Category Archives: Testimonies

The Unraveling, Part 2: Denial, Denial, Even as Dog has Seizure

(Part 2 of 4, an anonymous testimony submitted by a reader.  Part 1)   For a person who had never shown the slightest mental instability and then goes into an altered reality—literally overnight–disregarding a drug classified as “hallucinogenic” as a trigger is outrageous. Mental health treatments fail when the root cause(s) are ignored. The culprit was the mind-altering chemical in marijuana, THC, which today’s pot has been genetically modified to produce in outrageously high amounts.

Psychiatry has morphed over the last 30 years, placing medical management (prescribing pharmaceutical drugs), ahead of getting to the bottom of things. The best way to minimize an encounter with the psychiatric system is to never use mind-altering substances including marijuana, and all its derivatives, as well as brain stimulants like Adderall, anti-depressants and anti-psychotics.

When I kept questioning the rush to diagnosis my son and the failure to recognize the THC connection, even my work colleagues (pharmacists, physicians, and nurses) would say: “This is about the right age when they break.” Or “Just accept what your son has — a mental illness.”

The out-patient psychiatrist was even worse.  He charged $250/session and took no insurance. At the only family session after Ryan was released, I questioned why would they diagnose him with bipolar depression since it has a high familial link? This doctor refused to answer me but eventually mumbled in response, “environmental,” which may mean he knew that THC can alter young brains.  (Bipolar 1 is the term used today, distinguished from Bipolar 2, if the mania is longer or more severe and/or the person has a manic episode before having depression.)

Nothing made any sense to me, and the nightmare continued. My daughter-in-law’s family was immersed in the belief of mental illness. “My whole family has bipolar problems,” her mother stated. No big deal, his wife said, though Ryan came back to normal after 10 weeks. My husband and I went to several psychiatric doctors trying to find a more reasonable physician who would look at the whole picture, but all followed the same philosophy. I even challenged them with the American Psychiatric Association’s classification system which qualified a bipolar I diagnosis as inaccurate when illicit substances are in evidence. (At the time, the DSM IV manual was the classification guide for psychiatry.) Mothers like me read everything and know when a diagnosis doesn’t hold. Denial was going on, but I don’t think the “experts” understood who was in denial.

No one ever suggested Ryan had addiction or dependence on pot or any drugs. I asked several times, as my thinking was that anyone who had basically had a brain break should go for rehab/counseling. These ‘experts’ reassured us,” Ryan is just a recreational user.” I kept researching and showed my son and his wife the volumes of research about the marijuana-psychosis link. I told them, “If Ryan ever goes near any mind-altering substance again, it could trigger schizophrenia.” At the time, I was unfamiliar with the “skunk” strains of pot, and didn’t know most of their friends were using it.

In mental health programs, if there is presence of THC or other drugs in the toxicology report, please give the patient the education to help them understand addiction and how the brain works. The attending physician should be certified for Addictions Treatment.  I’ve read there should be at least a six-month wait to fully evaluate a person’s mental health function after stopping the substance, but it didn’t happen for Ryan.

Back to Normal? How Long?

My son’s wife dutifully gave Ryan his medicine — not that I believe any of them helped him come out of psychosis faster). Ryan gained 55 lbs. in 5 months, leaving stretch marks all over his statuesque physique. Our son had gained so much weight, complained of “brain fog” and once out of psychosis weaned himself off the meds. In total, he spent five months on the anti-psychotics.

I never believed my own kid would ever go near another mind-altering substance again. Neither my husband nor I had ever touched an illicit substance in our lives. Sadly, parents who think they raised their kids sensibly, spent quality time with them and modeled a healthy lifestyle, can be woefully unaware of “today’s culture.” The drug is everywhere; one in six teens who use marijuana become addicted to it.

We found out later that some close friends were using pot so Ryan was persuaded to start using “recreationally” at age 19.  About that time, he began dating the girl he married, also a user, but not someone I’d expect to be into pot.

Sad for me, when I met individually with Ryan’s five close friends, each called him “best friend,” because he gave everything of himself to his friends. Some “fessed up” to using marijuana with Ryan. One said, “But he never did the really bad drugs like I’ve done.”

Ryan’s dog had seizures about a month before our son’s second “episode” of psychosis.  Long story short–I helped my daughter-in-law get their dog to the family vet. She told the veterinarian their dog had eaten snail bait, but he disagreed. I had no knowledge my son had returned to pot, and his wife didn’t share that fact. Indeed, now I realize that their dog had found their bag of pot. The vet told us it was not epilepsy, as I thought. He was unsure if he would be able to save this dog. Following an expensive intravenous (IV) hydration, the dog survived.

After Ryan experienced his next breakdown, he confessed, “Jodie had eaten pot before his seizures began.” Later, the vet assured me “Pot doesn’t cause seizure, but makes dogs lethargic, sleepy.” Several months ago, a Colorado veterinarian wrote an article in the LA Times about the escalating number of dogs having seizures from contact with pot edibles. I marched the article to our vet, grabbed his arm and implored him to educate himself and spread this information to his colleagues.

If our family vet had recognized the symptoms of today’s pot which causes seizures, and if I had been sharp enough to have asked the vet to do a drug screen, we could have made a difference.  But, we didn’t realize that Ryan had gone back to using pot, thinking he had beaten the addiction.  (Parts 3 and Parts 4 will follow.  Part 5, to be published in December, will explain how the author has helped others with her knowledge.)

The Unraveling of Ryan, Part 1: First Episode

(Here’s the first of a 5-part series. Names are changed, but details are true. Permission required for reprinting)  No family should lose a child because of this ubiquitous falsehood that pot is benign. It’s not a level playing field for us, because of the marijuana financiers and the pot “evangelists” who try to silence us.

I’m no longer intimidated by anyone who dares to tell me marijuana is a “soft” drug. Kids today comment that it’s not even a “drug.” Recently a pot user told my younger son, “Your brother must have had a weak brain if pot made him go crazy.” When talking of drug policy, we need to consider that this drug has irreversible, insidious mental health challenges and changes for some young people.

On a single night our first-born son went from his normal self — a gregarious, accomplished young man with a healthy mind, so loved by friends and family—to someone me and my husband of 30 years couldn’t comprehend. Ryan had just turned 23, and had been married for two months. I blame the strong strains of marijuana around in 2009 and 2011 when he suffered two psychotic ”episodes,” 18 months apart. He tested positive for THC – the part which produces the high of marijuana — on his toxicology reports.

“That young man in there is an alien. Please find my Ryan, the real Ryan, not that imposter,” I told the psych hospital we finally got our son to, early in the morning. I have worked in health care for more than 30 years, but to see my own flesh and blood sounding and thinking like someone whose brain is unraveling, is way too much pain. The consequences for a young man whose mind spins out of orbit only gets worse inside locked walls of a hospital.

Truly, someone should be following a young person in his/her first episode of psychosis. I swear it would scare some kids into never touching weed again. Despite me, his mom, waving the science research about the “cannabis-psychosis” link to the staff at the locked psych unit, they denied the association. Heavy doses of psychiatric drugs were administered to my bright star–a 6’4″ handsome kid.

The First Episode: a Long Night

“I know you don’t think I use drugs but I’ve been using marijuana but it’s harmless, just an herb,” Ryan said to me and his dad from the back of our car, as he was losing reality.  Ed and I were so frightened, so overwhelmed, so helpless and clueless about how and where to get help.

To backtrack, the police took our son to another hospital in the middle of the night, as his bride called 911 and was so frightened at his strange, bizarre behavior.  But my son was a law-abiding citizen, had never been in trouble with the law and went peacefully with the police. The police took him to a central processing center in Ventura, CA, only to find there were no psychiatric doctors on duty. The young psych technician didn’t feel he was a danger to self or others and so was calling a taxi when we, Ryan’s parents, appeared in the middle of the night to find our son.

Ryan agreed to go with us, but he was hallucinating and tried to jump out of our car as we traveled on the 101 freeway at 2:00 a.m. Our son kept asking us if we saw the same bombed out buildings (in the middle of the night).  He said that he had to save Obama. I swear it was like my son was having a nervous breakdown, a more accurate description than the psychiatric label he was assigned once we found a psychiatric hospital several hours later to “help” our son.  We hadn’t even had our son two minutes inside the door when this woman already had diagnosed our son with a severe mental illness. She didn’t know a thing about him or our family lineage, which has no history of any severe mental illness.

I assumed she was just an obnoxious hospital aide, but sadly this locked psychiatric unit was close to the old movie, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Ryan was instantly labeled, warehoused with massive anti-psychotics (powerful drugs, supposedly to clear up disordered thinking) for 10 days. He got so much worse the longer he was kept locked away. The side effects of the drugs included muscle rigidity, drooling and slurred speech with a cotton mouth.

My son had his “band of brothers,” the five groomsmen who stood beside him just two months earlier. They came to visit along with countless friends and family. The toughest one of them, walked outside after seeing Ryan, kicked a trash can with such force that it flew in the air, and broke down crying.

On the 10th day he went home to his wife, who was overwhelmed, understandably. I would like to say this story has a happy ending, but it does not. One of the pastors who presided over Ryan’s memorial 33 months ago recently said he was proud of my “missionary work.” But, really, any parent who loses their adult “child” to the consequences of cannabis “skunk” would vow to end the cover-up of marijuana’s true harm.  Read Part 2. Part 3 explores temporary psychosis vs. bipolar 1.  Part 4.  For information on skunk and today’s stronger marijuana, read Antonio Maria Costa’s article.

Why I Now Hate Pot!

I Hate Pot

I Missed Quality Time with My Father

I wish my Dad’s relationship with me was closer than it was to…. Guess What? Pot!!!! That’s right, Pot didn’t help anybody but himself. It didn’t take long to realize the selfish behavior left no real quality place for me in his life. I would have loved more time with my Dad. I would have loved to spend more time with my Dad, rather than him searching for his next high.

TearsThe loneliness and despair of a child without a high functioning parent have left long term effects on me and my surrounding new relationships.

When your Dad asks you if your boyfriends have any pot for him? Really Dad, Wow that’s crazy boundary crossing and inappropriate regard for my place in this world. My place where I smoked pot and hated it and it has outcast me ever since. When I go to parties I hear the whispers, “she doesn’t do this” and off the crowd goes to experience their high.

Guess what, I found new friends and although not perfect I feel accepted for Hating POT!

This is a true testimony by a mom who wishes to remain anonymous.

Notable Quotes

“I passed out so many times from anxiety attacks from pot.”   ———–Peter Frampton, in an interview with Alec Baldwin, 2014

“Marijuana is not dangerous because it is illegal.   It’s illegal because it is dangerous. ”                                                                                     —————–Ray Massicotte, Sheriff of southern Ontario, 2002

“With marijuana…………I just want kids to know, because there’s this sentiment that you can’t get addicted to it, and it’s not true.”                      ———————Lady Gaga,  2013

Elizabeth Dias asked the Dalai Lama if he had ever used marijuana, He answered:  “Never. These kinds of substances are generally considered poison, very bad……The ability to judge reality is something very unique.  Or brain is something very special.  So if that is damaged, that’s awful.                                                                                                       ——————-interview Time Magazine,  February 19, 2014

“We are trying to get marijuana reclassified medically.  If we do that, we’ll be using the issue as a red herring to give marijuana a good name.”

——————-Keith Stroup, Emory University,  February 6, 1979

“There’s no medical (marijuana), oh come on, this is one of the great hoaxes of all time.”

————–former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in radio interview with John Grambling, May, 2013

“If there’s advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation? The world’s pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together.”                                                   ————————California Governor Jerry Brown to David Gregory in Meet the Press, March 2, 2014