“I want to restore my brain.” Female veterans seek psychiatric therapy

TIJUANA, Mexico – Incense burners swirled through a dimly lit living room as seven women took turns explaining what had forced them to sign up for psychiatric therapy over the weekend at a villa overlooking the ocean overlooking the ocean.

The former US sailor said he hoped to connect with the ghost of his mother, who killed him 11 years ago. The army veteran said he was sexually abused by a relative as a child. Several veterans said they had been sexually assaulted by fellow servicemen.

The wife of a bomb disposal expert was drowned as she lamented that years of incessant combat had made her husband an absent, incapacitated father.

Christine Bostwick, 38, a former Marine who has served in the Navy, said she hopes the meditation-assisted rituals will help her reconcile with the end of a tumultuous marriage, perhaps alleviating a migraine that has become a daily torment.

“I want to restore my brain from the bottom up,” he said during a recent three-day retreat introductory session, wiping away tears. “My children deserve it. I deserve it. “

A growing body of research into the therapeutic benefits of psychotherapy has sparked excitement. among some psychiatrists և: venture capitalist.

Much of the growing appeal of such treatment is due to US war veterans in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of the ex-servicemen resort to experimental therapies for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, addiction and depression. to become effusion advocates for a wider range of psychotropic drugs.

Participants in Psychedelic retreat often pay thousands of dollars for the experience. But these female veterans ները husbands of veterans who had traveled to Mexico for treatment mission inside participated for free, politely Heroic Hearts project և: The project of hope. The group, founded by the wife of Army Ranger և Navy SEAL, raises money to make psychiatric therapy available to people of military origin.

The Mission Within, located on the outskirts of Tijuana, is led by Dr. Martin Polanco, who since 2017 has focused almost exclusively on treating veterans.

“I realized very early on that if we focused our work on veterans, we would have a greater impact,” said Dr. Polanco, who said he had treated more than 600 hundred American veterans in Mexico. “They understand what it takes to be most effective.”

He said that at first he treated almost exclusively male veterans. Recently, however, he began receiving numerous requests from female veterans, military women, and began conducting retreats for women only.

Except for clinical trials, psychiatric therapy is currently performed underground or under uncertainty. As demand grows, several Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Mexico, have become centers of experimental protocols and clinical trials.

B. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Baylor University plan to study his records in two clinical trials later this year.

According to Randall Knoller of the Veterans Affairs Division, the use of psychiatric treatment is not currently part of the standard for treating mental health conditions in veterans’ hospitals. But with special approval, they can be managed As part of the research protocol, the Department of Mental Health և Suicide Prevention Office is “closely following the scientific literature in this area,” said Noler.

In Mexico, two of the drugs administered by Dr. Polanco, ibogaine, commonly used to treat addiction, և 5-MeO-DMT, a potent hallucinogen derived from Sonora desert toad venom, are neither illegal nor illegal. Approved for medical use. Third, psilocybin mushrooms, can be legally accepted in rituals that follow indigenous traditions.

On weekends, Dr. Polanco’s patients start a ritual on Saturday using iboga or psilocybin. The initial direction is called to stimulate disruptive thinking և deep harmony.

“You become your own therapist,” said Dr. Polanco.

On Sunday, participants smoke 5-MeO-DMT, often described as a mysterious “near death attempt.”

Dr. Charles NemeroffThe chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, who recently founded the Center for Psychiatric Research, said the scandal about the therapeutic potential of psychiatric drugs has outweighed the hard evidence. The risks, which include episodes of psychosis, are significant, he said.

“At the moment we have no way of predicting who will respond or not, or who may have a bad experience,” he said. “There is so much we do not know yet.”

Mexican retreating women understood the risks. But some said they had lost faith in conventional treatments, such as antidepressants, and had heard enough inspiring stories from friends to make a leap of faith.

Recently on Saturday, seven women gathered around for a mushroom ceremony, each of whom signed a harmless renunciation. They filled out questionnaires that measured post-traumatic stress, other psychological illnesses, and medical examinations.

The ceremony was presided over Andrea Lucy, a Chilean-American expert in mind-body medicine who has spent most of his career working with wounded American veterans. After blowing the burnt sausage on the mushroom tea cups served on a tray decorated with flowers and candles, Mrs. Lucy read a poem by Maria Sabina, a native Mexican healer who led the mushroom ceremonies.

“Heal yourself with beautiful love. Always remember that you are the medicine,” said Lucy, a native of the Chilean Mapuche family.

After soaking, the women lay down on mattresses on the floor, wearing shadows as the soothing music played on the microphone.

The first tremors occurred about 40 minutes after the ceremony. Several women lowered their colors and cried. One giggled, then growled with laughter.

Then the mourning began. Jenna Lombardo-Grosso, a former Marine who lost her mother in suicide, burst into the room and crawled inside with Mrs. Lucy.

37-year-old Mrs. Lombardo-Grosso cried. “Why, why, why?” He later explained that the mushrooms revealed traumatic episodes of childhood sexual violence.

In the auditorium, Samantha Juan, an army veteran who had been sexually abused as a child, began to cry and pulled out her diary. This was the third time he had retreated, led by Dr. Polanco, where he said he had experienced a lifetime of traumatic memories that forced him to drink heavily and rely on drugs to avoid pain after leaving the army in 2014.

“I have learned how to show compassion and grace,” said Juan, 37.

He said that the purpose of this retreat was to reconcile with the sexual harassment, which, according to him, he suffered in the army.

“The focus of today’s journey is forgiveness,” Ms. Juan said shortly before picking the mushrooms. “I do not want anyone else to catch me like that.”

As the effects of the fungus subsided, there was a sense of calm. The women exchanged stories about their travels, joked, and got lost in long hugs.

The tremors returned the next morning as the women waited their turn to smoke 5-MeO-DMT, a journey that Dr. Polanco calls a “slingshot” for the speed and intensity of the experience.

Seconds after her lungs absorbed the toad secretions, Ms. Juan let out a bowel movement and moved to the carpet. Mrs. Bostwick looked panicked and unsteady as she shifted from a four-legged position to a four-legged position. Mrs. Lombardo-Grosso vomited, gasped, shook violently as a nurse, and Mrs. Lucy kept her still.

When she regained consciousness, Mrs. Lombardo-Grosso sat down and began to cry.

“It was like an exorcism,” he said. “It felt like sulfur was rising, oh, now there is nothing but light.”

That night, Alison Logan, the wife of a Navy explosive ordnance disposal expert who was on the verge of divorce, looked depressed. The directions, in his words, brought his sadness to the forefront, but did not provide any idea or solution.

“It hurt a lot without answering,” he said.

However, the other participants said that their physical illnesses had disappeared and their mood had brightened.

Ms. Bostwick said she was “mysterious” but delighted that her migraine was gone, that for the first time in a long time she felt an infinite possibility.

“I feel my body let go of the anger and frustration, all the little things we get,” he said. “I was full of negativity.”

In the days after the retreat, Ms. Juan said she felt “full of energy, ready to move forward every day.”

Ms Lombardo-Grosso said the retreat had helped her come to terms with the loss of her mother; she had looked to the future from fear to optimism.

“I feel safe,” he said a few days after leaving his home in Tulsa. “Nothing is missing!”

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