It was over 20 years ago, at the ripe age of 19, that I was first diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder.
After graduating high school at 17, rather than follow the path of continued formal education, I decided to go straight into the working world and into business for myself. Although I did well in school (an honours student), it was not my calling.
History and english were some of my favorite classes and I am proud to say that I achieved near perfect marks in business class. But the problem for me was…it was just theory. I wanted to participate instead, and learn as I go.
And boy, did I ever learn some hard lessons along the way.
The average work week for me was at least 60 to 80 hours. I was making a small fortune for someone of that age and had all the toys to go with it. But it was taking a toll on my health. I had no personal life, no hobbies, and I set aside any recreational activities in pursuit of the dollar. Work was my life.
Then the panic attacks began…
My first trip to the hospital
I can remember it just like yesterday: driving along the highway during my 4am, 1 hour commute. As I downed the last bit of coffee, I was suddenly struck by a wave of anxiety coursing thru my entire body.
- Profuse sweating.
- Heart palpitations.
- And a profound feeling of dread that I was going to die.
I thought I was having a heart attack!
(Does any if this sound familiar to anyone?)
So, I immediately took myself to the hospital. But barely made it. My mind couldn’t focus on anything, my vision was blurring, and the world seemed to be closing in around me. It was certainly a dangerous choice to drive myself there rather than simply stop and call an ambulance.
My reason for this choice: because I thought it would be too embarassing!
But don’t underestimate this excuse! It’s an extremely common reason amongst anxiety sufferers for not getting treatment. After all, how is it possible to truly relate to another exactly how anxiety is affecting you without exposing yourself emotionally? To do so requires alot of trust and most people simply will not understand.
Here is the 2 most common statements made by people after sharing your experience with them:
- “I get stressed out sometimes too.”
- “All you need to do is learn to relax.”
Easier said than done.
Please take note:
Do not say this to someone who opens their heart to you about what is truly affecting them when it comes to anxiety. They will hate you, and lose all trust in you. You will not be seen as a comrade.
Blood tests. Heart tests. Breathing tests. All of the usual precautions taken. The doctors were excellent.
The results? Perfect health! There was absolutely nothing wrong with me physically. So I was sent home with just a few anti-anxiety tablets to help calm me down, along with a recommendation to get a family doctor for further care.
The medical merry-go-round
And then the “fun” began.
I know alot of poeple look at Canada’s healthcare system as a model of excellence, but there are major downsides. One of them being the extremely long wait times to even get a family doctor. As such I was relegated to the walk in clinic route.
There was a different doctor everytime and I had to explain the situtation from scratch every visit. But the treatment was always the same: “Here, try these drugs. You probably have a chemical imbalance in your brain.”
Not the words of confidence you want to hear in such a situation.
But “try” I did. And I probably tried over twenty different anti-anxiety medications over the years in the hope that they may work. But often the treatment was worse than the actual condition. Here are some of the more common symptoms:
- Loss of mind and creativity. You feel lost in a cloud, walking thru life like a zombie.
- The feeling of bugs crawling all over your body. Just like a drug addict.
- Major depression. Sure the anxiety is gone, but life felt like it was not worth living.
And this brings me to a major point: these medications can often induce feelings of depression so strong, that some sufferers contemplate suicide and even follow thru with it. I thank God everyday that I was not so inclined. My heart goes out to those who do.
I also mentioned “just like a drug addict”. And it’s true. These prescriptions are addictive. I became dependent on them just to get thru the day. Withdrawal can be a killer.
Month after month
And so this pattern continued, month after month, year after year. Constant visits to the hospital and clinic, thinking I was dying. Same results: “Take these pills”.
Eventually the anxiety build up so strong that things came to a head. A complete and total nervous breakdown. I couldn’t even leave the house. Going outside was impossible without passing out or collapsing in public. Agoraphobia had set in.
I had to give up all work and business. No more money. I lost all my toys. Eventually I declared bankruptcy because of the enourmous debt I had taken on. And it took me over 10 years to rebuild.
A light at the end of the tunnel
Let’s fast forward a few years.
My first real introduction to cannabis was not until my mid-twenties. I never did it in high school. It just wasn’t on my agenda. I had other things to do. Even to this day, although I can appreciate marijuana or alcohol, I don’t enjoy the state of intoxication – it stresses me out (insert dark humour here). 🙂
It was a friend who, one evening, suggested that I smoke a joint with him to ‘chill’ a bit. Surprisingly enough, I had an enjoyable time. I was most certainly relaxed and for the first time in years, slept like a baby. I fell refreshed and like a new man in the morning.
I had questions
- Why did that one joint work so well? The anxiety had disappeared.
- Why were there no side effects? No feeling of bugs crawling on my skin.
- Why did the affects last so long. I felt great for several days after.
So what exactly was in this plant that eased the burden of anxiety so well?
To be honest, I never became a ‘pot-head’, but I did pick up cannbis when I could afford it – maybe every couple of months. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. And that was the problem for several years. Smoking cannabis was hit and miss when it came to the results. There were even times when it triggered a panic attack.
Little did I know at the time that there are several different types of strains which have dramatically different affects on the mind and body. Rather than get into it here, I’ve written an article about these differences for reference.
And so I gave up on it for a while.
Just a few years ago
Late one night while watching random videos on Youtube, I came across several dramatic videos of people responding to various health conditions with medical cannabis.
One was of an elderly woman with dementia who was clearly in a state of distress and confusion. She was given a few puffs on a joint from an obviously frustrated relative. Within minutes, right before my eyes, I saw this woman take a complete 180. Back to normal, coherent, and stable. She was happy. The family member with her began to cry with joy.
One was of a man with advanced Parkinsons. The shaking was uncontrollable. He couldn’t hold a glass of water or even feed himself because of a lack of motor skills. Within minutes of smoking a small pipe of cannabis the shaking stopped. And I mean completely stopped! In real time. He even went for a walk to demonstrate the effectiveness.
The last was a slightly hard to watch video of a young child having a severe seizure. I nearly turned away, but I’m glad I didn’t. The mother of the child used a small syringe to place a small amount of oil, which she called Charlotte’s Web, into his mouth. 30 seconds later…the seizure stopped. Gone. And the kid was smiling again.
I had to know more…
The Grand Experiment
And so began what I call ‘The Grand Experiment’.
I began reading everything that I could about medical marijuana. Watching every video on the subject that I could find. And eventually started trying all the various types of cannabis products and extracts to see if there was anything in it that could help me.
Once again though, it did help sometimes and made things worse on others.
Tinctures, edible oils, brownies, and capsules. I tried them all. Once again, rather than getting into it here, I would like to recommend reading a previous article I wrote on choosing the right edibles for treating anxiety.
It was around this time that medical cannabis reasearch was really starting to gear up. New research was coming out practically everyday. And a major focus was beginning to emerge around one particluar compound found in cannabis: Cannabidiol, better known as CBD.
CBD is the non-psychoactive part of cannabis which has made the whole medical community stand up and take notice. For more information on CBD and anxiety, please read this article.
And so I looked back at all the experimenting and noticed a pattern: Everytime cannabis worked to relieve the anxiety, the product either had a high CBD content, or was exclusively CBD.
The light went on. It was like being struck by lightning.
Since that time, I have only ever used medical cannabis products that contain CBD. And the results have nothing short of amazing. For years now, there have been no panic or anxiety attacks, no agoraphobia, and no hospitalizations. Nothing. I lead a fairly normal life now, and I’m happy to have it back.
As a note: I have on several occasions stopped taking the CBD to see the affects. Yes, the anxiety does start to come back after a few days. Does this mean that I’m going to be on it for the rest of my life? Probably. But that is much preferred to a lifetime of prescription drugs which would most likely send me to an early grave.
Some shameless self-promotion
All of this leads to the reasons for what I do that I do. There’s a reason for this website. There’s a reason why I promote the use of CBD Oil. And there’s a reason why I partnered in business with a company that sells CBD based products.
It’s my life. CBD gave it back to me. So why not turn it into a profitable passion?
As this saying goes: Why not kill two birds with one stone? Promoting CBD allows me to share the benefits with the world while making some good money. It brings me back to my days when I was 19, full of that passion and drive to succeed again.
I know this was a long read, so I want to take the time and thank you for your time. My sincerest hope is that this article relates to you or someone you know.
If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below. I also encourage you to reach out and send me a personal message.
To your health and success,