I’ve always referred to myself as crazy. I found pride in not being like everyone else. My mania worn like a badge of honour; never excusing my madness, but always accepting it. It wasn’t until in a fit of feverish adulting that the thought crossed my mind: Maybe I’m a little too crazy.
I’ve been a weed smoker since 17. At first occasionally. Not quite sure if I liked it, but the cool kids did it, therefore, so did I. My usage grew as I worked my way through college, somehow convincing myself that it helped me study. Girl bye! I retained nothing in those years. Still got that diploma though.
Next up was university. Three times the pace of college required three times the ganja, in my eyes. Roll. Spark. Toke. Pretend to read my psychology text. Get bored. Repeat from start. I dropped out after 2 years. Unable to keep focus in class. Unable to care about the money I was squandering. Unable to stop smoking, even when I realized I was doing it too much. Overwhelmed was more than an understatement. It became a lifestyle.
Tensions grew high at home. Without a peaceful solace I decided to move out. I could feel my mind slipping (further than usual) and thought having my own space was the key. Found a roommate and reasonable rent in the City’s North-East end.
At 23, I felt like an adult for the first time. I was responsible for me. Nobody could tell me what to do. No lectures about how I didn’t wash dishes before bed. No residual anger sent my way from another family members’ fuck up. In all honesty, I was scared. Terrified. Finally unsupervised, I realized this life was no joke. I worried about everything. Overthought simple moments, and dreaded any real human connection in fear of recreating the world I was running from.
I woke up with a spliff in my mouth, to cope. Had a spliff at lunch, to cope a little more. Had a spliff after dinner, to cope further. And a blunt before bed, for the culture.
Winter 2015, I decided I should attempt to quit. Cold turkey. By this point I’d moved into my own place. No roommate. Just me, my dog, and my negative thoughts. They consumed me, and at a certain point, I just let them. I made it though the first week with much struggle. It seemed that everyone, everywhere started smoking when I stopped. I couldn’t escape smokers on every corner downtown. The whiff of that loud would haunt me as I walked my dog at night; as I ran errands for my mother; as I slept.
Soon I started having panic attacks. Curled into a ball. Heart pounding. Tears running down like hot tar. Face twisted in silent agony. Some real horror lookin shit. I’d be sitting there peaceful-than-a-bitch, then BAM! The emotional back bs forth was exhausting. The designer bags under my eyes went from the size of your favourite Speedy, to an extra large Artsy (all white calf leather, btw).
It lasted 5 weeks. I wrestled thoughts of suicide, but could never actually do it. I wallowed in my self pity, contempt, and a new feeling I was very unused to: Self-Hate. I fought back the thoughts of driving into oncoming traffic; jumping in front of a train; tipping over the rail on my balcony. I tried relentlessly to hold on to the image I had of myself. Swung on the pendulum from manic to depressive, but always depressed more than anything else.
As low as I would feel, I just kept thinking it was temporary. I had to. I had to cling for dear life to the idea that this was simply a phase. Something I’d walk out of in a few more days. Few more weeks.
Eventually I did. Shaky and dull. I made it 6 months without a single gram. I was proud of myself. I made it through the endless soreness behind my eyes, the double guessing over every move, the tun up paranoia, the silent accusation of all eyes them met mine.
Summer 2016 I move back home. My mother suffered a minor stroke that shook everything off balance. I return to my process. The worry returns. The relentless sloth rises. I try my best to keep it minimal. Spiffs enjoyed during my days home alone, and a blunt on my nightly dog walk to quiet my mind before bed.
In the last 12 months I’ve worked hard to keep myself balanced. Eat fruits daily. Wait at least a day between finishing my stash and buying more. Only give it up to men who I’d be proud to call my son (creepy, but think about it lol). Little triumphs keep me sane these days. I focus on today. Now. This breath. That step.
The process remains: Roll. Spark. Toke. But the rush of panic doesn’t greet me in my sober moments. I can quiet my thoughts more easily now. I’ve begun drawing and finding other outlets when I feel myself slipping. I’m still crazy, don’t trip. Just on my own terms.
(Mel B, Essay- The Process 2017)