Empathy for Cannabis as One Choice for Depression


Cherokee proverb: “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”

In my last article, Depression on the Rise and the Cannabis Response, I wrote about how the diagnosis for depression rose 33% between 2011 and 2014, some possible causes for it and how cannabis used therapeutically is helping people.

Once the article was published, comments arrived. One comment spoke about taking personal responsibility for one’s decisions in life asserting that cannabis was “not the answer” and another, “It certainly helped me break free of debilitating depression.”

There is no doubt in my mind that taking personal responsibility for one’s decisions in life is essential when it comes to overcoming depression and any victimhood involved. Yet, as mentioned in the previous article, external circumstances beyond our personal control are seldom mentioned as potential causative factors.

 We are affected in one way or another by the world in which we live, both locally and globally. It does not necessarily make us a victim but perhaps depressions results from a pervasive sense of powerlessness when bad things happen.

I appreciate that people share their different views with me. But, are we to conclude that one view is right and another wrong?

The difference in views, that cannabis is the answer or not the answer, is natural and to be expected, especially due to its 81-year long official stigma in the U.S. It’s when the differences become a source of divisiveness that people can get depressed over the emotional violence that can occur in conversations.

Nowadays the general tone of the public human-sphere is all about who’s right.

Which team are you on? Each side sells their “truth” as absolute. Defensiveness and name-calling ensues. No one listens. Each side digs in. Whoever can control the conversation is the perceived winner. Enemies are made.  I personally find this depressing.

The alternative?

When we can listen to someone else’s take on a topic, we can discover where they are ‘coming from.’ Most people hold the misconception that if they really listen to someone it means they AGREE with what the other person is saying. Active listening is definitely not that.

The purpose of listening, as I see it, is to connect with another human and what’s important to THEM, which may be absolutely alien to you, the listener. It is an expression of empathy that transcends the value of our cherished mental constructs and focuses instead on the truth that we all have them!

The hope is that we may learn to accept (beyond liking) different perspectives from our own and resist the temptation for ours to prevail. Real listening opens the door to the possibility of personal interactions that connect and care.

 Is cannabis the answer? Is it not the answer? These are personal questions requiring personal answers. Like life, it’s never a one-size-fits-all proposition.

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