Tag Archives: depression

Pills vs People

A person in my life has been suffering from depression lately, and it’s so hard to watch. I’ve never really been on the other side of this as much as I’ve been lately. I mean, I recognize that my mother was depressed a lot as I was growing up, but I think she did a pretty good job of hiding it from her kids. I’m usually the one lying unresponsive on the couch, watching life through the TV because I just don’t have the energy to get up and do anything. It’s very strange to be observing this behavior instead of engaging in it, and it’s clarified and strengthened my views on depression, pills, our society, and marijuana.

My friend’s (lets call him Darien) doctors have been prescribing him all sorts of pills. At one point, he was up to 9 a day and taking well over the recommended dosage for most of them. Pills to help him sleep, pills to help him wake up, pills for anxiety, pills to make him sick if he drank, pain pills, etc. Pills. Pills. Pills. Darien was supposed to go to AA to handle some drinking issues associated with all this mess, and his shrink usually couldn’t see him regularly at all. Now I’ve never personally gone to AA, but from the stories I’ve been told, I never will. Cause some of these people have PROBLEMS. Like trading their children for alcohol type of problems. Which is a lot different than just people who tend to drink a lot when they’re unhappy and can’t seem to control it. AA is not group therapy. I would probably come out of it feeling more depressed and needing a drink. Now I’m sorry if this feels like I’m trashing AA; I understand that the program has changed countless lives and really does help people. I’m just saying that it’s not for everyone and it’s not for every drinking/substance abuse problem. And it wasn’t helping Darien. So he was basically sitting alone in his house all day except for a few random doctor’s visits and meetings, popping pills and hoping that it would all get better.

Well here’s a huge shocker: it didn’t. That’s because while pills can be helpful tools sometimes in some cases, they are not a solution to everything, and I wish that our society would realize that fact. In most behaviorial medicine, we don’t even know the full extent of what the meds do! Listen really carefully to that next SSRI commercial on TV; you’ll notice the phrase “<insert medicine here> is believed to <insert pretty picture of synaptic gaps, serotonin, etc>.” My medicine is believed to do something? Like if I believe it will work, it will? I know what they’re really saying: we’ve tested this product out on people like you and we’ve observed these consistent changes. That’s awesome, I’m glad that you’ve recognized some of what these chemicals do to my body. What else are you doing to me that you don’t know about? One of Darien’s medications actually caused him to have more anxiety, and it was such a rare side effect that his doctors at the time didn’t link it to the prescription; they simply tried to treat it with more pills. We’re treating pills with more pills. Seriously?! He got a new doctor, who took him off of about half of what he was taking, and he’s feeling better. Still depressed, but better.

So here’s a little medicine that I’ve witnessed firsthand with Darien. Its side effects are happiness, sleepiness, slight paranoia, and hunger. Oh yeah, you know where I’m going with this. Marijuana. Now he’s only smoked thrice since I’ve known him and all three times have been when he feels like his medicine has failed him and he has to calm his shit down. And you know what? It works. He feels calm immediately afterwards, and he is more productive and motivated the next day. None of his prescription medications do that. Unfortunately, after telling his doctors and the program he was attending that his medicine wasn’t working and not getting any serious response from them, he smoked. He felt better. He was helping himself where they were failing him. And they kicked him out of his program. That’s messed up. I mean, I can see things from their perspective too. It was a substance abuse program, and the participants are supposed to stay clean. But it’s not like he’s a regular user or even abuser of pot, and he kept pestering them about how bad he still felt and they did nothing.

Ok, so even though I think that marijuana is far better than pills for anxiety and depression, I think there’s an even better cure: people. One of the worst things about depression is feeling alone. Darien is alone in the house all day, every day, watching TV. Days begin to blend together, all motivation is lost, and time begins to mean absolutely nothing because it just keeps dragging on. Circumstances like that would drive a completely stable person a little crazy, so what effect do you think it has on a person who’s already a little off his rocker? We are mainly social creatures that need to interact with other people. Even introverts need company sometimes. I fully believe that companions or life coaches are one of the best ways to combat depression. In my mind, they’d be sort of like the companions that old people have sometimes. You know, they help them take their meds, buy groceries, get to doctor’s appointments, etc. But depression companions would help the depressed person work towards their goals and keep them motivated. When Darien’s sister was in town, he was the most active I’d seen him in months. He was sleeping on a more regular schedule, getting up and staying up most of the day, and helping around the house. It’s because he had to entertain his sister and do things with her. A companion would serve the same function. They’d make sure that a good combination of diet, exercise, and activity worked to help the person get their life back on track. I realize that this is probably impossible for most people because it would cost a lot more than even prescription meds (which are already ridiculously expensive), but I still think that it would work the best. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to him wanting to get better and finding the motivation to help himself.

I just really wish that our society viewed depression differently. Doctors overdiagnose people with it all the time and throw pills at them that they don’t need. What people need is to not feel alone with all of their problems in this chaotic and unstable world that we’re in. This is one of the downfalls of being a competitive, dog-eat-dog, capitalist society.

Reefer Madness!!!

Mary Jane, Oh Mary Jane

When it comes to marijuana, it’s only okay to joke about it. But tell someone you used to hit the reefer in college, and WOAH! Suddenly you’re a hoodlum that fuels the drug cartels and gang violence. Well I’m here as a past user and connoisseur to stick up for this leafy little plant.

I’ll start my case off by stating that, yes, I am a PAST user. I’ve come to realize that you can get in a LOT more trouble for it after college, and it’s just not worth jeopardizing my career and future for a few hits now and again. So I’m sticking to my logic and not using again until this herb is legal. And yes, I would be using it medically and not for recreational purposes.

I have suffered from depression since childhood and have been on anti-depressants since I was fourteen. And every few years, my doctors and shrinks would have to mess with which brand I was taking or up the dosage because the drugs kept losing their effect. I would have at least one depression cycle a year. And when I say depression cycle, I don’t mean that I was sad for a few days a year. I mean that it would screw with my entire life, usually through my sleep cycle. Sometimes I’d have severe insomnia which was the case my freshman year of college when I watched PBS specials all night long in an attempt to fall asleep [and I now know SO many stupid random facts on soooo many topics because of it]. Other times, I’d sleep up to 18 hours a day like sophomore year when I nearly failed a few classes just because I missed so many of them. My depression is debilitating, and you can’t imagine what it’s like unless you’ve experienced it. It dips below the point of suicide to where I don’t even want to commit suicide because that takes effort and I’d probably just screw it up anyway. I’m the huge germ-a-phoebe and I spent three hours lying on the FLOOR OF MY DORM’S BATHROOM because I just didn’t see the point of getting up. I was content to lay there until I died. Therapy, anti-depressants, and light-box therapy could never control the extremes of my depression and mostly turned the world gray without any highs [pardon the pun] to balance out the lows that I was still experiencing.

So now that we’ve covered that I do indeed suffer from depression, I shall make my next statement. In the three years that I used cannabis, I’ve had no depression cycles. I’ve experienced my bad days or my bad weeks like any other person, but I haven’t had a problem with my weight or my sleep cycles which are the two biggest measurable indicators of my depression. That has been a blessing that I cannot even begin to describe. I believe that the cannabis is the reason.

But enough about me personally. Let’s get down to some business. [None of this was actually researched during the time that this post was created. These are all facts and knowledge that I’ve gained over three years of regular use. If I wanted to write a scholarly paper or submit to a medical journal, I’d do research and cite sources, but this is just a blog meant to bring a little enlightenment to those who don’t know much on the subject. I deeply apologize if something is a tad bit off. ] Cannabis was first made illegal in the early 17th century in Jamestown Colony, VA. Why? Because hemp was a competitor with the South’s booming cotton industry. And cannabis is one of those miraculous plants that can grow just about anywhere, including the north. In an attempt to rid cotton of its competition, Southern politicians slapped a Hispanic name on it and used propaganda to spread the word that marijuana was used by blacks and Mexicans and caused insanity, criminality, and death. I love F.D.R, but he’s the one that first crafted a national law making cannabis possession illegal via an unpayable tax on the drug. And the propaganda has stuck all these years. Well it’s time to break that!

Cannabis is much less harmful to the body than the legal vices, alcohol and tobacco, are. It is also impossible to overdose on cannabis. PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE. And it’s not physically addictive. Mentally addictive, maybe, but that also depends on the type of person using cannabis. Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco is mainly because it doesn’t poison the body and it’s not altered in any way. You pick the buds off the plant, let them dry a bit, and smoke them. No fermenting, no adding rat poison and god only knows what else. It’s pure as God intended it to be. Now I’m not particularly religious [although I am spiritual, but I’ll probably talk about that in another post], but I do believe that cannabis has religious value. It brings the mind to a calm place that’s divine for yoga and meditation. One of my former roommates loved doing Bible study and worshiping while stoned. Despite popular belief, you can get things done while baked. I find logic problems and crosswords to be extremely amusing while enjoying the pleasures of reefer. It takes me a little longer to do, but the answers are still correct when I check them sober. Many of the stereotypes of stoners are actually false, while some remain very VERY true.

False stereotypes:

Stoners are lazy. SO FALSE. Yes, it’s easy to get sucked in to the TV because you’re not as good at multi-tasking when you’re high, but once you set your mind to doing a task, it gets done. Finding the motivation can be tricky, but that’s any college kid. I loved taking walks or bike rides while baked. It feels nice to use your body and appreciate clean air when you’re in a euphoric state.

Stoners don’t get anything done or don’t amount to anything in life. So many musicians and comedians are baked most of the time, and they have crazy busy schedules. I stayed on the dean’s list at an academically challenging school while smoking at least once a day. In fact, about 75% of my university smoked regularly. Some failed out, but they were going to fail whether or not they smoked reefer. Michael Phelps smokes weed, and he’s got how many Olympic gold medals?? And I can almost guarantee that Shaun White lights up. I mean, COME ON! He’s a snowboarder. And isn’t his super secret snowboarder camp in Colorado? [This is just conjecture at this point. Don’t quote me here; I’m trying to be light-hearted and humorous.] They have the BEST bud there. Oh, and in Canada too. Primo weed in the north.

Stoners are stupid or “Duuuuude, where’s my car???” The weed doesn’t make you dumb. It just happens that a lot of dumb people smoke it. A lot of dumb people drink too, and they just get dumber with alcohol. Try talking to a 4.0 Poli-Sci or Philosophy major who tokes. I promise you that they can STILL  kick your ass in logic, even while baked. Moderation also helps. There is a point when everyone just starts to giggle, but that usually takes a lot unless you’ve got some REALLY primo bud.

True Stereotypes:

Stoners say dude a lot. Dude… it’s true. There’s just something about the way it rolls off the tongue. Groovy is a most excellent choice as well.

Stoners get the munchies. You have no idea how good your favorite food really is until you’ve enjoyed it while high. I can’t even describe what’s different, but it is. OOOOooooOOOooh yes it is. Food is glorious.

The facts boil down to this. Marijuana consumption makes you hungry, sleepy, and happy. What is wrong with any of those things???? These are basic survival needs!!! Cannabis calms nausea, alleviates pain, and floods the brain with dopamine. These are all reasons why it’s prescribed to cancer patients. It balances out the side-effects of radiation. It’s not a cure for cancer, but it makes the cures we have a lot more manageable.  Cannabis is also a great cure for menstrual pains. It also makes sexual climax easier for a women while making it harder [no pun intended] for a man, allowing a women to have multiple orgasms before her partner climaxes. This last statement has been thoroughly tested and approved by this blogger.

Here’s what you can get medical marijuana for:

  1. glaucoma
  2. AIDS wasting
  3. neuropathic pain
  4. multiple sclerosis
  5. chemotherapy-induced nausea
  6. movement disorders
  7. asthma
  8. allergies
  9. inflammation
  10. epilepsy
  11. depression
  12. bipolar disorders
  13. anxiety disorders
  14. dependency and withdrawal symptoms
  15. symptoms of anorexia and agitation in Alzheimer’s patients

So there you have it. It hurts the body less than tobacco and alcohol. It heals the body and mind in so many ways. It was initially made illegal because it was a competition to cotton. It’s unaltered.

IT’S JUST A PLANT.

So come on United States government. Cut your people a break and legalize cannabis already. I’d really not like to suffer from depression again. But I will because I wish to be a law-abiding citizen. I’ll still fight for it to be made legal though because I truly feel that the benefits outweigh the dangers of this delightful little plant. For more details watch “Totally Baked: A Pot-U-Mentary.”

[And on a side note, I plan to pick a wedding dress made of a hemp and silk blend weave. Isn’t it pretty?!?!]