Marijuana and me

This text is troublesome to write down. It is an admission that I failed. And it is not like I failed as soon as, however failed repeatedly over the course of a number of years. And it is not that I actually failed failed, . It is that I failed myself. I didn’t stay as much as my very own expectations.

However I am getting forward of myself. Let me begin firstly.

Goody Two-Sneakers

I grew up Mormon. Amongst different issues, this meant that no one in my household consumed leisure medicine of any form. Mormons have a strict prohibition towards such indulgences. And, as most folk know, they even take their stricture towards “robust drink” to imply that caffeine is forbidden.

So, my mother and father did not drink alcohol or espresso. They did not smoke cigarettes. They did not do something that led to altered states. Hell, my father even hated tv as a result of he thought-about it a “plug-in drug”. For a lot of my childhood, we did not have a TV. Once we did have a TV, entry was usually restricted.

My mother and father left the Mormon church after I was a freshman in highschool. We returned to the native Mennonite congregation by which my father was raised. Mennonites aren’t fairly so restrictive with mind-altering substance as Mormons are — they love their espresso! — however they’re shut.

In highschool, I used to be by no means tempted by alcohol. I had buddies who would drink, but it surely by no means appealed to me. Plus, it was towards the foundations.

Additionally in highschool, I had buddies who found marijuana. Whereas I used to be ambivalent about booze, I used to be actively against pot. I believed it was evil. Plus, it was unlawful. As a rule follower, there was no means I might contact the stuff. And after I was with buddies who did get stoned, I might learn them the riot act. (I as soon as chewed out my finest pal Sparky as a result of he had the gall to get stoned whereas we have been ready in line to purchase tickets for a Tears for Fears live performance.)

Basically, I began life as a Goody Two-Sneakers. I refused to do something unlawful or immoral, and I condemned others for selecting something that I would not select. I used to be a self-righteous younger man who could not see that there is not any single Proper Reply to life.

Good day, Faculty

Faculty opened my eyes. I used to be uncovered to lots of of different good youngsters, most of whom had radically completely different backgrounds from my very own. They believed various things than I did they usually made completely different decisions. As a result of I lived with them and noticed that they have been (largely) good folks, it was unimaginable for me to sentence my classmates as evil or immoral. No, they merely had completely different backgrounds which led them to have completely different worldviews.

Most of my buddies in faculty drank alcohol, as an illustration. Our campus was a type of secure haven for underage consuming, with an express “do not ask, do not inform” coverage. So, youngsters drank. Quite a bit. I experimented with alcohol a bit too, however I did not just like the stuff so did not drink usually.

It is most likely no shock that faculty is the place I first smoked pot. Marijuana use wasn’t frequent, but it surely wasn’t uncommon both. And the youngsters who used it did not attempt to cover it. By the point my ethical stance towards the stuff had weakened, it was a easy matter to seek out any individual within the dorm who would present me get stoned.

I smoked pot thrice in faculty. The primary time was superior. It is nonetheless certainly one of my favourite recollections. However the different two occasions I smoked the stuff, I used to be unimpressed. I barely bear in mind the incidents. Weed held even much less enchantment to me than booze.

As an grownup, marijuana was by no means an choice. For one, it was nonetheless unlawful and I’m nonetheless (largely) a rule follower. Extra to the purpose, my ex-wife was a forensic chemist for the state police. She wasn’t allowed to make use of unlawful medicine or to be round anybody else who was utilizing them. To take action would have price her a profession. She was nicely conscious of this, and so was I. Neither of us have been ever remotely tempted.

So it’s that I managed to keep away from marijuana from the time I left faculty till the time leisure use turned authorized within the state of Oregon.

Legalized Marijuana

When Kim and I returned from our 15-month RV journey, Oregon had legalized marijuana. I made a decision to experiment with it.

My expertise with pot began slowly. I had actual issues inhaling the stuff, so I shied away from smoking it and opted as an alternative for edibles. I preferred gummies. I additionally preferred tinctures I may take below my tongue.

The issue with edibles and tinctures, although, is that they have a tendency to have variable onset and variable results. If I eat a gummy at, say, six within the night, it may take anyplace from thirty minutes to 3 hours to set in. And when it units in, it may give me a gentle buzz or it may flip me right into a puddle of pudding on the sofa.

In time, although, I discovered smoke weed. I additionally discovered which strains gave me a contented little excessive (versus sending me to Loopy City). I significantly preferred Willy’s Wonder.

In late 2016, after I first started experimenting with pot, I possibly used it as soon as every week. As an alternative of consuming on a Friday evening, I might get stoned.

The frequency with which I used pot elevated over time. This occurred for just a few causes.

  • First, pot is cheaper than alcohol. It is a lot cheaper, in reality. A package deal of ten gummies may cost me $20 (though it is normally much less). At one or two gummies per use, that is solely $2 or $4 per night of enjoyable.
  • Second, pot has fewer energy than alcohol. In case you smoke marijuana, you eat no energy in any respect. Wine and (particularly) beer are filled with energy. So, in idea, utilizing pot is smarter for my waistline. (In actuality, utilizing pot nearly at all times gave me the proverbial “munchies”. My snacking whereas stoned was off the charts!)
  • Third, and most significantly, pot helped me sleep. I’ve hassle sleeping. It sucks. However after I take pot I sleep soundly. It is so wonderful!

Due to these three elements — particularly due to the higher sleep — my pot use crept from a few times every week to nearly each single evening. It took a few years to get there, however get there it did.

By the point the pandemic hit, I used to be a every day marijuana consumer. In case you’ve been studying me for some time, that this was additionally across the time that my psychological well being issues peaked. (Stunning!)

Stoner J.D.

I’ve at all times struggled with despair — that is been current since fifth or sixth grade — however by 2019 I might sunk to new lows. And as 2020 arrived, the despair turned coupled with nervousness. Oh, how a lot nervousness I had! It was dreadful. It prevented me from engaging in even fundamental duties. (Ask Kim how troublesome it was to get me to make a fundamental cellphone name…)

However the worst factor was that I might change into silly. I’ve at all times considered myself as a sensible man, a man who likes to learn and suppose Deep Ideas and have advanced discussions with buddies. However I used to be turning into dumber and dumberer, and I may sense it. I actually started to panic as soon as I spotted that I used to be dropping the flexibility to write down a coherent article or essay.

For me, writing is life. Writing is how I course of my ideas and emotions and the world round me. If I am unable to write, I am crippled. The pot was leaving me wordless and damaged.

However I did not know that the pot was taking away my skill to write down. I did not know that the pot was making it robust for me to learn. I did not know that the pot was exacerbating my despair and inflicting my nervousness and turning me right into a bitter previous man. I could not see the supply of my issues. All I knew was that this stuff have been occurring, and I hated it. To manage, I obtained stoned. Once more. And getting stoned simply made me extra anxious and silly.

There have been occasions I might go weed-free for some time. These cases typically occurred after I was touring. If I have been headed to Europe for just a few weeks, as an illustration, I might don’t have any entry to marijuana. I used to be positive with that. In my head, I did not have an issue with the stuff. Pot was simply one thing I used to sleep and (a few times every week) as a substitute for alcohol.

I used to be lacking some apparent indicators that sure, I actually did have an issue. This is an instance.

Throughout my three-week journey to Portugal, Wisconsin, and California in 2019, I had actual hassle initially of the journey. I used to be attending an F.I. chautauqua, which ought to have been enjoyable and thrilling. As an alternative, I struggled mightily. I slept like shit. I couldn’t focus. Worst of all, I used to be irritable. I used to be an asshole. I managed to alienate a few colleagues, which I deeply remorse.

By the point I reached Joshua Tree on the finish of these three weeks, my disposition had improved. However nonetheless I did not notice that sure, I had an issue with pot. That sure, I might skilled withdrawal symptoms in Portugal. That sure, quitting is likely to be the perfect transfer for me.

Nope.

Once I returned dwelling, I resumed taking THC to assist me sleep each evening. The truth is, I upped my marijuana use as a result of I used to be attempting to shed pounds. I sharply curtailed my alcohol consumption and allowed myself to make use of as a lot pot as I wished — particularly as soon as COVID hit a few months later.

I turned your stereotypical stoner.

By the Numbers

As most of , I am a numbers nerd. I like to trace issues in spreadsheets. No shock then that for the previous eighteen months, I have been logging each alcoholic drink I eat and each time I take advantage of pot.

This has been useful.

As an alternative of guessing at how a lot I drink and the way a lot pot I take advantage of, the numbers inform me the reality. (It helps that I am utterly trustworthy with my spreadsheet. It is mindless to “cheat” by placing in false numbers. That will defeat the aim.)

I started this spreadsheet as a result of I wished to doc my issues with alcohol. As an alternative, I discovered myself extra involved with my marijuana use. Sure, the numbers confirmed that I ought to cut back my alcohol consumption, however my consuming actually wasn’t too far out of line with beneficial tips. My pot use was.

I took 265 doses of marijuana throughout 2021 — then an identical quantity throughout the first half of this 12 months. And people doses grew stronger and stronger with time. Once I smoked, I took deeper hits. Once I consumed edibles, I took extra of them.

Then, about two months in the past, I finished utilizing marijuana. This wasn’t deliberate at first. It simply occurred.

In the course of the day, I used to be performing heavy bodily labor as I landscaped the entrance yard. This bodily exertion made it simple to go to sleep at evening. Plus, within the night Kim and I have been consuming extra beer as heat climate set in. These two elements led to a streak of ten days throughout which I did not use pot in any respect.

I prolonged this streak when Kim and I flew to go to her mom in Colorado. I had no pot with me, so I wasn’t tempted. By the point we returned dwelling, I might observed one thing attention-grabbing: I felt nice. For the primary time in a very long time, I felt clear-headed. I felt motivated. I felt like my previous self once more.

“Do you suppose I really feel good as a result of two weeks has been sufficient time for the THC to depart my system?” I requested Kim. (THC is the lively chemical in marijuana, the stuff that will get you “excessive”. It lingers within the bloodstream, which results in residual results even when you have not used it for some time.)

“Possibly,” she stated. “Most likely. You must hold testing it.” So I did.

Two weeks with out pot became three weeks with out pot. That became 4 weeks. Then 5 after which six. It is now been practically two months since I used marijuana. At this level, I really feel assured concluding that the marijuana was inflicting lots of my issues. Not all of my issues, in fact, however lots of them.

I final used marijuana on Independence Day. Since then, my temper has improved remarkably. My fragile psychological well being appears to be regaining stability. I have been vastly extra productive up to now two months than at some other level since getting back from the RV journey. I’ve change into extra sociable. I am studying extra and making extra long-term plans. I am writing a ton. The one factor that is actually suffered has been my sleep. (Marijuana positive helps me sleep!)

Marijuana Is Not My Good friend

Look, I am not anti-pot.

I am not right here to sentence marijuana use for society at massive. I am right here to sentence marijuana use for me.

However this is the factor. Whereas I help your skill to decide on marijuana, I now not wish to select it for myself. I’ve seen first-hand simply how profound an impact it may well have on an individual. Every day that passes since my final use, my thoughts boggles at how a lot happier and extra productive I’ve change into.

Once more, that is true for me. It may not be true for others, together with you. If utilizing pot helps you, improbable. Puff away. It did not assist me — even after I thought it was doing so. I had, primarily, allowed myself to change into the stereotypical high-school stoner: lazy, unmotivated, nonchalant, apathetic. This led to deep self-recrimination…then additional pot use.

It feels superior to be my previous self once more. This summer season, I’ve actually loved rediscovering learn books and write lengthy articles like this one. I am impressed by my skill to have some troublesome (however much-needed) conversations, conversations that in some instances I’ve delay for years as a result of marijuana-enhanced nervousness.

I am not saying that every one of my issues have magically disappeared. I am nonetheless simply as tousled as the subsequent individual. However at the very least proper now, I am not including gasoline to the hearth. I have never shackled myself within the chains of THC. I am granting myself the flexibility to work my means via a few of my points as an alternative of accelerating the burden with weed.

Subsequent up? Alcohol.

Once I determined to surrender pot in July, I gave myself permission to drink what I wished for some time. Nicely, it has been some time. It is time for me to chop again on the booze once more.

A Tough Day

At this time was robust. Kim and I reached the troublesome resolution to euthanize Mother’s cat. We fostered Bonnie in January when Mother moved to reminiscence care, and it has been one lengthy, expensive, flea-infested journey.

Earlier than taking her to the vet, nevertheless, I drove ninety minutes north to offer Mother and Bonnie some last time collectively. For practically an hour, they melted into one. They have been each so, so comfortable. Then I drove ninety minutes again to Corvallis and sat with Bonnie till she had crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Bonnie on Mom's lap for one final visit

Now, as we close to bedtime, I am agitated and unsleeping. I do know from expertise that this can be a unhealthy mixture. The possible result’s that I will not have the ability to go to sleep. I will toss and switch and my thoughts will spin, however I will be up till midnight or one o’clock — or possibly even 4.

My regular resolution for this — regular since 2016, anyhow — can be to smoke some weed. Once I’m wired at evening, I do know {that a} hit of Willy’s Marvel or Blue Dream will knock me out.

I am not going to do it, although. Sure, I will possible be depressing tomorrow as a result of lack of sleep. I settle for that. However what? I might relatively have one unhealthy evening than enable myself to relapse into that darkish and fixed state of self-loathing that is been my norm for the previous six years…