How Cannabis Helped Me Get Over a Breakup…and Myself
Anxiety makes everything harder. Sometimes, weed can help.
Breakups are always tough. I don’t care if your heart is as dark as a matte black latte; you’re going to feel something when a human once deemed important permanently exits your life. Whether you’ve been rejected or have rejected someone, saying goodbye is hard.
It can be even harder when you have acute anxiety.
While I’d like to think of myself as a unique individual, the fact that I’ve dealt with, and still struggle with anxiety, is one of the more ordinary things about me. With over 40 million Americans suffering from some kind of anxiety disorder, it’s the most common form of mental illness. That being said, only 37% of those with anxiety have received treatment. I fell squarely in the majority. I thought it was normal to have daily meltdowns and be constantly stressed. Even when things were going well for me, I could never shake the feeling of impending doom.
I’ve always had a hard time escaping my thoughts. Through meditating, exercising, and reducing my alcohol consumption to levels where I didn’t feel compelled to lie on doctor’s forms, I was able to cope with the humdrum of my persistent phobias. I’d have bouts of insomnia, I’d overanalyze things, I’d blurt things out, but it felt manageable. So long as the scale was level, I felt OK. But breakups, those tilted the scale. Even when I didn’t like the guy, I’d spiral. My thoughts would morph into dense clouds, I’d beat myself up. On the outside I’d present a calm, collected, and confident person but on the inside my brain felt thick with doubt, worry, and guilt. I found myself obsessing over inane things and lost sleep trying to remember if I liked a picture on Instagram while being too afraid to go check in case my finger slipped and accidentally double-tapped said image.
Caption: me running away from destructive thoughts from all my past relationships. Courtesy of Giphy.
Having gone to university in Canada, weed was readily available with minimal repercussions. I could get edibles or a rare joint to help me sleep. When I moved to New York, the stress capital of the world, seven years ago, I began working in roles that had increased responsibility. With that came a rising tide of anxiety and insomnia. It wasn’t until I saw better product coming out of California that I wanted to start experimenting. Nothing like a well-dosed edible to get you pondering the possibilities of what cannabis could medically do. While my use in university was your run of the mill joints, bongs, flower-in-hookah and badly made edibles, my experimentation with Californian product began with different strains and ways to use cannabis (tinctures, topicals, vapes, flower).
Whether by coincidence or spurred by my new experimentation, I realized that the relationship I was in at the time began to unravel. Towards its denouement, I’d serendipitously begun testing cannabis-based tinctures that had high doses of CBD and low levels of THC. I’d also begun dabbling with hemp-based tinctures in addition to my typical cannabis consumption. With the addition of CBD, my mood began to change. Even though my personal life felt a hot mess, for once, I didn’t feel like one. When my anxiety melted away, so did my tolerance for B.S. I didn’t second guess my opinion as much, or beat myself up for being too “sensitive.” I just cut out the thing that made me feel bad and moved on. In this case, it happened to be a boy.
The reason I’d taken such an interest in CBD is that it is one of the most abundant chemicals (cannabinoids) in cannabis and I noticed it was always paired with THC on packaging. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), is the more famous cannabinoid as it’s the part of weed that gets you high and what the DEA most heavily regulates. While I’d historically focused on indica or sativa strains when experimenting, over time I learned that THC and CBD ratios were more accurate to predict therapeutic benefits. Typically, I’d always go for sativas as I didn’t want to get “sleepy,” but realized, more accurately, that higher THC levels addressed my insomnia. However, with THC, if I tried to operate anything functional I’d easily get paranoid and spiral, sometimes leading to very regrettable text threads. Conversely, CBD dominant strains (found across sativas and indicas) stopped me from feeling like I was itching to get out of my own skin. When I felt the familiar panic bubbling up to my throat when a boy wouldn’t text me back for days after I’d responded to his question around when we’d meet up next, I’d hit a CBD vape or tincture and felt better. I didn’t send (as many) regrettable text threads. In the case of the boy, after we broke up, instead of feeling maligned my mood was more ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . I didn’t obsess. I didn’t pour over text threads trying to triangulate where it all went wrong. I moved on.
Post-experimenting, I began to go to the only person I could turn to at the time for a deeper understanding of weed’s chemicals, Google. I learned CBD, in particular, was showing promise as a potential treatment for anxiety which mimicked my experience. I also found that CBD has been used as an effective therapy for a host of maladies, and, due to how it interacts with the receptors in your brain and body, CBD doesn’t trigger a psychoactive high. Realizing I could get certain benefits of cannabis without the head high — useful at work as I’d always be paranoid someone would label me as a stoner — I began seeking strains and tinctures high in CBD. While there haven’t been extensive clinical trials, many studies signal, in proper doses, that CBD could be an effective way to activate serotonin receptors reducing stress.
Apothecanna face oil, great for maintaining moisture and helping your skin’s texture if you have dry, flaky skin.
In morphing my regular cannabis use to CBD during the day and more THC-heavy strains at night to help with my insomnia, here’s what I learned:
My anxiety around the guy went away: No matter who initiates the breakup, there are always a few weeks where you have to get used to not being in contact with the other person anymore. I stopped wondering if the push notification I got was a text from him, or a news outlet warning me about some mishap at the White House. I also stopped worrying about the more trivial problems in my life.
I put away my phone: When your anxiety subsides, you obsess less about your devices and the internet world. There was a solid week where I barely looked at my phone and focused on myself, friends, and family.
I slept better: Certain strains make you feel different things. High THC indicas like Kosher Kush can help you sleep and calm you down, but the added dose of CBD took the edge off another side effect of THC which is paranoia. Paranoia isn’t helpful when you’re in an anxiety spiral.
I became introspective and nicer to myself: I like to blame myself for everything — including the end of relationships. This isn’t healthy. Self-compassion is important. Because I didn’t have the self-loathing and negativity that I’d typically feel breaking up with someone, I was able to logically think about why I was unhappy with the person, which apparently is key to moving on. When the weed wore off, I kept this perspective. My perspective on dating and relationships has been different, and healthier ever since.
I discovered some amazing products: from beauty oils that helped keep my skin moisturized even in the dead of New York’s winter, to tinctures that are hemp-based and travel-friendly, I found some incredible products that are now key to my wellness regime.
Charlotte’s Web joint: Charlotte’s Web is a strain that I love. it’s really high in CBD but has THC as well. It’s great for me after work when I still have things to do, but don’t want a total head high.
While I’m not suggesting you go blaze up every time you have a crisis, CBD became a part of my daily routine. My stress levels will always be something I have to manage, but I found I could cope better. The clamp that used to rest on my neck felt looser. I started dating someone that never makes me feel anxious, something completely new to me. I trusted myself more. I left my high-stress job and am about to launch my own company in the cannabis space. Somehow CBD took the edge off without taking my edge.
CBD is by no means a cure-all. Claims from some companies may not be exactly accurate and many companies have had issues with correct labeling, but, that being said, it’s the only thing I changed in my routine. I felt better. I continue to feel better.
One thing’s for sure, I’m not waiting for anyone to text me back, other than my pizza delivery app.