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.