Seven months depression-free now. I’ve brought you all along for the “behind the scenes” of mental health journey so far, so I might as well continue.
I’ve been on Lamictal (an antidepressant for bipolar depression) for almost a year now, and it is going well for me. When I first realized I had a serious recurrence of the bipolar, about a year ago when the most recent depression first hit (after the mania of last spring/summer), I got on both Lamictal and lithium. My psychiatrist said the Lamictal was primarily the “floor,” to prevent from going too low, and the lithium was the “ceiling,” to prevent the mania.
I simply could not stand the lithium–I felt lobotomized and castrated in one fell swoop. Everything I liked about myself drained out of me. So, under the guidance of my psychiatrist, I got off the lithium. He now has me on Seroquel, a fast-acting anti-manic agent, on an as-needed basis if/when hints of mania reoccur.
And after the last round of mania, last summer, I take the manias very seriously. I had to do a lot of cleanup from my behavior last June and early July, and fortunately that cleanup is mostly complete. And the mania leads inevitably to the crash into depression, so my psych has convinced me of the importance of nipping the manias in the bud.
As you know if you followed it, I also did a period of Sobriety for Mental Clarity as I was getting out of the depression. I did six months of that, from August through February, and it was very very good for me. Got my head totally clear, as it was supposed to.
This past spring I chose to complete that period of SMC, and intentionally and carefully begin re-integratng my beloved marijuana into my life (I’m a CA resident, and yes I have a card.)
Several months into that, it has been going well for me. Used moderately (and not every day), it really does feel like emotional medicine for me. The medical marijuana thing is not a joke. I am a neurotic writer (a redundant phrase, I know!) and honestly, weed is the only thing on the planet I’ve found that consistently allows me to chill out a bit and let go of some of the constant churning in my mind. It really is nice to have a break from the constant churning in my mind every once in a while (if you are about to recommend “mindfulness” to me instead, join the line. I’ve tried it plenty, I respect that it is profoundly powerful for other people, but it bores me to tears, and I have zero interest in it.)
Where I really got into trouble last year was when I was mixing the weed with a lot of psychedelics, often multiple of them at once, and large doses. (Whoops!) Full-on tripping on psychedelics = not good for me. Not to say I’ll *never* trip again.
But the vast majority of what I want out of psychedelics (ideation, creativity, insight, journeying, fun, spiritual connection, enhanced sensuality), I can get out of marijuana, and it is much safer and predictable for me (not to mention legal.) I’m already to prone to extreme mental flights of fancy. I really don’t need that amplified in my mind anymore, as psychedelics tend to do for me. I’m sticking to the good ‘ol green, and I’ve surrendered to the fact that in many ways I need it, to be the person I want to be (i.e., not neurotic and wound-up 24 hours a day.) I’m OK with that.
So, that’s the update. Thanks for staying tuned to this episode of Michael Ellsberg’s mental health journey! :)
PS speaking of episodes – I’m about to be launching a lot of new audio content. Audio is a GREAT medium for me and I’m excited to be exploring it more.