My name is Anders Halldén and I am a Swedish veteran. I grew up in the Swedish countryside and started my military career as a 14-year-old in the Home Guard. I joined the Swedish military at 19 years old and had a wide and varied 21-year career of Service.

I was deployed twice to Bosnia (in 1995 and again in 1996) where I was wounded on each of the missions. After being wounded, my life was never quite the same again. I suffered from PTSD and had difficulty sleeping with constant nightmares, flashbacks, mood swings, anxiety, stress, and sensitivity to sound and light. It was difficult for me to connect or spend time with other people. If I did, I could never relax, feeling like I was always on guard and highly sensitive to anything that may be perceived as a threat. I started to isolate more and more. Just leaving my house to go to the grocery store became a mountain to climb. I lost contact with most of my friends as they did not recognize me any longer and found it difficult to understand what I was going through. This led me to consume more and more alcohol.

One evening at the pub in 1997, I met my future wife. I did not understand what she saw in me, a drunk on the edge of sanity. I had already decided never to marry and have children–but life, and my wife–decided differently. Just a couple of years later we married and now have two amazing children. Something I never could have imagined, and that I am so grateful for. I never recovered from the injuries sustained in Bosnia. I could not work, I relied heavily on my wife in regard to both my physical and emotional wellbeing. There have been many doctors’ visits throughout the years. Meetings with different therapists and a lot of medication that, at best, only numbed my symptoms. While I always tried to be present for my children, I struggled with severe withdrawal. At times I felt ok, but never well. Only surviving, never thriving.

In 2021, I was diagnosed with TBI and that same year a fellow veteran asked me if I would like to go to the United States and try an alternative treatment for PTSD and TBI. He told me about treatment through an organization called VETS (Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions) created by Marcus and Amber Capone, a retired Navy SEAL and his wife. I was invited to go to Mexico for Ibogaine and 5MoeO treatment. My wife would travel with me to San Diego while I would drive across the border to Mexico with 3 other veterans for a long weekend. I did not hesitate as I felt I had tried everything else without success and had been in such agony for decades.

I was put in contact with Sofia, who works with plant medicine integration. She is a fellow Swede that lives in the U.S. and is married to a Navy SEAL. I felt very safe and comfortable through her professional expertise in different somatic practices, as well as her deep and long personal connection to the military community working with wounded veterans. Throughout our meetings she helped me start to regulate my nervous system, helping me feel safe in my body and relax my mind and also carefully explained what the treatment would be like.

After almost a year of preparation, on March 9, 2023, it was finally time to travel to San Diego. I think my wife was more nervous than I was. We flew straight to LA from Stockholm where we were picked up by a Marine Corps veteran who drove us to San Diego. He took us to the Hotel del Coronado where we had a suite waiting for us. When we arrived in San Diego, Sofia was there to greet us. For a couple of days my wife and I got to relax and enjoy the California sun, while the snow was melting in Sweden. We met with Amber and Marcus and they shared their personal story and how VETS came about and also told me what I could expect from the treatment in Mexico. Sofia and I also continued to prepare for my upcoming journey.

Then it was time to travel down to Mexico for treatment together with three other veterans, all from the U.S. The four of us immediately connected, shared our stories and hopes for the treatment. Over the weekend, we had many conversations and I felt their support before, during, and after our journey. Sofia came with me for continued support and to serve as a translator.

The night before we were to experience Ibogaine, I was very nervous and was not sure I could go through with it. But I did. I decided that I had not come all this way to turn back now. The day after Ibogaine, I felt like I had taken off a backpack with all the weight of my anxieties, fears, and confusion I had been carrying for so many years. I never thought I would feel so light and happy again. This was so much better than I had dared to hope for. I finally saw light in my life again.

When Sofia and I returned to San Diego a few days later, my wife barely recognized me. She started crying when she saw me. She said that I looked completely different with a tall and confident posture, relaxed face and harmonious body demeanor. She had never seen me like this before. We stayed in San Diego a few more days to enjoy the weather, the beaches and some sightseeing. We met with Amber and Marcus once more and I was able to share my experience as well as share more about my life, and the future my wife and I now have to look forward to.

When we came back home to Sweden, it was wonderful to experience my children’s reaction upon seeing me. They could not believe it was the same person. It has now been a little over one year since the treatment. I don’t drink, there are not even any cravings for alcohol. I sleep well at night and have no nightmares or flashbacks. I do not feel stress or anxiety like I did before, and I am so much happier. I used to suffer from severe body tremors and speech challenges, that is all gone. I have also stayed off all medications, and I feel extremely content and positive about the future.

In Sweden, I now share my own experience as well as the benefits of plant medicine with the military and political leaders in hopes of creating similar opportunities for other veterans in Sweden and the other Nordic countries. It truly changed my life, and I am so grateful to my benefactor who made this trip and treatment possible, to Sofia who supported before, during and after the trip and to my family who has been there for me all these years. I also want to say a big thank you to the veterans who were in Mexico with me undergoing the same treatment.

Thank you, Marcus, Amber, Moose and my friend Clay for all the great conversations and support.

Many thanks to VETS for all that you do for veterans.

Anders Halldén Swedish veteran