Marijuana and me

This article is troublesome to write down. It’s 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, you understand. It’s that I failed myself. I didn’t dwell as much as my very own expectations.

But I’m getting forward of myself. Let me begin at first.

Goody Two-Shoes

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

So, my dad and mom 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 of it a “plug-in drug”. For a lot of my childhood, we did not have a TV. When we did have a TV, entry was usually restricted.

My dad and mom left the Mormon church after I was a freshman in highschool. We returned to the native Mennonite congregation during 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 principles.

Also in highschool, I had buddies who found marijuana. While 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 method I might contact the stuff. And after I was with buddies who did get stoned, I’d learn them the riot act. (I as soon as chewed out my finest good friend 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.)

Essentially, I began life as a Goody Two-Shoes. 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 no single Right Answer to life.

Hello, College

College opened my eyes. I used to be uncovered to a whole bunch of different good children, most of whom had radically completely different backgrounds from my very own. They believed various things than I did and so they made completely different decisions. Because I lived with them and noticed that they have been (largely) good individuals, it was not possible 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, for example. Our campus was a form of secure haven for underage ingesting, with an express “don’t ask, don’t tell” coverage. So, children drank. Lots. I experimented with alcohol a bit too, however I did not just like the stuff so did not drink frequently.

It’s in all probability 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 children who used it did not attempt to conceal it. By the time my ethical stance towards the stuff had weakened, it was a easy matter to seek out anyone within the dorm who would present me the right way to get stoned.

I smoked pot thrice in faculty. The first time was superior. It’s nonetheless one among my favourite recollections. But the opposite two occasions I smoked the stuff, I used to be unimpressed. I barely bear in mind the incidents. Weed held even much less attraction 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. More 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 achieve this would have value her a profession. She was effectively 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 grew to become 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 appreciated gummies. I additionally appreciated tinctures I may take underneath my tongue.

The downside 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 wherever from thirty minutes to a few hours to set in. And when it units in, it may give me a light buzz or it may flip me right into a puddle of pudding on the sofa.

In time, although, I discovered the right way to smoke weed. I additionally discovered which strains gave me a cheerful little excessive (versus sending me to Crazy Town). I notably appreciated Willy’s Wonder.

In late 2016, after I first started experimenting with pot, I possibly used it as soon as per week. Instead of ingesting on a Friday evening, I’d get stoned.

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

  • First, pot is cheaper than alcohol. It’s less expensive, in truth. A bundle 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. If you smoke marijuana, you eat no energy in any respect. Wine and (particularly) beer are full of energy. So, in concept, 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 bother sleeping. It sucks. But after I take pot I sleep soundly. It’s so superb!

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

By the time the pandemic hit, I used to be a each day marijuana consumer. If you have been studying me for some time, you understand that this was additionally across the time that my psychological well being issues peaked. (Shocking!)

Stoner J.D.

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

But the worst factor was that I’d turn out to be silly. I’ve at all times considered myself as a wise man, a man who likes to learn and assume Deep Thoughts and have advanced discussions with buddies. But I used to be turning into dumber and dumberer, and I may sense it. I actually started to panic as soon as I noticed that I used to be shedding the power 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 can not write, I’m crippled. The pot was leaving me wordless and damaged.

But 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 powerful for me to learn. I did not know that the pot was exacerbating my melancholy and inflicting my nervousness and turning me right into a bitter outdated 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 cope, I obtained stoned. Again. And getting stoned simply made me extra anxious and silly.

There have been occasions I’d go weed-free for some time. These cases usually occurred after I was touring. If I have been headed to Europe for a couple of weeks, for example, I’d don’t have any entry to marijuana. I used to be effective 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 couple of times per week) as an alternative choice to alcohol.

I used to be lacking some apparent indicators that sure, I actually did have an issue. Here’s an instance.

During my three-week journey to Portugal, Wisconsin, and California in 2019, I had actual bother at the beginning of the journey. I used to be attending an F.I. chautauqua, which ought to have been enjoyable and thrilling. Instead, 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 time I reached Joshua Tree on the finish of these three weeks, my disposition had improved. But nonetheless I did not understand that sure, I had an issue with pot. That sure, I’d skilled withdrawal signs in Portugal. That sure, quitting is likely to be the very best transfer for me.

Nope.

When I returned dwelling, I resumed taking THC to assist me sleep each evening. In reality, I upped my marijuana use as a result of I used to be making an attempt to drop extra 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 grew to become your stereotypical stoner.

By the Numbers

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

This has been useful.

Instead 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’m fully sincere with my spreadsheet. It is not sensible to “cheat” by placing in false numbers. That would defeat the aim.)

I started this spreadsheet as a result of I wished to doc my issues with alcohol. Instead, I discovered myself extra involved with my marijuana use. Yes, the numbers confirmed that I ought to cut back my alcohol consumption, however my ingesting actually wasn’t too far out of line with advisable pointers. My pot use was.

I took 265 doses of marijuana throughout 2021 — then the same quantity in the course of the first half of this yr. And these doses grew stronger and stronger with time. When I smoked, I took deeper hits. When I consumed edibles, I took extra of them.

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

During 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 ingesting 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 time we returned dwelling, I’d 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 outdated self once more.

“Do you think I feel good because two weeks has been enough time for the THC to leave my system?” I requested Kim. (THC is the lively chemical in marijuana, the stuff that will get you “high”. It lingers within the bloodstream, which ends up in residual results even when you have not used it for some time.)

“Maybe,” she mentioned. “Probably. You should keep testing it.” So I did.

Two weeks with out pot become three weeks with out pot. That become 4 weeks. Then 5 after which six. It’s now been practically two months since I used marijuana. At this level, I really feel assured concluding that the marijuana was inflicting a lot of my issues. Not all of my issues, in fact, however a lot 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’ve been vastly extra productive previously two months than at every other level since getting back from the RV journey. I’ve turn out to be extra sociable. I’m studying extra and making extra long-term plans. I’m writing a ton. The solely factor that is actually suffered has been my sleep. (Marijuana positive helps me sleep!)

Marijuana Is Not My Friend

Look, I’m not anti-pot.

I’m not right here to sentence marijuana use for society at giant. I’m right here to sentence marijuana use for me.

But this is the factor. While I help your skill to decide on marijuana, I not need to select it for myself. I’ve seen first-hand simply how profound an impact it might have on an individual. Each day that passes since my final use, my thoughts boggles at how a lot happier and extra productive I’ve turn out to be.

Again, that is true for me. It may not be true for others, together with you. If utilizing pot helps you, implausible. Puff away. It did not assist me — even after I thought it was doing so. I had, primarily, allowed myself to turn out to be 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 outdated self once more. This summer time, I’ve actually loved rediscovering the right way to learn books and the right way to write lengthy articles like this one. I’m impressed by my skill to have some troublesome (however much-needed) conversations, conversations that in some instances I’ve postpone for years attributable to marijuana-enhanced nervousness.

I’m not saying that each one of my issues have magically disappeared. I’m nonetheless simply as tousled as the following individual. But no less than proper now, I’m not including gasoline to the fireplace. I have never shackled myself within the chains of THC. I’m granting myself the power to work my method by means of a few of my points as an alternative of accelerating the burden with weed.

Next up? Alcohol.

When I made a decision to surrender pot in July, I gave myself permission to drink what I wished for some time. Well, it has been some time. It’s time for me to chop again on the booze once more.

A Difficult Day

Today was powerful. Kim and I reached the troublesome determination to euthanize Mom’s cat. We fostered Bonnie in January when Mom moved to reminiscence care, and it has been one lengthy, expensive, flea-infested journey.

Before taking her to the vet, nonetheless, I drove ninety minutes north to offer Mom and Bonnie some ultimate time collectively. For practically an hour, they melted into one. They have been each so, so joyful. 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’m agitated and conscious. I do know from expertise that this can be a dangerous mixture. The possible result’s that I will not be capable to go to sleep. I’ll toss and switch and my thoughts will spin, however I’ll be up till midnight or one o’clock — or possibly even 4.

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

I’m not going to do it, although. Yes, I’ll possible be depressing tomorrow attributable to lack of sleep. I settle for that. But you understand what? I’d relatively have one dangerous evening than permit myself to relapse into that darkish and fixed state of self-loathing that is been my norm for the previous six years…