Ashley G: Cannabis and Aspergers
Ingestion Method: Smoking
I’ve suffered from anxiety and (mild-ish) depression for nearly all my life, and at age 13 was officially diagnosed with having “High-Functioning Autism” or ‘Aspergers’, and “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” fast forward 10-or-so years, I’ve had doctors prescribe me with:
Sertraline, Paroxatine and Fluoxetine.
I was also prescribed benzodiazepines in the form of:
Lorazepam and Diazepam.
Each one, and I really do mean each of these ‘medications’ made me feel like a numbed out, zombified shadow of my former self; I simply couldn’t function on them (and don’t even get me started on the horrendous side effects I experienced.)
To say that they didn’t help me would have been an understatement.
What’s worse is that I was developing an addiction to the ‘benzos’. Both psychologically and physically. If anyone knows what ‘benzo’ withdrawals can be like, you’ll know that they’re one the closest things to hell you can get. In fact, cited from wikipedia, “They are cited to be more hazardous to withdraw from than opiates.”
I’m now on a ‘maintenance dose’ of diazepam just to keep me out of withdrawal.
Now rewind back to October 2013, completely free from any anti-depressant/anti-anxiety. I had been trying every herbal ‘supplement’ out there that can be bought in the UK. From St. Johns Wort to chemicals that doctors haven’t even heard of.
NONE of them worked. And I was at my wits end. So I decided to do something which every doctor, shrink, psychiatrist and psychologist advised me not to use – CANNABIS.
Because of the brainwashing (and I don’t use that word lightly) from both the culture I was brought up in and the medical communities anti-pot propaganda (although thinking about it, they aren’t really separate), I would be lying to say I wasn’t nervous about trying it, but hey, I had absolutely nothing to lose, and if I didn’t like it, I just wouldn’t do it again.
So I decided to buy 4g of ‘Lemon Kush’. Having not tried anything before, the dealer recommended I tried this strain over the others as it was his only hybrid, and would give me a taster of both the Sativa and Indica side of things. (Turns out, I’m more of an Indica or Hybrid guy).
From the very first time I inhaled the herb (yes, I inhaled), smoked out of an apple carved into a bowl, the plants ability to relieve my symptoms became very apparent very quickly, and for any other medical users out there, I’m sure you can empathize.
I won’t go into the specifics, but in hind sight I can safely say that cannabis improved my quality of life beyond measure.
For an analogy, while on the pharmaceutical anti-depressants and anti-anxieties, my life seemed like a black and white grainy movie from the 1900’s. On cannabis, it’s technicolour and High Definition – colours were brighter, food tasted better, life was… just better!
The pharmaceuticals “worked” by numbing me into being an apathetic zombie. Cannabis worked by giving me a passion for life I didn’t even know existed.
Apart from helping with the depression and anxiety, one of the best things cannabis helps me personally with however, is empathy. Being on the autistic spectrum, I always found it hard to connect with people on an emotional level. I can’t even begin to describe how much cannabis helps in this regard, but lets just say that on cannabis I’ve felt emotions that I’ve never felt before – these emotions being (but not limited to) empathetic in nature. I’ve never felt so connected to the world around me in all it’s forms than when I was high.
It must be said, however, that like anything else, cannabis is a tool; to quote Joe Rogan, “you can use a hammer to build a house, or you can use it to bash yourself in the genitals”.
For myself, I used it as a tool to both manage my emotional problems and for introspection/self analysis – I found I had a much higher clarity of thought on what caused my emotional problems and how to deal with them when I’m high, and that introspection often transferred over even to when I was sober.
Of course, you can ‘abuse’ weed, just like you can abuse cheese burgers. I wouldn’t advise it, but it’s your life and your body. I don’t have to agree with your life choices, but I don’t have a right to dictate my morality over yours. Your body, your rules.
(I’d also wager abusing cheese burgers is a lot more damaging to ones health than abusing weed, but that’s a whole other discussion).
I’m just happy to be living in a time where cannabis laws are being reformed left right and centre, legalisation has already happened in two states, legislation bills are all of the sudden popping up all over the place. “Reefer Madness” is ending. From what’s happened in Colorado and Washington, Oregon etc…it would be naive to say legalization isn’t going to snowball. And let’s be honest, what happens in the US effects the rest of the world. Hopefully it happens in a place near you soon. (For me, that would be the UK.)
It might not happen over night, but as Roger Waters said, “The Tide is Turning”.
Please note, I’m not necessarily calling pharmaceuticals evil, as I know they can/do help a lot of people. The point of this post/rant is to outline how ridiculous it is that a harmless plant which improves the quality of life of so many people has the potential land you in prison, while drugs like opiates and benzos are handed out like candy by doctors, and alcohol can be purchased literally everywhere by everyone – especially when both of those drugs alone kill more people EACH DAY than cannabis has since its entire existence – and I’m glad more and more people are waking up to this reality with each passing day.