Marijuana And My Struggle With Anxiety, Trauma, And DepressionWhen I was very young (approximately four years old) my parents had a very rough divorce. There was another woman involved, and my mother had just followed my father interstate due to a job promotion. After they seperated, she was left with nothing - no friends, no job, just two daughters and a tyrant of an ex husband. Intense, sometimes violent conflict had continued between my parents since I was around 3 years old, and would continue even after their divorce. My mother did a wonderful job providing us with a safe, comfortable place to live, a wonderful school, and a dog. For many years, it was just the three of us against the world. While my mother did date from time to time, I didn't really have a stable male influence in my life til I was around 11. During this time, even though my mother managed to do the majority of the work designed for two parents all on her own, she was traumatized herself, and she wasn't great at dealing with emotions, hers or ours. Even though we loved each other, she was almost never physically affectionate towards me, and when my behaviour started to show signs of sadness and frustration, she reacted more with anger and discipline, rather than ever asking me if there was something wrong. There was nobody in my life to show me how to deal with feelings healthily, so I did the best I could to cope. I began to systematically avoid and ignore all aspects of my life that were difficult or upsetting.
I spent alot of my younger years either escaping into books, or into my own head. My imagination became so brilliant, so intense, so versatile, that I found myself drifting there all the time- like in class, or in a conversation. I became so skilled at avoiding my emotions that I never really experienced them properly at all. I felt numb when sad things would happen, then the frustration and misery would build up to a point where I could not control myself, and would hurt myself or destroy possessions belonging to myself or others. But it wasn't until high school that my feelings and reactions became very obviously out of my control. I started to hurt myself, sometimes hitting my head on walls until I felt woozy, sometimes cutting my arms, legs, hips, and torso with scissors from my pencil case. I soon progressed to razors and the cuts got deeper and deeper. I became obsessed with hurting myself and thought about it constantly. It was my solution to everything. If something bad happened, I would feel comforted knowing I would go home and cut myself later. It was a release, I guess, but also a way of visualizing my pain. At the time, I didn't care if other people saw the cuts and scars. Part of me wanted to be regarded as tough, as rough. Maybe because I really felt the exact opposite.
Though my mother eventually intervened, it did little to help. She had me see psychologists who made no difference because I didn't really want their help. Things improved momentarily when I met my ex boyfriend, but after a year or so, that relationship deteriorated because my self injury was completely out of control. I sank into a deep depression. Each morning when I woke up, I would cry for hours just because I had awoken. Just because it was a new day and I was alive. The only time I left the house was when my mother drove me to therapy, and I'd sit in the front seat praying silently that somehow Id be killed in an accident, my mother left untouched. That way, I thought, nobody would blame me for killing myself, but I'd still get to die.
Eventually I reached a point in my depression where I realized I had to do something. I had to either kill myself, or make a choice to do the work necessary to get out of the hole. I couldn't bear to hurt my family; that was the only reason I didn't kill myself. I genuinely felt that life was too painful to justify living, I was only 18 but the world seemed so bleak and ****** I had no qualms about leaving it.
So instead, I moved to the nearest capital city and enrolled in university. I was simultaneously proud of myself and awestruck that is actually gotten out of bed and committed to something. But unfortunately, it was too soon. I stopped going to class and got heavily involved in the club scene instead. Life became something for me to toy with; I would spend weekends taking as many pills as I could get my hands on, just to see how far I could go. Soon I was out almost every night and weekends became four day drug binges, trying to stay awake to avoid that horrible feeling of waking up and still being alive that I still remembered from my depression months earlier. I continued this lifestyle for at least a year, I tried almost every type of illegal drug, I passed out in nightclub toilets, I spent hundreds of dollars each weekend, I lost contact with many friends and family members. I hated myself but hid constantly behind a facade of confidence. I was always scared to be alone because I was frightened that the years and years of negativity would resurface, bit by bit. I wasn't cutting, but I was fully aware I had replaced cutting with drugs.
A few incidents convinced me to change my lifestyle. First, after continuing to party after leaving the club well into the following afternoon, I took a hallucinogenic, 2CB, then went to my parents ( my mother and stepdad) house to see my young cousins. I was at once stricken by and enthralled by their beautiful innocence and kindness, and appalled by my own behaviour. I could tell my parents were disgusted in me but I did my best to shove that memory deep beneath the surface so I wouldn't have to feel the shame and sadness. A few weeks later I took a strong hit of acid at a club, then went home and, thinking I was straight, smoked a large joint to come down. Instead the trip was intensified far beyond the point I could handle and I became hysterical and terrified. I was desperately begging my boyfriend to punch me in the face so I could pass out and not have to deal with the trip anymore. He refused and I had a complete emotional and psychotic breakdown that lasted hours. I still remember it as the worst night of my life, but I also believe the acid forced me to see something in myself I had been trying to ignore my whole life. I realized I needed help.
It's been two years since that night, and 8 months ago I put myself into intensive therapy. A little over a year ago, I also started a psychology degree, and I'm extremely proud that despite my ongoing anxiety problems, I've completed each subject successfully and am progressing towards a career where I can hopefully help young girls in similar situations. Ive found a medication that helps balance my moods, but i believe the true reason for my progress is that I finally made a decision to help myself and love myself. I still struggle with anxiety constantly, my thoughts race about every complexity in my life, but I'm grateful to myself that I can now acknowledge and deal with problems instead of burying them deep inside myself where they inevitably come back to haunt me later, ten times worse than before. I am also a proud advocate of medical marijuana. Even though I stopped drugs pretty much entirely, and also stopped drinking, I now use cannabis as a vehicle for deep introspection and philosophy. It allows me to look at my traumatic memories calmly, and it helps me to let go of them. It has helped me radically change my perception of the world and find beauty in everyday things. Despite the public opinions of marijuana, that if you smoke daily you're a lazy stoner, etc, I have a full, productive life and use marijuana to enhance it, not define it. I'm proud of myself for embarking on this journey of self improvement, even though it is far from over, and I am furious that due to stigma associated with marijuana, many people who could benefit from it may never try it. I'm not saying its for everyone, but it's certainly a better option than most persc
transatlant 22-25 1 Aug 29, 2012