Friday, April 28, 2017

Microdosing and Medical Marijuana.

Rolling Stone has a piece up on micro-dosing marijuana and how it's an increasing trend. Lately, I've been reading a lot about micro-dosing in general, as its shown benefits to some in treating mental illness, and other maladies.

Why Microdosing Is Taking Over Medical Marijuana by Sara Davidson goes into weed specifically:
Humans and other mammals have cannabinoid receptors, which are found throughout the body in tissues, organs, and especially the brain. The body naturally makes chemicals that fit into these receptors, and together they regulate and balance the body's systems, from digestion to nerve signaling to the immune system. Whether by coincidence or evolution, the cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant mimic the endocannabinoids made by the body.

I've been looking into it and discussing it with a friend who's micro-dosing marijuana now - it's really interesting. It seems affordable and with the upcoming legalisation of it all, I have a twinkle of hope. 

I'm worried since I didn't ever really smoke well. I get anxious. So maybe micro-dosing would help anxiety and depression - I just have my doubts about treating severe depression with weed.  I have to keep reading up on it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Charlotte's Web and CBD.

Charlotte's Web has been consistently name-checked on You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes. Charlotte's Web is a CBD oil that is family business run, sold out of Colorado right now.

Pete has been open about how it's helped with his anxiety and general mood.

Pete's just featured the Stanley Brothers on his podcast:

CBD is shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and to have just a litany of uses in feeling better. The namesake of the oil is a young girl with severe epilepsy whose mother contacted the brothers in search of someone to help with accessing CBD for her daughter.

According to the interview above, CBD has been classed by the US government as being a neuroprotectant.

They also touch on microdosing, sustainable capitalist business practices, addiction, PTSD, and all sorts of wellness related stuff and the judgements that have suppressed their research and progress in CBD research.

Prohibition also means prohibiting research - which might open up if it's legalised in Canada.

A friend of mine with severe pain has been taking CBD oil for a few months and swears by it. Hers is through a green doctor here in Montreal. It does have THC in it, just a lower dose.

Hopefully, I'll be able to order something comparable through a local doctor, something that's covered by insurance - ideally.

Also I just really like stories of people doing drugs and freaking out/having profound experiences.

Friday, April 21, 2017


Wired has a piece on pain:
Pain has always been the price of being alive, but according to the National Institutes of Health, more than one in 10 American adults say that some part of their body hurts some or all of the time. That’s more than 25 million people. In study after study, more middle-aged Americans than ever before say they suffer from chronic pain. Because of that pain, more of them than ever before say they have trouble walking a quarter mile or climbing stairs. More say they have trouble spending time with friends. More say they can no longer work.
IF YOU BURN yourself on a stove, it hurts. More specifically, the nerve cells in your hand sense the heat and send pain signals to your spinal cord. The signal then travels up to the brain, which instructs you to howl with pain or issue the appropriate profanity. This is what’s known as acute pain. It can stab or pinch or shock, hurting like hell and telling us to stop doing what we are doing, take care of ourselves, get medicine, get help. The medical community knows how to treat most acute pain. Temporary prescriptions for opioids dull the sting from surgical incisions; anti-inflammatories can mask the discomfort of a sprain. Acute pain persists, but it also goes away. Acute pain is also easier to empathize with: Show someone an image of a pair of scissors cutting a hand, and the observer’s brain will react as much as if their own hand were being pinched.

Chronic pain, on the other hand, is a phantom: an enduring ache, a tenderness that does not turn off. It can be inflammatory (brought on by diseases like arthritis) or neuropathic (affecting the nerves, as in some cases of shingles, diabetes, or chemotherapy treatments). Some chronic pain never even traces back to a coherent cause, which makes it that much harder to understand. Give us broken bones, burn marks, blood—in the absence of proof (or personal experience), the hidden pain of others is easy to dismiss.
It's been an odd week for me.I missed work on Wednesday. Call it a "mental health day" I was in bed. Depression doesn't care. Anyway, check out End Pain Forever: How a single gene could become a volume knob for human suffering, by Erika Hayasaki.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Neal Brennan on mental illness, the brain and TMS.

Starting around the 01:01:00 mark, Neal Brennan and Joe Rogan start talking about mental health, research on the brain and all sorts of offshoots of brain health and mental health. Brennan discusses his history with antidepressants and the constant work of seeking treatment.

It's a solid conversation. Rogan is interested and Brennan is an active participant in seeking treatment. You have to be when you're depressed - as is pointed out many times in this interview - very little is actually known about mental illness and the brain in general.

In his stand-up special, 3 Mics, he also talks about his experiences with ketamine (in the above podcast he's still in the process of that treatment) and his experience with TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation). 

I'm going to ask Dr. Rishi about TMS, because Brennan says it helped him a great deal. It's covered by medicare in Canada, and it seems to be available at the MUHC.

I'd suck on a magnet if it alleviates some of my fucking pain. I've sucked on worse.

Update (2016-04-20) - Jenny over at The Bloggess posted about TMS, asking her (extensive) readership about experiences with it. Check out the comments section for more.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Neal Brennan: 3 Mics.

I watched 3 Mics last night and it was very good.

It's part stand-up and part one-man show. The premise is excellent (3 mics, one for one-liners, one for "emotional stuff" and one for stand-up), and it's poignant and funny. Brennan goes in deep and honest on his depression and the darker bits of his life, it's just real honest and unflinchingly straight.

I highly recommend it.

Thank you for being honest Neal. Depression is the fucking worst.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Outrunning depression.

Great piece by Kim McLarin on depression, race and all manner of interconnection.


Some highlights for me:

On "mental illness" as a white category which alienates communities of colour:
Mental illness, mental disorder of any possible stripe, was definitely white folks’ mess. White people had nervous breakdowns; black folks just got tired of shit. White people had anxiety, black folks had nerves. Black folks got the blues sometimes, but only white people got clinically depressed. White people listened to Prozac. Black folks listened to their mother, their pastor, and God.
Some stats:
In 2014, an estimated 15.7 million adults (6.7 percent of the adult population) experienced at least one major depressive episode, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A major depressive episode is defined as a period of two weeks or longer during which a person experiences depression, loss of interest or pleasure in everyday life, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning: sleeplessness or excessive sleeping, loss of appetite, or problems with energy, concentration or self-image. (An important note: the NIMH did not make exclusions for depression caused by bereavement, substance abuse, or medical illness.) 
Women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression in their lifetime, says the CDC. On the bright side, depression among women improves after age 60, which is not true of men. 
Not surprisingly, people living below the poverty level are more than twice as likely to experience depression as those living at or above the poverty line.
An estimated 92 percent of African-American men with depression do not seek help, according to the CDC. Which makes it reasonable to consider the statistics off.
On what we know and highlighting how much we don't know:
I try to meditate. Psychological research, including a 2014 JAMA Internal Medicine analysis of forty-seven studies, suggests that meditation and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can be moderately effective in treating depression and perhaps more so at preventing relapse. Then again, psychological research (a 2015 meta-analysis published in the journal Science) suggests that 60 percent of psychological research is, essentially, crap.
On the fear of sad people, and the reminders present in the melancholia of others:
The deep American suspicion of melancholy and its contents is connected to the deep American suspicion of intellect, of complexity of thought and perspective, of wakefulness.
On writers, creatives and depression:
Not all writers are tortured geniuses. I know many stable writers, levelheaded and content, writers who don’t drink or take drugs or require antidepressants, writers who use, without irony, words like “optimist.”
Still, there’s no denying some subtle connection between creativity and mental anguish. Several studies have confirmed the link (Andresen, 1987; Jamison, 1989; Ludwig, 1995) even if they fail to explain it. The largest study to date to examine the connection was conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. That study found that creative types, writers in particular, were overrepresented among people with schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety syndrome, and substance abuse problems. Writers were also almost twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population.
Are we sensitive, thus we need to express creatively or is our need to look at things and think deeply, responsible for our melancholia?
The great Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa famously said, “To be an artist means never to avert one’s eyes.” How much toll does it take to not look away? Ecclesiastes says: “And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.”
On "molecular residue":
But there’s even more than that. I am fascinated by (what I can understand of) the exploding field of behavioral epigenetics, which posits that the experiences of our recent ancestors leave molecular residue which adheres to their DNA— and therefore to ours. In other words, not just physical but psychological and even behavioral tendencies really can be inherited. If your grandmother or even your great-grandmother struggled with depression because she escaped from the Holocaust, or narrowly avoided a massacre in My Lai, or was enslaved and raped repeatedly or watched her father being lynched—or was simply neglected and unloved during childhood—it matters to you and in you. Whether you know it or not.
I gotta admit, when I was in my late teens and early 20's I  had this foreboding reoccurring thought that my sadness was karma. I must have been a terrible, monstrous shit in another life. Like researching philosophy and religion, it was an attempt at explaining why I felt the way I felt.

Read the entirety of McLarin's piece of you can.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Watch Big Little Lies.

Illustration by Keith Negley

I very much enjoyed Big Little Lies. As the series unfolded I had my suspicions and theories, and eventually grew worried it would let me down, but it did not.

It represented friendships and women in a very honest way and did not fall into any misogynist tropes about whether or not women can be truly supportive of one another.

Spoiler alert on these linked articles!

In Its Final Moments, Big Little Lies Transcends Its White Feminism

In one lovely scene, Jane tells her new friends how detached she feels, as if she were peering at them from far away rather than sitting with the two of them. As Madeline chatters, Celeste stays quiet, locking eyes with Jane. The camera holds on the two of them, capturing the early alchemy of a friendship—and the suggestion that, even in mean-girl world, women might choose to be allies instead of enemies.
That's my main takeaway. I was adamant that the ending feature a show of solidarity, which seemed imminent. These women were able to talk to each other properly after really intense confrontations. Smart, empathetic women can see when they've been wrong and can see what's going on. Even if I disliked someone, I wouldn't stand for them being assaulted in my presence. Women stand up for one another much more than is represented in media and film. 

The praise Nicole Kidman is getting is deserved. And there are times Reese Witherspoon stopped me in my tracks. I wish they could each get an Emmy. They both deserve it. The entire cast was exquisite.

Highly recommended. If you can, watch it in tandem with a friend so you can talk about it.

UPDATE (April 6th), adding this:

Big Little Lies’ most riveting moments are the silent ones between womenThe HBO drama is a stunning study in the unspoken language women use to survive.

YES YES. This this this:
In seconds, and with the threatening man in question standing mere feet away, these women trust each other completely. It’s an unflinching instant of wordless recognition, an understanding so deep that speaking its underlying fear aloud is unnecessary. It’s a feeling of awful, vital solidarity — one that I, and countless other women, know all too well.
Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes.