It’s that really weird time of year in Phoenix, that flash of fall and straight on to winter. Then the Holiday chaos begins.
This is usually a very emotional time for most people, for one reason or another, (Did Jojo run over the turkey? It happens) and this past month has been exceptionally emotional month for me. Like many people I needed help working through my mood. To do that, I had to get control of my emotions. Sorting through and understanding your moods is not always easy and your emotional state plays a role in how well you can do that.

If you recall, I mentioned that a few years ago I started the oh so fun process of applying for SSD (Social Security Disability). I opened that can of What The Holy F*ck, cooked it, ate it and…well…I have Crohn’s, what the $@%! do you think happened?

Since then I have been on LTD (Long Term Disability). I was a middle school math teacher for 15 years before that and had to resign due to my Crohn’s Disease being too severe to work, but if you’ve gotten this far in my story, you know that.

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This month I was awarded SSD. The fight is over.

The amount I am receiving will not change, just where the money comes from will change. Everything it took to get to this point is a maddening process! From start to finish this has taken me about 3 very long, stressful and scary years. It’s a long story for another time, but I eventually hired a lawyer to help deal with my LTD and then hired the same firm to help with my SSD case too.

They took my case for no cost or fees up front; their fees came out of what I was awarded…so If I didn’t get benefits, they did not get money. Yep, I like these guys so much I’m even going to give them a little plug. The firm, Ober, Pekas and Ronstadt ( is awesome! If you live in AZ, I would highly recommend this firm, especially Erin Ronstadt and Jeremy Pekas. They are both caring, compassionate and understanding, and fantastic lawyers.

Well, the first bowel movement starts around…

The hardest part of this long appeal process is the “over and over”.

Having to explain my disease. Having to talk about what I can’t do. Having to justify why I can’t do the one thing I wanted to do. Over, and over.

You choose a career. You spend time, money, effort and passion on it. You go on and get a degree and license to work in your field. You now retell and try to prove to total strangers, who know nothing about you, your life or your disease (an invisible one at that!), that you are suffering and unable to work in any capacity due to painful, unpredictable bathroom needs. Can you remember the last time you spoke to a total stranger (not your doctor) about how often you take a sh*t? How about 4 strangers at a time? How about talking about it multiple times a year for years? I’m really tired of talking about this shit.

I’m tired of talking about who I used to be, I’m ready to talk about who I am now.

I have known for years now that I can not teach, let alone work in any capacity…but hearing the judge confirm that was a little bitter sweet.
You see LTD and SSD do NOT have the same qualifying definition or standards, so hearing the SSD judge confirm I qualify just hit a little funny, and not funny HaHa.

No more fighting? Sweet! I have fought, truly had to fight, to prove my invisible disability is real, and all it took was for a judge to sit with me after reading and reviewing my case, and really talk to me about what my daily life was like, for him to clearly see that I genuinely cannot work. It was relieving to have what I already knew in my heart confirmed on paper. This also meant I would not have to retell my story. Over, and over. That’s pretty sweet.

Here’s the bitter part: it’s really emotional for me, but the emotions of it all are hard to describe. The confirmation that at only 43 years old my body won’t let me do what my mind wants and can do. I love teaching and educating; I love helping others push past what they believe their limits are to discover that they can do more than they thought they could…it’s an awesome feeling, watching that “ah ha” moment when that kiddo finally “gets” that problem, the one they had told themselves a thousand times that they would never get. I miss helping a kiddo do that. And yes, I have investigated online teaching; and no, the requirements are still not accommodating enough for my needs.

You could say I’m capable of being a hot mess

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Everyone is so happy…for me.
Since the BIG news I have heard things like “Congrats!” and “A great present in time for the holidays!”. All happiness and joy, right? And don’t get me wrong, I am happy! (can’t you see me smiling?) But I am also sad. Plop that in with the Holiday madness and you could say I’m capable of being a hot mess. Don’t say it to my face please, but you could say it.

One of the things I have learned on my journey is that there is a brain-gut connection; if one is not working correctly, the other is most likely not working at optimal level either. I have learned that my mental health impacts my physical health and therefore it is as vital to take care of my mental health as it is my physical health.

With that said, I do see a counselor a couple times a month and have for some time now. This journey has taken me places physically and mentally that I did not know existed; it is a constant challenge to navigate the ever changing tides of Crohn’s disease since my emotions play a key role. In addition to counseling and self-care (yoga, reiki and meditation) I also use Cannabis of course.

Sometimes you need a hand adjusting your perspective.
Sadness. We all get it. I once dropped a beautiful, cheesy, saucy, gluten free enchilada on the floor, splat! I was really hungry, and trust me, that made me pretty sad. That’s sadness, right? We get over it, we move around it, we box it up and save it for later, but usually it goes away. Right? But when it doesn’t, when it lingers it becomes a mood; that can be depressed, bummed out, a general I don’t give a fuck if all the lights go out kind of feeling. That happens to all of us too. We all get depressed. *That’s not the same as depression, we need to be clear there. If you feel you are suffering from depression, please reach out, there is help if you need it.

Stressed out, anxious and irritated, mix in a little sadness and a dash of pissed off honey badger, serve up cold and bitter and it’s a treat every year.

I like mine with a side of hot cocoa, and a nice selection of Cannabis strains, of course.

I have been using Gorilla Glue#4 and In The Pines (high in CBD). Both are very high in the terpene Pinene, an excellent anti inflammatory, bronchodilator, promotes alertness and helps to counter the short term memory loss that’s associated with THC. In The Pines is high in Limonene, which is wonderful for elevating your emotions and mood. There are several other strains that have these terpenes, but these two have been my go to recently for their ability to promote relaxation and help change my emotions from sad to happy, all while providing the pain and inflammation relief to make my gut happy. Gut and brain begin working together, and magical things happen. Not talking unicorns here, but it’s still magical.

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“Do you prefer Indica or Sativa?”
Often you will hear people talk about Sativa and Indica specifically for adjusting emotions. Well, we’re going to bust that myth. It’s all about the terpenes kids. The reason Indica and Sativa got type-cast was because many of them share similar terpene profiles. But thanks to hybrids, breeding and those evil (yet lovable) cultivating genius’, that hard and fast rule doesn’t really apply any more. You change one terpene in the profile and you can have an whole new experience, wether it’s Indica or Sativa. So learn your terpenes, take note of how you feel after each consumption, and you will eventually be able to cater to your own emotional state/needs, and isn’t that what we all really want? Hey, Cannabis might be better than boyfriends!

*If you are not sure if you’re just in a bad mood or if it might be something more serious, just ask and seek professional help or advice. When in doubt, it’s best to ask for help. Cannabis and medication can work well together in many cases, so don’t be afraid to reach out if you need.

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