These post pandemic days cannot be labelled as dull.
Today, my family doctor can write me a prescription for marijuana as a pharmacologic intervention for everything from controlling the nausea associated with chemotherapy and various metastasising cancers, to settling down spasms which accompany multiple sclerosis.
In my teenage years of the 1980s, that same dried flower with unusually high levels of the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) would put me on the wrong side of the law with possibly a criminal record sticking to me like an unremovable grease-stained shirt.
The stigma around criminal behaviour in our society immediately makes a person less employable and creates an environment where mental health and addiction problems occur more frequently with more severity than the rest of society. It does not seem fair because it is not fair.
To my surprise along my journey, acknowledging the fundamental unfairness of life was a strong, positive step in my own battles with mental health, addiction and accompanying demons circling around that particular place.
It seems like an obvious truth, however, when in the middle of pathological self-harming behaviours, it is not. The realization was part of getting more involved in the “cause and effect” of life. I made decisions which lead to catastrophic failures within the architecture of a slanted society.
Somewhere along the road, I needed to take ownership of my choices and their consequences. That big step in awareness was, and is, strengthening in my spirit and foundational in my yearning for mind and body health.
Questioning the authenticity of reality is not only the pastime of the politically motivated and paranoid sector of society anymore. It has become oddly mainstream, such as how THC-heavy pot has, coincidentally or not, become a mainstream social ritual.
Nonetheless, the pot leaf, which once symbolized defiance and rebellion, is now a corporate logo seen in the tallest gold-plated glass buildings lining the financial districts in Toronto and New York. It is a sign of the times.
Our mental health and wellness cannot be trusted in the hands of the shareholders of multinational corporations which, by their nature, place in the profit imperative over all other values, including human lives.
My mental health and wellness are your mental health, and vice-versa. We are enmeshed together in this experience on a community to global level. Me and you.
Without togetherness, we drastically lessen our chances of a mentally healthy and potentially happy life. Without a community bond and mutual aid, issues of mental health and addiction can become hollow, meaningless advertising slogans for car commercials and expensive spa retreats for the privileged few.
I have spent most of my adult life living “off the grid” while disguising the social isolation and overall dysfunction as a self-reliant life in nature. It is that experience which makes belief in the interconnectedness in healing especially clear and strong.
In the clutter and incessant chatter of our age of information, small expressions of empathy and love can ripple throughout reality and make the world a better place for future inhabitants. Stripped-down simplicity and a constant state of gratitude is my antidote to the complicated, information-heavy and often inauthentic times.
Mental clarity, contentment and living one’s fullest life is more simple than it seems, although being active in the process is a lifelong learning and living experience.
Strange days or not, they are never dull.
Robert Skender is a qathet region freelance writer and health commentator.