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In The Raw: A healing journey from antidepressants to cannabis


So many of the women we meet have their own journey with cannabis that they may not have divulged until now because of stigmatization. We sat down with the professional chef and baker extraordinaire Lida Tuy Dinh to talk about how cannabis has helped manage aspects of her health.

Alpha Woman: Which health issues has cannabis helped you with?

Lida Tuy Dinh: Cannabis helps me to manage my Bipolar disorder, Anorexia, and ADHD to name the big ones. It also helps to aid the frustrations that come with my menstrual cycle which is usually lower back pain, cramps and bloating. Overall I find it also comforts my daily foot/back pain (from standing all day) and helps with general stress relief.

AW: Have you or are you now taking any pharmaceuticals for your health problems?

LTD: My bout with antidepressants was very long ago, and so short, I don’t really remember the experience vividly anymore. I pushed the memories away. At 11 years old I started self-harming and my family doctor’s solution was immediate: antidepressants. I mostly remember wanting to actually feel my emotions. I begged my mom and doctor to stop taking them through the monthly dose increases.

I didn’t feel it was helpful. I felt numb and empty. I lasted about a year on them and decided with my mom I wouldn’t take them anymore and we tried homeopathy as long as we could afford it, which was a maybe 4-5 months. After that, I decided to only utilize assistance for mental health that didn’t cost my family money we didn’t have.

AW: Are you a medical cannabis patient?

LTD: I was, I’m in the process of renewing my prescription. I’m willing to try looking around again. I wasn’t impressed with the selection a year ago with LPs because I prefer high amounts of THC. Not having a credit card also deterred me from wanting to try ordering. I stayed with the black market; it was easier, more convenient and reliable.

Have you tried cannabis to help your mental health?
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AW: How does cannabis help you and how is it different from the medications you were previously taking?

LTD: Cannabis helps me by allowing me to feel strong enough to get through my day, mentally and physically. It helps me to organize my busy mind and calmly think things through when my mind is normally in a state of panic, forcing me to realize my options and plan accordingly. It distracts me from the slight swelling in my feet I feel daily, numbs the back aches that I endure through a workday.

I was told the antidepressants I was prescribed were “regulating my hormones” but they dulled my mind and I didn’t like it. So young and so full of betrayal. With the way my mental health was being handled, I didn’t see a light. Would I be on these my entire life? The experience pushed me to be scared of pharmaceutical drugs. The supplemented counseling didn’t work out as easily for me. I was not as strong as I am now, I couldn’t cope with the struggle. So I quit.

AW: What kind(s) of cannabis do you take and how do you take it?

LTD: Smoking flower, bong or joint, is currently my main method of consumption. I want to vaporize more often so that I’m combusting less, I’m working towards saving for a new device. A sativa/indica hybrid is normally my choice for my morning bowl before the hour-long commute to work.

I have tried utilizing THC distillate edibles for my general pain relief but my body needs more of a full spectrum of cannabinoids. I love cannabutter and hash infused edibles for body pain or insomnia as well as during my menstrual cycle. I like using RSO (Rick Simpson Oil) topically to target muscle pain/discomfort. I’ll use topical products at any point in the day if I’m in enough pain as there is no risk of getting high from applying to your skin.

AW: Are there any other lifestyle choices you make beyond cannabis to help with your health issues?

LTD: Other than stretching my body weekly and trying to eat a balanced diet, the only other thing is going out dancing. This freedom of movement allows me to vent emotions physically, and to realize what my body can do in a recreational setting that has no expectations. I am excited to try yoga asap! Mostly for the mindfulness and of course, self-care.

AW: Are your family and friends supportive of your choice of medication, and were they when you first started to use it?

LTD: Now, extremely supportive. I tend to gravitate towards like-minded individuals as well. When I first found cannabis? Definitely not. I was a young adult, makes sense my parents would be apprehensive. At 15 I started experimenting with cannabis. I didn’t discuss it with my parents as I started experimenting purely recreationally. I didn’t know when I started smoking it that I would see any beneficial results.

What?!?! I started paying more attention in class. I started finishing homework. I started feeling like the great student I was before puberty kicked in. My first milestone: completing a WHOLE exam in 2006. It was my science exam. I loved science, I wanted to be a pathologist at the time. I decided to try and do my exam high because I had studied the whole week at night, high. I very illegally snuck out to the sidewalk and took a quick hoot of my metal convenience store pipe. But damn it I finished that whole exam without zoning out and staring at the ceiling or floor! Once my mom saw a shift in my behaviour, she slowly became supportive while remaining a bit skeptical.

AW: Anything else you would like to share about this journey?

LTD: It’s been long. It’s been hard. I viewed myself as a criminal when I was younger and I was ok with that image. My potential was blooming within an illegal plant. I thought “If it’s helped me this much, it must be helping others and not ruining those lives.” Grade 9 High school gym class really tried to sway my opinion on recreational drugs. Cannabis was going to kill all of your brain cells and make you slow. My teacher was very forceful and persistent with the “facts” in her anecdotes. She told stories of her teenage years surrounded by idiots at busy keggers or lowkey basement parties performing various shenanigans on various drugs. Did we want to be as stupid as those kids? Was the experience worth the outcome? She asked at the end of every lecture.

If she asked me now, hell yes.

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