Lindsey Beck: Living Dead Girl

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It is in our weakest moment that we discover how strong we really are. Being abandoned and left for dead by the pharmaceutical poisoners and closed-minded medical community leaves one weak physically, mentally and spiritually.

I met one such walking dead girl who had already brought herself back to life through strength of conviction, a deep soul, a mighty heart, and unabashed love for her child and family. Her name is Lindsey Beck. And despite the massive amount of positivity I have gained through my own work in the marijuana reform movement from so many great people, the moments of weakness are so incredibly low that all of us need help to emerge from them. For me, when those moments occur–when a patient loses their battle with cancer, or a person is arrested, or after a long day of being a “pot priest,” where I listen to heartbreaking stories for hours on end, I think of Lindsey’s incredible story soaked in courage. She’s a Red Bull shot of energy to keep working.

Just keep working.

It was only a few years ago that I met Lindsey at the Connecticut State Capitol during a long, grueling day of public testimony in support of the legalization of medical marijuana. I was still struggling with my public “coming out” as a marijuana activist, having deliberately given up much of my comfortable and easy life to do something very difficult. I heard her testimony and I have never struggled since.

On that day, Lindsey was celebrating a victory: she had gotten out of bed, showered, and made it out of the house. On that day, her mother had to drive her to Hartford and sit with her throughout the day waiting for her to testify before the Judiciary Committee. She joined her at the podium while Lindsey told her story.

“On that day, Lindsey was celebrating a victory: she had gotten out of bed, showered, and made it out of the house.”

Lindsey suffers from Crohn’s disease along with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from an abusive relationship and poor medical treatment. Crohn’s wreaks havoc on her body on a daily basis; the PTSD attacks her mind and the two together attack her soul. Lindsey was living a nightmare wherein the doctors she turned to for help were only poisoning her more.

With pharmaceuticals like Dilaudid, Fentanyl and Vicodin coursing through her, she was reduced to helplessness. She was a puddle in her bed, unable to be a mother to her young son or to even perform the most basic functions we all take for granted.

Lindsey asked the Committee Members, Legislators and the world for something that day, “Please let me have some quality to my life. I can accept the hand that I’ve been dealt. All I want is to be allowed to try to live it with some dignity and substance. I just want to raise my son and go back to college and have a career.”

“Please let me have some quality to my life. I can accept the hand that I’ve been dealt. All I want is to be allowed to try to live it with some dignity and substance.”

That statement, that heartfelt plea, was heard all over Connecticut.

A short time before, Lindsey had almost no quality of life. She realized the drugs that were supposed to be helping her were killing her and she decided to get off of them. She had slowly begun the grueling, heroin-on-acid-on-steroids withdrawal program when her life or death struggle came face-to-face with the most banal occurrence: her doctor’s office annual holiday party. Occurring before a long weekend, the work day was cut short for the party and Lindsey could not find a doctor to write her very strong prescriptions off of which she was still weaning. Lindsey had a terrible choice to make: go to the hospital for the weekend or finish her detox early…with the help of marijuana.

I listened to Lindsey and her mother recount that horrible weekend in public testimony. It is haunting and emotionally draining just to hear, but Lindsey and her mother were willing to torture themselves to tell this terrible story for the benefit of the movement.

That year ended up being a bittersweet one where we won decriminalization, but we had narrowly lost the medical marijuana battle. Lindsey vowed to come back to fight the next legislative session.

Erik A. Williams, Lindsey Beck and her young son watch on as the Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signs H.R. 5389 allowing a medical marijuana program in the state.

Erik A. Williams, Lindsey Beck and her young son watch on as Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signs H.R. 5389 allowing a medical marijuana program in the state.

Over the next year, I got to know Lindsey much better through our shared work for marijuana reform in Connecticut and we were ready for the next year. That year she drove herself to the Legislature to testify and worked the media with the confidence of a role model for the benefits of medical marijuana. The Legislature was able to see and hear Lindsey’s story played out over a course of time and many met her mother and son. She was and is an inspiration.

Many times in the media, in legislative debates, and in the halls of influence Lindsey’s story was retold. In 2012, Connecticut became the 18th state to legalize the medical use of marijuana with the help of many women and men, patients and caretakers, activists and others, families and neighbors–and with the help and inspiration of Lindsey Beck.

When the question of attendance at the Governor’s signing of the legislation came up, Lindsey was the first person to come to mind. I invited her and of course she came.

Walking into one of the most beautiful state capitals in America, Connecticut casts a grand and important pall over you. The importance of that day was further amplified when I saw Lindsey standing outside of the Governor’s office holding her young son’s hand. Watching the amazing moment where Governor Daniel Malloy bent down to eye level to speak to Lindsey’s son and thank him for being there and for being so strong. He thanked him for lending a hand to his mother’s efforts.

I hope this will serve as a tiny portion of the thanks I owe to Lindsey; she has been an inspiration to me and that is why I want you to not only know about her, I want for you to be inspired by her. She is an incredibly strong woman who rose so high from being that living dead girl.

The story has a happy ending, well, an extremely inspirational, encouraging ongoing.

Yes, Lindsey is still fighting in so many ways with her health and everyday turmoils of life and activism, can’t wait to see what’s next for her.