By Sharon Letts
Patient Profile: Jennie Jane Rogers
Jennie Jane Rogers was born and raised in Eureka, California. She married a friend from high school, Juston Rogers, also an area native, and together they are raising two children.
Though Humboldt County is known for its cash crop of cannabis, Jennie said she was a D.A.R.E. kid through and through, winning a D.A.R.E. sponsored contest in the sixth grade. While attending Eureka High School she lectured friends and other students – she even spoke at an elementary school on how to be “drug-free.”
“I meant everything I said,” she admitted. “I didn’t even drink alcohol until I was 19 – which was much later than most of my peers. Alcoholism runs in my family, and I hate being around drunk people. As a mother, I see other mom’s drinking wine – and it’s totally acceptable, yet people judge others on their cannabis use. It’s just not right.”
By the time she was in college she noted that many of her “awesome and smart friends” used cannabis.
“I couldn’t understand how they could be so amazing and still use drugs,” she laughed. “So, I talked to them about it. I did my own research and learned how it helped as medicine before I decided to try it. My sister Sarah made me feel comfortable with my choice – so I had support from my family.”
Jennie struggled with mental health issues from the age of three, which included bouts of anxiety and acute sensitivity.
“I cried often,” she explained. “Even as a child my anxiety was extreme. I worried about things kids shouldn’t worry about. I also had sexual abuse I was dealing with – which I’ve learned is common with my type of disorder. My anxiety gave me a nervous stomach and I couldn’t keep my food down. It caused me to lose a lot of weight and I looked sickly.”
Rogers said by the time she was 12 years old she was suicidal, with the family physician prescribing Paxil, a pharmaceutical commonly prescribed for depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – all symptoms Rogers suffered from.
She was eventually diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, when she was 23. According to the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) web site, BPD is a “serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning.” Nearly six percent of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with the disorder, reports BPDCentral.com.
The symptoms can lead to impulsive behavior and subsequent unstable relationships. Extreme mood swings are common, anxiety is a given, and self-harm, substance abuse, and suicidal tendencies are the norm.
The list of medications Jennie has been on and gone off since childhood is extensive. Nearly all the medications prescribed were meant to treat symptoms of depression, acute anxiety and her unpredictable mood swings. Currently, she’s taking Wellbutrin, Lamictal, and Zoloft, but was able to do away with the anti-anxiety medication, Ativan, when cannabis was added.
“I’m embarrassed to say how many drugs I’ve been on,” she lamented. “The one thing I do know is, after I started smoking cannabis I felt more effect than when I’m just on the meds.
Since mindfully adding cannabis to her regimen, Jennie said she has not had to replace one drug with another, and her dosing has remained stable.
Another study found in the NIH, titled “Depression: How Effective Are Antidepressants?,” states that opinions vary on the efficacy of the drugs, and it’s common for a patient to go through many varieties and doses until the right combination is found to treat the combined symptoms.
With the stability of medications, Jennie said she has a newfound motivation for life.
“Part of my disorder makes doing day-to-day things really hard,” she shared. “Housework is impossible, at times. When I smoke cannabis, I can see things more clearly and realize the task is not as big as I made it out to be in my mind. It helps me get out of bed and out of the house, and that wasn’t happening with just the pharmaceuticals.”
She also found her muse, reviving a series of drawings on cannabis culture she created when she first started smoking cannabis, turning it into a coloring book geared for adults titled, “Chronic Fantasy Adult Coloring Book.”
“Coloring has been a kind of therapy for me,” she said. “I’ve been drawing or making art my entire life, but collaborating with my friend Ryan Rowe for one of the drawings in the book, and having my best friend Jacki Rossiter as my editor and helping me get them to market has been an awesome experience.”
When Jennie initially began using cannabis in addition to her traditional medications, she was completely in the closet due to what people would think, and how it might affect her children – not from her actions, but by the powers that be – as the horror stories of Child Protective Services taking kids away from cannabis patient parents is a real threat.
“I’m a legal California cannabis patient, so even though I feel like I don’t need to hide my use any more, I felt guilty for a long time,” she said. “But cannabis actually makes me a better person; it makes me a better mom to my kids, and a more loving and understanding wife to my husband, Juston.” Jennie added that she no longer suffers from extreme rage or anxiety, and much less depression.
“After my last pregnancy, I had severe postpartum depression, and cannabis was the only thing that helped. It’s not a gateway drug, like they told me in the D.A.R.E. program, it’s a healer. I’m living proof of that.”
Jennie’s “Chronic Fantasy Adult Coloring Book” can be found on Amazon.com, or locally in select Humboldt shops. Follow Jennie on Facebook, “Chronic Fantasy Adult Coloring Book.”