Last time I wrote, I promised an honest review of adult psychoactive recreational substances as a solution for election-night anxieties. My review sums up to: I’m not “recreationally” affected, but they do make for slightly less unsettled sleep.
My longer report is as follows: “Being the
irony magnet scientist that I am, I have had several opportunities over the past couple of weeks to experiment with dosages and timing of the use of said psychoactive substances for general trauma-related anxieties. I document my findings, along with the (completely uncontrolled) experimental conditions in which these substances were consumed below. Reviewers may draw their own conclusions as to the therapeutic efficacy of THC for acute trauma flashbacks from the data presented.”
I’m allergic to the leaves of the marijuana plant and all of its plant cousins. I learned this the hard way before I ever was tempted to partake in any substances in college by having to go to the hospital on several occasions after just being around others and inhaling second hand smoke, after eating hemp products, and – on one particularly memorable occasion – after riding in the car with a date who had apparently partaken so frequently it had permanently soaked into the fabric of the car seats! For most of my life, I had given up on any hope that medical marijuana would be a viable option for me. Because having my throat start to close up from the swelling is not an experience I care to revisit! But, last year, a former castmate from a former show at a now-defunct theater happened to work at a licensed medical dispensary. And, he explained to me that he carried several tinctures of various ratios and strains of CBD, THC, etc., in such an ultra-purified tincture form that there was no trace of the leaves left. He was pretty confident that – assuming I conducted a basic skin test first to be sure before I risked orally consuming them and having my throat swell shut – that I could partake.
I saw no reason at the time to take him up on the offer, but during the original lockdown four full months of no PT, massages or other manual forms of pain relief made things very unpleasant. My Partner strongly suggested that – given the U.S. seemed clearly too dumb to stop the spread – that I anticipate the future possibility of a second lockdown and just get a medical weed card. I never actually did, but thanks to the Northeast having several viable options, we obtained some tinctures legally anyway. We bought both the CBD pain relief type and the THC “anytime” (as the bottle so helpfully calls it) type. Because, why not? We correctly predicted that 2020 would be a good year for substances that help voters escape from reality for a time at the ballot box, and that, if we appreciated the experience, we would have additional future sources.
Neither my Partner nor I really understand the concept of being “high.” Despite experimenting with dosages and strengths, we have never felt more than the general sense that our brains move a tiny bit slower, that one or two of those ADHD “channels” that are always talking over each other in our brains have been slightly muted, and that we sleep slightly better, with fewer dreams. Anecdotally, this does seem to be fairly common among at least a subset of the neurodiverse, and this subset, at least, is typically the type that advocates for “self-medicating” the inevitable symptoms of anxiety, depression and trauma that typically come along with a lifetime of forced masking via weed. There are actual studies that suggest that weed helps with actual PTSD.
And, I can probably add now that, “the effect for me is very mild, but I think it’s enough that I’d say go for it if you can obtain it safely.”
Because the past couple of weeks have provided multiple opportunities to test out those dosages and timings of dosages in a semi-systemic study of its effects under “real world” conditions.
If my sibling has a traumaversary, it turns out we all have a traumaversary. If my sibling gets possible covid, we all feel sick (with anxiety, at least.) Even if, technically, neither of these things has led to any actual new traumas. Because I – and now my Partner after 2018 – have just had so many traumatic experiences with what happens – and why – sibling usually displays trauma symptoms before that it seems impossible to believe that feeling those old trauma feelings doesn’t mean the other shoe is about to drop.
My sibling started at the One-Horse Townhouse two years ago this month. The weather at that time was pretty similar then to what the region is experiencing now. (It was a lot hotter in 2019). He started out in a care home all by himself, because he had been displaying pretty extreme behaviors in response to the shit that had gone down, and because an abusive former care home had literally forged our signatures on a “care plan” that they filed with the state that made my sibling seem like an uncontrollable monster to prove they weren’t the actual uncontrollable monsters. (My sibling was able to have housemates in 2019.) My sibling spent a fair portion of 2018 in the hospital, after he nearly died from medical abuse as one of the types of abuses perpetrated by the Too Little Too Late Inn.
Traumaversaries and triggers are a thing. It has been two years. But, there’s a pandemic on now. And, because he had exposure to a positive case and is displaying possible symptoms, my sibling is in a “bubble” of limited staff and physical location. This isolation period occurred almost immediately after he had already had a random infection (unrelated to covid or his typical underlying medical conditions) that he had just been recovering from. His doctor had already recommended some follow-up tests – which were to be at a hospital imaging facility – just to make sure he was responding to treatment. He’d already refused to even enter the hospital on the day of testing. And, well, covid exposure in a care home situation would make anyone anxious. So, the staff at the One-Horse Townhouse sound a bit more (understandably) stressed than normal. (I have to assume my sibling, as I did, learned to note these subtle stress signs as a survival mechanism.) All of these similarities together just seem a bit too “2018ish”, we hypothesize, to someone who doesn’t quite understand why we’re social distancing beyond the very basics. And, they seem to have triggered the spontaneous reemergence of a lot of the most extreme of my sibling’s older 2018 trauma responses. And, that’s not the safest thing in the world, for him or his staff, especially while in potential covid isolation. (I say “potential” because one of his trauma responses is, “Don’t you dare touch me. I can prevent you from touching me, and I will!” That has made it effectively impossible to get a proper covid nasal swab. So, we’re operating under the “showing some symptoms and having a documented potential contact vector means isolate and assume yes” protocol.)
My sibling showing trauma responses makes me show my own inevitable trauma mental meltdown loop of “Oh God, oh God, oh God, are they going to kick him out?!” They have the legal right too. Hell hath no fury like the ability of an agency (even the one doing the substantiated abuse causing the behaviors!) to just say “nah, I don’t feel like dealing with challenging behaviors, it’s too complicated” and to kick traumatized clients out on the streets of Hell. The One-Horse Townhouse has shown no signs they are going to do that. They say they aren’t going to do that. They’ve honestly done everything right, as far as I can tell. Despite the county having had 15%+ positivity rates since this summer, they managed to keep all their clients clear of covid until now. The U.S. is posting over 175K new cases per day, and we have uncontrolled spread in all but two states. I figure it’s pretty impressive, honestly, that the One-Horse Townhouse managed to keep free of it until the U.S.’s 3rd? 4th? (I’ve lost count) and so far worst wave. I figure it’s pretty impressive that they took him in to the doctor for that original unrelated infection without us having to catch it. And set up the follow-up scan. And, are willing to take him back to try again after he refused the first follow-up scan.
I want to believe this is just a traumaversary symptom-fest for my sibling, and it will fade after the season changes, he recovers from everything making him feel down, and he can see the others at the agency again so he doesn’t have to fear that they are “gone” in the sense of “deceased” (as other family members have disappeared in the past.) I have no reason, logically, to believe it will be other than that. I have no reason right now to believe that even if he doesn’t get over this rough period by the end of the month, that he’s in danger. (And, his “covid-like” symptoms have matched ours pretty well. Which mean they suck, but even in the dreaded week two there’s no indication it will progress to a serious/hospitalization-requiring case, assuming it is covid, and not just another opportunistic bug off of the original infection. So, there’s no immediate reason to fear the worst.)
I want to remind myself that the latest bullshit with filing paperwork in Hell was bullshit, but that the one brightside of a global pandemic is that – for the first time ever – I was not required to go to the 9th Circle of Hell personally to deal with the annual filling of the bullshit annual “care plan” that nobody cares about anyway as a form of legal protection. Which was a small mercy, because I was expecting the annual ritual to be triggering (as always), but not as triggering as it unexpectedly was.
Remember how I mentioned earlier that in 2018 one (of the three total! care homes my sibling was in that we ended up substantiating abuses in in that year alone) had literally forged our signatures as guardians on the most horrific form of soul destruction and permission for abusive tactics that I have ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot in Hell!) and filed it with the state? And the state didn’t give a crap? Well, in 2019 (with the One-Horse Townhouse’s support!) we believed we had finally buried that 2018 document forever. We believed we had re-written it with a new one that we could just go “yup, same as it was last year” for the 2020 ritual
sacrifice bureaucracy this year and be about our merry way.
Nope. Of course not. This is the 9th Circle of Hell. I may not have had to go there in person, but they still managed to stick their pitchforks out through that Zoom call to poke at my mental health. Turns out our “care” coordinator of 2019 never got around to actually filing that amended 2019 paperwork we worked so hard on last year. We have a copy of what we believed it to be. But, nope. The 2018 one has apparently still been in force the entire damn year. But, since neither the One-Horse Townhouse nor us ever looked at it (because, they, too seem to get it is a non-trauma-informed piece of trash that is should only ever be used for bonfires in Hell) we only realized that the paperwork had never been properly filed in 2019 when the state dutifully read aloud all that horrific shit from the 2018 forged document in 2020. When I totally wasn’t expecting it. And, we had to go through the whole traumatizing experience to “fix it” all over again! All during a period when I’ve already been stressed out of my mind because of my sibling being ill and his traumaversary responses! Huzzah! (Fuck you, 9th Circle of Hell, and all of you who work in social services there…)
So, not gonna lie. Multi-hour Zoom call that required being read aloud all the worst parts of 2018? While worrying about my sibling having possible covid and that history would repeat itself again somehow and The One-Horse Townhouse would dump him on the cold streets? In the middle of a pandemic this time, when the Northeast would be even less likely to take him? (Remember, I literally camped out at their equivalent office in 2018 at one point to try and beg the Northeast to take him. They claimed to have no procedures for crisis placements even in life or death situations.)
Yeah, I may have “partaken” of that aforementioned psychoactive substance as a form of self-medication. Did it physically calm me down? Not sure. Maybe? Possibly?
Am I so twisted** that having the “secret” that I was talking to some of those same people who were present two years ago at official proceedings – and who thus haunt my nightmares from 2018 – “high” yet they didn’t realize at all make the experience significantly less re-traumatizing than it otherwise would have been regardless of its actual physical effects (or lack thereof)?
Yes, yes, I am that twisted.
And, frankly, I probably could have been legitimately impaired instead of just “mildly calmer” and I still would have known their own jobs better than they do. Because I’ve been having to do them for them for half of my life at these bullshit meetings!
Now, I do not officially recommend using that strategy in official proceedings unless you are pretty darn confident – and have documented semi-experimentally – that no one will be able to tell you have imbibed and you won’t be cognitively impaired.
But, I did promise an “honest” review.
And, honestly? Worth it! (It says a lot that I judged that “chemically altered” would, in the end, be no worse – and probably be better – than my usual dissociated mess of a mental state while talking to bureaucrats from Hell. And that I was correct in my judgment!)
I want to believe that sometimes trauma triggers don’t portend new actual trauma. I want to believe that my life I’ve built for myself in 2019 – and yes, even in 2020 – is “reality” for me and not a dream I’m going to wake up from at some point to find myself back in the Hell of my childhood (or adulthood). I want to believe, but believing things could ever be “safe” or “okay” forever when you have never actually known safety from little on? There aren’t enough psychoactive substances in the world for that one…
So, honestly, try some weed (if it won’t make your throat close up.) It won’t make you feel safe. But, it might make you feel a tiny bit of snark in an otherwise shitty situation.
**My Partner is also pretty twisted. Twisted enough that he managed to make me feel better on a break from that Zoom call from Hell by joking that, “Never fear. It won’t be a repeat of 2018 even if your worst fears come true and The One-Horse Townhouse somehow does ever unexpectedly kick him out on the street. At least you won’t have to have your inevitable dissociative meltdown in the presence of thousands of experts in your field like last time. Because the pandemic killed business travel for the foreseeable future, and I’m pretty sure that Sheraton is on the edge of bankruptcy!” Yes, that thought helped. (Probably more than the weed, if I’m honest!)
Need a recap of anything I’m talking about in any post? Check out my Glossary of Terms