Life hit me particularly hard in college and I tumbled into depression. Upon reaching out for help, I was prescribed medications. I felt like I was barely surviving through the draining trial-and-error period that comes with diagnosing and treating psychiatric illnesses. Ultimately I realized that if I allowed myself, I could get to know what my brain and body needed much more thoroughly than someone in a lab coat whom I see for 15 minutes, every 1-3 months. Now I see those medications as analogous bandaids; doing what they know to stop the resulting damage, but not coming anywhere close to solving the issue at hand. Pairing cannabis with mindfulness exercises such as yoga, meditation, and creating has facilitated my healing journey to new lengths. I’d like to share a personal story of how that came to be.
I grew up on a small farm in a conservative town writing D.A.R.E. essays and wrangling horses in Florida. I think it goes without saying here, but this is an area where marijuana is highly stigmatized, scrutinized, and demoralized. From a young age, my community instilled within me a deep disgust and opposition to cannabis with an uninformed, because-I-said-so reasoning behind it. That wasn’t going to quench my curiosity. I had to move west.
Upon moving to San Francisco in my mid 20’s, I felt a new wave of openness, acceptance, and ambition. I met successful consumers of all walks of life. I felt inspired by the diversity and was led to higher education. It was a life dream of mine to attend a university, the first in my family to do so. I studied Cognitive Science at UCSD and took all of the ‘Neuroscience and Drugs’ courses I could get my hands on. I began to realize how completely backwards the outdated thoughts, and more importantly, the laws concerning marijuana are. I learned the great benefits seen by patients from preventing muscle spasms to reducing seizure frequency to chronic pain relief. This is a matter of quality of life here and it can have a trickle effect to creating better communities, better societies, and (dare I say) a better world if we just let it. As cliche as it sounds, this healing plant has taught me so much. It gave me the ability to breathe, to find stillness and create space. To give myself time, because humans are far too individualistic to be put in a box – especially when it comes to healing.
Why do I feel so passionately about the topic? It’s bigger than me. You see, my family has been taking care of foster children for over 45 years. I’ve always been immersed in the Medical Foster Care System. This means that throughout my childhood, I lived with dozens of children experiencing varying medical issues along with accompanying mental and emotional trauma. Most, if not all, could have benefitted from some form of cannabis treatment, including my mother. But instead, marijuana is still viewed as a drug without medicinal value in many peoples minds due to sheer ignorance. I noticed several shortcomings within the system and I’d like to contribute with some pretty personal, yet vital ways. During this pivotal time in social and political history, I believe mindfulness, empathy, and collaboration are our foundational pillars to keep in mind. The outdated perception and stigma surrounding cannabis has to change and I have made it my personal objective to keep the dialogue going and create what I know to facilitate a community space in which healing, exploration, and growth are forefronts of the conversation. I’ve created @shezblazed on Instagram as a way to connect virtually and in-person with this inspiring population of healers, story-tellers, moms, artists, activists, creators, leaders, HUMANS.
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