Why do we do anything? Why do we make decisions or have opinions? No one (hopefully) tells us what to do, we’re bipedal Homo sapiens; we generally have the ability to make our own choices based on our own logical thinking. We all have unique intuition, tastes, desires, interests, thinking, preferences, and opinions, and we integrate all of those factors subconsciously in every decision we make. But what happens when someone questions our decision-making and tells us we’re making the wrong choice after going through our instinctual process? Lots of people don’t care what others think of them, but it haunts many people like me.
Last year I had the biggest blowout with my family that I’ve ever had before, and it was because I was berated and judged in my own home. My parents have expressed to me via some comment or joke here and there about my use of marijuana. They’re in their 60’s/70’s and aren’t up to date with all of the scientific data constantly coming out about the medicinal benefits of cannabis. So they’re of the generation that just sees it as the ‘dope’ they used to smoke in the 60’s to get high and have unprotected sex. There is so much more to cannabis than that, but they (mostly my mother) seem to view me as a drug addict.
I said last year that you shouldn’t let anyone’s opinion of you affect you getting the medicine that you need, and I started analyzing my own personal situation. I smoke weed for 5 reasons: depression/anxiety, insomnia, appetite, heightened sensitivity, and inspiration. Mainly because I’m so consistently aware of my mental health, I’m always checking to ensure that my behavior is somewhat ‘normal.’ I’ve even asked my husband to inform me if I’m ever acting irrationally because I want to be in control of my behaviors and emotions.
My parents’ biggest gripe about my marijuana consumption is that I’ve “changed.” Yes, I’ve changed in that I stand up more for myself now, but it’s not a result of the weed as I’ve tried to explain to them. So I decided to do an experiment to prove to myself that I am not out of control, I have not changed negatively, and that I’m not addicted to marijuana. I also wanted to benefit my health by giving my lungs a break from the smoke.
Additionally, another major factor for this experiment was to study any changes in my depression. Before I discovered the medicinal benefits of weed about 6 years ago, I was briefly on anti-depressants for less than a year. I realized that marijuana suppressed my depression symptoms and made me feel euphoric and full of life so I stopped the anti-depressants. I don’t use weed to get high, I use it to stop feeling so Goddamn low. So I wanted to see just how valuable weed is to my mental health.
The first day was the worst day, of course. I went around the entire house and gathered every piece of weed paraphernalia I could find and put it all into a box so it couldn’t mock me everywhere I went. I didn’t feel any withdrawals or other physical symptoms at all, but the day was difficult because I was truly scared about the days ahead. I know in my heart I don’t use marijuana just for fun, it honestly is my medicine.
Some days I can’t eat for hours because I’m simply not hungry – I smoke and I’m not just hungry, I’m ravenous. At night I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about every stupid thing that’s ever happened to me – I smoke, I’m out within minutes. There are days when I can’t bear the thought of stepping out of bed – I smoke, and my brain is flooded with ideas, inspiration, and ambition to go start a project. I was terrified about what I was going to go through without my medicine, and how I would be able to cope with it. Imagine you have a migraine and will be judged for taking Ibuprofen; or that you have to make it through your entire work day without a coffee or people will whisper that you have an addiction. So naturally, I barely ate that day and couldn’t sleep that night.
Over the next few days it became more natural to not smoke anymore, so I definitely felt no traces of addiction. The only things that seemed to change were experiencing all of the symptoms that weed usually alleviates or eliminates, and I lost weight. I’ve sometimes wondered if the weed is somehow causing or exacerbating my depression, so I closely monitored any fluctuations in mood, motivation, and productivity.
When shitty things happen, we have to learn how to survive so I did my best to figure out alternative ways to cope with my symptoms. None of them are nearly as effective, but I tried different ways to get to sleep, get hungry, and cheer myself up. Weeks went by and I didn’t smoke once, not even while sitting next to friends who did.
If I’m causing my own depression by smoking daily, I should have seen a rise in mood and motivation without it, but I saw quite the opposite over the subsequent weeks. As time passed, my general mood became more solemn and my motivation took a hit. I can barely get out of my own way as it is, and I smoke sativas to get energized. Without it, I became lethargic, depressed, and lost. But what was more impactful was that I began to feel everything. I believe that I’m an empath, so I tend to take on others’ feelings as my own. When someone hurts, I hurt. I’m such a compassionate person that seeing anything sad around me just breaks my heart. And I realized that weed helps protect me. A LOT.
Then the worst week I’ve had in 6 years happened.
As I mentioned, I met up with an old friend of mine at a trans rights rally that took place right before testimonials from trans people and a vote on a bill to protect their rights. About 6 weeks into my experiment, a week my husband was traveling for business, I spent the day with trans people and advocates holding signs and talking to representatives on their way into the state house. I heard testimonies from about a dozen people in support of the bill who told the most heart-wrenching stories about harassment, discrimination, and suicide. When I heard a trans woman describe the details of her 4 suicide attempts, I honestly began to cry.
The following 3 days after that day were the worst I’ve had in years. It felt like I absorbed every emotion from every person who spoke that day and stored it all in my heart. I was incredibly depressed, I couldn’t stop crying, and all I did was move from the bed to the couch to the bed. I cried so much one afternoon that I discovered that instead of wiping all of the tears away from my face, it’s much more efficient to catch them if I put the tissue on the arm of the couch and lay my head down on top of it instead. I can’t explain it, I just felt hopeless. But I refused to touch the one antidote that works for me.
After 50 days, I decided to conclude my experiment. What the data revealed was pretty evident; I can absolutely live without marijuana, it’s just really unhealthy and painful. I’ve taken breaks before and traveled where I couldn’t bring it, so I know I can stop if I have to. But I proved to myself that I’m still the same person, I still make the same decisions, and that I have the ability to be without it and find other ways to improve my life.
If you’re thirsty, you’d never choose not to drink – so if I can have a better life using marijuana, why would I choose not to?