I Refuse to Back Down



I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve had a whirlwind of a week. It’s been a week full of not knowing what my immediate future holds for me, and now I feel myself hanging on at the precipice, not knowing what to do. Do I let go? Do I try to climb?

Let me give you hairballs a little context:

I’ve been on a waitlist to receive treatment for my eating disorder since May. I was supposed to be admitted in August; however, due to the mass amount of people that suffer silently with eating disorders, it has taken longer for a spot to open up for me. In that time, I decided to take my recovery into my own hands. I started doing outpatient therapy with an amazing psychologist, specializing in the treatment of eating disorders, and I actually began to make leaps and bounds rather than baby steps. I’ve learned how to work hard to achieve recovery on my own. Under the supervision of my psychologist, I use cannabis to manage anxiety and hunger cues, along with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication to help manage my daily mood. I have been able to function through my day and work to eventually live a symptom-free, recovery-based life. 

Here’s the problem:

Even though cannabis is now legal in Canada, many doctors and medical professionals still attach a negative stigma to the usage of cannabis as a medication. In most schools, students typically aren’t taught about the endocannabinoid system which regulates a variety of physiological and cognitive processes, such as fertility, mood, and how cannabis affects us. Why aren’t we learning this?

I believe that education and honesty are the keys to progress not only as individuals, but as a society. Endocannabinoids can be used in a variety of ways and the fact that they aren’t a part of our basic education system creates a misunderstanding of the use of cannabis and stigmatization against those who use it. Unfortunately, everyone is susceptible to the effects of this stigmatization. Doctors, teachers, therapists, parents – all with ideas that cannabis usage is an addiction and that everyone that uses cannabis is “lazy” or “unmotivated” and frankly, this idea is a load of crap. 

I am not lazy. I am not unmotivated. I refuse to accept that label, and trust me, I’ve been labelled. I’ve been labelled by friends, teachers, parents, and doctors. 

What I’ve learned is that pursuing what works for me has cost me a spot in treatment. 

There are 3 hospital-based eating disorder units with Adult Treatment Units in Ontario that are 100% covered by OHIP. These programs save lives; however, they can also cost you your life. Many patients are kicked out of treatment due to a variety of reasons. Some patients don’t even make it to treatment due to stigmatization. In my case, I have used cannabis as a way to promote appetite and digestion; cope with chronic pain and inflammation; and manage my daily life with ease. Unfortunately, the doctor running the unit I was to be treated in only believes that medical cannabis is unbeneficial and possibly detrimental to an eating disorder, refusing to listen to the many benefits it has had for me and deciding to remove my name from my name from the wait-list, even saying that “I should have known”. I tried to explain that circumstances had changed. He’s denying me access to medical care for a life-threatening disorder due to prescription because he’s unwilling to help. 

I’m supposed to trust him. He is supposed to be the doctor to whom I can reveal my darkest thoughts, and it hurts to be invalidated and rejected for being honest and standing up for myself. ED* keeps telling me that I don’t deserve treatment and that Dr. S clearly knows that. I’m not good enough to recover. I’m a bad person for smoking cannabis even if it’s a prescription for several disorders. I’m a negative influence. I’m going to die because I have no access to treatment. I’ll never be able to recover. 

I refuse to listen to those negative thoughts. I refuse to allow this to stop me. I KNOW that I am worthy of recovery; I KNOW that I deserve treatment despite strict and discriminatory medical policies; I KNOW that smoking medical cannabis doesn’t make a bad person; I KNOW that I have a future ahead of me; and I refuse to let Dr. S tell me otherwise. I am going to FIGHT for my RIGHT to access treatment, as well as everyone’s right to treatment.

The fact of the matter is if I’ve been denied, I can’t imagine how many others could have been denied treatment for the same reason. That doesn’t sit right with me. I will fight to recover on my own and prove Dr. S wrong about me and I will fight for everyone’s right to access treatment. I will not go down without a fight. 

Educate yourselves on eating disorders. Please. They are MORE common than you think. It could be the difference between life or death. 










Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.