Some time ago, when I was seeing a therapist in New Jersey, we discussed medical marijuana as an approach to coping with some of my complex-PTSD symptoms, specifically the anxiety and the “fight or flight” approach I had devolved into. At the time, the VA was looking at doing testing on vets relative to PTSD due to anecdotal evidence of some positive benefits.
New Jersey has a medical marijuana law, but it’s really a joke. There are very few dispensaries and the law is so restrictive it’s next to impossible to take advantage of it. Aside from that though, I wasn’t really interested in going that route, primarily because it would have created issues in the relationship I was in at the time.
Colorado was in the plans when I started this little journey, though … with the expressed intent of partaking in a toke (or two, or two hundred), just to see if it might help.
I didn’t think it would. I had smoked dope pretty steadily for about 15 years, all the while experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression (although they were nowhere near the levels I’ve dealt with during the last four years or so). Nevertheless, I figured “what have I got to lose?”
I hit Pagosa Springs on July 22nd. The following morning, after Frank and I had breakfast at The Muffin Shoppe, we drove over to one of the retail dispensaries just outside town – Pagosa Springs has barred dispensaries within city limits. As a consequence, they located in unincorporated Archuleta County.
The guy behind the counter was pretty helpful, recommending a sativa strain … something about it having more “head” impact while the indica strain is more body-oriented. Who knew when we were younger? Back then, I just smoked to get stoned! Anyhow, I walked out with a quarter ounce of “Bruce Banner” – 80% sativa and 20% indica.
That quarter ounce (7 grams) lasted a month. You can tell that I’m not smoking all that much on a daily basis … it works out to about 1/4 gram a day. I’ve typically been having 3 small bowls a day (I bought a tiny glass pipe that holds one, maybe two tokes): one around lunchtime, one at dinner and one before I go to bed. Last week, I purchsed another quarter ounce. This time, it was “Sour Deisel,” another sativa strain. Both purchases cost about $100.
The result has been … ummmm … enjoyable? It’s not enough to really get stoned. Most times I hardly feel more than a buzz, similar to what I feel after a couple gin and tonics. Is it helping my mood? I think so. Is it helping my anxiety and depression? I don’t know, primarily because I didn’t approach this like a scientific experiment. Part of me wishes I would have.
You see, there are multiple reasons why I’m in a better mood. My anxiety is way down. I still feel the occassional downward drift in mood, but it’s been quite controllable. Other times I’ve felt similar drifts in the past? They’ve taken me all the way into a bottomless pit. Not this time, though.
If I was so inclined, I could attribute the improved spirits entirely to the weed, but that’s not the case. The other contributing factors are:
• Getting out of the extreme southern heat into more hospitable climes
• Taking advantage of my free mornings for prayer and meditation
• Being outside instead of confined behind four walls … granted, I’m still not fully interacting with people. I still have a certain “uneasiness” when I’m with more than a few people at a time, like at the communal campfire the owners host on Saturday night. I’ve been to two of them, excusing myself early both times to hit the sack. There’s another one in a couple of days. We’ll see how it goes.
• The support I’ve gained from the thoughts and prayers of others. When I was younger, I used to believe in the efficacy of prayer and am trying to get back to that place. For what it’s worth, friends have been offering support for years. I’m finally at a point where I’m mentally able to appreciate it, I think.
As an aside, my concept of “prayer” doesn’t involve asking for something. Well, maybe it does … but what I’m asking for is for a clearer sense of my identity. Not necessarily to be freed from mental anguish, but for the insight to dealing with it. That probably doesn’t make sense. It’s more about trying to align myself to a higher power rather than request favors from Him. That’s majorly influenced by my Christian Science upbringing … but that’s a topic for another post, in and of itself!
I guess time will tell as to what part the weed played in my improved coping ability and better mood: I’ll be back in Texas in less than 2 months and won’t be returning with any illegal substances. Given my appearance, I’m quite certain I’d be profiled by a highway patrolman on my way out of Colorado while he puts a call in for the drug-sniffing dog (I saw three cars pulled over in New Mexico, just over the border from Colorado … my limited research says the profiling thing is definitely going on.)
Nope, once back in Texas … without the heat … we’ll see how I’m doing, mentally. But for now, things are pretty cool!
The last week was pretty enjoyable for another reason: the neighboring campsite had a new tenant. Kent came up for his 4th annual visit from San Antonio. He was by himself because of a sick dog and a wife that preferred staying home to watch the dog than rough it for a week in a teardrop camper.
Kent is a contemporary of mine (shared generational experiences) and he was very pleasant evening company. We both did our own thing during the day … around 6pm, we’d get together for gin & tonics, followed by dinner. We took turns on the food. My contribution was Italian sausage, chicken and burgers accompanied by various cole slaws, potato salads and the like. Kent also did burgers and chicken, along with a “cookout” lasagna casserole that was out of this world (I got the recipe)! As an aside, are beet salads not universally well-liked? I wound up having it by myself for lunch the day after I though Ken was going to puke on his shoes at the mere mention of “beet” anything! :o)
After dinner, we usually just sat and shot the shit. I’ve not been making any fires it my individual site, despite having my own fire ring … I’ve not wanted to spend the $5/day for firewood. Kent wasn’t under the same restriction as me, so we had a fire any night it wasn’t raining. I might splurge and do a fire a couple nights a week. I have to admit, it was nice getting warmed up before hitting the sack on a cold air mattress! When I get my next Social Security payment in mid-September, I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get a zero-degree rated, double wide sleeping bag … one big enough for both me and Frank!
Frank has been sleeping with me a bit more – he’s decided that the warmth is worth the risk of the occassional errant leg kick! In fact, he’s decided to abandon the lower portion of the bed: he’s typically in bed before me and has already commandeered one of the pillows by the time I’m ready to hit the sack!
During the day, Frank’s been working on the little summer place he’s been building underneath the bushes near the picnic table. He’s dug multiple levels AND flattened out some nearby grass for his lanai! He’ll move from one level to the other based on the sun’s position in the sky.
That’s about it for now. Wish I could say that the days have been bursting with activity, but I’d be lying if I did. Actually, I’m sort of okay with having used the last 5 weeks for nothing more than rest, relaxation and recuperation. I’m taking this as it comes, which is a new experience for me.
Here are a couple of fun photos of Frank I thought I’d share …