***Todays blog is a guest blog... written by someone I met recently, just one of the many stories that far too many people never get to hear. I am grateful she shared & STILL completely GET why she did not use her real name... yet.
Apri 20th, 2-16
You don’t know me. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between me and a whole lot of other people. I’m 38, central/eastern European ethnicity, average height, from a big Midwestern city. I have a pretty interesting job. I’m a runner, but not a particularly fast one and not of enormous distances. I am not unattractive, but I am not a supermodel. My eyes are a bit of an unusual color. Overall, I’m really pretty normal. If you met me at a party, you’d tell your wife that I was friendly and maybe kind of entertaining. (I think you are a straight dude, Colorado. I think you’ve got a wife.)
I’ve struggled hard with my mental health for my entire life. I’ve been in and out of therapy--mostly in--for twenty-one years. I’ve seen at least seventeen different therapists and doctors. I’ve taken nine different kinds of mainstream psych meds and I’ve been incorrectly diagnosed five separate times. A few years ago, I had the breakdown that had been coming, and finally got the correct diagnosis. PTSD. I worked and worked and worked to get better and I got to…functional and maybe even mostly OK. And I thought that mostly OK, most of the time, was as good as I was going to get.
Here is where you enter the picture, Colorado. Important piece of backstory: I had never smoked weed ever. Ever. Not once. Not interested. I am not a criminal. Smoking is gross. Etc. Etc. But I was going to be on vacation, and when in Rome, you know, so I decided to be a little brave.
My best friend and I nervously bought some 10mg chocolate bars from Canary’s Song in beautiful Nederland. After about an hour, I felt...fine. She got giggly and hilarious, but I was…fine. Day wrapped up with me sleeping through the night (a rarity—sleep disturbances are a hallmark of PTSD). The next morning, I woke up, anticipating a galactic hangover, and I felt...good. Then I ran eight miles in the hotel gym.
I texted my surprised reaction to my pleasant experience to a friend and got back: “Do we have a fledgling stoner on our hands?” I thought, “Of course not. What a ridiculous idea.”
I announced that I was glad I tried it, and figured that was the end of that.
My travel companions, however, had other ideas. After my husband brazenly carried a bag of candy through security at Denver International (thanks for looking the other way on that one, btw), I was home to start conducting a scientific study on myself. Turns out, I was NOT worse on weed. Turns out I was better. I was a lot better.
I was the one person who had swallowed every bit of misleading, politically driven racist bullshit about gateway drugs, about stoners being directionless losers, about how it was going to kill my ambition. The one kid who believed Nancy Reagan, was, apparently, me. For months, every time I did something flaky or forgot something, I would freak. My husband started regularly reminding me that I’ve done flaky shit my whole life. I kept waiting to wake up in the morning, unable to do anything except dunk Cheetoes in CoolWhip and listen to Phish.
You’ll think this is funny, Colorado, as you used to be the residence of the late Dr Thompson, but I seriously thought that smoking weed was going to send me on some sort of strange path careening into unemployment and God knows what else.
Except, what happened was the more cannabis I consumed, the more things continued to not get worse.
I discovered I could sit still longer at my desk every day at work. I started regularly sleeping through the night. I went to the doctor and dealt with a persistent running injury with the physical therapist. I noticed that my caffeine consumption went down. My business revenue went up. I tackled some more issues with my PTSD. My husband and I worked out some longstanding problems. I lost 20 pounds. I quit drinking.
And I realized that I had to overcome a massive case of culturally conditioned stoner shaming. And I looked at you, Colorado, and I saw a bunch of people who were out hiking your mountains and biking your trails. And I talked to people in the cannabis community and found out that everyone to be friendly, welcoming, and not judgmental. And realized that I’m the healthiest I’ve been, ever, even if I do own a lighter for the first time in my entire life.
So, Colorado, I guess what I’m trying to say is, you changed my life for the better. And, in doing that, you changed a lot of lives around me for the better, too. You can’t even calculate how far this ripple effect could go. And I’m just one person.
Millions of people visit you every year. My story is repeating every day.
Keep up the great work. The world is watching.
PS Of course Jane is not my real name.
PPS But maybe someday I will publish this and sign my real name. That would be big progress.
PPPS Buying my first bong for my 39th birthday. That’s a sentence I thought I’d never write.
PPPPS I still don’t like the Grateful Dead, but, turns out, Cheech and Chong are funny.
;D Thank you Jane! xox Georgia