Some people have asked me, Why CBD? How did it help? Why start PrimaHemp?
Well, that will require me to take you back to the summer of 2016. It is a typical, hot and humid day at the end of May, and it is my husband’s graduation day. He is graduating from law school and I could not be happier for him! We have family and friends from all over the states traveling in to attend the big occasion. Even his dad, who had never stepped foot on a plane, flew in.
Everything is great and dandy and joyous, and hot and uncomfortable and painful. I am 9 months pregnant and have been in prodromal labor (full on contractions and labor that stops just short of having the baby) for about 2 weeks. The doctor does not want to induce early. All my family members and friends have said that this is an extremely difficult pregnancy. Every single terrible pregnancy symptom, short of eclampsia and diabetes, happened throughout my entire pregnancy. The doctor finally gave the ok that I passed the ‘full term’ mark, and that if I went into the hospital again with prodromal labor, they have the green light to induce. Thank God.
But I didn’t want to take away from my husband’s big day. He is the first in his generation of his family to graduate college, let alone law school! I promised him that I would try and push through graduation, and not go into the hospital until the Monday after. I mean, I’ve been dealing with everything for so long already, what’s another couple of days?
Luckily, one of my husband’s aunts was a labor and delivery nurse, and as soon as she saw me, she told me to go to the hospital – I was in labor. I explained that I have been in prodromal labor for a couple weeks, that it’s likely this is more prodromal labor, and I will go to the hospital Monday if it continues. She followed me around for the whole day like a shadow, gently suggesting that I might want to go to the hospital.
It was as great as you think it was. I was bursting with pride, wiping tears from my eyes (though I’m not sure if the tears were from happiness or contractions), and miserable. Most of you have sat through some type of graduation and know how thrilling it is (obvious sarcasm), so I don’t need to elaborate. Then came the celebrations and dinner. We were at a nice Mexican restaurant with tons of margaritas and cheer. My aunt-in-law was sitting right across from me, getting more and more insistent that I go to the hospital. The contractions were really ramping up again. I clenched my teeth and held out for as long as I could. Finally, everyone was (mostly) done with their food and my husband flags down the waiter, “I’ll have another margarita!” I grabbed his elbow and told him that we need to go to the hospital. Now! “Nevermind! I need a water!”
Early the next morning we have our bundle of joy. As all babies are, he’s perfect.
Fast forward a few weeks
What the actual hell. People said having a baby was hard, but I swear no one told us it would be this hard! There is a reason sleep deprivation is utilized as a form of torture. The hubs and I are tag teaming the whole baby thing and, honestly, doing a decent job at it despite him trying to study for the bar exam and me dealing with some baby blues. At least, that was what I kept telling myself. I kept ignoring the signs and not telling anyone how I was feeling because I was ashamed. Why do I not feel the strong bond with my baby everyone claims they feel? Why do I want to stab my husband in the eye when he breathes? Mostly, I’m not feeling anything, just numb. “It’s just the exhaustion,” I kept telling myself, “it will get better.”
Then, out of nowhere, I attempted suicide.
It was an out of body experience, like I was floating above myself watching what I was doing but having no input into my actions. I was doing the motions as automatically as doing the dishes. I didn’t have thoughts of ‘I want to die’ or ‘they will be better off without me’. My body was just doing it as if it came as naturally as taking a shower, or any other mundane task. I miraculously ‘woke up’ in time just short of the unthinkable, to text my husband to come home immediately. It was the scariest thing I have ever felt. I was hospitalized for 4 days and diagnosed with Postpartum Major Depression Disorder and Anxiety.
***Please, please, please! If you are thinking about suicide or you feel like your actions/thoughts aren't your own, reach out and get help! It is not your fault, and not worth the risk, so talk to your doctor, or call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255. Or if you are at a similar stage I was in above, go to your nearest emergency room Now and get help!***
That was a major blow. I’ve never been diagnosed with something like this before. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to think. It took a bit of time for the medication to get into my system, and I had to have someone with me at all times. Many of my friends and family didn’t know how to help or what to say. It was one of the loneliest and most difficult times of my life. “Just get over it.” “Just stop being sad.” “Why are you acting like that?” Some of the worst comments I ever heard. As if I had the power to change it like flipping a switch. Didn’t they know I would have tried that? It seemed as impossible as telling a cancer patient to snap their fingers and “Just don’t have cancer.”
I was taking 200mg of Sertraline (generic Zoloft), which is at the top end of the recommended dosage. And it helped. Boy, it helped so much. But as much as it helped, I still didn’t feel… like me. My feelings were still numb. I felt some emotion, just not the normal amount. I never felt truly happy, or any emotion to the fullest for that matter. Plus, the unpleasant side effects were just a cherry on top of feeling blah.
A Year and a Half Later
After about a year and a half of being on Sertraline, I talked to my psychiatrist about trying to stop taking the medication. I wanted to see if my body had healed itself and I didn’t need the medicine anymore. He agreed to try, and we worked out a timeline to gradually step down the medicine - about 6 months, maybe longer. He also warned me, repeatedly throughout my treatment, that some people just have to be on the medicine for the rest of their life, and that he didn’t want me to feel like a failure or anything if I still needed the medicine.
I have stepped down to 50 mg of Sertraline. I’m so excited about the progress that I am making by lowering my dosage, I fail to notice my symptoms are returning. The pain in my neck and shoulder is the first noticeable sign that I should have caught. This is the type of pain that, short of going to a specialist, I could not get rid of. I tried massages, a chiropractor, TENs, lidocaine rub, painkillers, basically everything. Still, nothing is really working, and it’s spreading to my joints. Next, my fuse is getting crazy short, which is not a great thing when you have a toddler. Stuff that I should have easily handled pushed me over the edge. I couldn’t handle the crying, whining, the incessant messes or much of anything that normally comes with a toddler. I ended up either snapping and yelling or having to leave the room and let my husband handle it. Finally, everything at my job was irritating beyond belief. My boss didn’t seem to know what the hell he was talking about and was doing everything wrong. Which seems strange because he’s a smart guy that I really respect, and he’s never treated me poorly.
The event that finally woke me up to the fact that my depression had come back was a discussion with my boss. I wanted to discuss one of the business processes that didn’t seem to be working well. I had some ideas about fixing it and wanted to talk to him about it. Throughout the conversation, my boss was making no sense. It was like he was trying to convince me the moon was purple, and whatever I said wouldn’t change his opinion. Things were getting heated, and I was getting so frustrated because I felt like he wasn’t hearing me. Then I told him to stop talking. I told my boss to…Stop Talking. As in, shut up. When I heard myself say this, I was taken aback. I don’t do this. I have no reason to disrespect him in this way, and never have. I asked if we could come back to this after we had both taken some time to cool off. He was seething. That’s it, I’m going to be fired. I couldn’t explain what the hell was going on. (Turns out, I was the one that was making as much sense as claiming the moon was purple.)
I immediately called my psychiatrist and got the first emergency appointment available, which was first thing the next morning. And my fears were confirmed. I was having a Major Depressive episode again. We quickly ramped back up to the 200mg dose of Sertraline, but that didn’t seem to work as well as it did the first time. I ended up leaving my job. Blow after blow.
The Vow to Heal
I resolved to take time and heal myself, no matter what. I will do whatever it takes, because my quality of life depended on it. And quite literally, my life depended on it. I did not want to experience what happened when the depression hit the first time. What if I don’t ‘wake up’ in time to get help? This ended up being the most beautiful blessing in disguise.
I had heard a little bit about CBD (cannabidiol) the year before but had so far stayed away because of the misconceptions I had about it. I looked into it a little bit more and learned that not only were my misconceptions completely false, but CBD had the potential to help me in my fight against depression and anxiety. So I decided to ask my psychiatrist if we could try it, because the 200mg of Sertraline wasn’t cutting it. He said he hadn’t dealt with CBD before, and didn’t want to introduce something into the regimen he wasn’t familiar with. I explained the research I had done up to that point (a considerable amount) and that I really wanted to try. He gave his blessing, but stressed that I really needed to pay attention to what my body was doing and be careful while I do this little experiment.
I went full investigator/researcher/experimenter mode. I nerded out in the fullest way possible. I had my genetics analyzed so I could see what my genes had influence over. I had my blood work done to see evidence of what I interpreted from my genetics. I read everything I could get my hands on about CBD and depression and anxiety.
I developed an experiment to give hard data to what I was feeling. Part of this was getting blood work done every 2 weeks, as well as a measurement of the Sertraline, and it's metabolite, in my system. I recorded a number of variables that may be affecting my mood/hormones/body every day. My goal was to get off the medication and be free of the debilitating depression and anxiety.
I was hesitantly optimistic.
The results of the experiment were astounding. I am ecstatic to report that I am no longer on depression and anxiety medication! I can feel again. I am Happy! I am patient and understanding to both my son and husband, and I don’t have the awful side effects of Sertraline to battle. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the medication because it absolutely helped me in my time of need, but the CBD is far and away a much better option for me.
When I took my results to my psychiatrist, he was blown away and told me he has learned from this whole thing. My therapist said that she has rarely seen someone heal as fast as I did, and that I don't need to see her on such a regular basis anymore.
My husband has told me that he has watched me become my old self again. He is so happy that I am no longer in pain and suffering. My friends have commented on the change, and are excited to have me back around!
Most importantly, I am happy with how I feel and what I have accomplished. I feel like I am myself again, and that I can experience life without living in a fog. I can live, love, and be - me.
I have become a total advocate for CBD’s ability to help people manage their depression and anxiety from my first-hand experience. I whole-heartedly believe in its power. Do I think it’s an end-all cure-all? I can't (legally) claim that. Do I think it has astonishing therapeutic properties to help people in their daily lives? Absolutely, without a doubt.
I started PrimaHemp because I want to help spread the awareness, education, and availability of CBD as far as possible. I want to help as many people as I can with what I have learned. My hope and prayer is that the many benefits of CBD are brought to those who need it, wherever they are in their journey and whatever obstacles they face.
Please share this article, because you never know who may be silently suffering and may benefit from an honest account of how someone else successfully managed the struggle. I know I could have used something like this in my darkest of times, if only to know how to get help.