“It’s not easy being green”
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”
The intention when talking about the controversial topic of medical cannabis is not to attempt at changing your personal views. It’s simply to let you see how it has affected me personally since this blog is about my journey with DID. Let me interject by saying that I will speak more than once on a particular topic and possibly say some of the same things. Ignore that and keep reading. You have to understand that every day for me is like the movie Groundhog Day. Now back to our cannabis topic…..
One thing I learned about living in a ‘melting pot’ of a city like Albuquerque is that there are many different views and many of them very liberal on many different topics especially addiction and recovery. I must say that being raised on a ’12-Step’ way of thinking in a ’12-Step’ recovery community, I was pretty rigid on my beliefs about addiction and recovery too. I’m still a big believer in the 12 steps and have watched the miracle of recovery happen to many people including my own clients.
Living in a much larger city than what I was raised in has shown me what addiction looks like from the very bottom in most cases. I have never seen a substance abuse problem of this magnitude ever in my life. Most of my clientele have consisted of the homeless or methadone clinic clients. Both clientele are difficult due to the unique challenges not only each individual face emotionally but just in basic needs that most take for granted. I have a heart that has been touched and shot with cupid’s arrow for these guys I can assure you.
What I was soon faced with was something I would come to a cross roads about the many years of “recovery” beliefs. I started hearing more and more about the Medical Marijuana Program (MMJ) here in New Mexico. I was instantly almost angered by the idea as marijuana as a medication. I thought to myself, “Isn’t the drug problem bad enough?” However, the idea was talked about, both sides of the debate for several years now. The clients that I was treating were clients with prescription pills, alcohol, heroin and most anything else for addiction. Heroin, Alcohol and Methamphetamine being the main substances used out here but not presenting for treatment for marijuana addiction. (I did not just say that it doesn’t or can’t happen.) I did have to get used to the idea of this flower being referred to as a medication. But, my clients claimed that their own quality of life was improving despite their addiction to the other substances. The doctor overseeing the program was also very non-chalant about marijuana as well.
In the meantime, my mental health issues had been hitting the skids for a while and were now becoming ever more present in everyday life. I was not able to control or hide the “quirks” that I might would have at home. I’ve always thought that with psychiatric medications and their side effects that I was actually better before I started taking them to begin with. My psychiatrist later told us that it’s no wonder that none of the seemingly every psyche medication know to man that nothing really worked. He explained that because of my diagnosis that some medications work on some alters where other medications make conditions for others worse. Finally, someone that could answer at least one daily frustrating question. I needed something to “tame the madness.” I wasn’t sleeping at all. I was aggressive most of the time. I couldn’t stay grounded. It was total chaos. I’ve had times since then but thank God not as frequent by a long shot.
My psychiatrist said to me, “About all there’s left is medical marijuana. Would you be willing to try it?” My wife, knowing the addiction history I have, looked at me and had told him before but reiterated the fact that I am an addict. He said, “You know, just try it. If it becomes a problem, we’ll get you off it and you don’t ever have to touch it again.” A cold chill went throughout my body. “Is this what I’m about to have to sacrifice to live?” I thought. We took the signed paper and agreed to talk about it. I was torn inside. I knew what I had been taught about addiction. I also knew what I was being forced to live with and how my quality of life had plummeted. Mel, as educated as she was in the area of addiction said, “At this point, I’ll try anything.” We were both being drained of our lives while trying to be moms to an infant. Something had to give. I hadn’t smoked pot in many years and didn’t know one thing about medical marijuana and it’s medicinal properties. My psychiatrist said it could help my PTSD and I knew that my options had come down to weed or a 9mm.
Exactly one month to the day that I sent the application off to the state I received my MMJ card. I had begun reading about the different strains and about edibles and anything related to this plant. When I got my card the fear had begun to fade and I was ready to get my life a little more livable and quality just like veterans with PTSD. We were off to get my new green meds.
I get to a local dispensary, where I was greeted and asked not what my medical condition was but what symptoms I was having. They begin educating me on the difference in indica, sativa, high CBD strains, edibles, tinctures, wax, shatter, crumble and what might work with my conditions. I was very nervous about this new endeavor and scared about spinning out of control in the most miserable place in the world….ADDICTION.
That first night I began to use my “new” medication was the first night I was able to see something at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t make it out, but I was intrigued enough to keep going. I was finally able to sleep. I was able to function during the day. I was able to come off IBS medication. My depression was being managed as well as my suicidal ideations, mania and urges to self-harm. My relationship with my wife and son began to improve. This is not a cure all plant by any means. I still have to put in the elbow grease and deal with my trauma every day. This sure makes the process much more tolerable.
Notice I didn’t say that it managed not eradicated thoughts and behaviors. These behaviors still happen more than even Mel knows. A lot of people might think that medical marijuana is just a reason people can give to get high. The truth is that people take medications all the time for the wrong reasons and others take for the right reasons. Also, medication high in CBD can also have very little psychoactive effects making it possible to work or go to school and function with no problem. Medical marijuana patients are also often thought of as a Cheech & Chong type of brain cell lacking type of functioning. This isn’t true either. Most people make comments out of ignorance and I just tend to ignore a lot of it. Because, until you have a condition where conventional medication doesn’t work or has side effects that trump the original condition, you don’t know that level of desperation.
Most people ask how it’s prescribed? There are no labels that say, “Smoke one bowl in the morning and one bowl at night. Finish off with Cheetos.” It’s very trial and error type of a process. You will find your level of medication and if you overdo it, you won’t do it again. Reason: because while you got too high the only question you could think of and not answer was, “Where did I leave my butt? And how do I reach the Cheetos?”
Our son has only heard marijuana being referred to as, “Momma D’s medicine.” We don’t make a big deal about it and treat it like it is…..medicine. I have been on the program for 2.5 years now and have never gotten out of control with my using or had any problems arising related to addiction. I’m off all medications except a couple supplemental meds to help with areas in the body that the marijuana can’t. The PTSD and DID haven’t disappear and probably never will. That doesn’t mean I have to either.
So, while this topic isn’t very popular with a lot of people back south, for this family, it’s important that not only us but other families benefit from this plant as well. I’m a believer and advocate for this medication even as an addiction professional. More importantly, my wife is a big advocate for a plant that has helped to save her wife’s life.