I’m a 53-year-old divorced woman with two grown sons. I graduated magna cum laude from college and have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Computer Science. I worked for several years as a computer programmer and then as an occasional consultant during the years I was raising my sons. When my youngest son was old enough, I got a teaching certificate and became a public school teacher.
But I no longer teach. I decided to change my life dramatically, because I thought it would make me feel better. Yet even though I changed my situation, I’m still troubled by chronic low-grade depression and anxiety.
I’ve experienced this, with just a few happy interludes, almost constantly since adolescence. I attempted suicide as a teenager and experienced a major postoperative depression in my 30’s. Several antidepressants (Prozac for example) were prescribed for me along with Xanax for anxiety. A year after I was diagnosed with clinical depression, I realized I was addicted to Xanax and when I stopped taking it the withdrawal symptoms included extreme anxiety, insomnia, and muscle spasms. It was horrible to say the least.
And all the doctors, counselors, and pills were quite expensive. My husband and I were able to afford it, but ironically if I’d been poor and hadn’t had insurance, I would have been stuck with either nothing or street drugs. I’ve heard that withdrawal from Xanax is worse than heroin. So was I really better off using legal drugs? Thankfully after another year I’d recovered from my depression enough to stop all medications. I was functional but not happy. I still experienced low-grade depression and anxiety.
In the years that followed, the only thing that helped my depression was marijuana. But my husband was very much opposed to my using it, and I felt obliged to hide it from my sons as well. Looking back, I think it’s ridiculous that we treat this as a moral issue. Our society advocates feeling bad for the sake of appearances and not rocking the boat, whereas getting relief and feeling good (by using pot) is considered immoral and self-indulgent. Now it disgusts me that getting relief is only permissible with the help of the major pharmaceutical companies (and/or breweries). But at that time I felt really guilty about using marijuana to relieve my depression.
So for years I plodded through my life feeling depressed but trying to be a good wife, mother, and teacher. Then I reached mid-life and went bonkers like some people do. When my youngest son was entering college, I divorced my husband and fell madly in love with another man. Being in love again after more than 20 years was exhilarating, and my depression lifted. I was very happy until I ran into problems with my new relationship. Eventually I realized my affair was just another way to escape my problems with depression.
Unfortunately love can also be an addiction. New research involving brain imaging has found that falling in love stimulates the same areas of the brain as narcotics such as heroin. When the honeymoon was over and my boyfriend found less and less time to spend with me, I felt a little desperate and found myself going to extreme lengths to maintain the relationship.
One problem is that he’s from another country and can’t move to the U.S. I shudder to think about all I’ve invested trying to make it work by living in his world. I feel somewhat out of control, because I continue to love him no matter what and I miss him terribly when we’re separated.
But this summer something happened that gives me a little hope. While I was home for three months (and missing my boyfriend very much) I started smoking pot again. I had the privacy to do this, because I was house-sitting for relatives. And I found it to be a very uplifting experience.
Before I got high, I was just sitting around thinking of ways to make my troubled relationship work. After getting high, I was listening to music (by the way, Hurdy Gurdy Man by Donovan is great music for getting high), dancing, doing yoga, swimming, watching the birds at the feeder outside, walking the dog, cheerfully doing chores, and being creative. In other words, I was being productive and experiencing happiness on my own without needing anyone else’s approval. And I can assure you that buying a little weed is much less expensive (and disruptive) than paying for prescription drugs or having a boyfriend who lives abroad.
Now I’m back with my boyfriend for a few months and I wouldn’t dare use marijuana in this country. That’s not a problem, since pot isn’t addictive. There was no withdrawal of any kind when I stopped using it. But to wrap up my story, it may be that when I go home this time, I’ll stay home. My boyfriend and I do love each other, but the problems that keep up apart are very difficult. He doesn’t mind me coming to him as long as I shoulder all the expense and don’t ask him to make any effort. It’s not easy for me to face the end of our relationship, but knowing I have a stash waiting for me at home really helps. I think I’m better off using pot than being dependent on a man who is taking but not giving.
As I move on with my life as a single woman, I plan to continue using marijuana. I want to become more healthy, positive, and spiritual. I also want to be more self-sufficient and productive. For anyone who wants me to feel guilty about using this natural substance, I’d like to point out that we all need something to survive. After spending most of my life feeling sad, anxious, and depressed, I realize there’s some kind of deficiency in me. It’s not my situation that’s to blame. The problem is inside my brain. Marijuana helps to correct the problem, whatever it is, and I refuse to feel guilty about using it.
I’ve found marijuana to be helpful with depression, anxiety, addiction, and negative compulsions. I normally smoke pot in the form of cigarettes rather than ingesting it. It seems I can regulate the dosage better that way, because the effects are faster. I take just a few puffs and then wait to see how I feel. I can always take more if I need it, but that way I avoid feeling too stoned and out of it. One joint normally lasts me two days. I may use it as much as twice a day if the effects are positive and cut back if I notice any ill effects (like headache). I just learned about vaporizers and would like to try that to avoid smoker’s cough.
Thankfully I’ve never been busted, but now that I know I want to use marijuana as a medication, I’ve actually considered moving to another state. In my home state I could spend six months in jail for a first offense possession. Hmm, Mississippi is looking good at the moment.
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