One thing that I am guilty of is not taking this shit seriously. To me, weed is pure pleasure, and I indulge in portions of its culture that fall cleanly into the “shenanigans” category. But outside of my bullshit, weed is something of a wonderdrug for many ailing people. While most people are aware of marijuana being used to treat glaucoma, suppress nausea, and stimulate appetite in cancer patients—and even work as an analgesic—I recently spoke to someone who uses it to treat his anxiety disorder. After trying every prescription drug under the sun, he finally found that what works best is weed, pure and simple. Here’s his story.
Whatever it was that caused Winston’s anxiety, it managed to fuck up his life proper. It could have been a chemical imbalance that suddenly took effect in his teens, or possibly a reaction to a generally brutal high school experience of being beaten by jocks for having a big fro. Either way, by his junior year of high school he was laying on a couch telling a shrink about every possible cause, as well as the crippling effects.
The worst symptom of a chronic anxiety disorder, as Winston describes it, is brought on by an uncontrollable obsession with a single thought that spirals out of control. It’s basically a sudden and severe bad trip that could happen at any time. The sheer panic of knowing that led Winston into long bouts of deep depression, and by college he was on a steady dose of the antidepressant Lexapro. This was the first in a string of SSRI drugs that Winston relied on to keep him level. But that came at a price. He was hit with all the well-known side effects of such drugs—insomnia, a loss of libido, general apathy. Each time we went off one of the drugs, he went through debilitating withdrawal, experiencing brain zaps and mood swings. It made him a real prick too, irate and impossible to deal with. Where the sexual side effects of the drugs damaged his relationships in one way, coming off of them created a whole new set of problems.
For years, Winston went on and off of Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Aderall, Zoloft, Ambien, and lord knows what else, searching for the right balance and finding only that each drug came with nightmarish side effects. Looking back, he realized that the only panic attacks he’d had in the past several years were brought on by withdrawal from prescription meds. It made no sense to keep introducing something clearly toxic back into his life.
Last September, Winston hit a familiar point in the cycle and went off of everything again, but this time he did his best to supplement the absence of drugs with natural alternatives like flax seed oil, and vitamins B12 and D. Hoping for the best, he weaned himself off of Zoloft. Clean of the pills, Winston seemed to be maintaining until one morning he felt inklings of a panic attack coming on. Desperate for any kind of solution, he went for the only thing he had access to: a little bit of weed.
Suddenly, his anxiety melted away. Whatever thought he was obsessing over suddenly seemed trivial, and his slightly distracted mind went on to something else. It occurred to Winston that, while smoking a whole crapload of weed party-style might easily have triggered a panic attack, just a hit or two was enough to put things into perspective. From then on, any time he felt his brain starting to scramble, Winston would take a puff and just chill.
Seeking to refine this treatment, Winston started vaporizing with a Ploom PAX. It allows him to control his dosage precisely, adjusting the heat level depending on the quality of his herb to make sure he’s not pounding too much or too little at a time. The PAX is to Winston what an inhaler is to an asthmatic, and he keeps it holstered at all times.
With such a simple answer under his nose the whole time, Winston spent years as a slave to drugs pushed upon him by shrinks, who insisted that the path to peace of mind was lit by the glow of prescription pills. While Winston had the wherewithal to free himself of their grip, how many people out there are blindly continuing down that road, fully believing that it’s the best thing they can do for themselves?
In the spirit of keeping things casual here on Weediquette, I’ll spare you the political diatribe, Weed might not work for everyone with anxiety problems (and it should be noted that T. Kid ain’t no doctor), but shouldn’t Winston and everyone like him be able to get their medicine legally?