Friday, 12 August 2011

Who am I?

My name is David Powell. I live in a quiet town in sleepy Herefordshire in middle England, UK.. I lead a simple life, try to stay healthy and keep myself to myself. I suffer from full blown Bi-Polar or Manic Depressive Disorder. I both love and hate my disorder depending on how things are.

All the male members of my father’s side of the family share the condition to a greater or lesser degree. After years of confusing and difficult to understand shifts in my interaction with the world, I can now see clearly what a serious and under-estimated problem it is for those suffering the disorder. My uncle was an undiagnosed sufferer who committed suicide in his mid 50’s after a private struggle lasting all his adult life.

I don’t intend to do more than a give a brief outline of the basics of Bi-Polar, so you can understand the terminology used within this story. Unless you suffer Bi-Polar you have no idea how difficult it is to live with and to treat. Each case is individual and it affects the very essence of a person, everything they are and do. It is also a far greater killer than the majority of most physical diseases. Bi-Polar claims 15% of it’s sufferers to suicide and claims many more through risky behaviour and harmful substance abuse. Davesideways Ledbury

What is Bi-Polar Affective Disorder.

Bi-Polar disorder is a condition in which people experience abnormally elevated (manic or hypo-manic) and, in many cases, abnormally depressed states for periods of time in a way that interferes with functioning. Not everyone's symptoms are the same, and there is no simple physiological test to confirm the disorder. Bi-Polar disorder can appear to be unipolar depression. Diagnosing Bi-polar disorder is often difficult, even for mental health professionals. What distinguishes bipolar disorder from unipolar depression is that the affected person experiences states of mania and depression. Often Bi-Polar is inconsistent among patients because some people feel depressed more often than not and experience little mania, whereas others experience predominantly manic symptoms. Additionally, the younger the age of onset (Bi-Polar disorder starts in childhood or early adulthood in most patients), the more likely the first few episodes are to be depression. Because a Bi-Polar diagnosis requires a manic or hypo-manic episode, many patients are initially diagnosed and treated as having major depression.

The mood swings of Bi-Polar cover a large spectrum as shown below:

Depressive episode.

Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of Bi-Polar disorder include persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, isolation, or hopelessness; disturbances in sleep and appetite; fatigue and loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities; problems concentrating; loneliness, self-loathing, apathy or indifference; depersonalization; loss of interest in sexual activity; shyness or social anxiety; irritability, chronic pain (with or without a known cause); lack of motivation; and morbid suicidal ideation. In severe cases, the individual may become psychotic, a condition also known as severe Bi-Polar depression with psychotic features. These symptoms include delusions or, less commonly, hallucinations, usually unpleasant. A major depressive episode persists for at least two weeks, and may continue for over six months if left untreated.

Manic episode: Mania

Mania is the signature characteristic of Bi-Polar disorder and, depending on its severity, is how the disorder is classified. Mania is generally characterized by a distinct period of an elevated mood, which can take the form of euphoria. People commonly experience an increase in energy and a decreased need for sleep, with many often getting as little as 3 or 4 hours of sleep per night, while others can go days without sleeping. A person may exhibit pressured speech, with thoughts experienced as racing. Attention span is low, and a person in a manic state may be easily distracted. Judgment may become impaired, and sufferers may go on spending sprees or engage in behaviour that is quite abnormal for them. They may indulge in substance abuse, particularly alcohol or other depressants, cocaine or other stimulants, or sleeping pills. Their behaviour may become aggressive, intolerant, or intrusive. People may feel out of control or unstoppable, or as if they have been "chosen" and are "on a special mission" or have other grandiose or delusional ideas. Sexual drive may increase. At more extreme phases of Bi-Polar 1, a person in a manic state can begin to experience psychosis, or a break with reality, where thinking is affected along with mood. Some people in a manic state experience severe anxiety and are very irritable (to the point of rage), while others are euphoric and grandiose.

To be diagnosed with mania according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a person must experience this state of elevated or irritable mood, as well as other symptoms, for at least one week, less if hospitalization is required.

Hypo-manic episode.

Hypo-mania is generally a mild to moderate level of mania, characterized by optimism, pressure of speech and activity, and decreased need for sleep. Generally, hypomania does not inhibit functioning like mania. Many people with hypomania are actually in fact more productive than usual, while manic individuals have difficulty completing tasks due to a shortened attention span. Some people have increased creativity while others demonstrate poor judgment and irritability. Many people experience signature hyper sexuality. These persons generally have increased energy and tend to become more active than usual. They do not, however, have delusions or hallucinations. Hypo-mania can be difficult to diagnose because it may masquerade as mere happiness, though it carries the same risks as mania.

Hypo-mania may feel good to the person who experiences it. Thus, even when family and friends learn to recognize the mood swings, the individual often will deny that anything is wrong. Also, the individual may not be able to recall the events that took place while they were experiencing hypo-mania. What might be called a "hypo-manic event", if not accompanied by complementary depressive episodes ("downs", etc.), is not typically deemed as problematic: The "problem" arises when mood changes are uncontrollable and, more importantly, volatile or "mercurial". If unaccompanied by depressive counterpart episodes or otherwise general irritability, this behaviour is typically called hyperthymia, or happiness, which is, of course, perfectly normal. Indeed, the most elementary definition of Bi-Polar disorder is an often "violent" or "jarring" state of essentially uncontrollable oscillation between hyperthymia and dysthymia. If left untreated, an episode of hypo-mania can last anywhere from a few days to several years. Most commonly, symptoms continue for a few weeks to a few months.

Mixed affective episode: Mixed state.

In the context of Bi-Polar disorder, a mixed state is a condition during which symptoms of mania and clinical depression occur simultaneously. Typical examples include tearfulness during a manic episode or racing thoughts during a depressive episode. Individuals may also feel incredibly frustrated in this state, since one may feel like a failure and at the same time have a flight of ideas. Mixed states are often the most dangerous period of mood disorders, during which substance abuse, panic disorder, suicide attempts, and other complications increase greatly.

How do I deal with my Bi-Polar?

It’s been a long road to understanding my condition but after many years I have the tools I need to explain and work with my condition.

I am working to be fit and healthy and get better everyday. I’ve been through the entire cycle of Bi-Polar from the very deepest depressions, through long hypo-manic periods to fully blown mania with hallucinations. Manic episodes of suffering delusions, feeling part of the universe, talking with God, and psychotic mania where I believed I was the new incarnation of Jesus Christ.

I realised sometime ago that if I want to conquer this condition I have to work on my health to have something to aim for, and stop Bi-Polar destroying my body as well as my mind. I worked hard to quit tobacco and succeeded with a just a few short relapses during my darkest times. 70% of Bi-Polar people self medicate with nicotine and invariably end up with a chain smoking habit that shortens their life.

I work out 1-3hrs per day, running, weight lifting, yoga, stretching, and cycling 100-300 miles per week. When I work out consistently I am fit and in good physical condition which helps over-ride the mental illness. I have no health complaints at all. Not even a filling. I had never been a doctor until a few months ago.

I really need to be able to work out everyday and be in nature to deal with manic depression. It's a vital ingredient, it gives me the ability to keep depression at bay, get decent sleep, work naturally to goals and raise my mood. Exercise improves my self esteem, confidence and gives me relief from the endless negative thoughts and suicidal periods. I only started to exercise again seriously 2 years ago and it has helped me immensely.

I eat only non-processed foods, no cakes, chocolate bars or fast food. I don’t eat any junk food or consume refined sugar. I eat lots of fruits, nuts and fish rich in Omega 3. Eating a natural sugar free, unprocessed diet, is important as sugar contributes to mood swings. I take vitamin supplements and fish oil. I drink minimal caffeine and plain water.

I stay away from all forms of drugs I consider harmful, including alcohol.

An important factor is also dealing with triggers. Triggers are lifestyle, environment and social stimulus that trigger shifts in my mood. These are hard to control and pinpoint, but with experience you learn what they are and when to walk away from something.

One of the main tools in my defence is using Cannabis. As you read this story I am going to tell you all about living with Bi-Polar, using cannabis to treat it, and how I got into the situation of facing a prison term for self-medicating against this life-threatening and serious mental disorder.

How is my current situation as a medical cannabis user affected by English Law and Politics?

I am currently facing prosecution and a likely prison sentence for Cannabis offences, owing to my use of Cannabis as a form of medication for my long standing Bi-Polar disorder. I want to share my story with you, warts and all. This is in the hope that you will find it of some use: a story put down on paper to help me overcome the trauma I am suffering at the hands of the current legal system. I will attempt to deliver my story to you, the reader, in simple and easy logic. I am doing this to attempt to bolster the causes of logic and clear thinking. To attempt to give my human side of the story to counter any inaccurate portrayal it will receive if reported in the current media environment. I can only expect a sound bite in the papers, so I am going to give you the real story of my struggle.

In the current system there no expectation to receive the things I need to help me move on and manage my manic depression. The things I need as an individual, suffering a unique illness that affects each sufferer differently, is the freedom to manage my condition in my own way, as the condition effects the very fabric of what makes me the person I am. There is little or no hope of getting better until the whole business I am dealing with is over. Only then can I move on from here, once my prosecution for self medication using Cannabis is over, and I am released from my ultimate fate at the hands of an illogical system of Law. I will need a lot of things around me to help me back on my feet and stay out of depression.

I expect to have to have my name and clean criminal history tarnished by the politically motivated, misleading and out of date way we deal with casual drug users and those with mental disorders whose problems lead them to use drugs for one reason or another. I expect the end result of my punishment will make no difference to my life, as I don’t really have a life. It's hard to get on in life with Bi-Polar, especially as you get older and the condition becomes more overpowering. Society is setup for the other 99 people out of 100 who don't have it. Bi-Polar runs in my family. Bi-Polar killed my uncle, it caused him to seek relief with suicide, a fate I am concerned could be my own. I am quite sure Cannabis would have helped my uncle to see things in a different way when the going got tough. A conviction for Cannabis crimes means very little to someone who is often too ill to work anyway, too ill to leave the house or even bed. I have bigger problems than that of a being labelled a criminal. Being a criminal just makes it even less likely I'll become better through improvement of my life and reintegration with society.

The ways we deal with the innocent victims of the actions born of mental illness is plainly shocking, we are misunderstood and badly represented. So, I wish to give my side of the story and to try to help others in society to see the broader point about my plight with Cannabis and Bi-Polar. I want to show how I am now affected negatively by the Law, Politics and my Mental Illness.

I do not profess to be an expert at writing, or on any of these subjects, but I do know what works for me and how I interact with the world differently from the 99% of people who aren’t Bi-Polar.I will try to explain how these factors make a potent cocktail of problems for many people that are misunderstood, under represented and poorly dealt with.

I wish to tell a story for those on both sides of the fence, for those who know little about these subjects, and those only believing what they are told, rightly or wrongly, by the media. Hopefully this is a story of logic and reason, helping everyone to see a human side to this awful criminal I have become. A criminal made by the current Law and Criminal Justice System. I will attempt to explain how my daily my life is dominated by living with Manic Depression. Living with the fact I am a criminal causes me no concern at all. I have no concerns about the opinions of people who know less than I do about how my own experiences with Cannabis and Bi-Polar Disorder. People who are not suffering with Bi-Polar have no idea about the serious nature of a Manic Depressive Illness and the vital importance that Cannabis plays in my life. Because I have mental health issues I have spent long periods of my life in a living hell, I enjoy the use of Cannabis to relieve some of the more destructive symptoms and also the stresses and strains of being hypo-manic, enabling me to stay happy, where is the crime in that? Where is the crime in using something that keeps me away from the suicidal side of my condition and makes me a more rounded, caring and less self absorbed person?

The system of Law that many medical Cannabis users are unfortunate enough to encounter, is in my opinion, broken. Out-dated drug laws and hysterical media reporting go hand in hand. We are moving backwards to Draconian methodology at this very moment, reversing behind a blockage in logic. This is a blockage born of a lack of flow within the pipe work of political debate on drugs. Politicians are scared of the potential right wing media backlash should they even whimper about drugs. In the current media-driven politics, even the slightest mention of drugs can be toxic, let alone a debate using logical science on the subject. That could be enough to end a career, remember David Nutt, the first martyr?

We live in a country where all drug users, regardless of their individual needs or status, are lumped into the same category by a system more suited to cattle herding. Medical users and decent honest casual user’s lives are being ruined and destroyed from all sides by the current system. Largely it's because of the currently diabolical state of the media. The media is ruling policy via the disease of political correctness. Policies affecting lives of good honest people with families and jobs, are currently driven by the press holding control of politicians and public opinion. This is holding back society advancement. Politicians can't speak logically for fear of trial by media. The result is costly, ill-informed and ever wasteful criminalisation of decent honest drug users. Effectively, the criminalisation of many perfectly respectable and otherwise law abiding people. We are suffering a reversion from working policy that has been shown to be effective in other countries. Countries with a system of drug policy that is based on an actual desire to improve and resolve the health care of the individual, resolve a persons social issues within a realistic framework, has the least cost and damage to all involved.

Many others Cannabis users like me are paying a high price for something we see as harmless. These are decent, honest people, who commit no crimes, who aren't affecting anyone else with their victimless crime of personal Cannabis use. Public opinion within a largely unaware or non-caring proportion of the voting demographic in England is being deliberately manipulated by certain newspapers and media outlets. We are heading backwards, not forwards, with regards to Drug Policy. There is a tug of war between logic and illogical propaganda happening right now. The public are increasingly media led, large proportions of them are being fed a daily diet of Cannabis related junk food through various outlets, including the Police and Courts. Diets of endless one-sided Cannabis reporting that bare no resemblance to anything I have experienced. How can we currently expect to have any logical form of debate? We are rapidly being walked down the garden path towards increased ignorance, with that increased dangers. We are not moving forward towards the logical drug laws being shown to work in other countries. We are closer to believing down right nonsense glossed over as fact and then supported by the authorities. England is being held to ransom by overly simplistic and ever more bizarre drug logic. Overly simplistic and often baseless arguments given in the media are leading to court rooms filled with ever more illogical and politically motivated decisions.

In England, courts and police catch onto the latest trendy anti-Cannabis phrases or catchwords used in right-wing press coverage and use them readily in their own declarations. However, the courts and police have no ability to pickup on important facts or functional progressive policy changes happening in countries other than our own. Other countries are showing solid results with legislation, decriminalisation and realistic medical provisions for Cannabis use within the Law.

I can get a lower sentence claiming I am a “Cannabis addict”. Cannabis has no addictive properties unless you add addictive tobacco to your reefers. I can pick up Cannabis and put it down, use it everyday or once a week, it is as addictive as playing golf or eating chocolate. The only reason for encouraging people to claim “Cannabis addiction” in courts is to spread farcical propaganda, spin and misinformation down to a compliant and ill-informed media. They then hand this information down as fact to members of the public, who have not got the experience to make an informed judgment of their own.

It will no doubt be said I was growing dangerous “Skunk” plants that are 10 times stronger than back in the 1960’s. Fact is, I was growing largely pure land-race strains, strains of a plant that has been around since before humans walked the earth and has changed very little.

Misleading and inaccurate sound bites are rapidly delivered to the public ear in England through police, court and media reporting. Short, easy to digest meals of misinformation. Biased and misleading reporting attempts to show the important voters of an ever increasingly misled middle England, that something is being done.

We are not winning the war on drugs. It can’t be won. It is a war on the “Human Mind” and you will never stop humans taking drugs, except if you remove their desire to so by medicating the entire populace, as suggested by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World. The problems that we suffer are as a result of outdated prohibition, the total waste of resources and money we expend chasing people like me. The system currently is at breaking point dealing with people who cause no harm to anyone else and just want to be able to use Cannabis for both personal and medical reasons, as those in other countries can without fear of reprisal.

What about those decent honest folk who find Cannabis of benefit to their lives, people with health issues, the millions of honest working users who don’t want to use Nicotine and Alcohol. These are all the people I call my friends, all currently criminalised, hundreds of them. These are all workers with good jobs, intelligent folk, business owners, employers, tax payers and they use Cannabis. These law-abiding folk use Cannabis to relax and enhance their already ample lives, they are approaching the middle phase of their lives and yet they choose to still use Cannabis. They are adults who for the most part don't agree with the nonsense they hear about Cannabis, due to their own adequate personal experience. We aren't criminals we just want to use something that adds some joy or relief to an otherwise often bleak existence. People must understand the plight of thousands of medical Cannabis users, as well as those decent honest folk are criminalised for using alternatives to the ever problematic and nauseating boozing culture. I don’t see the local Accident and Emergency department full of Cannabis users on a Friday night, or the local High Street destroyed by them every weekend. The police cells are full of violent Alcohol users sobering up on a Friday night, not Cannabis users as it doesn’t cause these problems. Surely it is Alcohol which should be made illegal. I don’t use Alcohol, for me it’s a scar on society and as a depressant it makes me depressed.

What’s happened since my hospitalisation and arrest?

In a funny way the experience of being sectioned in Hospital was enlightening and interesting. A Real-Life experience. I was still hypo-manic throughout the 9 days I spent there. It was a nice break from the months and months of endless obsessive grafting on my Cannabis breeding project, a change of scenery.

I was still manic when the police interviewed me, which is not good procedure but they haven’t listened to my complaints and show no interest in the fact they exploited my vulnerable mental state. I talked in a fast, pressured and carefree way for over an hour. I left the officers visibly drained. When hypo-manic you wear people out.

It has been a long-time since then. I have been in living hell without my special medication, enduring perception and life changing levels of mood variation due the stress of the situation I am in, although mostly due to fact I just wish to get better, privately.

It all started to get ugly from the moment the manic episode ended around the 3rd week of February 2011. I slipped into rapid cycling mood swings, ultra-ultra rapid or ultradian cycles. These swings come thick and fast, intense euphoria to suicidal depression with just minutes between the cycles some days. These lasted for around 4 weeks at maximum magnitude and have persisted in fits and starts for 8 months.

These are the most feared and challenging of all Bi-polar states, this is living hell. You have the symptoms of every mood type Bi-Polar can offer at virtually the same time. This is when most Bi-polar sufferers would have the motivation, energy, spontaneity and desire to commit suicide. The cycle is always similar, what goes up into mania must come down. The stabilisation period between two ends of the spectrum can be a wild ride. It's been a rough time, the worst of my life, a struggle hour to hour.

I’ve had to deal with having my coping mechanisms removed and endure the massive depressive crash that comes after such an intense mania, combined with constant worrying about the effect a prison term will have on my remaining sanity. The last months have really been a bad time, the worst ever, scary, mostly due to really crushing depression and suicide ideation that comes after you blow your life apart. Worse still has been waiting for others to decide on your fate before you can think about moving on.

It’s 10 times worse this time as I can't put things back together again. I have to wait as other people, with no concept of my problem or the severity of it, are in control of my destiny. Stresses of negative situations I have no control over have been big triggers for depression in my life. It's been murder waiting for news from the Crown Prosecution Service, 7months of murder.

For a crime with no real victim I've really suffered. If it wasn’t for the fact my death would probably give my mother a mental breakdown, I’d have ended my life months ago. I am staying alive only to keep my mother from having her soul torn out. I spent 60 days in bed trying to blot out my problems, eight months of crippling mood swings, many days spent researching suicide methods on the internet and pondering the worth of my existence, a two month relapse into tobacco use as self medication and two weeks pacing psychotically around the house 14hrs a day. Long walks wandering aimlessly thinking about getting dead drunk and passing out with my head over the rail-way line. I am left wondering about what is the point in fighting?

I am a broken Manic Depressive but I have the tools to get well, it’s frustrating having to wait to get the process started, to rebuild myself once again. What happens with the criminal trial it's just not important to me. Criminal record doesn't matter. I'm living in another world to 99% of people. I've far bigger problems that making a court appearance or prison sentence appear like grains of sand in a deserted Bi-Polar landscape.

I am now in a holding state, lockdown. I am writing this thesis about my life and Cannabis, riding my bicycle for 150-300 miles a week and taking lots of hot baths. I have to survive this misery and it could be 2 years before I can heal and get back to the quiet life.

Quiet life is what I need, time at home with my loved ones, with my poor long suffering mother. She's wonderful. I am awaiting the total finality of my punishment, so I can go back to where I was before this intrusion.

I need to be left alone. I’m ill. Reverting back to my own secret, private world of dealing with Manic Depression my own way is the only way I’ll ever deal with it. I had it all worked out before the Manic episode. I will never accept any outside assistance for Bi-Polar, there is none that I want to take, only a range of evil prescription medication. I will never have my opinions changed or altered. I don't want the attention of the system of social and criminal justice, I just have to endure it and the illness it brings me before I can get better. Just waiting, waiting to revert back to life on my own terms as an individual, with individual needs.

It's just one massive waste of time, money and energy for all involved.

What about Cannabis ? How does it affect my own personal battle with depressive phases of Bi-Polar, the phases that I find to be the most damaging?

What leads me to sporadic use of Cannabis over most of the later part of my adult life is a desire to seek gentle, fast and side-effect free relief from deep dark depressions, low mood states and have general stability of mind.

I had never used Cannabis consistently and I have had long periods with and without using it. I know from years of experience that Cannabis has no bearing upon the creation, progression or symptoms of Bi-Polar that I suffer from. They have their own private engine. The effects of Bi-Polar were present well before I had ever come into contact with Cannabis. The swings of mood caused by Bi-Polar are of far greater magnitude than any overblown dangers of Cannabis.

I am a “rapid cycling” Manic Depressive, the worst gift. This rapid cycle sufferer is seeing many changes per year from major depression, depression, normal, slightly hypo-manic, hypo-manic with a chance of a rare full manic state every 2 or 3 years. I can also have productively long periods or normality or long stable hypo-manic episodes in which I achieve all my life’s successes.

I call these periods my times of having an “edge”. Success comes in whatever activity I have chosen to use this hypo-manic edge on. Hypo-mania is a tool, provided it stays in a certain range and you use controls to harness the extra ability it gives. It opens the doors to your/ my creativity.

There are periods of depression displaying varying severity that last upwards of 6 months. These usually follow a pattern of being dark and reflective with rare stress based suicide contemplation.

Cannabis helps me in a number of ways. It gives me a chance to function correctly and deal with the natural depressive phases. It does this by limiting their potential for destruction. Certain types of Cannabis have proven to me they limit the gravity and potential length of depressive periods. They limit the potential depths that can be reached, the depths that can take me a lot of time to recover from. Cannabis allows me to recharge and try to get some momentum into recovery a lot faster than is otherwise possible. This is a massive benefit to my life.

It is not easy to accurately describe the physical and mental functions of Cannabis that I find useful.

I guess that normal people feel roughly the same everyday. I do not, neither mood-wise, nor energy wise.

I think of one aspect of my Bi-Polar as having variable energy in two ways. Mental energy that controls my senses and brain function is the first system. The second is having a separate system for physical energy within my muscles and organs.

The voltage controlling my mind and senses is variable and is not dependant on the charge contained within the physical systems battery.

The voltage range is from 0-20 volts in my case, this controls the intensity of my senses and processing power of my mind.

The battery system can run from fully charged to flat and stores physical energy, your body’s general energy level.

A system of power and storage of energy for use in body and mind.

With Bi-Polar there are sensory, mood and energy variations, the disorder doesn’t just affect your mood state but your whole body. In Bi-Polar, changes occur within what a normal person has accepted as their mental and physical normalities. Mental and physical effects go hand in hand. During my life as Bi-Polar sufferer I have seen great shifts in the speed of my mind and the way I taste, hear, smell and see things. Changes to the intensity of my senses and brain function as well as changes to my mood and physical energy.

For example, when I am running optimal voltage in what I class as the optimal sections of the Bi-Polar spectrum, neither depressed nor manic, my mind is sharp, and my senses are bright and clear. In the optimal spectrum some examples are that I can hear more sensitively and hear more detail. I can see more colours, like extra definition on the TV or a bright contrast and things taste better.

When the voltage is low and below optimal, during depression, 0-7volts, I can’t taste food, hear properly, colours are dull and flat and the world around me is grey and miserable. My brain is clouded in fog and I can’t make a basic decision about chips or potatoes. I feel dead, I cannot experience physical pleasure.

When the voltage is too high, towards Mania, 15-20volts, I am over-stimulated. I have so many wonderful thoughts and ideas that I can’t stop to grasp one. My mind is racing but in a good, if awkward, fashion. I listen to music and hear a depth to it I could never previously hear, and I can pick up far off sounds easier. The colours of everything around me are brighter. I see more depth of colour, like seeing in 32,000 colours not just 16. My sense of touch and physical pleasure is increased.

Bi-Polar is highly complex.

My battery or physical energy is controlled mostly by the various mood states of Bi-Polar.

Depression is low energy/charge and Mania is high energy/charge.

As a normal person you would not perceive any changes in your senses or brain function day to day. It is normal to experience some minor fluctuation in physical energy but nothing really major.

For a Bi-Polar person the changes can be very dramatic, my voltage goes from 0-20 and my battery from 0-100% charge. Let’s say for example a normal person’s voltage stays at 9-10 and their battery stays between 70-80% all their lives.

I experience full scale swings.

0 Volts is a full depression of the mind and senses. This usually comes with a flat battery but during a mixed state I could be depressed with physical energy.

20 Volts is a manic episode you may need professional assistance to end. This comes with initial full battery charge of physical energy but it can run out. You can have almost superhuman strength and reactions at maximum voltage and charge. Similar to the stories of people lifting cars off their children during times of extreme stress.

You could also use a voltage scale to describe the various stages of mood shift in Manic Depression. Let us say that for me 0 is suicidal depression and 20 is hospitalised mania.

Normality of mood for most of the population is from 8-11 volts, 8 being your worst day ever, 11 when you can't feel any better.

The scale of mood shift in my manic depression is quite large. Full scale in my case. It is hard to describe depression to a normal person but using mood, mental / sensory function and physical energy as 3 parameters it’s possible?

Depression turns down the voltage of all my senses and removes charge from my battery. Mental function and physical operations become slower and less sharp. You loose interest in things, everything is too much effort. Due to exhaustion and lack of motivation the depression has reduced my physical energy to a level I cannot operate at. Senses are dulled, as are my eyes, rather like a torch on a low battery. Life is like listening to music on a tape recorder with a really flat battery. My hearing isn't as good, my reactions slow down, I feel sluggish and weak and have reduced energy and motivation.

My entire being, both mental and physical, is subjected to total exhaustion. In the depths of a major depression I can't even decided if I want chips or potatoes. Doing literally anything, even washing, is exhausting. When the battery runs down fully, as mine has shown potential for, it takes a long time to get it naturally charged up again, years in some cases.

In depression, anything can set me back to square one and keep the battery empty and the voltage low. Little, let alone big problems, hold me down like a bear hug, working to keep me in state of almost constant battle just to survive the suffering. No power is stored in my reserves I am just stuck.

Here is where Cannabis comes in. It provides a vital function in my frontline defences against depression. One of Cannabis's top weapons is that it keeps my battery and voltage close to optimal, regardless of the current status of my Bi-Polar disorder.

It restores the voltage to my brain and senses, holding them at a minimum of 8 on the volt scale. It gives back charge to my physical battery, removing the debilitating lethargy of depression, the feeling of constant tiredness all the time. It gives me motivation in depression, it doesn't allow me to slip into low energy states and it gives back the higher levels of sensory experience that normal people have.

Using Cannabis I don't suffer any physical depression, which slows your metabolism, slows your movement and brings life to a crawl. I smoke a small pipe, one lung full of pure cannabis. I can be suffering a depressive phase of Bi-Polar and yet do hard exercise 2-3hrs a day, 5-6 days a week for 365 days of the year.

Cannabis removes the ability for my physical battery to run under 60%. Cannabis holds the voltage of my senses and brain in a workable zone of 8-15. Without Cannabis I suffer from full scale swings of these functions of which there is no cure, leaving me next to useless for months or years at a time. Cannabis is a miracle cure for me.

When I am left to fight depression without Cannabis, there are periods I don't even leave the house or my bed, let alone have the energy and motivation to take daily exercise and take care of myself.

Cannabis gives immediate relief when my battery’s on the blink and it restores lost energy.

Cannabis acts like a battery regulator and voltage stabiliser for my physical and mental processes. As a result it controls a large proportion of the negative effects I dislike about the Bi-Polar disorder, without removing the ones I enjoy. It does this by over-riding the natural effects of Bi-Polar on me, restoring my functions to a level I require to be content within myself, all this without any negative side effects.

It is well know that a lot of creative Bi-Polar sufferers dislike prescription medicine, myself included. There is a reason for this and it relates back to the voltage of the senses and speed of the mind. Most Bi-Polar people have enjoyed an elevated sense of mood, enjoyment and energy for some periods of their lives. They feel they have an edge over other people and the Bi-Polar gives them this.

We constantly miss this elevated state, it’s like an addiction, it’s 12-16 on the voltage scale of mood and senses, everything is bright and clear, it’s all that makes our lives worth living, it’s where the creativity is based. I spent large portions of my late teens and 20’s in this productive and energetic state.

When you take Lithium, or any other treatment given by Doctors to treat Bi-Polar you effectively have to give up the hypo-manic state that is so useful. You loose your creativity in many cases, although it can bring order to the mind and allow increased productivity in those who are very manic a lot of the time.

This may come as a surprise to you, for I consider a normal person running a voltage of 8-11 as depressed. If I take prescription medicine I am being limited to a voltage range of 8-10. I am never satisfied with how I feel at that level as I feel depressed and slightly under my potential, missing the hypo-manic edge. I am constantly at war with my medication and likely to come off it.

Treatment of Bi-Polar by psychiatrists and doctors takes no account of those who wish to remain slightly elevated. To get into my mood bracket I must first take mood stabilisers then lie to the doctor to get anti-depressants. No thanks. My psychiatrist won’t even discuss Cannabis, so there is no use in me talking to him.

Some Bi-Polar sufferers prefer to be in the slightly hypo-manic spectrum, in literature it's been called the "hypo-manic edge". I am one of those people. Cannabis puts me firmly in the driving seat of my creativity and allows me to harness the potentially good side of my Bi-Polar disorder. Cannabis keeps me in the zone I need to be within to get the best from myself and live my tricky existence without fear of long miserable depressions. I never feel bad using Cannabis, life is so much better. I have to deal with living hell othrrwise, the depressions mess you up and without Cannabis I start to really depress the destructive pedal.

Cannabis gives me the same relief every time, keeps me from becoming destructively depressed. Tried and tested, like an old friend, predictable and reliable. Cannabis works for me, to keep me happy. There is no 4-8 week wait while the abrasive chemical drugs the doctor gives me start to “work”, drugs which might or might not work and could lead to permanent damage of my organs and bodily functions.

Cannabis is especially effective with my depressive periods. It puts me into, or keeps me nearer the voltage range of normal people. It keeps me out of depression, restores normal levels energy to my body and mind. The best part of Cannabis is that it instantly recharges my battery if I am run down and keeps it topped up. What can take months naturally, happens in a few days of cannabis administration. Without Cannabis, depressions are terrible, you can almost live in a constantly low energy state. Cannabis removes any thoughts of suicide as it limits the suffering of depression. Cannabis puts a hope in my soul and a ray of sunshine in the sky.

When I use Cannabis I am just happy at that moment in time, enjoying the present and able to look positively into the future and past. That's what normal people are doing, enjoying the present, able to relax.

When I am depressed and have no Cannabis I am thinking constantly, bad things, thinking in destructive and negative ways about the future, past and over-analysing myself. I am thinking very little about the present moment during depression, that makes me a bad employee. I cannot focus or concentrate due to mental chatter, it stops me functioning correctly, it destroys my memory. I haven't the time to be alert, concentrated and focused with all this Bi-Polar chatter going on in my head.

Cannabis has another vital function in me. It works to calm and alleviate the chatter Bi-Polar causes in my head. It's my own voice. Not really a voice, I am just talking to myself with thoughts, like a normal person plans things, thinks things though, we all do it. It’s just that in Bi-Polar, the voice in my head is ranting every hour of the day at times, endless flight of mental processes, tiring you out, a nagging voice of self loathing, self analysing and unwanted soul searching. These depressive thought patterns never end, they destroy your ability to concentrate and ruin your memory. The combination of low energy and these endless flights of thought grind down your self esteem and self image, leaving you broken as a person. Cannabis provides me with a tool that shuts that nagging down, or replaces it with positive patterns of thought. This is a big weapon against the damaging low end of the mood spectrum. Cannabis gags the nagging voice that's a classic symptom of Bi-Polar Depression.

Cannabis has all the weapons I need to fight my condition without unwanted side-effects. It gets me closer, or puts me in the very slightly hypo-manic state most Bi-Polar sufferers, including myself, desire. Here I can feel happy and productive, free of the worry of mood swings or depression. Cannabis regulates my energy level allowing me to engage in exercise all year around. Exercise is beneficial for depression, self esteem, confidence and positive body image. Cannabis keeps my senses working properly, always assists with the very extremes of the mood scale and ticks all the boxes for removing all the aspects of Bi-Polar I hate. It leaves me with the ones I like and the ability to manage my condition in a way I feel happy about doing. I don't want anyone else’s help. I don't need help bar in the rare event of a full blown manic episode, provided I have Cannabis in my armoury. My use of Cannabis just makes this endless cycle of extreme mood swings and related mental states of agitation, anxiety, paranoia etc easier to deal with.

Before really looking into this in such detail or devoting much time to working out why it helps, I had noticed that in the past that when I used certain types of Cannabis plant my depressions were lifted totally. At the very least depression was held back, the lows were less destructive and I had a platform on which to stand, life was brighter and more welcoming, I was normalised by it, stabilised. It gives me a constant. I never used it consistently and not during "normal" periods. However, I craved its relieving properties during every depression and I sought Cannabis for relief.

I have used Cannabis on and off for years, purely to lift my depression. The results were mixed as I couldn't access the type of cannabis I needed on a consistent basis. Medication is all about reliability and consistency if it is to work correctly. There was only one way it would work. I embarked on a mission to really see what the link was between my lifelong Bi-Polar and the relief received via Cannabis. My mission was to find a range of individual types of cannabis plant that gave control over my mood swings and understand how they worked. Cannabis works for me without any unwanted side-effects on my body I notice only good results, for me it's almost as if it was designed to relieve depression and make me a better person.

Are there any other useful effects from Cannabis during Hypo-mania and normal mood states?

In my case living with Manic Depression isn’t just about dealing with the depression, although I find that the depressive phases with or without psychotic features are by far the largest hurdle.

Dealing with the stress and agitation of being hypo-manic is also a factor if I am to avoid periods of burnout. It’s easy during long energetic and productive hypo-manic phases to become over-worked, or forget to relax, take time out, eat correctly and give quality time to other people.

During periods of hypo-mania it’s easy to become hyper-fixated on work projects or goals you wish to achieve, often at the expense all everything else, at the expense of your health and the way you interact with those around you and possibly your marriage. It’s easy to become so focused you have no time for other people, you snap at those close to you and it negatively affects your social abilities and opportunities. I know I run a lot of unwanted physical and mental stress during my most productive times as I am working as fast as possible, often on many things at once.

This why a greater percentage of Bi-Polar sufferers use Drugs, especially Tobacco as it gives you a break, an ability to take time out, tune out and have some minutes to slow it all down.

I find myself at risk of becoming hyper-stimulated when writing this story, even though I class myself as currently depressed. Just the other day I sat down and started at 1pm, before I knew what had happened it was 7pm. During this period of time I had not once got up or had a drink or taken a rest. The same thing happened after I took my evening meal and restarted at 9pm, it was 4am before I knew what was happening. The next day you feel worn out and tired as you have gone too hard at the task in hand. Keep this up you end up with chronic fatigue or a shift to Mania or Depression, it’s a trigger for a mood shift.

As a recovering Tobacco smoker I have a constant urge to abuse Tobacco when I am in this busy state. I fear the effects of Tobacco on my health to a much greater degree than the Cannabis that I consider harmless. When you look at most high achieving Bi-Polar sufferers they abuse Tobacco like there is no tomorrow. The route cause of this is that it’s a little friend, a little friend who gives you the ability to relax and take a break, sadly this little friend is a killer.

In a similar way the Bi-Polar disorder itself is a killer at all mood phases. When I am depressed I can see so easily why people get addictions to cutting themselves, self harm, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, legal highs, or take any substances to bring them down, take them up, block out the pain or replace mental pain with physical pain. I can see this because I have experienced the pain, suffering and the often impossible to resist urges to seek instantaneous relief. I do not have desire or need to feel these unwanted emotions provided I can use Cannabis at the right time.

The desire for substance abuse is a constant nagging companion at all phases of Bi-Polar. I don’t consider my use of Cannabis in the same category as any other drug including Tobacco and Alcohol as I have yet to experience any negative side-effects and it can be used daily without any physical harm. As such Cannabis gives me the ability to have no desire to abuse other far more dangerous substances like Tobacco, it takes away my urges to self-destruct and self medicate with more dangerous options.

Cannabis gives me the ability to operate more like a normal person, yet remain in my desired hypo-manic state without all the unwanted stress and social problems. It removes my constant desire to abuse Tobacco by reducing the hyper-stimulation and stress inducing inability to take a break from a task.