I did not finally realize that I was struggling with my mental health until after I started using cannabis regularly. I have known since I was fairly young that my brain didn’t quite work like everyone else’s, as very few people understood me, and I was often outcasted among my peers. Nonetheless, in my earlier years, I became accustomed to life as a square peg in a round hole, and was apparently oblivious to the fact that I may be maladjusted. Although, after turning 18 and coming face to face with some of the realities of adulthood, I felt like the walls around my life broke apart and came barreling mercilessly at me. At the same time, it felt like cannabis had come to the rescue; as, the talk sessions I had with the girls that introduced me to the herb seemed better than actual therapy.
As a teenager, I didn’t truly understand why I was so attracted to cannabis, but everything about it felt alluring, and I was always curious to learn more. As I entered into my twenties, “smoking weed” progressed to becoming an integral part of my lifestyle. I no longer smoked with just the girls, rather, I quietly commenced and concluded my all of days with a joint, often feeling shame for doing so. At around the same time, I was immersed in my studies in psychology and learning what it meant to suffer from a mood disorder. It was then that I started fitting a few puzzle pieces of my life together and began coming to the realization that there were actual names for the experiences that I had been going through.
2011 was the year I first experienced major depression, and during that time I used cannabis from day until night. Cannabis was the only thing that allowed me to sit upright and pull the covers off my face, to stomach eating food, to turn the lights on, or to get dressed and go to school. In the midst of some dark days, the herb felt like my inner mother, coaching me to move forward, when I didn’t have the strength myself.
After about a year, I had recovered from my depressive episode, yet cannabis still remained an everyday fixture in my life. I received criticism from almost everyone that I knew for my choice to self-medicate rather than put myself in the hands of a certified professional. However, I felt as if I knew what I was suffering from, and stubbornly declared that only I knew the best way to take care of my own mental health. Depression had lifted its hold on me, but I had also become very cognizant about the fact that anxiety was a still a dark shadow in my life. I had resolved back then that: I had lived my whole life with an untreated general anxiety disorder, that cannabis made certain things in life infinitely more bearable, and that I wasn’t going to force myself to suffer any longer. Around the age of 22, I finally began to feel more pride than shame for making choices that I knew were beneficial to me; and this was when I firmly became resolved to continue using cannabis as often as I needed, despite what anyone else thought.
It is now 2019, I just turned 28, and I am still learning new things about cannabis and about my own mental health. I now use CBD oil to treat my anxiety, and doing so has led me to discovering that I’m burdened with more than just anxiousness. Despite CBD being very effective for my personal subjective feelings of anxiety, I still was not able to reduce my daily consumption of cannabis flower. Without my usual daily microdoses of cannabis, I feel that I have a significantly harder time accessing clarity, motivation, or focus. Using whole flower with THC gives me this impression of my mind becoming unburdened and then lifted from a fog. Smoking the right strain of cannabis is usually the only thing that can peel me from my perpetual daydreams and stick me back onto Earth.
Through these experiences, I have realized myself to be on the spectrum of Inattentive ADHD, or what used to be called just “ADD.” ADHD has been speculated by some psychologists to be caused by a deficiency of dopamine in the brain. Insufficient amounts of this neurotransmitter can make it so that the brain is not able to quiet excessive input, and therefore, the mind can become cluttered and distracted by extra information. Interestingly, Dr. David Bearman believes some patient’s ADHD symptoms stem directly a deficiency in the brain’s endocannabinoid production. Despite not completely understanding the mechanisms, it has been demonstrated in research that 25% of participants reported reductions in their symptoms after using cannabis, without the adverse effects of traditional ADHD medications. Personally, smoking the right cannabis can allow me to function like a person who has not struggled their whole life with their mental health. Cannabis has helped me cope with the chaos in my brain.
My personal educational background, as well as my personal long-term experience using cannabis without any problematic side effects, made me feel confident in self-diagnosing and self-managing my own mental health. However, I am merely recounting my own personal experiences, and not recommending readers to follow in my exact footsteps. Cannabis can be a powerful tool for remedying symptoms of an unwell mind, but should not be used as medication without the guidance of trained professionals.
I have used cannabis daily for almost 10 years to improve the symptoms of mental distress that I felt were holding me back from achieving my full potential. I currently dedicate many hours each day educating about all of the different aspects of this herb and flower, and this is because cannabis has restored my personal mental health and gifted me with vitality, purpose, and life.
*consult with a healthcare professional before using cannabis as a medical treatment.