Jeanne Carodeau: I Flushed My Meds Down The Toilet
MMJ Patient: Jeanne Carodeau, Austin, TX
Are you thinking, Did I read that correctly? Did she really flush her prescriptions down the toilet? Well it’s true. It was the last straw for cannabis advocate, Jeanne Carodeau. She had grown up with a history of traumatic abuse done onto her by others in her life and although she couldn’t control that, she could control what she was putting into her body and recognize the harm it was doing to her. She took a stand for her body and stepped out of the box of western medicine and is here to tell us how she conquered her PTSD with alternative medicine.
What medical condition have you been struggling with?
I’m a veteran of the Vietnam Era. I was formally diagnosed with PTSD by my doctors back in 2001, but I know I’ve been struggling with symptoms of it as early as my adolescent years. I suffered from a series of traumatic events throughout my life, so it’s definitely been a lifetime struggle.
How long have you been experiencing your medical condition?
Like I said before, I was formally diagnosed with PTSD back in 2001, but I had been suffering from it much earlier than that. I had been living with this condition more than half of my life undiagnosed. PTSD wasn’t even recognized until the 80’s, which was a factor that prevented me from getting my claim for a long time and required years of fighting to finally get it. Just because there wasn’t a word for it, didn’t mean it didn’t previously exist.
What do you believe caused this medical condition?
I definitely recognized symptoms of PTSD occurring early on in my life. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family and had an abusive alcoholic as a father and a mother who didn’t protect me from him. When I finished high school, I needed a way to escape, but I really had nowhere to go. That’s when I decided to enter the military. I thought I’d be safe there but, unfortunately, that wasn’t the case; I suffered additional sexual trauma from a doctor I’d worked with there. I felt trapped and was eventually discharged from the military with a fake personality disorder, which is essentially just so that it’d be harder for me to get help later in life.
What medications have you been taking that were prescribed to you by your doctor?
The doctors treated my PTSD with a cocktail of psychiatric medicines. At first, I was all for it! I knew I was undiagnosed and I wanted to get better, so I thought that if it would make me better, then I was going to try it. At first, I felt good about it and I felt a little bit better, but then, it became one thing after another. The doctors are educated to treat people with meds; that’s what they are trained to do. After awhile, it wasn’t working and they would just give me more and more and more pills. I came to be in very poor health and that’s when I realized there was a problem and you know what? I had an epiphany and flushed my meds down the toilet!
I had an epiphany and flushed my meds down the toilet!
What side effects did you experience from the prescribed medication by your doctor?
I experienced a lot of anxiety and weight gain. At my heaviest, I weighed around 235 lbs. One medication specifically, that they gave me, affected my blood sugar for the worse. I was pre-diabetes before and they gave me a new medication that made my blood sugar shoot up and that was it, that was a catalyst. My prescriptions weren’t doing a darn thing for me; they were just making me worse. They were actually preventing me from moving forward. Now that I’m off of them, I’m a completely different person: inside and out.
What type of alternative medicine have you tried aside from your doctor’s recommendation?
It all started when I decided to flush those meds down a toilet. I started thinking, ‘Ok, I just stopped my meds. I’m going to have to go to another city to get my healthcare.’ So, I transferred all my care to a different city and I have since become a different person. As soon as I did that, everything just fell into place. I thought, ‘Well, what is it that I’d like to do?’ I see myself as a person who thinks outside the box and here I was battling my doctors, trying to fit in their box. SO, I decided that I’m going to do this my way. I cancelled my appointments and I said I wasn’t ever coming back. My psychiatrist said that I had to wean myself off my meds, but I refused even that! I wasn’t going to injest one more of their pills because it was harming my body. I told her, ‘I’m taking the risk and doing it my way.. Bye!’ That was the best thing that I could’ve ever done for myself. I didn’t even really have a plan, but I knew I had to do this.
I decided to start with eliminating the people, places, and things that I knew were toxic for me. Then I started introducing more positive things into my life. I started doing yoga because I knew that physical activity would be good for me. There was a woman who volunteered her time to teach yoga at the VA (Veterans Affair) Center and I was really her only student because everyone else thought it was some sort of a weird cult. She saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself. Right away, she told me that she was going to put me in headstand and immediately was like, ‘Wait a minute! I can’t do that!’ And you know what? I’m a yogi now and I’ve been doing yoga ever since that class with her and I have no intent on stopping my practice. It’s part of my daily treatment and I’ve lost 75 lbs. and am keeping it off!
I also went to acupuncture appointments for a full year and experimented with Chinese medicine during that time. I even went to a retreat that was geared towards people with PTSD that was guided by native american and shamanic practices. That changed my life as well. I’ve done many things outside the box and I’ve found that that is what works best for me.
I also reintroduced cannabis into my life to help with my condition and that really made all the difference. I had used it as a teenager so I was familiar with it, but had done so as more of a rebellious act more than anything else. You have to recognize that, while yes I smoked cannabis as a teen, the medical cannabis I smoke now is very different. You have to know where you’re getting it from. As you know, Texas doesn’t have medical marijuana, so I joined NORML with my husband who also uses cannabis to treat his Rheumatoid Arthritis and PTSD.
I’m not a teenager anymore, I’m 59 years old and cannabis is medicine for both myself and my husband. And although I had smoked it when I was younger, I stopped doing so for 15 years and picked it back up again about 15 years ago. When I did, I instantly thought to myself, ‘WHAT was I thinking!? I feel SO much better on cannabis than I have ever felt on any of my pharmaceuticals.’ I enjoy it more now than when I was younger. It’s nice to laugh and be happy.
How long have you been using the alternative medicine?
I’d say it’s been about 15 years now; it’s been a while. When I stopped taking my doctor’s meds, I turned immediately to alternative medicine for help. There is a wonderful graduate school of Chinese medicine for veterans and children of veterans. So I began practicing with Chinese medicine, getting acupuncture, practicing yoga, going to the gym every day, using cannabis, and I started feeling better than I ever had before!
How have you felt since you started using the alternative medicine? Compared to your prescribed medications?
I look and feel like a different person. I lost 75 lbs. and kept it off! I go to the gym every day! I used to hate the gym, but I pretended to like it, and eventually came to genuinely love it. Now, I don’t feel right if I don’t go! I’m a completely different person.
I’m very healthy now and in turn I feel even better because I don’t need to worry about my health being affected by my treatment. The pharmaceuticals were harming my health, but my alternative treatment is now empowering my health. I began to take care of myself. I don’t have a lot of the problems people my age have because I took a leap of faith and stepped out of the box of western medicine.
The pharmaceuticals were harming my health, but my alternative treatment is now empowering my health.
In terms of progress with my PTSD, I go to a therapist and psychiatrist in my area. My therapist using drumming and shamanism; they both step out of the box with their methods, too. They’ve helped me and encouraged me on my path; my treatment advisors are on the same wavelength as me. My artwork is also an essential therapy for me. I work with clay and take art classes at a community college to be around other people. I love the energy it gives me and my artwork has come a long way.
Do you think you will continue with using alternative medicine?
Absolutely! Absolutely! Because I remember how miserable I was trying to fit in someone else’s box of how they thought my condition should be treated. I knew those meds weren’t helping me and now I’ve found various treatments that help me rather than harm me.