Updated: May 31, 2020
Lithium, Kolonipin, Neurontin… just a few of the many medications I was on at any time from 2012-2015. I didn’t see anything wrong. I didn’t think much either. I questioned nothing. I was a pin cushion. I was a shell of myself. I a pill bottle with legs. I felt next to nothing and anything I felt could be easily remedied with a trip to the doctor.
By the sounds, you’d think I was a pill seeking “junkie,” but in reality, I suffer from a variety of mental and physical health conditions and was taking medications as prescribed. In fact, prior to 2012, I wasn’t even able to swallow a pill consistently. Now I am able to swallow a handful at a time, and I hate it.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been different from the others. Slower, less active, uninterested in much of what was going on in the neighborhood. I have always felt tired, achy and at times in unbearable pain for no reason at all for days on end.
Growing up it was always chalked up to growing pains and being a picky eater, maybe over doing it when I was active. But there were other things that made me different too, like having had chickenpox four times. “Random” blackouts and strep throat for what felt like forever. My parents took me to the doctors, but the doctors never seemed to find anything.
Having dealt with pain and illness so often, my parents trusted me with things like Tylenol and taking my medications as prescribed. It was never an issue. I never enjoyed taking anything, so there was never a fear of abuse or addiction. I was even trusted to decide when to stay home sick, as I got a little older. No need to pull a Ferris Bueller! Total trust and belief in my pain, whether it was physical or mental.
In spring of 2012, I was on more than a half dozen medications to treat my mental and physical health conditions. I was taking over twenty pills a day. Four, eight, twelve, twenty four hour increments, this was just alarms on my phone, breaking up my day to remind me to take my medications as if my body could let me skip a dose.
High? Addicted? No! Of course not! Not me. My doctors know every pill I take, and they know what’s best. I’m not high, I’m medicated! I’m not addicted! I’m a patient!
Or so I thought…
I had a family member and their significant other visiting me for an extended time. We hadn’t seen each other in years and we had the best time! But, I kept finding my medications out of place and often where they didn’t belong. Loose pills on the stoop or in the furniture. Naive, I believed the lies and misdirection, “no, we didn’t touch it.” “Are you sure you didn’t drop/move it there?” I didn’t want to see what was in front of me. Maybe I just couldn’t?
Sadly, I learned the hard way that that loved one and their significant other were taking my medications, and not just mine, but anyone else who’s bathroom they used. They were also using dope and that was what lead to the discovery. When I confronted them about what they’d done, they deflected to me, and how I was no better than them. How I could think I was all I wanted, just because my dealer wears a white coat… but it’s all the same.
Now, they weren’t right, but they weren’t wrong. I was addicted to medications because I let someone else control my body and what I put in it. Those “medications” made me a zombie and stripped me of my personality and life. I wasn’t trying to escape life, I was just trying to survive and cope, looking for pain management and emotional healing, but I was going about it only half right.
Though I wasn’t abusing my medications, I was addicted. I wasn’t taking them to get high and escape, but I was high and what I was doing could hardly be considered living. I was nearly completely bedridden and had social workers that checked on me three times a week, took me to appointments and made sure I had all the necessities, such as food and shampoo. I was at an all time low in my life, but I was doing everything the doctors told me too.
I realized that I could no longer “live” like that. I decided to detox myself of everything. Of course none of my doctors approved of it, so I had to do it on my own and I stopped seeing all of them. I felt like they just enabled me and kept me from finding better alternatives. Healthier alternatives. As long as I kept filling scripts, they kept getting paid. It was never going to end.
I stopped all my medications in April of 2012, I spent two months sweating, puking and feeling like overall absolute total death. The worst one for me was the Kolozapam. I wanted that little blue pill 3 times a day for over a year. I’d pick at things, get agitated and fidgety. It was hellish.
In June of 2012, I became a patient of the New Jersey cannabis program. Though I still “craved” several medications for months after giving them up, Cannabis helped me control my discomfort, helped me to stay off most of them until this day, gave me back a quality of life and also, hope for tomorrow.
Was I high then? Yes! Was I a patient? No, I was a consumer.
Am I high now? No, I’m medicated. Am I an addict? No, I’m a patient.
I didn’t try Cannabis until I was well into my twenties. I didn’t get it, but I didn’t judge it. I never really understood Cannabis or what it was capable of, until Cannabis gave me something my many doctors and medications couldn’t, hope and relief.
Cannabis has saved my life, and I don’t think that I’ll go a day without it for as long as I live.