Dependency. A subjective word with ambiguity in tow.
Dependency. A subjective word with ambiguity in tow. There are two sides to all words, most of all, this one.
I’ll spare you the obligatory dictionary definitions and indulge in a brief summary of me. 30 years is hard to be concise with, so bare with me.
My name is Jason, I am from the UK. Since the age of 8 I have been ill, I have had all tests known to man and even some reserved for pets; I of course jest but when you’re the business end of a probe, fleeting thoughts do go through your mind like a freight train without a destination.
I am now 30, and have the proud accolade of having my diagnosis for 20 years. However, it is not a diagnosis I am happy with, don’t get me wrong, it’ll do, but the world, or at the very least, my country, does not seem to accept my diagnosis and therefore I am the butt of many a joke. I can take that, I’ve had the training to take abuse, I used to be a musician.
You see, when I was 12, I had the privilege of being one of the first to be diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or M.E for short. This later took a rebrand and I think we call it Chronic Fatigue Syndrome now. It has been suggested I also have Fibromylagia amongst other things, but I no longer have the mind for labels. Jaded I may be, but I am not yet bitter. I should explain shouldn’t I?
Picture the scene; I’m 5 years old and decide to follow in my brother’s footsteps and I take up the toughest martial art (subjectively) known… it must be the toughest, Wikipedia and the Discovery Channel says so, must be true then? The point of the desultory ramble is that my mind, thankfully, has never been under question. I reached a high standard in karate, I was on course to be the youngest black belt in the country. With this eastern teaching under my literal belt, I forever learnt the ways of my own body and mind.
When I first started to fall ill, it was a shock to everyone. Being of strong mind (or so I thought) I pushed on through the warnings the body sent me. Eventually, to cut a long story short, I ended up with my diagnosis of M.E. The illness had a stigma, and still does. Even then I asked, “Can I please have something different?” I didn’t know what, just anything other than the joke illness. I once had Bursitus of the foot, I could cope with that, it sounded so much “cooler” to adolescent ears.
I was the proverbial Guinea pig. I’m sure there is a vault in some barren medical facility with my case notes in under lock and key in some kind of Area 51 type setup… here’s hoping anyway. It is no word of a lie that I ended up teaching the medical profession much about the condition. A typical session would entail five minutes discussing my pain and problems; the next hour was reserved for Dr’s question time regarding my odd practices. I have tried every known therapy and drug that would be of remote benefit; my odd body rejected 90% of all things ingested. A small fortune has been spent on every known therapy going. I won’t bore you with the list, suffice to say I have but two that I have not yet tried; leeches and a Shaman.
My family Doctor used to keep a journal on the odd side effects and me:
“Dr, please don’t put me on anti depressants, I’m not depressed.”
“No Jason, it’s alright, they’re muscle relaxants.”
The Next Week.
“So, how are they working Jason?”
“Um, you really want to know Dr? They’ve given me incredibly bad dreams, sweats, and I now have numb hands and feet. That normal?”
The numb hands and feet lasted about two years. It was great fun when used correctly as a child with mischief in mind.
Then, one appointment to sort out my incredibly sore throat:
“Ok Jason, we’ve booked you in to have your tonsils out, they’re really inflamed. We know this will set you back in your illness, but we thinks it’s for the best.”
“Um, Dr? I had my tonsils out when I was 6.”
“You sure? Let me have a look… oh, they’ve grown back, that’s unusual. Good news though, we won’t book you in to have them out again, they’ve grown back, so keep them this time.”
This was path of the course with me, if there was a medical exception to the rules; I stumbled across it giddily and gleefully.
The list is both endless and far-fetched to say the least. The worst one being the time I went blind for a week:
“Dr, these eye drops you’ve given me, I don’t think they like me.”
“WOAH! Jason, umm, you’re eyes have swelled like beach balls, do you know this?”
“I have a fair idea yes Dr, if I could actually see, I could have a full panorama of this room like an iguana, trust me, I’m aware. What can you do, I’m a tad scared truth be told.”
“Umm, well, could I take a picture for my journal?”
“You joking Dr? Well, I can hear you getting your camera out so guess not, can I fix my hair?”
“No. say cheese.”
I found but one drug that didn’t turn me into an alien, and that was a painkiller, a high dose and addictive one at that. The side effects? Well, I don’t want to address them, merely writing them will remind me of mortality more than I need to. I know not to rely on them, I know they carry a death sentence, but I have to take them if I want any degree of life. Catch 22 I guess you would call it. I cannot even think about going to the dentist, this way madness lay, the set back is famously bad.
The years rolled by, the condition worsened. At points, with uncertainty still hanging over me, it was fleetingly questioned if I was terminal. My weight plummeted, pain overrode my body like a symphony of agony. I was the face at school no-one saw, a shadow, mere rumour of “that boy”. Suffice to say, my family suffered with me. The support they have given has never been in doubt, I am blessed to have never been questioned by them; when my true self is known, it is of assurance that I never have had to justify to them, they know me too well to know I would settle. This notion truly does help when the world flippantly dismisses without knowing me.
I missed all of my high school, I took it upon myself to self educate, and I continue to live by this ethos. I have a passion for learning and do so each and every day. My family never feared for my future, they could see my mind ticked over in it’s own merry way… it is actually official I have an unusual mind, I have discovered this through copious amounts of scans and tests. Again, another superfluous by product of illness. Woo Hoo!
Come my teenage years with little to no social interaction, I had a spell of better health, things were looking up. I had always wanted to join the military, and suddenly this did not look such a pipe dream.
I sort solace in arts, I became an active musician. At the age of 21 I was finally starting to see the aspects of the world I had never seen. I was in a band, we were gigging every week, and I got to see people! People! I have always been considered a social person, so to entertain a crowd was indeed a welcome part of my life. However, it was ALL I could do. I had to rest before, after, during, and once I even played a Beatles song whilst sitting on the floor (long story).
The rock and roll lifestyle looked very different from my view, I have never been able to drink alcohol, and as for any other drug, well, I think we all know by now that this was an unfathomable thought to process. I was not putting ANYTHING into my body, it may well turn me into a lizard again; and that’s if I’m lucky. I plodded on in this manner for nearly five years, earning a good reputation along the road. I became known in my own little way; recluse by week, come the weekend night-time… I was a rock star. Well, a budget rock star to say the least. Rock stars don’t take “rests”.
Halfway through my gigging life, my health started to fail once more. Pain was getting increasingly hard to ignore. I would push through anything anyone would throw at me, but when the mind is willing and the body is not, you can’t ignore the messages. Weight started falling off me once again. It started to look like I was going to have to give up my one release, music was draining too much from me.
A concerned friend suggested cannabis. Now, I had considered myself stringently in the “anti” camp. Never did I want to consider putting a harmful and illegal drug into my body. I had never broken the law, granted, I never had the chance to break the law, but I still never have. I reached a bargain with my friend, I agreed to research it for myself and make up my own mind. Knowing how much I enjoyed learning, my friend had me hook line a sinker.
I will spare the lesson on cannabis, suffice to say I could talk at length, but the level of misinformation and, dare I say it, lies that I found was an eye opener in the very literal sense. My jaw dropped with each new piece of research I read. If nothing else, my mind works, and I was quick enough to work out the propaganda from the truth.
I reluctantly agreed to try cannabis. Obtaining it was a different matter, I simply did not walk in the circles needed to purchase it, and as a rock musician, and this is shameful.
In an effort to be concise in this tale, I embarked on a trial of cannabis. Limited dose, under strict supervision. It was a miracle to me. For the first time in living memory I began to feel normal. Words would be no good to explain this feeling, it is an emotive ache that cannot be described. At last, I had found my miracle.
I was back in the game, I was on my feet in a inordinately quick period of time. I reserved cannabis for the end of each day, the light at the end of each arduous tunnel. My weight stabilised, and my energy was on the rise. I could once again plough my efforts into music, and dare I hope, making a career out of it and obtaining independence for the first time?
Four years rolled by, all was good. Very good in fact; I had long resigned myself to the thought that I would not get involved with the opposite sex, I felt it was unfair for both me and anyone who would be caught up in my web of nonconformity. I could offer nothing to a girlfriend. However, throwing caution to the wind, I spied someone. She fit the template I had always held in my head, she was hard to ignore. We met, we hit it off, we ended up together. It was unexpected all round, and I resisted it in the beginning. My conscience couldn’t cope with luring this innocent girl into my war zone of a world. She forced her way in.
My girlfriend was incredibly anti cannabis, her Nan had died from lung cancer only a few years previous. Years of tobacco smoking had cut her time short. The scar remained ingrained on my girlfriend, they were close. I had to hide my limited cannabis use from her, this caused much friction. Lies are lies no matter how they are told, and she could see I was not being truthful. Although I would never touch tobacco, the action of smoking was all the stigma needed.
We are now in recent times. My supply of cannabis was getting increasingly hard to get hold of. My intake was highly limited from the very start, but I was running out of options. Suffice to say, it ran out and I had to give up my music hopes. This was a very hard period for all concerned. The one part of life I managed to ring out of my sodden body was left to dry on the wayside. The band I was in came to an end, and I was left to forge a recovery.
Eventually, my girlfriend became my partner (it’s “the more grown up term”) and I told her the truth about how cannabis is my miracle. This caused many a friction, she had led a very sheltered life and believed all she had been told, as did I in the beginning. We had rocky times, but through education, her eyes became open to the idea.
I managed to find supplies in drips and drabs, and each time my “partner” could see just how well it worked. She had her boyfriend, sorry, “partner” back!
Being largely housebound all my life, we actually managed to have days out as for our vacation. I would rest before and after, and would use my painkillers sparingly to get through. We had some good days. Time was limited, we only managed a few hours each day, but they were worth it.
One Christmas, we had the perfect day. I had some cannabis, and she asked me if I could ingest some in the morning so we could get out. I did, and it was the enough for us to have our day. We went to a castle that we are 10 minutes away from, the castle and it’s land were all in decoration, the land was festive. We danced up the walkway whilst Christmas music played to us and the snow fluttered. It was our Bob Hope and Bing Crosby moment. We were but one giant chorus line away from perfection. This memory still remains with us both. One day it may have been, but it meant so much more.
Cannabis ran out in the new year, and in an effort to seek relief and legality, I tried a “legal high”. I was dubious to say the least, I do not trust easily, and rightly so. No research had been done on this substance, but, the years were rolling by, and my dreams were lowering. As a youngster I wished for an adventurers life once I was “better”. Then, I wished for rock stardom with my tongue in cheek. This turned into simply to make a living from music. At this point in time though, I was nearly 30, and without hope for the first time in a long time. Desperation is a strange bedfellow to reason. I tried the legal high. It nearly killed me, and gave me the worst night of my life.
So, I was back to painkillers alone, and this was both not going to give me a life, and in fact, would eventually take it away from me. In an effort to save my sanity and due to the fact that pain was no longer relenting, I ploughed my time into my laptop revolution, and researched EVERY angle of cannabis. A year of solid research has given me much knowledge, but still, it cannot supply me with the actual plant.
his fully brings us up to date with my situation, as I write this I will be 30 in a few days, and I have never been more uncertain. My music career has been on hold for 3 years now, and I miss it like any drug dependency. My partner has bought a house for us to start out life, and as my dreams lower to meet the boundary of what IS possible, all I yearn for is to be able to give my partner a family like she deserves and we both wish for, and to give her the normality I have never been able to achieve. I have never been able to accompany her to a function, I am her imaginary boyfriend, a figment of her over eager mind, a ghost again.
In further efforts to keep hope alive, and to give my mind something to focus on while I drift to sleep each night instead of the foreboding open ended situation I am in, I wrote a novel. To say it has been a lifeline is an understatement. Although the tale of my novel is removed from sanity, it certainly saved mine.
I have looked into growing my own cannabis. THIS is now the dream, this is the dream that would give me all I desire. I could say with complete certainty that I could forge a recovery unparalleled. I would not go as far to say a “full” recovery, but I truly believe this is actually possible. You see, peace of mind counts for a lot in this life, and without wishing to fall into the pitfalls of self-pity, I have never had peace of mind, it simply has not had the chance to develop. I yearn independence, both financially and otherwise, but I am given no means to achieve this, my government has not and will not help in anyway. I feel they are but waiting for me to see out my days. Cannabis could hand me the chance I have never had.
I have tried everywhere and every scheme to find work, but with any fluctuating illness, I do not fit in the modern world. Give me a task, I assure you I will do it, and to the very best of my ability, but, it would have to be on my time. Employers don’t like to take a punt in life, and who can blame them. So, I will continue to try and promote my novel, and brainstorm myself to sleep each night.
My partner has a very respectable job, and as much as it has torn us up to the point of breaking, and we still continue to break, she just cannot give me the green light to grow in her house. If all the onus was on me, I would take the chance in a second, but with UK laws that enforce cannabis to the letter, and indeed have stepped up the war, my partner would suffer unimaginable consequence. I too would face the risk of full prosecution. Prison would kill me it is fair to say, but I must roll the dice and take my chances.
No solution is there for my outlet for cannabis. It remains illusive, and the pain grows. I have been strong all my life; I would not show you a grimace. Ask me how I feel, the answer would be a cordial “I’m fine thanks.” But, the folly is getting harder to maintain, pain is starting to travel further and harder.
So, now, I’m 30, with an empty house awaiting my attention that I cannot give it, awaiting a coat of paint before anyone can move in and awaiting a family to fill the gaps. I’m not sure I will ever get to that house. I’m not sure if I will ever get my novel in print, and I’m not too sure if I’ll ever see a change in laws. As a patriot who has played by the rules all my life, I feel betrayed. I wish to turn my back on my country fully. If I COULD emigrates, I would in a heartbeat, alas, that is not a viable option, I can offer no country skills or money. So, I remain, housebound and with a future unwritten, I have tried to tell my partner to leave me for her own sake, she will not, I guess her life will forever be on hold also. I cannot even offer her a vacation. I have never been out of this country, she deserves better than this fate.
I will carry on my fight, I seek to educate whether I can about cannabis. Although it is a tragic thought, it is of some comfort to know I am not alone in my situation, many of us go through this very real hell, and when it is avoidable, it is hard to take. I fight for these people also; with every part of me I fight.
What was it I said at the start of all this, if anyone can remember that far back? Umm, oh yes, well, I guess it could act as my closing line as well as my opening. Cannabis, speaking from someone who has never really had it to the degree needed to hand me my life for the first time:
Dependency. A subjective word with ambiguity in tow. There are two sides to all words, most of all, this one.
Don’t blame me for the hand fate dealt me; it’s an easy way out to think I enjoy this,
I don’t ask for sympathy from you or the devil, you’re a rolling stone? Well I’ll have to give that a miss.
Remember when you were at school at had the time of your life? Or was it great to shed its binds?
Remember the leaving party and all of your conquests? I can’t recall, I was fighting my own war behind my enemy lines.
I was the face you didn’t get to see, I was having my tests and exams as you did too,
Mine were overnight stays with no results, only varying degrees of “nobody knew.”
Remember when you had your first day of work and went to the pub for relief and drinks?
I was not there, home again panicking at night when the mind won’t close and over thinks.
Remember when you thought that you would not be caught dead like me and would get well?
Well, walk a mile, and fight my fight… the mind never loses faith, but the lucid fatigue refuses to quell.
How long have you lived now, how many birthday’s have you seen and had laid on?
Mines 30 years now, and each milestone is marked with the rungs of the ladder stepped upon.
Begrudge me relief, begrudge me a life? You’ll see a smile before a grimace I assure you,
Hold my piece of normality against me, I won’t complain, I can’t spare the mind, too true.
Convict me for a crime of wanting to be released for just an hour a day, a chance for life?
My body rejects everything you can take, each movement feels like a frenzy… an iced knife.
You’ll hear a compliment before you’ll hear me complain, a very real and lifelike hell,
Close the door on me, but I’ll still be here doing all the right things and fighting beyond the next bell.