November 2010. I had awoken like any other morning — late, swearing, and still stoned from the night before. But on this particular morning, I found myself pinned to my bed by a throbbing pain tearing through my body, too stiff to tremble. And it was only the beginning. Over the next three years, I would lose everything, in addition to my health — my partner, my career, my dreams — and gain only a caretaker and a grim diagnosis from a Harvard doctor: scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that promised to torment and destroy my every cell while I helplessly witnessed the body I’ve known gradually contort and atrophy beyond recognition. Until I died.

I tried everything. The best specialists at Boston’s world-renowned hospitals, every pharmaceutical, ozone therapy, a rife machine, herbs, energy medicine, diets no one has ever heard of. But despite all this, every day I felt my skin tighten like a balloon that wouldn’t pop; I watched my face harden against my skull, like a prehistoric head reconstructed from archaeological remains. My hands retracted into hardened claws. My body became a living mummy that cried out if you touched it. Bound to a wheelchair, I hadn’t walked in three years, only ever leaving my apartment on a stretcher for doctor appointments — and things weren’t going to get better. I decided to euthanize.

"Then everything went black. I was drifting toward a black hole, the astonishing gravity pulling me into its pure nothingness."

Then, through a series of synchronistic circumstances, a dear friend sent me a podcast about ayahuasca and its miraculous healing properties. I had never liked psychedelics, but no trip could be worse than the one I was already on. So, in November 2013, I toasted the God I no longer believed in and emptied a glass of this strange, muddy liquid down my throat, alone in my apartment.

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