Riddled With PTSD & The Pills Weren't Helping
Combat Medic, Lauren, Found Cannabis Therapeutic, Not Addictive As The Government and VA Warned.
By: LoLo Feringa
February 20, 2020
My first experience with cannabis was Vans Warped tour when I was 16 where unbeknownst to me, it stopped the migraines that I had had since I was 5.
Unfortunately, I ended up in a profession that required abstinence after signing up for the military as a Combat Medic. Saying goodbye to my mota to practice selfless service, I had to accept migraines back into my life again. I had many experiences that I won’t dive into as both a soldier and a civilian contractor over a career that spanned 14 years that lead to many disabling conditions, one of which being PTSD.
Fast forward to 2018 when I left the military. I had years of experience with addiction, mental health, stomach and pain prescription medicines to deal with ailments and injuries acquired from my service. PTSD was increasingly showing up in the mirror and the pills weren’t managing anything, it’s like trading one symptom for another all the while masking myself from the world.
"It’s like trading one symptom for another all the while masking myself from the world."
As I say now, the medications I’ve been on were there to make others feel comfortable around me while isolating me and separating me from reality. I started trying to rid myself of those toxins but was drinking heavily to numb my body and mind as I didn’t understand the nerve damage that was taking over my body. This is a very normal experience a good majority of service members are, have or will experience trying to self medicate; however damaging, alcohol is legal and accessible, unlike cannabis.
I started intermittent smoking again because I knew it was safer than the options I had been given and saw more relief from my symptoms than I had in years with pharmaceuticals. I hid my PTSD symptoms for a long time but finally made the decision to step away from the only comfortable constant I had had as an adult all because I wanted to pursue miss-classified, natural, and safe medications vs legal, addictive, and unsafe man-made pharmaceuticals.
I bowed out and got the pleasant surprise of pregnancy immediately following my departure from the military. Unfortunately, PTSD followed me into pregnancy. I began to experience suicidal ideations throughout and then my symptoms began to flare even more after I broke my arm in my 8th month of pregnancy.
I medicated with cannabis products for that last month of pregnancy as an alternative to pain medication while my body healed my ulna and radius and 9 new foreign pins. CBD alone brought my pain from a 10 to a 4, that’s how effective cannabis is on pain. Following that my delivery was filled with joy and love, but it was also filled with the ever-present paranoia and panic. Thanks to my amazing partner I was nurtured through the waves of delivery, then Postpartum depression and flashbacks. It completely clouded my ability to take care of myself. Cannabis, however, made it so that my son didn’t have to be a secondhand sufferer of my depression, panic, and pain.
"I was able to medicate intermittently and it basically helped me maintain my life in the darkest of times."
I was also able to get an experimental injection for service members suffering from PTSD aka Nerve Damage called a Stellate Ganglion Block at the Long Beach VA. My treatment plan now includes both clinical and natural therapies, approved and unapproved from acupuncture, Stellate Ganglion Blocks (an out of pocket expense for most Veterans because it is an unapproved VA PTSD therapy) to Art Therapy, plants to fungi including the ever faithful and safe Marijuana.
Cannabis is hands down one of the safest and most versatile therapies. Its legality is rooted in racism and ignorance, yet hurts every single community in America, some far more disproportionately than others. As a Veteran, I’m appalled at the mounting medically beneficial evidence that has yet to lead us to reclassification or acceptance in our VA healthcare system. It drives me to share my experience for others afraid of the taboo. Its been crucial in my treatment plan and has allowed me to function as the mother of a rambunctious toddler when my unseen service wounds start taking over my mind. It keeps me out of the dark and in the moment and as a new mom, those calm bright moments count more than ever.
For more of Lauren's story of healing and hope, check her out on Instagram.
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