Migraine Headache
by Hunter

Hi, my name is Hunter, I am a 20 year old male from Massachusetts. I am currently employed as a census taker, but from age 15 to 20 I was usually employed as a butcher.

In middle and high school, I suffered from migraines on a regular basis, at least once every couple of weeks. The pain was impossible to ignore and ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen did nothing to alleviate it. Sometimes if I took Excedrine (aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine) right as I began to feel pain, the headache would go away and not turn into a migraine, but I don't know if these would have become migraines otherwise. When I saw the standard auras associated with migraines, I knew it was too late. I would be so sensitive to light and sound that I would lay in bed covering my eyes and ears, wishing I could do something to stop the pain.

The standard pharmaceutical treatments that did work for me were not ideal. I used clonidine to basically knock myself out once I had a migraine, but this isn't a recognized use for the drug and I don't know that it was very safe to use this way. Axert worked to relieve my migraine on the two occasions I used it, but it is costly and can not be used to prevent migraines.

When I was 15 or 16 years old, I first tried marijuana with a couple of friends from school. We were using it purely for recreation, and the first time I smoked, I didn't even notice any effects right away, and didn't recognize them once they set in, but I ended up devouring almost an entire pizza in a matter of minutes when we got back to my friend's house. Since that time I have been using cannabis fairly regularly.

I don't know when I realized that my migraines had gone away, but I wasn't having to stay home from school or leave early because of them, and after several years of use I considered that it might be due to the fact that I had begun to use cannabis regularly. I had been given a two-pack of Axert by my doctor years ago after seeing him multiple times trying to find a cure for my migraines. I had never followed through with measures like a food diary to see if they were triggered by chocolate or strawberries or whatever else is sometimes implicated, and I really didn't see any correlation between what I ate and how often I got migraines. I also didn't really want to cut my favorite foods out of my diet even if they were to blame. I used the first Axert pill when I was probably 16 or 17, and saved the other one.

My migraines became so few and far between that I forgot about the other pill, and I only used it recently when I had a very bad one. Sure enough, it came during a period of non-use of cannabis. The Axert worked, but I connected the dots and realized that cannabis was working as a preventative medicine, and that my headaches would come back during periods of non-use and go away if I was able to smoke at least a couple of times a week. I pointed this out to my parents when they condemned my cannabis use, and finally they admitted that another family member uses cannabis for the exact same reason, with the same level of success.

There was a period where I consider my use of the drug abusive. I bought and smoked cannabis compulsively, and used it to escape a life I was unhappy with. I was attending Rochester Institute of Technology, my roommate was a sleazeball, I didn't have a major and the career exploration program was a sham, and the quality of teaching and curriculum were abysmal. I also used alcohol to excess, and in buying cannabis I made connections where I could easily acquire essentially any drug I could want--benzos, psychedelics, stimulants, you name it. Still, my drug of choice was cannabis, and I was smoking up to a gram a day of high quality buds at close to $20 per gram. While my health doesn't seem to have been affected, my bank account was quickly drained.

My parents blame my academic failure on my cannabis use, and to some extent I agree with them. I think that if I hadn't ever used cannabis, I would have done better. I think that my cannabis use has changed my values and outlook on life. But I don't think the impact has been negative overall. Even though I am poorer for my cannabis use and it puts me at odds with many people, I feel like using it has helped me cultivate my own philosophy and mindset for life. On the occasions I have used large quantities of cannabis alone, my mind has inevitably wandered to big questions about what is important to me, what I want to do with my life, how I should treat myself and other people, and how to address the many problems that plague society. I am a more empathetic person, less materialistic, more aware of my love for my family and friends, and more concerned with world problems and with my own well-being than I was before I started smoking.

Maybe some of that is just growing up, but I think being intoxicated from cannabis has let me follow tangents that otherwise would have never crossed my mind, and allowed me to reach depths of introspective thought that never would have been possible otherwise. Cannabis has helped me get to know myself and the people I smoke with, and has made me a more caring person overall. Many of my family members are on antidepressants, and my doctor often offers them to me as an option, but I don't feel depressed. I used to come home from school crying about how awful it was to be stuck inside all day, supervised by teachers I thought were cruel, listening to lessons I'd always describe as "easy and boring" when my parents asked how the day went, but when I knew I could get home and relax by smoking a bowl, I didn't mind so much.

Cannabis allowed me to appreciate the humor and irony of every day things, and come to terms with the aspects of my life I didn't like. It inspired me to face my problems and seek out a satisfying life, rather than dissociate myself emotionally from everything by taking antidepressants (my only experience is with trazodone). In talking to other smokers who have been on antidepressants, I've found I'm not alone in this evaluation of the different drugs. I read into the Shafer Commission's report, and the description of heavy users' activities and lifestyle reinforced my thoughts.

I still use cannabis regularly, when I can afford to. One of my absolute favorite ways to spend time is to smoke and research random topics on Wikipedia and elsewhere on the internet. I find myself more engaged and inquisitive, and more critical of dodgy writing. I can see how it might help sufferers of ADD and ADHD. I also think that the paranoia present at high doses translates to a healthy skepticism or suspicion at low doses that can be helpful when doing research and critical thinking.

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