- Quick Fact on Mental Illness: Most people don't know they have it!
If you have any type of mental illness, you should carefully consider what you feel ayahuasca will do for you. And assuming you are seeing a therapist (hopefull not a fraud, a.k.a. psychiatrist), you should discuss with them whether the risk may outweigh the potential benefit. Put simply, for most people with tendencies toward delusions (or even just "magical thinking" tendencies), ayahuasca and other drugs will only make the delusions worse. Even meditation alone may make delusions worse, so you always have to be on guard for delusions. Get a "delusion buddy" you can talk to who will help you figure out what makes sense in reality. Even some people (including someone very close to me) have tragically become chronically paranoid-delusional, triggered by their first ayahuasca experience.
Psychosis, according to Dr. Jim van Os, is something everyone experiences at certain times. It is best described as the hyper-active creation of meaning based on sensory inputs. Many people who seek out psychedelics are addicted to finding meaning, which is why they fall down the psychedelic rabbit hole. When you realize that everything is already perfect without you, the need to find more meanings disappears. If you have any type of "strange intuition," make sure you do some reality testing. See if there is any evidence. Make a chart of your past intuitions & results. Talk to a trusted friend to see if your intuition sounds crazy. A trusted friend is someone who will tell you that you're talking crazy talk if you are. Not a "yes man."
ESP/Psychic phenomena is *real*, but you have to train yourself *scientifically* (with apps like RV Tournament). Watch this TED talk by physicist Russel Targ. (Here's a synchronicity for you: I just randomly played 2 videos by Targ which exactly coincided on their audio tracks despite starting at totally different points in his talk. That must mean I'm right about everything. :))
Anyone who has any manic tendencies (i.e. Bipolar folks) should be braced for any psychedelic or stimulant (including MJ) setting their mania off--even if it usually doesn't. For those folks, ayahuasca (and other psychoactive drugs) are contraindicated in most circumstances. If you do decide to go ahead with it anyway, make sure you check out my Avoiding Bad Trips? page. The key to having a successful trip is directing your attention inward. Freak-out and mania happen when attention is directed outward.
If you are struggling with depression (but not taking any antidepressants), ayahuasca may be quite helpful, but you have to be braced for coming face-to-face with all of your demons. If you are feeling suicidal to the point of putting a gun to your head, or swallowing a bottle of Tylenol, then most definitely you should get on a boat, float to international waters, and drink ayahuasca instead (assuming you aren't on any herbs or meds that interact). A large dose of ayahuasca will be even more real of a dying experience than physical death, so it will completely satisfy the Thanatos drive (death drive) in you. The "you" who wants to die will die. What comes after won't be that you (tho that you will quickly return if you don't work to let go of identity entirely). This approach saved a good friend's life when he was ready to end it. Had he had a regular meditation practice, he probably never would have needed ayahuasca nor felt suicidal.
If you have general anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks, social anxiety, ayahuasca could certainly help, but it can also trigger terrible fear during the experience, and especially with war PTSD, it can cause you to become violent, so make sure nobody is around for you to assault, or else make sure that whoever is around is way stronger than you.
If I were struggling with any type of mental illness, the first thing I would do is start taking natural neuroprotective substances such as Magnesium Glycinate, Bacopa monnieri (brahmi) Extract, PalmitoylEthanolAmide oil, DMSO, and low doses of over the counter lithium (higher doses of lithium are dangerous, but many places have natural low doses of lithium in their water supply, and people in those regions have better mental health).
Ok, if you read this far, you deserve a treat.