happy 4/20: marijuana for melancholy
April 19, 2019
I had not written anything for two months. It wasn’t simply a creative block, it was a spiritual partition. I had never felt so far from who I knew myself to be: imaginative, brave, and unafraid to go in the dark, alone, and write. This image of myself ceased to be true once I met a series of traumas: a personal death, a friend’s suicide attempt, and interpersonal betrayal.
Therapy and medicine ensured that the depression and anxiety I was experiencing wouldn’t have me go any deeper into the darkness than traumatic events like the ones I experienced usually do, but it didn’t make me feel any closer to myself. It didn’t make me feel aligned with what I thought I would never get back: my capacity to be an artist. My ability to wake up in the morning and see something — a tree branch for instance — and want to take a picture of it, and for it to remind me of something else that inspires me to write which may inspire an even bigger project — was gone.
I could only focus on surviving, not imagining: my body was here, I made money in ways that didn’t put pressure on my imagination as much as it pressured my my professional network, analytical, critical and business skills; I thought I had no longer had the playground in my mind that brought me joy. This was true, until I smoked weed.
One night, a new friend came over my house and asked if I wanted to smoke. I would usually say no and reassure the person it is fine if they indulge, but this night was different — I was never a smoker, but I had began to be quite desperate to escape the mindset I was in. I was in a gray survival: everything was about routine, just about getting it done and getting over it, and not having a nervous breakdown over the traumatic events I had experienced. Then, I smoked and I began to not only be able to get over it, but go through it.
It wasn’t that my traumatic events disappeared or the pain was healed. It’s that it blossomed. What were once haunted houses that I avoided in the back of my mind became gardens I walked through and examined even when presented with the most peculiar looking flowers. Once high, I could handle life on an emotional level that didn’t trigger me back into the desire to be numb. The technicality of what happened to me is scientific. The testimonies about what marijuana does for some people’s anxiety, melancholy, and even depression is plentiful on the internet, but what’s not is how it makes you feel.
And it makes you feel really fucking good.
The reason, for me, is because along with wild ideas and provocative concepts, what also is held in my imagination is memories. There’s nowhere else for an event to live, but in the imagination; a distorted but vivid version of a life event that sits right by all of the fantasies you’d love to touch and see so perhaps even one day you could manifest one, if only they weren’t sitting so close to monsters. Weed made those monsters transform into something I could handle. It didn’t numb me to it, it centered me enough to process it.
The most important piece is I was able to write again because I was able to put down the fear I had of my own imagination once I got high.
There are plenty of stories about what it feels like to be a high artist in art and media, but I wasn’t chasing an intoxication. However, I wanted to write again about the hard stuff. The scary stuff. The complicated stuff. The stuff I could only truly wrestle with if I was not afraid of my own imagination. I wanted to see life as an artist: where everything you witness is a potential canvas and an opportunity to create. Whereas before I saw life as an infinite assembly line of possible events that could traumatize or kill you. Life blossomed back into the curious events full of wonderment and struggle I had been fascinated with, not solely because of my cannabis usage, but with the help of therapy and spiritual reflection, too. But it was my experiences with cannabis that began to assist me back into mining my mind for content instead of avoiding my own mind because of possible emotional landmines.
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