For as long as I can remember, I have been riddled with anxiety. I was always a nervous kid, but rarely did I let it show, smiling on the outside, raucous laughter. I would be called the ‘life of the party’, the ‘funny one’ but little did people know how my feelings ate me up inside. I would take deep shuddering breaths, an overwhelming feeling of being unable to breathe, daily panic attacks that affected me physically, mentally, and socially. I didn’t know how to live a life without fear, later diagnosed with PTSD, struggling with severe Depression, and generalized anxiety disorder. But was it any wonder that I suffered with intense mental health issues, when I was abused as a child by my step mum, the emotional scars still with me to this day? They say to not let your past consume you, but it is hard to not drown when you have carried the weight of the world on your shoulders. I didn’t want to be that anxious girl anymore, I wanted to make a change. From CBT therapy, to using CBD oil to boost my mental health, I was determined to face my anxiety, and depression head on, even if it was painful at times. But without pain, how would we grow?
I didn’t want to change who I was, nor did I want to numb myself to the pain that I felt, or the emotions that I had. Instead, I wanted to change my patterns of behaviour, my self-destructive habits, and rewire my brain to embrace positivity, washing away the negativity that clouded my mind. I forced myself to acknowledge some harsh truths, while being kind to myself, and my journey of self-discovery. I needed to be patient, healing would take years, if not decades. From being abandoned by my biological mother aged 2 and a half, to being abused by my stepmother aged 6, many of my issues were parental, let down by the people who were meant to love me, cherish me, embrace me as their own. But that is not the way that the world works, a fact I was forced to understand early on.
Even in relationships with friends and partners, I faced toxicity. A housemate who was battling severe personality issues, who I tried to help, setting fire to our home. A group of ‘so called’ friends in secondary who would bully me any chance they got. Relationships where I was taken advantage of, manipulated to make others feel good. Coerced into things I did not want to do, against my will. If I look at a timeline of my life, the events that have happened are scary. I am lucky to be alive, and grateful that I am still here to share my story. Some people don’t get that chance, and I will do my darndest to fight any obstacle that life throws at me. I acknowledge that it will take a lot of time to overcome my anxiety, and mental health issues, but I know that I am on the right path.
Admitting You Need Help Can Improve Your Mental Health
Admitting that you need help takes time, and getting the help that you need, takes even greater time. I was not diagnosed with depression and anxiety until I was 22, and even now all these years later, I am still getting help. Having recently finished CBT, I am currently on a long and arduous waiting list for psychotherapy, long-term therapy, which I hope and pray will help me decrease my anxiety levels, so that it is no longer taking over my life. I have moved away from taking anti-depressants, and have looked to natural, sustainable, and holistic practices to help me manage my anxiety, even when I am not getting therapeutic help. The change has brought a tear to my eye, to say the least.
I knew that CBT therapy was going to be a game changer, but I did not expect CBD oil to boost my mental health. I was hesitant at first to try it, because of its connection to ‘cannabis’. As someone who has never tried drugs, I mistakenly thought that CBD, like Marijuana would get ‘you high’. But that is not the case, as CBD oil is derived from industrial hemp which contains less than 0.3% THC. If a plant has levels of THC above 0.3%, it is considered marijuana, and therefore needs to be regulated. When I first tried CBD oil, I wanted to see what the hype was all about. Would it be a fad, that would smell and taste nice, but have no impact on my mental health, or would it change my life. I have been using CBD oil for a few years now, and I can honestly tell you hand on heart, that it has helped me in several ways.
CBD oil has helped me make self-care part of my mental health toolkit, ensuring that I take time out when I feel overwhelmed, burnt out or anxious. It has taught me to value my mental health, and realize that I cannot supress my emotions, or pretend my mental health does not affect me. Instead, it teaches me to take ownership, to look after myself, and do more to improve my lifestyle, diet, and self-care routine. Every day I take CBD oil, and use it as part of my healthier, more mentally positive lifestyle. I try and eat nourishing, and nutritious food, take regular breaks, and am trying my best to break bad habits like staying up too late, doing too much work, and being unkind to myself. Habits can take a lifetime to break, but I am grateful that CBD oil is helping with my mental health. It has been a life saver, especially during lockdown where I have been consumed by extreme levels of anxiety. While the anxiety is not going anywhere anytime soon, I can feel a difference.
So Why Should You Try CBD Oil?
CBD Oil is not just amazing for anxiety, depression and PTSD, but it is also great pain relief for periods, as it is anti-inflammatory, and is even a great aid for post-workout recovery. For me, I use CBD oil because I have mental health issues that control every aspect of my life from personal, to professional and social situations. I also have heavy and long periods (Menorrhagia), which can leave me with intense pain, alongside a stomach condition, and have found that CBD oil has helped me regulate not only my moods, but also pain relief for hormonal issues that I deal with daily. In short, CBD oil has helped me lead a better quality of life, which has been a dream, especially now when I am waiting for psychotherapy.
My brain is overactive, and I find it difficult to switch off, tend to overthink everything, and have problems with sleeping, relaxing, and being on my own. When I take CBD, I feel like I am more in control, and that I am being proactive about boosting my mental health, the natural way. Unlike when I was taking anti-depressants, I have never had side effects with CBD, and it makes me feel good knowing that I am taking it. Arguably you might say that CBD oil has a ‘placebo effect’ but regardless of how it works, I am just grateful that it helps me out. During lockdown I had traumatic and painful experiences happen to me, and re-discovering CBD again, helped me come to terms with my trauma. From the death of a friend who I had known since I was 5 years old, to losing jobs, right through to toxic bosses, mental manipulation and dealing with threats against me, lockdown was not easy.
What CBD Oil Would I recommend?
When I ran out of CBD oil that I had been using previously, it gave me a chance to reflect on what I needed. Before I had used CBD oil to help with period pain relief and Depression, which was wonderful, but I needed something that would control my anxiety too. When I discovered EthicaCBD, I almost wept with joy. A natural, safe, and sustainable CBD oil, it was cruelty-free, vegan and ethically sourced. It was hard to come across a CBD oil that I could use (being vegetarian and cruelty-free), and this beauty ticked all the right boxes. Using only the purest extracts in all their products, even the packaging was recyclable and ethically sourced too. I felt good knowing that the CBD oil I was using for my mental health, was kind to the environment and animals, as well as humans. Ethically accountable, EthicaCBD would only use family farmed hemp, from a family farm, meaning that their raw materials were carefully nurtured at every stage of the process.
So how can CBD oil help you? From making self-care part of your mental health toolkit, to decreasing anxiety levels, and improving sleeping patterns and behaviours, here are five ways that using CBD oil can boost your mental health.
Using CBD Oil Can Decrease Anxiety Levels
I have what is known as a generalized anxiety disorder, otherwise known as chronic anxiety neurosis. Sometimes I feel so consumed with anxiety that I struggle to breathe, and often I have no idea why it is happening. While I know my triggers such as arguments, conflict, toxic scenarios, trauma, and some social situations, there are times where I am excessively worried, and panicky, without a logical reason. It affects my ability to enjoy my ‘alone time’, and I find it incredibly difficult to relax, because I am always anxious about settling down. I used to have this fear of going to sleep before Midnight, because knowing that the clock had struck 12 gave me comfort that I had lived to see another day. It sounds silly, but for the longest time it was a genuine fear of mine.
People often mistake what I have as being ‘prone to panic attacks’ because I get extremely panicky. Even I thought that I was getting panic attacks, because of how much I would struggle to regulate my breathing and remain calm. But here’s the T, my therapist helped me realize that part of my GAD, involves having a panic disorder, which unlike panic attacks, is prolonged, and lasts a long time. When I described how I would spend whole days spiralling out, feeling on the edge, and unable to stop my panicky breaths, pacing around the room and tumultuous emotions, she realized that my GAD had manifested itself into a panic disorder too. The panic disorder would give me intense fear that something bad was going to happen, even when there was no danger present.
I guess it was little wonder that I was always in fear that something bad was going to happen, when I had spent so much of my life, trying to survive. Being abused left more mental scars than I could comprehend, and toxic relationships with friends, partners, and work colleagues dented my self-confidence and self-esteem. In 2019 alone I remember the events that happened, one after the other, that left me paralyzed with anxiety. My grandma passing, being robbed twice, a housemate setting fire to the house, knowing I was the only person home. My cousin passing unexpectedly, being in financial debt, losing precious possessions, like 1,000’s of photos that I would never see again. Starting a toxic job, where the boss would insult me, undermine me and bully me any chance he would get. 2019 was a painful year, and 2020 wasn’t any different. Dealing with trauma is a process, and a difficult one at that, but I am slowly healing from years of pain.
Using CBD oil has been a big part of being kinder to myself and teaching myself self-love. And I am not the only one; in 2017 a study searching for the potential benefits of CBD for panic disorder found some positive results. It showed that CBD had a notable decrease in anxiety levels after a stimulated public speaking test and caused a significant reduction of anxiety measures in people with social anxiety disorder. In a 2015 review on Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders, it found pre-clinical and clinical evidence that showed that CBD has effective in managing GAD, PTSD, OCD, Panic Disorder, and social anxiety disorder. It went further to say that CBD is effective, as it can improve the quality of your life, and help users in their ability to carry out daily functions.
So how did CBD oil boost my mental health? Well for one, it helped me find my inner calm. While I don’t claim that using CBD is a ‘miracle cure’ as I still have severe anxiety, it has helped me be aware of the way that I feel. It has taught me to take stock, take a break, and walk away from situations that are triggering my anxiety. It has shown me how to confront fear, and trauma head on, and try new things that scare me. I often feel jittery, restless, and find it hard to relax, so I needed to find a CBD oil that would help me manage my stress in a positive, cathartic, and healing way. Which is where EthicaCBD Calm helped me out massively, allowing me to gain back control in situations where I felt nervous, and unable to cope.
With a beautiful tranquil blend of natural botanicals, terpenes, and organically grown Swiss hemp-derived CBD, it provided a natural relief from the anxiety inducing world that I lived in. With regular use, I was able to have quiet moments of solitude, where my mind was still, my breathing semi-normal, free from the mental health demons that often plagued my daily thoughts. No matter what life threw at me, I was thankful to invest in the power of ‘myself’ and realize ultimately that self-care was not selfish. In fact, not looking after ourselves, and our emotional wellbeing, was the most selfish thing that we could do to ourselves. To deny self-love, self-compassion, and self-happiness was something that I had done for a long time, without being aware of it.
I was able to restore ‘balance’ in my life, for the first time since lockdown had started, and re-set my self-care routine to be kinder to myself, and take time out, even when I knew I had so much to do. I wasn’t a machine, so if I needed time out, to complete deadlines at a slower, healthier pace then I would do it. I needed to say goodbye to the 14-hour work days, and say hello to emotional balance, where I could breathe deeply, and find my inner calm. It showed me that CBD oil could boost my mental health, in a way that still felt like I was tackling my trauma, anxiety and mental health issues head on.
CBD Can Help You Get A Better Night’s Sleep
Speaking of restlessness, I used to have really bad sleeping patterns, battling with insomnia on a daily basis. Most days I was averaging 3-4 hours’ sleep, and would sleep bad, eat bad, and feel fatigued daily. While I slept better when my partner was around, feeling secure in his warming, enveloping hugs, on my own, I was a complete train wreck. In the hours leading up to settling down for the night I would feel antsy, unable to switch off, my mind full of tasks to do for the next day and beyond. I found it hard to focus on the here and now, my mind alive with activity, my chest overwhelmed with deep, painful breaths. How could I get rid of this feeling? How could I master the art of good sleep, and feel happiness when I left the bed each morning?
I tried meditation, mindfulness, and gratitude, but nothing seemed to be the key to a good night’s sleep. It was making me irritable, confused, and frustrated. I was so tired, that I felt the strength leaving my bones, constantly sick, and under the weather, because I was never well rested. Then something changed, a miracle if you will. It wasn’t just the CBD oil that I was using, but changes in my eating patterns, physical activity, and state of mind. While in lockdown I was eating healthier, exercising more and being proactive about my mental health, creating new habits take a long time to form, and an even longer time to stick. I would go through phases, obsessively changing my habits, only to go back to my old, destructive ways time, and time again.
There would be weeks where I would create better sleeping habits, such as limiting exposure to technology, having a bedtime routine, and doing calming meditation, drinking herbal tea, and having a hot bubble bath before bed. But then the next week, there would be 14 hour working days, with little breaks, eating badly, and ignoring my need for self-love, self-care, and self-reflection. Even the days where I was trying to implement better sleeping and lifestyle habits, would be difficult, as no matter what method of relaxation I tried, I could not switch off. I felt constantly switched on, trapped in my body, and felt suffocated by home. Working from home meant that there was no barrier ‘between work and play’, so it was little wonder that I was finding it hard to settle down in my bedroom.
I never felt fully rested, and there were days where I would wake up disorientated, finding it hard to get through the day ahead. I found myself lacking clarity, unable to concentrate on one thing at a time, tasks getting half-completed, an endless struggle. My dreams when I had them were vivid, as I tossed and turned at night, anxieties that were inescapable, even when I was sleeping. I had tried sleeping tablets, and natural methods like meditation, mindfulness chants, and writing in a gratitude journal. The sleeping tablets seemed to do nothing at all, while the natural methods helped temporarily, or ‘sometimes’, but it wasn’t the permanent change that I needed. I wanted a change that would last, not a change that seemed to help me, but only when it felt like it.
The ‘Calm CBD’ that I had been using, was really helping me during the day, but I needed something that would make me feel less hyper at night too. Which is where EthicaCBD Night came into action, ready to save the day. I was sceptical at first, having found that sleeping tablets and anything else I had tried a complete bust, but I was willing to give it a go. Using a gentle tincture, it was designed to soothe the mind, body, and soul, infused with chamomile, zinc and lavender. Self-described as a beautifully relaxing night-time formula, experts said that it was most effective when used as part of a regular night-time routine.
It took a few days for me to get used to, but once I did, the result was like magic. Instead of waking up in the mornings feeling groggy, and unable to concentrate, I felt energized and re-charged. I was able to wake up in the mornings with a spring in my step and began welcoming my night-time routine. Instead of the usual dread, anxiety, and worry about going to sleep that I would have nearly every day, I would relish my alone time, winding down the healthier way, that nourished my mind and my body. While I would still find it hard to switch off at times, when I did fall asleep, my sleep was at least 3 times better than it would be normally without the CBD oil. I breathed a sigh of relief; I could get used to this feeling.
And I am not the only one. Early studies indicate that high dosages of CBD may support sleep, especially those who have ‘sleep anxiety’ like I do. In one study on the effects of CBD, researchers found that cortisol levels decreased more significantly when participants took 300 or 600 mg of CBD oil. These results suggest that CBD affects the release of cortisol, possibly acting as a sedative. Another study showed that CBD compared to a ‘placebo’ increased sleep duration, and helped the participants fall asleep, reducing the number of night-time awakenings.
CBD Can Improve Depression And Its Symptoms
Being diagnosed with Depression aged 22 was a huge weight off my shoulders, proving people wrong who thought I was talking about mental health issues, so that I could get attention. But here is the T, I don’t want attention, in fact it makes me uncomfortable. What I want is for people to take mental health seriously and realize that depression like mental illnesses does exist. It’s time that we removed the stigma around depression and highlight how incredibly difficult it is to live with. I applaud anyone dealing with mental health issues because that is bloody hard.
Depression can manifest in several ways, and for me it is tinged in sadness. When I feel depressed, I feel incredibly low. I struggle to see things positively, drowning in a sea of negativity, toxicity, and low moods. I feel emotionally turbulent, like I am a passenger onboard a pirate’s ship, nauseous with vertigo. No matter how hard I try to shake off the demons that scurry in my mind, the unwelcome passengers never like to leave, holding on for dear life, digging their claws into my brain. The anti-depressants helped, as did the therapy, but despite my hard work, the depression never seemed to go away. While CBT helped me deal with depression, low moods, and suicidal thoughts, I never realized until recently, how fuelled by anxiety the depression was.
But why should I be surprised, the two going together seamlessly. When I would feel paranoid, on the edge or nervous, the depression was right there to cheer anxiety on. I would have recurring low thoughts, hell-bent on destroying any semblance of self-confidence that I had left. Of course, it was not all me, I had enough toxic s**t to deal with that was making me feel anxious, and depressed, but I certainly wasn’t helping matters. I would fixate on the negatives and feel afraid that something awful was going to happen to me. There would be days where I would wake up, and not know how I could get through the day, never mind the week, or the month. Nowadays, my depression is at a comfortable, manageable level that I can deal with, and for the first time it is my anxiety, that is so much worse.
Still, the two are a pair, in cahoots about how they will bring me down next, trying their darndest to break my spirit. I say listen up mental health demons, nothing you can do can break me. I have come this far, and I am not about to give up now. I have been through a lot worse, and now is not the time to bow down. Instead, I focus on how far I have come, and how much I have improved since I started therapy, mindfulness, meditation, and rewiring my mindset. Using CBD oil for my mental health, has shown me how it regulates my low moods, and depression, in a way that makes me feel like I am healing the natural way. While I don’t begrudge anyone that uses medication (I was on it not so long ago), I do recommend trying natural, alternative measures to boost your mental health.
Using CBD oil helped me lead a ‘mentally healthier’ lifestyle, because it forced me to make uncomfortable changes in my life. I was done trying to take the easy way out, attempting to bury all my problems at the bottom of the sea. Instead, I was mentally prepared, acknowledging painful truths, facing trauma dead in the eye, refusing to back down. I would not let my depression swallow me up, nor would I let the demons live to see another day. Instead, I would be a warrior, riding the seas of depression, a mental sword in my hand, batting away the naysayers, who threatened to bring me down. Dealing with any mental health issue is a struggle, but dealing with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, is a battle that can threaten to consume you. You are not just battling one mental illness, but several. When CBD oil became part of my daily routine, I was able to add joy, stillness, and guided self-reflection into my life. It felt like finally after all these years, real change was coming.
Scientifically, CBD has been reported as an effective treatment for both depression and anxiety, because it has a positive interaction with serotonin receptors in the brain. Serotonin impacts a range of functions in the body, including a person’s emotional state and feelings of well-being or happiness. Keeping serotonin levels balanced is often a key therapy for people with depression like myself. For example, if you are depressed because you are stressed, CBD is renowned for having anti-stress effects, which may reduce stress-related depression. When you have low serotonin levels, it is widely believed that this is connected to depression. Although CBD and CBD oil does not boost serotonin levels, it may affect how your brain’s chemical receptors respond to the serotonin that is already in your system.
CBD Might Help With Chronic Pain Relief
CBD is a powerful, incredible natural measure for mental and physical health. While I reported it acts as fantastic pain relief for heavy periods, it also is incredible with chronic pain relief too. I have a stomach and bowel condition, which means that there are some days where I can be in excruciating pain, with bad stomach cramps, acid reflux, vomiting, nausea and bleeding in the stomach and bowels. While my condition has massively improved through avoiding my ‘food triggers’, eating well, exercising, and implementing ‘healthier habits’, some days it seems like nothing is helping me feel better. There are some days where I feel amazing, rejuvenated, and almost like I have a normal stomach, and then I’ll get an attack that will start the cycle of pain all over again.
CBD oil has not only helped with my mental health, but it has also given me the pain relief that I have needed on bad days. It does not magically ‘erase’ all the pain, but what it does do, is help me manage my pain, in a way that I can still carry on as normal. A natural way of managing pain relief without the chemicals, for me personally I have not had any side effects with using CBD to manage pain, anxiety, or depression, but this does vary on the person. As CBD oil is still new to the market, there are limited studies to show CBD improves chronic pain, so bear that in mind. According to the National Centers for complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), there is some moderate evidence to suggest that CBD can have benefits for chronic pain.
Research concluded that CBD is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults. Another study from the Journal of Experimental Medicine, has drawn the same conclusion, suggesting that using CBD can reduce pain and inflammation. Both studies determined that CBD could offer helpful new treatments for people with chronic pain. Whether your chronic pain is linked to an inflammatory condition, mental health, declining physical health or a condition like arthritis and back pain, CBD has been touted as a powerful alternative to pain medication. Chronic conditions like Cancer, Fibromyalgia, IBS, Migraines and Neuropathic pain, are just some of the illnesses that CBD has been used for, to improve quality of life, and help sufferers deal with a new normal.
When researchers have tried to find the link between using CBD, and decreased chronic pain, they found evidence to suggest that CBD may affect the body’s endocannabinoid system (a complex system of cell-to-cell communication). Along with contributing to brain functions like memory and mood, the endocannabinoid system influences how we experience pain. While CBD should never be used as ‘substitute’ for standard care and medical services, it can be used as a ‘supporting measure’, to help decrease chronic pain, and give your body the relief that it needs. Always consult with your doctor before taking CBD, and make sure that using it will not coincide with any medications that you are already taking.
For me, I found CBD the most effective with my period pain, because I got long and heavy periods. It helped with symptoms of bloating, cramping, and nausea, and helped me with the shifts in moods, that I often got during my lady time. Because of my implant, I have exceptionally long periods, and it often throws my hormones completely out of whack. I will feel emotional, tired, crampy, irritated, and often in pain. Alongside a chronic stomach and bowel condition, it does not make for a fun combination. Using CBD oils has helped me not only improve my emotional balance, but it has also helped me navigate pain in a safe, and nourishing way that boosts my mental health. I do not know what I would do without my CBD, as it has honestly been a life saver!
CBD May Help Treat Inflammatory Skin Conditions
We all have our skin woes, whether that be acne scars, spots, uneven skin, redness, eczema, or psoriasis. For me I am lucky to have mild skin issues, like acne scars, uneven skin tone and hives, which pop up when I am anxious, stressed or upset. I also have red patchy cheeks, otherwise known as a very mild form of Rosacea, and have small eczema patches on my body. While it might sound like a lot, what I have is very mild, and not super noticeable, I just have sensitive, oily skin that makes me prone to certain skin conditions. On the other hand, I have friends who have very painful, chronic inflammatory skin conditions, that are uncomfortable to live with, and affect every aspect of their life.
A friend of mine let’s call her K has severe eczema, and TSW (a debilitating condition that can arise from the use of topical steroids to treat a skin problem, such as eczema). She is in agonising discomfort and pain every day, and is renowned for raising awareness of skin conditions, highlighting underrepresented voices in the Asian community, and an insight into what it is like to live with eczema. Having dealt with a chronic skin condition since she was a young girl, her skin often gets cracked, bleeds and feels very dry and itchy. While she goes through periods where her eczema clears up, this is a lifelong condition for her that must be managed with medication, creams and treatment. She also uses CBD oil to help with pain relief and has cited it has improved her symptoms.
K reported that using CBD oil not only boosted her mental health, but it also helped with the dryness and itching that Eczema would induce. It helped soothe her skin, and reduce the appearance of irritation, because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Using CBD can also be useful for reducing potential triggers of eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. Because of the anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of the cannabis plant, this can help prevent acne due to infections on the skin, as well as clearing up acne scars. CBD oil can decrease acne because of its anti-inflammatory characteristics that act to reduce the visible inflammation induced by clogged hair follicles.
What is more, if you have oily and sensitive skin like I do, CBD can relieve oil production, provide moisture and relieve pain and itching. Whether you use a CBD oil like I do, or topical CBD’s such as creams, oils, gels and serums, CBD can soothe your irritated skin. As an added benefit, CBD has been shown to exert antioxidant activity. This means that CBD might be able to repair skin from free radicals, which helps to smooth wrinkles, reverse the signs of aging, and reduce blemishes. This is because CBD containing products are usually rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, to improve the skin appearance and provide a youthful glow.
How Has CBD Oil Boosted Your Mental Health?
Please note this is a collaborative post with EthicaCBD but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by monetary compensation. I would love to know whether any of my readers use CBD oil and if they find it helps them with anxiety, depression, or anything else? I would also like to point out that I am not a mental health professional, nor am I a doctor. If you are on anti-depressants as I was in the past, or on other medication, please consult with your doctor. They will be able to advise on whether CBD may interact with the medication that you are taking, whether that is over the counter or via prescription. Let me know if CBD has helped boost your mental health.