Before the Mental Health Police come at me, this is a friendly reminder everybody is different, and different methods of treatment work better for others, or don't work for one at all. This is my raw and honest experience on how I got a grip on my debilitating, yet high functioning anxiety.
I didn't always have my shit together
For as long as I can remember, I have had anxiety. Due to some of my life circumstances, I was programmed from a young age to always be in a constant state of "worry". Through childhood, and especially through my eating disorder- anxiety started to consume my life. I would dread even the smallest of things, like asking my mother for things, or facing responsibilities. I can remember nearly every embarrassing thing I have ever said, every horrible thing I have ever done, or even imagine scenarios that have never taken place, and let them keep me up at night. I get anxiety from receiving important text messages or emails, or phone calls from numbers I don't know. As I told one of my good friends, I even get anxiety about not having anxiety. My anxiety has literally ruined opportunities for me, and kept me in a very confined shell of "comfort". Although I would classify myself now as someone with High Functioning Anxiety, I did not always have a grip on how to handle it. It wasn't until my eating disorder that I was put on a variety of different anti-anxieties and antidepressants to try and help me out.
Here is a list of what I can remember being prescribed (not all at once):
-Some sort of tranquilizer (during treatment to stop my nervous system).
- Some sort of fast acting anti-panic attack (sublingual)
Although these medications can be lifesavers to some people, they all had a common trend with me: I felt like a zombie, I didn't care about anything, I ended up depressed, had horrible weight gain, and killed my libido.
The thing is, even with my eating disorder, I was never truly depressed- I was anxious and addicted. With each of these medications, my interest in life started to drift and I didn't even know who I was anymore. I remember sitting in front of my mother, and telling her how I felt absolute detachment, a numbness if you will. This psychological numbness was so bad that I could see something traumatic happen in front of me, and not have any reaction at all. I felt nothing, I felt like I was nothing. The medications numbed me out from the world and my problems, but that doesn't solve anything. I was gaining weight rapidly even though I was on a stable, nutritionist prescribe healthy diet, and my sexuality was stifled. This may be TMI, but my body parts literally felt numb- no sensation in my genitals, or any other sensitive part of my body. For the years I took this medication cocktail- my eating disorder faded out through treatment- but my mental state and level of anxiety progressed.
Ironically enough on these medications, I developed severe social anxiety. My last year of middle school, the 9th grade, I convinced my mother to let me finish off the year doing homeschooling. For the three months before that transition, I would wake up terrified to start my day- by the time I got to school, I would be so paralyzed in fear that I would call my mother to come pick me up before 1st period even started. I remember sitting in the school bathroom shaking from the anxiety, yet I still somehow felt so numb- I had lost my purpose, my love for life, and was so stuck in my head and not being able to shake off this feeling of "doom". I was blessed to have my parents support me, and have teachers visit me in my home to help me finish off my school year. When I would voice these thoughts and feelings to my pediatrician, he wouldn't even blink an eye before trying to prescribe me something else. It wasn't until he gave me Zoloft that I finally snapped- for the first time in my life, I had felt suicidal. I told my parents that I am not a suicidal person, and these medications were making me someone I wasn't. My parents agreed, this wasn't life- this was just a blanket of medication to cover up my true potential, even if it came with some anxiety to work through. They helped me ween off my medication, which sadly you have to do since these medications will change your brain chemistry (google how antidepressants work. It will shock you the dependency they can cause).
THE BIG SHIFT
As you would expect, I was an emotional rollercoaster the months that followed due to my brain and body trying to replenish their normal states without the aid or interruption of pharmaceuticals. This was in 2012, when my fathers e-cigarette company was starting to boom, and he had been exploring the idea of carrying CBD. Once my father was educated in the health benefits of CBD for those with anxiety, epilepsy, and so forth- he knew that I had to at least give it a try. What was there to lose? It was natural, didn't cause dependency, and sure as hell didn't get my doctor any richer, and this wouldn't make me a pot head. Like any parents would be, they were at first hesitant to introduce me, a teenage girl, to anything marijuana related (jokes on them, I already experimented a little at this point). My dad obtained a concentrate of CBD oil, put it in a vaporizing pen for me, and told me to take 2-3 puffs of it in the morning when my anxiety was always at its high. There I sat, at 5am shaking from anxiety, and I took my puffs one by one....1...2...3.....
THEN MY LIFE CHANGED FOREVER.
Within 3 puffs, I suddenly had no anxiety- ZERO FUCKING ANXIETY. The best part about it? I wasn't tired, I wasn't numb, I wasn't high..... I felt alive, I felt normal. I sat there in pure disbelief, not knowing what the hell to do with my hands, let alone a clear state of mind.
My first thoughts were....."WHAT THE FUCK?" I remember sitting on the edge of my bed thinking.... all these years of suffering, all these years of doubt and worry, all these years of mind numbing medication.... AND THE ENTIRETY OF MY ISSUES WERE JUST SOLVED IN 3 FUCKING PUFFS. As you can imagine, my life came into a full circle realization that society is a lie and that doctors make insane amounts of money off making us drug dependent... but thats another story for another day.
There is science and merit behind the use of cannabis derived products to aid in mental health, and listed below are some good resources to read since I am no scientist.
A multitude of excellent links to different articles and studies to get into the nitty gritty of CBD.
wrote a wonderful short article to give a brief description of how CBD works for anxiety, and some of the science behind that.
After those 3 puffs, I knew CBD was the right choice to aide my anxiety, along with some major lifestyle changes like exercise, anxiety reducing techniques (breathing, mindfulness), and facing my issues head on. CBD is natural, there are no side effects, no physical dependency or addiction, no drowsiness, no "high". The one thing that really stands out to me about CBD is that it lets me confront my stress, issues, and worries and be able to address them vs. numb them out. I am able to physically and mentally process stress, while getting to mellow out and actually savor the good things in my life. I am a 100% believer that some small tweaks to your lifestyle can really make the difference in your mental health, and this is one of them.
CBD is extremely safe, comes in many forms, and can actually be extremely cost effective when it comes to using it stress and anxiety management. Although I started off by smoking the concentrate, that did get a little harder to attain since we were in Salt Lake City, Utah- which is still at crossroads in legalizing anything that has to do with marijuana. Smoking was the easiest and had the fastest effect, but it was not always convenient nor legal for me to just whip out a few puffs of what smelt like marijuana throughout my day. I have now switched over to a tincture, which I will leave the link to at the very end (yay they deliver to you), which was introduced to me by a neighbor. The tincture is kept in the fridge and is an easy morning or nightly fix- I just put 4-6 drops underneath my tongue and let it absorb, swallowing whats left after about a minute. In the next 15 minutes, I see a 70-80% drop in my tension and anxiety- my food stops tapping, I stop breathing fast, my muscles relax. I feel an overall sense of wellbeing, and have very positive and logical thoughts. I have personally seen an increase in my ability to focus and better quality of sleep. If you stop taking it, nothing bad will happen to you- there is not a physical dependency. I remember coming off my medications and having nausea, night sweats, panic attacks... you name it. I've seen my friends not get their medication filled in time, and live a weekend of pure horror until they get their hands on it. That is not the life I wanted to live- I wanted to take the bull by the horns and restore my body to a functioning state.
never going back
It has been 6 years since my first encounter with CBD, and no, I am not cured from anxiety. Mental health doesn't work that way unfortunately, but I know exactly what helps me and what doesn't. As I said earlier, I do have high functioning anxiety- but I have learned to master it, utilize it, and not make it the focal point of my life. I have been able to remain pharma free, all while keeping my anxiety low and manageable. CBD gave me the tools to slow down mentally, process, and learn to develop mature and effective processing skills that are essential for my emotional and physical well being. It is almost terrifying to think about where I would be mentally in life if my parents did not take the plunge of introducing me to this lifesaving resource.
Bottomline is, with CBD, you really have nothing to lose when trying it. If you're reading this, and you are crippled in your anxiety- I have been there. I know how scary it is, and I know how trapped you can feel. It is always worth a shot to try some alternatives and find your groove, whether it be CBD, medication, programs, counseling, ect. Even if you don't have anxiety, this is a great option to have around when the stress of life may get to you- we all have those moments! Always, ALWAYS, follow what works best for you.
My Go To CBD Product: