Nellen posted a video on my wall about this woman who drank the juice of a whole cannabis plant every day and thus succeeded in ridding herself of terminal illnesses. You can watch compelling youtube vids showing that cannabinoids cause cancer cells to self-destruct.
It’s wonderful that this woman found her cure, and I am tempted to give it a go, but I can’t help but be wary of the mental effects. There came a point where I decided to steer clear of hallucinogens, partly because of my family history. I understand that mental health is to be protected. Thing is, once dodgy tracks are forged in your brain, they remain there, easy for thought processes to slip onto, grip onto.
My brother Ferg suffered from manic depression. He had episodes of it over ten years, from the age of 16 til 25. A horticultural course, psychiatric care and sheer determination helped him and he managed little by little with great effort to extricate himself from it. Aged 25 he had an unavoidable operation for a collapsed lung and fell into the most horrendous post-operative depression. He came home from Windsor in his Hillman Imp with all his things. As he passed the sign into Cambridge his windscreen cracked.
A few days later I was due to go off to Greece for a year to learn Greek. The night before the flight Fergus asked if I would come out to the pub, The Fort St George, to have a drink with his friend Andrew.
‘Ferg!’ I exclaimed. ‘I’m leaving for Greece first thing tomorrow. I haven’t even packed yet. Of course I can’t go to the pub.’
This is the reason why, if you ever ask me to come to the pub with you, I am coming!
He came to the airport with my dad to see me off. I did realise that was odd but I was too self-obsessed to question it much. He wanted to say goodbye. He kissed me. Again, I should have known something was up. As I walked away from him, I was crying. Stupid, stupid. Should have questioned that! Not like me at all you see. Going to Greece was always a cause for elation and thrill, never sadness. My inner self with its infinite wisdom of course knew it was the last time I would see him.
Three days later he committed suicide.
It’s twenty five years later but we are still gutted. I flew home. I remember picking Great Granny up from the airport as she had been away, and the first thing she said was ‘We will never recover from this. Never.’
My mum had a stack of tenners in the drawer, and would take them out and shove them at us to buy food and drink. ‘Och, take the money, what’s money? It’s only paper,’ she said. We drank whisky. Friends piled in. We talked about Ferg solidly and cried and laughed crazily at stories people told about him. Luckily Mum’s friend Lissi brought us food, day after day. My dad went into his office, and the vine Fergus had grown for him from a seed had thirteen orange bells on it. It had never flowered before.
I regretted so many things. With a suicide everyone always feels like they could have prevented it. We yearned to turn back the clock. We learnt the real meaning and agony behind the word ‘Why?’ I learnt that grief is actual physical pain. I banged my head on the wall to stop it hurting. I had not really ‘got’ the whole love thing until then. I did not know that I loved my brother until it was too late to tell him or show him.
So, there was a life horribly shortened due to a chemical inbalance in the brain. This takes me back to my current point: we must be careful of our brains. Really, I mean, not take liberties, not play around with them. Nor take our stability for granted.
Apparently if it is juiced raw and not heated, the psychoactive stuff in the dope plant is not activated. I don’t know about that. I’m sure I had dope buns in Amsterdam once that made us think that avocados were so strange that they must be from outer space, and that water was THE ALIEN. Although that might have been those Welsh mushrooms we had on Granchester Meadows, thinking about it. We did go through phases of being pretty addled. Once we nearly went up to some unsuspecting passersby on the meadows to ask them what normal people do all day, as we had forgotten. Not the most helpful state to be in. Reminds me of the state of the old girls in the film Saving Grace. The scene in the shop, lol. Take a look.
Anyway, they probably won’t listen, and why should they, but my message to the youf is simply: don’t go there, or at least, not too often. Because the balance in our minds is precarious and oh so precious. It is really really handy to know where your body stops and where the rest of the universe starts. Being at one with the universe is overrated. And remember, just one piece of barbed wire and all its concentration camp connotations can start you off on a very nasty trip. Coiled ropes too are particularly bad due to their uncanny snake resemblance. And sticky chocolate toffees. Do not eat them while under the influence. In fact, tbh anything can set it off. And then you’ve lost it. It’s FML bigtime. No way back. Hours of hell. The fear that the real you will never return. The fear of sudden death and not having done half the things you wanted to do because you were too damn stoned.
It’s better to get to oneness with the universe through years and years of meditation, yoga and courage, not just be dumped there unceremoniously without a map. Or don’t bother with the years of meditation, just be content to stay close to the earth and accept that we are animals with basic needs for food, water, friendship, a bed, (ok, maybe a telly but deffo not a playstation): simple things. Be content with the prosaic but pretty creations of our own unstimulated minds or get on with the job of finding zinging but unchemical stimuli. Books are pretty good. The thing is, if you take drugs, then your normal mind becomes boring to you. You are tired of it. You crave that extra stimulation and energy. What you may not care about is that the extra energy is FAKE. And that you have to Pay It Back. It’s like getting a loan. Tempting, seductive and dodgy.
You may well ask, well, why did you take any drugs? Good question. Well, in our defence, it was the eighties. Whole houseloads of students I knew were doing big fat clay pipes full of pot first thing in the morning, so a few puffs in the evening didn’t seem too extreme. Also I think the bucket-loads of steroids when I was 16 had given me a taste for artificial energy. I longed to re-create in myself that bouncy effortless high where your synapses are firing away zip zip. It seemed to me that most young people of our generation were indulging. Smoky underground graffitied bars were alluring. It was as obvious as choosing Diagon Ally and Sirius over Privet Drive and Dudley. I felt a bit guilty about the health implications (having been cured of Lymphoma by the great effort of fantastically brainy surgeons) but didn’t see much harm in a few puffs, a few pints.
When you are out of your head, everything anyone says seems brilliant and hilarious. The more often you get out of your head though, the more the brilliant and hilarious things start to jar a bit, the more the laughing fits fizzle out on a contortion that almost hurts. Chirpy giggles turn to desperate spasms. You spend evenings talking friends down from bad trips. You start to realise you don’t enjoy it as much, and almost dread it.
Unfortunately, later in life, I saw the people who over-indulged either go mushy in the head, or really unexpectedly turn to religion, one translating the Bible into many languages in a monastery, another going from shagging three blokes a night to spending months in a mountain nunnery painting icons (true). One suddenly needed to deny his whole life and cut off all friends from his past, and some just became very square and scarily straight. Fred’s brother witnessed the more horrible side of the whole thing, with most if not all of his mates from his teenage years dying from drugs related suicide or overdose. So, you know, in the end you learn it’s not funny. It’s a big waste. Not worth the fun and games, the skinning up in fingerless gloves in the pale dawn light, the hilarity as people discover they have been smouldering the foot of their sleeping bag in the fire, the mindless giggling and meeting of minds. (*sigh* RIP good times?)
No, not RIP. If you manage to abstain for a few weeks, you find that the giggling comes back, but it’s not quite so mindless. You have conversations and can remember bits of them, yay. You manage to go to plays, or films, or gigs. You experience more good times in the morning, and a few less in the middle of the night. OK, so I realise I am describing the process of getting older, yes, I know. Darn it, that’s what happened, we got old, shizzle on my dizzle, how did that happen?
But I’m telling you, the visuals today in healing with Dulcie were better than any trip. Her hands were cool; it was like peppermint in the brain. A lovely little mauve patch swam about beguilingly. Later I got a wide deep purple band. It was such a lush colour I wanted to get in it, bury myself in it. I even felt my mind detaching from my head: a black spikey mass pulling away top right from a bright orange area and then a feeling of such supreme comfort that my body was undetectable to me. It kind of dissolved. OMG, maybe I was at one with the universe. If so, I was wrong to say this feeling is overrated. It’s fab. But the healer gave it to me so calmly. A much less stressful experience than all that kerfuffle with rizlas, people hogging the joint, raindrops making your spliff go soggy and friends experiencing sudden scary blindness.
I forgot Dulcie was a medium and forgot to ask her if she could see any of my dead. Sometimes apparently she talks in the deep hoarse voice of her spirit guide. I would have found that fascinating, not scary. But Carole tells me the healers are not meant to do any of that strain of work at the centre.
Afterwards I felt so booming with vigour that I felt a bit guilty, that it was too self-indulgent. I told Dulcie this. ‘No,’ she said. ‘You do need this.’
‘Other really ill people must need it more than me,’ I said.
She insisted again, ‘No, you should come again. You need it.’
The feeling that she maybe knows more about me than I do, from just one encounter, disturbed me for a second. But feeling rampantly flooded with fresh health dispelled this. I drove off singing Edelweiss with great deep breaths and raucousness out of the car window.
Ps. no photos as Fred has gone off to Greece with the camera, Bash, Alfie and their friends BB and Alex. Fred tried to take a photo of a frog up the mountain and slipped off a rock into the river. His phone drowned so I have no updates.