I have suffered from depression since as far back as I can remember.
I came from an abusive household, where most of the violence was directed at me. It swayed from extreme punishments for the most minor of things to extreme neglect where I received no warmth or care from my parents.
School was not much better. Being a ‘gifted’ child, I was a shining example of potential. This meant that I was detested by my classmates, who punished me for the special treatment given to me by the teaching staff. Thus I was physically and verbally bullied for much of my youth.
I went to a government-run primary school that could easily have disappeared among the masses. Drugs, alcohol and violence were everyday things that I encountered. I first started using weed at twelve when it was given to me by an older student who said, “If you want them to like you, you have to join them.” So I did it. As you can imagine, any weed acquired by a thirteen-year-old was pretty bad. I started smoking cigarettes, drinking and getting involved in “typical teenage rebellious behaviour”. Still, I held up my grades because, with parents like mine, not excelling was not an option.
It was around age twelve that I tried to commit suicide for the first time.
I remember writing a letter to my parents explaining my feelings and what I wanted to do. I told them how I felt and how I thought they were treating me unfairly. I remember them, literally, crumpling it up and throwing it back in my face. They yelled at me, seemingly more concerned about what people would think if they heard about this, rather than the fact that their daughter was suffering alone.
That week, I organized my belongings. I bequeathed things to my friends in a sort of “will”. I tided up my room and handed in all my upcoming assignments early. When I had everything in order, I waited until my parents and sister had gone to sleep then marched to the kitchen and pulled out the biggest knife I could find. Tears spilling down my face, I brought the blade to my wrist. I held it there a moment before running it across the flesh.
But nothing happened. It seemed my parents’ neglect spread far past me and to the knives in the kitchen – it was blunt. I flung it down and found another. And another. By the fifth one, I was a weeping heap on the floor. I don’t know how I managed to crawl back to my room, but I did. The next day I woke up, got dressed and went to school like nothing happened.
Upon entering high school, I made a vow not to touch any drug, alcohol or cigarette until I was legally old enough. Somehow I stuck to it. But the depression was still there. And I still was not dealing with it because, frankly, I didn’t know what it was that I was feeling.
Since then my condition has only worsened. My depression grew to include anxiety and insomnia. I developed an eating disorder in my teenage years.
Jumping ahead several years…
I got into a top university that was across the country, far away from my parents. I convinced them to let me go by picking a prodigious degree that only they offered: Electromechanical Engineering. As it gave them bragging right with the family, they let me go.
It was there that I slowly began to understand myself more.
I started smoking weed again, at first, because I hated the taste of alcohol and needed a party medium, but then I learnt that it helped me to sleep. It became a regular part of my life for a while.
Due to university stress, my depression and anxiety grew. The depression meant that I missed class regularly. And my anxiety meant that engaging in things with people in places outside my room terrified me. To cope, I started binge eating and recklessly spending money.
When I was too broke to even afford the cheapest of weed, my life took a turn for the worst. My insomnia came back three-fold. I was napping my way through life – getting a maximum of about 3 hours of sleep per day. My friends noticed the change and encouraged me to see someone.
That’s when I started seeing a therapist. It was through her that I realized that what I was feeling was not normal. She diagnosed me with PTSD and depression.
It was through her that I learnt that I had been abused and neglected as a child. Up till that point, I thought I had had a normal childhood. I often criticized myself for not coping but realizing that other people didn’t have to deal with what I was going through caused me to have a breakdown. The realizations piled up and thoughts of suicide surfaced once again.
That was when I was put on a treatment plan that involved the regular consumption of anti-depressants and weekly therapy.
I have always been one of those people who “beat the odds”. This, unfortunately, is also true for the side effects of medication. It took me eight weeks of constant nausea and frequent vomiting every day for the anti-depressant to kick in. And when it did, I wholly lost my appetite, my sex drive, but most importantly, I lost my empathy.
I felt absolutely nothing.
The problem with losing one’s empathy is that you can then rationalize anything. From being rude to people, to suicide. From the outside it looked like I was doing well: I was sleeping, going to campus and handing in work. I functioned in this way, on auto-piolet, for many months. Until I found myself leaning precariously out my third-floor window, wondering what it would be like to hit the ground from that height. That was when I stopped. I quit cold turkey.
And just like that, I was back to sleepless nights and hollow feelings. But at least I was feeling again.
I turned back to weed to help me sleep. I started learning more about it and the different types there were out there. When I moved back to my home town after miraculously completing my degree, I started experimenting with the various types of weed.
I found that some calmed me down when I was anxious or scared. Others took away pains and sadness, even if for a short time. I was sleeping regularly. I was functioning well. I started at my first job and was thriving.
While I still had feelings of despair, they seemed less prevalent in my mind. The call of the void receded. I learnt to feel happiness again.
Weed did not cure my depression, no. But it did help me function. It helped me feel like more of myself again. It helped me calm myself enough so that I could go out and enjoy a night with my friends. My sex drive came back. My eating habits changed to healthier ones. My self-control returned. Even my poly-cystic ovaries fixed themselves!
Whether by the direct influence of this magical plant or as a side effect of lifestyle changes, my body is beginning to heal itself. I know that without the effect of weed on my life, I would never have been well enough to see that my life needed to change.
Unfortunately, I still have depression. I have dysthymia – a lingering depression that lasts years. I am currently in therapy to help find a way out of it, but weed helps me function daily so that I can keep the positive thoughts and hope that I will get better eventually.
Depression is one of those things that you can never really understand unless you’ve suffered from it. And even then, it’s different for each person as it plays on their individual brain chemistry and experiences. I have friends who have suffered from depression and weed has helped them too. Its benefits are different with each person but its overall effect is the same.
Now, whenever I have to visit my parents, I drink a nice cup of CBD tea beforehand to calm my nerves and ease my mind. I eat a piece of canna-oil chocolate whenever I don’t want to crawl out of bed and go to work. I smoke a vanilla flavoured joint whenever I start a creative project to keep my mind focused. I take a drop of canna-oil under the tongue or a joint before bed when insomnia comes around.
Weed has become a part of my daily life. Even more so, now that I’m writing about it. To me, weed is the equivalent of a bubble bath, a good book and a steaming cup of tea. But not only does it heal and relax my body, but it relaxes my soul – and that is something you definitely cannot buy over the counter at a pharmacy.
This magical plant has changed my life for the better. My chronic depression is now a high functioning version of itself former self. My relationships are more fulfilling as I am able to talk to people and socialise. I am now able to live a full life, filled with friends, passions and work I love.
Weed may not be the whole answer, but it can be the first step you take towards healing yourself. So, if like me, your depression has taken control over your life, try some weed, and take back that control.
May all your days be high ones!