Friday, 12 August 2011

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.

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