It was a three-year process for the doctors to give me a diagnosis that actually stuck. Three years of therapy, medication, interviews, and bloodwork. It took all of this and more for my doctors to decide that I had post-traumatic stress disorder. The previous three years I was diagnosed with anxiety, agoraphobia, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, mania, depression, hypochondria, night terrors…I could go on for a while.
They eventually wrapped all of these malfunctions into one little package with a bow on top and called it PTSD. The acronym confused me at first- wasn’t PTSD reserved for combat veterans and/or survivors of other traumatic life experiences that were impossible to look past? I was in denial of everything that I had been through in my short two decades.
When the PTSD diagnosis was stamped on me, I thought that I had finally crossed the finish line and that the doctors would know what to do from here. I mean, I finally had a real diagnosis. What I didn’t know was that the next six years wouldn’t be packed with change and cures or sunshine and rainbows. I always thought that those commercials for antidepressants were true- the sad grey bubble would turn into bouncy smiles and a life full of love.
In fact, the next six years I was a lab rat for every antidepressant, anticonvulsant, benzo, and other anxiety-related pharmaceuticals that might fix my brain. My doctors weren’t careless or cruel- they were really trying to help me not live every day in fear, even if that meant completely numbing me.
After a year of trial and error my cocktail was discovered- Lexapro, Wellbutrin, and Xanax (Alprazolam). I can honestly say that the antidepressants saved my life. But Xanax? I was prescribed three milligrams to take three times each day, which equaled out to be a prescription of 90 pills every month. This was enough to basically turn my brain off completely and make me a dysfunctioning member of society.
I felt like a zombie. A robot. I was an emotionless human being who felt nothing and had zero passion- but the night terrors and panic attacks were gone. To me, that was a fair trade. At the time I would have rather felt too little than too much. Again, my doctors were great and they really tried their best. Unfortunately, I grew to really dislike the “new” me. The version of myself who didn’t see the world in color anymore and felt like nothing. So, what do you do when you feel like you’ve lost control? Naturally, you gain it back of course.
When CBD Entered My Life
All of this confusion brought me to a point of wanting to search for a natural and holistic approach to cure my mental illnesses. But back then, it was questioned so much more and even frowned upon. Why? That question still gets to me. Nobody was batting an eye seeing a 30-day Xanax prescription of 90 pills. But a completely legal compound derived from a marijuana plant? People looked at me like I was a drug addict.
Anyway, I went to an organic and natural tiny grocery store and found the CBD products locked in a case by the register. The products with the lowest price were roughly $30 and the most expensive product was called CBD+ or something like that. There was really no selection at all- they were all tinctures ranges from low to high in CBD strength and there were no other options like vape oil or edibles. Just the stuff you drop under your tongue.
The price didn’t bother me- if it was going to help me feel better and help me remove myself from multiple benzos on a daily basis then I was all ears. The lady working there asked if I had any questions and I was brutally honest and kept it short and simple. I told her I needed to wean myself off of taking Xanax three times each day and I didn’t want to deal with the terrible symptoms associated with withdrawal. I also said my diagnosis for the first time out loud- I think I was at a point where I was so desperate for help.
I told her that I have PTSD, severe panic attacks, and I rarely ever got any sleep. Her answer was a simple “wow” accompanied with a sympathetic smile. I was embarrassed, no doubt. She then proceeded to tell me that I was normal and that people have been coming in and purchasing CBD products for life-threatening opioid withdrawals and she had talked to multiple people with OCD/PTSD/anxiety and other medical diagnoses who were just like me.
What I Took And How I Took It
Back then there weren’t as many CBD and hemp oil products as there are now. I stayed on the brand that I found in the health food store for nearly two years and I was buying the highest milligram of CBD they had available.
I would take it twice every day- in the morning when my anxiety was the worst and at night when I couldn’t sleep. I completely stopped taking Xanax which was something I clearly became addicted to and dependent on.
There were times that I took it once a day, and others when I took it both at morning and night. The flavor of the drops under my tongue was always really strong. These days there are more flavors and other ways to get it in your system. When I didn’t feel like dealing with the strong taste I would make a cup of peppermint hot tea and add the drops to it. This was mostly a night-time thing and it was incredibly relaxing and soothing.
In the mornings I would sometimes add it to coffee or a smoothie- sometimes even oatmeal. When you only have one type of CBD oil for multiple years, you get creative. Regardless of how I took it, I saw it as a daily supplement. And days that I did forget it I had no withdrawal symptoms or side effects.
My Final Thoughts on CBD/Hemp Oil
If your story sounds similar to mine in any fashion- give CBD and/or hemp oil a chance. However, it’s important to stay mindful. You won’t get the same results from a $10 bottle of CBD oil drops that you would get from the professionals. And by “the professionals,” I mean those small businesses that have dedicated their time and money to create a product that will change your life no matter what illness you suffer from.
Most of these businesses guarantee CBD products that are 100% organic, non-GMO, are made with all natural products, have no added chemicals, and are third-party lab tested so you have proof that you are purchasing a proven amount of CBD content. These are always pricier options but believe me, they are worth every penny.
If you want to be further educated on the science behind CBD and what it’s been proven to do for your body and physical/mental well-being, check out these studies and researched benefits. And remember, if it helped someone as damaged as me, you will surely heal and grow.