I hesitated about writing something about this – about drugs and me and my past and my childhood and my mistakes and my addictions and my shame.
I had to consider whether I would be, in a way, exploiting my past to simply have something mildly topical to write about on my blog.
Or for the people who know me in “real life”, do I need to worry about spoiling my reputation to them? Or ruining my image generally by becoming someone who sells embarrassing memories in my head just to get some attention?
Maybe? But also, maybe not…
I have little clue where this blog post will end up, so let’s find the answer together.
Okay, it’s 2018 and my government officially legalized cannabis.
Now anyone of legal age can buy a few grams of marijuana with relative ease. It’s not cheap but it’s so much safer and is available to people with various health challenges to help them get by a little easier.
And I doubt to anyone’s real surprise, I have been one of those people, sampling this newly legal dope to help get me into a writing groove on the days that I am feeling too anxious or too blue to write.
And what a fucking delightful surprise that it is working out really well so far!
But wait – I thought you were sober, archie?
Yes, well, I’ve been sober from all substances for about 3 years now, ever since my mental health crash (of course, I have been taking anti-depressants ever since, but that is not for kicks or anything remotely exciting), and in that 3 years I have also started to write creatively.
So in a way then, I have been writing sober and only sober.
(Yes, this itself seems to defy the usual stereotype of writers and artists pouring out their soul with a glass of something toxic within reach nearby)
Earlier in my life, pretty much from high school days to undergrad days, I smoked dope regularly and binge drank alcohol often. I did all this in secret, as best as I could, hiding my problems the same as I hid my coping strategies from anyone who cared to notice.
And none of this is me trying to romanticize, justify or recommend that time or those experiences, so suffice it to say that it happened.
Probably the most unhealthy part about those years was that I often turned to drugs as a means to escape from my life, my regular thoughts, my familiar problems. I actively sought to abuse these substances as a means to reach an end of me being too high or too drunk to commit any attention to how depressed I felt, how lonely I was, how frustrated and scared I got every day.
I think a lot of us out there have some extremely unhealthy habits of behaviour – really anything that we do regularly out of want and not need, and which without would change our temperament a great deal. Most of these tend to be vices, like smoking or cursing or cheating or lying or judging or whatever. I’ll save those habits for another day, however, and will just stick to the substance abuse in my past.
It took me a significant amount of time to change my manner of coping with my own struggles, and a lot of encouragement to pursue similarly taboo options (therapy, medication, honesty) to help resolve problems in my life.
My recent years of sobriety have been a form of detoxification then, as I grew and matured enough to find new fortitude and confidence in myself.
Yet, as anyone will tell you who has experience with mental illness and just generally living life as a human, recovery is not a one-way path upwards. There are plenty of relapses, of fuck-ups, hang-ups and all sorts of messy attempts to get by on a bad day.
So I mean no intention of pretending to be cured or wise, and only that my good days come more often than bad days in recent years and that’s very nice.
Now as a professional writer (whatever that means…?), I found myself with an opportunity to use cannabis again, legally this time, as an aid for artistic creativity the same way I rely on coffee for GSD (getting shit done).
After a few sessions sampling this government-approved marijuana, I have already recognized how much this drug helps to reignite enthusiasm and focused attention – something particularly helpful on the days I feel too sick to leave my bed or dare to write. But more importantly, I genuinely see a difference in my relationship to drugs like cannabis, where before I had an extremely codependent need to use to escape my life, now I use with an attitude of leisurely self-indulgence.
And to answer that question at the start of this post, about me doubting my true intentions for writing about drugs, I can really trust my hands to write not to sensationalize or to be trendy but to acknowledge my humanity and my past, to make my struggles known to others also on that path, to help humble myself and help celebrate myself for all the strange and stranger things we all do, whether in the light of day or the shadows of night.
Thanks for reading
& see you between the lines.