CANNA HEROES 1 - @dragonfart
My psychiatrist literally said, I have no idea what to do. When I stopped medication, I discovered the medicinal effects cannabis - @dragonfart
This article is from the series: CANNA HEROES - the what, how and why. In this series you get a peek behind the closed doors of medicinal cannabis users who swear that their quality of life has been improved thanks to the use of cannabinoids. These are honest and impressive stories. Filled with the pros and cons of cannabis use. This is how we try to help you make a conscious and informed choice.
Today's hero: Vincent (@dragonfart), but we may call him Vinny. Vincent prefers to remain anonymous, that's why we've used a mid-journey image for the visuals. You'll understand why he wants to remain anonymous after reading this story. This 50-year-old Amsterdam native is a seasoned cannabis user. He lit up his first joint as a teenager. At the insistence of his wife, he did without cannabis for a few years. He didn't like that. It was during this time that Vincent realized what cannabis adds to his life.
What & How
Vincent uses THC, CBD, CBN and CBG for his anxiety symptoms, sleep disorder and symptoms of PTSD. He eats it in the form of pure oil, but he is also creative in the kitchen. You can see that on his Instagram account @dragonfart. He makes all kinds of edibles, from dishes to pastries. He also vaporizes/vapes. Smoking he hasn't done for years.
"As a nineteen-year-old, I collided with the propeller of a boat. My life wasn't going very well even then, but this was the turning point." Vinny describes a childhood in which the impossible was asked of him. He had to shape his self-values himself: "My mother believed her truth was more important than my feelings." The result: faulty medical stamps and a doctor's prescription long enough to get tangled up in.
That entanglement is exactly what happened, too. Vinny explains that you don't just get off medication. "With my mother's pushing, I received the label: manic depressive," he says. Those who are so labeled quickly find themselves dealing with a psychiatrist. "I had a lot of stress symptoms at that time; I saw life bleakly. I wanted it to stop, so I went along with my psychiatrist's advice. In retrospect, I think the medications only made it worse. They didn't apply to me in the first place."
Those who stand alone pave their own way
Vinny thinks his stress was unintended for too long. That combined with improper treatment creates a complex form of PTSD. "I have found things that make the symptoms bearable, but I continue to search for the ultimate answer to my problems," he says. He says he has all kinds of hobbies in which he finds an outlet: "I draw, photograph, bike, cook, meditate, practice Tai Chi, garden and use all kinds of cannabinoids." Many of these hobbies can be combined. For example, Vinny grows his own plants that he incorporates into all sorts of recipes while photographing the process.
Not everyone can appreciate these hobbies. "Sometimes I feel like I have to hide my use," he says. There was even a time when his wife spoke out against his cannabis use. She is from another country. To her, drugs are just drugs. She sees no difference between heroin or cannabis. She asked him to stop. Out of respect for her, he complied.
In the time that followed, Vincent discovered that his cannabis use actually had a very positive impact on his life. "I entered a vicious circle. Without cannabis, the edges became sharp. I reacted violently. My reactions caused my psychiatrist to increase the medication which only made my reactions worse." Vincent says he became aggressive from all the medication. These symptoms became so great that in a delusion of depersonalization he was almost capable of beating his wife. This was his wake-up call. "It was as if someone else stepped out of my body and took over all the actions. I stood in the corner and could only watch. At that moment I decided enough was enough with the medication." As quickly as that moment of realization came, the sequel was slow.
Untrodden paths do not create themselves
"I've talked to as many as 30 psychologists over a period of years." Getting off medication is not easy when you depend on drug scholars. Vincent can tell you all about it. "If anyone wanted to cooperate at all, they were never open to going off medication." He did manage to find someone. This success was to be short-lived. His wife received bad news from her doctor. She was facing stage 3 breast cancer. "This put me in a deep place. My psychiatrist literally said: “I have no idea what to do." His wife fortunately survived, but in contrast, Vincent's psychiatrist himself became seriously ill. His psychiatrist died and once again Vincent had to shape his life himself.
"The turning point I found on the other side of the world. As a complaining Dutchman stepped off the plane onto the dense soil of Vietnam. As rich as the soil there is, the people are poor. They don't even have food for every day, but you don't hear anyone about that." This was not just a trip around the globe for Vincent. He was also turning inward. He saw that despite all the misery he experienced, he was blessed. "I turned to Buddhism, started meditating and learned to really enjoy food..." That wasn't just because he saw how people lived there; his own life there was different, too. He didn't have his medicine with him, and there was no telephone connection. "...I found much more inner peace."
The effect of cannabinoids on Vincent's symptoms
By now, his wife understands the medicinal effects of cannabis. They now use it together. "Cannabis suppresses the sharp edges of my fears. When sober, I can go into a panic attack at the idea that the Internet connection of this video call may break or falter. Under the influence of cannabis, I'm more in the clouds." He also says he is aware that cannabis is a tool, not a solution: "It shouldn't become an escape behavior. That doesn't work. But PTSD makes me hyperalert, when sober a fluttering autumn leaf can already cause a violent startle reaction, under the influence I have just a little extra stretch between the outside world and my reactions. Just an extra second of thinking time in which I can remain calm.
Vincent also shows a jar of oil. "I smear this on my muscles" he says. He states that the calming effect works not only through digestive calming, but also when you apply it directly to the skin. "Because of all the tension and panic I had a hump on my back due to a hollow back, that hump is completely gone."
The dark side of cannabis use
In this light, cannabis seems like a panacea. One would wonder why not everyone uses it. Vincent also expands on the negatives of his self-found application.
"Cannabis has complicated my life. People think I'm a junkie, I can't talk to doctors about it. That has made me shy, I'm like a black cat. Hence my profile picture. Now that my wife has accepted my use she does it herself. She believes in the application, but we are sneaky about it. For example, we call it herbs, that way no one knows what we're talking about." Vincent points to the cabinet behind him, it is filled with cookbooks, a self-designed bong and there is also a POT by NOIDS. "It's pretty frustrating, actually that's all one of my hobbies, as is photography. But this stuff goes into the closet when visitors come by. I've seen it cause problems more than enough times. It has far-reaching consequences. I don't like sneaking around, but when my sister stays for dinner, for example, I can't share my enthusiasm about that food. I found that recipe thanks to my passion for cooking with cannabis. That actually makes the bond with her not feel real. I adapt and I hold back." Makes sense, too. When you suffer so much from anxiety symptoms, you stay under the radar. Especially when there are plants in your garden that you depend on. "When I see people sitting drunk on the terrace I still think it's a pity I can't sit there like that too. With a big joint, nicely in the sun."
To everyone in my situation, I would say: listen to yourself. Try a lot and go ahead with anything you think will help. If that's THC or CBD for you, then it works for you. But don't overdo it. Find things that divert your focus. Hobbies are important, as are staying active and exercising. Cannabis is a cure, not a solution. And if I may give another tip: buy POT by NOIDS. This thing is really great. Quality and well thought out. I haven't found anything that does its job as well.