An anonymous contributor writes about his experience with severe anxiety, depression, and chronic fatigue; and about how reading about another man’s experience with medical marijuana ultimately saved his life.
A few years ago, after a particularly gruelling set of exams, I was diagnosed with acute anxiety and depression. I didn’t know what was happening to me at first. My exams were over, summer was here, my friends and I were constantly partying – but I just couldn’t shake this sick, empty feeling from the pit of my stomach.
The more I wanted to feel happy the deeper I sank into the darkness. My mind was a constant whirl of worrying thoughts, and when I lost my interest in food, I knew something was really wrong. I also started to give some serious thought to ending my life. It was really bringing me no joy to be alive, only pain, and I just couldn’t see the point anymore.
Luckily, after months of suffering like this, I sought and found the support I needed. I went to the doctor’s, got myself some anti-depressants, dragged myself to therapy week after week, and survived to tell the tale.
“my girlfriend left me, I got evicted from my home and was going through a career change all at the same time”
Months went by and I stopped feeling anxious or depressed. The horrible weight was lifted, my head was clear and I could see the world as it truly was again – a mysterious, beautiful wonderland. I walked around marvelling at the sheer beauty of feeling alive again; I wanted to bottle it up so that I could sniff its heady scent if I ever started to feel horrible again.
A few years passed by, and my life was back on track. I only felt as bad as I had during those horrible months of anxiety and depression one more time – for a short stint. My girlfriend left me, I got evicted from my home and was going through a career change all at the same time.
I like to think that that unfortunate series of events could have broken anyone. The only bright side was that this time I knew what was happening and deep down, beneath all the negativity, I thought that, maybe, I could survive this again. Luckily, with more medication and therapy, I did.
But when the storm was over and I should have started to feel myself again, I felt bogged down by a heavy fatigue that prevented me from living the life I wanted to lead. I would have just enough energy to head to work in the morning, but around lunchtime an immense wave of tiredness would come over me, and I would have to fight to stay awake.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, I was periodically crippled by feelings of panic and fear that I would lose my job because of this condition, that I would become anxious and depressed again and that I would lose everything I have worked so hard for.
I started to head out for naps in my car at lunchtime, turning up at work an hour later with my hair ruffled and bags under my eyes. As you can imagine, this was not a good look, and was not doing my career any favours. Somehow, I would make it through the working day. When I got home in the evenings I felt like I had not reached my potential at work.
But what I cared about most was what time I could get back to sleep. I would make something quick to eat (when I could manage it), and head to bed, falling into unconsciousness in minutes. That was the best part of my day.
“I didn’t suffer from any pain, just fatigue, and I wasn’t feel particularly depressed”
Over the years, I visited a number of doctors and had several blood tests. My blood work inevitably turned up with no anomalies. I began to hope that they would find something serious. At least I would have a concrete reason for feeling this way.
After months of research I diagnosed myself with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but when I searched online for how to treat it I just couldn’t find any answers. No doctor in Malta appeared to specialise in this condition, and my doctors just kept prescribing vitamins which appeared to make no difference to my condition.
I must have spent thousands on supplements and herbal remedies that promised to impart mental clarity and banish fatigue. Each time I thought– I’ve found the magic elixir that is going to fix me!; each time I was disappointed.
At least I wasn’t depressed, I would tell myself. But what kind of a life is this, to be unable to give my best at work, to aspire to better things, to maintain a relationship or a decent social life? I spent three long years between the ages of 25 and 28 in a kind of sleepy stupor.
Then things finally changed for better. I was always fascinated by natural medicine, trying this remedy and that, hoping to see a change. Then last year I spotted a news article about medical cannabis and pain relief. A patient claimed that this special plant not only helped him with pain but also relieved his anxiety and depression. ‘Oh’, I thought, ‘this is interesting.’ But I didn’t suffer from any pain, just fatigue, and I wasn’t feel particularly depressed, so I wasn’t sure this could help me.
Then, within the next week, like a sign from above, I came across a Lovin Malta article which told the story of someone who was not suffering from clinical anxiety or depression, but who felt run down, like me, and who had found that CBD oil had cured his ills.
Now I was seriously interested – his symptoms sounded a lot like mine, fatigue and listlessness; and an oil sounded more accessible than smoking marijuana. I immediately googled CBD oil and found a super interesting article written by a young professional about how CBD oil helped him cope with anxiety and fatigue – the two banes of my life. I felt a rush of elation, and wasted no time in tracking down the oil.
“I now wake up in the morning looking forward to the day, not aching to stay in bed”
I initially tried one brand of CBD oil which had little effect, so I switched to another. And finally, after a week or so, my life started to take on some semblance of normality. I am currently taking 4 drops of 5% CBD oil under the tongue 3 times a day.
I now wake up in the morning looking forward to the day, not aching to stay in bed. Being alive is no longer an effort, it’s a joy, as it should be. I still take an anti-depressant daily and I have resigned myself to the fact that I am probably going to need this for the rest of my life to control my anxiety and prevent my depression from returning to engulf me as it has in the past. But for the first time in a long time, I am allowing myself hope that I may one distant day live a life free from pharmaceuticals, fear and fatigue.