Article by HK Bell, High! Canada
Who smokes pot?
Otto, the bus driver, right? Jay and Silent Bob? People with no ambition, losers who will most likely graduate from smoking pot to shooting up heroin and end up dead in the alley.
That’s what pop culture and/or uptight mothers want you to believe. And sure – there are those who get lost in the sweet haze of marijuana smoke, and don’t live up to their potential. But what no one wants to say, to differentiate between so-called “stoners” and the rest of us, is that Marijuana is a drug like any other, and can either be used or abused. Cannabis can be used for so many purposes, and for me, it has literally been a life-saver. Here’s where I level with you, the reader, and tell you that I have not been well as of late. I suffer from rather severe depression, and recent circumstances have thrust me into a downward spiral of despair and hopelessness.
I confess that I spent a couple of weeks truly on the razor’s edge, filled with suicidal iterations and a barrage of negative thoughts that threatened to push me over. My rational mind – what was left of it – was like a prisoner, cast into an oubliette in the darkest corners of my mind, while the worst part of my mind took over and wreaked havoc. That sick, anxious monster that shot down every protest and twisted every argument into a perfect suicidal storm.
I couldn’t think clearly. I wept and wailed and screamed in frustration. I was stuck in a job that was driving me insane, and yet, I couldn’t see any way out of it. Every time I would try to plan an escape, or see my way through the darkness to the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, that irrational monster that is my mental illness would respond with despair and point again to that razor’s edge, and the escape it would afford me. I was at the point where I was constantly on the verge of tears, and being around people was nearly impossible. I could hardly get out of bed, and would often hide in sleep to avoid dealing with life. Sleep was the drug I was abusing, and it was everything that the anti-drug groups worried about – escaping into something in order to avoid having to deal with reality. And it meant that I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was calling in sick to work, I wasn’t keeping up with personal hygiene, and I could hardly stand to look at myself in the mirror.
Eventually, I had to drag myself out of bed and go through the motions, going to a job that was killing me. I don’t exaggerate. I hated my job so much. I can’t tell you which was worse: the bullying or the gaslighting, but if I had stayed there, I don’t think I’d be writing this right now. This was my life – headaches every day, trembling with anxiety, eyes constantly shrink-wrapped in tears, all the while the constant beating of death drums in the back of my mind, telling me to KILL YOURSELF KILL YOURSELF KILL YOURSELF. Sometimes it would just be a passing thought; other times it would be like an attack, which would take every ounce of strength to fend off.
I have scars. I have bruises. I have open wounds. You might not be able to see them, but they are there.
Who smokes pot?
I do. This may sound a little funny, but if I get that guy – that asshole that’s constantly beating me down and telling me I’d be better off dead – if I get that guy stoned, he leaves me alone. I can calmly assess my situation and make clearheaded decisions. The effect that cannabis has had on my mental health cannot be ignored. As a mood elevator, it is second to none. Smoking a nice Indica calms me and releases the rational part of my mind from its prison. I can smile again, and be creative and look at my problems in peace.
When I am in the midst of that darkness, it is impossible to tell the difference between my sickness and reality. Everything that negative doomsayer voice says makes perfect sense to me at the time. Every accusation, every dark spin my mind puts on my life rings true, and suicide doesn’t seem like an bad decision, but rather, the only one that makes sense. And there is still a part of me that wants to live, and doesn’t want to give in to that. There is still a bit of me that recognizes that this is mental illness, and not rational thought. So that bit of me reaches for that sticky bud, grinds it up, and smokes it up. And the voices stop. (Not actual voices, of course – that’s a whole other issue that I thankfully don’t deal with.) A weight lifts off my shoulders and I can look my wife in the face and smile, and when she says that it’s going to be okay, I believe her. I can see the light, and it’s not at the end of the tunnel, it’s shining right on me, and I can assess my life through new eyes.
This past week, marijuana kept me alive. It helped me cast away the darkness, and after a moment of clarity, I realized that I didn’t have to give in to despair and fear. No one has to stay in one place forever, I decided, and so I quit my job. Ordinarily, that would be a big bowl of anxiety with anxiety sauce and some Parmesan anxiety sprinkled on for good measure. But I beat the cycle. I used cannabis to get to a state of mind where I could make a plan, and the good news is, I start a new contract job next week, with a full-time position on the horizon.
Who smokes pot?
Cancer patients. Epileptics. Teachers. Doctors. Lawyers. Bankers. Your mom and dad. Your brothers and sisters. Athletes managing sore muscles. Construction workers, retail workers, the lady who serves you your coffee and is on her feet all day. The customer service agent who gets yelled at all day. The musician who writes your favorite songs, or the writer of your favorite books, movies or TV shows. The artist who makes your favorite cartoons.
Every day people. People like me, who suffer from mental disorders that overwhelm the senses. The truth of the matter is, it’s really nobody’s business why anyone smokes pot. It’s a personal decision.
I smoke pot, and I enjoy it. It gives me a quality of life that I refuse to apologize for or be made to feel ashamed of. To me, it is good medicine.