Marijuana and Emotional Intelligence
by Anonymous

Dear Professor Grinspoon,

My Name is Kim Gagne. I am a 36 yo white male. I am married, have four children, and lead outwardly a most normal life. But ever since my mid teens I have been battling depression. When I was 25 I was put on wellbutrin to counteract the depression and adderall to help with my ADD. Amazingly it seemed to work. The pervasive darkness I felt had disappeared and the pain was gone. For that I have been most grateful. But as the years have gone by an imperceptive darkness has seemed to slowly be growing. It was not depression, but it was debilitating all the same. I have seen commercials on TV for medicine to help your depression if your current medication isn’t quite enough. I had considered this but never quite got around to asking my doctor about this. The nothingness seemed to be growing at an increasing rate threatening to engulf me in nothingness, not darkness. I know because I have experienced true mental darkness and this was not it. My being was slowly being drained away to leave a hollow husk of a person, yet I was not depressed. I was only aware that something was seriously wrong. I don’t drink or use drugs but about six months ago I started to drink in order to fill the void. It gave me some emotions but they were not controllable or reliable. I soon stopped. By chance my brother in law moved near us and he smoked pot. I tried it a few times and was very relived inside. Over time I noticed that when I was high I was a better person. I was more perceptive to myself, my wife, my children and the world. At first I didn’t understand what was happening. Then I realized the reason for my sudden ability to relate to other people came from my ability to feel. I hadn’t realized that I had built a wall around myself that was truly impenetrable to feeling. Over the past few months I have been conducting my own experiments into how this worked best. Long story short, I found that by smoking a small amount was the key. Not enough to feel the exaggerated effects of the pot, but enough to take the edge off. By taking one hit every 3-4 hours I have been able to sustain my ability to feel my emotions and that of others. It’s been a few weeks now since I have really perfected this. I can even go 8 or 9 hours and still have positive effects.

This leads me to believe that there are some underlying benefits that last long beyond the high wearing off. I really don’t even like the high, being out of control feeling which led me to smoke only a small amount. I believe that the wellbutrin not only suppressed my depression but effected all my emotions in a similar way. Because my depression was so bad I didn’t notice the ill side effects to my other emotions. I find it hard to believe that a pill can be made to target only the depressive emotions living all else intact. Since my new found emotional intelligence has returned I remember my life which I had all but forgotten. I remembered losing my grandfather at an early age as well as everything else that led me to shut down, subconsciously, my emotions. The wellbutrin just put the nail in the coffin.

I am now able to go back to pivotal points in my life in which the damage occurred, understand them, and let them go. Through this process my life has changed in unimaginable ways. The changes have manifested themselves physically and emotionally. I have had to start writing down my experiences, and my understanding of them for fear of forgetting them. I am including below one of the revelations I had in my life that I have been able to resolve. I feel that what has happened to me is of profound importance. I would have had zero chance of this self discovery through pills or therapy. The emotions that were key to my healing were locked behind closed doors. I now understand that this may be the same for many people and if they are not allowed to feel their emotions they will live in a void less pit until they die. I do not know if you have been exposed to a similar experience as this. But on the chance you have not, I have decided to share my experience in the hopes it may serve to help other people drifting through a meaningless and colorless life. I no longer define myself by what I do. That is a part, but I am also important just because I am me. I was not able to see this. I am very clearly able to articulate my experiences before and after this revelation. I believe I could help doctors find an alternative to the medicines used for depression through the validation of my own experience. I understand that I am not qualified to share this with the masses but a doctor with credibility might be able to help change the demonic view of marijuana to show what incredible uses it has through responsible use. After all any of the medicines they hand out now can be used in an irresponsible way. What’s the difference?

The reason I wrote to you is that your name came up first when I googled ‘physiatrists in support of marijuana’. I thought you may be interested in perusing this. If not, maybe you can send this to a colleague or student interested in writing a thesis. Either way I am grateful for anything you may be able to do.

Kim Gagne

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