This past spring when Covid hit, feelings of anxiety and experiences of insomnia that had been dormant within me for years reared their ugly heads. As a relatively new immigrant mom trying to manage the newfound challenges of working from home with everyone in it, the to-do lists and anticipations of what was to come were on replay each night until much later than I would have liked.
Based on first hand past mental health challenges and recovery processes, I knew that sleep was of vital importance for me to be highly functioning – or quite frankly, even to be managing. I also understood that this pandemic was stirring up anxiety on a global level that we have arguably never seen before.
The protocols for anxiety that I’d been presented with and that had worked for me included taking pharmaceutical medication to sleep. It was stashed away for a ‘just-in-case’ incident, or if I were to be traveling and needing help adjusting to jet lag. Take it for a few days, and slowly wean off when possible. I didn’t relish the side effects – sweaty palms, upset stomach, mental fog, and even increased anxiety the next day – but next to sleepless nights, this seemed like the lesser of two evils.
After a few nights of medication-induced deep sleep and days filled with unwanted withdrawal symptoms, I began to wonder if there was a better way. With no end in sight to this newfound Covid phenomenon, I needed a sustainable plan that could support my wellbeing. Struggling with side effects was not it.
I could not let anxiety derail my life. I needed to be present for my family, my clients, and for myself.
I did some research, asked around, and received the same referral from several psychologists. On three separate occasions, three professionals that I respected referred me to a well regarded psychiatrist here in Israel. They all assured me that he knew how to deal with anxiety, and that I would be in the best of care possible.
My initial meeting with him was met with my skepticism as well as hope. Was it even possible that any medicine would be able to help me through this, or was suffering inevitable?
What if there were some kind of magic drug that could ease the insomnia without the detestable ‘hangover’ the next day? It was a dream, but in my ideal state, I’m a dreamer.
After reviewing my health history, the doctor suggested quitting the pharmaceutical drug entirely, and switching over to something different: Cannabis. “You’ll be able to sleep, and best of all, there are no side effects,” I was assured.
“What’s the catch?” I fired back a laundry list of questions:
“Is this psychoactive?”
“Will this cloud my thinking?”
“Will this affect my weight?”
“Will I oversleep?”
And these questions were all met with unequivocal NO’s.
My new Cannabis prescription did have a few drawbacks that I could not have anticipated:
- It is only available in select pharmacies in Israel
- It requires a special license issued by only select private doctors throughout the country
- Compared to its pharmaceutical counterparts, it has a rather hefty price tag, making it unaffordable and inaccessible for a significant portion of the Israeli population (upwards of between $150-$500/ month depending on dosage)
- If you tell some people that you take it, they may look at you sideways.
After a few phone calls and credit card transactions, the Cannabis delivery service dropped off little brown glass bottles of pure CBD oil. To my absolute and pleasant surprise, I was able to immediately discontinue the anxiety pharmaceuticals with very little withdrawal effects to contend with.
My sleep improved immediately, and in combination with my physical, mental, and spiritual self-care routine, I have never felt physically, emotionally, or mentally better in my entire life.
After getting over my initial skepticism and doubt that this could actually help me, I have come to learn that there is a modern day miracle substance at our finger tips. It is so brilliant, that only G-d could have created it.
Right now, we are on the brink of critical Cannabis research. Meanwhile, it is being used to successfully treat serious pain, anxiety, PTSD, certain behaviors associated with childhood autism, and more.
This past week, I had the honor of interviewing Alan Flashman, MD, who is a board certified Pediatrician and Psychiatrist, who has significant experience and expertise in successfully treating a myriad of patients using Cannabis.
He shares his personal experience supervising the successful treatment of 700 children on Autism Spectrum using Cannabis, as well as with soldiers and citizens dealing with post-traumatic stress. He speaks about why Cannabis has been illegal and highly controversial in many countries, and he provides an overview of the various types and uses of this plant-based substance.
Dr. Flashman’s episode is #55 on my podcast – Within Us – and is available on all podcast players or at my website. I encourage you to have a listen, and you are invited to reach out to me with any questions or experiences.
I feel incredibly grateful to have found a treatment that works so well for me and feel passionate – and responsible – to share new information and possibilities with others who may be able to benefit. I am thankful to Dr. Flashman and the other medical practitioners who are opening new doors to greater health and wellness for all of us.
*Disclaimer: This article outlines a personal experience and does not in any way constitute medical or any other type of advice.