Cannabis for Bipolar + Borderline: A Story of Healing + Hope with Herb

One Bad Ass Witch is Telling Her Story of Healing + Hope Using Cannabis for Bipolar 2 & Borderline.

By: Brittany Flynn, The Perennial Witch | May 28, 2019

Image Credit:  The Perennial Witch

Image Credit: The Perennial Witch

Bipolar. Suicidal. Borderline. Falling apart. Crisis had been my daily experience every three months or so for the past two years. Hospitalizations, psychiatrists, Lithium, endless bloodwork and running to the nearest garbage can to throw up in was my day to day existence. I had to review my thought processes constantly, wondering in every social circumstance, “can these people tell I’m not normal?’ In a situation that seemed completely hopeless, I found a glimmer of haven in cannabis.

The connection between mental illness and cannabis remains shady and controversial. Some of my doctors have cried out in horror when I admitted to using THC and CBD in my daily regimen. Others medical professionals have said (I am not exaggerating) “ Do WHATEVER it takes to keep your pills down”. While the research is certainly mixed, this opportunity to describe my experience with cannabis was, in my eyes, a way to give back to cannabis for all the ways it has helped me.

Have you seen the commercial for Latuda, a fairly new bipolar depression drug? I’m on it. 160 mgs is the highest dose you can take safely and that’s my dose. Have you heard of of Lithium? That one I know you have heard of. I am on 900 mgs of that. Add a mood stabilizer, anti-anxiety medications and zero interest in food and you get horrible stomach aches, muscle pain, headaches, forgetfulness and IBS. These are the bad side effects of these medications. The upside to taking over ten psych pills a day when you’re bipolar is sometimes you don’t want to die.

On a good day I may even have the energy to get in the car and blow some money at target.

I grew up on Long Island, New York, a place where cannabis remains illegal. I went to college in Boston where at the tender age of 17 I started to experiment with drugs. When I tried cannabis I wasn’t blown away by it. I felt a little loopy but it was missing that unbelievable scary rush that hard drugs gives you so it wasn’t my first choice. However I loved that there was no hangover, I had an appetite (something I struggled with daily due to a history of eating disorders) and it made orgasms amazing.

Image Credit:  The Perennial Witch

Image Credit: The Perennial Witch

However, I knew that cannabis could get you arrested so that was pretty much where the relationship ended.

When I moved to Northern California at the age of 27, the concept of “getting in trouble for weed” was a non issue. I was free to experiment and I tried everything. Dabs, bowls, joints, edibles, vapes, soaks and ointments. I decided I loved cannabis but I didn’t realize my future as a Weed Mental Illness Goddess was yet to come. The fun came crashing down when I was diagnosed Bipolar 2 and Borderline and was put in an outpatient program for my mental health because I was not gonna survive life's circumstances. Even though I had a prescription for cannabis the program encouraged patients to be “substance” free, guaranteeing me that I would feel so much better with the THC out of my system.

This was the worst physical experience of my life.

Without the THC and CBD in my system I felt like my insides were eating themselves. My moods were in check because I was in a luxury rehab with painting and sound baths but I could not take a 5 minute walk without throwing up on my shoes. This made life impossible and pretty gross. I tried everything anybody would recommend- alkaline water, zofran, dramamine, ginger, even shots of pickle juice. Over and over I ended up in the hospital with severe pain that I thought would kill me. That was the end of the ‘substance free’ life for me.

My mother was visiting me while I was in treatment and I was crying in bed begging her and my boyfriend to not make me eat breakfast. My boyfriend looked at me and when my mother had her back turned he handed me a vape pen and I inhaled feeling like the biggest failure in the world … ten minutes later I was begging them to take me to the movies so I could watch Disney's “Coco”.

I guess you could say that was the moment that changed everything.

No one can tell me now that using cannabis for bipolar and borderline is wrong. No one.

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I could shed endless examples of how weed has helped me, even when they told me it wouldn't, but that would just be ridiculous. It's not for everyone. I bet for some people being high will suck, but for me it's about having some semblance of normal life, even if that means frequent vape breaks and edibles for long passenger car rides.

For more wonderings by Brittany or to follow her journey of using cannabis for bipolar and borderline, check out her tumblr here.

Editor’s Note:

Cannabis for conditions such as Bipolar 2 and Borderline Personality Disorder remain highly controversial, yet it is widely reported that CBD, through the 5ht1A serotonin receptor, can help relieve anxiety and sleeplessness, which affect both conditions.

CBD can interact with certain psychoactive medications so it’s important to speak with your doctor before incorporating cannabis compounds into your mental-health regimen. If your doctor isn’t receptive, you can look to a certified cannabis coach to assist.

Patients with both disorders are known to carry a lot of shame. CBD also activates your endocannabinoid system, which helps you process and rewire painful memories.

What about cannabis? That well’s even dryer. In a 2011 essay published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, the authors present “case histories indicating that a number of patients find cannabis useful in the treatment of their bipolar disorder. Some used it to treat mania, depression, or both. They stated that it was more effective than conventional drugs, or helped relieve the side effects of those drugs.” Yet eight years after its publication, we’re still at a social and legal crossroads in researching it further. The stigma associated with these conditions and the lack of reliable, unbiased information for patients are but two of the many roadblocks people are facing in getting treatment.

What can we do?

We can start by coming out of the cannabis closet to our doctors, families, and friends. Or by sharing Brittany’s story. Because hers is that of millions of other womxn just like her. <3 Shannon

** John M. Grohol, Psy.D. 2019

*** Cannabis as a Mood Stabilizer in Bipolar Disorder: Anecdotal Evidence and the Need for Clinical ResearchLester Grinspoon &James B. Bakalar 2011