My letter to the editor

The LA Times published a letter I wrote them.  I was a little surprised they did as they must get so many. But, was pleased they did. I wrote it after reading an article that was sympathetic towards the LA Pot clinics in regard to treating a councilman’s cancer pain.

Here is the letter that was published.

Re “Medical pot is here to stay,” Column, March 8 

I’m glad that Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl has the marijuana he needs to help him cope with symptoms related to his cancer and treatment. But I’m sorry that his remarks at a City Council hearing on banning pot shops – “You want to kill me”? – were not balanced by someone like me, who could have said, “You are helping to destroy a family member.”  

Pot can be helpful for patients like Rosendahl, but it can also be a powerful addictive drug that ruins the mind. I’m tired of people saying that “it’s just pot.” It’s just wine unless you abuse it.  

Doctors have told my family that marijuana can cause psychotic breaks. Sadly, we have found this to be true.  

Within a mile of my house in one direction, there are eight pot clinics. Must this unchecked threat to our mental health continue? 

Daphne Brogdon

Los Angeles

Let’s just say I wrote this because of “my cousin Floyd”  I don’t have a cousin Floyd, but I can’t discuss the real person in honest terms here.  I stand by the letter despite the negative comments.  Typical anonymous online comments.

We have a weird thing in California.  Pot is basically legal if you have a prescription, which is as easily obtained.  A while back a doctor with a face like a “Real Housewife” had a billboard saying to come see her for marijuana prescriptions.  The federal government does not recognize it as legal, but it’s not enforced.  I would be thrilled if people who need it like the aforementioned Councilman could go to CVS or Rite Aid pharmacies and get what they needed.  But, cousin Floyd gets pot with a prescription with greater ease than I was able to buy pot in in my twenties.  It’s also FAR more powerful than it was in the olden days.  The last time I smoked pot was the early zeros.  It was no longer the giggly, “let’s eat chocolate” experienced I remembered, but a numbing agent that made it impossible to go to sleep as my mind kept churning.

In Amsterdam they have the coffee houses that people can get pot like we do a beer.  Holland does have issues with that.  Many there would like it to be just for residents and not for the tourists.  However, there seems to be something more honest about saying “here it is for recreation” than hiding behind the cloak of medicine.  My cousin Floyd has called it his medicine.  It is not.  It changes Floyd’s personality utterly. I think pro pot advocates think someone like me is basing my views on an old copy of “Reefer Madness”.  I am not.  I know there are plenty of people who can imbibe pot and be just fine.  Go to work, love their kids, mow their lawns.  But, don’t tell me these are pot “clinics’.  Don’t tell me pot isn’t addictive. Don’t tell me pot can’t be a trigger for mental illness.  It can.  I’ve seen, lived it and still live with it.

How We All Doing?

Did you do okay with Christmas? This dead week is still going on. The week where work is lighter, there is no school, and you still have your lights up. It can be a nice slice of a quieter life.

Or it can be trying.

Last year the slow pace of this week drove my husband and I up the wall. We were still silently freaking out after having found out on the 12th of December that we has been largely wiped out by Bernie Madoff and company (Sidebar, just saw that a local station in North Carolina said evil M had some punches to the face or some signs of an assault. Is it wrong to want to buy the guy who did that a beer? Sidebar, sidebar, my husband said it would be a funny skit, a cop standing over a beaten Madoff asking, “Do you have an enemies?”). All we could do is try to be pro-active with what economic life we had. Talk to realtors, a budget overhaul, look around for things to sell. We wanted to get busy so we could salvage our life and stop the screaming in our heads, but it was “wait till next week!” Also, I knew I was giving birth mid-February, so I really needed to make hay.

It’s also a bad week for a mental health crisis. I have gone through that with a relative and unfortunately it is happening again with another relative. It’s the hardest time to find a bed in a mental hospital because this is the busiest time of year to snap. Christmas time is very hard on some people. But we knew that right? I thought it was interesting when I found out it is not a punch line or anecdote, people really do end up in scary, lonely situations at holiday time, and as my sister who is a licensed therapist said, “The dirty secret is there are not enough places for people with mental illness, and no one cares until they have a family member who has fallen ill.”

Which I think must be everyone. In a few hours of hearing of my family member who is in crisis, the few people who I told all had a sister who healed with electric shock, a cousin who had recently killed themselves, a brother who has to live with his parents since his release, and it went on and on.

And from my previous experience dealing this, and it seems to be following the same course this time, not all facilities are equal. Often the institution wants 1) to keep the patient from harming themselves and 2) wants them to be compliant. Which means they are put in restraints, and it feeds into whatever scary scenario the injured brain had already manifested. There isn’t a course of treatment. And good luck getting a doctor to get on the phone with you. All of us were stiff with tension, minds distracted. I keep saying “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” The constant balance of talking to shrinks, while playing happily with your little kids. “Everything is fine! Let’s play catch.” While you wonder if an anti-psychotic would be better than anti-anxiety drug.

A few years ago when we were mired in this, it was about a 4-month journey. At the other end was a breathtaking recovery. But nonetheless on the other side was also a changed life. A much, much better life than had seemed possible in that holiday time, but it was a different one.

No wonder I dread Christmas.