Month: March 2015

Comorbidity – Anxiety and Depression  

It’s no secret that anxiety and depression often, although not necessarily, go hand in hand.  That is why the same treatment is given for anxiety and depression, and why your anti-anxiety meds are anti-depressants as well.

For me, there have been periods where anxiety has led to my feeling depressed or down.  But on the whole, I was aware that a majority of what bothered me was anxiety, and not really depression.

Caveat I: I’ve used medication (either meds or marijuana) for a majority of the time I’ve had anxiety.

Caveat II: I currently take Klonopin on, more or less, a daily basis.  But to me there feels like a fundamental difference between panic medication, taken as needed, and anti-anxiety/anti-depressant mood alterers.  One feels like I’m still me, but with an outlet for when I start losing my s#%t.  The latter is more like…not being me at all.

As I’ve discussed, I’ve recently stopped smoking weed and I was planning on replacing that with meds.  Lexapro to be exact.  But I’ve held out so far.  In spite of my last post, in which I tried to convince myself to disregard the stigma of Big Pharma (Prozac Nation, etc.), I can’t seem to shake it.

The results have been underwhelming.  No miraculous turnaround here.  In fact, I most certainly feel more depressed than I can remember.  

Maybe it’s sort of stepping out of the cloud…clearing out the weeds, so to speak.  Like reentering the world has this sobering effect, and my senses remain totally blunted.  OK…I’ll stop.

The painful truth is that it just hasn’t been easy.  There are a plethora of uncomfortable, unwanted, and unwelcome emotions to deal with.  I’ve been more introspective, less social, less energetic, and straight-up less happy.  More depressed.  Period.  The struggle is real.  But at least it’s that.  I’m not running at the moment, for what that’s worth.

I’m hoping group therapy will help deal with things as they arise.

I’m hoping that, as I gain clarity, I’ll be able to set some other areas of my life straight.  

I know that, while this is two steps back, maybe it’ll be several forward.  

Maybe this is an addiction blog at the moment.  Maybe it’s a rehab blog.  I’m hoping it won’t stay that way.

Not smoking weed is hard, but smoking it hasn’t been the solution either.  If I go on meds (at the moment I think I ultimately will), I don’t consider it a fail.  Although, in an ideal world, I – and probably anyone facing the option – would prefer to manage without.

The therapist says get on Lexapro if and when I’m ready.  I’m still not.

Replacing Weed With Drugs (Part II)

Weed is not a diversion, for me. It’s a medication. I never was a person who took rips from the bong. I left that to the boys of Cypress Hill. Because I wasn’t a stoner. I took little hits, from little joints, because I needed a little mind alteration….because I had a big amount of anxiety.

Because social anxiety can weigh one down. Two hits. That’s it. And the trailer’s gone. The weight has been lifted. That levity…those oppressive, ever-present shackles. Click! They’re off.

And that is why I loved weed. With that said, I’ve already discussed why it doesn’t work for me, now, in my life (click here to see why).

“What are you going to replace it with?” – I’ve started group therapy for social anxiety. I think that’s where my sweating starts. This was the question the therapist leading the group asked.

I paused. Thought. Alcohol?? I grinned. Thankfully, alcohol just doesn’t afford that relief I get from weed.

My mind drifted to two months prior. I was at the psychiatrist’s office because I needed Klonopin. Xanax too, although I almost never take that. Anxiety at work had beaten me down. “Well, just taking panic medication alone isn’t really ideal.” I was sitting there on the psychiatrist’s couch. “I know, I know. Write the damn prescription already.” That was all I was thinking.   I’m not taking full-blown anxiety medication for this. I’m just not. I refuse.” The stigma was speaking for me.

Two months has passed. Two weeks now without weed. Enough for an about-face, I guess.

Back at group therapy…”I’m gonna go back on medication for social anxiety,” I heard myself say.

Replacing Weed With Drugs (Part I)

The other day, somebody asked me: “What’s the longest period you’ve gone without smoking weed?”

I wasn’t sure. Not shockingly, my memory can be a bit….hazy these days. The past six years, I think two weeks may be the longest stretch I’ve gone without it. Certainly, I don’t recall a period significantly longer than that. The question sorta drove home the point that I have become entirely too dependent on the stuff.

So I’ve given it up entirely. The weed card is expired. The remaining stash being kept in trust by my best friends. All access denied. Last weekend was one of the first weekends I can remember that I didn’t smoke at all. This will be my second.

I had a realization too: My dependence on weed began when I stopped psychological medication for social anxiety.

I hate the stigma attached with meds. Meds are Big Pharma. Meds are a crutch. Seems like half the U.S. is on something…symptoms of a society that’s led itself astray. They’re unnatural. To be turned to as an absolute last resort.

Weed, on the other hand, is counterculture. It’s the hippies…and free love…and art…and expression. Weed is cool. Artists, musicians, the trend setters – they all blaze it up. Chronic, kush, purple haze….It’s SEXY.

John Mayer wonders: “who says I can’t get stoned? Turn off the lights and the telephone…” Nobody. The answer is – Nobody. Nobody says that. So you can sit home. Blaze it up. And there you’ll be.

For a long time now, I thought I was just another stoner – and not in any way unhappy or concerned about it. It was enhancing my life. Loosening my tight ass up a bit. Allowing me mental liberation like I’d never come close to experiencing prior.

But I’m not just a guy that likes weed. I’m not John Mayer. I’m not Snoop Dog…Or Lion…Or whatever. I’m a person with social anxiety.

NEXT UP: Replacing Weed With Drugs (Part II)