Thursday, September 8, 2016

Kratom Helped Me Turn My Life Around, Now The DEA Has Banned It

800px-Kratom_leafMorgan Joylighter
September 8, 2016

My fundamental issue has always been that I was raised by physically and emotionally abusive parents in near-cult-like isolation. That compromised my social skills, ability to feel relaxed or safe in normal human circumstances, and baseline neurochemistry in regards to contentment, happiness, and pleasure . I have spent most of my life bouncing around between one addiction or compulsive destructive behavior and another, trying to find ways to temporarily fill the void I felt by being unable to see myself as a good person, feel loved, enjoy normal social activities without anxiety and self-loathing, or even keep my neurochemistry at a high enough level to avoid feeling suicidally depressed for much more than half of the time. I was bipolar, manic depressive, had multiple anxiety disorders and probably ADHD besides, and between all of those I was on a constant roller coaster of either hating being alive or madly trying to distract myself from that fact with various pleasures. I accumulated a number of different vices over the years and cycled through countless attempts to quit them, only to see myself forced to swap one for another as the underlying issues went unaddressed and seemed increasingly unaddressable.

Unlike some kratom users I never actually delved into illegal drugs, but that was more a function of lack of opportunity caused by my sheltered upbringing than anything else. Even so, I found just about every other possible way to further screw up my health, and just about the best thing I can say for myself is that being a highly empathetic person, I kept my issues to myself and for the most part suffered in my own private hell, for fear of dragging anyone else down with me. But despite various attempts at trying psychology, psychiatry, and both mainstream and alternative health advice, I did not find any relief for my issues, and eventually began to despair that I would ever become the person I felt like I was born to be, a creative and cheerful novelist with a healthy social life who makes better the lives of everyone I come in contact with.

When I was 26 I started drinking for the first time, having previously put that temptation out of my mind sheerly on the basis of never having tried alcohol before and knowing that it would probably be just as addictive and harmful as everything else. For the first year I managed to manage it pretty well, as I was in a fairly good portion of my overall life's journey and had a good amount of support from close friends, but then through some unavoidable twists of fate I found myself feeling very lonely and rapidly sinking back into my old patterns, except now with the bonus that alcohol gave me an easy escape from those feelings (or sometimes, to be more accurate, lacks of feelings). So I slid down the slippery slope until I was getting ridiculously drunk 5-6 nights a week, every week, for months on end, and it was all I could do to keep getting up every morning and going to work. I felt completely out of control of my life. Thankfully I have always been either a cheerful or an obliviously sleepy drunk, so again I was only hurting myself, but the longer this went on the less positive and the more negative effects the alcohol began to have. And not only was I drinking entirely too much, I was also experimenting with various over-the-counter synthetic pharmaceuticals (mainly poorly studied nootropics) in an attempt to stay ahead of the hangover curve, and that inevitably screwed up my neurochemistry even further. Within two years my life was a complete mess and felt like I was sinking into a bottomless pit. I knew I had to stop, and find some way to find some balance.

I found kratom shortly before I ended up quitting alcohol, and initially did not even realize the full potential of the herb, as it took quite awhile to figure out my ideal dosage (a bit more than most people use, my body has always been bad at absorbing anything nutritious) and preparation method (powder of the full herb in boiled tea, more or less identical to how matcha green tea is used). But eventually I realized that kratom had the potential to override my brain's baseline levels of anxiety both generalized and social, and give me a sense of contentment, of feeling okay, that was as profound as that achieved by the best drunkenness without any of the other properties of alcohol. It is like what antidepressants aresupposed to be and never have been, for me. Kratom lets me finally feel like I can be a normal and productive member of society, to be creative and social without fear that my issues and compulsions are going to pop back up a few days later and ruin all the progress I made. For the greatest property of kratom for me is it's consistency. It has the same gentle and friendly effects every time. It doesn't require that you take more and more and more to get the same result. It refuses to allow you to drink more than would be good for you because your body literally can't physically absorb enough fibrous plant matter that the active constituents of the herb would build up anywhere near as much as an opiate or synthetic opioid. It is the first strategy for overcoming my issues that has actually worked every day for months and years. It let me quit alcohol and all my other OTC medication experimentation without any relapses, and then get back to the more fundamental matter of fixing all the things I had done to very, very deeply screw up my health, without constantly sabotaging and re-sabotaging it every time my brain decided I wasn't getting what it mistakenly thought I needed. Kratom, no matter what is going on in my life from day to day or month to month, just makes me feel like I have what I need to be content. I realize that it's a crutch, but I've been emotionally disabled all my life, and if I ever hope to get around on my own two feet without assistance, walking around on crutches for a few years while I get my emotional muscles developed is a lot more beneficial than falling all over the place every time I try to get up.

I am now 30 years old and have been off alcohol and my other harmful habits for two years and been a daily drinker of kratom tea for the same. I have recently made some big breakthroughs in my physical health, finally found a doctor to work with who I believe understands me and who I feel like I can trust despite my previous bad experiences with doctors, and literally saw the biggest and most inspirational sign of fundamental physical improvement I've had in years, less than one week before the DEA announcement was made. The timing could not have been worse. I was just starting to feel optimistic about my future at long last. While I certainly would like to one day no longer be dependent on kratom for daily functionality and enjoyment of life, it is not quite yet that day. I thusly feel profoundly betrayed by my country and medical system that the one perfectly natural and benign successful treatment I have found for my issues might be taken away from me without any clear explanation, without my having any say in the matter, and without any effective alternative being available. I have spent most of the last few days in a strange kind of low-level shock, horrified by the idea of having to go back to my former life where my neurochemistry is betraying me at every turn.

Normally I wake up from nightmares and feel thankful that I'm back in the safer, brighter real world. Since the announcement I am waking up and feeling like real life is the thing I wish wasn't happening. That probably sounds terribly melodramatic, but I felt so horrible on such a regular basis before kratom leveled out my experience of life that it honestly does feel like sliding back into a peculiar sort of nightmare. I am, as always, determined to persevere no matter how hard things get...after all, I've struggled with suicidal tendencies for half my life without ever actually attempting to kill myself, and I have enough support from precious close friends that I know I will be okay. Even if it's a very long time before my brain stops insisting I'm not. The simple fact is that this nature-designed plant medicine has had a huge positive impact on my life in a way that no drug or isolated pharmaceutical compound ever has and probably ever could. I hope and pray that the society I live in will reconsider the wisdom of banning it in light of my story and those of tens of thousands of others all across the world whose lives it has saved and re-invigorated.

Morgan Joylighter is a guest contributor to 

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