Yes, I Do Use Medical Cannabis
It is a starry Friday night, and I am sitting on my front patio twisting a funny-looking cigarette in my hands. The scent of the pine trees is distinct underneath the sweet, cloying smoke that fills the air. I pull a long drag of air from my cigarette and feel my body relax beneath its influence.
I grew up watching That 70s Show, where that the majority of cannabis users are depicted as young, dumb, and healthy. As a disabled adult, these expectations have since flown out the window. I’ve met a plethora of different people who utilize medical cannabis. Some of these people you might never have guessed, especially if you grew up in a post-‘war-on-drugs’-world, like me.
There is still a heavy stigma attached to the use of medical cannabis, despite it being legal in the U.S. in 36 states.1
How medical cannabis affects my narcolepsy symptoms
Medical cannabis assists in my ability to achieve a deeper and more peaceful sleep state with my narcolepsy condition. I have a reduction in anxiety, which makes normally disturbing hallucinations just a temporary discomfort.
I have also found that the right levels of cannabis in my system can actually decrease the frequency and length of my hallucinations at night. I am unsure if this is because I am achieving a deeper sleep or another reason. All I know is that it works for me.
Carefully managing my dosage
Like any medication, I have to be careful with my cannabis dosage. I use other medications in addition to my medical cannabis. Cannabis can interfere with one of these medications, so I try to watch my intake. Cannabis use can decrease the efficiency of certain antidepressants, which I take to control my cataplexy.
Sometimes if I use too much cannabis or simply the wrong strain, my cataplexy will be worsened for a number of hours. This was scary at first, but I’ve been able to avoid it from happening too much by utilizing a few different strategies. One of them is very simple – just don’t smoke too much!
Different strains affect me differently
I’ve also found that different strains help me with different narcolepsy symptoms. For example, cannabis “sativa” strains help give me energy usually. These can be used as a last resort defense against sleep attacks. When it works, it works well.
On the other hand, cannabis “indica” strains help me achieve deeper sleep. If I were to smoke an “indica” strain during the day, I would find myself napping too much. I use “indica” strains at night. These strains are also higher in CBD, which is a moderate sleep aid.
Medical cannabis reduces my anxiety
Cannabis also helps with my anxiety. I have severe anxiety that is treated with pharmaceuticals. By integrating medical cannabis into my treatment plan, I’ve been able to reduce the amount of pharmaceuticals that I take to treat my anxiety. Since there are often worse side effects from pharmaceuticals than cannabis, I take that as a win.
Treating my anxiety this way helps me feel even more connected to nature, open to new experiences, and even more accepting of my sleep attacks. Oftentimes sleep attacks are stressful because of how uncontrollable they are. Cannabis helps me combat sleep attacks themselves, as well as their negative emotional effects.
Have you ever used medical cannabis to treat your narcolepsy symptoms?
Do you feel that your doctor understands narcolepsy?