazy and wild and really insightful, but some of the most important things that took place happened without the chemistry.

What happened when you arrived there?

I got off the airplane and was picked up by Greg Carroll, this tatted-up former skateboarder. We were making conversation in the car, and he said to me, “Wait a minute—you’re here for social anxiety, but here you are getting on an airplane, getting scooped up by me, and riding off into Mexico.” We laughed, and I somewhat jokingly said “Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.”

The first day was [spent] getting acclimated, and we got into what’s called family constellation work that involves role playing and visualization. At one point, I was interacting with myself as a child, and I asked, “What’s wrong little Jacob?” And the answer was, “We’re not together anymore.” Tears exploded, and I started bawling. This was all stone cold sober. Later, I faced my father and my grandfather, and we worked some things out. We had a meditation that evening…and that was it for the first day. For me “Joe Rational” inside my head was still going on, so, despite my first breakthrough, I was still skeptical.

Tell us about your first psychedelic journeys there.

They sat me down on a big blanket and had me take one big, long, drawn-out hit of 5-MeO-DMT. I fell back… sorry, I’m getting a little emotional… I’ll never forget the sound of my soul being sucked out of my body. At first I was laying there and thought I was dead. I thought to myself, “Oh…now you’re dead. How can you do that to your wife and kids?” There was a sadness, and then from wherever I was, I sent this beautiful white love down to them. And then there was a moment where I went from being in an altered state to a rational state, and I thought, “Why in the world didn’t I include my adult daughter in this? She should be here, too.” When the experience finished, I turned around to the facilitators and said, “Well, that was awesome. What’s next?”

The next morning, I woke up to a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean and thought to myself how my daughter was just two hours away. I needed to get in her life more, and that was the lesson—simple but powerful. I was self-integrating. Later on, we did some yoga on the beach, and I was reluctant to do the toad medicine again, but we did it. Same process: take my hit, drop back, open my eyes, and one of the facilitators gave me a deep hug that created this full body explosion of beautiful love and light and energy. I was in tears and said “Oh my god, I love myself, and life is beautiful. I’ve been reborn.” We reflected on the journey, which I called the greatest cosmic power nap. I was in the void, just pure awareness—hard to describe, but it’s a beautiful place.

One night I woke up at 4am and started repeating, “My spirit and soul worship at the altar of Isis.” I had no idea what it meant, and I was looking it up on my phone, thinking, “Why in the world am I repeating this?” As I read about Isis and discussed it with the facilitators, it brought together this thread of my relationships with women—past girlfriends, my wife, and so on. I realized how I create unnecessary barriers with my wife and how much I genuinely thrive on and appreciate positive female interactions and the ways in which I unconsciously sabotage them. I joked with the facilitators that they were turning me into a goddamn hippy!

How has your life changed since seeking psychedelic treatment?

It changed my perspective on my life. The TV is on much less at my home. I don’t stress about my investments. My dog is so used to us meditating together, he bugs me when I don’t do it. It took me until my last day there to realize that the day I became the president of my company, I had ceased to be an independent human being. I was president of the business 24/7. When I returned, I started to rearrange my life. I set limits for being reachable by my work and set aside more time for myself. I worked out regular date nights with my wife. With two young kids, it is difficult, so now we also have date days where we go on walks, cuddle, and so forth. Soon after I got back, she broke down into tears. She said, “You actually genuinely laughed. It wasn’t forced. It’s the first time in so long.” She told me, “If it takes you going to Mexico periodically to maintain this, then please do.”

This experience gave me the tools and capacity to deal with things on a day-to-day basis. Everything got turned on its head for the better. I connected much more intimately with my kids than I had been before. For the first time ever, I grasped spirituality. I grasped the light and warmth in that light. I started a regular meditation practice that I do every morning.

There is so much more. I don’t know how to verbalize this exactly, but the beauty of the white light and melting into that, realizing that you are nothing more than a glowing ball of energy within that white light…there is something very peaceful and reassuring about that. I experienced a kind of death two or three times during my journeys at Medicine Heart, and I realized it’s not a scary, bad place to be—it’s just a different place to be. I wish my parents could have both gone there because the end of their lives would have been so much more peaceful if they had seen that.

What I had called the “nuclear” option for me was actually the “new clear” option for me. Psychedelics give you the capacity to take out the trash. We are normally too busy thinking, calculating, and being pissed off to ever get rid of our baggage. It’s been a beautiful reset button for my life. My employees see it, my kids see it, everybody around me sees that there is a very different energy coming from me. And my meditation practice allows me to access some of those moments I’ve had in Mexico. I can feel the light rushing through my body, and everything becomes prettier.

How is your social anxiety these days?

Ironically, my first visit to the clinic didn’t really address my social anxiety directly, as there was a lot more fundamental stuff that I had to work through. I’ve been back twice now, and now I’ve learned that it’s not so much about suppressing anxiety when it arises, but it’s about being totally okay with whatever is happening in the moment. I’ve been participating in social situations that used to be very hard with much greater ease.

What advice would you give to someone considering taking a journey like you have?

This isn’t something I feel like people should be experimenting with on their own. Having that envelope, having that support mechanism, is very important. I believe the energy in the room contributes to an experience. Search out people that are knowledgeable and really have experience with these things. The integration work goes hand in hand with the actual psychedelic journeys. Having a psychedelic experience without anyone knowledgeable to help you unravel it probably wouldn’t be productive in a lot of cases. Find competent people to guide you.

Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

I went to the middle of nowhere in Mexico and smoked toad venom—what the heck was I thinking? Crazier than that sounds…it actually worked.

We are very grateful to Jacob for sharing his story. Jacob has plans to return to Medicine Heart again in the near future with his adult daughter.