One of the most challenging aspects of having psychiatric symptoms is the search for a medicine that can offer some relief to the sufferer, with the minimal amount of side effects interfering with the enjoyment of life. Meds come in different categories and target different parts of the brain.
For example, this is an infographic for medication prescribed for depression, just one aspect of psychiatric attention. There isn’t one medication listed that doesn’t have side effects. The degree to which an individual experiences adverse reactions to prescribed meds can vary wildly. Some side effects are temporary, and as the medication is tolerated, they are less problematic or gone altogether. Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, upset stomach, rashes, sweating or chills, dry mouth, headaches sexual side effects are just a few of the common effects. It seems I am one that does not tolerate any pharmaceuticals very well.
I have been prescribed 8-10 different medications to help me feel better over the past 5 years. They didn’t work. One gave me an allergic reaction that caused itchy blisters all over my body and swelled up both of my hands causing them to turn black. It took weeks for my skin to recover. I have had meds that made me feel so sick I couldn’t eat, and I didn’t want to move. One med caused what felt like electric shocks in my head. No thanks. In general, not one medication relieved more symptoms than it created.
I turned to a medication that has been used for thousands of years. It is natural, grown in my area, and easily accessible. It has a similar cost as the meds I have been prescribed in the past.
As soon as I take my med, my body relaxes and my mind settles. I am able to focus my thoughts more efficiently and feel better all day long. It has helped me develop a body positive workout routine that helps to keep many of the other symptoms I experience at bay. It allows me to process thoughts and feelings I have always avoided or ignored.
At first, it was scary trying something different, and ignoring what others say in favor of how my body was responding. I could not deny that there was forward movement in my healing, and I was becoming more able to differentiate between what thoughts were real and valid, and what thoughts were part of my fear of failure, fear of abandonment, or fear of allowing myself to be seen by others. I have worked with this medication over the years, backing away when I was fearful that I was too reliant, or that others were very judgmental. I have given myself so much grief about this medication. I have blamed and shamed myself for finding relief in it, rather than traditional psychiatric pharmaceuticals.
Cannabis is, of course, the medicine to which I refer. It has been a faithful and true companion in my healing. I have scared myself away from it, in order to satisfy myself that I wasn’t some kind of a filthy addict, which is how people think about the daily use of any drug or alcohol. It helped with my body tremors and shaking, my anxiety, my ability to untangle my thoughts, increased my motivation to exercise and eat better, and allowed me freedom from feeling crappy all the time.
On the flip side, it’s dirty, and it smells bad. It requires me to do something illegal every day, which has repercussions in society and with the law. It compromises the care I receive from doctors because they look at me as an addict who is bringing on psychosis with cannabis, when the reality is that the psychosis was always there, just repressed and compartmentalized in order to survive. The most severe complication is that I could be arrested and charged for taking care of myself in the only way that has been successful. I could end up with a criminal record because I would prefer to try to manage my health as naturally as possible, instead of filling my body with chemicals that make me sick.
I’m tired of being judged. Mental illness exists on a huge spectrum of severity and symptom. No two people are alike. A lifetime of unfortunate conditions have been present to create an implosion in the brain, and it is caused and reacted to in a million different ways. No two people experience psychosis in exactly the same way, and it is impossible for a neurotypical person who has never experienced such a state of consciousness to understand the complicated processes that are involved.
If you don’t have a psychiatric condition, and you have an opinion on my marijuana use, keep it to yourself. I’m not interested in talking to you. I have to live with the consequences of my own choices.
I stopped smoking for over a month last November, just because I thought I should. It was pretty decent for the first few weeks, but then my body started feeling more pain than I had every experienced. I was slowing down daily and my legs and back were beginning to worry me with their aching. In early December, I snuck out to my usual spot and packed a bowl. My body was shaking and my heart was pounding, but as soon as I felt it back in my system I felt so much relief. I felt no guilt for ending my break.
In the time that has elapsed since then, I have been wondering if I should take a longer look at tolerance, to ensure that cannabis is not hiding any neurological problems. I have had tremors in my legs and back, occasional contracting in my hands and fingers, headaches, nausea and fatigue that isn’t getting any better. I have been growing weary of the damage to my lungs and throat from smoking. There are too many factors that seem to be pointing in the direction of getting some clearer answers on some of these symptoms.
I’m preparing myself to be honest with a new GP I am seeing next week. I have a short window of opportunity to be heard and get some help. If I was religious, I might pray that this doctor is knowledgeable, intuitive and a good problem solver. I hope she is able to ask the right questions and provide options that no one else around here has heard of. [Edit: Nope] Please let her be innovative, curious and empathetic, interested in quickly effecting change and seeing results. [Nope] I will be very lucky and grateful if this is the doctor is compassionate and is comfortable and experienced on the psychiatric rotation. [Nope]
I don’t ever know what any medical professional will have to say on the subject of cannabis and it’s healing properties, but it usually isn’t much. There is a demonization of drugs that are not prescribed by the medical community, and I concede that cannabis isn’t for everyone, but I do believe it has effective healing properties for me. I’m an educated woman, well into my forties, and somehow I have been able to unravel some very complicated mental constructs for myself. I didn’t do that alone, but with cannabis as a copilot.