Marijuana and Bipolar Disorder

Hello my bipolar friends, followers, and fans. Today we’re going to talk about a controversial topic in the treatment of bipolar disorder: Marijuana aka Weed/Cannabis or CBD and its effect on the body and mind while dealing with the condition.

Fortunately for me I have been able to try several different kinds of variants and can now confidently make choices that I know will (or won’t) work for me. For example, my doctor prescribed it for me for treatment and I’ve learned how certain strains can impact my thoughts and body negatively as well as those that are positive. Sometimes I try a new one but when I do that I ALWAYS make sure I am not alone just in case I have a strong reaction, good or bad. I recommend anyone else trying a new strain do the same.

When I use anything with a Sativa strain I can get a bit more paranoid and panicky as well as start down the road to depression. Others, such as those with Indica strains work really well and help to calm down my manic moments. They relax my body and help redirect my thoughts toward positive memories and lift my spirits a little bit. Not enough to swing me into mania but enough to bring a smile, which, when I’m depressed are fairly rare.

CBD is a component of cannabis that can be extracted from the plant and used medicinally to treat pain as well as many other needs. It comes in many formats but most frequently in liquid or capsule form. It tends to work well for my headaches and I like it because it doesn’t cause it doesn’t alter your brain. It is truly just a medicine and although there is often minute amounts of THC (the “high” aspect of cannabis) in the CBD it’s so minor it doesn’t influence the mind at all for most people.

So, what’s worked (or not) for you?

Also, in case you’d like to learn more here is an article outlining in greater detail some of the risks, and there are real risks, and benefits of using cannabis for bipolar treatment:

https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/marijuana-and-bipolar

As always, if someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis please suggest they call the National Suicide Hotline at: 1-800-273-8255

This Bipolar Life: Twice Over

So, this bipolar thing is pretty much a pain in the neck but it gets even worse when there are co-occurring disorders. What does that mean? It’s when there are more than one disorder in a person, related or not.

In my experience I developed a few additional disorders over the past several years. It’s been frustrating and frankly I don’t know if they a side effect of one my regular meds or if they’re naturally occurring at this point in my life. Regardless of the source, these conditions can and do affect my life.

Continue reading “This Bipolar Life: Twice Over”

This Bipolar Life: News Roundup – 8/31/18

News-handing

These are a few articles that I found helpful over the past couple of weeks that I really felt compelled to share. I believe they offer new insights or approaches that might be helpful to some with this condition. I would truly appreciate comments at the end to help make sure you are getting the information you would want:

Cannabis Use in Bipolar Disorder Presents a Treatment Challenge – Abigail Nover, 8/28/18

Continue reading “This Bipolar Life: News Roundup – 8/31/18”

This Bipolar Life: Enter Sandman

When my sleep schedule is interrupted – even by a little bit – it can upset my entire outlook on the world. I know that sounds dramatic but unfortunately it is all too true.

I give up a lot to get good sleep. In fact I even get some heat when I need to leave a function or get-together early as people without bipolar don’t quite get it. I can understand but for me it’s a serious issue. If I don’t get enough sleep for a few days, say 6 or 7 hours a night instead of 8, it can trigger hypomania (low grade mania) until I get things back on track – and that’s not always easy to do. I try to nap but even that can further deteriorate things as it merely serves to undermine the need for nighttime rest. Too much sleep can be almost as bad as too little. It creates a level of difficulty that I simply don’t need nor want in my life. As a result of all of this I am religious about adhering to my sleep schedule though. If I don’t the impact on my life can be profound.

See, for me mania isn’t something fun, it’s not an opportunity for me to feel “on top of the world” or believe I’m some sort of mythical being as some people have experienced. Instead I just become grumpy, my fuse gets very short, I start new hobbies or projects, and I generally spend too much money – enough that when I feel the it coming on I will hand my wife my debit card, which leaves me feeling like an utter failure as an adult. I mean, what successful person can’t manage their own finances or frustration levels? Me and plenty of other folks with mental illnesses, that’s who. It totally stinks though. It’s certainly not the picture of my life as I’d ever imagined it.

As you can see by the information below, sleep is key for managing many forms of mental illness and bipolar disorder is right up there with the rest of them. In fact there is a lot of research linking sleep disturbance with mood swings throughout the spectrum for people with bipolar disorder. Here is a quick summary from WebMD:

Bipolar disorder may affect sleep in many ways. For example it can lead to:

  • Insomnia, the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep long enough to feel rested.
  • Delayed sleep phase syndrome, a circadian-rhythm sleep disorder resulting in insomnia and daytime sleepiness.
  • REM (rapid  eye movement) sleep abnormalities, which may make  dreamsvery vivid or bizarre.
  • Irregular sleep-wake schedules, which sometimes results from a lifestyle that involves  medication-seeking behaviour at night.

During the lows of bipolar disorder, you may have overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, sadness and worthlessness. These can interfere with your sleep.

During the highs of bipolar disorder (periods of mania), you may be so aroused that you can go for days without sleep. For three in four people with bipolar disorder, sleep problems are the most common signal that a period of mania is about to occur.

Studies have clearly linked good sleep hygiene to positive outcomes for people with bipolar disorder. It is no less important than eating right, exercising, or brushing one’s teeth. In fact, sleep is key to regulating thoughts, emotions, and actions. There is no substitute for a good night’s rest and for those of us who have bipolar disorder it is far too important to ignore.

This Bipolar Life: Bitch Mode, Mania, and Me

I can be a bitch. Especially when manic. Mania can be a difficult thing to manage and when uncontrolled can cause damage to myself and those around me if I’m not careful. For me, mania tends to manifest as agitation and frustration along with making plans to achieve what are sometimes unrealistic goals. After 10 years of dealing with this disorder I have developed a lot of techniques to avoid it. First are medication and therapy but self care is also a key component. Here’s a bit about my current approach:

Lately I’ve been traveling, getting very little sleep, and drinking more coffee than I should. I know that these are triggers for mania and anxiety so I’ve carefully tracked my moods. I use an iPhone app, iMoodJournal (there are several apps that track moods I just prefer this one) which allows me to be aware if I’m suddenly seeing a spike in my mood which would indicate that I’m trending upward to quickly and need to be more attentive to my choices. With that in mind I have worked hard to remember self care but I’ve not been in a particularly conducive space for any of my usual go-to self care activities. This means I’ve had to get a little creative to make sure I don’t trigger a manic episode due to the changes caused by my travels. Hopefully these tricks help you too.

I’ve gone for walks and listened to beautiful music. I’ve played with my beloved niece and nephews. I’ve been very active about remembering to smile. I’ve practiced mindfulness even more than usual, being careful to be present during my activities and interactions with others. I have been active in planning the day’s activities so I know what to be prepared for, something that helps me avoid the ever-present challenge I have with unexpected transitions. I’ve made sure to spend at least five minutes each morning lying in whatever bed I’ve landed in (I’ve been at three different homes in the past 5 days) to appreciate the sounds of the birds and ready myself mentally for the day ahead. I’ve practiced gratitude by intentionally responding to those who bring me something with heartfelt appreciation and I make sure to think of at least one or two things at the end of the day that remind me of a moment or two of positivity.

How do these things keep me from being manic? Well for me they help to ensure I stay centered in the reality around me. I am far less inclined to make big plans and instead am focused on just the day ahead, allowing me to be grateful and honest with myself as I check in with my moods mentally throughout my day. I have found the more I am able to remember to practice self care the more stable I am, allowing me to avoid mania, or at least keep it at a manageable level.

I hope these techniques are things you might be able to add to your day, whether you have bipolar or not they can be helpful. Best of luck and have a great day!