BLAZED & AMUSED
JUNE 28, 2018
Blazed + Amused (@shezblazed)
I have a confession and it might sound a tad eccentric: I use cannabis.
Mama Ganja helps me from my brain, to my lady bits, and everything in between.
And I'll be honest with you about something else, too. I used to cringe when I found out about someone's "dirty grass habit". I realize now that cannabis used to scare the hell out of me.
Growing up wrangling horses in a small conservative Florida town doesn’t quite lend itself to a diversified study of health and wellbeing, after all. Plus I won third place in a DARE essay-writing competition in 6th grade and thought I knew everything there was to know on the subject, thank you very much. Oh, blissful ignorance.
What I knew about cannabis mirrored what I knew about sexual education, at the time. It was scary; and only for those destined for failure, welfare, or jail cells. I’d probably die if I had tried it! Seriously?
Who would have thought cannabis would turn out to be my aid in healing? Not me. One woman’s trash is another’s liberation, I suppose. And I think it goes without saying, but just in case I’ll lay it out: my hometown is an area where cannabis was (and still very much is) highly stigmatized, scrutinized, and demoralized.
My community instilled within me a deep disgust and opposition to cannabis with an uninformed, because-I-said-so reasoning behind it. That was actually the reasoning behind most things back then and I’ve never been able to quite wrap my head around it.
Thankfully my favorite question has always been, “Why?”
So that response never fully quenched my curiosity. I’d always been a bit shy and cautious, yet curious, often self-medicating through my 20s with alcohol to fit in with the masses of extroversion.
I now know that this only pathologized me further into bouts of anxiety and depression. I had realized that I was starting to feel uncomfortable in the world. I couldn’t even build the self-confidence to answer the door, be on the phone in any capacity, or drive through a drive-thru.
But I was taught “it’s all in your head”, so I did what I knew how to: suck it up.
Yet deep down, I knew it was up to me to pull myself out of this headspace.
There I was, 23-years-old, working 2-3 jobs, plus preparing to become a foster mom. Something drastic needed to shift in my life. So one morning I woke up to an epiphany: I didn’t even want to follow in my mother and grandmother’s footsteps of being a Medical Foster Caretaker. This left me in quite the predicament, as I was the momma figure to an 8-year-old who required round-the-clock care. Plus Ernesto had a mind that of a 3 month old, and was clearly needing more than I could offer as a confused millennial.
I thought that perhaps that was where the anxiety was manifesting itself. I realized I couldn’t even care for myself, let alone a child that needed that kind of care. So, yes, after an entire year of study, home visits, interviews and interrogation, I threw in the towel.
I woke up one morning and realized that this life wasn't for me. And I had come to terms with that fact. While I absolutely adore the work of my family, and the hundreds of kids they provided love and stability for, it just wasn’t the work I feel called to do.
So I gave myself a month to quit my jobs, sell my car, and rent out my condo.
And just like that, with wide-eyes and a healthy serving of naivety, I bought a one-way ticket to San Francisco.
I had to house sat and cat sat my way around the city for months before finding a quaint little room living in the Haight-Ashbury. At 24, I wasn’t exactly living the American dream, but I didn’t care. I felt an openness, acceptance, and ambition that were new to me.
I feel grateful to have been in SF when I was. Cannabis was everywhere! Billboards, newsstands, and in the hands of nearly every stranger I passed on the street. I was crossing paths with successful cannabis consumers of all walks of life!
I felt inspired and empowered by the diversity I was emerged in and was ultimately led to higher education. It was a life dream of mine to attend a university, and I’d be the first in my family to do so! At 25, I began studying Cognitive Science at the University of California, San Diego. You better believe I took all of the ‘Neuroscience and Drugs’ courses I could get my hands on, too! I began to realize how completely backwards the outdated thoughts, and consequently, the laws concerning cannabis are. I devoured the (far too limited) data on the life-altering benefits seen by patients. Everything from: preventing muscle spasms, reducing seizure frequency, and relief from chronic pain. Cannabis helped all of it. Additionally, I delved into the research on the potential risks and benefits the plant could bring. Take the typical person suffering from daily stress and burnout (You do know stress is a killer, right?). The benefits of cannabis for this person would be plentiful.
I think it’s a matter of quality of life.
Plus, it can have positive effects in creating better communities, societies, and (it absolutely must be said) a better world, if we just let it!
But it can also be over-used, in which case it can turn into crutch. Ironically, this is where I was while in college. The flower power and rainbows of my blissful year in San Francisco faded, and the demons that make me human crept out. I fell under the most crippling season of anxiety and depression I’d ever faced. For me that looked like social isolation, social anxiety, and panic attacks. Add that to unintentional starvation, a bit of homelessness, and some sex work on the side when I was really hungry.
I went through weekly therapy and the big pharma soup throughout my entire 4 years at UCSD (plus 1 year at the Freie Universitaet, Berlin). I had played the medicine switcheroo so many times that my sense of self completely dissipated. With the watchful eyes of my health practitioners, cannabis transformed from a crutch to my personal lifeline. It allowed me to find a moment of calm in times of overwhelm, prompting me to engage inwardly and connect with my intuition in new and helpful ways. (Yes!) It was the only way I could get an appetite, or a full nights sleep, as I went through the seemingly ever-changing dosages and prescriptions. As a welcomed (and unexpected) side effect, it provided me with a small tight-knit community of other stoner students who inspired me to come home to myself.
Ultimately, cannabis gave me the ability to put my health into my own hands and come off of all of my medications altogether (a total of 3 daily meds by the time I realized they were doing more harm than good). It allowed me to break down the mental barriers to my own healing that I didn’t even realize were there!
The icing on the edible, you ask?
I was able to clear the brain fog, step out of the dreadful autopilot mode that slowly kills so many of us, and figure out what really lit my world on fire! I began developing daily practices, refining my growth mindset, which allowed me to better manage stress as it comes. This works a hell of a lot better than the idealized independence of the constant hustle + burn out cycle so deeply entrenched into modern society.
Laughably, small tweaks to my daily routine and personal mindset are what ultimately led me to hone into my creativity (something I didn’t even know existed!) and allowed me to carve my very own creative cannabis journey. After a great deal of time processing, analyzing, reflecting, and self-experimentation, I have now created my own little way of spreading the word about the herb.
With my Blazed and Amused lifestyle brand and shop (launching Summer of 2018!), I hope to reach others who might need a little life lift in the form of a self-care time out, or those who already made the decision to include cannabis into their routine but may be struggling with apathy, overwhelm, or straight up canna-confusion. A lifted lifestyle from the inside out is absolutely possible but we need our tribe. Together, we can flip the script, take charge of our wellbeing and elevate the conversation to change the outdated views on cannabis for a more compassionate planet. Because humans are far too individualistic to be put in a box – especially when it comes to healing.
Let’s blow smoke on the stigma and paint the town green, shall we?
Let’s blow smoke on the stigma and paint the town green, shall we?
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