A framework to transmit information to others that is devoid of substantive content...
Not a blank slate waiting to be filled but a former fount of information that has been voided.
I came here to work with the Doc, to work for the Doc, and in exchange for cooking, cleaning English lessons and driving the truck I would receive treatment for my depression, native medicine and insight into how to keep the demons at bay.
The Doc told/sold a great story; I have 7 acres in San Antonio, two buildings and we are going to build more; You and me Brady! It will be wonderful! So I spent a month gathering supplies and communicating regularly with this person in the jungle that I felt an extremely strong connection to almost from the word go.
When I arrived and we got to San Antonio it became clear that Doc was a little less that honest about his circumstances in the jungle. He had two buildings, two rented buildings, in the lower part of town… actually that's not even accurate; the compound a two-room shack with a covered outdoor area housed he and one of his students and a rented second floor apartment 50-60 yards down the street for housing his other student and any patients he might have.
I ignored my gut instinct and ignored the red flag. As I told Michelle I was clearly outfitted with some rose colored glasses that were making it awful had to discern the color of all the flags waving around.
I trusted that I was in the right place and that things just worked differently than I was used to.
So I had gone through a series of psych evaluations prior to my departure. Standard stuff that I also found odd because I had already spent many years in traditional psychotherapy with positive results but no major breakthroughs. 7 years is a long time to talk to the same person about your problems and make halting progress. My relationship with that guy ended when I lost my job in 2021. So any progress I had made started to regress. And we all know how that turned out.
Anyway I understood the need to evaluate my issues/personality on some level in order to trust that I was someone the Doc could stomach being in the jungle with for three months. So I was honest and engaged in the process and after a few weeks of waiting got the results. No big surprises; narcissistic tendencies, histrionic tendencies, a propensity for collecting and cultivating personal relationships that could benefit only me. All things I was aware of about myself... remember 7 years of therapy..?
It was now clear we had a roadmap to treatment. I should also mention that it took the Doc a really, really long time to "translate" this report from Castellano to English... I really long time. He repeatedly told me how difficult it was to make those translations...
I mean he's been doing this awhile, right..? Am I that damaged that a guy who has been living in the jungle speaking the language for 17 years it took him close to a month to finish this translation... Odd right..?
But the rose colored glasses are tough to see past when you are enjoying the view... and the process for that matter.
So from the get-go things are pretty good. We have amazing food, though the kitchen in the main house was ATROCIOUS. Filthy like nothing I've seen before and I was a hardcore alcoholic for a long time. I know from which I speak. The fridge was full of mildew and moldering food. The stove was caked with dirt and there's a blender they use every. single. day. that hasn't seen so much as a washcloth for a decade.
But, again, lots of people told me not to have expectations as things are different in the jungle. But, I mean, hygiene is hygiene. He's a Cordon Bleu trained Master Chef and a DOCTOR, for fucks sake. Keep your shit wired tight, keep it clean, keep it sanitary no matter where you are. Instead I found myself in the midst of a highly fertilized bacteria farm.
Doc had made a number of promises wrt my care; I would have a physical/physiological examination on arrival. Blood work if necessary. But a full physical health work-up was a part of the treatment. No effort was ever made at any of these things despite my being at his medical office 3-4 times in the short period I was with him. Not so much as body temp, heart rate or blood pressure.
One morning the first week we are micro dosing mushrooms. This means a capsule with 1/8 of a GRAM of psilocybin accompanied by a fist full of cocoa nibs at 9:00AM and also means that we don't eat until much later in the afternoon. I was not aware of this. I have some blood sugar issues (issues that would have come to light had I been given the physio I was told was a component of my treatment) that makes it really hard for me to function coherently if I don't eat *something* every few hours. So an hour after that first day of shrooms I was ready for a nap and ready to be as far away from other humans until I could get some food in me. Unfortunately I've got to play along and wait til everyone else eats. It was rough.
Then I'm told that over the weekend we are going to have a cannabis and mushroom "ceremony" so we drive up to San Roque to buy herb from Rihanna. It was no different than when you went to your older brother's girlfriends house to get a dime bag in HS. You remember her, she was cool as fuck, in an incredible apartment full of Dead posters and tapestries and played you a whole Steely Dan record for the first time. It was the exact same vibe. Not what I was expecting but it is what it is...
Meanwhile the Doc regularly says things about the people he has chosen to surround himself with that, to me, ring as just this side of racist, classist and just plain shitty. The two Peruvians he keeps as "students" are both licensed psychotherapists and yet they wait on him like indentured servants. They do his laundry, fetch his shoes, apply anti-fungal cream to his horrific hooves and at one point he even said to me directly;
"They would not be able to survive here(in the country they were born in) if it wasn't for me and what I do for them. I am the only reason they can do what they do."
He also believes that race and class stratification is a necessary component of contemporary society, of ANY society, and any thoughts of pursuing equity, equality or inclusion are a lost cause.
"This is the way the world is Brady. It's a waste of your time and energy to think you can treat everyone equally. It is not possible."
I've lost count- 🚩
But I'm still here. I still have the issues I came here to deal with and I'm still waiting for the Doc to offer up a single iota of the care I was promised.
It's here that I will admit here that I did fall short of one of my responsibilities to a certain degree. To wit; it became clear on night one that his students had little to no interest in learning English, from me or anyone else. He already had English textbooks that they hadn't so much as touched and he had me bring more with me that they looked at with contempt. I don't want to paint with too broad a brush but I spent decades working with people of Mexican, South/Central American ancestry and a great many of them love understanding English but have little to no desire to speak it. It gives them great advantage to know what you are saying without being able to respond in a like manner. Because then it’s on you to figure out what they are trying to say. They also have a tremendous amount of pride that is easily bruised when trying to wrestle with the diction, pronunciation and construction of English as a whole. I've been speaking it for ~48 or so years and I struggle... hard as that may be to believe given my loquacious tendencies.
I also was having trouble responding in a written manner to the Psych evaluation that I was presented with. Doc and I had discussed it many times in person but putting pen to the page was a challenge. I had told him I agreed with the bulk of what was described as my problems but took issue with the fact that there's quite a bit of effort I make to overcome the negative aspects of my personality in order to have close relationships with other people. I was a bit stuck on the yin/yang of it; Yes I am these negative things but I also have some positive aspects that tend to balance them out.
"This is not important. The tests we administered only outline pathologies that are detrimental."
I mean OK but seemed a little strange.
And as I said I still have not had a single sit-down one-on-one session with the doc to discuss the things I have responded to about the evaluations. Not one. So on maybe day 5 I'm like "Hey Doc are we gonna, you know, work on me at all..? Can you give me some idea when you are going to start helping me with the negative things on the eval"
"We will have a session this afternoon!"
Ok, sweet. At least it's a step.
So we sit. We discuss my drug history both recent and ancient. We discuss my old man. The death of my mother. A handful of other traumatic events in my life and about 40 min into it he says; Sorry I have to speak to my sons. and cuts the session short to do just that... right there in front of me...
I should also mention that on clinic days in Tarapoto Doc has some strange ideas about personal medical information. Ideas that would likely cost him his license in the states. He had no issue whatsoever discussing private patient information with me.
"She was a difficult one. 17 years old and has had sex with a boy she just met. Her parents are disgusted with her and now she is suicidal."
I didn't even ask, he just volunteered that. And the girl who had an abortion etc, etc. I mean.... REALLY DOC...?
So that brings us to last Sunday. First ceremony. I know it's special day and I get dressed up for the occasion. Except when I arrive Doc is like "no no no you must wear white!! I told you this!!" no you didn't Doc. I asked you 4-5 times what I was REQUIRED to bring with me to participate and you never said anything about needing to wear white for ceremonies... My brother on the other hand was insistent that I would need an all white outfit so thanks to his input I had one; white linen pants, white t-shirt, white button-down; The Jim Jones fashion spectacular. I go change and return ready for the ceremony.
A young local lady arrives to participate with us. She is lovely and clearly extremely self conscious about the whole affair. We exchange small-talk, she can speak English fairly well as she's spent time in the States. She's studying architecture and it's pretty clear to me she is in a depressive state. I later learn she has attempted suicide. Not from her, of course but from the Doc.
This ceremony I'm told will be micro dosing mushrooms and smoking cannabis. As you all know I LOVE cannabis but have abstained since before my arrival in SA in an effort to approach the healing in as clean and clear a manner as possible. So we eat our mushroom capsule and fist full of cocoa nibs and then we are handed a joint and told to smoke it. 7 drags for the chakras, 9 for the planets... etc. I rip through this thing is short order following Docs direction but it's clear this young lady has never consumed cannabis before let alone smoked anything, even a cigarette. Every time she takes a drag she coughs. And she's taking teeny tiny puffs. So Doc says you have to finish it! Try harder! After a 10 min or so she's clearly exhausted and clearly not jibing with the environment but at this point she doesn't have a choice; in for penny in for a pound, you can't unring a bell... I dunno choose your own idiom.
She's at the top of shit creek sans paddle.
We return to the table and sit while Doc and Ivan tend to the altar. This young lady is now sobbing quietly and trying desperately not to let anyone know. I am across from her practicing my breathing, enjoying being high for the first time in a few weeks and internally repeating the mantra that manifested itself in brain in the moment; Breathe, Learn, Grow. I want to tell this young lady things will be ok but it's not my place.
Doc gets the altar arranged and now despite the fact that it's Sunday in San Antonio, biggest recreation day of the week for anyone in country, and there is ear-bleedingly loud Cumbia music coming from all directions, Doc begins to shake a rattle and chant mantras... for the next 4 hours...
I sat on a ladder back chair in a semi-meditative state for over four hours drenched in sweat and Cumbia listening to he and his students shake rattles and chant in Sanskrit while the young lady sat on the other side of the doc silently weeping.
Then we ate Duck.
Monday was back at the clinic. The same young lady arrived and spent time with the Doc and left looking not too much better than she had been the prior afternoon but Doc assured me, again unprompted, that she would overcome her suicidal tendencies as long as she was willing to "Work harder than she ever had before in her life" at what she was meant to work wasn't clear, just that she had work to do.
Tuesday was Halloween, Samhain, a big deal for Druids such as the Doc. We micro dose mushrooms again and wait for the students to return from the market with festival materials. We wait a long time. I'm also by this point overcome with feelings of dread and depression. I've been here a week and have made ZERO progress. Have received ZERO treatment beyond an infinitesimal amount of mushrooms a single joint and a lot of handwaving about “be patient and we'll get there”. As I mentioned I have blood sugar issues and really can't go this long without sustenance. It's been several hours since the students left and we all eat together so I've got to wait. It's after 3:00 when we eat. Then another big meal for the Samhain celebration and I find out the reason it took so long was Doc sent the students to every market in Tarapoto in search of a pumpkin... to make a Jack-o-Lantern... to keep the evil spirits at bay.
After dinner everyone returns to their respective quarters and I'm left sitting with the Co-Co-Lantern and starting think it's not working to keep the spirits at bay. I'm feeling blacker and blacker and worse and worse so I go home to get some sleep... It should be mentioned now that I haven't had a decent nights sleep since I arrived. Even with earplugs and an eye mask a few consecutive hours is all I've been able to manage. I overcame a lifetime of insomnia after I quit drinking so I've played this game before and no matter how good I am at it, I always lose; less than 5 hours a night and I get twitchy.
Wed, Nov 1 and the excrement hits the oscillator...
As it's the day after Halloween we don't go to the clinic we lounge around the shack and I fall deeper into the blackness that overcame me the night before. I cry most of the morning. Silently weeping and and cringing visibly anytime one of them laughs at whatever joke they are saying in Castellano. In particular anytime Alexandra laughs it's like fingernails on the chalkboard. I tell the Doc this.
"You have to help me."
When you finish your work.
You must complete the response to your eval.
"I did, Doc. I told you that."
Ok then this afternoon we will sit, the three of us, and go over the eval together.
"Ok. One more thing doc how come I never got any of the medical tests and physicals you told me I was going to get..?"
You never asked for them.
😤 😡 🤬
So I begin to relay the story of a time I went to a doctors office, waited for 2 hours for a wrist Xray and bloodwork only to be told by the doctor that he couldn't do those things. I'd booked a night-time appointment(at the direction of his nurse to ensure a lower wait time, heh) and that since I'd eaten food in the previous 12 hours the bloodwork would be inaccurate(same nurse never told me I couldn't eat nor would I have been able to make it through a day of work with no food).
Doc doesn't like the analogy. He doesn't like me comparing him to this other doctor who I was clearly painting as incompetent. Nor does he like me explaining how I tried to extract the check I gave them for services not rendered. When you exchange money for goods and services you are no longer a patient but a customer. And this customer didn't get the services he paid for... ergo they shouldn't ought to get my money.
Doc didn't like that at all.
It got kinda ugly.
Voices were raised.
I was told we would have a sit down later that day. The three of them were going to finally go through the eval and, ideally, help form a treatment plan now 8 days into my stay. Believe me when I tell you things went from bad to worse. When they arrived at the other apartment it was clear I was to be given no quarter.
Doc began at the top of the eval and went through each and every point and explained how all of these negative personality traits were my fault. I was a terrible person and it was clear to him I had no interest in trying to change anything about myself and that since he's the Doctor, he's always right about his patients. Alexandra and Ivan sat on either side of him and nodded vigorously throughout and anytime I protested that I came to Peru to try to work on these things Alexandra rolled her eyes and sighed.
I have come to refer to that event as The Tribunal and have come to see the Doc as the Judge from The Wall... you know the giant anus on legs(https://bit.ly/40p2Pys)... and when it was all said and done a number of the bad things were back. I'm back to feeling like I should kill myself. I'm back to believing I have no hope to feel any better. I'm back to feeling a lot like I was before my toad experience and I'm back to not having any idea whether I'll ever be able to do anything about it.
I was supposed to get help and 9 days into my journey to Peru I'm back to square one. In a foreign country where I don't speak the language with limited funds and no positive outlook. I told the Doc that night I was going to get an Airbnb for the weekend and spend some time trying to decide what I wanted to do. He came to my quarters the next morning to continue hurling vitriol at me and told me I was the worst patient he'd ever had and it would be an insult to his students should I remain in their "care" any longer. He was arranging a tuk-tuk to take me to Tarapoto city center to drop me off and I could twist in the wind. He also threatened to send my private medical information and the evaluation to my brother as evidence of my moral decrepitude and if I didn't like it there as nothing I could do...
There's more, lots more, but I've gone on too long already and don't want to manifest this energy anymore.
So now I'm in an Airbnb in Tarapoto trying to suss out my next move. I'm getting conflicting information about the healing centers around here that might help me and despite being connected with someone I'm told I can trust I don't feel like I can trust anyone.... least of all myself.
I have never, ever, felt more alone in my life. Not sleeping on the trains in Chicago, not in the bottom of a bottle of whisky on MV and not sitting on top of the mountain of Xanax that almost killed me.
Here in this room in Peru and I've never felt more alone.
Thanks for reading, thanks for being here, and thanks for understanding that as damaged as I might be, I still deserve a chance.