Let me just start by saying that I get that there’s not a ton of research out there on CBD, and that products aren’t regulated. I get that I’m taking a risk if I use it. And I promise that I won’t use it when there’s eventually a little one growing in my belly.
Let’s start with what CBD is. CBD (cannabidiol) is an extract of the hemp plant and is present in pot. To be clear, CBD is NOT the part of pot that gets you high – that’s THC – and it’s possible to get CBD products that have zero THC in them, which is what I do. CBD with less that 0.3% THC is legal, FYI. It’s still very early days, but it’s mostly used to treat anxiety, some cognition issues, and pain. It’s available in various forms, from drops that go under the tongue, gummies, lotions, and my personal favorite, capsules. The most ridiculous product I’ve ever seen was a CBD latte; I mostly liked it because I thought it was hilarious to get a drink with both a stimulant and a depressant. Same with vodka and Redbull. Why even drink anything? CBD also not regulated by the FDA, so you really need to vet your source if you’re going to buy it. (I like cbdistillery.)
I was really resistant to CBD at first. It’s always been really important to me to learn coping strategies for my anxiety as opposed to just popping a pill. I want to be clear here: meds are great and they can be life-changing in the best way for people. I just wanted to make sure that I built up my mental skills before I turned to an outside resource. I feel like I’ve done that pretty well, even though there are times when it takes me a while to use what I know, especially if the anxiety is really bad.
But for now, CBD is really kind of awesome. I take it right before we fly or do something social like a game night or a party, and my most frequent use is when I have trouble falling/staying asleep. It really comes in handy on those nights when I’m not getting sleepy even when I’ve been reading for a while. It takes the edge off just enough that my brain stops feeling like it has to be on high alert, and I can enjoy my friends or stay asleep. It helps me stop ruminating, which is usually the symptom I struggle with the most. It doesn’t help with my tight chest or my nausea, but it does help me just shhh everything for a second, which is such a relief.
I started taking CBD at Bird’s suggestion, and I’m so glad I finally listened to her. Part of why I get anxious in social situations is twofold: I’m highly sensitive so that’s a lot of stimulation, and there are also certain folks in my life that I feel like I need to prove something to. When I take it, it takes the edge off of that sensitivity a little bit, and so my brain isn’t on alert as much. It makes it less draining to be in places with a lot of light or sound because I’m not processing those things as deeply. And that makes social stuff easier because I’m less on the lookout for approval or trying to show that I’m funny/smart/thoughtful/whatever. The whole thing is just so much less exhausting.
To be brutally honest, when the dude and I first really started hanging out with his friends lot, I often felt like I needed to prove that I was a good partner for him. And a lot of times I would go too far: I’d keep joking about something that was bugging someone, interrupt people, or tell stories about the dude that he wished I’d keep private. Sometimes all of that and then some. It got to the point where it felt like we couldn’t hang out with his friends without having to have a tense conversation afterwards about my behavior. I know that it really wasn’t a big deal; he was doing exactly what I want and expect him to – bring up something that bothers him – and he wasn’t making a big deal out of it. It was all me. I took it super personally and would like to publicly apologize to him for having a disproportionate response. A big piece of that is that there’s someone in my life that I can’t not see, and they make me feel like I always need to prove that I’m smart and funny etc etc. And they’re always doing that, too, and I hate it. I just want them to have a conversation with me where they’re not trying to show me how great they are. And I bet they’re doing it for the same reasons I was/am: my opinion matters to them.
So I started taking CBD for anxiety, but it’s had this unexpected side effect: I stopped trying to prove myself. It chilled me out just enough that I could just be myself, and I’m so glad. Because I love the dude’s friends so much, and now I feel like they can really see who I am and who I trying to become. I’m so much more comfortable being vulnerable and I’m so so glad that they’re in my life. And I’m trying to use this experience to help me figure out how to talk to the person in my life who does this around me. It’s slow going, but I’ll get there.
If you’re not into taking meds, I’d consider CBD. It’s one of those things where you don’t really notice the effects until you realize you’re not ruminating anymore, and it’s kind of awesome. I’ve been taking CBD more often lately because I can’t do yoga as often as I’d like and there are some things happening that I’m ruminating about. I’m really going to miss it when I’m pregnant/nursing, because there’s no research about how it affects prenatal/infant growth, and I’m not about to take that risk. The FDA strongly disapproves, and I totally get it.