In 2001, as the World Trade Center was slamming floor by floor into the earth, I was desperately grasping at threads of thoughts and snippets of information in my mind as I watched the destruction live on NBC from an over crowded couch in the day room of a mental institution. I tried from inside a drugged and electrocuted mind to understand what I was seeing. My brain was incapable of processing the information that my eyes and ears were providing. I could not get my brain and my mind together, my soul was simply wracked with despair. I kept trying to be reassured by Katie Couric’s lovely, but synthetic smile… She was freaking out, I could see it and feel it, but she held it together well. I am grateful for both of us that she could at least look somewhat normal in this moment of incomprehensible chaos.
My whole grip on reality evaporated. I felt like my soul was being ripped out and there was no relief. I just wanted to go home; not to my house in Orrington, Maine, USA, Planet Earth, but somewhere that my soul could breathe. I needed peace. I had no idea where that was, but I felt, and understood, and I knew that nothing was right. I was searching for help and guidance. I wanted answers. I wanted and needed god. Life is a journey.
I had turned to Western Medicine. I was stressed and sick and not handling my life very well and they assured me they had the answers. For 12 years they tried, and I tried. 12 years and several dozen prescriptions, and thousands of dollars in patient services and electroconvulsive therapy, and losing my career and going through bankruptcy… It was hell, and I couldn’t seem to escape. I couldn’t find the path back to myself.
I tried to do the fitness thing several times. I was not able to do the exercises without overwhelming fatigue and pain. I was simply not working, and I knew that my body was in real jeopardy. I finally understood that this was something that I needed to solve from a different avenue. I understood that I needed to find my energy. An energy that I had tapped into before, one that was familiar. I started my attempts to do yoga, but I found my physical body size to be so challenging. I was very flexible, and very overweight, but yoga classes were uncomfortable for me. I didn’t fit. A friend showed up one afternoon with a DVD called Heavyweight Yoga. We didn’t do yoga, we ate donuts while we watched and commented that there was no reason we couldn’t do just what those overweight people on the video were doing… We were busy eating donuts though… Priorities right? I have no idea who the teacher is, and she did not leave me the DVD. However, this “heavyweight yoga angel” did something she referred to as an “energetic sweep”. She showed me how to move some of the extra “me” that was in the way, out of the way… Epiphany! I got my yoga bug back…
We all have to start somewhere, and if I could just breathe better in the pose, then I could extend my reach… I could extend my relief… I could draw healing breathe into my cells. Later that same day, another friend showed up with her answer to my problem… Her evaluation was that I was just too stressed out. I should trust her, and smoke this joint with her. I was a cigarette smoker since age 13, so smoking was no problem, but pot, seriously?!? I had tried marijuana once in high school and got nothing. Everyone else was goofy and high. I was just let down. It was boring. I decided it was not for me, and since it was illegal, I was not really concerned with finding and smoking more. Now, she wanted me at 33 years old to smoke pot like a teenager? To say the least, I was not at all convinced, but this friend just happens to be relentless when she knows she’s right. Again, super grateful for my few in your face friends, I love your honesty guys. And, she was right. Amazingly, wonderfully, incredibly right! I relaxed. That's it. I just relaxed. In that moment of relaxation I heard my own inner voice, from somewhere far away. It simply resonated over and over with the same vibration… This is the real medicine. This is the perfect medicine for me.
That’s when it occurred to me. All this extra toxic crap in my system has to go. The pharmaceuticals were killing me slowly, I was experiencing a deathless death.
The cannabis was helping me, leveling my mood swings, calming my overactive mind and senses. I could see things clearly. I was trying to do everything, while also running 100 mph on the never ending treadmill of society, as they help me with pills and potions, and crazy ideas that were making me sicker and less capable of understanding that very fact!
In July of 2012, my friend with the magical yoga dvd and I were on our annual beach trip. Warming our toes in the sand, and cooling our ton sized tushes in the lake, and tossing books and magazines back and forth for a week. I had picked up a copy of the book “Skinny Bitch” because I liked the title. At one time in my life, I was just that, a skinny bitch, so the title was entertaining and I was willing to give her “get off your ass attitude” a cursory read at least. Inside that book, I heard the honest voice of a friend. And by the way, the skinny bitch is not a bitch at all, they are more of those hidden angels… Read it, it’s good, but be prepared you'll have a hard time coming up with excuses to continue the sloth like lifestyle. You get called out, and for me that was what it took. Who else was going to take charge of this and fix me? NOBODY!!! I am the energy in this temple, I am the one who lives inside here connected to this world though this body. I am the only one who can really know what's going on and make any relevant adjustment. I am, I can, and then I knew… I will find me again.
I was faced with the momental task of getting off the prescription drugs. My western medical professionals were of no assistance. Their insistence that I remain drugged only further fueled my motivation to try it “my way”… Sing it Mr. Sinatra!
At the height of my “help”, I was taking 22 pills daily, I had grown from 140lbs and a size 6/8 to 209 lbs and squeezing into a size 18/20. I did Not want to admit that I really needed the space of a size 22. I guess everyone has a point, and for me I just couldn’t go any farther getting any bigger. I was so puffed up that I couldn’t take a full breath. I was suffocating myself with denial.
My cannabis providing friend was my only salvation. The problem then became that she was finally divorcing and escaping the emotionally abusive drug dealer she kept trying to help and gaining her own strength to go forward as a single parent of a precious child. He grew into a honest hardworking adult and veteran of the US Navy. I am so fortunate to know her and him. They give me hope. The final solution to the marijuana acquisition problem was tossed out by one of my millennial aged pals who still struggles with addiction issues to this day. Go get legal. Medical marijuana is legal in Maine. Just do it! Right!
Getting medically legal was sketchy and sleazy at first. I hated it, but it solved the supply problem. Things got better, they continue to get better. I found Dr. Sulak, Integr8, and Maine Wellness Connection. I began to rebuild my human body temple. It took 8 months to slowly taper off the meds. As the toxins cleared my system, my mind and inner voice cleared as well.
I realized at some point that I had been misdiagnosed. This was later confirmed by my Psychiatrist, "I may have misdiagnosed you. You probably have PTSD, it presents like Bipolar Disorder in many cases”. For 12 years, nobody had even talked to me about me. The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk hit me like a ton of bricks. My body had indeed kept a record and it was not going to be erased by a magic pill. I began to understand that I had value. My life for all its seemingly useless trauma had created an awareness. I am determined to learn to use it for the very best outcome.
Fast forward, my children graduated, moved out of the house, and moved on. I am so proud of them.
I was left with time and empty space. In what some term as a mid life crisis, I bought an old jeep and booked myself at the Sedona Yoga Festival. Not just the festival, I was compelled to buy a ticket to the pre-festival conference for teachers on using yoga to help people experiencing the effects of PTSD (which I now term PTGS). I technically (credentially) didn’t belong, but my soul knew exactly where it needed to be. In trusting my soul I found my path.
Today, I am in Phoenix, Arizona. I am writing this because I was asked how cannabis and yoga have helped me heal. Honestly, I don’t know how to describe this amazing feeling. What I do know is that it is right, all is right. Although I know that I know nothing, I know everything is just as it should be, and it will all be ok. In 2 days I will begin my official Yoga Teacher Training. It’s a 30 day immersion (no phone, no electronics, no crappy food, no extra substances, and no sex… Really? Hahaha!) at 7 Centers Yoga Arts in Sedona Az. When I finish I am scheduled to train with “Warriors at Ease” to bring yoga to our PTSD affected veterans. I will be attending training with the “Love Your Brain” foundation to bring yoga to those affected by Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) later this year.
My plan, today; what I want; is to bring yoga to everyone who wants it. Regardless of ability to pay for it. Positive Vibes… Free to give, free to receive… just breathe.
I’ll be back in a month to continue this story of this journey. My inner voice says, “relax, you got this.”
“I don’t know what's gonna happen!”
8 mile, Micah Pfieffer
Thanks so much for giving my piece/peace of mind a moment. Be safe in your journey.
Personal story provided by Wellness Connection of Maine. Wellness Connection proudly supports seriously ill Mainers in their journey to an improved way of life.