Hey Dudes! Today we're sitting down with our lovely friend, Charleigh about her life managing multiple disabilities, cannabis use and her amazing drive to make the world a better place. Without further adieu.....
A&A: Hey Charleigh....Tell us about yourself..
CBS: My name is Charleigh Bryant-Stelly and I'm 35. I grew up in Florida, the San Fernando valley, as well as New Orleans. For now, Simi is home and we (myself,my husband and three cats) love it, it's beautiful out here!
I've been lucky to have the opportunity to explore a handful of paths in life. I'm a former contemporary and tap dancer, I did a brief slightly successful stint as a professional actor (it just wasn't for me, however independent projects are my jam!
A good chunk of time was spent being a barista (love LOVE coffee). I dabbled in animal welfare and it was very difficult at times but overall amazing and I would gladly return if the universe deems it so. At this time (well before and after the quarantine) I'm working as a pharmacy tech, it doesn't even feel like work and is really a good fit for my life right now!
A&A: What's your disability?
CBS: I have Ehlers-Danlos, Type 3, Dysautonomia, and Celiac disease. Toss in major depressive disorder and ADHD,and that's a Charleigh salad. 😂
A&A: Wow...that's certainly a mouthful....care to go into detail?
CBS: Ehlers Danlos type 3 or Hypermobile Ehlers danlos is the most common type and easier to handle than other forms of EDS. Outwardly my skin very soft and oddly stretchy; my elbow skin is impressive. With exception of my upper arms, there I have splotchy dermatitis that's associated with Celiac disease, more on that later! I often have subluxations (mostly my knee and elbow) and dislocations (mostly my shoulders,hips,ribs,fingers and toes) . It can be spontaneous or with minimal force and can be extremely painful, however occasionally I don't realize until I try to move...and can't. EDS is physically and psychologically challenging, but taking precautions (wearing joint support braces, thinking before acting) help me stay pretty stable. Interestingly autonomic dysfunction and celiac disease are common comorbidities!
Dysautonomia: My autonomic Nervous System malfunctions. Things that are normally automatic such as heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, pupillary reflex, kidney function, and temperature control. I have touble regulating these systems, which can cause dizziness, tunnel vision, overheating and cold sweats, confusion and brain fog, nausea or no nausea but sudden uncontrolled regurgitation ( think like a baby spits up, it's not glamorous, my husband and friends are used to it by now) AND diarrhea (A lot of time it's sudden and "I might shit my pants" is not an uncommon thought. Hey, it is what it is). There can be other difficulties but these are my most frequent, daily symptoms.
Celiac disease: is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. I've followed a strict gluten free diet for many years, I have some permanent GI damage but I'm glad to say I'm in long-term remission. It's extremely important that I don't eat any gluten containing, contaminated or cross contaminated food to stay symptom free. I have no qualms (politely) declining food or tasty treats.
A&A: How does it affect you?
CBS: I have a restricted diet, but that has led to many great culinary discoveries, there are A LOT of naturally gf foods out there and I want to eat them all. Physically I am more aware of my body, I have to stay attentive to signs my system is burning out. (More and easier dislocations, brain fog, etc.)
I require more rest and limited exertion, more so as I get older. I can work part time and have embraced the fact that I have to pick and choose activities based on my current overall health.
A&A: When did you first discover cannabis?
CBS: When did you first discover cannabis? Well, as a teenager lol. However I hated it, for quite some time it didn't register with my brain that there's a big difference between getting ripped and hoovering down Cheetos and cold cuts Vs. Medicinal and therapeutic.
A&A: How does it help you?
CBS: Gosh, it's almost like how doesn't it help!
There are so many different varieties available and having control over what you are using is mind blowing! I prefer lower thc, between 14 and 18%, and sublingual drops or tablets (usually 1:1 or 2:1 cbd) rather than edibles. Flowers help immediately to ease anxiety, reduce pain and quell nausea. Oils and tablets help extend the benefits. Cbd is just a super hero.
A&A: How you currently dealing with the pandemic?
CBS: It took a week or so to completely comprehend that it was required for everyone to stay in, that it wasn't my normal routine. My husband works from home and it's actually been nice, we like to be around each other. There's been a lot of food, and Hulu binging.
A&A: For people struggling with your diagnosis, what's something you want them to know?
CBS: My mantra is: Fuck it, we got this shit. It's not very inspiring, but I'll be damned if it hasn't always encouraged me to reboot and refocus.