I am not even going to lie.
I’m not sure if ever in my life I have wished more times for the same thing, even if I took a two-year break from it once: “Please God help me to find some weed to calm my mind,” I used to pray.
And now, God has provided in a huge way, as he has in so many incredible ways for me. It’s another blessing that has come out of great struggle.
As of May 22, 2017, I became a Medical Cannabis Registered Qualifying Patient with the Illinois Department of Public Health. I have a very nice card, kind of looks like a driver’s license, and my picture is even pretty good!
How I ended up with the card has not been a pleasant road. A rape and an unusual (maybe doesn’t seem so unusual now) and horrific assault have haunted me the past several years.
But being “arrested” at dad’s memory care institution (you can read about that by clicking here) two years ago and being thrown in the Rock Island County Jail, naked, on no charges at all, for two days (you can read about that by clicking here), is what has left me in my current condition.
And dad’s death of course, only 21 days after the state reunited us. We were kept apart for 108 days due to the memory care institution not allowing me to visit him any longer, even with supervision.
The final two and a half years of my dad’s life were all about elder care facilities, phone calls at all hours of the night, emergency room trips with dad, fighting with my brother over the cost of dad’s care and the fact I could not do it anymore, and a whole bunch of other just crazy stuff.
Living with post-traumatic stress disorder isn’t fun. I don’t trust anybody. But, two years ago I would not even leave my house. I even was having my groceries delivered. So, things are better.
I was hurt by people I personally know who I never thought would hurt me. And that’s what hurts the most.
So how does the cannabis help?
For years, cannabis has allowed me to ignore unpleasant memories that play over and over and over again in my head, particularly if I am idle. I began smoking it a couple of years after I moved to Los Angeles in 1992 and smoked it pretty regularly until two years ago, when the incident happened at the memory care institution.
I know I was given bad “marijuana” at least once, and now it seems very likely that it was K2. But I believe it happened a second time too, or perhaps the weed was laced with something.
At any rate, I had no choice but to give it all up, as I had the alcohol before that, the cocaine before that, the meth before that, and the alcohol before that. Because two bad experiences so close together didn’t add up.
When I got sober, after just a few months, people would tell me how great I looked. I would say, “Well, I drank for 30 years. Heavily.”
So that I already had a year of sobriety from alcohol under my belt, I was TIRED of dealing with anyone or anything related to my past, especially after I got the bad stuff.
At first, myself and everyone around me thought it was wonderful I had quit smoking pot. But it wasn’t long thereafter that I was on a prescription of as many as 4 mg of Ativan per day. After so long, I found the Ativan actually aggravating me during triggers instead of calming me down.
Anxiety medications are in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which are basically alcohol in a pill. While many would wonder why I ever would be prescribed that, my fear, anger and nightmares had become so bad that it was getting in the way of my work and my daily life. I also have a tendency to raise my voice when I become extremely upset, and that apparently is not a good thing.
Life as a kid in a violent home
So, with the help of my health care team, including my therapist and medical provider, I took my medical records clearly denoting my chronic PTSD diagnosis to Chicago. There, I saw a doctor twice – both times for about half an hour – and also underwent fingerprinting.
All told, it was about a $600 process. And I really don’t think this doctor would give out cards to people who don’t come in with the diagnosis already previously made.
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That was way back on April 8. It’s fair to say I’ve been “Jonesing.”
Trauma comes in so many forms for so many people. Mine started early. Due to dad’s rare brain disease, which we didn’t really know (or later, believe) he had at the time, my home was an extremely violent one.
My brother and I, who recently reconciled after finally settling dad’s estate in January, were discussing the violence we grew up with. Once, our mom pinned our dad down and held a steak knife to his neck.
Another time, he took his cane and poked her in the area where her breast had been removed. She was receiving radiation therapy and was weeping and bleeding in the area.
Dad, meanwhile, had just had surgery on his knees. Mom grabbed his cane and beat the holy hell out of both of them.
But my brother revealed to me recently a story I only had heard part of. He walked in once on dad pointing his shotgun at my mother. John, my brother, managed to get the shotgun away from dad. The shotgun was given to my Uncle Don, and that I knew, and I vaguely remember dad being very upset about his missing gun.
My brother was probably 13 or 14 years old; I was maybe 4 or 5.
Hoping to be able to trust, love again
Mom and dad divorced and second and final time (dad never moved out the first time, in 1980) in 1984. Mom got the home – the very home I live in today. She moved a man in about two weeks after she got rid of my dad, and we began to fight so violently I decided to move in with my cousin and pay rent. I was 17 years old making $3.35 per hour at the Quad-City Times, a senior in high school.
And the trauma continued. Mom’s breast cancer, first diagnosed in 1979, recurred many times. We lost her in 1995. She was 53; I was 24. You can read about my mom’s battle with breast cancer by clicking here.
My mom died in the same house I live in today. That’s because my dad, the little rascal, got it back about seven years ago, when he learned it was for sale. I think that’s cool as H.
And although my home was violent, dad and I reclaimed this house during the year we spent in it together. I love my house.
And now I can legally smoke pot in it. Add that to the list of things I never thought would happen, that I am very, very grateful for.
I hope I am able, with access to this new medication, to be able to make friends again, to be able to make eye contact with certain people again, to not be so angry about a past that while traumatic, has produced much fruit.