Chemdawg vs. Chemicals: Treating an Eating Disorder One Hit at a Time

Sometimes fate is a function of found weed.

Despite the warning “Never Take Candy From a Stranger,” which had been engrained in my head since childhood, from parental lectures to middle school assemblies, I always rebelled and took the candy. Literal candy, maybe a cheap beer from the least creepiest neighbor at a bar stool, but most often a hit or two from a joint, which usually puff puff passed its way to me from a friend of a friend. However, when you are 23 years old, 30 pounds underweight suffering from malnutrition, with a recent diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis connected to that malnutrition, and the idea of consuming one Hershey's Kiss triggered the threat of your flat stomach inflating as if you had devoured the breakfast buffet from a Denny’s, I wasn’t taking candy or any vices I usually enjoyed. I began to listen to the cliché “don’t take candy” warning through the irrational voice of anorexia.

With the Spring/Summer 2016 intercontinental fashion shows having just come to a close, ’tis the season not just for fashion trends but the (never ending) discussion of eating disorders and body image issues in the media. Where do the disorders come from? What are the proper facts? What should be done to “cure” these disorders? (As if it were as easy to treat as flu-like symptoms.)

Image via BeJealousofMe/Flickr

My eating disorder of choice has been anorexia for a decade of my life. Images of runway models never fueled or increased my anxieties around food. Cliff notes version: An eating disorder, of any kind, is a mental disease and a physical illness with complexities that unfortunately won’t be going away anytime soon…for me at least. Ten years of off-and-on therapy helped at times, but spilling feelings on a couch wasn’t going to cure a malady I knew I may have the rest of my life, or address it’s precise origins.

So when did I decide to revert back to my rebellious ways of taking candies from strangers? I’ll blame that thing called “fate.” Basically, I found two bags of free marijuana on the rooftop of my apartment building on a particular afternoon this past summer.

Usually I smoked mediocre marijuana from friends, but during the time my anorexia was at its most alarming, when inpatient rehabs and hospitalizations were being threatened in the same voices that newscasters use to report category five hurricanes, I stopped smoking weed out of fear, of, well, eating (a/k/a munchies). Loosing control over my appetite all for a high just wasn’t something I was ready to sacrifice. I would rather live in the anxiety, the lethargic state of control, than enjoy the pleasures of relaxation. I’ll be honest. I don’t know what mood I was in or what made me lift my personal irrational ban on marijuana. Probably the excitement of finding free marijuana.

 At 23, I was incapable of walking 10 blocks in Manhattan without needing to return home for bed rest. That qualified as some kind of “deep pain.”

I noticed the bags were titled “Chemdawg” in black sharpie. I had no idea what this meant. The owner’s nickname? Did Snoop “D” “O” double “G” change aliases again? Granted, I’m by no means a connoisseur of proper weed titles. Sour Diesel and Purple Haze are the only names stored in my marijuana vernacular. A quick Google search of Chemdawg brought me to my first click; The Weed Blog. Putting my personal opinions aside relating to the blog’s design layout, it offered viable information. “Marijuana Books,” “Marijuana Testing,” “Growing Marijuana,” “Marijuana Recipes,” “Strain Reviews,” “Law,” “Activism,” and of course “Advertise.” (My faith in the site’s legitimacy was restored. Anyone looking for advertisements on their website must be serious.)

I learned Chemdawg is most effective to treat medical issues such as mood disorders, anxiety, movement disorders, and deep muscle and joint pains. The anxiety and mood disorder were both obvious checks in my column, and especially common in eating disorders. But with my recent arthritis diagnosis, and wanting to avoid the route of steroid use my doctors were recommending, I turned to Chemdawg for deep muscle and joint pain relief. At 23, I was incapable of walking 10 blocks in Manhattan without needing to return home for bed rest. That qualified as some kind of “deep pain.”

So I smoked my first round of Chemdawg. I was relaxed (obviously), and the joint pain became a mild afterthought rather than acute jolts and spasms.

I’m not one for reading comment sections on websites, but I trolled into what users of Chemdawg had to say. User Maddness: “This is my fav. daily smoke!” User Tttttttttt: “I’m getting some Friday =) blowin down in Texas.” Deeper into my research web-hole, a website that rated strains of marijuana like Tripadvisor rates hotels came up: 4.2 stars out of 5. Was Chemdawg the Ritz-Carlton of medical marijuana?

The website broke down the THC vs. CBD levels like a stoner’s periodic table. Overall, I found nothing negative. Aside from one or two reported incidents of paranoia, I learned Chemdawg was one of the better medical marijuana strains, a crossover between OG Kush and Sour Diesel.

Desperately not wanting to spend 30 days eating foods with strangers in a controlled environment where refusal of nutrition was punished by supplemental doses, I thought, Let’s try Chemdawg! So I embarked on my own treatment plan for curbing my anorexia, avoiding the steroid supplements route.

Image via Mike Cicchetti/Flickr

I wanted to be smart and not turn the opportunity into a never-ending stoner binge; so each day I smoked two bowls twice a day. If my joint pain worsened, or if I was struggling to eat, I would smoke a little more. I can attest the joint pain did lessen after smoking, not a tremendous amount, but I was able to walk around Manhattan pain free. Were some days tougher than most? Of course, but the motivation to remain off steroid drugs and keep this version of treatment was enough…and working.

Attuned to the medical effectiveness of my treatment—the use of Chemdawg was actually helping my joint pain—I hardly noticed that I had begun socially interacting with friends again. My mind was never foggy, but my eating disorder voice didn't want to take charge. I never sat around with bags of junk food and pizza boxes. The constant internal monologue of eating disorder jargon silenced bit by bit. Accepting dinner meet-ups with friends, rather than my usual avoidance of “let’s just meet for drinks later” slowly dissipated.

I still have the bags of Chemdawg left, and I have gained weight back to a healthy level. My arthritis damage will remain, although muted now and not nearly as threatening as it was months ago. I never thought I would admit to this, but something called Chemdawg, rather than an unpronounceable over-the-counter doctor-prescribed drug, saved my life.

And no, I will not be creating a user name to contribute to the already positive reviews swirling among the worldwide weed-smoking community web.