A Way of Life by "Emancipated"
I am a 26 year old male living in Ontario, Canada. I am a university graduate with a B.A. in political science and a diploma in human resources management. Currently I am working within the communications industry and am constantly searching for my dream job anywhere else! I have been happily married for just over one year to my high school sweetheart whom I have had the privilege of having in my life for 8 years now. My story details my personal use of marijuana as treatment for chronic anxiety and depression and the psychological as well as (somewhat surprising) physical benefits I have reaped from this truly amazing and natural substance. To me, marijuana is not a “party drug” but more like a daily vitamin and by sharing my own experiences I hope to show others that this is not some harmful illicit substance but rather a natural miracle that has allowed me to take control of myself and start living life.
In the past year I have become extremely interested in the use of marijuana as a daily medication. Based upon my own personal experiences and the experiences of a close associate I have come to formulate a number of theories as to how marijuana can be used not simply as a recreational “party” drug but as what I like to refer to as a way of life. Simply, for me, it has become such and I feel my story helps to bust many of the current marijuana myths while at the same time promoting the many benefits of its use.
This is my story.
In January of 2001 I sought treatment for social anxiety disorder. I was in my third year of university studies (I have since graduate with my B.A. in Political Science) and I was suffering daily from terrible social anxiety. I had been plagued since my early teens with devastating anxiety that caused me to create false illnesses in order to avoid going to school. I simply could not function in society. Unfortunately, I had no idea what was wrong with me. In public situations my muscles would become tense, I would become shy, sweaty, nervous, and I would need to remove myself from the environment. As the years went on, this condition went through various stages but eventually worsened during my university years. Although I had a steady girlfriend (she is now my wife), was doing well in school, had terrific parents, and had jobs to earn money for tuition, I simply could not shake my constant state of anxiety. It got to the point where I stopped going to classes, avoided malls, restaurants, and secluded myself in my room. I could not function in the world. I finally decided to seek treatment and was placed on Paxil. Unfortunately the side-effects forced me off of the drug and I was prescribed Effexor XR at doses of 225mg per day. The drug helped but I still suffered from anxiety, occasional depression, and I still struggled, not as often as before, but still more than I wanted to live a “normal” life.
I tried marijuana for the first time in my life in December 2002 at the age of 23. I had never tried any recreational drugs, hard or soft, before in my life. My first experience was nothing special and I didn’t try it again for a while. However, in 2004 I began to experiment more with marijuana. At first it was typically social and I was using it as a party drug. But as my use increased I began to notice a number of changes, mainly psychological but also physical. However, to appreciate the positive aspects of my experience I must explain why I began using heavily from the summer of 2004, increasing my daily intake until I became a regular (daily) user who smokes a minimum of one joint per day but on average probably smokes between 3 and 6.
In 2004 I became engaged to my girlfriend of 6 years. Her family is very religious and I was always trying to get in their “good books” as I am not religious at all and they felt that I shouldn’t be with their daughter. Combining the stress of my marriage, issues with in-laws, and a number of career related issues that seemed very negative at the time I probably would have cracked under the pressure had I not been using marijuana. However, I began to notice that by simply smoking a minimum of once a day or even just a few times a week I was able to, in a sense, put the brakes on my mind and stop it from snowballing all of the issues in my life. I was able to sit back, relax without anxiety, and simply analyze my life and the events occurring in it and come up with a plan of how to approach any and all issues.
Following my marriage in January of 2005 my in-laws became rather intrusive and were attempting to control aspects of my life. They felt it was their right as parents of my wife. In the past I would have felt fear and guilt and would have altered my personality and beliefs to accommodate those of others. But by using marijuana and taking advantage of the ability to sit, think, and analyze I had learned a lot about my own beliefs and was more comfortable with myself than ever before. This self-acceptance led to an increase in self-esteem and I was and have been able to stand up for what I believe in and approach life with confidence and enthusiasm. To gain these traits after being in a depressed anxiety ridden state for so long was quite liberating. From this experience, I began to examine how else marijuana use had changed my life.
Watching and listening to others as I progress through life I have learned that very few people are happy. Most people seem to be unsatisfied with life in one way or another whether it is their relationships that aren’t right or they aren’t happy with their career choice or they simply just cannot find anything to be happy about. For me, however, I approach everyday with renewed enthusiasm and I can honestly say I am happy every day of my life. Why? I simply do not worry about every little issue that may or may not confront me. I have slowed down my mind (not in a negative way) and I have learned to use what seems like a heightened analytical ability to make sense of daily issues that cause some people to withdraw from life itself. I feel that marijuana has changed my mind for the better and has opened my eyes to the reality that is life. Since I don’t have a better example I will use the Cave Analogy as presented in Plato’s Republic. Simply, through marijuana use it is like I have been allowed to leave the cave and experience reality instead of staring at the shadows on the wall. Simply, marijuana use has allowed me to gain a higher understanding and I have become enlightened.
Marijuana has become a way of life for me and I simply believe that by using it on a regular basis I am psychologically better for it. I love life and simply have an understanding of…well….life itself that seems so advanced that I feel my mind has experienced an evolution of sorts. At first when I used marijuana I felt the side effects pleasurable but I was simply not used to experiencing the world through an altered perception. I honestly believe that in order to achieve truly magnificent results with marijuana one must use it on a regular or at least semi-regular basis in order to become used to the effects. In the beginning the side-effects can be somewhat distracting and it may be difficult to think, remember, and in general act in a manner that one would consider “normal.” However, regular use allows one to adjust to this altered state of mind and you simply get used to it. It is in this state I find that you peak and now have complete control over this altered stated of mind. It is at this time when one can begin to explore all of the creative possibilities because the mind seems to be working at an increased level. I find, at least for me, by smoking one joint I am able to tap into a different part of my mind, and problems which seemed to have no solution before now have endless solutions. It is like turning on the rest of my brain. For me it has become a way of life.
Since I began smoking regularly in late 2004 and have continued to do so up to the present day, I have not experienced any illnesses. I used to suffer from nasty head and/or chest colds every fall, winter, and even into late spring. Sometimes I would get sick and it would take a month to really clear up entirely. However, since I began smoking I have not had a single true illness. I have felt the occasional cold begin to creep into my body, but my physical symptoms have been nothing more than a scratchy throat and maybe a minor cough, which disappears with the rest of the symptoms within a day or two. Simply, the sickness never fully develops.
This information conflicts with supposed marijuana facts that state many users suffer from respiratory illnesses. I simply cannot verify if this is true or not since my close associates and I have not suffered any major illnesses since we began using marijuana on a regular basis. One associate suffered from a bug and had flu symptoms; however, it lasted only one day. Other members of her family suffered from the same symptoms at the same time for a week and did not feel normal for well over a week. We have discussed this case and like the common colds that we have basically avoided the symptoms were not as severe and the duration was quite minimal.
To sum things up, I have simply had nothing but positive experiences with marijuana and I must say that it has become a way of life for me. I don’t do it to get high like people who drink to get drunk, I simply do it because I am amazed that after suffering for years from anxiety and always worrying about how I appeared in the eyes of others I have been able to liberate myself from a life that was really not much joy to live. I wish that people, especially government and law-enforcement officials could overcome their own propaganda and misinformed brainwashing to realize that there is a medication out there that really does work and could probably resolve a number of psychological issues ranging from depression to anxiety to anger without the adverse side-effects that are common with many prescribed anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications.