Okay. I’m a mother.
I know – I hear you, but no – I’m not a feminist. I just do a particular job in society which means that I get to learn a load of really good stuff by bringing up children, and that stuff is quite useful. I could provide a long list of skills and knowledge – but it would take up too much space.
And yes – I know I sound like that Julie Burchill woman in the guardian who could only write when when was having her nervous breakdown. And there’s a reason for that. I’m probably still having mine. I’m at the ‘angry with the world’ stage. Why? I hear you ask…
Well, the reason is a weird ‘disease’ called Multiple Sclerosis. And this is where it gets interesting. (insert context of diagnosis – kids leaving home/freedom/life back/escape from drudgery and stress of single parenting and a chance to focus on what interested me – researching stuff, finding stuff out)
For some reason, even saying the words has the ability to invoke ‘the fear’ in most people I meet. And almost everyone I know who has MS carries a strange kind of ‘guilt’ that they express in a number of ways. They feel shat upon, tired and that nothing they do in their life makes any difference – they have very little control. Whether they have The Fear about the disease doesn’t depend on their gender, their colour, their class, their level of education – or whatever. It’s more complicated than that. But the reason for the fear doesn’t matter. Overcoming it does.
Okay – so the fear. It’s the fear of finding out that MS is ‘our’ fault. Displayed most clearly in sufferers of the disease, many of whom spend pretty all of their life thinking and worrying about, analysing, and most importantly trying not to blame themselves for having the disease. I did – for 2 years – till I finally smoked some pot (after the DWP and my employer prompted total nervous breakdown), cried, lay in my bed for 2 weeks and then slowly started to rebuild my life. And then I found a solution – a treatment. Call it what you will – a ‘cure’ (and I don’t feel in a drug obsessed world I’m allowed to say that, so I won’t).
I’m an ‘academic’ type person (whatever that means). So I intellectualised my disease – that’s what we do. But I’m also not an academic – so the process was overly complicated by a huge dose of what we often call ‘common sese’ (see BBC2 peogramme for details). Thinking about it. Trying to work it out.
I watched a lot of BBC 4. I read books. I argued on the internet. And I came to the conclusion – there is a cure, its simple, and the only reason we don’t have it is big pharma and poitics. My interactions with healthcare professionals (who literally saved me from self induced death on more than one occasion – I love them) , and the MS ‘societies’ made this even more difficult. Nobody wanted to talk about, or even think about, what seemed to be, to me, the obvious solution. Cannabis and yoga. One member of the MS facebook group I was in had done this – and it worked. He was healthy and well. Not just better. But well – happy, evenrgetic and with a zest for life. So – I had to try it.
There was lots of offical information on the internet. Tons of it in fact. But with no coherent organisation – it was a mish mash of different bits and pieces which talked about the ‘symptoms’ of the disease like they were a bunch on unconnected conditions, and recommended treatment by a large number of non MS medical professionals who dealt with only one aspect of the body. This seemed really odd to me – my experience of the disease is that all the symptoms are connected. They just feel connected. Mood, sensation, energy – all changed and fluctuated in a recognisable pattern. And then, the number of times I mentioned symptoms that I knew others shared (facebook group) but that the doctors and nurses told me had nothing to do with my condition. How did they know? They didn’t really know what the condition was. And the very expensive drugs – well they don’t actually know how they work. Seriously. This made me feel very nervous.
So – what was my condition? What wasn’t my condition? These were the suicide inducing questions that occupied my mind and destroyed my life. Literally.
The solution? Cannabis.
I became my own guinea pig. My own research subject. I bought a medical meditation book – which embarrassed me in front of everyone. Yeah, Alison – align your chakras, that will help. Trust me – I was desperate. I’m not a chakra person.
But I’m fixed. I smoked some pot, I meditated. I stretched. I tried it without the cannabis – it didn’t work. I’ve realigned my whole body, and I have no symptoms. I look and feel ten years younger. I have no pain. I can think. I sleep. I can pee. I no longer worry about wetting or pooping my pants. I don’t know if I can describe that feeling to those who haven’t suffered it, and faced a lifetime of it. I did what mothers do – I listened to my body as ‘evidence’ and did what I felt instinctively would work.
As a researcher – I now want to run a study. To help others.
But I can’t. It’s illegal.
And we need to examine why that is.
MS is a political issue.