It’s always been complex PTSD.
It’s been a year since I stopped taking my daily psych meds. At the time, I was on Lexapro and had been for nearly seven years. Before that, for every single day since March 2000, I’d been prescribed lithium, zoloft, paxil, ritalin, adderall, concerta, effexor and a bunch of other names I’m still working on ascertaining. At last count, I’d tried 16 different pills over 17 years.
My first diagnosis was depression. My second, bi-polar. Third was ADHD, fourth was anxiety. My last diagnosis, in May 2016, was for Complex PTSD, which covered all of them. Armed with that diagnosis, I decided to go 24/7 with the only substance that had ever helped: cannabis.
And June 2016 until May 12 2017, I was “medicated” 24 hours a day. In the mornings, I vaped sativa and sometimes ate RSO. During the days, I vaped or smoked, adding infused coconut oil in the afternoons. At night, the only times I would sleep more than 2–3 hours in a row where when I’d loaded up on cannabis edibles at a Portland club, so I started using coconut oil before bed, too.
Life was terrifying for a year. It felt like my life had started over, and I don’t mean at that point, I mean it felt like I was a 3–4 year-old kid again, trying his best to navigate a world that triggered him at every opportunity.
I had stomach issues, daily. I couldn’t take walks without needing bushes. My back ached. I pulled a rib out of place three times, doing nothing more than swinging my arms or simple stretches. I argued with my wife, I argued with my parents. I begged my wife to move away from Portland.
In January, I got back to AZ. I no longer felt like I was constantly under attack, but mature things that adults do still were tough. Getting a job, nay leaving the house and talking to people, terrified me. Adults scared me. Talking to old friends triggered my psoas and pulled at my back. I began to realize that nearly everything I’d done in my life, from when I could remember at 3 or 4 until June 2016, had been me living as someone else. Someone who never grew up, someone who couldn’t become an adult no matter how hard he tried.
Things got better from January on, though. Over time, I discovered yoga and started to understand what somatic flashbacks were. Thanks to Pete Walker’s Complex PTSD book, I also figured out emotional flashbacks. Much of my life has been spent living in one of these two, and without medication, I was subject to their full force of misery and despair.
Ayahuasca was next. It helped. It got rid of my depression, taught me that I’ve been living as a narcissist for much of my years, and that my anxiety was massive but separate from who I am as a person.
That was a month ago, and also marked the last time I used cannabis 24/7. I’m better, though not better enough, and the next step for me is to establish a support system where I can share and learn from others.
I host a meetup every Thursday at the Burton-Barr library in downtown Phoenix. Please, please, do share this with the people you know that may be suffering. The people that know pills aren’t working for them. The people who’ve repeatedly been misdiagnosed.
Talking about it is the only way I’m going to get better. Thank you for reading.