I remember being a little kid, and learning what happiness was. Sure, most people know what happiness feels like, and I'm no exception. But I'm talking about that blissful happiness you see in the movies, too. The kind where tears of joy stream down the face of the happy person, because they're just so overwhelmingly pleased about something. I recall trying to make myself feel as happy as the people in those movies, and as happy as I assumed others were, but I could never be that joyous.
I would sit up, at 3am and onwards, staring into the TV, wondering why I couldn't be as happy as other people were. Wondering why things had to be so difficult, every day, while other people got to be happy. Pondering whether the only tears I'd ever cry would be sad ones.
Anxiety was my respite from sadness. Not anxiety like somebody gets before a date, or during an exam, but a fear so intense that it literally made me collapse. My oasis in a desert of depression was a crippling surge of terror that would come at unpredictable and frequent times.
But then I found a way to get some of that happiness for myself. No, it wasn't religion, nor was it from a bunch of platitudes like "True happiness is inside us all." No, it was a real solution. A solution that worked, and was known to work because of the science behind it. Some of it came from maturity, but a lot of my newfound ability to feel joy came from drugs. Antidepressants, and other medicine, to be precise.
Yes, beautiful, magnificent, trialled, tested, and approved by science drugs. Some may say "But drugs aren't the answer. They're unnatural, and true happiness comes from learning to listen to what your body and mind need." But those people are deluded. Now I can be joyful, from time to time. I can have days where I'm not afraid to leave my room, and days where I can go to school, and I can do many things I could never have done before.
I'm not cured. I may never be cured. I may never be able to do everything that regular people can do, but that's ok. Because compared to how I was, and how horrible life seemed, now I feel free.
Anxiety and Medical Marijuana: New Studies Show it May be Beneficial
Controversy around Medical Marijuana
Medical Marijuana refers to the use of the plant cannabis and its extracts or constituents as herbal therapy as legislated in USA. There is controversy about the medical value of marijuana or cannabis and lot of opposition to their use. But there are many documented effects that are found beneficial in treatment of nausea and improvement of hunger in case of AIDS patients and patients undergoing chemotherapy and in treatment of glaucoma. More commonly it is believed to have analgesic properties but even this is disputed.
The controversy of medical marijuana is due to the fact that it is used in various forms like smoking or drinking the extracts for addictive recreational use and is legislated as illegal. Many countries have banned the use of cannabis in any form but the use in medical applications is permitted with various degrees of control and permission requirements. The medical use of cannabis is disputed all over the world.
Benefits of Medical Marijuana
Various studies have established the benefits of medical marijuana in treatment of many conditions like nausea, premenstrual syndrome, insomnia, weight loss and loss of appetite. It is also found effective in treatment of painful conditions and spasticity, asthma and movement disorder. It has also proven to be useful in migraines, inflammatory bowels disease etc
Medical Marijuana in treatment of anxiety disorder
Medical marijuana has been used in treatment in psychiatric conditions like anxiety, depression and mood disorders. These disorders affect the way an individual thinks and feels and acts and these acts are always negatively affected. The depression and anxiety disorders cause a deep feeling of sadness and result in loss of interest in even pleasurable activities. If this condition can not be improved up on by change of life style, exercise and diet or by counseling it is necessary to provide relief with medication from the debilitating symptoms.
Benefits of Medical Marijuana
The proper use of medical marijuana many patients are able to avoid the use of opiates and tranquillizers or sleeping pills and other antidepressant medicines. It is argued that unlike other diseases, long suffering due to depression and anxiety disorders makes the patient will wear down the patient like no other disease and will deteriorate the condition as he looses interest in all activities that make recovery possible. In such cases, the mood elevation made possible by marijuana has a positive effect as the patient begins to take interest in activities that help to slowly recover; the mood improvement acts as a catalyst in the path to recovery. Marijuana Medical Handbook mentions that the power of marijuana to eliminate depression is the main medical benefit of the banned substance.
Arguments against Medical Marijuana
The main argument against marijuana is that it does not produce Serotonin, but affects anandamide which is present in brain and produces soothing feeling by reacting with THC which is present in marijuana. This can actually increase the depression and cause schizophrenia like in regular illegal use after a prolonged use. It is always safe to administer antidepressant under medical care than use the illegal substance. Also, the constituents of marijuana interfere with the process of balancing the chemicals which antidepressants work to achieve and in fact it may aggravate the condition instead of curing it.
I started having problematic anxiety when I was 14 years old (I am now nearly 26). The combination of puberty hormones and all the life-changes high school entailed proved a toxic combination, triggering the change from High-StrungAshley to MentallyDisorderedAshley.
Intense anxiety kept me from attending my classes, depression kept me on the couch, unshowered, pajama’d, crying sporadically, and obsessed with bad television that would distract me, briefly, from my so-called life. This was my grade 9. Through talk-therapy, a very supportive and understanding family, hormone leveling (read: birth control pills) and “as needed‘ sedatives: I was able to get back into my life and keep things (mostly) under control.
I had issues here and there in the years that followed, but for the most part - things were under control. It wasn’t until I was finishing second year at university that my dark cloud truly reared it’s ugly head again. One fateful day, started out as a fun day with all my friends, celebrating the end of second year; ended as the (still) reigning champ for worst day of my life. There are tons and tons of photos of that, the last day of second year. To this day, it makes me chuckle to see the smile on my face: I had no idea how my life was about to change.
Two carloads of my closest friends were a half hour from home for a day of mini golf, laughs, and dinner. After dinner, one of the car’s wouldn’t start, so we hung around waiting for the tow truck to arrive. After about 20 minutes or so, I felt my digestive system gurgling, and headed for the bathroom. In a nutshell (sparing you too many TMI details), there was something wrong with the food. It hit me, and one of my friends, at the exact same time, while still at the restaurant, it hit 4 of my other friends very shortly after we got home. It hit me the hardest, also, as I have irritable bowels to begin with. I spent over 2 hours unable to leave the bathroom of the restaurant, with 10 of my friends and my new-at-the-time (now ex) boyfriend all waiting around for me so we could go home. Stressful, awkward situation for anyone: full-on traumatic event for me.
Cue my PTSD specific phobia. I rapidly became terrified of the idea of getting physically ill and not being able to get to a bathroom. While the phobia included vomit-ill and diarrhea-ill - diarrhea was the big one. I had to quit my job because I couldn’t just leave the cash register unattended to go to the bathroom whenever I wanted, which made me too scared to even be there. When I went back to school, I couldn’t leave my house to walk to my classes, less than a kilometre away, because WHAT IF I HAD TO GO TO THE BATHROOM AND THERE WAS NOWHERE TO GO!? I started failing, due to never going to class. I stopped socializing with my friends, unless they were at my house or they had an apartment/house with more than one bathroom. I became mentally addicted to anti diarrhea medication, and wouldn’t leave the house at all without taking at least 2.
My doctor at home prescribed me Effexor XR, which I took gladly, despite previous aversions to resorting to medication: I had lost control, completely, and I knew it. I needed help. The starter dose of the Effexor gave me the typical brain-med startup weird feelings, but nothing too terrible. When we upped to the full dose: my body rejected it. Hard. I puked like I had never puked before. Perfect thing to happen to someone with my phobia, right? Fortunately (fortunately!?), I was so dehydrated, so quickly, I was too weak and groggy to properly freak out. I spent a full day in bed, attempting to put a sip of fluid into me, to no avail, slipping in and out of consciousness. Talked to my doctor, who told me to stop taking the medication IMMEDIATELY, and gave me a lecture on how I should have gone to the hospital already, blah blah. Hospitals scare the crap out of me - I bet you can all relate! I managed to talk my boyfriend into letting me not go to the hospital by promising that if the puking didn’t stop within a few hours, I would go. I got lucky, and was able to hold in a couple soda bisquits and a quarter cup of water, and didn’t have to go.
The university doctor, after I recovered from the Effexor incident, diagnosed me “bipolar 2”, and prescribed me Paxil. I won’t get into details about my experience with Paxil on here - that’s a whale of a tale for another day - but I was on it for close to a year. It took off the edge, but I still needed my sedation and anti-diarrhea medication to get myself out the door. It also seemed to numb me to all emotions but anger. When I decided to get off of Paxil - it was a mess. Again, another tale for another time. I’ve now been “clean” of proper anxiety/depression medication since March 2007.
After I refused any further medication, my school doctor said there was nothing she could do for me. I was at rock bottom, but in a strange way. Hopeless, but ANGRY. I was ready to fight, I just didn’t know how. I went back to my doctor back home, and she referred me to a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy program an hour from home. It was a 12 week, group program. And it single-handedly saved my life.
Today, I have had a new perspective, and been in near-full control of my disorders for nearly 5 years. I don’t remember the last time I took an anti-diarrhea pill (though I do still carry them with me 100% of the time…I doubt that will ever change). I still feel anxiety, I still feel depression sometimes, and I still have my seriously low, setback days - but it never, ever controls me anymore. Generally speaking, when I feel panicked about going somewhere, or doing something, I now come at it with a competitive perspective. You could say I’ve become addicted to the high of going to war with my disorder, head on, and WINNING. I consider my disorders to be in remission. I don’t believe you can ever truly “cure” most anxiety disorders (unless entirely circumstantial, rather than biological in any way) - but I am walking, talking, laughing, LIVING proof, that they can be overcome.
I plan on blogging about the things I’ve been through, and the things that have worked for and helped me along the way. I know we all get told all sorts of things to do and try and whatnot, but so often these come from textbooks, or therapists who KNOW about it, but have never FELT it. I know about it, and have felt it, and I plan to share with you the things I have first-hand knowledge of. That doesn’t mean they will work for you, but they will come from someone who truly understands.
Feel free to contact me at any time, for any reason (except to hit on me, please) - I am an open book about all the gory TMI details of my journey; you just need to ask.
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