I've decided to lay my pain to paper only because my miracle Medicine is still illegal.
Before 1992, twelve doctors proved in a court of law that Cannabis was vital to their patient's medical care. The people representing NIDA and Health and Human Services still provide the seven living patients with an ongoing monthly supply through their pharmacy. The rest of us go to prison. Marijuana can be used as medicine to drastically raise a sick person's quality of life. The plant does not take lives, and in some cases it can actually save a life: I know... because it saved mine.
Now, due to prohibition laws, I can go to prison any day for nothing more than using a plant that heals me.
Because my medicine, so vital to my health, is illegal, I have learned as much about the drug war and the inside of prison as is possible, considering I have never lived in one. I have made it my business to know because I could be arrested at any time for what I do: I must repeatedly ignore a bad law in order to stay alive and useful.
If I go to prison, I will exist in a cold concrete cell and my body will deteriorate. I will be deprived of marijuana, so my mind could sink into the small, cramped world of depression. But, my spirit is strong because of my years of use and I do what I have to do. So, never, ever believe a rumor that Kay killed herself. I am much too strong for that now.
I wasn't strong in my pre-marijuana life. I was very fragile. Depression is like a gray thread woven throughout my family, so I had a high chance of living with it. My mother suffered from it, and when I say suffer, I want you to understand that mental and physical pain are the same: They both hurt.
I'd been kind of a loner, inside myself all my childhood years. I grew from a withdrawn child, one my mom labeled 'moody,' into a broken adult. By the time I turned twenty I was having rages, followed by lots of tears, followed by periods of silence, where I could not speak, could not eat, could not respond. I knew I was flawed, but had no understanding of what was happening.
By the time I sought help several years later, I weighed 75 pounds. Suicide had begun to dominate my thoughts. It seemed the only way to stop the horrible sadness. The early attempts were weak, using generic pills that made me vomit but did nothing to ease the pain.
My first real breakdown sent me on a seven year journey into hell. When I couldn't stop crying for several days straight, I landed in a psychologist's office and was given elavil, then switched to melaril. We knew it wasn't working when I failed at my next attempt. I took pills and laid in the tub, and when it didn't work, I dressed soaking wet and ran barefoot aimlessly for nearly an hour on the frozen February streets.
I came down with pneumonia, almost comatose despair, and was graduated to the heavy stuff, Lithium, Librium, all kinds of vicious chemicals. And the sadness grew worse and worse. I could see myself losing control, but I didn't know how to stop it. Neither did the doctors, but I had insurance, and they were willing, even eager, to experiment with expensive new drugs.
For seven years I tried to destroy myself. I hid in a closet and chopped my long hair off to the roots. I threw my beautiful paintings into the river. I slept too much or too little, cried too easily... and raged. And I faithfully, obediently took their pills day after hopeless day.
I became repulsed when touched and that really hurt my children. When I began smelling myself and washing numerous times a day, I withdrew further from everyone. When I went to see the shrink, I sat way across the room. When he found out why, I was admitted to the psych ward of an expensive hospital. I stayed for a month and began the perfectly legal 'Haldol drool'. This stuff 'drug' me down so deep, I couldn't even remember to swallow.
For seven years I let them try whatever they wanted. Every time they took me off another medicine to get ready for the next, I'd have withdrawal. Each drug has its own hell, and some would set my arms and legs to twitching; some made me vomit. Haldol, my nomination for devil drug, did something to my brain. For awhile, I could see the words of a book, but I could not make any sense of them.
For seven years I grew sicker and sicker. As they changed my medicine, all the old leftover medicine had gone into a shoebox in the top of the closet, but it was as if someone else had put it there: I never consciously thought about the pills, even as I stashed them. Then one night, without awareness, I slowly consumed all of them as I bathed the children, put them to bed and meticulously cleaned the house.
Through a series of extraordinary interventions, which included my mother 2000 miles away, her neighbor, my doctor, and ma bell, I did not die, but I came as close to success as I was ever going to get.
I vaguely remember a fireman, who had broken down the door to get into my home, walking me, dragging me, up and down the hallway. 'Wake up....stay awake,' he kept saying, but I retreated to nothingness.
The next memory I have is the blindingly brilliant emergency room, fighting to keep them from sticking the tubes into my nose and mouth. When I heard the ambulance driver say, 'Opps... There's lunch,' I gave up and sought sleep. I would not be allowed to die this time either.
Three days later, I came back to the world at the sound of my doctor's voice asking the nurse, 'How long has she been like this?' My body was sitting up, alive, but my mind had been somewhere far away and quiet. He sat down beside the bed, and asked me simply, 'Why?' I could not speak and had no answer I was willing to share because I did not understand either.
He told me that he had saved me this time, but that next time I did this, the state was going to lock me in their very unhealthy mental ward. I numbly told him it didn't matter, because it was the truth. Nothing mattered.
For the few next years, I lived in a fog. I quietly played my mother role, but I was numb from medication, paralyzed by depression, just existing. I did what I had to do, but had lost hope that life would ever be more than bearable.
In 1977, when my 13 year old son drowned, the doctors asked me if I was a danger to myself. I told them that if a big Mack truck hit me, I could at least find out where my son was. So, they put me in the mental ward overnight.
I lay awake in the dark, hearing the moans and commotion of the disturbed people around me and their sounds were a reflection of the way I felt.
I went home and mechanically put together my son's funeral, but the essence of me was not there. I was 39 years old and I felt already dead.
After his cremation, an acquaintance handed me a joint and said, 'it might help and it certainly won't hurt'. Not only was I desperate, but I instinctively knew the truth. So, I sat out back alone on a stump and lit the marijuana.
I had taken only a couple of puffs and a humbling thing happened: I heard, felt, sensed a voice and it said, 'If you can handle this [my son's death], you will be able to handle anything that comes your way.'
...And my closed and shadowed mind opened like the petals of a flower and was flooded with sunshine. I had not realized how dark it was in there until marijuana turned on the light. I felt warm and at peace for the first time in my life. I felt strong and clean and whole and capable of dealing with whatever was before me. The feeling of total peace stayed with me for three days, the humbleness forever, and the strength continues to grow with everything I 'handle'.
I didn't know to call it medicine back then, but I took that shoebox full of perfectly legal and very dangerous drugs that had slowly refilled and buried it deep, deep in the earth near the lake. And I have, never, ever looked back. I thank God and His plant for the healing. He said everything I needed was here and He meant it.
I made plenty of mistakes, but I raised my five remaining children virtually as a single mother, and did hard decent work to support them. I stood strong during one daughter's three month coma, and helped birth six perfect grandchildren. At the age of 50, I managed three years in college, mastering four honors courses.
I did in-the-trenches research and learned about the lies, until I realized that I was supporting harmful policies with my silence. When the last child was no longer dependant on me, I began my own journey for justice. I, shy grandma that I was, stood in public places talking about 'politically unpopular' truths, debunking the myths, challenging authority, and comforting the people whose lives had been or could be altered and destroyed by marijuana laws. I devoted myself to the plant, its creator, and its people. Can you blame me?
I rejoice in living without doctors, without debilitating drugs, without the constant overwhelming depression. My mind is no longer filled with cobwebs and fog. My God, why would anyone want to take this from me?
What could motivate anyone to want to throw me back into that darkness and make me useless to others?
I just don't understand...
Depression, the Bottom of the Mind
I've decided to lay my pain to paper only because my miracle Medicine is still illegal.