I Just Wanted to be Normal. To be Healthy. To Have My Life Back.
Updated: Nov 30, 2019
By: Lacey Jaye
November 29th, 2019
I don’t think there is a single person that walks this earth that is free from trauma, pain, or illness, so I think just about everyone can benefit from reading what I have to say about cannabis.
They say we aren’t our past, our traumas or our mistakes, but those things are as much a part of who we are as the good qualities we possess. Our negative experiences are just as much a part of who we are as the positive and who would we be if not for all we’ve overcome?
My life sometimes seems like it’s more trauma and negativity that anything else, but I feel like my trauma says more about my strength than anything else. The things I’ve survived and overcome have shaped me more than the things that have been easy. I’ve learned more from my mistakes than anything else.
I have several autoimmune diseases and a degenerative disc disease in both my lumbar and cervical spine, which causes me to be in near constant pain. I spent years pleading with doctors and medical professionals to take my pain seriously, but it wasn’t until my late twenties that that began to happen. Once doctors believed me, I did anything they told me to do in hopes the pain would stop. From physical therapy to medications, I questioned nothing and did as I was told.
Even if the medications didn’t work, I took them because that’s what I was supposed to do. We just upped the doses...
Alongside my chronic pain, I’ve dealt with trauma and mental illness. My mental health dictated much of my life and attitude. I was in denial about it all through my teens and well into my twenties. I battled with depression and anxiety all through my childhood, but as I got older it got worse. I was an outcast and blacksheep everywhere I went. It seemed like drama followed me everywhere.
My biggest fear was to end up like my mother so I didn’t agree to a full psychiatric evaluation until my mid twenties. There was (and frankly still is) a lot of stigma around mental health, especially in my family and I was already compared to my mother often. For me that wasn’t endearing, it was more like a backhanded compliment.
By the time I agreed to screening and medication, I was nearly completely unstable. I was heavily medicated and even committed, which was what I was worried would happen. I feared I was following in my mother’s footsteps and I was unsure of what to do.
By this time in my life I had pushed away most of my friends and family. No one wants to admit they have a friend or family member in the psychiatric hospital. At least that’s what I thought.
I was nearly all alone and felt like no one understood what I was going through. Every choice I made was wrong. I ended up losing custody of my son to my ex-husband and abuser. I had allowed myself to slip so far down the abyss of mental illness that I lost my baby to someone who had been a major part in the decline of my mental health. I wanted to die. I wanted to give up. I hated everything and everyone. Mostly myself.
Eager to get my son and my life back, again, I did everything the doctors said. I took every pill. I went to every group.
I just wanted to be normal. To be healthy. To have my life back.
During the many hours of therapy I learned about my various conditions. I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1, Major Depressive Disorder, anxiety disorder, complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), and a dissociative disorder. All my life I’d felt like a burden and the more I learned about myself, the more that thought solidified in my mind.
I was beyond damaged.
Between the psych meds and the pain meds, I became a complete shell of myself. The pills made me feel invincible. I slept all day and was up all night. I was addicted to my medications, though at the time I didn’t see it. I was just doing as I was told.
Then divinity stepped in, in the form of a tragedy and some harsh words of truth from an unlikely source.
Someone close to me was an addict. I didn’t see it because I was too high to see it, or maybe I just didn’t want to see it, but nonetheless, it was there.
“You think you’re better than me because you get your pills from a doctor in a white coat, but you’re no different than me. You’re addicted too.”
I don’t know that I thought or think that I am better than anyone, but I did think I was above that type of situation. But I wasn’t. I was taking over 20 pills a day. Sure, my doctors knew about them, and I was taking them as prescribed, for the most part, but I believed I needed them, ALL OF THEM. I couldn’t even be late for a dose without getting the sweats and the jitters. My organs were literally being damaged from the medications. I wasn’t a drinker, but I had liver disease! I needed to do something different.
So I decided that I didn’t want to take the pills anymore. None of them! Some of them were easy to get off, while others were not. I stopped going to the doctor and the hospital every time I got sick or was in pain. I realized that the doctors I was seeing at that time were not helping me, and that the hospital doesn’t have the ability to cope with chronic pain.
I know morphine doesn’t help me, but they don’t. I started to get used to the pain, and I began to find new doctors.
As I found new doctors, I realized that there were other ways of getting relief for the pain I was in. I got my medical cannabis card and began to use it. Cannabis helped me quill the pain and navigate detox a little easier. The hardest medication for me was my anxiety medication. I wanted klonopin for over a year. Badly.
I used solely medicinal cannabis for eighteen months and saw a major decrease in my symptoms. I was able to get out and live life! But once I began to run out of money (I’m disabled and live on a fixed income), I noticed my symptoms coming back-- worse. I wound up going back on medication and before I knew it, I was back to twelve pills a day. Heartbroken.
I have been a medical cannabis patient for about five years now. Recently I moved and now I live in a state where there is easier and more affordable access to the cannabis I need, to help with my mental and physical health. The bonus is it’s also closer to my son. I’ve been able to reduce my medications again since the move, now I take 2-3 a day. I’ve been opiate and benzodiazepine free for five years, but I know I’ll always need something for the depression and bipolar. And that’s okay.
Cannabis has saved my life.
I’ll never be the person I thought I’d be growing up. There’s things on my bucket list that will never be checked off, like mountain climbing with my pop in matching hiker boots, but there are so many things that are possible now. Today I am present for my son and able to function (for the most part)!
I wish that everyone would take the time to see the many ways cannabis can positively affect the lives of those that are ill and afflicted. We need to help demolish the stigma attached to cannabis use, mental health and invisible illnesses. These “negative” traits are attached to real human beings, and if using cannabis helps make life a little easier to live for some, why can’t we just let it be? I wish I’d found cannabis sooner. I wish that people didn’t think I was a drug addict for my cannabis consumption but supported my use of heavily dangerous and easily abused pharmaceuticals.
At the end of the day, I can’t change the trauma I’ve endured, I can’t heal my physical ailments or erase my mental illness, but I can spark up a joint and ease all that pain just enough that life is worth living. What’s wrong with that? I’m a cannabis patient and advocate and I’m proud to be. Honestly, I don’t even know where I’d be if I hadn’t found cannabis and gave it a chance. It’s as close to a miracle as I’ll ever be.
For more info on Lacey's journey with trauma, healing, and medicating with cannabis visit her Instagram.
Have a story to share on Jane's Journal? Email 650 words or more about your experience with trauma, healing, and medicating with cannabis to firstname.lastname@example.org.