What hits harder than your favorite bong?
And it’s how one bounces back from those obstacles that ultimately determines their quality of time on Earth.
For Baltimore native Quinn Meissinger, a sexual assault at the age of 15 put her in a downward spiral. A decade of depression and crippling anxiety followed, as the overwhelming toll of stress manifested in a variety of health issues, both physical and mental.
But at age 32, Quinn is finding a type of fulfillment she never believed was possible.
Quinn has a job she loves, working as an art teacher to special needs students. At night, she attends the Community College of Baltimore County in pursuit of an associate’s degree in education, with a specialty in American Sign Language. And in the small spare time she is allotted, Quinn dabbles with cryptocurrency, does professional astrology readings and makes music with her partner, Patrick.
Better to have found it late, she says, than never at all.
“I lost some of the best years of my life,” said Quinn, who grew up in the Canton neighborhood of Southeast Baltimore. “But I also realized the years were going to keep ticking and that life wasn’t going to wait around for me.”
By 25, Quinn was tired of searching for a cure-all pharmaceutical that would magically enhance her life. Stress had exacerbated matters and physical symptoms appeared in the shape of digestive issues such as Crohn’s disease and diverticulitis.
“I found myself so locked up with trauma that I was overwhelmed,” said the Poly High graduate. “I always thought someone was going to come save me from all of it. But that wasn’t a reality. I had to save myself.”
A friend suggested Cannabis as an outlet for her discomfort and Quinn found the practice alleviating, at which point she began to study the science behind the plant. In 2017, she became a card-carrying medical Cannabis user and put her studies to use, working alongside Maryland dispensaries to host educational workshops.
“I ran classes and events about Cannabis and how to medicate,” she said, referencing the group known as the Backyard Trailblazers. “We built a community and it was fun.”
Experience, she told her fellow cardholders, was the best teacher. After a year of medicating, Quinn discovered a balanced routine. She now begins her mornings with a CBD-rich 10:1 edible. After work, she medicates with her dab rig – lessening the pain that builds up in her body throughout a work day. If she really needs something for sleep, a CBN-rich capsule does the trick.
This routine has led to steady improvements, opening the door for Quinn to venture out into the world. She’s no longer intimidated by the thought of therapy, happily opening up about her past trauma in sessions, which has led to new levels of healing.
“Cannabis has really been a catalyst for growth,” she said. “Before Cannabis, I was just surviving. Now I live an enjoyable life and I am genuinely thriving. If I hadn’t found [Cannabis], I never would’ve opened up. I wouldn’t have fought as hard for a community and I wouldn’t have found a purpose. It’s really been a huge part of my life.”
Quinn is scheduled to graduate with an associate’s degree in the spring. In the summer, she and Patrick are planning to move to Las Vegas, where she’ll continue her education in early childhood development. Patrick is a budtender in the industry and the two of them hope to make friends within the Nevada Cannabis community, too. The notion of mapping out a future has left Quinn feeling quite blessed.
“There’s a huge period of time in my life that I can’t get back,” she said. “But you get a certain sense of clarity when you start to heal. And when that happened, I looked around me and saw how much of my life was overgrown. I didn’t like my friend group. I didn’t like that I didn’t have a career path. And I didn’t like that I had no purpose or direction to get out of bed in the morning.”
“Depression is a mental phase that leaves you frozen,” Quinn continued. “Once you realize you have control of your life, you also realize it’s a big burden to turn it all around. It doesn’t happen overnight. I started with small steps and then another and then another.”
Moving, and moving forward, is all that is on her mind.
“Every now and then, I’ll go for a dip in the grief pool, dry off quickly and get back to life again,” she said. “If I stop for too long, it’ll come back.”