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I feel like a guinea pig in a test whose final results aren’t yet in. So far, I’m delighted, and am evidently a guinea pig who has the cognitive abilities, motivation, and patience to write a lengthy (if disorganized) blog post about this subject, and my excitement over what I’ve seen in just three months has generated a sense of urgency for the world to wake up to a few things that I will attempt to point out in this article, which, of course, would not exist if I were still lying in bed with bipolar depression.
[Treating bipolar disorder with medical cannabis] could potentially be huge for the well-being of many people, and could potentially be huge for the relief of taxpayers who are spending billions of dollars cleaning up after the mess that people with bipolar disorder leave behind.
May some doctors, scientists, researchers, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and patients suffering with bipolar depression or bipolar mania/hypomania find this article, so that it may plant the seed of an idea that could potentially be huge for the well-being of many people, and could potentially be huge for the relief of taxpayers who are spending billions of dollars cleaning up after the mess that people with bipolar disorder leave behind with their irrational/delusional manic behaviors, and their lethargic, can’t-get-out-of-bed-much-less-go-to-work depressed lack of behaviors, such as holding down a career or cleaning the house.
Introduction to my self-referent cognitive model based on the little I know about neurology, but nevertheless useful to me and hopefully to some others
Since I began using medical cannabis regularly about three months ago, I am doing fantastic compared to when I am depressed, except for a sleep problem (which I am actively working to remedy). The medication boosts my motivation dramatically, so I focus on tasks and ideas with great attention, perfection, and energy, but then I burn out and crash, because I have not (*yet*) trained the top-down cognitive components of my brain to better manage the flood of creativity, thoughts, discernment, and urgency about productivity that is coming into my conscious mind automatically, from the bottom-up components, in the form of intuition, urges to organize, tidy, plan complicated long-term strategies, write essays, and read every single book in my house within a few days. According to my self-referent cognitive model (I could be wrong), my cerebral cortex becomes exhausted, just like a physical muscle, because it is overworking itself to keep up with the overactive and alert limbic system and basal ganglia, which both look after a lot of our bottom-up (sub-conscious and parallel-processed) cognitive activities that are compromised (and this is somehow correlated with swings in dopamine levels, and reverse-correlated with swings in GABA neurotransmitter levels) in people with bipolar disorder. The limbic system and basal ganglia are either too suppressed (when we are depressed, and so we are uninterested, unmotivated, melancholic, missing work & appointments, and tempted by alcohol poison, only because it offers acute relief of depression, and we are so despondent and desperate that we aren’t even capable of reasoning clearly about the health risks of alcohol nor even the pending increase in depression and anxiety that we surely remember, right? Wrong. ); or these subconscious brain structures are too active, (when we are manic, and so we are unwittingly risking various calamities due to poor judgment in such matters as sexual ruminations or behaviors, over-spending, or emailing before thinking; or we are experiencing other cognitive challenges that come with mania, and even potential for psychosis; however, our neuroleptics (anti-psychotic prescription medications) safely prevent severe manic episodes… I have only had the less severe hypomanic episodes since I was properly diagnosed and eventually arrived at a presumably optimal selection of medications and dosages, guided over years by psychiatrists. Of course, I continue to experience depression, except and unless I medicate by baking/vaping the cannabis herb (never smoking it—that pulls ash particles into a recreational drug abuser’s lungs that happen to be carcinogenic and toxic, because they were chemically altered by the combustion reaction at two to three thousand degrees Fahrenheit, in sharp contrast with vaping it, which simply involves cooking the ground and dried herb at 385°F and inhaling the cannabinoid evaporates that are boiling their way out of the plant.)
Some findings that may point to the apparent yet anecdotal link between bipolar disorder* and the cannabinoids
*note: bipolar depression seems to be more organic than the standard neurotic struggles with anxiety and melancholy/depression
- endocannabinoids in general: [in the Cannabis/marijuana herb]; one study found that some part(s) of this set of cannabinoids mediate short-term depression; some studies suggest that via “repeated exposure to restraint stress,” endocannabinoids may be harmful when mixed with stressful stimuli (this could explain my occasional mild & irregular, but sometimes chronic headaches somewhere in the middle of my brain (amygdalae?));
- anandamide (an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter): [not yet sure whether it is found in Cannabis/marijuana itself]; in cacao/chocolate; also, black pepper contains an anandamide reuptake inhibitor; one study finds that anandamide might INDUCE long-term depression; anandamide has been found to improve circadian rhythm in RATS… I am not a rat, but my circadian rhythm is so broken that it is effectively non-existent, so this is a potential benefit of anandamide… it’s too bad that chocolate gives me pimples 😜;
- THC (a phytocannabinoid): [in the cannabis herb]; so far, I can’t find any research showing that it affects the bottom-up (limbic system / basal ganglia) and/or symptoms of bipolar mania or depression OTHER THAN a reference to an (apparently normally negative?) side effect on MOOD– it certainly is not harming cannabis’ ability to pull me out of depression (this POSITIVE for me, not negative)—in fact, this very reference to mood makes me wonder whether it’s one of the cannabinoids helping my mood, since sometimes the effects of a medication are reversed for certain people—for example, THC has a negative effect on motor coordination, yet it can ironically assist motor coordination in people with Parkinson’s suffering from dyskinesia; note: people with Parkinson’s Disease and people with Bipolar Disorder often experience each other’s symptoms (in reverse) when medicating the symptoms of their own condition; as THC helps motor coordination in Parkinson’s patients while hindering it for Bipolar patients, it might similarly hinder mood (?) for Parkinson’s patients while improving it for Bipolar patients; I have certainly noticed other side effects, such as decreased motor coordination and occasional mildly slurred speech; while THC may impair the long-term memory of MICE, I am not a mouse, and my overall experience with cannabis in general (of course, I can’t know exactly where, how, or even whether THC is involved), I experience an IMPROVEMENT in long-term memory, while yet experiencing the expected loss of two short-term memory slots/registers (although, thanks to increased cognitive activity, I have rapidly developed powerful mnemonic techniques which have helped me maintain up to 9 items in my short-term memory, without even requiring my two remaining short-term memory slots/registers); I won’t be surprised if I soon develop a mnemonic technique that is powerful enough to supplant the supposedly restricted short-term memory to store and retain up to 15 or 20 items without actually requiring the short-term memory slots/registers at all; this causes me to stumble over a memory from Cognitive Psychology class in university: I recall hearing somewhere that the maximum number of items a person can hold in their short-term memory is 7, and that includes the witty usage of a mnemonic for 3 bonus “registers”; the other day, I only needed to remember 9 things, and I easily “remembered” them by using a basic “bizarre image” mnemonic to handily tag all 9 things for later recall… I don’t see why I could not have pinned more “to-remember” items to that same mnemonic;
- CBD (another phytocannabinoid): [in the cannabis herb]; there is tentative evidence that CBD has an anti-psychotic effect (recall symptoms of a severe manic episode); also, it may increase anandamide levels (see above) in the body;
- cannabinoids in cannabis other than THC and CBD: there are a lot of them, and I have not even begun reading about them. I have variously wondered whether the specific cannabinoids that are helping me are not THC or CBD, but rather some other category or range of cannabinoids, possibly/likely in conjunction with these two most researched cannabinoids.
My conjecture ( it’s not yet ready to be called a hypothesis )
Bipolar mania and depression are both linked to the limbic system (including the amygdalae) and the basal ganglia. Without knowing of any other well-researched method of healing or regulating these parts of the brain, every responsible psychiatrist will certainly not prescribe the unknown, under-researched, and stigmatized “marijuana,” but will instead do what he knows: He will prescribe one or more neuroleptics or mood stabilizer drugs that restrain the dopamine neurotransmitter and thereby minimize the severity of, and damage caused by, manic episodes, since it is well-researched and understood that regulation of dopamine levels is beneficial in suppressing bipolar mania. He may also cautiously prescribe a modest dosage of an SNRI (like venlafaxine) or an SSRI (like fluoxitine) in a lower-priority effort to help relieve the patient’s depression and anxiety cycles. However, if you’re like me, you will find that neither the SSRI’s nor other categories of anti-depressant drugs even come close to touching the troublesome, organic bipolar depression, which also seems largely resistant to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy methods, because, while bipolar depression may be accompanied by irrational thoughts/beliefs about self -worthlessness, -hopelessness, and -helplessness, it is not, at it’s core, a typical irrational thought/belief problem like with most cases of neurotic depression, or neurotic anxiety (OCD, phobias, panic disorder, anorexia nervosa, and generalized anxiety).
However, we should not box ourselves in. Surely we have the creativity to notice that the cannabinoid system also affects these same neural regions, and (not surprisingly), their associated functions, such as memory, motor coordination, judgment, mood, motivation, interest levels, perceived energy levels, and various degrees of higher-level cognition.
Therefore, I assert that the cannabis herb (loaded with at least 113 cannabinoids) ought to be carefully researched for potential treatment of bipolar disorder, including both depression/low motivation, AND maybe even the unregulated judgment that comes with mania.*
*note: when someone who is in a bipolar depressive episode begins medicating with cannabis, the dramatic lifestyle and behavior shift resulting from the sudden burst of ideas, energy, and motivation, as well as the capacity to provoke psychosis when the THC levels are high, happens to resemble a similarly dramatic shift (but wildly different with regards to judgment and propriety) caused by a manic episode. This is likely the reason why most psychiatrists will express alarm about the possibility of cannabis triggering a manic episode. To be fair, psychiatrists come from a certain perspective, and many of them have not even begun to research cannabis, because it isn’t much appearing in the scholarly journals that they are reading to keep up with the latest research on various psychiatric conditions and treatments.
(I would also recommend an investigation into potentially using medical cannabis to treat certain types of alcoholism, or apparent alcoholism, especially with people who reach for the bottle when they are bipolar depressed, because they have no other acute relief from depression until that day they discover cannabis.)
Surely we have the creativity to notice that the cannabinoid system [is intrinsically active in those brain structures that provide sub-conscious bottom-up cognitive activity, which are precisely the same structures that are compromised in individuals with bipolar disorder].
My conjecture is based primarily on my own personal anecdotal observations, and secondarily on a brief perusal of some recent research findings. Now that the FDA has backed off a bit (I think?), I hope that researchers look beyond using medical cannabis exclusively for chronic pain, cancer/chemotherapy, nausea, Parkinson’s disorder, and seizures, and ramp up the research into the possibility of medical cannabis being wildly successful in treating bipolar disorder, and perhaps some types of faux alcoholism which are not “true” alcoholism, nor the sort of physiological and psychological addiction to alcohol that most people think of when they hear the label “alcoholic,” but rather a desperate/despondent grasping for something that the bipolar depressed person knows will exacerbate their depression and anxiety in the long-term, but nevertheless is the only acute relief from depression that they have ever discovered, and so they appear to be genuine alcoholics until such day as they find relief from depression and completely lose their temptation to consume alcohol.
As a type I bipolar who is already successfully monitored and stabilized in the mania category via neuroleptics/anti-psychotics, (which cause long term brain damage), I am excited to testify that medical cannabis has completely removed any temptation I might have to reach for alcohol. I have not even looked at it since I started cannabis treatments. Notwithstanding my fantastic improvement in mood, motivation, interest, energy, prudence, organization, and higher-level cognitive reasoning, if medical marijuana could relieve just 50% of depressed bipolar victims enough that they quit alcohol completely, that alone makes it worthwhile to investigate the potential of treating this organic form of CBT-/RET- resistant depression, with regards to everybody’s health and safety, as well as the colossal cost to the government, which is paid for by you and me, the taxpayers.
Alcohol is quite the opposite of cannabis. Rather than overwhelming the mind with prudent judgment, motivation, interest, and creative thinking that necessarily leads to an improved lifestyle via the generation and strengthening of new neural pathways, and the weakening of those neural pathways that were repeatedly exercised in unwise thoughts and behaviors, alcohol instead trashes the victim’s judgment, damages their liver/etc., and exposes them to certain carcinogens, all the while exacerbating the very depression that they are desperately craving relief from!
Cannabis also ought to be carefully researched for potential treatment of certain types of alcoholism
I didn’t even realize how depressed I was until I was treated with medical cannabis. It has completely reversed my life (180°). I have a completely new lifestyle; I feel like I’m picking up where I left off at about age 22. My freshly restored cautious prudence wrt finances, organization, godly lifestyle; deductive abilities; motivation; social concern & skills; tenacity; and patience has improved my health (exercise and diet), finances (comprehending my situation and taking action to save money and liquidate clutter that we don’t need anymore), organization, the completion of tasks that I begin, and even my awareness of God’s greatness, and concern for showing my thankfulness to Him by obeying His Law, not to mention the laws and even customs (where they do not defy my values) in our nation, on our sidewalks, and in our interpersonal communications.
Ethics #1: Decision-making when you are severely compromised by something like bipolar disorder
I am not ignorant of the potential negative side-effects of medical cannabis use, even though I started as an adult and have never once used the toxic and carcinogenic recreational methods, such as torching shatter or smoking a joint, which BURNS the herb at 2- or 3-thousand degrees Fahrenheit. I understand that I can expect to lose 5 IQ points in the long term. As a Christian, I do not consider this an ethical black/white yes/no decision. Rather, it is making a decision by weighing the benefits against the negative side effects. I would much rather trade in 5 IQ points and actually be alive for how ever many years the good Lord grants me, than to be a 5-point “smarter” GENIUS (😅) who lays in bed most of the day and cannot even find the motivation to file a piece of paper that is sitting on his desk, and finds it painfully challenging to embark on the tedious journey of fetching the mail or setting out the garbage can, as he lounges around in his pajamas without properly cleaning himself or the house; without properly feeding and hydrating himself; without any exercise; getting fat, sleepy, and brain-damaged by anti-psychotics, which also reduce his life expectancy.
Other than the presumed loss of 5 IQ points (whatever that means—essay required!), the second biggest negative that I have found is merely that when medicating via baking/vaping the herb, my teeth become predictably coated with a negligible layer of sticky cannabinoid resin, or whatever it might be called. This is remedied handily by simply flossing and brushing after vaping. I happen to be a tooth-, gum-, and mouth-care fanatic, so that helps.
Ethics #2: Introduction to the difference between recreational drug abuse and medical cannabis use
I need to write a separate post about this topic, but here is a brief summary of some basic differences:
|Would like to maximize the speed and strength with which the medication first hits their brains; therefore, they are willing to waste precious cannabinoids and endanger their health by BURNING THE HERB INSIDE JOINT PAPER or “dabbing” (blow-torching SHATTER), often foolishly combined with ALCOHOL.||Are not interested in joints or shatter. Prudent medical users are interested in vaping the dry ground herbs (no toxic particles flooding their lungs), or consuming the edibles, and they work to optimize cannabis extraction from the herb. Rather than waste their money and health by setting their expensive product on FIRE, they prefer to vape efficiently, even simmering the leftover grounds (which still have some non-depleted and non-burned cannabinoids in them) in canola oil, so that they can make cookies or brownies using this “bud oil.”|
|Their culture is ignorant. They ignore scientific studies and findings. If you mention some professional findings, they quickly point out that the FDA limited the permitted research on marijuana usage to only those studies that might show the negatives of cannabis use (teenage brain damage, possible correlations with schizophrenia when first used at a young age, male teenage fertility losses), but not the potential circumstances where it might benefit people. Their argument is a non-sequitur. While it is true that the FDA restricted the types of research permitted, these potheads are vocalizing the observation only as a mask to hide their abuse of marijuana / hashish.||They carefully study the available findings and information. They do not learn about cannabis by reading the “BC Bud” magazine, which is evidently compiled by 8-year-olds…. Either that, or it’s compiled by people who have so damaged their brains with recreational drug abuse that they struggle to form complete sentences, and they certainly cannot abide the vigor of proper spelling, grammar, or punctuation!
They do not start when they are teenagers. Rather, they openly discuss the hazards of recreational drug abuse versus the wildly different culture of medical cannabis usage with their own children.
|While ignoring the findings of professionals who have well-developed, educated, and exercised brains, unlike these reckless undisciplined babies who debase themselves by conforming to the “weed” culture, which is obnoxious and rebellious, and wherein even the people working at the “legitimate” weed shops, (which are immediately recognized as NOT legitimate upon glancing at their signage and wording on the front of their stores, which have not-so-camouflaged back rooms where other “arrangements” might be made for people who don’t have a prescription, so long as the brain-dead employees are fairly confident that the inquiring customer is not a police officer in disguise).
These subprofessionals are smoking joints behind their cash registers even as they serve customers! The employees at most nicotine vaping shops are professional enough to not vape at all while they are working, because that would fill the room with vape, and make their establishment look like a den for misfits rather than a properly and safely managed business that has some standards and propriety. (Besides, nicotine eLiquid exhaust is not second-hand SMOKE, nor does it smell like a skunk just had an amygdala-style panic attack.
|They have a network of doctors, family, and friends who they have learned to listen to. (That’s a cognitive skill).
They shop at licensed distributors after legally obtaining a prescription from a real doctor.
The licensed distributors do not even offer accessories used to roll joints or torch shatter, nor do they sell pressed hash, nor do they have an eclectic array of various herbs, some of which are illegal for their hallucinogenic consequences, in some back room that doubles as a pagan witchcraft tarot-card reading room for people who delusionally believe they’re still existing in 1969 a.d.
|The “gateway drug” theory is absolutely relevant and plausibly applied to recreational users, for whom pot usage is a social activity that goes alongside every sort of debauchery at “parties” where you can easily spot cocaine, heroin, and maybe even fentanyl. Since recreational users are looking for a rapid blast to the head, becoming so stoned that they can’t do anything but listen to music (not like they care about anything that matters anyway), they are certainly likely to give it a sniff if the person beside them says, “Hey, try this line of cocaine… it’s a better hit than pot. You’ll love it!”||Medical users aren’t even interested in joints, shatter, or alcohol, much less cocaine, heroin, or various hallucinogens, or even GOING to parties full of “rebels” who conform like clones to the weed culture and lifestyle, while ironically and grandiosely supposing themselves to be the non-conformists. They are so stupid that their conversation rarely rises above the level of 10 second SnapChat photos with childish ears or hearts applied by the software, or that of video games, and their basal ganglia is so severely compromised, that they are unable to follow simple logical reasoning that demands only a simple yes/no answer.|
|Etc., ad nauseam
Hints of an approaching legal, cultural, and political collision, and a tangential diversion into the stupidity of leftist governments
I have witnessed both sides of this, and I can see a collision coming, as influential people like the Prime Minister of Canada make thoughtless promises like, “We Liberals are going to legalize marijuana,” without even spending 5 seconds to ponder the potential damages to our culture, and the much simpler and safer solution of legalizing only the slower release, healthier versions of cannabis (much appreciated by people suffering with Parkinson’s disease, seizures, chronic pain, cancer, chemotherapy, or, in my case, bipolar depression, but disdained by potheads). Why can’t we legalize it with restrictions? That it is an all-or-nothing decision for our landslide-elected Prime Minister testifies not only to his limited cognitive capacity (possible brain damage, or undeveloped frontal lobes), but also to the lunacy of a nation who voted in a party because they have a “hip” leader who, as much as you might disagree, is a lot more successful at being handsome than at, say, making a wise decision about our economy, which burdens taxpayers with deficit/debt while discouraging economic growth and prosperity via more taxes on industry and import, such as the American business of filming movies and TV shows in Vancouver when the socialist NDP aren’t holding provincial power there, destroying the future for our grandchildren, just so he can build that one brand new school for his photo-opp instead of thinking just slightly beyond the edge of his plate.
If you live near an urban center, check the difference between (1) the doctor’s office that has some reasonable products displayed at the front, where clients/patients might receive a prescription for a specific quantity of cannabis per day from a licensed distributor that doesn’t even offer stupid things like filter paper for rolling joints, or bongs, or shatter, or blowtorches, or trite and cliché T-shirt designs for the mentally immature; and (2) the local weed shack, decorated with tacky green marijuana art everywhere, filled with second-hand skunk-smelling marijuana smoke (provided by the filthy mouths of… the snowflake libtard EMPLOYEES), racks with free magazines (“BC Bud” written by stupid people; conspiracy theory magazines; liberal propaganda written by people who dream of big government being their savior, while history shows that any government that does anything more than punishing criminals and paving freeways invariably ends up wasting money, creating costly and obtuse regulations and consequent committees and paper trails), Che Guevara products that resemble typical, bland tourist products that collect dust on shelves after they are purchased with great excitement, colorful bongs and amazing glass artwork that is entertaining to an adult brain for approximately 5 seconds before becoming aware that these are trite and tacky symbols of a dying culture of losers who can’t handle reality, and do everything they can to escape it.
I’m not a neurologist, but I’m trying to understand things that matter.
Your brain is going to change permanently, for better or worse. It’s just something to think about.
If a fitness nut stopped exercising his legs and started exercising his arms, things would change. His leg muscles would slowly wither, while his arm muscles would strengthen and grow.
I’ve heard the “muscle” metaphor applied to brains/neurons before, and it is quite fitting here.
Cannabis has at least 113 cannabinoids in it. Our body has a cannabinoid system. Various structures in our brain are affected by, or are a part of, the cannabinoid system.
When you flood your sedentary bipolar depressed life with 113 cannabinoids every day, it is going to affect your brain via the amazing capacity of the brain to alter its neural networks.
Cannabis has given me new ways to think. As such, I’m guessing that there are some new neural pathways being formed and/or strengthened as I continue to use cannabis while discontinuing the maladaptive habits of depressed people.
While I feel that my depression returns approximately 8-10 hours after vaping cannabis, I also acknowledge that the cannabis is necessarily making indelible changes to my brain, because some of my old irrational bipolar neural pathways are not being used anymore (and so are weakening/fading), while new neural pathways are forming and strengthening as my neural structures work overtime to cope with the dramatic shift in the neural climate, due to this daily blast of cannabinoids.
I am persuaded that even if you begin cannabis in your adult years, you won’t just be changed on the days that you medicate; your whole brain will change permanently (admittedly with some fairly high probability of returning to something resembling where it used to be if you quit using cannabis and wait, depressed, for 5 or 10 years).
Your brain is going to change permanently, for better or worse. It’s just something to think about. For me, I am building new neural pathways for improving my long-term thinking, financial planning, my Christian walk/life, my new joyful approach to social situations, and so on. I’m quite pleased with this semi-permanent alteration of my neurons.
No conclusion. This isn’t a proper essay. I would like to spend several hours turning this into a structural, literary, and grammatical masterpiece, optimizing brevity and clarity, ensuring that the tense and point of view remain consistent throughout, and that there are proper transitions between paragraphs; however, my executive has given some control to my frontal lobes, so that they can consciously manage the limbic system and basil ganglia via top-down cognition to insist that it’s time to stop and click “Publish.” Something like that.
Updated: 6 April 2017
While I have found a few strains that best meets my needs regarding depression, motivation and energy, I have also found that it’s ideal to keep changing strains every 5 to 15g, because each strain supplies motivation to a different category of productivity in the brain.
I recommend that you come up with a personal table like this. You may wish to add price/gram and grams/day columns, plus a calculated cost/day column, to evaluate the varying financial trade-offs for each specific strain, per your particular cannabinoid needs:
If you suffer from bipolar depression, a variety of strains might provide a spectrum of motivation-related benefits across time for you. You will be motivated variously through philosophical thinking, long-term planning, organizing your routine, doing major tasks, and doing minor chores.
Always remember to schedule downtime (rest or recreation), because marijuana can give you so much motivation and energy that you forget to rest, and you are at risk of burning out.
(Original thoughts here.)
When I vape ground and dried cannabis, I go from zero motivation to feeling overwhelmed with how motivated I am! There are many more benefits, and I’d enjoy typing them here, but I’ve got SO much to do, and I’m SO motivated to do it. Gotta’ go!