While my journey truly started with the application process; in this post I’ll be talking about my experiences in the first week of using cannabis medicinally.
My doctor is a young man, though impressively he has already successfully established a clinic for the purpose of using medical marijuana to treat patients. It appears that many of his patients are like me – we have many tragedies in our past, we have had physical insults to our bodies in the form of illness or injury, and we suffer not only from physical ailments but emotional ill-health too. Our doctors have sent us to specialists to treat each symptom; psychiatrists for depression and anxiety, internal specialists for IBS diagnoses and rheumatologists for body pain and fatigue. I have a sense that like me; many of Dr Andrew Agius’s patients here in Malta have been diagnosed with that elusive and mysterious disorder, fibromyalgia, and then sent home to handle the various symptoms with various medicines, without ever addressing the root causes for those symptoms.
After speaking with Dr Agius, he prescribed me three different marijuana medicines, a CBD & CBG oil that reduces the psychedelic effects of the vaporised flower, and two types of flowers; one for the morning and one for the evening.
Now, I knew that I was a lightweight with cannabis, so I was slightly alarmed when the prescription said 1g of each strain per day plus the CBD oil when I vaped the flower or if I had fibromyalgia pain.
2g of cannabis per day is a hero dose for me! But I was reassured by the lovely ladies who work in the clinic that I don’t need to take that much – I should start with a small puff and work my way up from there as I developed a tolerance for it.
I made my arrangements so that I could have a puff that Saturday morning (06 August 2022) and just do whatever took my fancy. I smoked weed as a teenager so I knew what to expect, and my husband had been making me “weedie gummies” by using his sous vide device to extract the THC from the dried bud that we’d been given by a friend. I’d been having weedie gummies twice a day since the start of 2022, but the dose was incredibly low, and the high incredibly mild compared to vaping the plant material. I was a little nervous about vaping this “fancy” weed that came in printed packaging and was grown in a laboratory. I chose a Saturday morning when I didn’t need to go out so I could have that first high without any pressing tasks to attend to weighing on my mind. I wanted to experience the high and go wherever it took me.
Well, any weight that was on my mind lifted from me with my first, single puff. I wandered back into the lounge from the balcony, put on some music and poured myself a jar of my home-made kombucha and wow, just wow. I felt calm and happy and free. I suddenly had a clear sense of how much unhappiness I had been feeding my brain by watching bad news and worrying about the future and all of its impending bad news. Doom doom doom…
I suddenly understood just how blessed I am, how privileged I am, to have a wonderful husband, a peaceful home life and to live on a safe and unique island like Gozo. The construction that surrounds our apartment began to generate music instead of their usual tuneless bangs and clangs. A cicada began its rattly hiss and I zoned in on the sound; hearing its determination to mate and how every part of that bug’s being went into its call.
I stretched and I swayed and I danced and I had fantasies about all the wonderful things that might occur in the future. I felt confident that I could make those fantasies a reality, that I was not powerless to choose my path in life and that my desire to always be more and better was holding me back from just enjoying who I am now, who I was and who I will be.
Here’s a game that I have played with myself since as far back as I can remember: I communicate with my past and future selves, because it helps me to be present. Today’s Me hones in on what it felt like to have a particular experience. I might go back to a happy memory like a celebration or a passionate love-making session that I particularly enjoyed and then re-experience it with my Past Self. Or, I’ll go back to a difficult time and offer comfort. The result of this game is that I feel connected with who I am all throughout my life, supported and loved by the one person who knows me best; myself.
I communicate with my future self by leaving her gifts. There are several playlists on Spotify that I put together for my future self. “Chilling at High Altitudes” is one example – I knew at some point I would be taking psychedelics, so I chose some music that I thought I might enjoy in the future.
As a teenager, I repurposed my old school workbooks as scrap books as gifts for my future self, collecting my memories in those books in the form of sweet wrappers, bus tickets and the wrist bands from raves that I’d sneak into, underage. I also had poetry books that I wrote in; A5 spiral bound notebooks that I’d fill with poetry about all my angsty teenager’s emotional turmoil. The habit of journalling my life in the form of poetry and quickly scribbled thoughts dissipated in my early twenties and while I’d tried to resurrect it over the years I’d had minimal success.
During my first week of using medical marijuana, I reconnected with The Game of Self in a big way. I could see my past experiences from a number of fresh perspectives that I hadn’t seen previously. This was immensely helpful in finding resolution within myself, a sense of closure and the feeling that sure, a bad thing happened but it’s okay now. I’m okay now. I think I’ve been struggling with some form of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) because my childhood was a very uncomfortable and uncertain time for me and I’ve never quite recovered from it. I grabbed hold of that I’m okay now feeling and flung it back to every one of my past selves, letting her/myself know that the feeling I’d had all my life; I’m not okay is unnecessary. I’m okay at 38 years old, and 38-year-old is looking out for myself at every other age. And I’ve discovered this week that 38-year-old me is competent and strong-willed and full of a gawky kind of grace that endears me to all of my Selves.
- I’m chuckling as I acknowledge that some people might be thinking that all sounds nuts, but I urge you to try it yourself because it’s a game that offers only good outcomes – as long as you treat yourself nicely.
I fished out of my backpack a little A6 blank notebook that I’d bought with the intention of doodling in while in waiting rooms or on the ferry, but hadn’t done much in except for a cat doodle on the first page and “This too shall pass” on the second page. I began writing and doodling and sometimes the thoughts came so fast that my pen shook and I had to screw up my face with concentration in order to finish the “designer” letters. I put my mobile phone and my “Thoughts Book”, as I was beginning to call it by then, into a little handbag that I wore while bopping around the house.
I felt happiness this first week with variations of the emotion that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. I realised that I’d forgotten how to make myself happy. I began to practice “elevating my high” with funny, trippy videos on YouTube, or by moving my body to music or by focusing so hard on whatever I was doing – like making tea or folding laundry – that the task became my whole world, my total sum of experience for just a few minutes. The effect of doing this was that I felt like I was taking little holidays throughout the day to just enjoy myself. Enjoy my body, my environment, my thoughts and feelings and the simple enjoyment of being alive.
My wish for myself, at the end of my medical marijuana journey, is that I’ll be able to wake up and be in charge of myself instead of being overcome with uncomfortable sensations, thoughts and emotions. So that even if I continue to have fibromyalgia, with all of its Low Days, Fatiguey Days and Painy Days, I’ll choose to have experiences on those days that create a good headspace for me.
Because I don’t mind waking up into a Bad Day as long as I know I can change my attitude and perception of life to create a Mostly Good Day. And I’m willing to take this exciting and slightly terrifying journey with myself so that I can give my future self Mostly Good Days most of the time, because she deserves that, and so do I.
The image below is a photograph of my first art work that will be a part of my High Painting series of canvases. My plan is to paint while experiencing a high so that I can communicate my experience of the high state directly through the paint. It was such a cool experience that I’ve already started a second canvas.