The progress of my openness with the world about my experiences with being stupid and in pain should not continue until I explain the meaning of “Stupid and In Pain” as a title.
If you’ve read this blog before, you may be able to gather the meaning behind “In Pain.” I have chronic pain from fibromyalgia, which is a medical condition that affects the way sensations are processed in the central nervous system. It makes certain sensations more painful than they should be. It kind of sucks, but whatever. I am learning to live with it, but I’m not learning as quickly as I would prefer…
I wonder why progress is so slow. Maybe it has something to do with these mysterious headaches I’ve been getting.
The “Stupid” part refers to a couple of things; the first being my inexperience with life, or my reckless youthful behavior, or my naivety, or whatever you want to call it, which often factors into my decision making. It makes for an imperfect mechanism with which I navigate my life, but it’s being fixed slowly, with every mistake I make. In this respect, I am getting less stupid as time progresses. My mistakes are great resources for improving my behavior, and they are also great for making me laugh my ass off at myself. I hope they will serve the same purposes for you as I tell you about them.
Revealing the second “Stupid,” like so many things in my life, feels like coming out of the closet. In some ways, it feels more like coming out of the closet than coming out of the closet did. The second meaning for the “Stupid” is in reference to the copious amounts of marijuana that I smoke. I got my medical cannabis card late last year. I won’t lie: Using cannabis every day has changed me. Cannabis has transformed me. Since I started smoking weed, my ability to function as a normal, productive human has dramatically improved. … Yes, you read that correctly. Weed helps me function better. Hours that would typically be spent tossing and turning in my bed, trying to find the position that hurts the least, can now be spent actually enjoying my life.
When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I grieved for my good health. The time I spent in bed, I also spent in a mental prison, agonizing about all the good things that I would not be able to experience for the rest of my life. I thought the pain would never stop, and that I would never be content again. The relentless pain, alone, was exhausting.
I also worried that I would not accomplish all the things I had always wanted to do. I felt like the benefits of being a goal-oriented person had turned into a defecit, because I could no longer perform even some of the smallest tasks necessary to reach my goals. The little goals I had, like passing a test at my community college, working my part-time job in the evening, or getting my laundry done, seemed about as impossible as all the big goals I had, like graduating, getting my own place, working full-time, traveling, pursuing hobbies, and changing the world. I often felt like I was stuck in my body, just dying to break free and be who I thought I was “on the inside.” I still feel that way sometimes. Sometimes, it’s hard not to despair as I compare my current self to myself during a time when I was stronger, or to the person that I want to be someday. The pain that I feel in my body seems to bleed into my soul. I feel like a waste of space and mentally kick my own ass for not giving back to the world. Simultaneously, I fear that the world is a harsh place, and that I won’t survive it for long.
But when I smoke cannabis, my body relaxes, and warm tingles soothe my pain. Then everything changes. I can focus on the world around me. I enjoy it. I live within it. I take walks and feel the sun on my face. I read, write, and do research. I clean house. I fold my laundry and put it away. I cook, then I take out the compost and do the dishes after. I play guitar and sing my heart out. I plan my tasks for the days, weeks, months, and years. I pay my bills. I write thank-you notes to people who I am grateful to. I kiss my boyfriend. I hug my grandma. I do yoga. I laugh. I dance. I’m happy. I’m free from the confines of my illness, and I can once again recognize the beauty of being alive, here and now.
Yes, sometimes, weed does make me a little “stupid,” because it makes me slow to respond to my environment. It’s because my thoughts become too numerous to process. On the inside, my brain makes a volcano-like eruption of ideas, and I am trying to process them before I proceed with action. If I get distracted from a task, and make a mistake, or am slower than usual, I may get anxious and impatient with myself. When that happens, I try to relax and shift my mindset to one of gratitude. I am always grateful that the distraction is due to my own weird high-thoughts (which I probably enjoyed having), rather than being distracted by stabbing sensations in my abdomen, headaches, nausea, musculoskeletal pain, unshakeable exhaustion, or other symptoms of my illness. Life is too short to put myself through the pain for the sake of my reputation. I would rather be happy. I smoke because I choose to be happy. So be it.
Will I write about other things? Definitely. Will it put them on this blog? Maybe (I don’t really want to pay for more than one domain name). This blog’s namesakes will give me plenty of ideas to start with. For any human, I think it’s important to keep a dialogue open about all the ways which we struggle and grow, so that we can connect and work together realistically. Chronic illness just happens to be one of my challenges in life. For my sake, and the sake of others who are affected by chronic illness in anyway, I need to be open. Noname said on her NPR Tiny Desk concert, “Heal the world with vulnerability,” and I liked that quote so much that I wrote it in my planner and considered getting it tattooed on myself.
11:14. Thanks, Fatimah Warner.
It’s scary to talk about using cannabis. Weed used to be a dirty word to me. I was in my high school’s drug-prevention organization. I had arguments with exes about them using it. I was scared of the way I thought it changed people and held them back from reaching their full potential. I didn’t have all the knowledge I thought I did. The world is changing, and more people are learning about the actual effects of cannabis. But the use of cannabis for any reason still carries a stigma.
It’s scary to talk about chronic illness. That holds a stigma, as well. My illness is invisible, and I know a lot of people who “know about it” don’t know much about it, and they don’t believe me about it. Some people think I am faking or exaggerating real pain.
I am scared that I can’t adequately explain my experiences, or that my explanations won’t be enough to open anyone’s mind.
The fear can’t hold me back. I want to be a good, virtuous, admirable representative of these things. I want people to know that it’s possible to be productive and happy with these factors in my life. More than that, I want to be an honest representative of these things. I want people to know that it’s possible to be very set back by these factors. If people can get on the same page about the effects of chronic illnesses, and all the ways one can cope with them, then people who are affected by chronic illness and medical cannabis might feel less alone. Anger, fear, and sadness can be let go of. Relationships and bodies can heal.
I did not ask to be sick. I wish I was healthy. But perhaps it’s a good thing that I’m Stupid and in Pain… I know I’m not the only one. Let’s heal together.
x Anna Luparell