AFRO CANNA QUEEN OPENED UP ABOUT AN UNEXPECTED DIAGNOSIS & HOW WEED HELPS IN HER HEALING.
AUGUST 10, 2018 | BY: LACEY HINES
The first time I smoked I was in the 9th grade and it was purely experimental.
I knew nothing about cannabis, other than the fact that it wasn't as bad as everyone made it out to be. Plus, I had the most amazing first experience with cannabis. I went through all the stages: happy > hungry > sleepy. As my close friends and I walked back to the house that day, the sun seemed to shine a little brighter, and I felt a wave of euphoria rush over my entire body and mind. Yet, even then, I had no idea how much it would influence my life to come.
Fast forward to my senior year of high school, a terrible car accident rocked my world. While driving home from work one night, I seemingly "fell asleep" at the wheel, ultimately running into two brick mailboxes and flipping my car into a nearby neighbors yard. While I walked away fine, I had one MASSIVE question— what the hell happened to me?
I had no recollection of the drive at all.
All I remember is waking up as my car was in the process of flipping.
It was at that moment I remembered this wasn't the first time I’d caught myself drifting into sleep while driving. In fact, after the accident I was able to admit to myself that my irregular sleeping habits were actually a serious concern. While I was lucky to avoid serious injuries, and even luckier to avoid hurting anyone else, I knew something was wrong.
But to honest, I had always known something was wrong. I guess I just didn’t want to admit it to myself. Long story short, testing confirmed that I have Narcolepsy.
But what the hell is Narcolepsy, right?
I’d describe it as an invisible illness that affects me every second of my life.
Narcolepsy is defined as a neurological disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness. People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime.
An often overlooked, but major aspect to Narcolepsy is the effect is has on REM sleep. The average person takes 90 minutes to enter REM; I take (on average) one minute and thirteen seconds.
The thing about Narcolepsy is that it can only be managed, not cured. While more and more research is being done to discover what exactly causes this disorder, I've come to notice that there are no guidelines, no rules, and surely no exceptions. Like thousands of others, I am figuring this out as I go, and thankfully, I have cannabis to help make sense of it all.
Until more is learned, for now, we know that amphetamines help with sleepiness, and anti-depressants help with regulating REM. I started off taking Concerta, or retilin, and as my dosage grew, I moved to something stronger, Vyvanse.
I stopped eating, almost entirely. I was plagued by the worst headaches, worse than any migraine I'd ever experienced. I would get anxiety so badly that I became anti-social, which brought on serious depression.
Vyvanse would keep me up at night, creating insomniac like behavior. I developed ulcers and did I mention the depression? All of this was direct result of the medication, not my illness. I was miserable and began to feel hopeless.
I recall one day I was miserable in my dorm room bed, because of an enormous headache that I thought would bring me to the hospital, when my friend asked, "Why don't you smoke a bowl"? At this time, I was smoking regularly, but usually just in social settings. I was familiar with cannabis enough to know that it had medicinal benefits, but, I suppose, and this is very hard for me to admit, I never really believed it.
I looked at her like, “Really? I’m dying and your suggestion is that I get high?”
Needless to say, I took her advice and my view on cannabis was forever changed. My headache cleared within a surprisingly short period of time, my appetite came back with a vengeance, my mood lifted, and my anxiety even reduced.
After experiencing the medicinal effects of cannabis first hand, I couldn’t help but to think of all the people who are prescribed medicines like Vyvanse, and the fact that those people are getting younger and younger!
I began to educate myself, and, well, smoke A LOT of cannabis. Within time, I stopped taking my medication all together. Lifestyle changes, intertwined with medicinal cannabis use, allowed me to create a routine that works for me.
I still don’t trust myself to drive again, and I’m not sure that I ever will, but doing things like writing this article are no longer obstacles. I still have my days, as chronic health disorders don’t let us pick and choose when to cooperate, but I can honestly say that I’m not paralyzed with fear any longer.
You’re probably wondering how cannabis helps me, and I’m more than happy to share! Keep in mind, all cases of Narcolepsy are different, and this is just what I have found to work for me personally.
For starters, I had to adjust my entire life.
I also avoid alcohol and caffeine for the most part, unless I’m feeling significantly tired and I know I’ll need a short-term boost. Otherwise, constant caffeine use messes with my sleep in significant ways, I’ll put it this way… I could drink 8 shots of espresso all at once and still fall asleep within 30 minutes if that’s the kind of day I’m having. It’s also important for me that I keep a regular sleeping schedule. Regardless of what I have going on, I’m usually up around 7am. I’ve noticed that the time I go to bed doesn’t affect me too much. I like to plan a nap in my day if I can, and yes, I’m aware of how “awesome” that sounds!
Technically speaking, if hired with my disability I’m permitted a nap at work, but I don’t usually need to or want to nap at work, because well, that’s a little weird. Plus, I found that certain high sativa strains like Durban Poison and XJ13 would keep me up. In fact, they act as a stimulant for me. I like to learn, do work, and run errands when I smoke theses strains.
There is also Harliqiunn, a very popular high CBD strain that I enjoy smoking, as it helps immensely with my anxiety. When you have the ability to fall asleep in any setting, anxiety of doing just that is crippling and nothing helps me quite like CBD. And last but not least, cannabis helps me get to sleep at times when I cannot. Indica strings like Dawgy Treats, which is my favorite, will get me nice and sleepy, allowing me to pass out for a full night of sleep.
Using CBD in almost everything, my teas/baths/food/etc. has proved to help with numerous health issues, so it’s hard to say if my overall health plays a role or if it’s the CBD alone, but one thing is for sure… I have not taken Vyvanse in 3 years, and I’ve never been more in control of my disorder, while feeling my most healthy and natural. I believe that all, yes ALL, people can benefit from CBD use and I’m determined to make it available for all. No one should have to endure the horrific side effects of medication when those side effects are often times worse than the symptoms to begin with. If you’re ever in a place to try it, I can confidently say that you will notice the benefits in no time.