I have to start this post out with a bit of administrative BS – and then I’ll get on to the MS and mental health stuff. I have had some issues with my site over the past few weeks, and have not been able to post anything over the last few days. After a number of calls to support services it seems like things are working correctly again (fingers crossed.) As a result of the problems, my links haven’t been working and my posts from last week My MMJ Adventures: I Got High and This is What Happened… and Multiple Sclerosis & Emotions: Caught Off Guard By My Reaction did not generate my normal emails, letting you know I had published. So if you missed them, my apologies. Hopefully, it’s all fixed and I can continue to share my MS stories and my MMJ adventures.
According to Wikipedia “Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of mental illness. It is the “psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment”… It should not come as a surprise that those living with a chronic illness have a tough time staying mentally healthy. If you don’t know what today, tomorrow, or next week are going to look like it is hard to “function at a satisfactory level” both emotionally and behaviorally. Living with the constant barrage of changes that can occur in mere minutes is enough to make anyone feel as if they are off their rocker.
“How can you not but just go at least a little bit bat shit crazy with all the unknowns and bullshit that come with living with a chronic illness like MS?”
I judge my mental health by the voice in my head. I used to be naive enough to think that it was unique that I had a voice in my head but what I have come to understand is that everyone has a voice or voices. What makes mine unique is that it is mine, and that it rarely shuts up. For most of my life, this has not posed an issue because the voice has been kind, and positive and nice. It has been my internal cheerleader – chanting words of encouragement and offering up support. I was in a good state mentally.
Small changes in my voice’s dialog began to occur shortly after being diagnosed with MS in 2007. Moments of doubt and negative speak began to pop-up every once in awhile. To be honest, I really didn’t pay much attention to these changes in the voice because I was too busy “dealing” with the other issues brought upon by the disease.
As time went on and my life continued to change and evolve, the voice turned on me more frequently. Rather than being my number one fan, it became a constant and chronic nag. To be honest, I felt like I was living with a bully – which can be quite maddening in and of itself. No one likes (or deserves) to be bullied, and yet, here I was, doing it to myself. I was no longer in a good state mentally. The voice had turned mean and wouldn’t shut up.
I have written about the chronic pain that decided to move into my life. How it hijacked my life, leaving me struggling to just survive each day. I didn’t see it at the time, but I quietly slipped into depression and the voice got louder and more obnoxious. It seemed to gain strength from the pain, spewing out negative and unhappy thoughts left and right. The two became a dynamic duo – determined to be the demise of me.
I never thought that my mental health would suffer. I was too “put together,” strong and independent to think that my mind would ever gain control over me and how I perceived things….but it did. Although I never had thoughts of suicide, I did often think “maybe if I get in a car accident and I have notable external injuries people will then know that I am in pain” because I couldn’t imagine making them understand how bad the pain was, when there is nothing physically wrong with me. It’s all in my head – neurons backfiring, memos to my brain never sent, mixed messages constantly zinging around. It’s real, but it is all in my head and my head wasn’t healthy. I didn’t see it at the time but my mental state was fragile and crumbling.
That is until I started using cannabis. I am finding relief from the pain – it is working. But another huge perk to this journey is that the voice is much nicer these days. I know that some of that can be attributed to the reduction in pain – after all, if your body is constantly screaming out in pain, it is no wonder that the voice is going to jump right in and join the party. But it is more than just that the voice no longer has the pain to feed off of, it is genuinely back to being my internal cheerleader. It is back to being the one that tells me first thing in the morning “today is going to be a great day!” It once again seems to believe in me and my abilities to accomplish whatever I set out to do.
To have that self-belief restored is HUGE! To not be constantly beating up on myself for what I can’t do, or didn’t do, or won’t be able to do is a great relief. According to MedLinePlus “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.” I am happy to be back to a good place mentally, and I have cannabis to thank for this. I am feeling that I am yet again “of sound mind” and much better equipped to handle whatever comes up next.
**This is my personal blog and all opinions are my own. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one here on my blog. The content here is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. Be sure to contact your doctor before trying any new medications/vitamins/supplements, physical activities or therapies **