By Mike Welsh
A friend of mine recently celebrated a relatively unusual anniversary. Not your regular red letter day which routinely rolls around, but a very significant milestone.
One year off the weed. It had been a year since she quit smoking dope. A destructive habit which saw her smoke marijuana every single day for the best part of the past decade.
And it wasn’t a choice made from a point of health or finances or maturity. It was simply a matter of life or death.
An impressive landmark reached by a gutsy young woman not yet 30 years of age.
But don’t dare express sympathy for her because she no longer sees herself as a victim. It was her call and her call alone to stop. She didn’t want to die. Her call to no longer be a victim. No more “poor me”.
And it’s this mentality which inspires her to stay clean. While she acknowledged the “awesome” support network in her corner in a Facebook post announcing the “anniversary“ she proudly claims her own determination as the major reason for reaching a year without reaching for bong to blank out a bleak existence.
Her father had left home when she was two, a decade later when not even a teenager she was parenting her unpredictable and unreliable mother who was abusing alcohol, prescription drugs, and was briefly hooked on heroin. She’d witnessed her mother attempt self-harm. She saw her mother OD.
Her resolution brought to an end a decade of daily dope smoking, a habit which at its peak involved consuming between 30 to 50 cones a day. A decade which included reckless behaviour, dark depression, frequent and complete mental breakdown and strong suicidal thoughts.
“I would find myself driving and thinking what if I just drove into a tree or just walked in front of a truck and these thoughts became more regular leading up to what I call hitting rock bottom.
Finally one night these thoughts scared the living shit out of me, it was like it had come down to a matter of life and death”.
Two years ago, the death of the man who raised her hurled her headlong into a much darker place with more weed the only way to “deal” with life. But it was also the beginning of her life changing decision to stop.
She thought she had a fair understanding of what was involved in getting clean and was prepared to endure it but quickly discovered the relentless flood of pain which came with purging her body of the destructive dope.
“As I had not been without weed for a day since I was 16 my body went into shock, I had sweats, vomiting, shakes, could not sleep or eat and my anxiety went into overdrive, at times I could see my own heart palpitating through my skin beating so fast I actually thought I was going to die. It was all this which made me realise how dependent my own body had become on this drug”.
During the months following her “drawing a line in the sand” on her destructive lifestyle, her determination to stay clean was rattled with yet another family death (her father who left when she was two and with whom she’d just reconnected) and being surrounded by mates who still smoked weed.
A psychologist has helped my brave friend work through the issues she once used weed to forget.
Her anxiety is still something that comes and goes. She still has bad days but they are now vastly outnumbered by the good.
And she has developed a good relationship with her mother who has been clean for more than a decade.