Last month when my son and I made our regular trip to High Quality Compassion in Corvallis, I was asked by the receptionist if I would consider sharing my story to support medical marijuana. I have been wrestling with that request ever since. To begin, I am not a political person, I never have been. I am a veteran of the Marine Corps who suffers with PTSD, depression and debilitating anxiety, a former Sheriff's Deputy, a mother, a grandmother, a community volunteer and a Christian. All that I am is what has caused the greatest turmoil in deciding whether it is worth risking everything to support something that could exile me if people in those circles of influence were to find out I use and support marijuana.
To be honest, I held out for a very long time for the same reasons. I have two sons who also suffer from PTSD and depression who experienced dramatic improvements compared to the medications they had been taking. The very same medications that caused life threatening complications for me. As my depression and anxiety worsened last year I continued to hold out in fear of failing a urinalysis either at the VA or for a job, but that all changed near the end of August 2015.
Like I said, I had been struggling with depression for most of the year but never really considered suicide as a solution. I had often wondered how people could go from knowing it is not an option to actually doing it as it did not make sense to me. As my symptoms worsened I was seeing a counselor and had expressed my concerns but according to the VA, if you do not have a specific plan to kill yourself then your are not considered suicidal. They have no idea how very wrong they are. Actually, it is that very line of thinking that made me decide that telling my story was worth the risks involved.
People need to realize how quickly the mind can change, especially in minds battling PTSD. I went from knowing it [suicide] was not an option to seriously wanting to die in a matter of minutes. It was at that point, when I was laying in bed in the middle of the day (something totally out of character for me) that I realized that passing a urine test would do me no good if I were dead. I remember going for a walk and thinking that I could end all my suffering by jumping off the bridge, but instead I went home and smoked my son's marijuana.
The difference was immediate and life changing. In a matter of seconds all thoughts of killing myself were gone and the cloud of despair and shame that had been hovering over me was lifted, instantly. The change was noticed by my other children, they asked if I was on a new medication because for the first time in over a year I was talking about the future, and for the first time, in a very long time I felt hope.
I want to speak up for all veterans who, like me,are afraid of losing their benefits if the VA found out they were using marijuana. For the women veterans who have been raped and sexually traumatized, whose lives are filled with shame and they just want it to end. The VA's idea of help is pumping you full of dangerous medications that make you a zombie or put you to sleep,or like with me have dangerous side effects. I believe the VA's approach to the treatment of PTSD is the reason the suicide rate stands at 22 a day. That number is climbing for women veterans suffering from MST.
My main point is this, I would not be alive today if not for marijuana.
UPDATE: A year after writing this testimonial, she has returned to school and completed her bachelors degree. She is currently on the job market and would like to remain anonymous. We are so thrilled for her achievements, and her new found happiness and well being.