Let’s talk about drugs, baby
Let’s talk about THC
Let’s talk about all the good thing and the bad
About five years ago, I documented my experience and thoughts about marijuana. They were… Not exactly complementary. More a diatribe, if I’m being honest.
My conclusion then, and remains today, that I fully support the use of cannabis for whatever purposes the user deems fit, and I fully support it being legal everywhere for all times.
I still don’t like being high, and THC does nothing to alleviate any of my symptoms. There was another experimentation with THC between then and now, and I found an edible that got me high without making me sick, and it just cemented the fact that I really don’t like being high. So I gave up on cannabis entirely for a very long time. It’s done some very amazing things for people I love, and I completely believe it has amazing medical benefit potential and wants more research, for sure. I’ll not disparage its use for anybody else, it’s just not for me.
I really wish it were. I really wish it worked for me.
I’m currently on three different drugs for mental health. Two for depression, one for generalized anxiety. It’s difficult to say if they’re working or not really, because I have legitimate reasons to be depressed and anxious and so it’s hard to tell what’s genuinely a good day and what is the medication making things okay. They’re definitely helping; I have less sad brain days with the meds than without them, for certain. ALS just puts everything on hard mode, and this year has exacerbated all of that beyond belief. Of course I’m depressed and anxious, I have a terminal disease, but I suffered from those brain problems even before I was diagnosed. When those three drugs don’t quite cut it, and some nights they don’t, I have a scrip for Ativan to take the edge off. It definitely helps. It zones me out and usually negates any panic attack I may be having at the moment. Which is nice.
The problem is I don’t always want to zone out. If I’m having a full-blown panic attack, then certainly, yes, please God, zone me out, make it go away and let me breathe. Quickly. But in general, my level of anxiety is far less dramatic than the mind racing, can’t breathe, holy shit I think I’m actually going to die RIGHT NOW panic attacks. An ongoing low level panic attack perhaps, a buzzing in the back of my brain, 1,000,001 things clamoring for my attention and every single one of them stressful and sad.
There’s just so much to think about, things to do, things to plan for, everything coming at me at all times from all sides. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed. The tiniest little side thought can lead to a spiral of panic and fear. A television show that shows someone in a hospital, connected to machinery and unresponsive? My brain automatically thinks “that’s going to be me someday, and how I do not want that life for myself”. WHEE DOOM!! Wondering if my loved ones will have the strength to let me go when it comes to that. A character finding it hard to find the right words to say will lead me down the road of thinking about how I’m not going to be able to speak at all someday. Usually I can fight the downward spiral, but not always. Some days I lose.
I have so much to do. I have so many plans to make, things to document, wishes to make known and official, legal obligations to fulfill before I die. There is never a moment in which I could not be doing something to help my loved ones through my death. Items to be sorted. Organization to be done. If I don’t actively fight it, I fall into an anxious despair just thinking about everything that I have to do and being so overwhelmed I end up doing none of it and feeling trapped and never feeling like I can just… take a breath. I sit here and do nothing all day, knowing full well that my time is short. The weight of those obligations makes it impossible for me to relax sometimes and the crushing anxiety of all of these responsibilities stifles me constantly and I spiral.
Some days I just want to not think so hard. Turn my brain down a little, not off. Sometimes I just want to breathe a little bit. Not necessarily forget everything, but just an emotional step back and a breath of fresh air. Get a little space between me and my anxiety so it doesn’t seem so insurmountable.
So what’s a girl to do?
A month or two ago, I was out doing errands – properly social distanced and very careful of course, I’m not a covidiot. My friend and I were both pretty stressed out, in general because… gestures vaguely at everything… and because of the pressure of the errands and danger being out in the world. One of our stops was a store called New Seasons, which is like a small local Whole Foods but it doesn’t suck. While we were there, we noticed they had a special on CBD drinks and we had both been curious about it. Now, I had tried pure CBD before as a tincture and it did nothing for what I was trying to do with the time. It didn’t affect my headaches, my twitching, my panic attacks. But I know a lot of people that swear by CBD, and extol its virtues for everything – particularly stress. It’s becoming much more prevalent and accepted for its benefits. So that being said, and everything being what it is, my friend and I figured what the hell, and bought one each and drank it.
SELTZER WATER AND POT IS NOT A GOOD TASTE BY THE WAY. VERY BAD. EVEN IF YOU SAY IT IS BLACKBERRY FLAVOR IT IS POTBERRY.
And a little while later I felt… Okay. A little more relaxed, maybe. Feeling a little more capable of handling things at the moment. We were able to finish up our errands with a bit more calm.
Relaxed until the aftertaste hit of course. BLEAUGAHAUGHERGH. POT TASTES SO GROSS!!
Pot burps notwithstanding, it was much more in line with what I wanted. Not brain-dead, not staring at the walls, just a little more emotional wiggle room. And I fully concede that it may entirely be a placebo effect. But if it works, then fuck it. Even if I just believe that it works and is doing nothing. GOD BLESS THE PLACEBO EFFECT.
So I guess I’ve made peace with cannabis. I found something that does something. It does not, however, do one major thing that I really wanted it to do – I really wanted something to stop my brain over thinking before I fall asleep. Because THAT’S when the anxiety and depression get me. I stare at the ceiling and my brain spins for over an hour before I’m able to fall asleep finally. I wanted CBD to take the edge off of that and let me just rest, maybe. Nope! Turns out CBD can cause nightmares, apparently? Anecdotally, mind, it’s not been properly studied (get on it, Science!), but it apparently does with me. I already dream weirder than most, my subconscious does NOT need any chemical assistance with coming up with unpleasant situations involving insect faced people in a gorefest speakeasy shootout or menacing floating toasters in my bed about to touch me. So apparently I can’t take it right before bed, which is too bad. I’ll be sticking with Ativan and Ambien for that when things get rough.
But for now, at least I found a little daytime breathing space. Which is amazing in itself.
I will fully accept that minor victory.